Already Spring is here. The lawn mowers have been brought out of storage and are humming throughout the neighborhood. Brown yards and fields are now green, red bud trees are blooming with their pink blossoms, and dogwood trees are poised for their white outburst. Eager gardeners already swarm the nurseries for tender plants they hope don’t succumb to a freeze before summer. I pull weeds, trim off dead stalks from old lantana and hydrangea bushes. Yes, I know it’s not the right time to trim hydrangea bushes, but mine become such monsters that I have to. Besides, I haven’t seen them bloom for several years. They have overstayed their welcome, I’m afraid.
So time marches on. It’s been two months since Jimmy passed away, and I’m doing okay, I think. I’ve kept myself busy with things like writing thank you notes, talking to friends and family, taking care of grandkids, and keeping house. I even went to Costa Rica for a week, courtesy of my son and his wife. The change of scenery, the beach, the ocean. . .all were balm to a battered soul.
Even after the memorial service, which turned out almost perfect in my opinion, I still feel in limbo. Unsettled. Unsure. Unprepared. I’m alone in this house, on this property. I alone am responsible for its upkeep, its repair. I am a widow. I make all the decisions now. I am a widow.
Spring speaks of new beginnings. So it does. Am I ready? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Ready or not, here I come. No hide and seek here. I’m all in.
What about you? Is spring a new beginning for you?
“It’s the best time of the year. I don’t know if there’ll be snow, but have a cup of cheer. . .” And so the song goes, courtesy of the late great Burl Ives. Remember the snowman on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated special? I was seven years old when I saw it for the first time. It was magical. Now I can’t even get my grandkids interested. The old claymation specials have nothing on today’s computer graphics animation. Ah, but they were magical, at least to my generation.
I got distracted. Sorry about that. I have decided to have a holly jolly Christmas at my house. I don’t care if a pandemic is raging, threatening my family and friends, threatening retailers and restauranteurs, threatening the traditions we all hold dear. Maybe the pandemic is a good thing.
What? What did you say? I said, maybe it’s a good thing. It’s changing our priorities. We are focusing more on loved ones, and not things. We are finding out that the most valuable things in life are not things at all. The things we miss are not things, either. Hugging a friend or relative, shaking hands, whispering in someone’s ear, getting close enough to detect a special cologne, gathering in groups at holiday parties, sharing a toast, kids sitting on Santa’s lap, being able to breathe without fogging up your glasses, last-minute shopping in a crowded store. Need I go on?
We have given up much this year because of Covid-19. But look at what we’ve gained: a new appreciation of freedom, gathering with friends, going shopping and dining wherever we want, gathering with family at holidays and special occasions, going to church and fellowship with fellow churchgoers. Boy, do I miss that.
I’m going to make it a holly jolly Christmas, though. I’m going to:
Enjoy small things like the lights on my beautiful tree.
Behold the wonder in my granddaughters’ eyes as they look at all the decorations.
Experience the delight in the two-year-old’s smile as she touches an LED C9 bulb and finds out that it’s cool to the touch.
Note the pride in the five-year-old’s stance as she finishes decorating the little silver tree for my camper.
Enjoy the taste of pumpkin spice in my morning coffee.
Relish drinking from my special Christmas coffee mugs.
Cozy up to my dog next to me in my chair while wearing comfy pajamas.
Relish a morning when I get to sleep just a little bit later.
Wrap each and every gift with love.
Give thanks for online ordering when I can’t get to a store.
Get the picture? There is a host of ways to make it a holly jolly Christmas. Even as my days are consumed with caregiving and my nights with intermittent sleep between calls from hubby, I choose to focus on the good. Yes, I have days, even weeks, when I wonder how this is all going to turn out–the pandemic, my husband’s disease progression, the next presidential administration, life in general. But I rest in this: my God knows it all, and holds it all, in His almighty hands.
So. . . Merry Christmas. May all your days be holly jolly.
I am not aware of a single person who would say that this year has been a favorite. I suppose if you had a baby or got married or met the person of your dreams, then it was a good year, but I believe for the vast majority it has been a year that no one will be sorry to see go.
How do I hate thee, 2020? Let me count the ways:
Mud-slinging political campaigns.
Record-breaking hurricane season.
COVID-19. Loss of freedom.
COVID-19. Businesses lost.
A Presidential election mired in controversy. Who really won?
COVID-19. Loss of social connections.
Will 2021 be different? Most assuredly. Will it be better? We can only hope. Thank goodness my hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows the future. He knows the way. And I know Him. Do you?
Disclaimer: I live in Texas where these are our seasons: 1) almost summer, 2) hotter than H-E-double-hockey-sticks, 3) still summer, and 4) a little cooler than summer. Keep your snowballs to yourself. They would just melt before they hit me anyway. Yes, I’m sad to say goodbye to Old Man Winter. Spring is threatening everywhere with blooming daffodils, budding azaleas, and people wearing flipflops and shorts in 50-degree weather. Why am I sad? Let me count the ways. 1. Snow. I’m still waiting! We haven’t even had a good ice storm this winter! I’ve got grandchildren who’ve never even seen snowmen in person. A few years ago we had snow in March. It’s getting pretty far into March now, though, and no weather person has mentioned any ice storms coming in the near future. 2. Allergies. Here, allergy season goes into high gear in the spring. The weather turns nice, the flowers start blooming, then, just as you start thinking about doing some yard work, that thick yellow stuff called pollen coats everything from vehicles to cows and sends you running back into the house for Kleenex and Chlorpheniramine. Try sneezing and saying that at the same time. 3. Boots. I’ve managed to accumulate several pairs of boots over the years and I really like to wear them. My toes and roadmaps of veins hide pretty well in boots. I would even wear them in the summer if they also didn’t serve as ovens in hot weather. Someone should invent tiny air conditioners for shoes. 4. Winter clothes. So much more attractive on older, heavier bodies than skimpy summer styles. Who wants to see upper arms and legs over 50? That’s why shrugs and capri pants were invented, people. But sometimes it gets so hot you just gotta. I know! I’m right there with you! Forget about swimsuits. Unless you have to take grandkids. Then what do you do? You resort to suits with skirts and baggy coverups and hope you don’t have to get in the water, or at least deeper than your ankles. 5. Blazing fires. Not a good thing in summertime when the air already feels like you’re standing near a fire. Great in the winter. Who doesn’t love a roaring fire in the fireplace or firepit? You get to wrap up in a blanket and sip on a warm beverage. Nothing better. In the summer just stare at the sun or its reflection on car windshields. But not directly, of course. That’s about it. I’ll have to paint my toenails, break out the sandals and capri pants, put the boots and sweaters in storage, and resign myself to another six months of scorching heat. That’s all right, I suppose. I’ll try to squeeze in some yard work before the sun burns everything up. Now where did I put the Flonase and tissue? Achoo! How do you feel about winter? XOXO
Who’da thought when we picked out this adorable Boston terrier puppy back in March we would end up putting her through risky surgery to save her life? She seemed so healthy. Until.
At four months we took our newest family member to the vet for spaying and docking her unusual long tail. Boston terriers just aren’t supposed to have long tails, and Dr. B. said since the docking wasn’t done shortly after birth, it could easily be done while she was under anesthesia during spaying surgery. As much as we hated to put her through that, we knew she would heal quickly. She went through the surgery like a champ and challenged us, even dared us, to keep her quiet the first week of recovery.
Comfy in her kennel with her pink blanky
The time passed quickly, however, even with her having to stay in her kennel more because she tended to be too playful. I had noticed that she seemed a little thin, and that when she inhaled during breathing, her sides would suck in harder than seemed normal. Dr. B.’s new colleague, Dr. H., noticed the abnormal breathing as she examined Stella’s incision. She wanted to take an x-ray, and her suspicions revealed a hernia in Stella’s diaphragm that had allowed her abdominal organs to move into her chest cavity!
The doctors think that the surgery caused a difference in pressure which sucked the intestines, liver, and other abdominal organs through the hole in the diaphragm and around her heart, collapsing one lung. At first we thought we would have to take her to a specialist in Dallas but Dr. B. decided he could perform the surgery, and we trusted him to do it.
All tuckered out. Look at that tongue!
To watch her now you’d never know how close we came to losing our sweet baby girl. She’s just as active and mischievous as ever, thanks to two perceptive and skillful veterinarians. We hope to enjoy little Stella for many years to come.
Looking very thin before her problem was identified.