A Note To David

Poppa 2

Hey, Poppa.

It’s been a whole year. Today is a year.

You know, you don’t always understand how much influence a person has over you until you have to live life without that person. Do you know how many times I see a bird and think of you? Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to drive up into your driveway and tell you about my trip to Ireland or something I heard on the news? I’ve read so many books I want to tell you about. It’s the everyday things that are the hardest. It’s in the mundane you are missed the most.

Please don’t worry. I’m not moping around mourning you every day. None of us do that. What kind of testament to your life would that be? All sadness all the time? You’d be so mad if that’s all we had left of you. But some days I miss you so much that it feels like I’ve been walloped in the stomach with a bag of rocks. My breath hurts and I just can’t see my way out of the tears. Those days pass, though, and I’m left seeing you in so many other ways, happy ways.

The whole family has been reading your journals. Every morning you sat in your chair and wrote about the weather or what project you were finishing. We now take turns sitting in your chair, and when one of us finds our name, we get giddy and read to everyone else what you said. Isn’t that funny, that my name in your handwriting is so special to me? You said my name a thousand times but when you wrote about me, that means you thought about me when I wasn’t there. Oh God, that hurts. And speaking of God, we never talked about that. Why didn’t we talk about that? But every day, no matter what kind of pain you were having in your feet or what sort of financial thing you dealt with or what kind of joy you experienced, you thanked God. “Thank you, Lord,” was the way you ended every entry, every day. A life well lived. You were steady, even to the end.

Sometimes one of us will see an owl or a kestrel and it feels like you are checking on us, so we say hello. We cry a little but we still just want to say hi, to let you know that we see you in everything and that we still see things through the lens of your eyes. Mom let us read one of your love letters. Only one, but it was so powerful, so you. You ended it with “Your children are my children” and whether or not that letter won you my mother’s heart, it won you mine. You already had it, of course, but I could look back over all the years I had with you and know you meant it. I never had to read a letter to know how you felt. I was your child, too.

Poppa, I miss your hands. I miss walking by your bedroom at night and seeing the top of your head over a book and your feet sticking out from under the blanket. I miss your stories. I even miss the way you’d talk about something that was so far over my head yet I felt compelled to nod and say “uh-huh” despite the fact you’d lost me in the first sentence. You loved Willie Nelson but as much as I love you, I don’t miss listening to that music one bit. Sorry. Christmas and Thanksgiving – the year of the firsts – those were melancholy in moments but we all knew that had you been with us, you wouldn’t have really been with us once you got your hands on a gun stock or a book. Opening day of deer season – that was the worst. I missed the phone call I should have gotten about how you spent three minutes getting to your deer stand, shot the biggest buck anyone has ever seen within one minute of settling in, and then spent nine minutes getting it home, much to the disgust of every other person you ever hunted with. No one ever gets a deer as fast as you. That day was hard.

Poppa, we are okay. Mom misses you the most. Living without you is the hardest thing she’s ever done but you know how she raised us all. Independent. Fierce. Substantial. She is those things – that’s how you teach someone else to be those things. It’s just that some days the loss of you wears down the fierce and the substantial. Some days are harder than others. Today is one of those. I’m so sorry we lost you. I wish we never had to experience loss. But never experiencing loss means never having loved and that will never do. I lost you, Poppa, and that hurts so badly but I know that it means I loved you so much more. I’d never trade that out, never. Love rules, even over loss.

Today we will wave to you. Today we will talk about you a lot. Today we will mourn but we will also laugh and we will also love. You left us, but we are coming to you. Give us time. We will see you again. I’m just so damn happy about that.

In your words, Poppa, Thank You, Lord.

As ever, your favorite oldest daughter,

Mandy

Poppa

Advertisements

Updates, 2014

Oh, hey, yeah, I meant to tell you that I finished my “cleanse.” Remember, I was doing Whole 30 23, and I cut out all foods that had anything to do with grains, dairy, legumes, sugar and taste. I ate a lot of chicken and a lot of sweet potatoes. Remember that?

No, really, it wasn’t that bad. For 30 23 days I ate according to a certain plan in the hopes that I would kick some bad habits and finally get over sugar. Unfortunately that never happened. What I did do was endure to the end, the whole 30 23 days (the end being the day we had our professional headshots taken, and when I realized that my cheeks looked exactly the same as they did 23 days previous, I quit), and then jump right back into the foods I had always eaten, sugar included. Probably what spurred the quitting on day 30 23 were the dry heaves I got from a single bite of the same chicken and sweet potato I had eaten three days a week hence. I tried my best to choke it down but the moment I felt a revolt in my throat, I knew I was done with Whole 30 23.

Funnily enough, once I added back in all the foods, I never once felt like I was going to ralph. I guess I have a stomach of steel because by rights I should have felt miserable at the first bite of sugar but I didn’t. I do get sleepy when I eat sugar now, so I am diligent in trying to avoid it. Some other weird things happened to my palate, though. I can no longer eat regular mustard. It tastes like horseradish, and I’m about as fond of horseradish as I am raw onion. I can also no longer eat parmesan cheese. It tastes moldy and sour. Gross, quite frankly. These are two things I loved once so I’m slightly ticked off that Whole 30 23 gave me those aversions instead of the Beyonce booty I so richly deserved.

I have a few other updates and items of note.

Kidd

This is my headshot, the professional one I had to have made and the same one I was so snarky about. Look at those cheeks, would ya? Also, do you see how pink I am? That’s even after the photographer did some editing with color and whatnot. Martie and I are doing some corrections there, and tomorrow you can read all about it on her blog. I’ll link to it in the morning. Once you lament over my pink cheeks, have a gander at my hair. Martie does such fabulous work. Someone told me today that big hair belongs to the 80s and to Texas but I call her full of poop. The bigger the better. I’m so sorry that the beehive is passé. I’d rock that in a heartbeat.

I’ll be out of town next week on my fancy tropical cruise. Lest any of you thieves and robbers decide to remove my home of its valuables, please note that I have a roommate, a neighbor and two vicious attack cats, all of which would risk their lives to defend my home. I mean, in theory anyway. I’ll take loads of pics, hopefully none of men in Speedos, for your viewing pleasure. I’d treat this trip much like the Ireland trip with a post for every day that I’m gone but being as how Woney and I plan to spend every day viewing the ocean over our toes in a hammock, I doubt those posts would be of much interest to you.

A final note – have any of you read The Moonstone? Four years ago, I joined a book club. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, honestly, the way I read. I’ve attended this club nearly every month for four years and read some books that I would never recommend. Seriously, we pick some of the strangest books but almost every month there is a lone person who loved the month’s selection. The rest of us have strong opinions of them, not many of which are good. Eighteen months ago we read The Grapes of Wrath. Rather, it was supposed to have been read eighteen months ago. While I enjoyed it, it did take me nineteen months to finish it. I’m currently doing that with The Moonstone. Tonight we are to have a deep and philosophical discussion about the book and I will be able to do that but only about the first 350 pages, of which there are 667. The whole point of this, though, is to ask for other book recommendations. Anyone got anything good they recommend? I can only promise that nine out of ten of us will hate it, but we still might like to give it a whirl.

Y’all miss me next week, would ya?

Men, I Am Sorry

You guys ever listen to a song on the radio and suddenly you feel the need to glue on some false eyelashes as long as your arm and puff up your hair in a giant afro and grab a microphone into which you wail your guts out about how all men are dirtbags and you just want to squash all of them in their parts with the very pointy end of your stilettos (or your roller skates) upon which you are tottering around, all indignant and righteous even though no man has done you wrong and the men you do know are perfectly lovely?

Anyone have a song do that to them?

No?

Right. Me neither.

Unfounded righteous indignation begins after a redirect to Youtube and 15 seconds of advertising.

Video

And Then The Alternator Died

image 3

You see that second hood up, there? The blue one? That’s my car, in the shop again.

image 4

When does one decide to call it quits with a car? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m really asking. At what point do I say “uncle” and quit spending money on this car that is determined, it seems, to break every part in itself? Thus far I have spent 2/3 of the yearly money I would have spent on car payments. I guess if I come out even $5 less than what I would have spent in a year, I’m okay? I was rather hoping that I’d have time to actually save the money over the year and THEN put it back into my car but I guess that’s what I get for hoping.

While I’m in this lovely mood, I’d like to remind you that it is winter. You probably already knew that, what with all the blizzards and the snow and the busted pipes. And the electric bills that send you to the poor house. Because of winter, I’m behind on my posting. I’d like to tell you that lately I have had a life and have had no time for writing but that is a big fat lie. Lately I have had library books and a cozy sofa and warm blankets. Because it’s been cold, instead of going out to find some life, I’ve stayed home with Murphy and Seamus and read some really good and really bad books. It just sounded better to say I’ve had a life.

I am over winter. Over it. Winter can go F itself. It is the middle of March and I’m tired of the whiplash I’ve gotten from the wardrobe changes lately: fuzzy socks and a scarf! Shorts and a t-shirt! Two layers of sweatshirts! I’m roasting in these long sleeves! I’d like for the weather to pick a season and gradually work its way towards it, doling out each temperature range in small but steady bursts, like how nature was intended to perform back in the good old days when I was a kid.

At this point, when all of you are feeling mighty sorry for me, I suppose I should go ahead and tell you that my girls and I are going on a cruise soon. Woney, Squash and Nurse Bananahammock planned a trip to somewhere tropical for the four of us, but since I didn’t really plan it, I’m not sure where exactly we are going. One morning we were emailing and someone said, “Hey, we should go on a cruise.” The rest of us said, “Sure, let’s start looking at options.” I said, “I’m going to lunch. Be back soon!” Off I jetted and when I came back an hour later, they had all emailed and said, “Great, I’m glad we picked a place. Let’s book this afternoon?” Of course I said “Yes!” and then mailed off a check and just last week, I thought, “Huh. Perhaps I should see where we are going so that I can ensure I pack the appropriate clothing.” You know Woney and I never get the weather right so I don’t even know why I’m planning a seasonal wardrobe.

I keep thinking of the cruise with longing (and for the record, I just looked it up and it turns out we are going to Mexico – ooh, tropical!), and then am reminded of other trips I looked towards with longing: the tropical cruise Woney and I took two years ago that was not tropical at all, the trip to Ireland that was tropical much to my dismay, the drinking party that was my 40th birthday in Miami with my sisters.

IMG_1063

Actually, I didn’t intend for the Miami trip to be one giant drinking party. I intended for that to be a lazy, lie on the beach kind of trip and when I look back, that is what I fondly remember. What I had forgotten was the fish bowl margarita the three of us split, and the shots we took, all million of them taken in one night. I also forgot about our photo shoot on Ocean Drive and our text messages. Wait, here:

IMG_1011

Y’all, I sent that to Coach the first night we were in Miami. I did do a recap of that trip when we returned, but realized that you got the Pollyanna story and not the “Jimmie, Martie and The Squirt Had Some Drinks And This Is What Happened” story.

This is what happened.

IMG_1026

Martie is good at taking pictures. That is the caption for this photo.

IMG_1016.JPG

The Squirt found a car she liked. Bow chicka wow wow.

IMG_1014

Perhaps we liked the shoe? I wish I could explain it.

IMG_3347

This was what the whole trip was like. Laughing, just like this. And also, the trip was like this:

Pretty.

Warm. Sunny. Relaxing. I’m mourning the loss of that while I look at my frozen, brown yard and/or my broken car. I do love me some hoodies but I’m ready to not wear them every day. While winter is just ripping through here like a kid in a candy store, I’m dreaming of fruity drinks and swimmy suits and tanned legs. Until I go spend the rest of the money I don’t have on my third car repair of the year, I’ll sit here in this fancy schmancy McDonald’s and dream of my tropical respite. Please, God, let it be tropical. I just want it to be tropical.

UPDATE: My car repair was only $250! I can afford that! I took it over to 5th Gear Automotive in Hermitage and I Highly Recommend them. I offered to kiss the owner right on the mouth but with his wife sitting there ringing me up, I decided to withdraw my offer and hand over my debit card instead. I’m not destitute!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

If you are new to me, you need to know that I do some volunteer activities that involve me taking a group of people out for dinner once a month in a big old 15-passenger van. Every so often I write about it, giving fake names to my people, of course. You can always do a search over there on the right hand side, in the box that is cleverly titled “Search”, if you want to read other posts I’ve written about it. Just type in “senior citizens” or “volunteer” and all related posts should pop up. In news that has absolutely nothing to do with volunteering, if you’d like to see pictures of hot guys who are my friends, type in “Tony” or “Javier” or “Quan” or “Dammit Todd”. That ought to keep you busy for a while.

I had dinner with my senior citizens on Thursday night.* We skipped November and December as most of us have a lot going on and I get maybe two people who sign up in those heavy holiday months. For a while two people didn’t seem enough to merit a trip but when we met in January after our two-month hiatus, I was talking with my group about what they did for the holidays and Lillian said, “Christmas is just another day for me.”

I asked, “You didn’t spend it with your family?”

Lillian replied, “I don’t have any family. When you have no people, it’s just another day.”

I don’t need to tell you that I got a little misty-eyed as I vowed to never skip another month again, and I’ll urge you again, please find a way to give your time to a cause, whatever flips your skirt. Somebody, somedog, somecat out there needs you and I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how much you need them in return.

Anyway, I had dinner with my group and this month I picked Whiskey Kitchen* as our restaurant. I have no idea why I picked it. Probably it was the first name that popped into my head and at the time, it sounded like a marvelous idea because a lot of my people get pretty excited about Golden Corral, and I’d like for them to be a bit more adventurous than that. Whiskey Kitchen is in the Gulch (sort of downtown Nashville), and you can discern just by the name and the area that this was going to be a painfully trendy night. I’m not big on trendy at all. I find that trendy places typically have difficult and expensive parking options, that the waiting time is awfully long and that there is stuff on the menu I cannot pronounce, usually consisting of raw onion and duck liver. My group, in a unique turnaround, was very excited about Whiskey Kitchen, and for the first time in a year I had a full van and a waiting list of people desperate to go. It seems that a whole slew of them have always wanted to go but no one wanted to brave the awful traffic, the ridiculous parking and the long wait time, at least not alone. If I was driving and I was parking and I was there to entertain them, everyone wanted to go (unlike the time I took them to Suzy Wong’s House of Yum – also a painfully trendy place and every one of my group turned up their noses in a sneer at it). I guess it’s time to revisit the trendy places. It seems we have progressed.

As we were leaving the center for the restaurant, one of the directors walked out to the van to see us off. He poked his head in the back and said, “Really? Jimmie AND Jan are going? I might need to chaperone – this night could be interesting.” I was indignant! Well, I was indignant for about 30 seconds. After giving it some thought, I realized he was probably right as Jan is me in 30 years and neither of us ever suffer from boredom or lack of something to say.

I’ve told you about a few of my favorite people before, Lillian being one of them, Jan being another. I’ve got a new favorite – I’ll call her Nancy. Nancy is exactly what you’d expect a typical 70-something type grandmother to be. She’s soft spoken, gets her hair done once a week, wears her heirloom jewelry. She’s very sweet and kind to everyone and, as I learned, just chock full of surprises. I’ve known her for a few years now but I’m learning to never underestimate any of these people. Nancy was talking about a book club she joined online in which she pays a small fee and get wads of books sent to her for almost nothing. She was telling us about a book she recently got: “It looked like it was maybe a romance book, I like those, and once I got into it, I realized that it was a romance book but it was about two men. I thought maybe I should stop reading it but do you know what kinds of things two men get up to in the bedroom? Well, I didn’t and this book told me all about it, so I read it. I wanted to know. I learned a lot.”

And Marge sat there listening to every word with her mouth hanging open, entranced. “Did you finish the book,” she asked.

“I did,” said Nancy. “You want to borrow it?”

“Yes!” yelped Marge, and I just sat there a little stunned. I never . . . .

As we were leaving that night, stuffed full of food whose names I could pronounce, the van was very quiet. It always is on the ride home, a 180 degree turn from the trip to the restaurant where the chatter is so much I cannot hear one conversation over another. We passed Déjà Vu, the strip club on the corner of Demonbreun and something (I’m not so good with directions), and I said “Who’s up for a stop at Déjà Vu?”

Jan piped up from the back seat, “Not tonight, Jimmie. I don’t work there on Thursday nights. Only Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They wouldn’t be expecting to see me with my clothes on.”

And that right there is why I do this. I love these people. I guess next time the center director will have to say, “Jimmie AND Jan AND Nancy AND Marge? I might need to chaperone – this night could get interesting.”

*The group I volunteer with is Fifty Forward. I Highly Recommend it if you know anyone aged fifty and above who needs some excitement in their life. Fifty Forward offers weekly trips, daily activities, health and wellness classes, jewelry making classes, international travel and a lot of camaraderie and companionship. Many of the members are widowed or alone for various reasons, and many, many friendships stem from their meeting at the center. While I’m Highly Recommending things, I’ll also Highly Recommend Whiskey Kitchen. Aside from the man wearing a bow tie and fashionably ugly glasses at the table behind us who hollered “MF-er!” and “F-er!” during his entire conversation, the experience was fabulous. The chef was accommodating, the food was fantastic and the staff was just lovely. Brave the drive and the parking and go. Totally worth it.