I’ll do my crying in the rain (while mowing the lawn!?)

Sometimes we must make our own light.  This fixture resides in a local restaurant.  It’s made of items that would ordinarily be thrown in the trash.  I like that. ~ Pat

I don’t know why, but lately as I’ve mowed the lawn, I’ve had tears streaming down my face.  Yesterday it started to rain while I was mowing.  The irony made me grin.  There I was mowing in the rain, smiling and  crying at the same time.  I could imagine my neighbor talking to me over the fence and not realizing I was crying because the tears would mix with the raindrops.

Maybe I was crying because the recent afternoon showers have made my weedy lawn grow at an alarming rate and I’m having to mow more often.  Maybe the tears aren’t tears at all, but beads of perspiration.  (It’s that hot and humid.)  Maybe those bald spots in my yard where even weeds don’t grow are depressing me.  Maybe I’m longing for the help of the lawn boy (teenager) who mowed for me last year, and lamenting the notion that I can’t afford him this year.

Or maybe the tears are not for me at all.  Maybe they are tears of love and support for family and friends who need support right now.  What better time to shed them than while my mind is free as I pace back and forth, trying physically to make order and neatness in my surroundings, at the same time trying mentally to make order for my friends and family who feel as if they are living in chaos where nothing makes sense.

This post and my tears and prayers are for P whose father died yesterday after a tragic accident.  For my blogger friend U whose beloved daughter recently died unexpectedly.  For A whose darling boy died, the result of a seizure, at age eighteen.  For my cyber-friend J whose mother was recently diagnosed with cancer.  For my friend C whose dear son is fighting demons that none of us can understand.  For my precious daughter who is ill but not yet diagnosed.

God gave us unlimited tears because She knew these sorrows would sometimes come at us in bunches and we would need them.

This song kept nudging me as I mowed.  It’s written by Carole King and sung by the Everly Brothers.  Listen if you like.

The Christmas marathon.

I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love.  ~ Conor Oberst

The marathon is completed for another year and I’m both happy and sad to be home in the quiet again.  I always start Christmas morning with Dtr. #3, then go a couple of miles up the street to #1 and after lunch there, I head up to Chapel Hill to the home of #2.  It is so much fun to see the children’s excitement and feel their energy and love.  I am extraordinarily well-fed on Christmas Day, a lovely meal at each daughter’s home.  It’s now 4:00 pm a day later and I’m still not hungry.  But I’m just tired enough to appreciate the opportunity to read and rest and even to take a nap.

This was a holiday of giving and receiving scarves and sweaters as if we all want to swathe each other in all the good things that will sustain us until next year.  I know that’s how I feel about my loved ones and I sense the same from them.  It’s not just physical warmth but love and kindness and support and a shoulder to lean on when needed.  It’s happiness and joy and freedom from strife.  It’s health and enough wealth to pay the bills.  It’s peace and sharing with the less fortunate.  It’s forgiving and accepting forgiveness.  It’s whatever we need to be happy.

I’m happy to be here, now, the person that I am, with all manner of possibilities stretching out on the road ahead of me.  And I’m happy to have you to help me along.

Lighting up Christmas.

Christmas gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.             To an opponent, tolerance.              To a friend, your heart.                     To a customer, service.                    To all, charity.                                   To a child, a good example.              To yourself, respect.                           ~ Oren Arnold

To your neighbor, many lights. ~ Pat

Pictured here is the home of my across-the-street neighbors.  The best I can tell, they add a little something each year.  My decorating philosophy tends toward less is more when it comes to outdoors where the neighbors have to look at it whether they want to or not.  Well, that was my theory before we lived near a large family who had three houses in a row on the street we traveled to get up the mountain and home.  They would work most of Thanksgiving week and before, to wire the houses and yards.  On Thanksgiving night all lights were on and continued to light up the night for a month, ending with Christmas Day. December 26 they started to pack up all the lights and Santas and mangers until the next year.  These kindly neighbors, like my current ones, purchased a little something new to add to the display each year.

One year, in the summer, the elderly patriarch of the family learned he had cancer and so he took his own life; he hanged himself in the family’s barn.  That year his survivors, understandably, didn’t have much heart for decorating and word went out that there might be no lights in the three family yards.  I remember feeling a little ache of disappointment.  I wouldn’t be able to show the children when they came up for Thanksgiving.   The yards were visible from Interstate 40 and I thought about all the weary travelers who wouldn’t get to ooh and aah over the glorious display of lights and enthusiasm as they made their way home or to Grandma’s house or wherever they were going.  And the truckers.  I wondered how many truckers would miss them, having seen them for many years as they carried their cargo to points unknown.  A little something (okay, a big something) would feel all wrong about the holidays that year.

I learned later that there were quite a few neighbors who felt the same way I did.  Those angel-neighbors pitched in and helped to wire’em up.  I have always regretted that I missed out on that amazing venture.  I did make sure the neighbors knew how much their generosity meant to my family.  And to countless others who chanced to drive by or those who made a special trip from one of the nearby towns just to admire the remarkable work of art, given with love, to a rural community.

May we all give and receive that kind love and light this holiday season.

Fake it till you make it…and other myths.

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.  Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.  ~ Orson Welles                                                                                                                  This Christmas season is the fifth one I’m spending alone.  I would love to tell you that it’s getting easier.  It isn’t.  The permanence seems all the more real with each passing year.

Last year, after the holidays were over, I threatened commented that for my next Christmas I thought I should go away somewhere and do something totally different.  I was quite serious, but the look of horror and shock on the face of one of my older grandchildren made that a very short-lived proposal.  I won’t entertain that thought/plan again soon.  Too selfish, obviously.

I started this season with new resolve and lots of plans.  It’s only December 1, and I’m already stumbling all over the depression, the lack of purpose.  I try, oh how I try, to keep my eye on joy and peace and giving and sharing.  All those good things are elusive.  I’m doing something wrong.  But what?  I get up and go out and do all the generous things I know I’m supposed to do.  I drive home with tears streaking my face.  I get home and here I am.  The same sad soul who left here a few hours earlier.

Last night I decided I would find a good movie on TV and cheer myself up.  I found one that sounded okay.  It starred Susan Sarandon, a fabulous actor, and Robin Williams, a good actor and riotously funny, as a rule.  As expected, the acting was good.  Unexpectedly, Robin played a serious role, nothing funny about it.  I think the title of the movie was “Noel” but I’m not sure.  Don’t watch it if you’re trying to get happy.  Saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  I sat on the couch and went through a half box of Kleenex.  I should have turned it off but I got involved in the story and had to watch all of it.  The ending was only slightly up-beat.  So much for feeling better.

I don’t like to talk about being sad.  I don’t usually find any good in doing so.  Tonight, though, maybe I need to be brutally honest in order to round the corner and move toward the light.  I have a lunch date with friends tomorrow.  Tonight I’m getting some Christmas decorations out and trying to look forward to how beautiful my home will be once they’re all in place.  I’m also crocheting a scarf for a granddaughter.  Life keeps moving and so must I.  I’ll quote my mom again, “I can’t quit.  I have to keep trying.”  Thanks for that bit of wisdom, Mom.

Can anyone understand how it is to have lived in the White House and then, suddenly to be living alone as the President’s widow? ~ Jackie Kennedy  (My house wasn’t the White House nor my husband the President, but I feel your pain, Jackie.)

The angels are back.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~  Norman Vincent Peale

Around this time last year, I wrote a post showing a photograph of a snowflake against a cloudless azure sky.  I took this angel photo in the same park this year.  (Click on photo to see angel more clearly.) In fact, the street lamps alternately display angels and snowflakes.  In last year’s post I commented on the incongruity of the snowflake against an amazingly bright Duke-blue sky.  I went from incongruities to oxymorons (aka oxymora) and the race was on.  I’m feeling a bit less playful as I sit down to write today; in fact, I’m downright pensive.  We’ll see where this angel takes me.

angel, a definition:  a typical benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth, especially in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.

Here you see the angel of my childhood.  She certainly looks benevolent and celestial, doesn’t she?  When I was a youngster, and even through my teens, this picture resided on the wall beside my bed.  Living in the mountains meant we had our share of rickety little foot bridges similar to the one in the picture.  I imagined this was my brother trying to make his way across the bridge and the girl was our older sister helping him along, which she would have done with great good nature.  Of course they couldn’t see her, but the guardian angel was there to help them both across.  Sweet story.  Reassuring to a little girl who lived in a less than adequate home with less than competent parents.  (They did love us, though, I’ll give them that.)

Alas, the sweet story went awry.  Not his sisters, not his momma, not even an ethereal being sent from above could save that little boy from himself and his demons.  He died of a drug and alcohol overdose at the age of sixty-one.  Like father, like son.  He spent his entire life wanting and trying to do something, anything better than our dad.  He finally succeeded.  He out-lived him by about a year.

Ahhh, but “hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  (Alexander Pope said that.)  And so we bring out the angels at Christmastime and we burden them with our hopes and wishes.  We charge them with keeping us safe.  We put one on the tiptop of the Christmas tree.  What’s she supposed to do up there anyway?  Guard the tree?  If we’re lucky, we have an image of one in a difficult childhood who helps us through all manner of hard times.  Who/What are these ubiquitous presences?  I have a theory but first I’d love to know what you think.  Care to comment?