The heart remembers…

The heart remembers…

daffodils

 This was originally published in My Southern Heart…the Stories.

It was August of 1994 and I had just lost my Mother at the age of 90. It was a deeply sad time for me and my three sisters and our families. I was working full-time and still had an eighth grader at home, so I did my best to keep life steady and “normal”. I had lost my Dad four years before. I was only 48 and had lost both my parents. Years later, my children would be 36, 35 and 25 when they lost their father.

I would drive the short drive home from work every day and spend my lunch hour writing about Mama…and my family. It ended up being the best way for me, for as I typed, the tears fell and I grieved. I compiled a cookbook of Mama’s recipes and included the following story with it.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama…

 
“The Heart Remembers . . . “

A soft rain was falling as we left for the cemetery after Mama’s funeral service. We were taking her back to the “hills” of Mississippi to rest in peace beside Daddy. Driving through the winding country back roads of the small Mississippi towns, I noticed the pines, the fields of green crops and the scattered farm houses. This country haven had been the home of her youth, where she had lived with her parents and her five brothers and sisters.

Ninety years.  The last of four daughters, I had been born when she was forty-one.  Although she had always been young to me, still I had not known her as my older sisters had.  Often they had laughed and talked about their youth and the days “on the farm”. . . picking cotton, milking cows, riding a school bus to a small country school and the friends that they had known there.  They had also talked about the hard times – the times that come naturally with growing up on a farm in a small Mississippi town.

Now, the windshield wipers beat out a steady rhythm with the softly falling rain, as the slightly rolling patchwork hills of green stretched out before us.

She had been a school girl once . . . a young girl who loved to sing and play hymns on an old pump organ in the house where she had lived as a child. I remembered the one picture I had seen of her as a young teenager. Petite, fair and pretty. In a later picture, I saw a young lady holding a parasol, dressed fashionably for the day.
She had fallen in love and eloped with my father and would be married to him for the remainder of her life.  A quiet gentle man, he had loved and protected her and perhaps even spoiled her in his own way. He had been patient with her, especially after a stroke claimed her speech and altered her personality.

Now I wondered about the early years . . .what her parents had been like, about her childhood, if she had always been as creative as I had known her.  Winter mornings often found her quilting over the “wooden horses” set up in the middle of the living room.  She sewed beautifully and made many of our clothes, even my wedding gown.

She was in her mid-fifties when she went to driving school and learned to drive – seldom more than thirty miles per hour though – much to my chagrin. Whenever she set her mind to accomplish something, she was persistent. Years later, I would see that persistence again and again . . . as she recovered from a major stroke twelve years before her death and struggled to regain a portion of her speech . . . after she broke her hip and spent many weeks in rehab learning to walk again, only to break the other hip two weeks after returning home.

I was a teen-ager before I knew that she had a gift for writing. For some reason, long since forgotten, she began to recount a story about her brother, Bill, and something that had happened to him on one of his cross-country trips as a truck driver. Had I realized then how quickly time would pass, I would have encouraged her to write about her life . . . and the events I so wondered about now.

I smile to think now that I never thought of Mama as aging. I knew, of course, that time was passing. I grew up, got married, had a family – just as my sisters had . . . but still, for the longest time, she remained the same in my eyes. Of course, I would notice the subtle changes that age would bring, but the Loving Care “soft plush brown” covered her gray hair; and her indomitable spirit remained the same. Years later, recovering from a stroke, the “soft plush brown” would be forgotten. . . and we would laugh with joy to discover that Mama had the most beautiful soft white hair, the perfect complement to her blue eyes . . . and she would laugh at our amazement.

As we continued our journey to the cemetery, a song on the radio reminded me of an earlier time and place . . . a Christmas just a few years past when Mama and Daddy had spent weeks apart . . . in separate hospitals in Memphis. My sisters and I had shared the vigil of staying with each of them around the clock. For the most part, Mama’s speech was gone, but she managed to ask often where Daddy was. I can’t remember now whether or not we told her the truth – or whether we tried to protect her, but I do remember an early December morning, driving home after staying with Mama at the hospital all night, and the words to the bittersweet ballad by Kathy Mattea playing on the radio:

“. . .They’d never spent a night apart. For sixty years she heard him snore. Now they’re in hospital in separate beds on different floors. . . .she soon lost her memory; forgot the names of family. She never spoke a word again.. . then one day they wheeled him in. He held her hand and stroked her head. In a fragile voice she said, Where have you been? I’ve looked for you forever and a day. Where have you been? I’m just not myself when you’re away.”

A few days after that, we were able to take Daddy to the hospital to see Mama. It was a bright but bitter cold Saturday morning before Christmas. Though he was still very weak, he was cheerful and excited about our excursion and the fact that we had planned a surprise for Mama. My sisters were already there as we rolled Daddy’s wheelchair into Mama’s room. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as they reached out to touch one another and Mama said, clearly this time, “Where’ve you been?. . .You’ve been gone so long.”

Now, many months later, as we faced the task of dividing our parent’s possessions, representing a lifetime together, we cried together and remembered. Each little thing brought back a memory, and we talked about it and cried again. Our parents had not been able to leave a great deal of wealth or material possessions, but what they had given to their four daughters was even more valuable. People of a strong but quiet faith, they trusted God in their daily lives. Family was immensely important to each of them and they rejoiced with each of our successes or joys and offered support and caring during the hard times we faced. At times, we would believe we were protecting them from some “bad news” or tragic event, but they were never surprised or unable to handle any situation . . . and usually had some words of wisdom.

A family is woven together with many different cords or “threads”. Perhaps the strongest thread, lasting a lifetime, is love. The most precious gift, given to each of their four daughters, four sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was a strong love for and belief in each of us.

Turquoise…

Turquoise…

turquoisebedding

I love the color turquoise.  I love it paired with any number of colors – white, yellow, green, red.  I love it paired with copper.

My love affair with decorating and the color turquoise started years ago…when I was a high school student.  I had a part-time job at a neighborhood bakery after school for a while (until it appeared it would challenge keeping make my A+ average).  I remember taking part of my meager salary (we’re talking 50 years ago when the hourly minimum wage was downright sad) and surprising Mama with everything needed to redecorate our one bathroom in the little house on Victor Drive.

I was only 16 years old maybe and knew absolutely nothing about decorating.  Nevertheless, I purchased turquoise paint for the bathroom walls, white paint for the trim, and a turquoise and white striped shower curtain.  I added some new white towels to the mix and  headed home to surprise Mama.  She was surprised – though she said I shouldn’t have spent my money on the house.  Even so, I think she was happy and we set about painting.  Have you ever wished you could go back in time – knowing what you know now?  I’d like one more shot at that little bathroom with the skills and knowledge acquired over the past 50 years.  All the same, it was an improvement and Mama liked it.

lamp

Earlier this week, I created a “board” about the color turquoise on Pinterest.  It was fun sorting and browsing through all the ways turquoise is enjoyed.   If you don’t know about Pinterest, I wrote about the joys of  Pinterest here.   If you’d like to see my turquoise board, it’s here.   These photos are on my Pinterest board and are from another favorite place of mine:  Joss and MainThere’s a link to “follow me” on my Pinterest site and I’d love it if you did!

turquoisebedding

throw

Decorating…

Decorating…

Summer+Floral+I+Canvas+Print

The finishing of the “basement” at Doug’s townhome is progressing nicely.  The HVAC, electrical, drywall and painting are all getting close to being completed.  We’ve ordered a light beige plush carpet for the guest bedroom and purchased a cream colored stone/ceramic tile for the bathroom and a beautiful laminate wood floor for all the rest of the space:  the family room, office and my “super closet”.  The wood floor will be an enormous project!  For now, the decorating is all coming together in my head and purchasing as well.  It is very exciting!

I will post pictures of the space as soon as it is a little further along.  In the meantime, I will share a few decorating plans/purchases.  The walls of the family room and office are painted Country Linens by Behr paints.  It is a warm color but not too dark.  Our furniture will look great in the midst of it.  (We’ve ordered new furniture for the upstairs living room – that will be for a later post!)

The guest bedroom is painted several shades lighter than Country Linens but in the same “family”.  The bathroom adjoining the guest bedroom is painted a rich vanilla called Accolade by Pittsburgh Paint.  The bathroom is small and will benefit from a lighter color.

We went with a corner shower – not that large but it will be great for occasional guests.  I love the vanity we selected below.  We’re using brushed nickel fixtures.

I purchased soft “spa blue” towels called “Lagoon blue” to go in the guest bathroom.  As well as a few accessories from the Mosaic Leaves collection by Croscill.  I love the colors!vanitymosaicleavesrug

mosaicleavesMy favorite thing about the downstairs guest bath will be the artwork!  If you haven’t shopped Joss and Main, take a peek at their site!  Right now, they’re having a great sale – including their art work!  One (or two) of the 18″ x 26″ canvas paintings below will go in the master bath…just not sure which one(s) yet!  I really like them all!

Twelve+Sunflowers+by+Van+Gogh+Canvas+Print Summer+Floral+I+Canvas+Print Path+Through+the+Corn+at+Pourville+by+Monet+Canvas+Print

Angels…

Angels…

guardianangel

I’ve often wondered what my guardian angel looks like.  Maybe a little like Clarence in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life?  Or is he more like what I think Gabriel must look like…with the strength of a warrior?  We can’t see them of course – angels – but they’re there.  The Bible tells us they are.

When I was growing up, there was a picture, a simple unframed print, tacked up on the wall of the hallway in the little house on Victor Drive.  Years later, that simple print became mine.  It was, and is, one of my treasures.  There is a tiny hole near the top of the print where it had been tacked to the wall for years.  I treasure that tiny hole as well…for it brings back memories of that little house on Victor Drive.

guardianangel

I’ve since had the print – tiny hole and all – professionally matted and framed.  It now hangs in my guest room and will always be in whatever home I’m in.  The angel watching over the small children reminds me that I’ve been protected on more than one occasion – no doubt you have as well – and could tell stories to my grandchildren about those times.

Maybe my angels would remind me of some of those stories – if they could. 

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.  Psalms 91:11

Time…

Time…

clocksonbedsidetable2

I’ve always been fascinated with “time”.  It’s a simple concept really.  The world turns…the hands of the clock go round and round…and time passes.  The movement of time seemingly at a snail’s pace when you’re young and then on the wings of an eagle as time literally flies by as one gets older.  All of a sudden – or so it seems – you’re a grandmother.  You wonder where in the world all that time actually went.  And suddenly you realize there are only so many decades left on this earth…God willing.

A few weeks ago, I “babysat” my two oldest grandchildren while their dad was at one of the “March Madness” games in Ohio and their mom and younger siblings were at a swim meet in Minneapolis.  A fifteen year old and a seventeen year old just aren’t interested in sitting on bleachers all day and so I was recruited.

We had a good weekend with a lot of laughter and fun activities.  I had just had my cataract surgery a week before and couldn’t see well enough to drive yet.  And so my seventeen year old grandson chauffeured us wherever we wanted to go.

On Sunday morning, I climb into the back seat (my idea) and my two firstborn grandchildren sit in the front seat on our way to church.  Just then, I have a flashback:  it is January, 17 years earlier.  I’m in Indiana and it is snowing like crazy.  My daughter is in labor two hours away.  Nothing could have stopped her dad and me from making that journey of course – certainly not a snowstorm or icy, treacherous roads.  Twenty-four hours of labor later on my precious daughter’s part and they are first-time parents.  And I am, at last, a grandmother.

clocksonbedsidetable

From the back seat, I observe my seventeen-year-old grandson driving safely.  He and his sister are laughing, chatting about something.  I pick up my cell phone and call my daughter at the swim meet.  I want to check on my granddaughter’s progress in the meet and share the following amazing thought.  When she answers, I say, “you know, I remember the day he was born and here he is seventeen years later driving his grandmother to church!  What happened to all that time?!”

Tomorrow night is Junior-Senior Prom night.  My grandson and his date and another young couple are having dinner at my daughter’s house.  My daughter volunteered to prepare one of her delicious pasta dishes (with homemade pasta) and homemade rosemary bread.  I’ve had them both and they’re delicious!  I volunteered to make a large tossed green salad and a chocolate éclair cake for dessert.  We’ll get dinner all ready with tablecloth and cloth napkins…and then disappear upstairs…after we take a few pictures of course.

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Another milestone…another track in time. 

If you’re curious about the number of times I’ve written about the idea of  TIME, go to my earlier blog My Southern Heart and type the word TIME in the blog search bar!

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