Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Five Best Things Ever Said To Me

Brad enjoying his lunch along the Burgundy canal last year

The most memorable lines aren’t always uttered by honored politicians or literary giants.  Sometimes it’s the small moments that stick with us and make us feel the world is a good place.

#5 – “It doesn’t do you justice”
This spring I was flying out of the Atlanta airport.  As I went through the security line I handed the agent my driver’s license.  She looked at it a little longer than I thought was necessary, then she looked at me, then looked back at the license.  She returned it with that memorable line.  And she made the day of this often-frazzled 50+ female.

#4 – “You don’t know me, and you might think this is strange, but would you maybe like to go out for a drink with me sometime?”
This line is not so unusual, but when you’ve been married about 20 years and have two kids, and you’re out walking your dog in the neighborhood, and someone you’ve never seen before pulls his car up to the sidewalk next to you and rolls down his window to ask this question, well, it sorta sticks with you.  So right now I’m working furiously at my diet to get back down to the weight I was when these kinds of things last happened to me.

#3 – “Sure, sweetheart”
Omaha.  July 28, 2007.  Backstage with Keith Urban.  There is a very large sorority of Urbanites who know what a rare treasure it is to have those blue eyes look at you and to have him smile and direct a “sweetheart” toward you in that soft Australian lilt with just a hint of a lisp.  I got mine at the end of our meeting when I asked if I could give him a hug because his music means so much to me.  Of course, I’m forever jealous of my friends who’ve had longer conversations or more than one meeting so they’ve gotten multiples of his famous “sweethearts.”  One will have to do for me.  And yes, it’s true (as anyone who’s ever been within three feet of him can attest) – he smells sooooo good.

#2 – “I’ll do that, Mom”
This is for any time that one of my children has voluntarily stepped in to do something without me asking.  No need to elaborate further.

#1 – “I do”
Said by my husband of 25 years on May 18, 1985.  Happy Anniversary, Brad!!!  And here’s hoping for 25 more.  I love you.

As for you my readers, what memorable lines have you had directed toward you over the years?  Share them in the comment box.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

5 Questions I'd Ask My Mom

Mom with my sisters - Melinda, Nanci, Jane, and me.  It must have been my birthday since I'm the one dressed like a princess still

It’s Mother’s Day – the most popular day of the year to eat out and the busiest day of the year for phone companies.  Always short of money and ideas, I’d celebrate my mom with bouquets of bridal wreath spirea, lilacs, irises, or whatever was blooming in the yard.  Or I’d promise to mow the lawn or vacuum the house without asking for anything in return.  When older, I could cook her a dinner.  Whatever I did, though, in her entire life it never adequately recognized all Ellen Francis Farrar was to us.

Short of winning the lottery and giving it all to her, I’m not sure what I ever could have done to have honored her properly.  Diamonds?  Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton?  A Wii Fit?  Now that I’ve been a mother for fifteen years, however, I think that maybe the greatest gift I could have given her was my undivided attention as she told me her story.  She deserved to be more of the foreground rather than the background of my life.  If Mom returned here for just one day so that I could get it right, I would make sure I asked her these five questions (in no particular order).

1) Where would you like travel?  To where do your dreams fly you?
Most of our vacations were at the Lake of the Ozarks.  A few times we escaped the gravitational pull of the Midwest and drove to Holland, Michigan, and The Badlands/Mt. Rushmore, and the Smokey Mountains.  One year when I was in high school I remember her trying to casually and indirectly encourage Dad to agree to a Florida vacation.  That idea died quietly.  Her mind was always open to so much in the world, a quality I think I inherited.  I can’t help but imagine she had wanted to see more of it just as I do.  Where would she have wanted to start?

2) What about me has made you most proud?
I know I don’t have her quick laugh, her parental patience, or her selflessness.  I would love to know what she thinks I’m doing right.

3) What did your mother teach you that you never forgot?
I regret that I never learned more completely how Mom prepared her fried chicken and gravy.  I know that she told me in many ways that people were more important than books.  What part of her own mother did she carry around inside her long past the age of adulthood?  What words or lesson guided her when she felt she had lost her way or kept her continually on the right path?  What words helped her be who she became?

4) What advice would you have given me when I became a mother?
A day doesn’t go by that I don’t want her here to tell me how to master this mothering thing.  Her absence never felt greater than on the day I brought my children home from Russia.  "Now what, Mom?" I desperately wanted to ask.  Frequently, I dig down deep into my memory to remember if we ever gave her the particular worries that my two kids give me and try to recollect how she handled them.    How did she encourage; how did she comfort?  I suspect she whipped out her sense of humor as her main tool of motherhood maintenance.  Unfortunately, I often remember that too late.

5) What was your passion?
I simply don’t know – and for that I’m truly sorry.  I know what she did.  She swam, she gardened, she sewed, she devoted time to her church, she raised four girls and took care of everyone but herself.  But I don’t know what fed her spirit the most.  I should have asked her.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there.  And tell me in the comment box, below, what question(s) you would ask your own mother if given the chance.  Then pick up the phone and ask her if you’re lucky enough still to have that opportunity.

(You can read about Mom in this post, also)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Growing Garden Surprises

Skyler, keeping watch in the garden
This year I seem to be growing a Skyler-dog in my tulip patch.  I’m amazed because it wasn’t there last year.  My garden work had always consisted of five minutes of weeding and planting, interspersed with interruptions to throw tennis balls a dozen times for her before I could turn back to my labors.  Weed.  Throw. Repeat.  My Millie, on the other hand, picked a spot nearby me in the grass and calmly surveyed her domain while I worked the dirt.  But this spring, with the death of her long-time companion, Skyler is surprisingly content to sit beside me and watch the world pass by on the sidewalk (read about Millie here).  She has become a welcome fixture in the landscape, filling in the empty spot in my heart and yard.

The rest of my garden brought surprises again this year.  But that’s what they are for.  We are not masters of nature; nature knows exactly what it wants.  This year the tall phlox has (with the determination of a teenager defying her parents, consequences be damned) migrated down the slope where I had stationed it.  A few plants have taken up a close relationship with my bearded irises.  Some of the tribe prefer to become entangled with the wild shenanigans of the yarrow and Russian sage.  They think they’ve blended into the neighborhood, but soon they’ll be too tall and will expose themselves as the interlopers they are.  One lone rebel rises up through the branches of dwarf azalea on the other side of the stone steps.  My original phlox patch is bare except for one singular timid soul that chose to stay put.

And so it goes as the lavender overtakes the evening primrose, which duck for cover under the butterfly bush.  The weedy-looking plant with the giant fuzzy leaves that I almost uprooted as a weed turns out to be the yellow waxy bell I planted a couple of years ago.  It’s only now making its presence know.  My “dwarf” hydrangea at the front of the bed is the size of a Mini-Cooper, blocking the coreopsis behind it.  But I love the surprises I see out my window of a garden constantly involved its own self-renovation project.

I watch the garden that is my children’s lives now with the same eye.  They also refuse to grow where they are planted.  They migrate on a whim, sometimes to locales where they flourish with abandon, sometimes in directions where they risk languishing.  As a mother, I want to dig them up and put them back in the garden bed I had prepared for them, saying, “Here, this is the best spot for you.  I know because I have studied the sun and the soil.  All the gardening books say this how you thrive.”  Yet one day you look out your window and see them in lush bloom under the shade when you were absolutely positive they needed full sun.  And you marvel at their resilience.

A bearded iris, purchased from Iris City Gardens in Nashville

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