Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reminding Myself


This is how you post to you blog from your Blackberry. Quit keeping so much useless information in your head, (like the alligator wrastler song, intentional misspelling), so you can remember these other things.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Random Saturday Night Stuff

Hey y'all,

Sitting here in the chair and a half with my man watching TV with Dixie Belle the Cool Canine at our feet. It's our number one favorite place to spend Saturday night. I know we sound boring, but seriously, I feel sorry for people who don't have this settled, "let's grow old together the best is yet to be" type of love.

Something for the news to lose catagory: I got the webcame set up today. Whoo hoo! I have a couple purposes in mind for the thing. One-- occasional video chats wtih my beloved ATS porchers inbetween the video/segments my TV producer films for me. But, let me be honest. The biggie reason is to be able to visit with my daughter in Houston, my sweet son-in-law, and my soon to be first grandson she is carrying in her sweet belly. I need to see Mr. Grant Thomas every day of his life and that's gonna be sort of hard with him seven hours away. I might try to post my first video blog tomorrow, stay tuned.

What else? Oh,had a great time in The Word today. The Lord is either becoming more and more talkative to me through His word the longer I serve Him or I'm becoming more and more listentive, (new word I just coined.)Which one do you suppose? Yeah, you're right, my money's on "B".

Later gators and gatorettes. Until next time.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

As I Stand Speaking...

This may be a TMI moment, but here goes. A bunch of people live in my brain. This wouldn't be so bad it they weren't all storytellers, and if they weren't all bent on telling their stories at the same exact time. We get along fairly well in private but this group thing can be especially trying when one is speaking before live audiences. Every story I begin reminds the individuals that comprise this interesting fellowship of another story-- and what's worse-- everyone thinks she should go next as her story is better, more appropriate, more interesting. As I stand speaking the audience sees one person. They do not see the full out mud slinging cat fight going on inside my head. This is good. It could be the sole reason I haven't been put away. That, and the fact that I am Southern, which explains a lot to a lot of people, at least the type that generally book me. This, too, is good. Note to self: Do not travel outside the South without your papers, or your people, or both.

The south is full of storytellers. Some have to write them down. What happens that causes the first to become the second? It's a question I like to ask other authors on my live show, All Things Southern LIVE at that was born out of my website, I never tire of hearing their answers. (Did you see those shameless plugs? It's a gift.)

So, how would I answer my own question? You mean after I wrestled "the group". I'd begin with one of my all time favorite quotes on writing: "Everyone says they'd like to write a book. What they mean is that they would like to have written a book." Big. Difference. I think the folks who cross the line, the storytellers who write 'em down are the ones who have to, flat out have to. Most little kids write play words before they can read, pretend words, squibbles. Some never stop.

By now, if you're still with me, you may have scooted over to my website. By now, you may think you know the type of stories I tell. I understand that you would feel that way, but you don't. You can't know the words spilled all over my house. If you hold my latest book in your hand you see the words Penguin (God love 'em) decided were worthy of the light of day. There are so many others that, and this is probably good, will never be seen. Novels, short stories, and poems that jump indiscriminately from one genre to another. And since I don't think the poetress is ever going to wrestle the others down long enough to perfect her craft, I think I will now give her a moment in the sun.

What follows are thoughts of my paternal grandmother who saw in me a famous writer. She gave me a typewritter when I was eleven. My siblings thought it the strangest gift. I was elated. I used it to write my first novel,"Martha and her Horse".

Grandma was a Kentucky woman who came to the Delta in a horse drawn carriage and kept house in a tent until she and her husband could afford a home. She didn't have an education, but she was enamored with words. Finding a grandchild who loved to write them made her glow with pride. I wish every child knew the feeling of having some one think his or her words are worthy. I post these now because Grandma never saw my words in print. Or did she.

“My Father’s Mother”

climbing four cracked steps

as the bus plods off

first grade reader in hand

I knew I’d find you

in your green chair

near the window

voices whisper

she does nothing now

but watch the flickering lights

of make believe lives

I don’t care

I liked you there, in your chair

worried faces

her feet, they’re too heavy

ankles swelling at awkward angles

I didn’t mind you being heavy

I needed you solid

like a rock

let ‘em frown

did they come to the delta

keep house in a tent

birth a baby alone

while the youngest tugs,

his dress held beneath the bed’s leg

bending and picking the scratchy white cotton

with ten of your own

baby waiting in the shade

see, you talked

they listened

but I heard

Anxious hearts

they say he died at lunch

with crops waiting in the field

broke her heart in two

she threw in the towel

and sat down for good

house was empty

noses wiped

bottoms cleaned

meals cooked

Grandma, did you quit

or were you through

later they wiped you with the others

old and tired

and wondered why you hung on

I wondered how you’d feel

who your spirit would be

when your body wasn’t tired

from babies

and cooking

and scrubbing

I missed you then

I miss you now

I wish I could sit in your chair


Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Love Lucy

It began early Tuesday morning with a phone call. My mother-in-law's long struggle was over. She was at rest. The rest of the week was sad, full, happy, wonderful, crazy, stressful, wonderful, draining, taxing -- and have I said wonderful? I hadn't planned on blogging it. The whole thing seemed too big for words, you know? But I've since thought more and more about how the cruel disease that took Mawmaw Lucy's life first stole her past and then her present and I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do. Recording these thoughts and pictures from our "I Love Lucy" celebration is my stick-it-in-your-eye-Alzheimer moment and it feels good.

Lucy Lealon Tomlinson was born March 25th, 1927. She passed away January 27th, 2009. She was a true southern belle with marvelous imperfections. In the frames below you can see the glam of her Miss Helena Arkansas 1945 self and a pic of the Lucy most remember before the disease began to steal her away.

Family members and long time friends came from all corners of the country to join hometown friends and family to celebrate her life. Lucy had left explicit handwritten instructions about this celebration and her three girls, Sandy, Debbie, and Karen, and her son and my husband, Phil, honored her last wishes. We didn't hold her service in the church, but at her graveside in the Lake Providence City Cemetery, on a January day God kissed with sunshine. Our Pastor, Bro. Don Boyett, gave a short eulogy that perfectly expressed what the siblings had shared with him the day before. Her granddaughter, Whitney, was next up with a most beautiful a cappella rendition of Amazing Grace. The finale was perfect. Lucy's son-in-law, and Karen's husband, Opp, shared a quick hitting gallery of thoughts from Mawmaw's kids and grandkids. Some of these will only make sense to the immediate family, but it truly was a wonderful way of remembering Lucy and it totally captured who she was in that sweet moment of time. It went something like this:

The Life of Lucy, a true Southern Belle

When you saw Lucy's long car, (and she always drove whatever long car she currently owned in the center of the road as if she owned it), it was likely to have a) trash bag on the hood she had meant to put in the garbage on the way out of the drive, or b) Christmas wreath on the front grill.

Sandy, Debbie, and Karen fondly recall the last "girl trip" with Mama to New Orleans, decking her out at Chicos, and her adopting Annie the kitten.

Lucy had a full size cross on the hill in her front yard and it was always decorated, every holiday, every occasion be it Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas.

Fond kitchen memories with Lucy...making divinity, fudge, trash, popcorn balls, and taffy-- a long time before Martha Stewart.

One son-in-law remembers anticipating a late night meal after his son was born and then hearing "you don't want that" as Lucy takes the hamburger from his hungry hand and dumps in the trash.

A grandson remember getting an art farm from Mawmaw Lucy-- when he was 15!

"I just need to see my family"

"I wanna go to the picture show."

Phil learned how to pick out the perfect shade of lipstick at Wal-Mark. That Wal-Mark isn't a typo, it's Lucy's pronunciation, that and her favorite expletive, "Oh, ship."

Once, while living in the assisted living center in New Orleans, Lucy attended a dance at the home and was truly the belle of the ball, dancing with all the gentleman whether they were in wheelchairs, leaning on walkers, or assisted by canes. When her daughter asked her to dance Lucy told her promptly, "I don't dance with girls."

Lucy's line, "I'm just trying to get it together" always means she was giving instructions to Ro, Lily, or Carrie Lee.

Some family members have fond memories of playing cards with Lucy on motor home trips.

When you were leaving her home, regardless of the length of your stay, she always said, "but we never had enough time to visit.'"

One particular grandson remembers having too many margaritas with his grandmother on the dock.

All remember that BOYS ARE NOT ALLOWED beyond the hall door. It was known as the line of death although it was discussed that perhaps that wasn't the best choice of words for this occasion.

She allowed one grandson to drive her car at 12. After he crashed into the carport and on into the kitchen she defended their actions by saying, "Well, he said he could drive."

Another grandson remembers playing golf with her and notes her drives were straight as an arrow-- and about two foot high.

"I'm planting" for Lucy meant she was directing Billy on where to plant her pansies.

And then there were the Styrofoam cups with lipstick on them-- coming out of the dishwasher!

Fourth of July's and her rules: "We are going to eat on the dock, so there!" and "Keep the back door shut so the snakes don't come in."

Fruit salad, tuna fish, and the cook licking her fingers. A story for family to share.

We can't forget the Christmas tree she got tired of decorating so she began putting it into the big hall closet each year fully decorated and pulling it out the next, sans a few more limbs and lights.

A granddaughter remembers thinking Lucy had more shoes than anyone she had ever known.

There was the 4th of July when she appeared decked out in a tube top with red, white, and blue rollers. She was in her seventies.

If she couldn't understand something and didn't want to bother trying she would just say, "whatever."

Cathy and Sandy remember her screaming as they chased baby skunks in the front yard.

Baby ducks, eating beets, blaring televisions...fond and not so fond memories.

Gonzo the parakeet, oh the stories he could tell.

Kittens in the tub and shower. Why didn't we ever see them become cats?

Four baby dolls in the nursing home, one for each child. Lucy liked to kiss them goodnight. Late one night as her son Phil was leaving, Lucy asked him to kiss the baby dolls good-bye. After he obliged she said, "You know they aren't real, don't you?" Gotcha!

Opp announces news from half-way around the world. In a place called Kipsongo, at a feeding center, orphanage, and mission called "Seeds" where Opp and Karen serve, prayers have gone up for Lucy for years. And now, there in Kenya there is a new room dedicated. "Lucy's Kitchen" is open again.

All in attendance agreed, "We love Lucy" and shared the Lord's prayer in unison.

Afterwards, friends and family were invited back to our house where Phil and I got to host a wonderful party. Our house, though upside and sideways at the end, was truly blessed by the gathering. The ladies of Lucy's life long church, The First United Methodist of Lake Providence, laid out a spread in my kitchen and dining room supremely fit for a southern funeral. Trust me when I tell you that we had not gone the least big hungry in the the days preceding that meal. Oh, between the generous dishes brought to our home from my and Phil's home church, Providence Church, and the rest of the community-- we probably gained weight last week!

In and around the feasting on Mawmaw's celebration day, we managed to get one huge group shot of the entire family before red, white, and blue balloons were handed to all the grandchildren for a final release. (FYI, this was an idea some of the kids embraced more so than others. There were a few tears as parents tried to sell the idea and older folks contended that no little one had to give up a balloon if they didn't want to!) Later that day there was a prerequisite football game in the front yard until the light gave out, and, of course, more eating.

What follows is a short photo journey from Tuesday when the house began filling up until Sunday when the taillights of the last car drove out the drive. It has been a labor of love to record it. I won't label the pictures. I'll just leave you with 'em, but I do hope you enjoy a peak into our day. I know Lucy did.


To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance... Ecclesiastes, chapter three