Will You Marry Me?

1977 – that’s 36 years ago.  Much has changed in those 36 years.

Most of the change occurred because of a question a young man asked me and the answer I gave him.

I was 19 years, one month, and 7 days old when I made a decision and uttered a word that would change the course of my life forever.

The word was, “Yes.”

The question the young man asked me was, “Will you marry me?”

Of course, it didn’t happen that quickly.  There was a little more to it that the quick question and immediate answer.

We attended the same college and were in several classes together.  We became friends and that friendship eventually led to a dating relationship, which led to the question he asked me 36 years ago.

It was a Saturday. Our ministry group had completed the service at a local nursing home. He and I were the first to arrive at the college service van and we claimed the back seat.

Before the others arrived, he took my hand and turned to me.

“What would you say if I asked you to marry me?” he asked.

I teasingly responded, “Why don’t you ask and find out?”

And, so he did ask.

“Will you marry me?”

And, I said, “Yes!”

We attended a private college with rules that prohibited hand holding, hugs, kisses and other physical demonstrations of affection between dating students. We weren’t even supposed to be alone together.

So, all he could do was quickly squeeze my hand, offer a smile and “thank you!” as the others joined us for the ride back to campus.

We kept our engagement secret for several weeks.  He wanted me to have a ring before we went public. The semester was winding down and activities there on campus were as well as we drew near to exams. It was hard to focus on studies when my mind preferred to focus elsewhere.

And, my hand developed this odd twitch that encouraged it to write his last name after my first name, instead of my own.

A simple question and a one word answer opened up a world I could only slightly imagine and opened doors to opportunities and growth that I never imagined possible.

Thank you, Sweetheart, for gathering the courage, for taking the risk, for asking me to spend the rest of my life as your wife.

I love you!  Happy Anniversary!

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Turn the Calendar

I can’t believe April is one day away from being flipped into the past.  Where has this month gone?

The calendar doesn’t lie.  Here we are, April 29.  I’ve already peeked at May and thought of what it offers – 31 days instead of 30 and a peek at what Summer will be like. But, I’m not ready to turn the page on the calendar – no, not yet.

What I wish is to roll back the calendar and let it be the end of March with April ahead of me – but still maintain NOW with all of life that’s happened in the past month.  That would put me a month ahead in some ways.  In other ways it would allow me to catch up.

Ah, but that’s not how life is.

Life, like a calendar, lets me look back but won’t let me go back. Life is progressive, always moving forward, minute by minute, day by day. It’s always 1…2…3…. It’s never 3…2…1.

The only time 1 follows 31 is when we turn the calendar and move forward into a new month.

As the fifth month of the year quickly approaches, I have two choices.

  1. I can bemoan the fact that I didn’t accomplish all I needed to and waste time on what could have/should have been.
  2. I can take quick inventory on what wasn’t done, list what needs to be done, and enter May focused, determined and aggressive with a plan in hand.

Focused.

Determined.

Aggressive.

A childhood verse comes to mind: April showers bring May flowers.

I’ve spent enough time beating myself up over what wasn’t. It’s time to face forward, grab my pen and calendar, and take charge of May before it takes charge of me. I want to squeeze every hour of daylight out of her 31 days.

At the end of May, when I stand before the calendar facing June, I want to look back and say, “well done” and be able to step confidently into the next month and embrace all the possibilities it holds.

It’s time to close the books on April.

May’s coming.

Bring it on!

Choosing a Name

Who would have thought selecting a name for your first grandchild to call you would be difficult?

When I imagine stretching out my arms to a granddaughter and saying, “Come to _______” I go blank.

For years I said “Big Momma” would be my designation.  But, when we learned Son would become a Dad, Daughter nixed the “Big Momma” idea.

It would appear that being a Southern grandmother is not enough reason to be “Big Momma.” Apparently, for some people, grandmother names have cultural connotations.

If I’ll not be “Big Momma,” who will I be?

Hubby had mentioned the possibility of G-M for me and G-P for him.  After repeating them several times we realized I would become “Jim” and he would become “Jeep.”  Funny.  But, I don’t see myself as a “Jim” and he’s certainly not a “Jeep.”

Daughter-in-love shared grandmother names that are taken: GrandMom, Grammy, Nana and Memaw. That helps, but it also complicates things, at least for me.  When I was a child my grandmothers were Nanny and MeMaw – distinct sounding names without the possibility of confusion.

I considered using either “Me, Mom” (the signature I use when writing my son).

But, MeMom is too close to MeMaw – and Grammy rules out Granny, Granma and others similar.  My children had a GrandMom and GrandMa – and when young would confuse the two names.

Unique is not my goal, but it could help my grandchild differentiate between the individuals who love her/him and are involved in his/her life.

Who would have thought this would be so difficult?

A search online for “grandmother names” led me to the Ultimate Guide to Grandparent Names which offered traditional, trendy, playful and international grandmother names.

Among those on the trendy list were:

Ama
Babo
Coco
Dally
Fo-Ma, Faux Ma
GeezerGirl
Hamma
Kitty
LaLa
Mammi
Nimo
OtherMother
Pebbles
Sugar
TeeMa
Uma, Umma
Vanna
Womba
YaYoo

Um…no.  I don’t see myself in that list.  Apparently I’m not “trendy.”

The playful list is even wilder.

Abba
Bubbles
Cha-cha
Doodie, Dooty
Gitchey
Hugme
Jamagramma
Khakie, Kakie
LoveyDovey
Muddy
NuNu
Pittypat
QueenB/Queen Bee
Sunny
Tinkerbell
Upsy
Wicky

Hmmm…I’m not so much “sugar and spice and everything nice.”  I have a little “snips and snails and puppy dog tails” thrown in for good measure.

And, that’s “Big Momma” for certain.

Perhaps a twist on the traditional “Grandmother” will yield a satisfactory nickname and one that expresses my traditional self, trendy self, and playful self.

I’d much rather make mud pies than apple. And, though I know it’s been said that cleanliness is next to godliness, I tend to lean toward getting close enough to God’s good earth to get some on me.

I think I will be…Granmudder – Muddee, if I decide to shorten it.

Now, all Granmudder and PaPa have to do is wait.  And, that’s harder than selecting a name for Granddaughter to call me. 😉

Unexpected Insight

Daughter, in comparing her current work situation with that of her previous, said the following.

“I don’t have to worry about things my coworkers say during break or lunch.  They don’t talk dirty like the women did at my other store.”

I suggested a possible reason.

“Many of the women where you now work are Muslim – at your old store they were Christian, or at least most likely attended church and would consider themselves Christian.”

She paused a moment and then shook her head. She agreed that was probably the difference.  And, a sad difference it was.

As she shook her head, I found myself shaken. Things came to mind that I had said or done, habits I’ve developed….

Deeply convicted by the Muslim women’s devotion to their belief and my own words about fellow Christians, I’ve begun an introspective journey that I hope will lead to a change in who I am and how I am, a greater understanding of myself and deeper appreciation of others.

I am Christian. But, does my behavior reflect my belief?  What of my speech? My lifestyle?

What of your belief?  Do you walk the walk or simply talk the talk?

Robin’s Nest

From my front door I watch a Robin on her nest, 5 feet away.

She no longer flies off when the door is opened, or we walk past.

Wednesday morning the wind howled and rain fell, thunder clapped and lightning flashed.  She remained on the nest, securely tucked under the eave of the porch, in the crook of the gutter’s downspout – the nest wedged between it and the right pillar of the porch.

Wednesday night a frost warning was issued. As a precaution, I covered my tender houseplants that now reside on my front porch. I wished for a small blanket to place over the Robin to keep her cozy.

Thursday morning, at 6 a.m., the temperature dipped to 36 degrees. Frost covered the cars and rooftops.  On the nest, only inches from the porch roof, sat the Robin. I wondered how she fared in the cold.  As if in reply, she turned her head to look at me.

Building the nest and incubating the eggs is her job and she takes it seriously.  She rarely  leaves the nest now – only doing so when the day is late and the air has warmed. Yesterday, late afternoon, I saw her hopping around the yard with her mate, devouring insects and vigorously pulling worms from the ground.

When she returned to her nest she looked fat and satisfied.

Papa Robin’s work will begin in earnest when the eggs hatch.  His responsibilities will include feeding and caring for the hatchlings.

As I watch the Robin on her nest, I think of Daughter in Love and Son.  She is now on medical leave and settling in to await the birth of her daughter.  Son hovers, attentive and eager.

If all goes according to schedule our granddaughter will be born mid May – about the time the baby Robins are scheduled to fly from their nest.

Am I excited?  You betcha!

Frost 6 Days from May

The garden – I want to plant it.  Everything in me screams that time is slipping by.  (Where I lived for 30+ years, by this time of the year crops were in the ground.)

Mom, however, insists the time is not yet right.

I must wait.

I hate waiting.

Mom’s wisdom was evident this morning as I watched Daughter scrape frost from her car’s windows.

36 degrees.  Frost.  And, here we are 6 days from May.

When I was a child, May 1 declared barefoot season was upon us – I was free to slip off my shoes and run around with bare feet. The cool clover felt so delightful to my tender, shoe protected feet and the grass tickled as I walked upon it.

Mom’s reminder that we’ve not yet passed through Locust Winter or Blackberry Winter causes an impatient glance at the calendar.

I remind myself: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

How Did He Do It?

My admiration for Dad has grown since his death.

To help Mom, I took over the yard work.

Oh my…he was more man in his later years than I can ever hope to be.

How did he do all he did?

I remember, as a child, he would go into work early in the morning and return home about 3 in the afternoon.  Then he would begin yard work – cutting grass, clipping hedges, raking leaves, repairing, painting, working the garden, working on the car, helping a neighbor….

Mom would call him to supper and he would wash off enough to be presentable at the table and, after he ate, if there was enough daylight, he would return to work more outside.

When darkness halted his outside activities, he would head inside, shower and help Mom with any housework she had not yet completed – or help us with homework – before settling down, relaxing, and watching a little TV before bedtime.

He was like the Eveready Energizer Bunny, going long after the others had worn out. (Years ago he helped us move. After working hours loading the U-Haul truck, Hubby asked, “Dad, do you need to rest?” “No, I’m fine,” was his reply.  Hubby said, “Well, I need to.”)

It was only a few years ago that he slowed down and allowed someone to help him with yard work.  His health further declined after a heart attack last year and he was no longer able to do the work he once did.

But, he continued to do what he could to keep his yard looking nice, neat and cared for – even if that was nothing more than picking up sticks.

So far this Spring I’ve cut the grass three times. My current project is the hedges that encircle the yard and the preparation of the garden.

I’m not sure what energized Dad and enabled him to do all he did.  At the end of a day of physical labor, I shake my head and think, “How did he do it?!?

I think I need new batteries.

The Snake

Daily temperatures nearing 90 awakened more than Dogwoods and Irises.

Snakes and other cold-blooded critters crawled from their dark holes and welcomed the warmth.

Who could blame them? It was too pretty out to remain in.

Eager to be outside and soaking up some rays herself, Mom invited me to enjoy a cup of coffee with her on her patio. I eagerly accepted.

At some point, Mom opened the door to enter the house.  What happened next depends on who tells it.

She says: she opened the door and there was a snake lying on the patio at the door sill.

I say: she opened the door and the snake came out of the house.

Of course, her reaction to my perception caused me to recant quickly and agree with her.

The snake was small and long – about 20 inches.  It was a juvenile Gray Rat Snake.

“Oh a snake!” she said. And as she moved away from it, I moved in to catch it.

“Is is poisonous?” she asked.

Unfamiliar with snakes in this state, I assured her it wasn’t, but knowing young snakes don’t always resemble the adult they will one day be, I looked carefully at the shape of the head, the pupils of the eyes and the shape of the body.

It was plain to see that this snake was not poisonous.

But, it was feisty. It coiled like a cobra and struck repeatedly at my hand, my foot and at the broom I used to coax it from behind the patio furniture.

Fallen, dry leaves had settled between the wall of the house and the piece of furniture behind which it hid.  The snake coiled, reared up, flattened its head, puffed it’s jaws wide and struck swiftly and repeatedly with toothy mouth open.

A faint buzzing was heard and I leaned closer to see – this was not a Rattlesnake but it was vibrating its tail. As the tail rattle and shook amongst the leaves, it rattled and buzzed like that of a Rattlesnake.

Amazing!

What a fierce little creature.

I have picked up much larger snakes without much concern and, at first, that was my plan with this one.

I knew not to pick it up. It would have bitten me. And, I didn’t want to be bitten.

Sure, it was a small snake and its teeth wouldn’t have done much damage (though it would have hurt…little teeth like needles…) – but I didn’t know where those teeth had been and I didn’t want to deal with possible infection and aggravation.

Mom’s concern was that it might get away, and might reappear…in her house or on her patio.  Snakes were her phobia and if Dad was living she assured me he would kill it immediately.

I assured her this was a harmless snake even though it looked menacing.  It was a beneficial snake – a good snake because it ate pests like mice and rats.

And, I should have stopped there…but didn’t.  I said, “And, if it gets in your house, don’t worry…it will eat mice it finds in there.”

“IN MY HOUSE? GET IN MY HOUSE? Can it get in my house?  Eat mice IN MY HOUSE?!?!” was her response.

She assured me she had no mice and, I, therefore, assured her there would be no snake in her house (sometimes we say what we must) – no mice = no snake – and set about searching for something I could catch the snake in.

There was nothing large enough.  So, I sent her into the house for a small trashcan.

And, while she looked inside for a small trashcan (there is one in every room of her house), the snake took the opportunity to slip along the wall toward the yard.  I blocked its progress repeatedly but it was determined.

As she stepped out the door with a ROUND trashcan in hand, the tail of the snake slipped into the Liriope that edged the patio and was gone.

She breathed a sigh of relief when I told her, then asked where I thought it would go…and if it would go under the house.

I reminded her that she didn’t have any mice – she said so herself. No mice = no snake.  She was content with that.

Apparently its mother lives nearby – my brother found a large snake skin (they can grow to be 3 to 7 ft long) under her house last Autumn and the pattern on the skin matches that of an adult Rat Snake. And as we know, snakes don’t lay just one egg.

Locust Trees

Within 4 blocks of my house are three stands of Black Locust Trees.

As a child, I knew where every Redbud Tree, Dogwood Tree, and Locust Tree was within bike-riding distance of my house.

In the years since my childhood the old neighborhood has changed little – except in the areas the Locust Trees grew!

I was excited to find the groups of Locust Trees, but somewhat disappointed to find that they are not yet in bloom.

But, they have leafed out and the racemes are fully formed with flower buds quite evident.

When will they bloom?

When Locust Winter arrives, of course.

And, when is that?

I won’t know until Locust buds burst and a cold snap spells Locust Winter.

Redbud Winter, Dogwood Winter and Now What?

Redbud has faded.  Few blooms remain as green leaves sprout and take over the limbs.

Dogwood is in its full glory – brilliant white blossoms against a backdrop of green.  Yes, green. Dogwoods are sporting green leaves.

Maples have bloomed and have begun to leaf out. Spring is here.

Redbud Winter came and went. Dogwood Winter chilled us. And, then Spring warmed up to 88 degrees before the bottom fell out – the temperature dipped to around 35 the past two nights.

After Dogwood Winter comes Locust winter. This cold snap should herald the awakening of that tree but in all my looking I’ve not seen the first Locust tree. Perhaps I just don’t know where to look.

After all, this is my first Spring in this location after 30+ years absence.  The Locust trees I was familiar with in my childhood neighborhood no longer exist.

In our travel South last weekend, we encountered Locust trees in bloom.  It was amazing to me that as we left here and climbed into the higher altitudes of the mountains, Spring seemed to slip backward.

What had already bloomed here was just coming into bloom there. And, as we slid down into the Lower South, it seemed Spring accelerated with each mile we drove. By the time we reached our destination we knew Summer was near.

Our return via a different route was a similar experience, only in reverse. Near Summer faded to early Spring, which gave way to mid Spring’s blush here at home.

Locust Winter? I won’t know until I see blooms. Am I a winter off? I don’t think so. Dogwoods sport green leaves amidst their blooms. Dogwood winter is past. Isn’t it?

If the white, frosty ground yesterday morning was any indicator, this has to be Locust Winter.

Mom, however, says it’s still Dogwood Winter.  “Dogwood trees are still in bloom. This is the middle of April, you know – not the first of May and certainly not the end of May. We’re going to have a bit of Winter weather thrown in from time to time. That’s how Spring is here.”

Yes, I know…that’s how Spring is.

I have a garden to plant and flowers to grow. I’m eager to get the seeds into the ground – and for the ground to warm enough for the seeds to germinate and the seedlings to grow and not be stunted by the cold..

Patience is a virtue, they say. And, I am patient –

  • patiently searching for illusive Locust trees
  • patiently enduring the temperature fluctuations
  • patiently cutting grass in 88 degree weather
  • patiently covering tender plants to protect them from frost
  • patiently watching the calendar
  • patiently waiting for Blackberry Winter’s arrival
  • patiently wishing for a 2013 Farmers Almanac for this area
  • patiently learning and remembering the ins and outs of planting here
  • patiently remembering that we are 400 miles North of where we lived 30+ years
  • patiently waiting for the weather to settle
  • patiently hoping I remember what I learn this Spring and can apply it to the next
  • patiently seeking advice from those who know more than I
  • patiently accepting wisdom from sources with experience and understanding

Is this Locust Winter? Time will tell.

Does it truly matter whether it’s Locust Winter or another bite from Dogwood Winter? No. It matters not.

This is Spring – a time of awakening and newness, a time for embracing change and of finding place and purpose – a time of ebb and flow, hot and cold, up and down.

Each cold snap has its purpose and performs its duty – delaying this, awakening that.

Locust Winter? Stay tuned. I’m taking a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon just to look for Locust trees. 😉

Oh, and Mom also said Locust trees bloom only after they leaf out.  So, as much as I hate to say it…I may be wrong. (Hubby, I hope you aren’t reading this…but if you are – yes, I said it, and, no, I won’t repeat it.)

Tomorrow’s post will include Locust tree sightings and their progress.