Tag Archives: loyalty

I did!

“The highest happiness on earth is the happiness of marriage.”
—William Lyon Phelps

So, remember that post I wrote a while back called “I do?”  Well, guess what?

I did!

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Our family

On November 1, 2014, Richard and I were married.  FINALLY!

I wanted to wait until I got the professional pics back to write a blog about our wedding, but I just decided that I couldn’t wait anymore.  There were so many magical moments that I don’t want to let slip out of my memory.  I figured I better get them out here before they’re lost…I’m not a spring chicken anymore, ya know.  So, here goes!

Well, first of all, for those of you who aren’t local, or who weren’t present, November 1 dawned with a slight surprise.  After mid-week temps in the 70s, November 1 decided to be the day that the first snow fell.  And we’re not talking flurries here, people.  We’re talking Snow. With a capital S.  Wanna see?

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Our house on Wedding Day

Yep, we got a good 3-4 inches of snow overnight, and it was still falling. Now, mind you, our wedding was to be held right here at our house. In our living room. We couldn’t help but wonder how this was going to affect the turnout, but honestly we weren’t all that worried.  We had a very small wedding planned that consisted of mostly family and a few close friends…it was the reception later that might be affected by the weather.  As for the wedding, most of the people who were going to be present were already safe and secure inside our home anyway, so we were good to go!  No worries, right?

And then comes the call from the hairdresser.

“Um, yeah, the weather is a little too rough for me. I’m not going to make it.”

*Sigh*  So, I’m not the “hire a hair dresser” type anyway, but I was actually looking forward to this.  This lady had offered to come to our house and get myself and my daughter and my step-daughter (awww…”step-daughter”…yay!) ready so that it would be at least one less stressor on my plate. So, I hadn’t done anything to “plan” any kind of hairstyle for any of us, because it didn’t have to be my problem. Ha…wrong. Welcome to “this is your problem now.”  Crap!

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My niece Emaree…stepping in as hairdresser extraordinaire

No worries, though.  With family surrounding me, we had this covered.  First, up stepped my five-year-old niece Emaree.  She got me all brushed out and ready to go.  What more could a bride need, right? 😉  And then, after she had us all tangle-free, her mom – my saintly sister Cathy – stepped in and finished the job.  Thank God for sisters!  I think we ladies probably looked even better than we would have if the hairdresser would have shown up, don’t you?  WeddingE(Thank you, Cathy!!!)

So, hairstyle catastrophe averted, it was on to the ceremony.

After my fantastic husband-to-be drove to town to pick up our photographer and bring her to the house to keep her from having to drive in the snow, everyone was officially present and accounted for, including our three impromptu flower girls.  Impromptu flower girls, you ask?  Well, let’s just say that we had three little girls that were bound and determined that a wedding is just not a wedding without flower girls.

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Bridal party…WITH flower girls

So, my wonderful aunt Stacey made a last minute dash to Walmart for some flower petals and…voila!  Flower girls.

(Hey, if the ladies aren’t happy….no one is happy.  Capisce?)

[Thank you, Kenzie, Emaree, and Elise….you girls were perfect!!!]

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Fireplace

The ceremony was short and simple, but not without that special Edmondson sentimentality thrown in here and there. For one thing, we got married in the very spot that Richard’s mother and late father were married in – in front of the fireplace in the living room.

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Photo display

At the beginning of the ceremony, Richard lit a candle in front of a picture of his father to honor his memory and make him a part of our special day.  Also, together with the picture of Richard’s father, we placed photos in the window of all of the weddings and receptions before ours that took place in and around this home.  (Ours was definitely not the first union of love in this spot, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last.)

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The Edmondson/Halsey family

After many tears were shed and rings were exchanged, we then joined as a family to participate in a sand ceremony, with each of us adding our own color sand to the glass jar representing the joining of our two families.   And there it was….the deed was done.  Our new family was officially complete.

Then, a few hours later, it was on to the reception!  Here’s where we were surprised by the turnout.  Apparently the weather didn’t stop many people, we had a house FULL of love and laughter that evening. So many people dropped by to celebrate with us…and oh, the food!  So much food!

Speaking of food…I almost forgot to mention our wedding “cake!”  Instead of going with a cake, we decided to do cupcakes.  I had that in my head from the beginning (seemed less formal somehow and that was kind of the theme to this whole thing) so an idea hit me one day.  One of our little theatre buddies, Rowan (age 14), is quite the little baker.  Oh, who am I kidding?  We’re talking child prodigy here, people.  For real.  So, I asked Richard a few months ago how he would feel about us hiring a 14-year-old as our wedding cupcake maker.  His response?  He absolutely loved the idea.  And the finished result?

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Cupcake tower a la Rowan

WOW!

The kid’s got some mad skillz, yo.  We were thrilled….and so were our guests!

Oh, there were just so many wonderful, unique, amazing things that happened as part of my wedding day, that I just don’t know how to list them all in one blog post. From a winter-storm related power outage during the reception (yep…that happened), to my former theatre director giving me “notes” after the wedding (yep…that happened too…”Okay, next time a little less weepy and a little more in control of your emotions”…), this wedding had it all, my friends.  Memories, galore.

And then some.

If you were a part of my wedding day, near or far, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  We felt the love that day, for sure.  Not only the massive amount of love that we felt for each other, but the outpouring of love from our friends and family as well. We have never felt so honored.

It was the perfect day…winter storm and all.

Check back for another blog post after we get our professional photos back!  I want to give mad props to my friend and photographer Bobbi Jo in that post and showcase her and her excellent work.  I can’t wait to show you!

Thank you for traveling through my wedding day with me by reading this blog. I can’t wait to come back and read this over and over throughout the years and remember how very happy I was on November 1, 2014.  And how very “right” it all felt.

Here’s to many, many years of bliss!

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My love

***
“I think a lot of people get so obsessed with the wedding and the expense of the wedding that they miss out on what the real purpose is. It’s not about a production number, it’s about a meaningful moment between two people that is witnessed by people that they actually really know and care about.”
– Jane Seymour
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More Than Words

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe

I was just recently given an awesome opportunity to be a part of an art exhibit.  Yep, you heard that right.  An art exhibit.  Me…the girl who can’t even draw stick figures…in an ART exhibit!  How do ya like them apples?!

Okay, so there was a bit of a catch. I wasn’t allowed to draw. Or paint. Or color. Or create stick figures. They just wanted my words.

Words. In an art exhibit!

When I first heard about this idea, I was a little confused. Um…you want my words in your art exhibit? Come again? But once I started getting into and realizing what this whole thing was about, I was blown away by the idea.

So, here’s how it worked.  Our local Ashe County Arts Council paired up local writers with local artists. (What their criteria was in this selection process is beyond me, but somehow they managed to pair me with exactly the right person. I know that without a doubt.  My artist partner Gerry and I clicked from the get-go.)  Once our pairs were determined, we were given a “project.”  I was to give Gerry something I had written, and she was to give me something she had painted.  She was to use the writing I had given her to inspire a new work of art.  And I, in turn, was to use her painting to inspire a new written work of art.

Pretty cool, huh?

And then, as part of an exhibit that opened up on September 10, each artist/writer pair’s work was hung in the art gallery together – side-by-side with the piece of art that inspired their creation.  The official reception for the artists and writers and anyone who wanted to view their works was on the night of Friday, September 12. Gerry and I found each other and, while standing near our display, found ourselves overcome with the emotional responses our work brought about.

Now, I can’t speak for Gerry, but as a writer – this was pretty new to me.  I’m not used to “watching” people read my work.  You know?  I write it – I send it out in the world – and then I just hope it touches someone somewhere who may have needed to hear it. I may get feedback sometimes, but it’s rare that I get to actually see their responses.  This night, though?  Oh, this night was so different.

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Photo by Chris Arvidson

This picture here to the right is a photo that my dear friend and fellow writer Chris Arvidson took that night.  I would have remembered this moment forever even without the photographic evidence, but I can’t believe that she was so eloquently able to capture it at just the right time.  This woman, among others, was actually moved to tears after reading what I had written and seeing Gerry’s painting that accompanied it.  The photo captured her turning back to us to tell us how much it had meant to her.

Wow.

Isn’t that the coolest?

This is why I do what I do, people. This is why musicians make music. Why singers sing. Why painters paint. Why actors act.  We do these things for this moment right here.  To know that for just one moment in time, two human beings became one in their emotions. Someone out there looked at what we created and said, “Yes.”  That’s it.  Just yes. Yes, I have felt that.  Yes, I know that feeling.  Yes, I know you.  Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m telling you people, there’s nothing like it.

morethanwords2So, if you’re local, do yourself a favor.  Go by and check out this exhibit.  It will be on display through October 4th at the Ashe Arts Center, located at 303 School Avenue, West Jefferson, North Carolina. Gerry and I are just one of many pairs that have contributed to this, and each story, poem, painting, and piece of artwork tells a story that you need to hear.  Come by and have your emotions reawakened.  After all, that’s the beauty of art in all its forms, isn’t it?

(And by the way, you’ll definitely want to see what Gerry created from my poem Escape.  A photo just wouldn’t do it justice. You’re going to want to see this one in person.)

And now, in closing, I’ll leave you with the poem Gerry’s market painting inspired me to write.  It’s entitled “Market Visitor.”

Thanks for being here, my fellow humans!  Stop to notice something special today, won’t you?

Market Visitor

What’s that I see coming near?
She must be lost. Why’s she here?
She stops to stare—is it at me?
Oh how I wonder what she sees.

What’s that she’s taking—a photograph?
She wants my picture? What a laugh!
Surely there must be some mistake,
What image is here for her to take?

“Hello there, old girl,” she says with glee,
“Oh, what a sight you are to see.
The forgotten beauty of a long-lost saint—
Ah, what a joy you’ll be to paint.”

An artist? With an interest in me?
Underneath all this ruin, could she see?
The people I’ve seen come and go,
The life I’ve lived—how does she know?

Does she see beyond the tattered boards,
The broken windows, rotting doors?
As she gazes at outer walls worn thin,
Does she know of all the life within?

Can she hear the laughter of children at play,
Hear the hustle and bustle from back in the day?
Does she see the past once filled with life
The fun-filled days, the peaceful nights?

The pleasantries once exchanged within
The constant motion, ceaseless din—
Are now only memories in this silent shrine
Slowly fading away with the passage of time.

And yet with one visit, something feels refreshed
I pull myself together, try to look my very best
For the story behind these shadows might finally be seen
All because one artist took the time to stop and notice me.

– Melissa Halsey Caudill, 2014

The Company You Keep

“You are known by the company you keep.”
– Heather Dubrow

I noticed something this week that I would like to share with you.

See that quote up there?  I’ve heard that sort of thing all my life. I always applied it to friendships and the workplace and things of that nature.  But something else has just recently dawned on me. The company that I keep is not really friends or coworkers at all. The people I’m around the most is my family.  And I want to tell you a little something about a few of them.

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Richard and Kelly

See these gorgeous creatures right here?  This is my boyfriend Richard and my daughter Kelly. Now, between Richard and I, we have a total of four children.  But for various reasons (other parents, summer commitments, etc.), the other three aren’t around quite as much as Kelly is these days. So, more often than not, it’s just the three of us spending time together. That makes them the two people that I spend most of my life with.  The “company I keep” if you will.

And I want to tell you a little something about them.

This week my community theatre is putting on a marvelous production of Les Misérables. This is a massive musical that is not known to be done by small community theatres…but ours didn’t let that silly little fact stop them.  Now, usually, I would be involved in the show since I’m the actor in the family.  But I decided to sit this one out for a while. I just didn’t think I had the energy to put into it (you can’t imagine the time and dedication it takes to put on any musical – much less this one! – unless you’ve been involved in one before).  But, as it turns out, I ended up being the only one of our little threesome that wasn’t involved.  Both Richard and Kelly volunteered their time to be “techies.”

Now, for this past week (the week that has lead up to the show), Richard and Kelly have been scarce.  They have spent their every waking moment at the theatre.  This is quite a turn of events for me.  Usually I’m the one at the theatre while the rest of my family sits at home wondering how late I’ll be coming home. It was odd being on the receiving end of that for a change. However, I honestly haven’t minded the time alone. I was able to catch up on some laundry, some cleaning, some reading…and some thinking.  While piddling around the house last night (opening night!), a thought crept into my mind:  My boyfriend and my daughter are just friggin awesome.

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The Southern House in Transit

Now, I’ve always known this, of course.  This wasn’t a “new” thought.  But last night, I had something specific to apply it to.

For those of you who don’t know, Richard is a musician.  He’ll tell you he plays the drums but just owns a guitar – but he’s full of it. He plays them both and is wonderful at it.  Oh, and he sings, too.  This man who has the ability and talent to get up in front of audiences and make beautiful music (even making some decent money at it at times), has spent the past few weeks of his life volunteering to help others sound their best. He’s the one you won’t see when you go see this phenomenal performance, but everything you hear will be because of him. The man who makes music is just as happy (if not happier) this week in the shadows watching as he makes sure you can hear the actors making music.

I don’t know, man.  There’s just something about that.  Such humility. Such a lack of need for attention or applause.  The ability to derive pleasure from helping others receive recognition.  That’s no small feat, in my little book.

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Kelly as Annie

And then there’s my little Kelly.

Kelly is no stranger to the spotlight.  This is the girl who played the role of Annie last year to five straight sold-out audiences.  She got up in front of hundreds of people and sang her heart out, while “Sandy” jumped on her, licked her face, sniffed in her pockets for the treats she knew were there…etc.  I’m telling you, Kelly was a pro. It’s hard enough to trust other actors when you’re onstage, but to get through an entire scene with just you and a canine as your co-star…and while singing!?…let’s just say this kid earned some serious points in my respect book for those awesome skills.  But you know what I respect even more?

The role she’s playing now.

That’s right.  This week, little Annie’s redhead is nowhere to be seen.  That spotlight that she knew so well last year?  She’s now sitting behind it.  She’s the follow spot operator.  She is making sure that you can see others as they shine.  And you know what?  She loves it.  Like I mentioned before – that takes a special kind of person.  A person who is not looking for recognition, but just wants to help.  She’s just as happy shining the light on others as she was feeling it on her own face as she played a title role to a sold-out audience. In fact, I think she’s a bit happier doing what she’s doing now.

Wow.

I hope you don’t mind the fact that I took an entire blog to give a shout-out to these two wonderful people in my life.  If that old saying is true – if you really are known by the company you keep – then I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am to be known as the mom to that hard-working little girl and the one who is loved by that humble, talented man.

What a lucky lady am I.

***

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Richard’s Hands

The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
– Anne Frank

So, I’m guessing your response to reading this title is about the same response Richard had when I asked him for a picture of his hand for my blog.

“You want to write about what?”

But yep.  ‘Tis true. I want to tell you a story about Richard’s hands.

Now let me start out by saying this: If you know me, you’ll know that it is rare for me to be especially observant of anything. Ever. (I’m the girl who drove by a wreck once without seeing it.)  And yet, even with this being the case, those sexy man-hands of the man I love have especially caught my attention in the past few days. So much so that I knew I wanted to write about them. And even I wondered myself where I was going to go with that idea – how in the world would I write a whole blog on a man’s hands?  And who in their right mind would actually want to read the dang thing? But finally, I sat down and started to write and, as is often the case, the words started coming out on their own without my help.

I now know exactly why I wanted to write this blog.

Richardshand1First of all, see this picture?  This is the “you want to take picture of what?” picture that I asked Richard for.  If you’ll notice, his poor little thumb is kinda shattered. You want to know why that is?  Well, this sweet guy of mine has spent the past week or so building a chicken coop.  Has he ever built a chicken coop before? Nope. Is he a carpenter? Nope. (Note the smashed thumb…) Do we even have a farm? Nope again. But by golly, this fella wanted some chickens, and he got them. And then he wanted them to have a nice place to live. So he built it.

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Chicken coup a la Richard

Watching him spend hours of his time and go through cuts and scrapes and bruises in the process over six little chickens that he has grown to love kind of touched a soft spot in my heart all on its own. But then, after looking at his hands and seeing the work they went through for those silly little chickens, I started thinking about all of the other things those hands have done in the past few days.

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Sweet little Sassy

I moved in with Richard about six months ago. Part of this move involved leaving behind a sweet little neighbor doggy named Sassy whom I had grown to love over the years. It was hard leaving her behind, even though we had no shortage of animals at Richard’s house. Between my cat, his cat and dog, his four horses, and our newly acquired six chickens, we were definitely doing okay in the pet department.  And yet…I still missed that sweet little Sassy. I found myself looking at pictures of dogs that were up for adoption – something I had never done before in my life. Sometimes, half jokingly, I would forward these pictures on to Richard with the standard “Awwww, look, Richard…we NEED this dog!” message and he would playfully, but not-so-jokingly, respond with, “We don’t need another dog.” To which I would remind him each and every time that we were all evenly paired up – he and I, my son and daughter, his son and daughter, his male cat and my female cat – all that was left was to find a boy playmate for sweet little lonely Lucy, his female German shepherd. He never took the bait though.

That is, until this week.

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Facebook ad pic

In what was strictly an accident (really), I clicked on a link by mistake on Facebook that took me into a buy/sale group for the area I used to live in. When I realized my error and started to click out of it, a picture caught my attention.  There, in all his adorable sweet glory, was a little dog that needed a home soon, or else he was being sent to the pound.  A little boy.  A little boy who happened to look like a brown version of the little Sassy that I missed so much. I read the details about him and the more I read, the more I realized that this really was the dog that would complete our family. I prepared myself to beg Richard.  I sent him the standard “We neeeeeeeeeed this dog” (added a few more E’s for emphasis this time) to which I expected to receive the “We don’t need another dog” message.  But, much to my surprise, that’s not what popped up on my screen.

Those sexy man hands?  They typed this message back to me: “He sure does look like a sweet little fella.”

Whoa.  What did he just say?  Where’s the “No?”  Did I actually have a chance?

So I immediately responded with all the “Here’s why he’d be perfect for us” specs.  The next message those glorious hands typed?

“Well, looks like we have a new dog.”

I was ecstatic!  We were getting a dog!!

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Little John safe in the hands of his new daddy

The next few days were a whirlwind.  Those hands of his drove us over an hour and a half one-way that very day to pick up my new baby.  [We named him Little John Sampson. I know, I know, what kind of name is that?  Long story. Basically it started as a joke – if you’re a James Patterson fan, you’ll recognize the character name – but the “joke” kind of stuck.  Little John it was!]

We were absolutely in love.

And then, the very next day, something horrible happened. Little John went missing.

He had just been outside playing with Lucy (the two were getting along perfectly) and then – just like that – he was gone.  Those hands of Richard’s had to do something that I know broke his heart…they had to type me the message that said, “Sweetheart, I’m sorry, but I can’t find Little John…”

I left work and headed home to help look for him. He was gone.  Just…gone.

I couldn’t believe how quickly I had fallen in love with that little boy. His being missing broke my heart in two. I cried and cried and then cried some more. I was so mad at myself. I questioned our ever going to get him in the first place and beat myself up over not taking care of him like I should have. How did I let him disappear like that?

richardshand6Those hands of Richard’s held me while I cried. They wiped off the tears, they patted my back. And then, feeling like they weren’t doing enough, they went to the computer and typed out a “Lost Dog” flier.  Then, they went out and hung the flier up at all the local stores and at the fire department that happens to be at the end of our long driveway.

That night, a storm came. All I could think about was how sweet Little John would never find his way back now that the rains would have washed the scent of his trail away.  (I was convinced that he has just run off and had gotten lost in the woods behind our home…I had little hope that the fliers would work or that anyone would actually find him.) Richard and I spent a restless, sad night, missing the sweet little dog that had already stolen both our hearts in the short time that he had been with us.

The next morning, I sullenly went off to work while Richard got to work in his home office. After being at work for a few hours, I somewhat reluctantly decided to post a “Have you seen our dog” picture on Facebook, ashamed to admit that he was already lost so soon after we had gotten him. I just had to do something. I didn’t know if it would work, but it was worth a try.

Within minutes, those hands of Richard’s that I so adore typed the following comment on my picture: “Guess who made it home?” Following the comment, was a picture of my sweet Little John all wet and muddy, but safe and sound.

Our baby was home.

Turns out, those fliers that those sweet hands made had actually worked. Sweet Little John had made his way to the fire department at the end of our driveway and, after realizing he was lost and a storm was coming, had planted himself under the back porch of the fire house and refused to budge. Prior to seeing Richard’s flier, one of the firefighters had been attempting to catch him, but he was hiding and wouldn’t come out. Once the man saw the flier, he called Richard and told him to come get our baby. Once Little John realized it was his daddy calling for him this time, he made his way out and right back into daddy’s waiting hands.

richardshand5That night, Richard’s hands went to work again cleaning up our sweet baby and getting him ready for mommy snuggles again. Our Little John was right back in his rightful place – the last little piece of the puzzle that made our family complete.

And all of this happened because of Richard’s hands.  Those hard-working hands that are so full of love, compassion, tenderness, and strength. Those hands that are strong enough to take care of the tough work that needs to be done, and can then turn around and be tender enough to take care of the gentle tasks like wiping away a woman’s tears and cradling a scared puppy.

Yes sir, I gotta hand it to him (see what I did there?)…that man sure is something special. And I will be more than honored to hold on to those beautiful hands for the rest of my life.

Welcome to a life full of love, sweet Little John. You’re gonna have the best daddy around.

***

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

“I don’t give a shit if kids take too many selfies or listen to bands I don’t like. They’re smarter, braver and care more than we give them credit for, and that’s pretty much always been the case.”
– Zack Foley

(I hope you’ll pardon my French with that quote above, but censoring it just wouldn’t have packed the same punch.)

I had been toying with a blog idea in my head for a while when I scrolled through Facebook and the above quote caught my attention.  A friend of mine was quoting a friend of his and what he had to say fit right along with the blog I had in my head. So, I asked permission to share it and there you have it.  And here’s why I liked it so much.

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My brilliant little Kelly in all her selfie glory

It’s true.

So incredibly true.

Case in point: my daughter, Kelly.  Those kids Mr. Foley refers to in his quote?  Oh yeah, my kiddo fits it to a tee. That little selfie-taking, weird-music-loving teenager of mine is everything that quote describes.  Especially that last part.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Richard and I were…um, let’s say…having some “issues.”  Okay, let’s just call it what it was. We were fighting. And it was bad. Now, if you haven’t heard me mention this before, Richard is a very quiet man. VERY quiet. So, when I say “fighting,” what I mean is…we weren’t speaking to each other. (Even I get tired of yelling when no one yells back.)  These non-communication fights have a tendency to drag on forever, as I’m sure you can imagine, since nothing ever gets talked about or worked on, and this particular fight was no exception. And while we try to hide our arguments from the kids, they aren’t dummies. We go from being the happiest, cuddliest couple in the world to not wanting to be in the same room? Yeah, they kinda figure something is up.

Well, this time, Kelly wasn’t having it.

She sent both of us a group Facebook message.  And I want to show it to you.  Now, I’m editing it a bit to keep out the details of the argument (I’d hate to broadcast publicly how WRONG Richard was, ya know…bless his heart…), but I’ll put enough here for you to get the gist.  Check this out:

“Okay. Y’all are getting on my nerves again. Fighting over really stupid stuff…..To be honest, you both are acting like middle schoolers. You guys get in a fight, don’t try to fix it or don’t want to talk about it, and just act like you don’t care. You do. I know I’m only 14 but I have sense….I know you both love each other and I know you care about each other, so start acting like it…Suck it up and be the couple all of us know you are.”

Okay, so I’m aware that I could be mad that she spoke to adults like that.  The whole “ya’ll are getting on my nerves” and “suck it up” parts aren’t the most respectful terms she could’ve used, of course.  But you know what? She was absolutely right.  Absolutely 100% right.

She didn’t know every detail of the argument we were having, but it really didn’t matter. The details aren’t the point. The point is that, even at 14, she could see that we weren’t handling things the way we were supposed to. She could see the love that he and I were forgetting during our anger. She could see that we needed a reminder to “be the couple that everyone knows we are.”

Now, I’m not sure how Richard immediately felt when he read this (after all – we weren’t speaking), but me?  I instantly felt the tears coming to my eyes. Not only because I knew she was right…I so love that big doofus-head boyfriend of mine with every ounce of my being…but because she cared enough to stick her nose in and try to get us back on track.  That took guts. And a heart.

And I’m so proud of her.

(By the way, Richard’s written response to her message?  “No fair – why do you get to be the smartest one in the family?”)  Heh.

Now, with all this said, I just want to clarify: I’m not saying the kid knows everything.  (Although if you ask her, she’d probably disagree with that statement.)  She still has lots and lots to learn yet.  (Don’t we all?)  But what I am saying is this: sometimes it sure does help to look at things through the simple, caring, knowing eyes of a child.  They see a lot more than we give them credit for, and they have a lot to tell us if we’ll take the time to listen.

Sometimes the details just don’t matter. Sometimes, you just have to get back to the heart of the matter…the love that lies dormant underneath all the chaos. And sometimes…a lot of times, actually…it takes a child to help you do that.

***
“In youth men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel; and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

#tbt Poetry – Forgotten Mistress

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”
– W. H. Auden
I see everyone posting these “Throwback Thursday” photos on Facebook, so I have decided to do my own little blog version of it.  Every Thursday, I plan to post an old poem that I wrote, together with the approximate year it was written.  I used to write a lot of poetry back in the day (not great poetry, mind you) before I started writing the essay/short story style writings that I now prefer.  So, let’s dig out some of this old stuff and broadcast that old undeveloped talent, shall we? 😉

First up, is Forgotten Mistress.  Written in 2003.

Forgotten Mistress

I am looking in the window-
Standing on tiptoe to see-
Watching the life go on inside
The life that doesn’t include me

I see the family that loves him
Who will always welcome him home
I see the good times that abound
As I stand here all alone.

I wonder, Does he see me
Out of the corner of his eye?
Am I included in his vision
As the walls keep me outside?

Am I the secret no one mentions-
The dirty reminder of a fall?
Or have I already been forgotten
Not even thought about at all?

I know that I should turn away
From this sight I cannot bear to see
From watching the life go on inside
The life that doesn’t include me.

But yet, I stand here waiting
For that invitation I will never receive
And I’ll remain outside this window
Until I can find the strength to leave.

mistress

My Veteran

“The willingness of American’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.”
– Jeff Miller

So, it’s Veterans’ Day.  And in honor of Veterans’ Day, I want to take the time to talk about one of them.  My favorite one, actually.

My step-dad.

DAD7(And just for the record, that’s the last time I’ll refer to him as that for the rest of the blog.  Just wanted you to know that he is my step-father for informational purposes.  As you will see from the story I’m about to tell you, I have dropped the “step-” part of his name because that is no longer necessary.  He is my dad.)

So, when I was about 5 years old, my mom met this great guy named David.  I thought he was pretty cool, to be honest.  It was kind of nice having someone else around when it had only been myself and my mom for all those years.  My mom and real dad had divorced when I was a baby and though my dad was definitely in my life, I only saw him on the occasional weekend.  I lived primarily with my mom.  Just the two of us.  Suddenly, this new guy was around quite a bit.  I remember him taking me along with them when they went places and such.  One particular early memory that sticks out in my mind is the time I got to go to the movies with them.  There’s a Brad Paisley song called “He Didn’t Have to Be” and in it there’s a line that says, “he took my mom out to the movies and, for once, I got to go.”  Yep.  That line gets me every time.  Because that was me – the new guy was just as happy to have me along as he was my mom.

And then came the day when I was about 6 years old.  I came home from school and my mom and David were sitting in the living room and said they wanted to tell me something.  I was young, so the memory is somewhat hazy, but there are two things that really stand out.  One – I remember sitting on David’s lap.  They told me that they were getting married (I don’t remember the exact words – just have that memory of sitting on his lap) and apparently I was pretty happy about the news.  All was well.  A new person to join our family.  Yay!

But then comes the second memory.

My new room.

Now, mind you, my mom and I had lived alone all of these years in a small two-bedroom apartment.  And with it being just the two of us, I had sort of decided that my mom’s bed was my bed too.  And she had allowed that.  So that “extra” bedroom back there was just that.  Extra.  A place for storage and my toys and whatnot.  Not a place where I actually slept.  Duh.  I slept with my mommy.

Until now.

They walked me back to the room and opened the door.  There was a new bed, a few new toys, and (I distinctly remember this) some new little workbooks on my bed.  I LOVED those workbooks.  They were the kind that taught you how to write in cursive by tracing the little dots.  I was such a nerd – writing was my favorite thing in the world to do (not much has changed actually).  So, with them knowing how much I liked those little workbooks, what was wrong with a little bribe to sweeten the deal, right?  Well, it worked.  I loved my new room!

Until bedtime, that is.

Bedtime rolled around, and I wanted to sleep with my mom.  Like always.  But, alas, that was a no-go.

Now, I’m no psychologist.  But I’m willing to bet that that bedroom moment was the one that planted the seed.  This man that I really did secretly like, was now to become the enemy.  He took my mommy!  Thus, began the years of the “you’re not my real dad”s and the “I don’t have to listen to you”s and the “I hate you”s.  Oh, my poor poor mom.  The hell I must have put her through.  (Funny how that becomes so clear once you have children of your own.)

DAD5Eventually, my dad joined the Army and that’s when the new brothers and sisters started to arrive.  I went from being an only child at age 7, to being the oldest of five by age 13.   Now, that part was pretty cool.  I adored being a big sister.  The part that wasn’t cool, however?  The moving.  The endless, ENDLESS, moving.  The girl who had lived in the same small town her whole life was now being uprooted and sent to God only knows where.  Yep, I was to become a “brat” – in every sense of the word.  I made sure the whole world knew how I felt about that, too.

Well, let’s fast forward a bit.  To age 17.

Not much had changed in all those years.  I still fought with my dad every chance we got – and I’m sure my mom still cried silent tears over each and every one.  Not once had I stopped to think about what he was doing with his life – serving his country each and every time he donned that uniform.  Not once had I realized that he was supporting and providing for this large family each time he laced up those big black boots.  Nope – I couldn’t see past myself and my own “misery.”  And at this point, that misery had reached it’s peak.  Not only had he moved us yet again, but this time we were in a whole different country.  He had taken us all the way to Germany…the big doo-doo head.  Oh, I was never going to forgive him for this one, you could mark my word.

So, the summer I turned 17, I was flying back to Germany from having spent the summer back in the states.  (I would fly home each year for about 6 weeks to see my real dad and that side of the family.)  This particular summer, I was on my flight back to Germany and had a short layover in Paris.  Talk about feeling like a big shot!  I mean, granted, I never actually left the airport during my four-hour Paris stay, but still.  I was sitting in an airport in Paris on my 17th birthday – alone!  Check me out!  After wandering around feeling like a grown-up for a while, I finally decided to make my way to my boarding gate and sit at a table while I waited for my flight.  I went to rest my head on my hand and…there it was again.  The lump I had felt while back in the states and had hardly mentioned to anyone now felt a little larger.  It was this strange growth in my neck that I couldn’t quite explain.  I felt fine – wasn’t sick or anything.  But still there it was.

My flight made it back to Germany and I stepped into a world that was to be drastically different than the one I had left a few months before.  Suddenly, everything would change.  No more everyday teenage school life filled with volleyball and basketball games and who’s dating who drama.  No, my life was now hospital stays and doctor’s visits.  Hodgkin’s lymphoma saw to that.  Suddenly all I knew were surgeons, oncologists, IVs and pills.  Oh, the pills.  Sooooo many pills.  Nineteen pills a day, to be exact.  When I wasn’t in the hospital, I was to take all of these pills at home at certain times throughout the day.  I had one of those pill sorters that didn’t divide the pills by day, but by time.  And each morning when I woke up, there they were – all sorted and set out and ready for me for the day.

pillsNow, naturally, I assumed my mom was doing this – all this required “pill sorting” – but I hadn’t given it much thought really.  Until one morning when I woke up and headed to the kitchen for something to drink.  It must have been about 4:30 in the morning.  I assumed no one was awake in the house yet, but I saw a light on in the kitchen as I made my way down the hall.  I knew my dad got up early to go in for PT prior to his work day, but this early?  Really?  I walked into the kitchen, and I saw something that was to change me from that moment on.

There, sitting alone at the kitchen table, with bottles and bottles of pills set out before him, was my dad.  Complete in his BDUs, with only a little light on so he wouldn’t disturb the rest of the house, counting out each and every one of my nineteen pills and placing them in the slots where they belonged.  This man, who I was nothing but cruel and nasty to, spent every morning literally making sure that I was going to survive the day.

That changed everything.

Suddenly, my eyes were open to so much that I had not taken the time to see.  For one thing, he was supposed to be in Bosnia at that time.  He had orders to ship out weeks before, but had requested a stay to help my mom through the worst part of my treatments.  He did end up having to go, but was allowed to postpone until my chemo was over.  (I still had to have radiation after that, but at least he was able to help mom through the first part – remember, she had four other kids besides myself).  Also, my best friend Erica and her little sister were being sent back to the states to live with family members they barely knew because their single-mom soldier was also being sent to Bosnia (she was in the same company with my dad).  Seeing the anguish I was going through losing my best friend during the hardest time of my life, my dad petitioned the Army to allow he and my mom temporary custody of the two girls so that they didn’t have to leave.  I still don’t understand what all was involved with all of that, but I know that for about 6 months, I had two new sisters, thanks to my dad and mom.  And a best friend’s hand to hold through the hardest thing I would ever go through.

Somehow, none of these things had registered with me.  Until I saw those pills scattered all over that table.

Have I ever told him this?  Honestly, I don’t know.  But I know that he saw the difference in how I treated him from that day on.  Cancer will make you grow up, that’s for sure.  It’s amazing how it will shine a light on the things you hadn’t taken the time to notice before.  And in my case, that light was shone on my dad.  The dad who loved me and took care of me all of those years, when he certainly didn’t have to.

I’m so proud today to call him my dad.  I can’t remember a time he has ever called me his “step-daughter.”  I have always just been his daughter.  When you ask him how many kids he has – his answer is never four.  It’s always, always, five.  I have never been anything other than a daughter to him in his eyes, even when I most certainly didn’t deserve that distinction.

So, on this Veteran’s Day, I want to give the biggest shout out I can muster to my favorite veteran on the planet.  My dad.  Thank you for not only sacrificing for our country, but also for your mean little redheaded step-child.  You will always be a soldier in my eyes – in every sense of the word.

I love you, Dad.

DAD

***

“We never know the love of a parent, until we become parents ourselves.”
– Henry Ward Beecher