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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

My mouth has gotten me into trouble more than once… mostly because I’m trying to be funny and something goes amiss. Two of my biggest regrets happened on Mother’s Day. As a kid, I remember making a card for my mama and putting in big letters “HAPPY MOUTHER’S DAY!” Daddy would not let that die. It got us both into hot water. Although I really don’t think I was at the age of spelling accountability yet, Mama was not amused.

The second mishap was all my fault. Mother’s Day used to be commemorated by wearing a rose to church. Red meant your mom was living and white that she had passed away. It was a pretty big deal to honor your mom with a bud. We’d ask a neighbor for permission to pick a blossom from her loaded bushes. One year I was especially cute… and unthinking. I came home with a pink rose and told my mom I’d wear that for her since she was always sick.

Not funny.

It makes me sad just remembering the look on her face. Funny is not fun if it is at someone’s expense.

Much later she overcame the sickness that had plagued her young adulthood. In those days asthma could not be taken lightly. Old Doc Shinn made emergency house calls to give her a shot of adrenalin straight in the heart. Times sure have changed.

Once her asthma subsided she was able to take up walking. She and daddy walked three miles each morning and repeated it some afternoons. They were very health conscious. So when a rare illness suddenly took her from us it was a terrible shock. Shortly after she passed away I went to look for flowers for her grave. She hated anything fake, so I was trying to find the most lifelike silk ones possible. Of course the prettiest happened to be pink roses. I stood there in the discount craft store sobbing like a baby.

Someday I will quit beating myself up for hurting her with my funny words. I’m sure if she could speak to me now she’d say, “Oh Lynna quitcha bawlin’! I’m fine! I feel better than ever!” … or something more heavenly.

Mother’s Day can be such a difficult time. A lady I know whose only son died, hurts terribly around this time of the year. Another friend in his sixties continues to grieve that his mother abandoned him and even though she lives near, still wants nothing to do with him. A young woman whose baby died before birth wonders if she counts as a real mother. Those of us with mothers who’ve passed on may find the sentimental songs at church unbearable. The pain for the childless woman, who must remain seated when the mothers in the congregation are asked to stand, is unspeakable. As she leaves and flowers are given to all the moms in attendance, she must shake her head, “Nope. Still not a mom.”

I don’t know the answer. Maybe there’s a way to do things differently. But how ever we celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s think a little. Maybe an extra prayer for the childless couple could be offered. Perhaps a card sent to someone the Lord brings to mind would be a good idea. Just be sure to check your spelling on those homemade cards. And stay away from pink roses.

PS-

I thought you’d like to know that the mother who lost her son battled through a very deep valley of depression. She got busy and sent out an armload of Mother’s Day cards.

The man in the story will no doubt spend the week-end enjoying his wife, grown children, and grandkids, knowing he has made a great difference in the lives of those who love him.

The young lady whose baby died will celebrate with her precious little miracle son Able, who is now a healthy five year old.

And the childless couple was blessed with two babies at once who keep them busier and happier than they ever dreamed possible.

I pray that God will bless you too, in some unexpected way, especially if Mother’s Day tends to stink.

My beautiful mom on the right with Aunt Termey.

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Nina

David lost his beloved mother last week to a two year battle with breast cancer. From the first time I met her she treated me as a daughter. I tried to call her Mrs. Clark but she wouldn’t have it. “Honey that makes me feel so old! Please call me Nina!” And our friendship began. Her son would stop by a convenience store on the way home from our dates just to buy her cheese popcorn. At first I thought, “Really?” Then I remembered that old adage, “Watch how a man treats his mother for that is how he will eventually treat his wife.” It’s true. Both of them spoiled me rotten. Nina never resented my relationship with her son. In fact when our kids were little I was often too sick to do everything I needed to do. She’d come by and spend the morning cleaning house. She’d wash dishes, bathe the children then go to her second shift job in the mill. I had never experienced such kindness until this dear woman swooped into my life, loving me with all that was in her. The only thing we disagreed on was television. She believed in having it on 24/7. I am just the opposite. Often she tried to convince me that I could learn a lot from T.V. What I learned was to nod my head and try to change the subject. Now that she’s in Heaven, she finally knows that I was right.

Ironing was top priority in her life. She’s been known to iron dish towels and underwear. Her son is just happy if I iron the front of his dress shirt if he’s wearing a suit. For her funeral I ironed the whole shirt, sleeves and all in honor of his mom.

Nina had the sharpest wit. One of the funniest things she ever did was to suggest we lead the funeral procession for her husband through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru. As we passed it on our way to the cemetery she reasoned that it was a shame to miss out since the Hot Now sign was on.

She loved reading the Salisbury Post. Through it she kept up with all the local events, could speak intelligently about any athlete, and always knew when a new business came to town. When we moved across the street from her she insisted on bringing us the paper every day when she finished reading it. And I made sure to read it too because I knew she’d quiz me later on the local events. One afternoon I looked outside to find a line of cars backed up our busy road while they waited for her to make her way across. I teased her later that she should feel pretty good about being in her eighties and still able to stop traffic.

She loved church and music and preaching of all varieties. One time we took her to a service that ended up being rather loud. On the way home we asked her what she thought of the music. She commented that it made her pacemaker do something weird but other than that she liked it.

I think what I loved most about her was her optimism. Rarely did she speak a negative word. We took her out on my daddy’s pontoon boat not knowing that the transom would give way dropping the motor off somewhere in the middle of Lake Norman. As we sat there rocking back and forth trying to get a cell phone signal she commented brightly, “Oh what a nice breeze!” That was typical of my other mother.

Nina Clark, my “other mother.” I sure am going to miss you. Thank you for raising such a beautiful son for me to love. Thank you for taking me in and treating me like your own. Thank you for opening your arms and your heart to me from the very start, and never letting go. I can only imagine how lovely the gardens are around your heavenly home now that you’re healed and you don’t have to drag around your “bad leg” while you work. Heaven is surely more beautiful since you are there.

Nina with my daddy: A meeting of the minds.

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We were headed to the beach for a vacation when the girls were approximately five, seven, and nine. They were in the back seat of a car whose air-conditioner was on its last leg. Our middle daughter, Amanda, began to complain, “I’m hot.” I assured her that she would be fine. Besides, we were only a half hour into a four hour trip. “Think happy thoughts sweetheart. What are we going to do when we get there? We’ll play in the ocean, and look for shells. Won’t we have a great time?!” She would not be comforted.

“I am so hot,” she moaned for about the tenth time. Her daddy, usually a very patient man, pulled the car over to the side of the road. He was also hot. He turned around and looked her in the eye and said, “You may NOT say, I AM HOT for the rest of this trip. We all know you are hot. But those words may not come out of your mouth again. Do you understand me?”

Wow. Very clear instructions hung in the air. He pulled the car back onto the road. It was obvious that he meant business. Playing the good cop, I pulled out little note pads and pencils and passed them to the girls. “Here you go. Draw a picture for me. You are such good artists!” The car was silent as they began their masterpieces.

“Oh how pretty! Look at these, honey! Didn’t they do a good job.” I was determined to lighten the mood, as steam was still coming off David’s head.

Amanda’s was especially well done. Besides the flowers and grass, the sunshine in one corner, and clouds in the sky, there was also a very good drawing of an Indian. He had a headband with a feather and fringe on his clothes, and a frown…and what I assumed to be a giant tear. “Why is he sad?” I asked. With great sympathy she replied, “Because he is SO HOT!”

Sometimes you just have to laugh. Even her daddy thought that was well played.

This beautiful strong-willed middle child and I bumped heads an awfully lot while we were growing up together. There could be only one Queen in the Clark Kingdom and I was determined that it was not her. She was not so sure.

She lost control of her bicycle one day and lay sprawled in the gravel driveway. Through much wailing and gnashing of teeth, she announced for the neighborhood to hear that she had broken her leg. I helped her into the house and explained to her that not only had I seen her fall, but that one does not break a leg simply by sliding sideways off a bike. It was not that hard of a fall! She mourned and whined from Wednesday til Saturday, at which time I proclaimed in my kindest and most nurturing tone, “I WILL TAKE YOU TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM FOR AN EX-RAY. IF YOUR LEG IS NOT BROKEN, WE WILL DEAL WITH THAT WHEN WE GET HOME!”

Notice parents: You never actually state what the punishment is going to be. You just leave it hanging in the air like fire about to rain down from heaven. Anyway, her leg was broken and I felt like the uncaring parent that I was often proclaimed to be. Please don’t report me to DSS. How was I to know that her mourning was valid this time?

This week she turned thirty seven and is currently reaping all the rewards of the mother’s curse. She has a very determined three year old son who pushes her buttons so fast that she lives exhausted. She finds herself saying things like, “Able, don’t write on the window with your banana.” I find it extremely fulfilling watching her do motherhood.

Sometimes I just have to laugh.Able & AmandaAmanda & Able

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It might be a Southern thing, parking buggies nose to nose in front of the Prilosec at Walmart sharing deep personal issues.

Guilty as charged.

I try to stay out of Walmart because I don’t function well there. Something about crowds and long walks between the raisins and the hair gel ticks me off. How spoiled am I? Nothing against Sam Walton or the fine folks who work there. Thankfully the company has provided much needed jobs for lots of folks who might otherwise be unemployed.

But could someone please shut off the video ads in the aisles so us old people can think?

Annyyywayyy…

I bumped into a dear friend whom I’ve not seen in approximately seven to ten. I know what you’re thinking. Either she just got out of prison or she’s not really that dear if I’ve not seen her in that space of time. You would be incorrect on both accounts. We just got busy living life and forgot how much we like each other. Or I could be incorrect and she’s been avoiding me all these years. Hmmm…

So right there in Walmart with buggies nose to nose we talked about wayward children. Not mine of course, as they are all perfect. Through tears we shared the angst of parenting and how it seems that we raise our children to be strong and independent and above all to think for themselves… until they do. That’s when the defecation hits the oscillation.

How dare they question the belief system we’ve poured into their hearts and souls? What is that about?

I loved the wisdom she shared through her pain.

“I’m asking the Lord to take me out of the way of His plan.” She spoke with tears. “For if I can just stay out of His way, He will work this out.”

Wow.ad in wmt

That has become my own desire as well. If I can own the fact that He has a plan which includes me, but doesn’t depend on me, all manner of crapstorms shall be avoided.

So Lord, take me out of the way. Let Your will be done. Work through me as Your tool of grace. You love drawing all men to Yourself. Help me to never get in the way of that.

And please cure the lady of heartburn who tried her best to get something over the counter without interrupting our visit.

Thankfully that is also a Southern thing.

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It was the first day of Spring. We had just received the terrible cancer diagnosis for my beloved mom-in-law Nina. The first surgeon she visited spoke words we were not prepared to hear. “I can’t do surgery because if I were to take all of the cancer out I would not even be able to close you back up.”

I began gathering photos of Nina in preparation for… I cannot even speak the word.

Anyone who knows her also knows that she hates having her picture taken. Therefore the task would not be easy. Oh we had plenty of pictures, but nearly all of them have her wagging a finger in the direction of the photographer with a death threat hanging in mid-air. This woman is not to be trifled with. I joked with her one happy day that if she didn’t stop putting the stink-eye on those trying to capture her pretty image we’d have to resort to using all those ugly photos at her memorial. That would teach her!

Beautiful silver hair frames her lovely face. Her skin is smooth and nearly wrinkle-free. She and her son joke that all the butter they consume keeps the wrinkles pushed out from the inside. She was able to attend the graduation of her granddaughter Desani where someone snapped a gorgeous picture of the two of them. She showed it to me and said, “When I die just Photoshop my head onto all those other bad pictures.” Note to self: Never try to teach Nina a lesson.Nina & Desi

For those of us who live in Salisbury, Dr. Black is a household name. He and Nina go way back. He’s treated many members of her family for cancer starting with her husband. Even now while Dr. Black is in the midst of trying to retire he’s committed to treating Nina’s sister until the end. The only criticism I’ve ever heard her speak of him is that she cannot understand why he doesn’t wear socks. Something about his naked ankles has always been a little disconcerting to her. Nina has baked him and his staff many a pan of brownies. She was saddened to hear of Dr. Black’s retirement, but took right up with his associate Dr. Brinkley. Perhaps the fact that he wears socks gives him cred. She loved him immediately because he joked with her and understood her sense of humor. The three of them have a running disagreement on whether brownies should contain nuts or not. Dr. Black poked his head into her exam room one day and said, “Don’t you let him talk you out of putting nuts in the brownies!”

What will Salisbury do without Dr. Black?

What will we do without our beloved Nina? My heart grieves at the thought.

Last Spring I wrote a story called Daffodils of Hope which ended with a request that you pray for her. Here’s the rest of the story. Dr. Brinkley immediately started breast cancer treatment which has shrunk the tumors so much that everyone is amazed. Nina has had no terrible side effects, has not had to endure chemo or radiation. We had no idea such a hormone therapy existed. At this point it’s looking like she may not even require surgery. God willing, Nina will be celebrating her ninetieth birthday on Christmas day.

Never once did Dr. Brinkley treat her as though she were too old to hope. With each visit he listened intently as she and her children asked questions and relayed symptoms. In fact he listened so well that at times there was actual silence in the room as he processed our concerns. How rare is that? If you know the Clark clan you’ll certainly appreciate that abnormality.

Thank you doctors Black and Brinkley for treating her and many others so well. Thank you to all who prayed for our beloved Nina.

And thank You Lord that I won’t have to be learning how to use Photoshop anytime soon.

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Do you have someone in your family who’s always got your back? You know that if you’re in trouble they will be there to kick butt and take names. I have someone like that in my family. It’s my sister-in-law Gail. She is one of those rare souls who will take care of you when you need it most.

Once when I was hospitalized I was on so much medication that I was very sick and overheated. [Sounds like most of the vehicles we’ve owned.] Anyway, there was not a fan to be found according to the nurses. My sister-in-law Gail came to the rescue. After a quick disappearance down the hall she returned with a fan. She set it up, turned it toward me, and immediately I felt better. I asked where she found the fan. “Some old man down the hall was asleep so I took his. He won’t miss it.” Holy cow! And she did that for me.

Another time we were in the middle of painting the inside of our house when I went into labor. She came over and finished painting and cleaning so everything would be nice when I came home with the new baby.

I love that she calls her mother every morning and every evening. I know that if she cannot reach her she’ll call me and I can walk over to Nina’s and make sure she’s ok. Poor ol’ Nina can’t make a move without us knowing about it. She even calls us to let us know if she’s going out with friends so we won’t worry. Gail has finally got her trained to keep us posted. That’s a very good thing.

Gail has raised the most well-mannered and hard-working children I’ve ever known. Her three oldest sons are now raising children of their own to do the same. Her three younger children will no doubt be just as great, because some things are just not an option in her household.

Has her life been a bed of roses? Not so much. In fact like most of us, her strength is in direct proportion to all the trials she’s been through. That’s why she is so strong. Well, that and the fact that she is the middle child, which she will gladly point out if the occasion arises.

She’s currently raising her second set of children. I think of the verse in Job 42:12 which says, “So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.”

Today is her birthday. I wish her many, many more, because somebody needs to be in charge! I’m so glad it’s Gail.

Gail and granddaughter Savanah

Gail and granddaughter Savanah

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A roach scurried out from under the microwave. Yes a roach. How many years has it been since I’ve even seen one of these detestable creatures? Between shrieks I grabbed the nearest weapon. He waited, taunting me with his beady eyes and twitchy antennae. Back under the microwave he slipped just ahead of the flip flop. With no time to extract the microwave from its tight fitting home, visions of a roach mutiny filled my head. I might have had a mental breakdown at that point but again, there was just no time.

“Grammy come get on the boat! We don’t want to leave you! GRAMMY GRAMMMY GRAMMMMY! The boat is leaving! The boat is LEAVING!”

“Honey I can’t play boat on the bed now. We need to eat and get ready to go. C’mon, hurry hurry.”

Plunking the two toddlers into their chairs as they looked curiously at their Grammy was not to be done quickly. Questions about the shrieks came tumbling from sweet Marie who wondered what should be feared and if her attractive young grandmother was even grown up enough to be in charge. Jesse being the strong silent type peered at me with sky blue eyes of wonder as I shoved cereal bowls toward them and spoke in words he knew not.

“Woof it down kids, woof it! No time to dilly dally.”

“Pray?”

“Oh yeah. Go for it.”

Marie being the spiritual one of the bunch flew into blessing everyone she knew and thanking God for all things that may or may not happen while they stayed with their grandparents. She reviewed the fact that Mommy and Pop were flying on a big plane higher than the sky across the water to work with Mario the missionary. Jesse got bored with all the details and peeked to see if the cereal was worth all the fuss. A few Aldi O’s during the prayer surely wouldn’t hurt as his sister seemed to be taking her sweet time invoking the Almighty.

A loud triumphant “AMEN!” signaled the end of the blessing. “Spoon?” asked sweetie Marie. Tossing utensils in their direction I too shoved a spoon into the Pumpkin Seed Flax Granola which promised health and yumminess. As soon as the spoon hit my tongue I knew something was amiss. Apparently yesterday’s peanut butter was on the back side of the spoon even though it had been through the pot scrubber cycle in the dishwasher.

“Yuuuuuuuuuuukkkkkk!!!” and other exclamations of displeasure rolled off my milky peanut butter tongue.

“We not say yukky at table!” reminded sweetie Marie. “Pop say we no say yuk at Mommy food. Not nice.”

“Poopoo. Poopoo! POOOPOOOO!!!” exclaimed my strong silent one. Apparently the urgency of the situation was more important than breakfast conversation etiquette.

“Hurry Jesse hurry! Good job going poopoo potty. Hang on! Poppy’s getting out! Hurry hurry hurry!”

“Go away Grammy.”

“Okay. Call me when you’re done.”

Back at the table wielding a clean spoon, one bite of healthful yumminess and a sip of lukewarm coffee later I was summoned from yon potty.”

“Gammmmmmmy… I fwoooooo!” Holy cow little man! That is some giant poopoo in the tiny potty. I guess there IS something grosser than roaches and yesterday’s peanut butter. Wait wait wait. Let me clean you up before you go back to breakfast. Wash hands baby. Soap soap soap!

Okay kiddos. Get a move on! Let’s wear your pretty clothes we picked out last night. No Jesse not that shirt. You slept in that one. Here’s the one you liked last night. No honey please don’t cry. Your Superman shirt has milk on the front. Please Jesse please… okay. No problem. Superman will be dry before we get there. It’s okay. Yes. Mommy will be home soon.

Marie please be still while I put your pretty tutu on. How do these shoes fasten? Do they still fit? No honey your Superman shirt doesn’t match this tutu. Let’s dress up pretty okay? Please?

Okay. Superman will be fine. Do you know where it is? No Jesse don’t tear all the clothes out of the suitcase honey. Stop jumping on the bed. You might fall. We’ll find it. Maybe it’s on the dryer… Nope. Marie honey I don’t know where it is. Will you please wear this pretty outfit? Please don’t make your pouty lip. Thank you sweetie, that’s a good girl. Yes Mommy will be home soon. You and Jesse go play with Poppy while I get ready.

Poppy helping

Poppy helping

Three minutes later I emerged from the bathroom looking lovely in yesterday’s clothes. I tried to remember the last time I had showered and washed my hair.  When I sat down I realized my pants were unzipped. “Thank You Lord for that timely revelation.” An unusually loud thwack signaled my phone had fallen out of my pocket. Several cracks spread across the face of our other grandson who serves as my screen saver. I looked at sweet Able who is three and thought of how much I miss him since his parents had the audacity to move to Texas. My heart smiled at the thought of our teen granddaughters in Illinois as I knew they were making their own breakfast and dressing themselves. Three daughters spread across the globe, all with children getting ready for church this morning gave me joy as we wrangled our two little passengers into car seats.

The sweet happy chaos of raising children is so rewarding and actually quite… easy.

Easy like Sunday morning.

Fun after church

Fun after church

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