Categories
Memoirs

Funerals are Weird

Maybe no one has dared to utter those words, at least in print or publicly, but there they are.  Don’t you agree?  Here in the U.S., we have certain customs we follow when someone dies.  I’m sure they all, like Christmas traditions, have their origins and seem reasonable to most, but nowadays you have to wonder.  Should the usual traditions and customs be followed during a pandemic?

Because they’re not.  Many are not holding traditional funerals; many are holding memorial services, and many times the service is held weeks or even months after the death.  Fewer people are attending funeral services these days, for fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus, and those who do attend wear masks.

My father-in-law recently passed away, and my mother-in-law honored his wishes by having him cremated, but she decided at the last minute to donate his body to science, in hopes that research into dementia like his could help someone in the future.  An honorable and noble decision, in my opinion.  She filled out the proper paperwork, the university picked up the remains, and ashes may be returned to her when the work at the university medical school is complete.  

So there was no need for a casket, no need for viewing, no need for graveside service, no need for interment.   Most of the immediate family attended the simple memorial service with a handful of friends and relatives, and there were two speakers and a couple of songs, and the service was over.

Family received the guests and then convened at my mother-in-law’s home where we visited for awhile and then left.  It was odd.  No food was brought to the house, no food was served after the service, and no flowers were delivered.

Still, I believe my father-in-law was honored, and my mother-in-law was provided closure after months and months of caregiving.  This pared-down version of a funeral seemed to make more sense to me.  Maybe the traditions of visitation, viewing the body in a casket, and going to the cemetery help to provide closure for many, but this simple memorial service was a good substitute.  

Goodbye, Jerry. We love you. May you rest in peace with God.


Have you attended a funeral or memorial service during the pandemic?  Please share your experience.  I would love to hear about it.

XOXO

Categories
writing

Writing Gives Me Wings

I’m sitting here at my desk trying to think of something to write about.  I could just skip the blog post this week and go to bed.  Or work on my novel-in-progress.  But that would be a cop-out.  The best remedy for writer’s block (I’d rather call it a lack of ideas) is to keep writing.  Or so I’ve heard.  And read.  

Just start typing and the words will come, they say.  Apply the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair, they say.  Be a professional, they say.  Write something, anything, they say.  The words will come, they say.

Of course I want to be a professional.  Isn’t that the opposite of amateur?  Or wannabe?  I’m a writer, dang it.  So here I sit.  Maybe I’ll come up with something and maybe someone will read it.  Maybe someone will like it even.

Stella the Boston terrier
 

I have a sidekick who stays here in my office with me while I write.  It’s late right now and she has given up whining at me to go to bed, so she’s curled up on her gray and pink plaid dog bed (thanks, Muttnation by Miranda Lambert!).  She hardly ever leaves my side, and when I’m watching my grandkids with my mother next door, she stands at the fence and stares at me until she is forced to go inside because of the heat. 

 

Stella at the window


This photo was taken this morning as I wrote in my prayer journal.  Notice she has her favorite ball on the windowsill as she looks for squirrels, birds, and rabbits.  It’s her favorite perch.  

See?  I’ve written a whole blog post without really having an idea.  It’s possible to write even without a good idea.  Now to see if anyone will read it.  If you’re a writer, happy writing.  If you’re a reader, thank you!

Have a blessed week.
XOXO


Categories
holidays

The Fourth of July Canceled?

I was dismayed to find that many of the fireworks displays in my area had been canceled due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.  Not that I would attend the big ones in the towns around here, but I at least would have had that option.  I realize that our nation’s birthday happens with or without fireworks, but it just doesn’t seem the same without them.

I had settled down with hubby in front of the TV to watch Macy’s Fourth of July celebration when I heard a big boom outside.  We have some neighbors who have been known to shoot off fireworks during holidays, but the trees usually cover them up.  Still, I had to investigate.  I sprang from my chair with Stella the Boston terrier on my heels.  We had to see what was going on.

To my utter surprise and delight, my next door neighbors were shooting off those big fireworks like the cities do!  I texted my mother who lives next door on the other side and she picked me up in my dad’s golf cart so we could drive across the road to watch the fireworks.

It wasn’t a big public event and there weren’t scores of people sitting on blankets or tailgating, but there were fireworks and we got to see them.  What could be better than having big fireworks at your next door neighbors?  I didn’t even have to bring a covered dish or dessert.

So, thank you, Turner family, for rescuing Independence Day for our quiet country neighborhood.  I’m sticking my tongue out at you, COVID 19.  You tried but you didn’t stop it.  

Maybe 2021 will be different, but I wouldn’t give anything for the lessons 2020 has taught me thus far.  That sounds like good material for another blog post.

I hope you had a safe and happy Fourth of July without a visit from the unwelcome coronavirus.  Here’s to the Red, White, and Blue!

XOXO

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Categories
writing

A Writer’s Dilemma

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You have your idea. You have your conflict. You have your characters and you have your story. You start typing and it flows. Until you get about halfway. Now what?

Writers have been facing this dilemma since writing began. That’s why some writers outline their entire novel or work before they even start. It helps them to know where they are going with the story.  Writing an outline has never worked for me. 

I’m what they call in writing circles a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants. I agree with long-time prolific writer Caleb Pirtle III, author of the Ambrose Lincoln series and the Boomtown Saga.  I like to see where the characters take me. But sometimes they get stuck. Or I become blind or deaf. I can’t tell where they are going and they don’t seem to want to share with me. I’m just the author, after all.

What do I do about this problem? Some people call it writer’s block. I don’t like that term because it suggests that the river of my thoughts and imagination has been dammed up. I still have the river, I just can’t tell where it wants to go.

Take my work in progress, for example. I’ve titled it Keeper III: The Blackout. My characters Emmalee and Elliott have a good thing going. They are attracted to each other, have started dating, and the relationship is beginning to grow.  Emmalee’s old boyfriend Jace has resumed stalking her.  Emmalee’s coworker Gilbert constantly gets on her nerves. The power keeps going off at the zoo and in town.  Now what?  Where do I take the story?

How serious do Emmalee and Elliott become?  Will Jace become violent towards Emmalee?  What will she do about Gilbert?  What is causing the frequent blackouts?

See what I mean?  These are questions I want my reader to ask, but first I have to answer them.  I best get to work.  The solutions seem to flow straight from the seat in the chair to the brain in the head to the fingers on the keyboard.  

Stay tuned. . .

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Teacher’s Pet

When I was in second grade, my friends told me I was the teacher’s pet. I didn’t really think of myself as such, but I was the one Mrs. Russell chose to keep in during recess at the end of the day to help her with projects such as putting up bulletin boards, cutting out things, cleaning erasers, or doing errands for her.  



That’s me in the circle and Mrs. Russell with the tall hair standing.

 You can see the book characters on the wall. 

That year we had recess after lunch, and then a quiet time where we would rest our heads on our desks and listen to the teacher read to us.  My favorite book that she read was The Wizard of Oz.  She had put characters from the book on the wall and I would study them every day.  I was so enamored with the story and so eager to know what happened next that I persuaded my parents to buy me a copy of the book. Soon I found myself the proud owner of the Whitman version of the book which I believe I read in one weekend.


Another thing I remember about reading in elementary school was the SRA reading kit.  SRA stands for Science Research Associates.  During SRA time, we would go to the SRA box on the counter in the classroom, pick a folded card with a reading selection and then we would be tested over the reading.  If we scored high enough on the reading test, we could advance to the next color.  If not, we had to select another story in the same color.  Being kind of an overachiever, I would rush through the reading, take the test, and see if I could advance faster than anyone else.  I was in the top reading group, after all.


Back in the 60’s we were all divided into reading groups based on our abilities.  Though the groups were named benignly after birds or colors, there was no doubt in our minds which group was the smartest, which was the middle, and which was the slowest.  And since there were no classroom teacher aides, we were expected to work on an assignment at our desks while the teacher had a reading group at a table in the back of the room.  No one misbehaved during that group time because no one wanted to be the recipient of a swing from the teacher’s paddle or a visit to the principal’s office.  There was real fear in those days.  I think it had something to do with the fact that you would catch it at home as well.


So  I was smart.  Miss Goody-Two-Shoes.  The girl who followed the rules.  The girl who got to stay in from recess and help the teacher.   Teacher’s pet.  What about you?  Were you the teacher’s pet?  

XOXO