Big Fish Little Pond


On Saturday, my friend Gigi hosted a Mother’s Day luncheon for her church.  She invited several of us to speak on different aspects of motherhood. I spoke on infertility and late-in-life motherhood. Others spoke on looking forward to motherhood, adoptive motherhood, step-motherhood, grand-motherhood, military motherhood and another gal spoke on what it’s like being a mother to a special needs child.

One lady lost her son in a tragically freak car accident when he was 32 and spoke about what a joy he was to her for the time she had him.  Each story was inspiring and sharpened my perspective and deepened my appreciation for how similar and yet how different everyone’s experience at this mothering gig can be.

The picture has nothing really to do with Mother’s Day other than to record that Sean spent the entire weekend running around Gigi’s farm playing with her grandchildren, covered in dirt and totally unaware that he had a mother.

As we drove home, Sean handed me a Wal-Mart bag from the back seat and wished me a happy Mother’s Day.  Inside was a card and a candle.  I suspect at some point I will own the largest collection of Wal-Mart candles in the state of Texas. I just pray that my collection will grow beyond 32.


And Dingo Was His Name-Oh

There was a farmer, had a dog, and Buddy was his name-oh!

Then one day a new family moved in up the road. Buddy paid the new family a visit to welcome them to the area, as is the custom in East Texas.  Buddy liked the new family. In fact, Buddy like the new family a whole lot. Buddy spent the night and the next day. And the next day.

The new family did not know Buddy’s name and so they called him “That Dingo Dog”  because, in fact, Buddy looked like a Dingo.  Dingo fell in love with the children and the children fell in love with Dingo.

Every couple of days, the new family would load Buddy into the car and take him back to his owner.  But the next day, or sometimes later the same day, Buddy would be back hanging around, trying to blend in.

One day, Buddy’s owner came and got him. They were moving to a new farm, 10 or 15 miles up the road.  Buddy jumped into the truck and the children cried and waved goodbye to Dingo Buddy as they drove away knowing that they would never seem him again.

But. The next morning Buddy-Dingo was sitting by the back door.   A call was made to Buddy’s family and they came and got him.  Once again, the children cried and waved goodbye to Dingo Buddy.

The next morning, when the sun came up, Dingo was laying by the back door, thumping his tail and waiting for the children to come out and play.

And that was the end of Buddy.  Buddy’s family never came after him again and no effort was made to return him.

Buddy became Dingo and is now living happily ever after in the East Texas country side with three children who adore him.

They say you can’t choose your family. Unless you are one lucky dog, then you can.

And Dingo was his name oh!

River Rats

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I spent the weekend with 15 of my favorite people on our annual river expedition in Arkansas.  (Shhh!  Let this be our little secret, but Arkansas is one of the most beautiful unspoiled states in the union.)  If you can’t tell, I’m the giant strawberry in the front.  I was elected to be the person to hit the timer on the camera and then run down a slicky muddy slope to get in the picture.  Due to the tricky nature of photography, I appear to be two times bigger than even the men.  Believe it or not, this is our before picture.

In this crew are two airline pilots, one labor and delivery nurse, one home builder/home schooler, one videographer, one telecommunications specialist, a consultant, two bloggers, one speech pathologist and an assortment of children.

Even though it was 192 degrees, fun was had by all on the river.  Hope y’all had a good weekend too.

Pa Palmer

Friday afternoon, Antique Daddy and Sean and I were on our way to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with Memaw when we got the phone call. The father of one of our dearest friends had passed away unexpectedly.

Pa Palmer, as everyone called him, was 85-years-old. On Monday, we returned him to the sandy East Texas soil from whence he came.

Except that we all will miss him terribly, it is no tragedy really. Pa Palmer lived long and he lived well. He loved others and was loved in return. He lived by his faith and he died by his faith. In that there can be no tragedy.

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Pa Palmer was a mild and unassuming man with smiling eyes that turned downward at the corners. I remember the first time I met him. He was a greeter at a church I was visiting and he reached out to shake my hand as he handed me a bulletin. His hands were large and warm and soft and perfectly matched his face. As I got to know Pa Palmer, I learned that the only thing larger and warmer and softer than his hands was his heart.

Pa Palmer made his living working with his hands, but he made his life serving with his hands. Someone told the story of how one time when he was delivering a meal to a shut-in, he spied a rusty and broken fan in the trash. He took it home, fixed it and returned it the following week. A fan is a blessed thing to have in Texas. One time I mentioned in passing that a lamp I loved had quit working. Not long thereafter, he showed up at my house and fixed it. As I watched him sit at my kitchen table tinkering with mysterious lamp parts, there was an unmistakable light and glow about him that came from within. To do for others was a joy to him. But perhaps the memory most deeply etched in my mind is watching him pull his 4-year-old great granddaughter up into his lap and those large hands of his patiently and tenderly combing the tangles out of her wispy white angel hair.

As we filed past the coffin, I reached out and touched Pa Palmer’s hands for the last time, the hands that had touched so many lives in the past 85 years. They were not soft and warm this time, but hard and cold. He was not there. The spirit and and energy that had fueled his life’s work had flown away home.

Tears filled my eyes and overflowed. I patted his hand one last time. Farewell Pa Palmer. Until we meet again.

Sunday Morning Quarterback

This morning after Sunday school, I hurried down the hall to get Sean out of his class. Before he saw me in the crowded hallway, I spotted him tentatively coming towards me carrying his little Bible. He was wearing a worried expression. A big tear was on the verge of tumbling down the sweet terrain of his face. All of the other children had been picked up by their parents and he was the last one.

When he saw me, his face lit up with recognition and he ran towards me. I bent down on one knee with my arms open wide, ready to swoop him up, lips puckered ready to shower him with kisses and promises that I would never ever forget him or leave him behind.

And like a quarterback running for the end zone, he tucked his Bible under one arm and straight-arm blocked me with the other, knocking me out of his way. As he sailed past me, I heard him calling with unrestrained glee, “Gigi! Gigi! Gigi’s here!”

I picked myself up off the floor and unpuckered my lips just in time to see Godmother Gigi getting my kisses.

Gigi 7, Antique Mommy 0. Good thing we’re on the same team.

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Santa – What Not To Wear

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This past week, we took Sean to North Park Mall to have his picture taken with the North Park Santa, who is known far and wide in these parts as the best Santa around. And of course nothing but the best for my kid will do, so I took him to be traumatized by the best Santa in town.

From what I could observe in the 30 hours I was in line — and I’m a quick study — is that tiny children do not want to sit in the lap of a strange man under glaring bright lights while a line of yet more strange people gawk at the spectacle of it all and somewhere off in the dark, a doofus with a camera in one hand and a jingle bell in the other is screeching “Smile!” This makes little children cry. And it made me cry too when I had to fork over $10 for a picture of my child whose face was unrecognizably screwed up in angst and terror. But then I will go to great lengths to capture the magic of Christmas.

Not to be deterred from my quest for Christmas magic, I arranged for Dick, Sean’s beloved Godfather, to come by the house in a Santa suit thinking that a familiar voice and face in familiar surroundings might make it more of a magical experience. I could then snap a photo of my darling little boy all lit up with joy on Santa’s lap, capture the stupid magic and be done with it. The only magical thing that happened on Santa’s lap was that Sean did not spontaneously combust and catch the tree and drapes on fire, although not for lack of trying. Even after Dick took off the hat and beard, Sean could not be consoled. Only when Dick had completely changed into non-Santa clothing, was Sean happy again.

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So I’ve decided it’s not Santa that is so traumatizing for Sean, it’s the fashion accident that is Santa. And that probably makes Mrs. Claus cry too.

Photos: Apparently clothes do make the man. Same guy, same night, different clothes.

The Hair Cut

After the 7th or 8th time someone referred to my little boy as “she” this past week, I caved in and made an appointment to have his beautiful golden curls whacked off.

This event, more than any other, has made me grieve the passing of his babyhood. All of the previous mile markers were victories, and really with his DNA, growing hair is a victory, albeit probably short lived. But in spite of all that, this cutting of his baby curls just seemed to be a passing of a point of no return. And I didn’t want to pass that point without kicking and screaming and wailing and gnashing teeth just a bit. I want to go back and do it all over again, even the really hard parts.

Immediately after I called the salon, I called Godmother Gigi, she of The Magic Purse. I’d heard horror stories involving little boys and barber chairs (specifically my own two nephews) and I begged her to meet us there knowing that she could get the best out of him. And being a nurse, I knew that she could help me if I fainted.

But then I remembered that she’s a labor and delivery nurse and that it’s her policy to step over or on anyone who’s fainted and attend to the patient.

GiGi is always pulling out some fascinating object out of her magic purse, like keys, that make his big blue eyes glaze over in unequaled and unconditional adoration. I could pull an elephant out of my purse and he’d yawn and squirm to get away.

Gigi showed up on time with the magic purse in hand, out of which she pulled Sean’s Godfather, Dick (sometimes known as Poopah) — which was even better than keys. Dick is really a 10-year-old boy dressed up as a responsible adult and he does cool things that little boy’s love, like drive tractors and fly commercial airplanes.

Anyway, Carrie, the stylist, hoists him up into this little car and pops in a Thomas the Train video and sets about the task of quickly and unceremoniously chopping off the best two years of my life. Dick ran the video camera, Gigi worked the magic purse and I stood in the corner trying not to sob out loud. At the end of this amputation of my motherhood, some strange little boy who I’d never seen before, but remarkably resembled my husband, happily popped out the car/chair ready to move on with the rest of his (sniff sniff) life.

As Sean handed Carrie the tip, she handed me a “Frequent Reward Card” which states that after nine haircuts, the 10th one is free! Oh boy. Let’s see…. with one haircut every two years, we’ll be getting that free one in 2024 – just in time to send him off to college – the ultimate umbilical amputation.