Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Capful of Memories

Memories of Saturday mornings on Montezuma Road in the early to mid-1960's come with a soundtrack of calls of "DEWberries!  Niiiiiiiiice, fresh DEWberries!," courtesy of a parade of black women who offered fresh produce for sale, sauntering gracefully up and down the streets of my neighborhood. They called out what they offered in a sing-song fashion that I will never forget. It sings to me of simpler times.

It harkens back to a time when there actually was a milkman who left bottles of milk, eggs, and butter on the front porch and the clank of those glass bottles against the wire carriers that held them; when buying bags of crushed ice was unheard of because you bought a block of ice and chipped it with an ice pick yourself; and when the only clock for which we had use, as kids, were the streetlights. They told us when we had to go home after a day of being outdoors, out of earshot and range of our parents, seeking adventure in drainage ditches (where would you come out if you started at the park on Cloverdale Road and kept walking for a few hours?), or the playground in front of the school that had real metal jungle gyms on which we could hang upside down or fall from onto the hard, cracked earth underneath without a parent ever giving any thought of suing the school system if we'd come home bleeding or broken.

It was the days when front yards came complete with stickers that hurt like hell when you got them stuck in your foot. We had some defense against that, too -- we'd burn the soles of our feet on the hot asphalt over and over until they built up callouses that were impervious not only to those things, but most shards of broken glass as well. We made fun of kids who wore shoes in the summer. If you wore shoes, you were Dill to my Scout.

Oh, dear. I've digressed, haven't I? 

This entire post was inspired by my husband's presentation to me, just a few minutes ago, of a re-purposed ball cap full of these, harvested from our front yard:

DEWberries...... Niiiiiiiiiiiiice, fresh DEWberriessssss.....    

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Little rituals. Big gratitude.

A couple weeks ago my husband asked me why I wasn't wearing the cross he gave me. I wondered when he -- I wondered when anyone --  might notice. I always wear a cross. I usually wear the one he gave me several years ago commemorating a particularly important landmark in our lives together. If not it, I wear another from my collection. 

Except during Lent.

During Lent, I don't wear a cross. That's been my heretofore private Lenten ritual for a long time. A cross necklace isn't just an ornament to me, it really is a statement of my faith. Sometimes it's a reminder of how far away from my faith I feel.

The past year and a half has taken a toll on me, the full extent of which I sometimes don't realize until it catches up with me at unexpected times. Those who know me know the trials, so I won't belabor them here. We all have them - nothing about mine sets me apart from most anybody else, that's to be sure.

During all these months, holding on to my faith has been hard. I've wrestled with the angels -- sometimes to make them hold on to me, sometimes to make them let go of me. I have the bruises on my soul to testify.

But today is Easter and like a moth to the Flame, I took off the decorative necklace I've been wearing for 40 days and I put this one on its stead.

This was one of my Mama's. I wore it the day I got married, and when Henry and I had been married for 25 years she gave it to me outright.  It was purchased for her from an antique jewelry dealer, so I have no idea how old or fine it might be. I don't wear it often - the little chain of tiny pearls is fragile, and I don't want to risk breaking it. I've made a tradition of wearing it on Easter Sunday mornings since it was given to me, and so I did today.

I had expected this day to be full of tears. Even now, our family is in a state of flux. My father had to be hospitalized just over a week ago, and was released from there into rehab, and will move this week to Angels for the Elderly, a residential home for those dealing with dementia and Alzheimers' disease.  My siblings and I have cared for him, all day and night, every day and night, since Mama's death, and going through this transition has been very difficult for him and for us.

Our preacher's sermon was so powerful, so much what I needed to hear during this period of deep drought. He reminded us that Easter calls us by name, puts aside the sadness, casts away the darkness, and calls us home to the joy of the Resurrection. Thank you, Dr. Bryan. The right words at the right time may have really helped this spirit to begin its real healing now, and although I teared up a little during the Hallelujah Chorus, had a "moment" when I got home through which my husband sustained me, I am now counting all my blessings again with genuine gratitude.

My friends, who have walked beside me every step of this journey.

My sister, brothers, and their spouses who, with us, continue to walk through these days with honesty, and respect, and humor, and tenacity.

My children, who are remarkable, somehow, and who make me proud -- and a little awed -- to be their Mama.

My Daddy, whose gentleness and humor - and occasional obstinacy  --  continue to remind us who really is
still boss.

And little girls in white dresses, who take their own Daddy's hand and walk with him to find what joy the day ahead holds for them.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below. 
Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.