Sunday, August 20, 2017

you are my sunshine

Well, there she is, sitting in the grass, at home in the world. Our first born. The beginning of a family that stirs my heart. She loves her brothers, does Jessica. So much so that after being away at school for two years, she wanted to come home to go to Georgia State because she missed them so. Do they know that?

Brave and true. Off she went to a performing arts camp when just 15.When I called , missing her so, they found her under a bed, so homesick and yet, she went off to college in the mountains where she graduated first in her class. Determined.

The day we dropped her off at Brevard, I got in the wrong car to go home and only the growling of a large dog clued me in. I was lost and numb and thought I would never recover but I did and she did.

I always marveled at her goodness; forever seeing the good in people and helping with an open heart, guiding girl runners as a mother would, tutoring other classmates to the detriment of her own studies and cheering on her brother's many accomplishments. I used to wonder; where did this person come from, what cloud did she step off to come and be the best of us ? Jessica.

And I was not alone in seeing this. A few years back she heard from an old high school acquaintance.This young woman  just wanted Jessica to know that she had named her daughter after her. She wanted her daughter to be a good , kind, caring child of God and so she named her after the one girl she remembered as being all those things. Can you imagine the honor of hearing that ?That a beautiful girl bears your name because of your unforgettable goodness? That old friend got it right.

One Mother's Day, many years ago, she played a Jermaine Jackson  record entitled "Mother" for me.I still have the words in my treasure box. That moment touched me in a place that I guard and so I will sing a song back to her:

                                    "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
                                      you make me happy when skies are grey.
                                        you'll never know dear, how much I love you,
                                          please don't take my sunshine away."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

happy talk

Merrily, I was changing Maddie's diaper as I sang, "Happy Talk, keep talkin' happy talk, talk about things you like to do" from South Pacific. Her black eyes were watching intently and then I stopped. She looked at me, smiled , and went ca, ca, ca in the back of her throat, singing along. I knew then we would be best friends.

She is five today and we celebrate with quiet joy.She who doesn't like stickers but loves to draw.She who always has a special someone who she wants to sit by when we eat and don't count on it being you more than once a year. I gain that honor when our numbers are few. It is often her cousin McKenna, 15 , who loves her and all little ones, and always has. If you should sit by her when another has caught her eye, she will quietly tell you that she has other plans for that seat. Never embarrassing you but firm in what she wants.

Maddie is very interested in things of the spirit (and why not, she is from there) and for some reason I am the designated God person.When she is read to from her Bible book and has a question, the answer seems to be, we'll ask Grandma Graham. I find this amusing because she wanted to know why God made ears that you can't close but you can close your eyes and mouth. I got that question. Really?

The other day she asked why God made us.This caught me off guard to be sure but isn't that the first question in the old blue Baltimore Catechism? The answer then was; ", to know,  love and serve Him in this life so that we can be with Him for eternity in the next."That little book may have been the most important book that I ever owned. Anyway, I told her that God was lonely and made us so He could love us and have a family.

Recently she was visiting and I gave her some pencils and paper and she started to draw. All things purple. Tree, flower, bird and then she drew the outline of a heart in purple. I thought to say," why not fill it with pink "when she took a pink pencil and filled it in. I have it framed on my desk.

Maddie is here for a special reason as we all are.Her ancestors were intent on her being among us. I saw them praying for her. I tell her how much Mary loves her and today, I will put a small wooden rosary with colored beads into her hand, she who was born on the Feast of the Assumption. May she always be aware of the Love that charges the universe.

Friday, August 18, 2017

small blessings

My mother didn't have an easy life living with an alcoholic and often mean tempered husband, but what I noticed, even when young, was that she had a cheery disposition. That was who she as, someone who viewed life with sunny eyes. I think she passed that gene down to me. I am grateful beyond measure that my mind doesn't regularly slide into despairing thoughts. What a burden that must be.To be fine one minute and then although nothing has changed, a gloom descends and shoulders slump and bear.

So it is that I recall waking up on three different days, over several years, feeling the blahs. Just an off feeling buzzing around in my brain . One time, a pale pink, newly blooming,  Catherine Woodbury lily met me on the way to my car and smiled up at me as if to say: "Really ? Look at me, so pale pink and fluffy as a cloud tinged with the sunset, and you can be glum?" I almost laughed and went happily on my way.

The second time I remember  this happening,  I went out onto our porch early one morning and there was a newly emerged monarch butterfly. Absolutely stunning, as it hung from the plant where it had attached itself 900 miles away in New York.The chrysalis had endured the long ride home in a bouncing, blowy old truck and there it was. I had seen a green stem-like thing hanging off the plant and had almost flicked it off. In all its orange and black glory, this butterfly didn't have to say a word.

The other day , it happened again, right on time. Next to a red, pink and green Caladium that we  planted because some Caladium corms we ordered hadn't come up, were a few little green and red shoots. When I bent down to dig it up and put this small colorful plant in better soil, I realized it was laying on top of the hard ground with one small shoot below. The forgotten corm had sprouted in the worst possible soil. I plucked it up and put it in my window box where I tend it lovingly.

I can't help but hum the old Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts" and think of these words.

.                                     ........"and when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
                                             'twill be in the valley of love and delight,
                                                  When true simplicity is gained.."

An affirmation came in prayer on August 14:

"Joy is your birthright as a daughter of the Kingdom. What you put in as holy works, you take out as flashes of joy.Keep looking for the small blessings designed only for you."