This is for Debbie Kim~ she knows why

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The One that got Away~ Divine Creature~ part 9

As soon as my father's estate was settled, I hit the saddle. I had not ridden in months. Dealing with all the estate issues had become a full time job and had left little time for much else.

I was thrilled to have all the legal matters behind me. Perhaps I could have my own life back.
I found myself spending more and more time with my mare, Maggie. Each day we set out on a new adventure.
We lived about 30 minutes, 45 if you're pulling a trailer, from the Grasslands; a 23,000 acre nature preserve. Set aside as a nature preserve by LBJ while he was in office; it was a favorite place of many riders. Some would haul their horses as far as a couple of hundred miles to ride and camp.
The trails were well maintained and well marked. On weekdays I felt as if I had the whole 23,000 acres to myself. I so enjoyed the solitude. Weekends were usually busy, especially if the weather was nice. Lots of campers and the trails could actually become crowded.
And the hunters! It was a nature preserve ! "No Hunting" signs were posted all over the preserve yet that did not still the gun fire. I worried some fool would hit me or Maggie.
We finally quit going out on weekends.
I felt safe during the week and this became how we planned our trips. How I learned to love the Grasslands! Because of the sheer size of the acreage, each ride provided new sights and sounds.
Depending on my mood, the ride could be challenging, with steep, rocky inclines. Other trips I would choose an easy trail, flat and sandy, moving in and out of the woods. Sunlight and shadow dancing across our bodies. These were the rides I came to love.
My mind would empty in a way that no amount of prayer or mediation could attain. I could lose time, my consciousness suspended. At the same time my awareness would become heightened;
as if I were taking in the world for the first time.
Colors, sounds, aromas filled my head. And always the feel of Maggie's body moving beneath me. The leather saddle creaking, reminding me it was time to clean and oil the old leather. The rhythmic sound of her hooves moving over the earth. Her ears, swiveling like radar, listening to all the sounds surrounding her. Above all her smell. A smell I have loved since childhood. That smell, buried in the limbic system of my brain. If I lived a long, long time, so long I didn't even know my own name; I would know that smell.
If you love horse you get it. If not it cannot be explained.

I loved an old cowboy once. I was a teen, he in his sixties. The common thread which drew us together was the love of horses. It became a deep and abiding friendship which lasted until his death.
We became riding buddies, mentor and student. I yearned to read and understand the subtle language of the horse, the way he did. Every day I spent with him I learned something new. I know our relationship was a curious one to outsiders, but there was no other person I would rather spend my time with.
I had stopped attending church months earlier, and this concerned my grandmother greatly. There was in fighting going on over some issue and the church was split right down the middle.
I figured life was enough of a fight 6 days a week. I had no intention of spending my Sundays listening to the adults fuss and fight at church. Tom decided I was old enough to make up my own mind, but my grandmother felt differently. I thought I would ask John Walker his opinion.
On one late afternoon ride, I asked his opinion on the church issue. A long silence followed.
I could see he was gathering his thoughts, aware of the impact his answer would have on me.
Finally he spoke. "I reckon I can find God sitting in the saddle just as easy as I could find Him sitting in a church pew." His answer made perfect sense to me. In my opinion, the horse was one of His most divine creatures. Why wouldn't I find God when surrounded by one of his most magnificent creatures?


Saturday, March 27, 2010

The One that got Away~ Grace~ part 8

We returned to our new home still facing more unpacking ahead. I couldn't seem to think straight, no matter how hard I tried. I felt completely overwhelmed and had no idea where to start.

My attention was split between two worlds. The new home which demanded organizing; Tom's home which demanded being dismantled and packed away. I had no idea of how to go about either one. What was worse, I didn't care.
My husband decided we split our time between the two places. This was how we spent the remainder of the summer. We all stayed in a state of exhaustion. Somehow we removed the items which meant the most to me, before M and her sons returned to the house and helped themselves. There had been a prenup; she was entitled to nothing. However, she seemed to move through life with a sense of entitlement. She had asked for many items, which I had freely gifted.
I was truly trusting enough to believe she would not return to the house and take items without my permission. What a fool! She had sold $75,ooo worth of his cattle, the morning of his death.
She knew he was dying and took full advantage of finding a buyer before his death.
It turned nasty. Lawyers were hired. In the end, the only people who walked away with anything were the attorneys.
Fourteen months after his death, the estate was closed. To date I think I can say without question, it was the worst year of my life. All of my misgivings about M turned out to be true.
In the words of my attorney, she was nothing but a con woman and my Dad had fallen for her con.
This much I know. It will be made right one day. It has taken me a long time to reach this point, but I know it will be made right. Through grace I learned to let it all go.

I was relieved to have all the legal matters completed. With no lawyers, or documents or out of town meetings to distract me, I began the true work of grieving. I could no longer hide from this. I felt as if I were being swallowed alive. The sadness a shroud enveloping me. There was no escape. I woke with the ache, moved through the days with the loss; at night cried until exhaustion over took me. This went on for months. I became convinced these feelings were to be with me for the rest of my days.

Finally a day arrived and I realized I felt almost normal. I had thought of Tom and smiled, experiencing a fond memory. Had I made it to the other side of the grief?
Now when I thought of him, I felt blessed. No, he wasn't my bio dad, but in my heart he had always been my Dad. He chose to raise me when he didn't have to. He chose to love me, unconditionally.
Then at 42, he legally adopted me. I remember laughing the night he called and made this proposal. I told him I thought I was too old to be adopted but he had insisted. So at 42 he became my legal father. I could not have been prouder.
I don't know why he chose to love me, but love me he did. He would often say he believed I was the real reason for the marriage between he and Mom. However, whatever, brought us together I will forever be grateful. Through grace, I embraced the gratitude which filled my heart.


Friday, March 26, 2010

The One that got Away~The Last Goodbye part 7

We spent the week after my Dad's death at his home. I made it through the funeral, which should have been a full military service; this he had insisted on. He felt that to be the least due him for his years of service.

I tried, Lord I tried. Seems everyone was in Iraq. I was able to come up with three service men to fold and present the American flag to his widow. It was the flag which had flown over the Pentagon while he served there. He had saved it expressively for this occasion.He was buried in his dress whites and even in death looked quite handsome. Most comforting of all he looked like my Dad, simply sleeping. When my grandmother died, her hair was purple and cheeks flaming pink with rouge. She didn't look like Nanny at all. Quite unnerving.
I tried in vain to arrange a full military service, but with little success.
One of the men had come with a plastic trumpet, complete with a tape of taps hidden in the bell. Hell flew into me! There was no way my father was going to be laid to rest with a cheap recording of taps. This was where I had to draw the line.We had reached the end of the graveside service. I watched the young man fiddling with the toy horn. With no warning I rose from the folding chair, raising the curiosity of fellow mourners. I heard whispers coming from underneath the tent as I left my seat. I left the shade of the funeral home tent with the intention of halting this final insult to my Dad.
Tom had played coronet in the Navy Band, sitting first chair. He would have considered the playing of taps via cassette tape the highest form of disrespect. As I moved, my husband followed, making his way to our truck. More whispers.
At the last moment before we left town, he had stopped by his band hall and grabbed a real trumpet. I quickly explained to the young serviceman my band director husband would be playing taps and he could put his toy horn away. Yes, I was less than gracious and for that I am now sorry. At the time I didn't care.
My husband spent just a few moments warming up, then joined the rest of us, standing just outside the tent. With horn directed way from the mourners, he hit the first note. Long, mournful notes floated out across the country cemetery. The tone rich and comforting, yet dissolving me to tears. My husband's last gift to The Captain. I could all but feel my Dad smiling.
He did not get his 21 gun salute. Again, everyone in Iraq. I thought about rounding up seven rednecks with deer rifles, but that somehow lacked the dignity I felt my father deserved. We gave up on the salute. Don't think I could've stood it anyway.
With the service concluded, everyone began scattering in different directions. My husband and son were already at the truck, waiting on me. I still had one more thing to do; I told them to go on without me. I had my cell phone; I would call when I was ready to go back to the house. He didn't want to leave me, but I insisted.
When the last car was a safe distance from the cemetery, the heavy equipment was fired up. Using chains they lowered his casket down into the grave. Once this was done, the back hoe lifted a huge mound of soil. My arms waving wildly over my head, I attempted to scream over the rumbling machine. The operator killed the engine, confused. "I need a shovel," I explained.
The funeral home director was still on site. He approached me quietly. " Come on now, let me take you home. This same man had buried my grandfather, grandmother, mother and now my father. We went way back. "No Donnie, I'm fine. Please get me a shovel." He shook his head and walked toward the work truck, returning with a shovel. "Go on and get a cup of coffee, give the crew a break. I just need a short while." Donnie shook his head no, indicating he had no intention of leaving me alone. "Fine. Give me some space. No need to be standing right on top of me." He and his crew moved away, returning to the work truck which was a comfortable distance from the grave site. I kicked off my funeral pumps and felt the cool earth under my feet. I shoveled the first load of dirt on to my Dad's casket. Then another. I found a perfect working rhythm, scoop, lift, dump, repeat. I cried and shoveled until I was spent. I felt weak, almost faint but I had stayed true to my word. I had gone the last mile.
I dropped the shovel to the ground and turned toward Donnie. He was by my side within a blink. "That's the last thing I'll ever do for him, Donnie." I could barely stand that thought. " I know, I know. You know he loved you more than anything in this world?" I shook my head yes, unable to imagine my life without him. Donnie again," He was one of the finest men I have ever known. I mean that." " You know he wasn't even my real Dad." Donnie disagreed with me, almost before the words left my lips. " He was your Dad in every way. Now, let's get you home. Your family is bound to be getting worried."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The One that got Away~ Moving In part 6

We found a buyer for our home almost immediately. The next week we found a home to purchase in our new town. A new brick home on 5 acres. Horse fenced all the way around the back acreage,

complete with a large shop for hubby and nice forty by twelve loafing shed for Maggie. The coastal bermuda was beautiful, thick and lush, with not one sticker to be found. I was thrilled to find such a perfect place for my mare. As an added bonus, the neighbors behind our place just happened to have a huge arena with stadium lighting. He was a roper and taught lessons, along with competing in roping events. It was a done deal for me. We went under contract and I could feel a quiver of excitement mounting over this move. Things were falling in place with no effort on our part. This move was meant to happen.
After my mom's death, my father remarried. He was not a man who could live alone. Everyone loved his new bride, except me. I intuitively knew something was not right. They married too quickly, she had been married many times before; something felt very wrong.
His own children were thrilled with his new bride. As my sister-in-law put it," It gets us all off the hook." They had never been on the hook, so I didn't quite understand her statement.
He had been in poor health for years. His care taking, when needed, had always fallen to me. I let sister-in-law know I had never felt I was on the hook. It was an honor to care for him; after all, he had raised me.

We were to move in on July 3rd. Days before I had received a call from my Dad's wife. He insisted he come to help us move. If she did not drive him the 200 miles to our new home, he was threatening to drive himself. I remember thinking this was the last thing we needed. I attempted to discourage their trip. She assured me he was coming, period.
Great, I thought. Moving is stressful enough; what possible help could my 83 year old dad be?
Well, I couldn't tell him he was not welcomed. That would have crushed him. We decided to make the best of it.
Moving day came. Of course the movers were running late. We had loaded both pick ups to the hilt. I decided to hook up the trailer and pull Maggie to her new home.
Sure enough, as I pulled in our new drive, there sat my Dad and his wife. They had beat me by hours. Had already met some of our farming neighbors and were discussing lunch plans when I arrived.
I must admit I was thrilled to see him and proud to show off our new home. He pulled himself out of the passenger seat, with great effort. I had to hold him for a second in order for him to find his land legs. I had just seen him a month ago. Something had changed in this last month.
He was weaker than usual. His balance even more off than before. Maybe it was just the trip.
I was concerned it might be too much for him.
Fortunately they had gotten a hotel room in town. After touring the empty house and giving it his thumbs up, he announced he needed a nap. With hugs and kisses I sent him on his way to his hotel room.
The movers arrived at six o'clock that evening. The real work started. My dad and M were there to help with the boxes. It became apparent he was unable to help. I found a chair and sat him were he could watch all the action. This he hated. He had always been the man in the center of the action, not a bystander. I didn't know what else to do. He was so very frail. A fall could easily be the end of him.
Finally the moving van was empty. Our bed was set up. It was time for me to collapse. Dad and M had just left to return to the hotel room. He had kissed me lightly, given me a weak smile,and promised to be of more help tomorrow.
I awoke to a driving rainstorm. It was pouring buckets. I strained to see the clock. It was 9am!
I had not meant to sleep this late! I reached over and poked at my husband. " Wake up. We have to start unpacking boxes! " My feet no sooner hit the floor and the phone rang. It was M.
Dad had overslept as well. This too was unlike him. M explained they would come over around lunch and she would help me with the kitchen. I agreed knowing full well there was no way my husband would allow anyone to arrange his kitchen. He was the gifted cook in the family. Me?
I could care less if the house even had a kitchen. I'd have to find something else for M to help with.
Dad and M showed up just before noon. He was ready to eat. I finally resigned myself to the fact that nothing much was going to get accomplished. We called in an order of burgers and onion rings from a local eatery famous for their homemade burgers. Hubby and I started dragging in more boxes from the garage. M went to pick up burgers. My son had found the boxes marked with his name and began putting things away in his room. I was stacking kitchen boxes one upon the other. Why do we have so much kitchen stuff?! The boxes kept coming.
M finally got back with the burgers. We were all hungry by this time. We laid all the burgers out on the island and began sorting who's was who's. My Dad's order was incorrect. This should not have been a big deal,but it was. He pitched a fit; a fit which would've matched any two year old's temper tantrum. M set him straight in short order. He grew quiet and like a spoiled child,
pouted and ate his lunch. I had no doubt something was wrong.

After lunch a raging thunderstorm blew in, thwarting all plans of my dad and husband organizing the new shop. It was a driving, cold rain, especially for July. Instead, we all sorted boxes by room and once this was done, started unpacking. My dad seemed a bit brighter today.
With the exception of getting rooms confused, which would be easy to do in a new home, he was doing well. Guess M's scolding at lunch had done some good after all. He seemed determined to remain in a pleasant mood.
We all continued to work and the house was surprisingly coming together. I looked up and noticed Dad was no where to be seen. I asked M if she knew where he was; her answer was to check the bathrooms. No Dad. I ran to the garage, half expecting to find him laid out on the concrete, boxes askew. No Dad. I was beginning to panic. I had helped care for my grandfather and I understood how easily an elderly person could get out and lost. I ran back inside looking out each window I passed. I reached the kitchen and there he stood. Through the picture window I could see him, standing at the main electrical pole, in his mind working on something. I screamed for M and Husband to come, come help me. He had broken the key to the box, all live wires exposed. His hands fumbling around, for what I have no clue. M in her infinite sensitivity stated, "Well, he's probably gonna light up like a Christmas tree." With that I ran outside, into the pelting rain, praying I could reach him before the unthinkable happened.
I made it and told myself should he make contact, I could not touch him. No matter what. I tried to keep the panic out of my voice but failed miserably. "What are you doing?! Please come inside! Get away from that box!!! " With that he slammed the box closed, cursed me as only an ex Naval captain could, then stormed inside.
I was weak with relief. I was shaking from the cold and soaked to the skin. I had left the house without a sweater or jacket and the thin shirt i did have on was now plastered to my skin. I
should go inside. Instead, I went to the shop, closed the door behind me and wept. I cried much like a child. My whole body became involved. I jerked and hitched, my shoulders rising and falling, weakness filling my legs. I couldn't breathe. I surrendered to the tears and allowed them to own me. All of me.
That man at the pole was not my Tom. Not at all. It goes without saying. Tom would never have pulled a stunt like that one. Never! Most of all, Tom would never, ever, talk to me that way! Call me the names he did.
About the time I felt ready to go back inside, I heard the metal door of the shop creak open. It was M. I didn't want her to know I had been crying but at this juncture there was no denying the fact. She offered no words of comfort, just a simple explanation. " I think your Daddy has had a stroke. He went to the farm about three weeks ago, thank goodness one of the farm hands was with him. Simon was driving since it was gettin' dark. He had Simon drivin' all over the county looking for a shortcut home. Claimed there was a special road no one knew about. They ended up almost 20 miles north of the farm. Finally Simon just quit listening to him and found the way home. It was after ten o'clock by the time they made it back to town."
"Have you taken him to a doctor?" I already knew the answer. " Why no, what could a doctor do? He's already had the stroke." Stupid woman. "Well, there's lots that can be done for stroke victims these days, M." " I don't see no point in it, not now. You better get inside before we're burying you." With that, she turned and left me alone to soak up her words. I didn't want to go back in, but she was right. I had to get warm and find some dry clothes.
After a hot shower and dry clothes I did feel better. My Dad apologized for upsetting me. I could tell he had no idea what he was apologizing for. Probably didn't even remember the incident at the electric pole. My money was on M fussing at him until he agreed to apologize. That's how things seemed to work these days. He would have never allowed my Mom to treat or talk to him the way she did. He was the Captain. He gave the orders. No longer was this true.
M could be mean and thoughtless, belittling him until he felt small and insignificant. Striping him of all dignity. I hated her because of this. I still held his power of attorney, medical and otherwise. She knew this. She best not push my hand. We all knew who he trusted with his life.
We had had many conversations concerning his legal matters, even after his marriage (at 80) to M. I promised myself I wouldn't let things get ugly. But she was pushing.

They had been with us four days. They were due to leave in the morning.
On the last day my Dad seemed more himself. He joked, laughed, and generally had a good day.
We had a late lunch and after eating he announced he felt a nap coming on. He asked if he could go stretch out on my bed and I assured him it would be just fine. He wanted to know if Max (our old terrier mix) could take a nap with him. Max was always up for a nap so I called him into the bedroom and up he jumped, nesting til he found just the right spot beside my Dad.
" Could you tuck me in like you used to?" After a major and very serious surgery my parents moved in with us. Mom had cancer and couldn't be left alone. He spent 6 weeks at Baylor Hospital recovering from surgery. He was released to me with the understanding I would get him to all follow up appointments. They stayed with us almost 4 months. During this time I tucked both of them in each night. Mom's mind was so childlike. I still have the stuffed bear she used to sleep with. Tom loved being made over anyway and he certainly enjoyed our night time ritual.Blankets had to be just so, with extra on his feet because they stayed so cold. Had to have his special knee pillow and heating pad for low back pain. Fresh water(no ice, ice put his teeth on edge) and his special cup. Then a big hug, careful of chest incision, and a kiss on his bald head with an I love you to follow. He would then get weepy and tell me he just didn't know
what he would do without me. I would promise he never would be without me. I would go the last mile with him. More kisses, dry eyes,then sleep. Usually I would leave the room in tears due to sheer exhaustion. I was still working full time as a LMT. We had been blessed to find a kind black lady to sit with them during the day so my husband and I could work. But the stress of caring for both of them was getting to us all.
Well, back to tucking in. With Max in place, I got the blankets just so. Found a pillow for his knees, wrapped his feet up with an extra blanket, searched and found a working heating pad! and leaned over to kiss his bald head. "You have been the greatest blessing in my life." Bottom lip quivering; eyes filling with tears. "And I'm so thankful I could come help you move. I can rest easy now knowing you're in a nice house." " Well Tom, we couldn't have done it without you. I love you more than you'll ever know. Get some rest."
I pulled the door to, fearing my tucking in days were numbered.
Sunday, the next morning ,they left for home. It was a tearful goodbye with many promises made to get home as soon as I could. I still had a business to deal with but couldn't dare think of that right now.
In the wee hours of Monday, Tom was hospitalized with a low grade fever. M called sometime Monday to let us know. This had happened before. He was on Embrel injections for RA and one of the side effects was a weakened immune system. Probably standing out in that cold rain while he was here had made him sick. I just prayed it didn't turn into pneumonia. Usually a couple of days on IV antibiotics would take care of any infection.
M called Monday night to report there was no change. They were gonna try yet a stronger antibiotic and see if he would respond. I asked if I needed to come and she assured me no, give this new drug time to work. I went to bed, praying to sleep well. I had already made up my mind after a good nights rest, I would make the 4 hour drive.
My husband woke me Tuesday morning. I had been in a dead sleep and couldn't seem to wake.
I felt I could sleep another full day. Guess the move and the worry of my Dad's overall condition had finally caught up with me. "Honey, you need to wake up," Hubby again. Oh yes, I was supposed to make the trip to see my Dad. I had to get rolling. Oh, just one more hour, I thought. "Terri, please wake up." It was only 7:30. I could sleep one more hour easily. "Honey you have to wake up. M called." This woke me. "She called my cell around 6:00am. Tom passed
around 5:30 this morning."







Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The One that got Away~Faith healer @ beauty Parlor (5)

I had lots of time to think. Truth be told probably too much.

I had been a massage therapist. For the last ten years had been self employed, owning my own business.
The business had grown in ways I never imagined. I started working out of a spare room in our house. I enjoyed working at home and booking appointments around family activities. Our son was young, only seven, and this afforded me the freedom to arrange my days according to his schedule.
This did not last long. Apparently word spread around town that I was very good. (Still don't know this to be true as I have never given myself a massage.) Soon the phone was ringing off the hook and it was becoming more and more difficult to turn folks away. Because of my own poor boundaries, I was working later and later into the day. After awhile my husband suggested I find another location to work out of. He told me he just could not get used to the idea of naked people streaming in and out of the house. I agreed, but where to go?
The question was no sooner asked and the answer appeared. I received a call from a local salon asking if I would be interested in leasing a space there. She intended to enlarge her place and wanted to offer massage services. I knew I didn't want to be in a salon, however I felt this situation might work for me. The salon had an excellent reputation and lots of traffic. I excepted her offer.
I hated the noise, the smells, the overall business of the place. Luckily she had allowed quite a bit of feedback from me during the remodel. My space was at the very back of the building with
a connecting restroom to the massage room. Once in the back, the noise and aromas for the most part were left behind. My room became an oasis for me and my clients. A safe place.
In no time I was booked two weeks in advance with a waiting list for cancellations. There were not enough hours in the day to get everyone in. Around this same time, local chiropractors and some medical doctors began referring patients to me. I began working longer hours in an effort to see everyone.
I stayed at the salon for almost two years. I finally decided the work load was simply too heavy and I had some tough choices to make. I could either cut way back on my clientele list,(how would I ever decide who to say no to?) or expand. I chose to expand.
Again, I no sooner made that decision and a perfect little brick cottage opened up for lease. It was built in the 1920's and possessed a quaint charm which was irresistible. It had previously been a doctors office which made it perfect. I jumped on it and quite frankly could not believe my good fortune. I was beginning to suspect God was being one busy fellow. Now all I had to do was find a therapist. Not just any therapist. I was looking for someone as dedicated to the profession and felt the same passion for the work as I did myself. Again,prayers were answered and I had the perfect person.
The years passed and we both were working long exhausting hours. We had clients driving ridiculous miles just to get in with us. We both stayed booked three to four weeks in advance with a long call list for cancellations.
This does not include the donated hours at hospitals and nursing homes. Plus I was determined to educate our community to the medical benefits of bodywork. This required public speaking events on my part. Any organization which invited me to speak I was there.
The money was great. I won't argue that. But money had never been my real motivation. It was the connection I felt with the people who graced my table every day. I came to love these folks as one would love extended family. They had added a richness to my life that words cannot begin to describe.
One of my favorite clients was Miss S. She had been coming to me for years, every other Thursday at four o'clock sharp. She came in early one Thursday and I ushered her back to my room. She was in her late seventies and an absolute wonder.
This particular Thursday we got our usual chit chat out of the way and she began to relax and grow quiet. Halfway through the session she piped up again.
"I have to tell you something and there's not a living soul that knows it, not even my children."
This sounded serious. I braced myself, unable to imagine what horrible secret this sweet soul could be harboring. Miss S had been widowed three times. What if she had killed all of her husbands? Oh Lord Miss S! I didn't want to know! She eased up on her elbows and whispered
"I'm a democrat." I couldn't help but laugh out loud! "Geez, Miss S, I thought you were gonna tell me you were a murderer." Relief flooded me. She laughed. "Well in this town murder would be more easily forgiven." She was right. We were living in a rich red Republican community. I assured her her secret was safe with me." I guessed that. You show signs of being the same." Almost as if it were a disease. We both had gotten a big belly laugh from her confession. Oh how I loved this woman!
Two years later Miss S passed, right before her eightieth birthday. I had lost a dear,dear friend.
A friend who had become an inspiration to me.
Thursdays at four o'clock would never be the same. Yes, I had lost a true shinning soul in my life. Even if she had been a democrat.

Not long after Miss S's death, my life would take a turn, although I didn't know it at the time.
I continued to work long hours, booking back to back appointments, some days not taking the time to eat. I had dropped from a size 6 to a size 4 with no effort on my part. I stayed feeling run down and tired. I had allowed the business to consume me. I had worked so hard to develop my professional reputation, I certainly did not want to begin providing substandard work.
I had so many expectations and alias given me to live up to. One client called me the massage goddess which caught on quickly. Another name I was tagged with was the "butt queen"for my
reputation for successfully dealing with sciatica. My most treasured, given me by an elderly woman was " the faith healer at the beauty parlor." She told everyone I could suck the pain out. God was using me, she had felt his power.
I just knew I was worn thin. I had to make some changes and soon. As always, since this journey began, the minute I put it out there a solution was found.
My husband had been offered the position of Director of Fine Arts, complete with a staff, a secretary and a large pay raise. There was no way he could turn it down. It was too far to commute. It would require us to move.
I would have to close down the business. I could rest awhile.
I left my old community with deep regret but also relief. I would take some time off. Rest. Then
launch a new business in our new town. That was my plan. I had no idea my life was about to be turned wrong side out.
©




Thursday, March 11, 2010

The One that got Away~TheBridge part 4

Two days earlier north Texas had received a record smashing 12.2 inches of snow. Naturally we needed to go to town. I had asked Luke, my 19 year old, to drive me in his 4 wheel drive Jeep. (He didn't trust his mother to drive his Jeep.)

Our farm to market road was dangerous. We needed the 4 wheel drive.
It was morning; the sun amazingly bright. Our usually busy road was quiet. No traffic all morning.
As we made our way to town Luke slowed to a crawl. Our little bridge was iced over. Not just iced over, but one solid sheet. Another two hundred yards and we would reach the safety of a well sanded state highway 114. As Luke slid across the bridge I spied yet another perfect shot. Our creek, more like a small river, had been transformed! It glowed in iridescent glory. With no hesitation I screamed, STOP!!!, scaring my 19 year old half to death. He hit the brakes hard and in doing so caused the red Jeep to complete a precise 180.
" What the Hell?!!!" my boy shouted at me. Surely my highly creative son could see what I was taking in. "I have to get this , Luke."
This was code in my family for "I see a picture." Again from Luke,"What?!!" My Taurus born son, usually so mild, was filled with rage. I had found years ago when the Bull in this boy was unleashed, it best to remain calm. To hide in the eye of his storm. These squalls were normally short lived. I allowed him to rant until he was spent. "Luke, I just want to take a picture of the creek," I calmly explained. "It'll only take a sec." As I opened the Jeep door, he grabbed my arm. "No Mom, you can't. I won't let you. I will not sit in this Jeep on an icy bridge. A bridge which is at the end of a blind curve. I'm not gonna have my Jeep totaled by a truck that can't stop. Not because of some stupid picture. Lastly, you are about one more header from the home." His last statement referring to a fall I had taken from a running horse, landing me squarely on the back of my neck and head. We both understood what " the home " meant. "I won't let you attempt to skate across this ice only to fall off the icy edge of this bridge. Mom, it's at least a 30 foot drop. No."
With that he ground gears until he found first, caught traction and we were gone.
It slowly began to dawn on me we had reversed roles. Suddenly I had become the child, he the adult. How had this happened?
Luke was right. I was ready to put us both in a potentially dangerous situation just to take a picture.
We made our way across the bridge to the safety of 114. Thanks to sand and the overtime the city's road crew had put in, the state highway was in excellent condition.
Luke pulled in to the IGA parking lot, once again fighting the ice. The grocery had not bothered to sand or salt the walks or lot. Finally he slid to a stop and killed the engine.
"I don't mind going in." We both understood this needed to be a solo run. We needed time apart. I dug in my coat pocket until I found the list. " Thanks, Luke.
"No problem." With that he slammed the door, disappearing in to the store.
I didn't mind waiting in the Jeep. This afforded me the time to replay the incident on the bridge. Time to try to understand my insistence, the sheer passion I experienced over that imagined shot.
These questions would take longer to answer than any grocery run. It was, however, a start.
©

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The One that got Away~Daylight~part 3

When I woke it was daylight. My body stiff; my mind disoriented. Why was I on the couch? Another moment passed. Suddenly I remembered. Remembered it all. The tree, the light, the ice crystals.

Had I really fallen asleep? Was it too late to get the shot? I ran to the window, slung the curtains wide, and it was gone. Evaporated, just like the fog of the night before. I hadn't stayed awake.
Between the boring magazine article I was trying to wade through, the warmth and weight of the basset leaning into me and his rhythmic breathing, I had been lulled to sleep.
The magic of the night before now seemed dreamlike. Perhaps it had been a dream. I looked to the floor. Skewed across the rug lay rolls of undeveloped film, my old camera, various lenses and a host of other equipment. Unless I had been sleepwalking it had not been a dream.
I fumbled for my cell phone. Clicked camera app and there it was. A poor quality impostor of the shot I so desperately wanted to make. The digital battery was now fully charged, its once flashing light now stilled, indicating it was at the ready. Mocking me. Tom's voice,"keep your camera at the ready." He too mocking me.
Tom, my adopted dad, thirty-two year naval aviator trained in air recognizance, spent years flying over the enemy,snapping away with his camera. Always,always at the ready. Even after his retirement he kept a camera with him.
He had returned to the family farm to raise cattle. After his death I had been left with volumes of boxes of prints. All mainly of images he had taken while at the farm. Photos of cows, flowers, sunsets, even rattlesnakes. If it lived, he photographed it. I suspect after years of documenting death and destruction, he found a type of redemption in shooting life and beauty. Rarely was he without a camera. If not on his body, no farther away than his truck. At the ready.
This was just one more time I didn't listen. Does he know? Was he perhaps disguised as an ice crystal, testing me? Simply begging to be photographed?
Tears welled then fell down my burning cheeks. Just how many perfect shots had I missed?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The One That Got Away~Keep it at the Ready

Amazed at the beauty of the ice, I knew I had to capture it on film. I raced inside to retrieve my digital camera. My heart was pounding. I could see the shot in my head.

Back outside in the cold, I peered through the lens of the digital cam. The ice crystals glistened. Focusing through the naked Bradford pear tree caused the light to become fractured, this was a magnificent effect. I had my shot! As I engaged the shutter a red light flashed, indicating the battery to be too low to make the shot. What!

I had just charged the battery three days ago! This could not be happening! Back inside the house I ran, ready with plan B. I would use my first love. Tom had given me my first 35 mm camera almost thirty years ago, all manual settings. I could set my own F~stops and control the lighting myself. All the better. I went to the hall closet and grabbed the old camera bag. The miles that old bag had seen. The broken leather against my skin felt like an old friend. I turned the 35 on, juice! I opened the bag wider searching for a roll of film. I dug deeper, no film. I carried the bag to the middle of the room and carefully dumped it upside down. All manner of photo paraphernalia fell out but no roll of film. This could not be happening! Think! Again outside with the iPhone. I knew the quality would be poor but at least I would have something.

I took several shots with the iPhone at different angles. Finally the solution came to me. Put the d~cam battery on the charger for maybe an hour. That should give it enough charge to power a couple of shots. Provided the fog didn't change during that time it should work. I hooked all the electronic gadgets up and curled up on the couch to wait it out. Flash joined me, ready to settle in. I smoothed his basset brow and realized had it not been for him and his pea sized bladder I would still be sleeping. Thank you Flash.

I couldn't help but laugh at myself thinking the light splaying across the night sky could have been aliens. What a fool! Me and my magical thinking! Well at least I was alone this time with no one to bear witness to my foolishness. Lord knows I had been called gullible and naive most of my life. Being so had left me feeling silly, even stupid at times.

Even so it was these same qualities which allowed me the gift of trusting others. Of expecting the best from those I encountered. Of seeking the good in all and allowing for second and sometimes even third chances. At that moment I realized I lived in wonder. A childlike wonder most adults leave far behind. It was that same wonder that allowed me to see what most others miss. To stand in my own yard on a winter night frozen in awe of the beauty of a halogen bulb and ice crystals.

What would drive me to empty a camera bag at 4AM , praying for an old roll of film? The passion I felt rushing through my entire body as I imagined the shot. The deep desire to share the beauty with those I loved. To capture the manifestation of God on film. These were the thoughts filling my head as I grew sleepy, heavy, ready for rest. I thought of Tom presenting me with my first 35mm camera, how proud I was. And his words, "Keep it at the ready. You never know when God's gonna provide you with that perfect shot."

With no warning, sleep swallowed me.

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Texas, United States
Wife, mom, sister, friend, seeker, mystic

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