Silver

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It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years since I walked down that aisle with my Daddy. I will never forget his words “Are you ready Baby?” I mumble a yes, and take the first steps. It was one of the most memorable steps we would take together. I was not supposed to notice him reaching under the rim of his glasses to wipe a tear. I was between starting a new life and being “given away” it was a bittersweet moment for this 20-year-old.

My future was waiting at the end of that aisle. The person with whom I would spend the rest of my life. I can still remember the way he never took his eyes off of me during my journey down that aisle. I still find myself blushing about it today…followed by a small giggle. The fact that he still says I’m “pretty” doesn’t matter if it is true..only that he still tells me…~grin~

It’s hard to imagine how quiet I was at the age of 20. As a matter of fact, Derek would often tell me he thought I was “spoiled” and “conceded” when he first met me. Little did he know that it just happened to be my shy and quiet personality. I’m sure he wishes some days he could see that person again lol!

I had thought a lot about this being our “Silver” year. I looked at the word meaning: a white, ductile metallic element, used for making mirrors, coins, ornaments, table utensils, photographic chemicals, etc. Not much of a definition in the way of Anniversary? I also took notice that “Silver” denotes – time, and I know this term. Twenty five years of time..have passed and I have no idea where they have went!  Silver is also used to make mirrors.. which I find very relevant to us this year. It has been a time of reflecting…

Looking back over the past 25 years..is exactly like gazing into a mirror. Perception of ones self and those around us through a looking-glass. What do I see? Everything. Moments, life changing events, happiness, sadness, strength and weakness. I see things I would change, and things I would never even dream of changing.

Our conversation over supper last night caused Hannah to erupt into a fit of giggles. It is hard for her to imagine the world of her parents dating era. She asked if I thought she would ever get married? I assured her that it was more likely than not – but not until she was at least 35! I began telling her how I was friends with her Daddy before dating him. We kind of hung out together. I told her how things started to change when I found myself pretending I was cold.. just so he would offer me his jacket. I loved the smell of his cologne! It went from lending me his jacket, to “Do you want to ride around town?” Keeping in mind that Derek was pretty quiet also? this was major. I never said no, about cruising with him in town. Before long, he asked me out on an “official” date. We often laugh at how long we used to stay on the telephone and nothing but breathing.. and “are you still there?” but we did.

After 25 years, I would love to say that we still listen to one another breathe and enjoy it.. but he doesn’t really find anything appealing about my snoring! sorry babe! I guess no more than I relish in him making me car sick when I am “riding around town” in our former home town! It’s not the same as riding around in the Trans-Am holding hands like we were going to lose site of one another!

I see the past 25 years in moments.. not time. Moments that pulled us together, being there for me when my Daddy died unexpectedly in a car accident, the lonely years of waiting for Hannah to come along or holding me during the loss of my mother. The moments we have shared good times, the ups and downs of being parents. The chuckles we had on this anniversary because I mistakenly bought him a Birthday card…apparently the eyes are showing 25 years of decline!

Yes, we are Silver now.. and we will tarnish that quite a bit at times I am sure. Honestly, he would probably admit that sometimes we don’t like one another very much. He often jokes that the wedding ring is the only thing you can put on your finger, and feel it tightening around your neck! bwahahhaha. Oh how I wish that He had the perfect wife..I am not her… lol. Do we love each other? Positively! It has been a journey, we are still learning, tolerating and trying to make the most of our experiences. Relationships are work. It can be exhausting and rewarding all at the same time. I do not cherish the people who say marriage is 50/50. Apparently they are still single. We often take much more than we give..sometimes we give more than we take. It’s a balance that we are still muddling through. Do I have marital advice..seldom. No two marriages are the same anymore than two people are the same. Not possible. Make your moments last.. because time will not. It will keep on going long after we are gone. Most importantly, be forgiving with one another. It isn’t hard to love someone..that’s the easy part.

So, here is to 25 more, the next milestone of Golden! May God continue to be the center, each other in the middle…and walking the last mile.. together.

The Christmas Letter

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Today I am sharing a letter that I had written to my dear Aunt before she went to her home in Heaven. Take time to share your heart with those you love. No regrets.

December 22, 2010

To my Dear Aunt Moe

I guess I have finally gotten serious about sending you a letter.  I have thought about what I would write to you about on a daily basis.  I have thoughts that run through my mind, songs that I hear, and visual memories too many to number.  I think a letter of this nature should be shared with family members on a yearly basis.  We can never tell our loved ones too many times how much we care about them.  Maybe this will be the beginning of a new traditions of Christmas letters for me, who knows.

My earliest memories of you must begin during your dating era with my Uncle James.  That was our beginning.  I really have no idea how old I was, I only remember being excited about going with you and the family to the “river” to swim after you all were married.  I couldn’t tell you who was there, but I can tell you that I remember the laughter.  Everyone was having a great time and the river looked as large as an ocean to me.  This would be one of my first memories of the laughter that has always been a part of wherever you were.  Not just a chuckle, or a quick laugh.. but the good ol “belly laugh” that comes with genuine good family times. I can still hear the music coming from your Daddy’s front porch.  I thought it was so wonderful to have your own “band” at home! I am sure your Daddy has to be in charge of something musical in Heaven.

Music. This is when I think of you most.  I was in an evening church service when a preacher started singing “Swing Wide the Gates” and I was immediately taken back to the porch swing at Mamaw’s with the huge songbook in our lap, careful not to swing too high to bump the window sill. I think the more verses we sang on “I’ll Fly Away” the higher the swing would automatically go! Singing, and listening. Hoping that one day I could sound as pretty as your voice always did. I will always remember the sadness I felt when you would sing “Six Hours on the Cross” .. or the chill on my arms when “The Third Man” was finished.  Music. I think that is where we began. I would later realize that it really didn’t matter if I was great at singing.. God would honor my offering because of how it was offered. I have always been moved by music, and that started with you, Aunt Moe. It has been a most wonderful gift I received in my childhood. I just wanted to thank you, earnestly. You planted that seed, and I am so grateful that you shared that love with me.

I can’t really remember any memories of us, other than good. The excitement of getting to go to the hospital with Uncle James when Little Jimmy was born, and afraid Marybeth wouldn’t love me as much if I didn’t go the hospital to pick her up also when she was born! Remembering watching Anthony play with his trucks in the dirt.. I took for granted all the times I walked down the alley, and there you or Uncle James were…Him under the hood of some car, or you working in the yard, or also under the hood working with Uncle James. I miss the times when we all played in the snow, swam in the pool, or went fishing together. I always thought that was cool. I miss being able to come down that alley and visit for a spell.. and mostly I miss it because I didn’t take time to visit when I had the opportunity to do so. Our time is the best thing we can give one another, and it is also the one thing we seem to be so stingy with.

I refuse to make this letter a “goodbye” but it is only the continuation of our story together. The chapters may end, take a different turn.. but as Christians, we have a “series” and I can’t wait to see what our future memories will be, only that I know they will be eternal.  You have been my encourager and inspiration many more times than you knew. You have been that for so many people, more than you will ever know.. You have been the “Iron that sharpens Iron” in so many brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that I have been pretty “dull” at times, and I could always count on you to give me a word from God.  There have been many times that I knew all I had to do was call with my prayer request, because I knew you wouldn’t just say you’d pray.. I knew you meant business with the Master. I do not have to tell you what a blessing you continue to be to those around you. I hope that you know. You have been a blessing to me from the time I was a little girl, growing up as a teenager, and now as a grown woman.

I still remember how Daddy’s eyes would light up when he found out you had made yeast rolls or apple crisp or pies. We would always hope that some was left for us to enjoy. Momma tried your recipe, but it was never the same as Aunt Moe’s. I still feel the warmth every time I wear the special apron you sent me with the prayer cloth sewn into the fabric. My family knows something good will be in the oven, when I have my “Aunt Moe” apron on! the memories you have given me will outlast my lifetime, and that of your children and grandchildren, my dear Uncle James, and all the people in your enormous circle of love. The love you gave to my Momma was so dear to us. She loved you so much. It may have seemed to go unnoticed, but it remains with me and Buddy forever. You gave her so much in  your relationship. I will never be able to thank you enough for that.

I will close this letter with tears of joy, wonderful memories, and a thankful heart that God has allowed me to enjoy such a wonderful woman in my life. I look forward to the next chapter in our lives, earthly or eternal. I know that they will be great regardless of the meeting place.

I love you so dearly, and know that you have always been a “song” in my heart.. Yes, a song, the tool that God has used so many times to reach my soul. His love is everlasting.

Praying that you will have a wonderful Christmas, continuing to make great memories. You are loved beyond measure…

Love,

Neicy

Anticipation

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I found myself trying to decided on whether or not to put up my Christmas decorations early this year. I am usually completing this task the weekend after Thanksgiving. I am not at all happy that Black Friday shopping will begin on the day set aside for Thanksgiving, the friday after was soon enough. I did feel a little guilty for not leaving my fall pumpkins and cornucopia out for this coming Thursday, but realized being thankful is not a decoration..it is an act in itself.

Another defining reason for decorating early, is that I have family coming! My brother hasn’t been able to be here during the holidays for quite a while, and I wanted to have everything decorated for them. I am starting to get anxious and filled with anticipation.

Family gatherings bring many things. We are busier than usual, we fuss over menus, who is eating where and what time. We try to fit it all in, but end up being frustrated and lacking the holiday spirit of togetherness that we should have.  We all want the Norman Rockwell gatherings. Why? I don’t know, because we should know by now that it just doesn’t happen outside of those paintings. We surely miss the point.

The great thing about having my brother and his family here? It really doesn’t matter what we eat, what time, or what we do. We live so far away from one another, we are just happy  to be in the same room together. I feel blessed and realize that this is the heart of the holidays for me. So I am anticipating…I can’t wait to see them.

I also am realizing how deep the anticipation ran for my own Momma. It didn’t matter if we arrived at 2 a.m.? She would be up waiting. Anticipating. She knew what was important. I was a little misty eyed this morning thinking of how much she must have missed us.  I overheard a lady in the grocery store complaining that she always had to eat dinner at her parents. She wished she could just stay home and then go shopping at 8pm? I wanted to pull her to the side and just give her some “friendly” advice. I thought it was the saddest thing I had heard all week. One day she may figure it out, but for that moment, I whispered a tearful prayer for her in the canned food aisle.

It is going to be crowded and noisy here, my house is small. As a matter of fact, it’s going to be a little chaotic at times, but it doesn’t lessen my anticipation. It only makes me love my family more for giving up their comfortable beds to share Thanksgiving with us.

The Christmas tree will be twinkling this year.. only a week early, a pot of hot chocolate will be on the stove. We are anticipating some much-needed family time. The train around my tree will be wide open, along with Hannah and her cousins, and the lull of Christmas music playing. Yeah, it’s going to get a little noisy, but I am bursting with anticipation.

My prayer for my friends and family this year? That you are Anticipating…embracing the people who you love, and planting some seeds of kindness towards the ones you struggle with. I pray that you don’t take anyone for granted, make an effort to get along….bend. Be gracious to those that cook for you faithfully every year, appreciate the love that goes into your Thanksgiving feast. You may ask God to show you someone who would be blessed by an invitation,  or providing a Thanksgiving meal. I guarantee you won’t regret your efforts.

Happy Thanksgiving! May it be blessed beyond measure and full of heart-felt thankfulness and anticipation.

Love is Homemade

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Today I find them, tucked away in the back of my sock drawer, my last pair of “house shoes.”  They are stuffed and sealed in a sandwich bag, my name is written on a piece of masking tape and I immediately smile looking at the handwriting.

I have owned many different pairs of these hand-crocheted slippers. Momma used to let us choose the color, then she would measure our sock feet. Normally, the color would be dark since we would wear them all winter. We heated with coal, so it was a wise choice to keep the colors dark to prevent the ability to show dirt.

I was often told that I was one of the few children that could wear out a pair of these shoes, they were tough and lasted a very long time. The fact that my brother and I would use them for pretend ice skates on linoleum floors, may have contributed to their wear and tear. They were also pretty great for gathering static electricity to be used to “zap” some poor unsuspecting soul. I still cringe thinking of how much it hurt to be on the receiving end–thanks again little brother!

You may wonder why the shoes are in a sandwich bag? We tend to store everything in a sandwich bag or “baggies” as we still call them. This particular pair of shoes was saved so Momma would always have a  pattern, something to go by in case she had forgotten the stitching. I have watched her count the “rows” and mentally take note as to whether it were a shell pattern….or if it were considered a double crochet. So, this pair was held back for that purpose for many many years. Anyone that knew her would never question why they happened to be red in color. It was her favorite.

During one of our many long-distance phone conversations, we discussed how cold the weather had gotten. She made a comment about me always having the coldest feet in the winter and said that she hoped I was wearing fuzzy socks! I mentioned that what I really needed was some warm “house shoes.”

Approximately one week later, I received a package from West Virginia…unmistakably, from my Momma in her attempt to keep me warm from 300 miles away.

They came with only one stipulation. “Don’t ever lose these, they are the last pair around here that I was saving to use for a pattern.” I almost felt bad for taking them, but she insisted that she knew I would take care of them and since I no longer had the urge to skate on linoleum floors.. they would probably be around for quite some time in case she ever needed to refer back to them.

There in the back of my sock drawer, the shoes have remained. They are the “last” of them. I often recite a quote that one day, there will be “no more” that people, places, and moments do not last forever. The shoes are the “last” of them, the last of my Momma’s crocheting, the last of homemade anything by her hands.

After looking at the house shoes, I couldn’t bear to return them to the forgotten drawer. I even had a silly thought, pondering if they would work the same way Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers did in The Wizard of Oz? There’s no place like home… There’s no place like home!  If only it were that easy.  I did, however, come to the conclusion that they were far too special to keep hidden inside of that drawer.

From now on, I think they will be considered my “Christmas Shoes” …. homemade with love….the kind that will last for an eternity. I will start a new tradition of wearing them during the holidays. Maybe I’ll even try making a pair?  Thanks again, Momma…..they are just as warm and cozy as I remember! ….and who knows? maybe I can still get a “spark” or two going (ouch!) just for old times sake!

Keep your treasures close to you…but don’t tuck them away for too long…you may forget about them.. and besides, they were meant to be enjoyed!

Thankful in All Things

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Thanksgiving is almost here, the holiday season is upon us! Honestly, it’s my favorite time of the year. Even with all of the craziness that goes along with being busy, I consider it to be the time of year that people seem to be a little more kind, tolerant, and most of all, thankful.

I will tend to blog more in the next several weeks. How can I not? Memories come in like a flood for me during the holidays. Traditions, family stories, get togethers…so many things that make my heart a little more open. It always trails back to one area the most…thankfulness!

Growing up as a coal miner’s daughter, I didn’t consider us “poor” by no means, although we were probably closer to it at times that I realized. My Daddy always worked in the mines, he always provided for us. Thankfulness. His work was mostly steady, but there were times that we endured “coal strikes” that seemed to last forever.  During that time, if you were in the union.. and a strike was going on, you didn’t work and therefore, you didn’t get paid. I can’t remember the longest one? but I just knew when I heard the word “coal strike” you knew it was fixing to get a little skinny.

I can honestly and thankfully say, that I do not know what it is like to go hungry. I hope I never know. But I can tell you that I can very well remember two large bins in our kitchen that held us through some of those lean times. Flour and potatoes housed in those bins made more of an  assortment of meals than I could have imagined. If it could be made with those two ingredients? my mother would cook it. Actually, I am surprised that I can eat potatoes and gravy to this day! Fried, mashed, boiled, baked and always with flour that made gravy! Thankfully, it was always enough. Contentment was being taught early on, life lessons that you can’t learn anywhere else.

Thanksgiving was less than a week away, the strike was in full swing. We were blessed to know a local businessman that owned a small grocery store that allowed us to “charge” things from time to time. Wow, to think of how many families he helped during his lifetime, is still amazing to me.

My mother and grandmother always cooked together. Holiday dinner was one of the favorite things they shared and yes, they were some awesome cooks! I remember the mood was not quite as exciting as usual this year, but after all, everyone was having a rough time with so many out of work. I overheard the two talking and the only thing I can remember is their words? What are we going to do? We don’t even have a turkey! I will never forget my mothers words to my grandmother. “Well, we are going to have Thanksgiving Dinner, that’s for sure.. we just have to get a little more creative!” Was I worried? Oh yeah! No turkey, meant no thanksgiving, but I also knew that they were determined.

That entire day I noticed them unloading the cabinets. Will this work? No? What about this? Yes, we can do something with that…..my mood lightened because whatever they were conjuring up? they were doing it with thankfulness and determination.  Before the day was out, Dad came through the door with a pie that a neighbor had given him.. Aha! dessert. It was starting to remind me of the Bible story – feeding the five thousand! Surely, God will make a way for a small number of us also! Faith grew.. Thankfulness grew.

I can’t tell you what trimmings we had that year, other than they found a box of Stovetop Stuffing mix. I remember we had a pie for dessert. What I do remember the most? Not that we didn’t have a turkey, but the fact that my mother and grandmother decided that if you could stuff a turkey? why couldn’t you stuff a frying hen? That’s right, we had a chicken in the freezer! and after all, it was the same principle? What I remember most about that chicken,  is hearing them giggle in the kitchen while stuffing that thing. Thankfulness, and contentment! They were determined not to let the absence of Tom Turkey put a damper on our holiday.  It was the first and last “stuffed” chicken I have ever eaten, but it was no doubt the most memorable! Never have I experienced a meal that was more thoughtful, or baked and roasted with more love! It’s no wonder when my momma and I first saw a cooking show with “stuffed” Cornish hens as a delicacy..oh yeah, we giggled some more.. She was ahead of her time on that one!

Years went by, and Thanksgiving after that always included at least a 25lb turkey and all the trimmings, Daddy was an awesome cook with his delicious ham cooking alongside momma but it seemed that our dinner conversation would always go back to “remember when” about that stuffed chicken! We reminded ourselves to be thankful in all things… even all things poultry!

Don’t miss the opportunity to be thankful…and when my turkey goes in the oven this year? I will feel a little tug on my heartstrings to put as much love into cooking for my family as they did. Be thankful.. in ALL things!