After the Spiral…..

I spiraled Valentine’s week.  I am not proud of it, but it is what it is.  I know spiraling can be expected during grief.  Does not mean I was ready for it though.  It was a bad spiral.  I was not sure I was going to climb out of that rabbit hole this time.

I had a panic attack in Dollar General.  I barely made it through the check out, ran to my vehicle, and cried once I shut the door.  Cried all the way home.

Grief is rough.  On top of regular grief, trying to process your husband committing suicide makes you wonder how you function every day.

With the help of my therapist, I realized I was missing what might have been, and going down the What If rabbit hole.  What if my old vehicle dies?  What if I can’t fix the problems in my old house?  What if I never get my vegetable garden started ever again?  I have to re-till and amend the soil because I have not had a garden for 3 years.  What if I can’t do this by myself?  What if I can’t fix the potholes on my dirt road?

The irony is, the hope of ‘what could have been’ sustained me through my husband’s mental illness.  I always had hope his physical and mental ailments would be cured and we would grow old together as planned.  Now, after his death, the ‘what could have been’ was driving me insane.  Identifying this emotion, owning it for what it was, sure helped propel me to once again put one foot in front of the other.

Another factor playing into my depression was the weather.  Our region normally has mild winters.  We didn’t have particularly extreme cold days, but we had a wet winter.  Most times, there are nights where we can go outside, light a fire and have outdoor movie night.  There was none of that this winter because it was just too wet.  Not being able to be outside, on the land I so love, was much more draining that I ever could have imagined.

Fortunately, Saturday was dry and mild.  With my newfound grasp on reality, I was able to spend some time in sunshine and this lifted my spirits tremendously.  I felt empowered!

I tackled the yard, starting with cleaning up some messes.  Then, I learned how to drive our zero-turn lawnmower while wearing my bright pink Avon Mattitude Liquid Lipstick.  I also learned how to connect my headphones to my cell so I could listen to music while cutting the grass.

Progress!

I broke the lawnmower.

Not progress!

And as if widowhood wasn’t enough, a lizard got in my house.  I picked up a magazine, saw a little stick sticking out of it and proceeded to remove it, when said stick jumps on my finger.  Said stick turns out to be a baby lizard.  I shake my finger while screaming and hopping around.  The baby lizard scampers to parts unknown and can probably live in this house to adulthood because I am not picking it up.  I realized I should have known that wasn’t a stick because why would a stick be sticking out of my magazine?

Not so much progress, but that’s okay.

So heck on this day!  I went out for boiled seafood and $2 margaritas for National Margarita Day.

Problems not solved, but who cares when you can get $2 margaritas?

Sunday rolls along.  I decide to pick up sticks in my yard to burn, which gives me the idea that I can burn some oak logs in my garden area.  That would go a long way in amending my soil.

Hallelujah moment!  Garden problem partially solved!

Later, I went down my muddy dirt road, noticing my husband’s shovel that he kept in the woods to dig little trenches when the rain got bad.  So right there, in my good tennis shoes, I hopped out of my vehicle to dig a few trenches to drain some of the water.

Pothole problem temporarily solved!

I go back home feeling really proud of myself.  Now to clean my tennis shoes and take a shower.

And then….

I see that baby lizard in my tub.  I run out the bathroom, stop in the hallway, and say ‘time to man up, Gretchen.’  I march back into the bathroom with new resolve.  Taking the advice of one of my widow friends, I threw a face cloth over the lizard.  She said she heard little lizard screams as she carried it outside.  I am hard of hearing so I did not hear any little lizard screams, but I did feel it wiggling in the cloth.  I almost threw up.  I opened the back door to release said lizard, and it was clinging to the face cloth for dear life.  Before it could jump on my hand, I threw out the cloth, ran inside and locked the door.

Lizard problem solved!

Days later, when I know the lizard has left the face cloth, I will just burn that cloth in my garden burn pile.

Problem solved!

Man, it’s grand not to be stuck in a spiral.

 

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  My daughter and her husband are the sweetest Valentines I know.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Avon tip of the day:  For a limited time, you can join Avon for FREE.  Got to my website and click on Become a Representative.  Start selling immediately. Your sign up comes with loads of perks, benefits and goodies to help you start strong. Plus, you can earn up to 65% in sales and bonuses!  Personalize your free online store and then text or email the link to friends and family for instant sales. Sell anywhere, anytime with our mobile app and get paid fast in 2 business days with Rapid Pay!

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

 

The First Valentine

I did not think Valentine’s Day would be too bad.  We had been married for 37 years and didn’t really celebrate the day anymore, for goodness sake.

Or did we?

I opened FB that morning and 10 years of memories hit me.  We didn’t do elaborate celebrations anymore, but I realized we quietly marked the day with sweet little traditions.  He would cook me breakfast before work, which included a heart shaped omelet.  I would pick up a couple pounds of crawfish for a quiet dinner to be eaten in front of the TV (watching Walton’s re-runs, no doubt).  Filling a vase with whatever we could find growing in the yard to decorate our dining table.

I will never experience those moments anymore, and that made my cry.

I have been growing stronger each day, so this step back took me totally off guard.  The mourning was so tense, it became physical.  My heart was burning and felt tight and constricted.  I could swear someone had my heart in their hand and were squeezing as hard as they could.

I reached out to a few other widow friends, and we were all suffering.  Julia and I discussed how memories were normally comforting, but today we were drowning in them.  Debbie said even after 3 years the pain was still so raw for her.  Julie told me God’s got us, the firsts are always the hardest and we will make it.

I do not want to bring others down on this day of celebrating love, but my co-workers find me crying in my cubicle.  I do not want to allow this sadness and anger to turn my heart to stone and become bitter.  I want to celebrate love and I want to always be happy for couples who get to celebrate this time together.  God, please allow me to be happy for others even though my heart is breaking.

I’m still mad at him for taking his own life, and that anger continues to buffer some of my sadness.  I took his picture off of my cubicle wall, and threw it in my top drawer.  Then I removed the picture and flung it in the bottom drawer because I decided he wasn’t top drawer worthy.

But on this day, there was no anger, just deep, gut wrenching, heart constricting pain

My therapist advised me to accept these days and just to sit in my grief for a moment.

But oh God, it just hurts so bad.

For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.  Isaiah 54:5

 

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  My daughter and her husband are the sweetest Valentines I know.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.)

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Avon tip of the day:  For a limited time, you can join Avon for FREE.  Got to my website and click on Become a Representative.  Start selling immediately. Your sign up comes with loads of perks, benefits and goodies to help you start strong. Plus, you can earn up to 65% in sales and bonuses!  Personalize your free online store and then text or email the link to friends and family for instant sales. Sell anywhere, anytime with our mobile app and get paid fast in 2 business days with Rapid Pay!

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

A Happy Saturday

I don’t know why.

Maybe it was a residual affect from the steroid shot I had to have the evening before.  Maybe it was that my grief is progressing through the next phase where I feel like living again.  Maybe it was a blessing from God, saying, “Child, you have been through so much these past few years that I am granting you a joyful Saturday.”

Maybe it was all of the above.  I woke up that Saturday morning feeling like a million bucks.  I woke up really early – around 4:00 a.m.  I wanted to try to fall back asleep, after all, I set my alarm for work 5 days a week.  Can’t I just sleep in for a bit on the weekend?  But I was feeling to euphoric to stay in bed.

Sure I still had the same issues I had the day before.  My husband took his own life 7 months ago. I am facing repairs on my house alone, something I have no idea how to handle.  But for some reason, I was euphoric.  And I am going to ride that euphoric horse for as long as I can.

About dang time!

I had forgotten what euphoria felt like.  I lived years having to be the sole provider of the family due to my husband’s disability. And I would do it again, for better or worse – that was my vow.  But living for years with an alcoholic had taken its toll.  Add on top of that, the man was living in severe chronic pain from his body turning on itself, which caused him to turn on me.  I watched my fun-loving husband morph from the life of the party to a bitter old man, who couldn’t be happy about anything or anybody.  I couldn’t do anything right in his eyes, and I finally gave up trying – and didn’t really care anymore.  When he would start his rants, I would simply go in another room.  All I can say is life was downright miserable for all of us the last two years of his life.

I was able to handle all of the responsibilities only by the Grace of God.

So when I woke up feeling euphoria, I figured I better treasure that moment because I don’t know when that next tidal wave of grief is going to hit me.

I leisurely piddled that morning.  Felt like a luxury.  I was facing a day of house chores, but I decided I was going to look dang good doing it.  Normally, I throw on ratty weekend clothes, don’t bother with hair and make-up, have to run to the store for something or the other – and run into

Everyone. I. Know.

I am the Avon lady, at least I should look the part.  Right?

So I picked out clothes I could do my chores in, but ones that wouldn’t make me look homeless if I ventured into the public eye.  It was going to be a humid day (well, that is almost every day in our neck of the woods).  So I had to do something with the wild locks spiraling out of control.  A few bobby pins later and I had a messy updo look that still manages to present ‘I kind of have it together look.’  I figured I came this far, I better put on foundation.  For my age, my skin is in good condition due to my Avon products, but I do have rosacea.  (My favorite skin care is our Avon Anew Hydra Fusion line.  Check it out on my website.)  So let’s dab on a little foundation.  My go-to product is Avon True Flawless Cream-to-Powder Foundation – heavy enough to cover my rosacea, but feels like a part of my skin – never cakey or heavy feeling.  My favorite is Natural Beige (#593-360 if you are looking for something new).  I could have stopped there – but you know – euphoria carries you a long way.  Let’s dab on some blush.  I have dry skin.  I like something creamy on my face, so I use Avon True Color Be Blushed Cheek Color Stick (#578-295 Blushing Nude).  I wonder if I can accomplish a little eye shadow, applied just so, so that it is an enhancement, but looks natural.  What’s in my stash?  Avon True Color Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Quad – Naked Truth (#528-117).  If I put on eyeshadow, I must put on eyeliner.  Now that my face is – how should I put this – is much bigger than when I was younger, my once big eyes have disappeared into my chipmunk cheeks and round face.  I have to use eyeliner so people even know I have eyes.  Have you ever tried Avon’s True Color Glimmersticks Waterproof Eye Liner?  I used Blackest Black (#488-328).  This goes on so smooth.  One of my customers quit using Lancome eyeliners because Avon went on just as well, and is oh so affordable.   Well now my lips look pale, unadorned and sad.  They want attention too.  Hmmmm.  Need to be careful what I pick here because my daughter tells me some of my lipstick is New Orleans Bourbon Street worthy.  Hey!  So what!  New Orleans is where I am from and proud to say it! And I am a product of the disco era where everything was flamboyant.  But still, I didn’t want to look like I was heading out for a night on the town. I just wanted to feel good about myself.  Let’s use Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo Lip Line & Fill Duo, Inked Rose (#494-239).  I have to put a little color on my lips.  Nude lipsticks do not do a darn thing for me.

Well now that the face and hair is all done, a little costume jewelry will be the crowning glory.  I put on my necklace that says “Avon,” combined with a necklace that says “Beauty Boss.”  Then that led to earrings.  My hair was up so I could show off earrings.  I couldn’t find any of my post earrings.  I guess I still have not unpacked those from my move 7 months ago.  But wait!  I belong to the best Avon group ever.  I had just received a pair in the mail from the best upline ever, Karen!  I ripped open that envelope and put some earrings on that may have been a little too fancy for chores – but hey – euphoria – what can I say?  (You need to check out Avon’s jewelry line…..)

All of the above explained in painful detail is to give hope to those newly grieving.  I know you feel you will never think of anything else but this sorrow.  I was shocked I was able to concentrate on something trivial as hair and make-up without thinking of my husband’s suicide.  Those thoughts usually plague my mind almost 24/7.

I sat back and looked at the face in the mirror.  Oh how she has aged – and gotten rounder.  A few weeks ago I had been going through old photos and missing that young, skinny woman with the great hair.  Oh how I would love to go back to those carefree days that didn’t involve bills, mortgages, alcoholism, DUIs, fines, chronic pain, clinical depression. But that face in the mirror today is so much wiser than that face that looked back at me in my younger years.

It is what it is and I am who I am. And I can hold my head up high.

I am going to treat that woman in the mirror right.  She deserves it, and she will preserver.

I am living, I am breathing, and I am functioning in society without all of my husband’s added drama.

This Saturday morning was a blissful moment for me.  This was proof that I am healing.  Finally, a turning point to the good.

I like that person in the mirror!

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary!  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

GLORY TO THE ORDINARY!

 

Glory to the Ordinary

For 37 years, just before midnight, I would say Happy New Year to the same man.  For 37 years, upon waking, I would say Happy New Year, again, to the same man.

Needless to say, I have been stressing and dreading this New Year.  I feel I am stepping forward into the future and leaving my husband behind.  In 2019, my husband was alive.  In 2020, he isn’t.  2020 won’t know him.  2019 knew him.  This seems to solidify he is gone.

I have started New Year’s with him for 37 years.  How do I not do this?

Well he left me no choice, did he?

In the year’s pre-kids, we would go to nightclubs, drink champagne and ring in the New Year.  Once kids arrived, we hosted family parties at our home, making great, great memories.  Years later, we rang in the year with the two grandchildren living with us.  Most of the time it was just the 4 of us on our little acreage, lighting sparklers and throwing snappy pops.  Such a cozy setting.

Fast forward to this year, the oldest grands are in their teens now, doing their own thing.  I don’t want to go to any parties – socializing – that would hurt too much.  But I don’t want to be home alone.  I figured I would go to Waffle House, sit at the counter (because booths are reserved for 2 or more), and have a lonely dinner.

Then I would go home and wait for midnight – counting down by myself.  3 – 2 – 1.

I can’t.  I. Just. Can’t.

But the past few days, something started changing in me.  I have been feeling the need to socialize more, and not just with my friends in my computer (my Facebook friends).  I need face to face contact.

Is my grieving progressing to a new stage? Am I seeing light at the end of the tunnel?  Well, I am not to the end the tunnel, because grieving never ends.  But grieving does morph, and I am seeing some light.  I am coming up for air.  I feel I am beginning to breathe again.

Fortunately, a high school friend threw out a rope and saved me from drowning in my pity.  She invited me to spend New Year’s at her house, drinking champagne, wearing our jammies and talking the night away.  (After all, we have 40 years to catch up on!)  We will skip the parties and have a girl’s night in.  This is just what I needed.  I won’t have to be in a social setting, and I won’t be home alone.  The next day, we will cook the required black eye peas and cabbage.  Well, she will probably cook.  She knows my cooking horror stories and she may not let me in her kitchen.

But I still don’t know if I can say Happy New Year.  I am thinking of starting a different tradition, similar to Seinfeld’s Festivus for the Rest of Us.  I think I will say, “Glory to the Ordinary.”

Those of us grieving or hurting just want to be ordinary.  We don’t want the stigma of being the wife whose husband committed suicide.  We don’t want to be the parent who buried his/her child.  We don’t want to be the wife/husband whose spouse left them for a ‘newer model.’  Glory to the Ordinary.

Instead of having “Airing of the Grievances,” we will hold “Remembrance of the Non-Descript.”  For example, I kiss my husband goodbye as I leave for work.  I come home in the evening, opening the front door and smell his famous chili cooking on the stove.  Or Saturday mornings when we were feeling lazy and we would linger in bed while watching PBS, and grandkids would climb in with us.  Or Sunday Saints’ games, boiling a sack of crawfish.  (He took his famous boiled crawfish recipe to the grave with him.  I don’t think I will ever taste crawfish again as good as his.)  These days, nothing out of the ordinary happened.  These were just regular days of existence.  Glory to the Ordinary.

We can keep “Feats of Strength,” but this will not entail wrestling.  Those of us grieving or hurting show our strength everyday just by getting out of bed, showing up for the day, accomplishing what is necessary, celebrating small victories over our pain and managing to make it to nightfall.  Glory to the Ordinary.

We want an ordinary day without the heavy burden of our losses.  Glory to the Ordinary.

We don’t want to say Happy New Year, because we really do not feel it.

So to all of us that are hurting as we approach the New Year, I will not say Happy New Year.  But I do wish you a Glory to the Ordinary.

 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18 (NIV)

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary!  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

GLORY TO THE ORDINARY!

Clutter Can be a Beautiful Thing

CLUTTER!  This time of year, parents start thinning out children’s toys to make way for an influx of Christmas presents.  People start looking forward to a new year, and vow to be more organized.  Markets are gearing up for promoting books and items to help you organize.  In other words, buy more clutter to help corral your clutter.  The irony!

I have been back home for 6 months, and have spent way too many weekends battling clutter – purging, donating, throwing away and burning.  I should be out with family and friends, starting to actually live my new life.  But no.  I only have two days out of the week to do this, so I grab every chance I get.  I even joined a site where I get daily messages for one year to re-train my brain how to deal with every type of clutter, whether physical or emotional.  Funny thing is, I rarely open the messages and this is now cluttering my inbox.  More irony!

Just about every weekend has been dedicated to simplifying my life by having less possessions.  I cannot believe how much clutter has been stuffed into this tiny house.  It’s insane.  First world problems.  Clutter is controlling my life.  I made a vow that once this massive project is finished, I will think twice before buying any item and bringing into my home.

This weekend, I parted with some of my husband’s kitchen items I knew I would never use.  That hurt.  I felt so guilty.  I was so sad going through his clutter, and this made me cry.  Did he even think of the mess he was leaving me in when he took his own life?  I guess not.  I am sure clutter was not the last thing on his mind.

I want to get rid of as much clutter as I can so that my children are not faced with clearing out my clutter when I join their father in heaven.

I had to take a break to regroup.  Of course, a break meant perusing FB.  Mental clutter.  A memory popped up from 5 years ago.  It was a picture of two of my oldest grands decorating our Christmas tree.  I remember my granddaughter was quite peeved we bought a tree off of a lot and didn’t cut a scrub pine out of the woods.  I looked at my dining room table and it was covered with clutter.  Groan!  That table clutter was the bane of existence for me and my husband.  We lack storage in this small house, so things ended up on top of our table (including a dirt bike my husband was working on for our grandson – but that is a story for another day).

We had a lot of good memories around that table – family gatherings – crawfish boils.  But when I moved back home 6 months ago, all I saw was clutter.  The table was really too big for our house to begin with.  And I just couldn’t see gatherings happening there anymore.  My mom was gone, my husband was gone, my stepdad is getting too old to head up this way.  No, it hurt too much to keep the table.  I gave it to one of my best friend’s.  Her family hosts other families after church, and I knew she would create great memories like we did.  This did my heart good.

But back to that picture.  I looked closely at the clutter.  My grandkids were wearing their Santa hats.  Ornaments were all over the table.  The plastic bin holding Christmas decoration clutter was sitting on a chair.  I saw my grandkids school pictures.  We had a clutter of egg cartons donated to us for our 60 laying hens.  There was a garden watering can, probably to fill the tree base.  That was my favorite little can to water my herb garden.

But the biggest memory was my husband’s flannel jacket thrown over a chair.  He wore his flannel jackets until they were in threads and embarrassing.  However, we couldn’t throw any away until we found one to replace it.  That ratty jacket was always thrown over a dining room chair, the back of a recliner or on the bed.  As he got older and was on blood thinners, he wore this jacket year ‘round because he was always cold.  Seeing this flannel jacket tugged at my heart.

This time, clutter was a beautiful thing.

A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.  Ecclesiastes 3:6.

See – even the Bible is telling me to cast a way my clutter.

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.  And, you get FREE SHIPPING on any $40+ order.)

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 Avon tip of the blog:  Of course, Avon IS NOT CLUTTER.  You purchase a product and use it up!  Have you tried Avon’s eye make-up remover (product #579-359)?  Avon True Color Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover Lotion works quickly and easily to gently remove all traces of eye makeup. Plus, it conditions and moisturizes your lashes and the fragile skin around your eyes.

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

Christmas is What You Make it – so is Life

In 2008 and 2009 we were a little nomadic, moving between the coast and a little further inland.  I was ready to buy a house again and put down roots.  But where?

My son knew of an acquaintance wanting to sell his grandparents house.  We took a ride down a bumpy country road to check it out.  I pulled into the yard, took one look, promptly backed out and told my son, “No way in heck would I ever move there.  Don’t bother making an appointment to see inside.”

Fast forward a few months, no other deal panned out for us.  To make matters even worse, my husband lost his job.  What followed was a frenzy of fighting for his unemployment benefits and trying to find an affordable place to live.

God sure does have a sense of humor.

The only place I could afford on my salary alone was – you guessed it – the place I refused to consider a few months earlier.

We moved in December 1, 2009.   Christmas was going to be tight.  My husband took our 5-year old grandson and 3-year old granddaughter into the woods to chop a tree.  We do not live in an area that abounds with beautiful trees you see in a Hallmark Christmas movie.  They found a scrawny scrub pine, brought it in the house, put lights on it, and whatever ornaments the tiny branches could hold.  The grands and my husband were excited.  I was depressed and cried.  But in the end, we had a very good Christmas.  We made the best of our situation.

From that moment on, the grands wanted to go into the woods to chop down a miserable excuse for a Christmas tree.  I simply refused for that to happen again, and we bought our trees off of a lot.

Eventually, with my husband’s chronic pain taking over his body, I resorted to a fake tree.

Last Christmas, my then 14-year old grandson revolted.  He wanted a real tree.  I refused.

This year, with all he has been through, I was determined to get him a real tree.  I have been busy purging clutter in this house (yes, the same house I refused to move in to 10 years before), and decided I did not have room to store a fake tree.  I donated the tree, which meant I would be forced to buy a real tree.

My son and grandson took a ride to check out real trees and were shocked at the price tags.  Just great.  I donated that fake tree, and now I was stuck.  With other expenses happening, I knew this would be a stretch, but I would bite the bullet for my grandkids.

My now 15-year old grandson took matters into his own hands.  While I was at work, he headed out to the woods to follow his Paw Paw’s footsteps and find us a tree.  The little prankster he is – he chopped down a Charlie Brown tree, drug it into the house, put it in the stand – took a picture – then texted it to me.  Funny kid.  Why can’t you put as much effort into your homework as you do a prank!

I get home from work, just in time to see him setting up the real tree he intended to use in our house.  It looked better than the Charlie Brown tree, and even better than the tree he and Paw Paw cut down 10 years ago.

But it is still a sparse scrub pine and not really Christmas tree worthy.  Oh well!  This child put a lot of effort into this, and I didn’t have the heart to say, “Throw it out because I am going to buy a tree from a lot.”  He jacked it up in a stand, threw lights on it, and hung a few ornaments – all by himself.  We topped it of with his Paw Paw’s Santa hat.

This young man hasn’t shown much interest in many things since losing his Paw Paw.  I was glad to see his excitement in this project.

I took a chance to peek into my past, possibly opening my heart to some aches.  But looking back, what I saw as my only choice for a roof over our head as a severe setback, turned into years of a fun life I never could have imagined.  I learned how much I loved the country life and this former city girl was converted.

For quite some time, my husband, myself and the two grands were quite the tight little family unit.  They learned about vegetable gardening, harvesting, storing and canning.  They learned about chickens and had the fun experience of collecting their breakfast from the backyard.  They experienced walking down a country dirt road to a pond, catching fish for supper, gutting and cleaning them, and eating this fresh catch straight off the grill.  They learned how to build a campfire, roast marshmallows, make hot chocolate and s’mores, and watch a favored Christmas movie with their daddy on an outdoor screen.

They learned how to take a scrawny scrub pine tree and turn it into a magical Christmas wonder.

What I saw as a failure of not being able to give my grandkids a proper tree from a lot, turned into an adventure for them and their Paw Paw, and taught them to improvise, using what is available to them.  In hindsight, this ‘failure’ was pure lagniappe, giving my grands a priceless memory.

We made the most of our country life in our dinky house with our sad Christmas trees.  We had fun doing the best we could, until my husband’s chronic pain became so unbearable it changed his demeanor, which changed our lives, which ended up taking his life.

This Christmas, drawing upon our God-given strengths, we will start new traditions, while preserving some of our old traditions that are instilled in our brains as happy memories.

Last night I was blogging about not being okay.  I thought it would take quite some time to shake that feeling.  All it took was a 15-year old grandson, a sad looking scrub pine and great memories.  Tonight, I am okay, and I will take tonight for what it is.

Christmas is what you make it – and so is Life!

 

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.  And, you get FREE SHIPPING on any $40+ order.)
YourAvon.com/ghegwood

6 Praise the LORD! For he has heard my cry for mercy.

7 The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

8 The LORD gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.

Psalm 28:6-8

Letting Go of a Dream

It was OUR dream.

We loved to garden together.  That was our ‘good times.’  We didn’t bring any other interference into our garden time.  It was just me, him and Mother Earth – no marital problems – no anxiety – no mental illness.  Gardening was the best times for us these last few years.

Our dream was in our retirement years to have a huge vegetable garden and a roadside stand.  We would can what we couldn’t sell.  We have been in prep mode these last few years, building up to OUR dream.  We gardened, we harvested, we canned.

We called our little homestead a faux farm because it was not sustainable.  Some years we had bumper crops, some years we might have a tomato.  We knew if the apocalypse came and we had to survive on our own land – we would be the first to die.

We chronicled our success and failures on our Facebook page, Spooky Hollow Southern Mississippi.  We laughed at our failures.  We took great pride in our successes.  One year, our cucumber crop was so large, we gave those away as party favors for my granddaughter’s birthday.

We even had fun scooping the poop – so much fun that I wrote a poem of one our adventures on May 21, 2010 (never dreaming that 9 years later – almost to the date – my husband would be dead from his own hand).

“I do not like to scoop the poop. I do not like it sticking to my boots. I do not like the way it smells. And now I do not feel so swell. But Bubba-Man says I do not give a dam. We are here to scoop the poop. We do not care if it sticks to boots. We do not care how bad it smells, because this will make our garden swell.”

Such enjoyable times.

But those days are gone now.  My husband killed those dreams when he killed himself.

I am faced with downsizing.  I have a huge assortment of canning jars and nowhere to put them.  I tried to find places to stuff them, but no such luck.  Then I realized I would probably never have need for this many jars and I must face parting with them.  That thought stabbed me in the heart and actually brought tears to my eyes.

Isn’t is silly to cry over canning jars?  Grief – a miserable necessity.

I know I can still have a garden – a smaller one.  I know I will still can my produce – just not as much.  I do not know if I will ever have a roadside vegetable stand.  But what’s the point anyway?  What I do know is I will not be sharing this experience with my husband.  That was the whole point – him and I – conquering this dream together – sharing this intimate experience that was only between us.

The prize was in the process.  OUR process.  Not his process.  Not my process.  OUR process.

OUR gardening trumped every bad experience in life.  We were in tune with each other, and only with each other.  A true union.

Our gardening experience – this is ‘us’.  No, that’s not right.  This ‘was us’ – this was ‘the good us’.

It hurts like heck letting go of a dream.

I’m not sure if I will ever enjoy gardening again.

 

(Just a note – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter and SIL have a personal ministry of ministering to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  Recently, they fed as much as 24 people, all on a youth minister’s salary.  God provides.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Be sure to check out our other deals. We always have some.  Avon isn’t only make-up.  If you have not seen an Avon brochure in a while, check us out.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

The First Thanksgiving

For this first Thanksgiving without my husband, I didn’t want to do a traditional meal on the actual day.  We agreed to do an informal dinner the weekend before.

Did I think this would lessen the blow of having our first holiday meal without him?  Yes.  Was I wrong in this assumption?  Yes.

This morning, as I was preparing the dishes I was assigned to bring, I opened my oven and noticed this inside was a mess.  We have a propane oven and realized I don’t know how to clean the inside.  I never had to do that before.  My husband handled everything concerning the house, meaning from repairs all the way to cooking.

Sometimes when a wife loses a husband, she is lost because she never handled anything financial in the marriage.  I always knew I wouldn’t have trouble in this manner.  Once my husband became disabled, we managed on one income.  What I didn’t expect was being so lost about how to do just about everything else.

So I looked at the dirty oven, and started to cry.  I continued crying while preparing my dishes.

I knew our daughter was sad, too, because she posted she was dreading this and also posted our last family photo from last Thanksgiving.

I studied that picture and realized how awful I looked.  For months I had been dealing with a husband with rapidly declining mental health.  I let myself go terribly.  I looked like I woke up, rolled out of bed, threw on just any old junk and headed to dinner.  My gosh, I am the Avon Lady, how could I walk outside my house looking like this?

I went through that day sitting on pins and needles, not knowing what would happen, how he would act and who would he offend.  I was constantly in the middle.  “Gretchen, do you know what Bubba is doing?”  “Mom, dad is…..”  “G-Maw, Paw Paw is…..”  Everyone thought I could intervene and change the direction of his behavior.

I was worn.

Have you ever heard the song Worn by Tenth Avenue North?  If not, go listen to it.  That song was my life.

Remembering that final Thanksgiving helped me shift my perspective.  I was going to be sad missing my normal husband, but I was going to enjoy this day being free from mentally impaired husband.  I was going to put that bad Thanksgiving memory behind me and focus on all the good ones instead (there were many).

I put on make-up, fixed my hair, dressed nice, googled how to clean my oven and headed off to my daughter’s house for a wonderful day of making new memories.

 

(Just a note:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and SILs personal ministry of ministering to college students.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Recently, they had 24 people at one meal.  That is quite a lot on a youth minister’s salary.  But God always provides.  I like to give them help when I can.  Please check out my Avon website.  We are not your grandmother’s Avon anymore.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.  And, you get FREE SHIPPING on any $40+ order.  YourAvon.com/ghegwood)

Avon Broke the Great Gretchen Depression

I won’t lie to you – I have had a rough 2.5 years.  I have spiraled into a pit I thought I would never get out of.  Yes, times could have been worse, and I am grateful it wasn’t.  Terms like, ‘it could be worse’, in my opinion, cause a deeper spin into depression.  When people would tell me, “It could be worse”, well that made me feel worse.  Should I be in this deep of a depression because ‘it could have been worse’?  That would spiral me even further into depression.  But I would paste on a smile and present a semi-false persona to the world.

Yes, I know depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance.  I had a close relationship with my medical team and we have tried all sorts of medicine, but the depression continued.  You see, my depression was being caused by outside factors that affected me, and they went something like this (and in this order):

  1.  Certain family members acting out and misbehaving, wreaking havoc in my life.
  2. Losing my dream job at Stennis due to a contract change.  Fortunately, I was quickly hired by some awesome people, who I forever hold in my heart, but the travel time and pay could not sustain my household.  I got a call from the new contractor at Stennis, was re-hired, but it just wasn’t the same.  I was so thrilled to be back at Stennis, which is the most awesome place to work, but I still was depressed.
  3. I lost my beloved Frank the Faux Pug.  I had him 16 years, and I was his person.  His love was unconditional.
  4. The grief above all else, I lost my mother – the most stable, most remarkable person in my life, my biggest supporter.

In July 2017, I went to my first Avon RepFest.  I had been an Independent Avon Rep for four years, but never did partake in this oh so awesome festivity.  I had been working at growing my team, and my rewards paid off.  Avon nested 40 representatives to my team!  I titled upward, which means my team commission would be higher.  I was overjoyed and ready to work my business.  Between my first generation and second generation, G’Money Avon Team was 100 people strong.  I came home from RepFest pumped and ready to grow, grow, grow.  But I returned home to the same conditions from before my trip, and the depression set in again.

In September 2017, I received a call from a fabulous company in Memphis.  I had interviewed with them when I was losing my job at Stennis the previous year, but to no avail.  My daughter and her family were living up that way.  I had given all my time to helping my son raise my two oldest grands, I figured I could be near my daughter and get to help her with my baby grands.  I did not get any offers in 2017, but God knew I had to be near my Mom when we lost her.  Fast forward a year and I received an offer I could not refuse.  I would have to leave my beloved Spooky Hollow of Southern MS, but something had to give.

During this time of move prep, Hubby had an accident, totaled his truck and broke his neck.  This certainly put things in perspective for him while reflecting on the fact he could have lost his life.

I pack up my bags and head six hours north, by myself, to settle in.  Hubby had to stay home due to medical conditions and the fact I would be living with my daughter’s family.  There really was no more room at the inn, but they lovingly made room for me.  The depression was trying to lift.  I love my new job and I love my co-workers.  Could this finally be a replacement for the job I loved so much at Stennis?  Why yes, yes it could be.  During the three months I temporarily lived with my daughter, I had so much fun with my two baby grands, and another was on the way!  Those babies really got to know me, and this was an answered prayer.

On December 1, I think I was in a meeting, or working on a project with my boss.  When I return to my desk, I have many texts, phone calls and messages from Son and Hubby.  I thought what now.  I figured they were being Drama Queens over something.  This turned out to be a true emergency.  My husband had a stroke and was in the hospital.

Despite the car wreck and stroke, Hubby is functioning better than the doctors thought he would.  Life goes on.  There was still that nagging depression in my head.  I was homesick.  I missed my three acres of fun at Spooky Hollow Southern MS.  Several years back, the Family Unit (which consisted of me, Hubby, Son and two grands) was in transition.  We just moved back from Gulfport, and undecided where to live.  Son had a friend selling a place.  We drove out to look at it.  I said no way in heck was I moving there.  God has a sense of humor.  A month later, my husband lost his job and that spooky looking place was the only place I could afford for all of us on my salary.  I could have crawled in a hole and died.  My grandkids were depending on me, and this was all I had to offer.  For me, that turned out to be the biggest blessing.  Those on my FB page know all the antics we experienced.  We had so much fun on this piece of property, raising the grands.  I had such high hopes of turning this into a productive, and income earning, homestead.  That never happened.  By moving, I was finally giving up on that dream, and that hurt – hurt to the core.

My son talked about moving up by me, starting a new life.  While that wouldn’t be ideal with all of us living under one roof again, I was thrilled at the thought of being near my two oldest grands once more.  I rented a house in a great school district, and figured we would be cramped for a bit until my son got on is feet.  Two events occurred that sent me spiraling downward again.  My son decided to stay south, and there was a possibility my daughter and family were going to be moving back home.  While happy for everyone to be getting on with their lives, I felt my world was really tumbling downward.  I drove home for an all too short Christmas Holiday visit.  This was the worst Christmas of my life, my first Christmas without my Momma.  The two oldest grands were with their Mom, so it was just me, Hubby and Son.  I left early Christmas morning to drive back north, alone.  I cried the whole way home.  I stopped crying long enough to buy boiled peanuts from a street vendor.  That was my Christmas meal – peanuts and Pepsi.  I was utterly miserable and depressed.

Time goes on.  My daughter gives birth to the most spectacular baby.  I was so glad to be living near them this time.  The other two births consisted of a mad dash for me and Hubby headed north.  But shortly after, daughter and family move back south, taking my three baby grands with them.  Hubby had to head back down for an extended stay for doctor visits.  I was truly alone.  I have been surrounded by people for many years, and now I was utterly alone.  I had not seen my sister or stepdad face to face in quite some time either.

If it weren’t for four things in my life, I would have gone totally mad.  I have my faith.  I have my family.  I have my job.  And I have the greatest Avon upline (the person that recruited me) that ever existed.  Karen stuck with me through this depression like she was blood family.  I would have given up on me long ago had I been her.  Karen’s mission in life is to empower women.  She is achieving that goal and living the life!  I kept looking at her and thinking I want to be like her.  I was letting my team down.  It had dwindled from 100 to 60 reps.  If I didn’t snap out of this, I was going to lose everything I worked so hard for.  The wheels were greased and starting to turn in my head.  I am in the process of reconnecting with my team, and growing my numbers.  Karen is with me every step of this way, encouraging me and having faith in me.

I was given an opportunity to return home, but I chose to pass that up for now.  God put me here for a reason, and I need to sit still (something I am not good at) and listen to what He is whispering in my ear.  I have a most wonderful job and co-workers.  After losing my beloved job at Stennis, I know how important it is to the psyche to work somewhere you love.  I know I can coast into retirement with this company.

And after retirement from Corporate America waits my Avon business and team.  I am building my business to be my retirement.  Avon isn’t work.  Avon is fun!  During the height of my depression, between August 2017 and May 2018, I almost quit Avon.  I disconnected myself from my team and my Avon sisters.  That was the worst thing to do.  This group is so much fun and focused.  I love these ladies and they love me.  I reconnected in June 2018 with our group and was uplifted and excited, waiting for the next RepFest.

In July 2018, I went to Columbus, OH for my second Avon RepFest and brought Hubby along.  He caught the Avon bug.  Hubby wants to do everything he can to help me grow.  He saw how much money I was leaving on the table by not excelling at what is readily handed to me, if we work for it.  I was able to walk across the RepFest stage with 200 other reps who had titled up to Bronze Leader since the last RepFest.  This was the most awesome feeling in the world.  I had tears in my eyes crossing that stage, especially thinking about what I almost gave up.  I was able to participate in a milestone breakfast, along with two members of my team.  We have all been with Avon for five years now.

As the history books say, WWII broke the back of the Great Depression.  Well Avon broke the back of the Great Gretchen Depression.

I had to give up my dream of living on a productive homestead, due to health issues and just simply getting older, and the family not putting its all into it.  I never have to give up this dream of Avon being my retirement.  I can work this business when I get home from my day job.  I can work this business when I am traveling with my day job.  I can even work this business from a hospital bed if that ever happens (oh Lord, please don’t let that happen).

Avon is a sisterhood (and brotherhood as the male presence grows in the representative ranks).  I am encouraged, and I plan on encouraging others.  Think you cannot make a living with Avon?  Think again.  Our top representative is a man.  This man had $117,000 in sales in 2017.  Come on ladies!  We need to step up our game.  We had a husband and wife team recognized for team sales of $13,000,000 in 2017.  Yes, that is thirteen million.  Can you imagine what their team commissions were?  My little team of 60 people has sold $110,000 year to date.  That was with me spiraling out of control and being a rotten leader.  Can you imagine what can happen when I pour my heart and soul into this?  Stay tuned and see what I report next year.

Do you need something new and exciting in your life right now?  If so, please consider joining my G’Money Avon Team.  We would love to have you.  You can do this by going to:

  1. StartAvon.com and typing in ghegwood as the reference code.
  2. You can also simply browse my website, YourAvon.com/ghegwood.
  3. You can also see my Beauty Page on FB. @BeautyBuzzwithGretchen

I am not saying I won’t have anymore bouts with depression, because I know I will.  But, God willing, I do not EVER plan to disconnect from Avon again.  God blessed me with this opportunity and I am going to hang on to Him and my business for dear life.  I have a plan.  I am a person that needs a plan.  I read my Bible more.  I need to make quarterly trips back to New Orleans to see my sister, stepdad, his family (which IS my family also – they are wonderful), in-laws, out-laws….  Brief visits to New Orleans re-energize me.  And guess what?  Avon RepFest 2019 IS IN NEW ORLEANS.  You can join us!  I have a plan for diligently working my business.  That is my story and I am sticking to it!

Stay tuned to see what happens during the rest of 2018!  This is me.  I am Avon.

Reba, Daddy & Me

This trip was almost 40 years in the making.  Hubby wanted to see Reba since he heard her first album, several years before he met me.  As usual, life got in the way, and other needs took place over Reba tickets.  One day, the Heavens opened and granted a wish.  I was going to Avon RepFest 2018 in Columbus, OH and taking the Hubby along for the trip.  Reba would be playing at the Ohio State Fair at the same time.  Gold!  Struck Gold I tell you.  I surprised him with tickets.  I bought the tickets late in the game, so we were not able to sit together.  That was fine.  I knew my Man would be oblivious to anyone else in the room except for Reba.  For me, this concert was all about Hubby.  Little did I know that I would be the one walking down memory lane.

Turns out, I ended up on a row by myself.  People were either on the sidelines dancing, at the booth buying t-shirts, or I smelled because my vehicle A/C broke a few hours back and we were sitting in bumper to bumper Cincinnati traffic before hitting Columbus.  I was minding my own business, enjoying myself, when THAT SONG came out of nowhere.  THAT SONG I had not thought about in years.  Now, I was sitting in the audience, hearing THAT SONG sung in person and it had an even greater impact than it did years ago sitting in Hubby’s truck.  I sat on that row by myself, tears rolling down my eyes.  Memories started rolling in……..

Sometime in 1992, riding with Hubby in his truck, Reba’s beautiful voice came through the radio.  This was a new song, one we never heard before.  At the end, I was bawling my eyes out and said THIS SONG could have been written about me and my Daddy.  Perhaps you heard it – The Greatest Man I Never Knew…..  I cannot hear this song without crying.  I cannot write this blog without crying.

The greatest man I never knew
Lived just down the hall
And everyday we said hello
But never touched at all
He was in his paper
I was in my room
How was I to know he thought I hung the moon

Maybe it was the era of the WWII man, I don’t know.  Red, from That 70’s Show, reminds me so much of Daddy.  Dad did not have much interaction with us.  To me and my sister, our Dad just existed in the house.  We considered the Family Unit to be Mom, Sister and Myself.  We had two older siblings; however, they were already out of the house as we were growing up. Well meaning family members, who should have really shut their mouth, would tell me and Kris that our Daddy was different when Eric and Donna were growing up and he seemed closer to them.  Well thank you very much.  Kris and I had nothing to do with us being late in life babies.  We always figured Daddy, who was almost 42 when I came along, was just plumb tuckered out by the time we became active and needy.  We considered Daddy the grouchy, old German that lived in the house.

The greatest man I never knew
Came home late every night
He never had too much to say
Too much was on his mind
I never really knew him
And now it seems so sad
Everything he gave to us took all he had

Now please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad.  One of my first memories of him was on Saturdays, when Mom was working at the local A&P.  Dad would take a nap around 1:00.  Dad was rather round.  I would watch him in his room as his belly slowly rose and fell while breathing.  I would climb up on his belly and lay there riding the ride.  Never woke him up, or if it did, he never stirred to disturb me.  When I got bored, I would climb back down and go back to my Barbies.  Daddy also loved the Road Runner.  He would belly laugh at the antics of the coyote every Saturday morning.  He and I were the early risers.  We would get up and watch that cartoon together.  Later in the day, Sister, who was into hair and make-up (yet I became the Avon Lady), would want to wash Dad’s hair.  Why, I don’t know, because he didn’t have much to style.  Dad would obediently sit in the bathroom while Kris washed, rinsed then combed his 10 strands of hair.  At some point in the day, I would decide to iron Dad’s handkerchiefs.  I was probably only 6 at the time, and why they let me near an iron, I don’t know.  I would grab a can of starch, spray the kerchief like a maniac and iron, fold once, spray the kerchief like a maniac and iron, repeating each step until the kerchief was folded in the square Dad liked.  Never once did he complain about his handkerchiefs being scratchy on his nose.

Then the days turned into years
And the memories to black and white
He grew cold like an old winter wind
Blowing across my life

Looking back now, Daddy did pay attention to us, but just not in every detail like our Mom did.  Kris and I wanted more.  We wanted hugs.  We wanted loving, undivided attention.  Dad was rather cold.  And loud.  Dad, for the most part, always seemed cranky and yelled a lot.  That is what I remember most – him yelling.

Fast forward several years when I was a pre-teen and Sister was a teen.  The chasm really grew between us and Dad.  We wanted him to take an interest and look at our report cards like Mom did, and have conversations with us.  This rarely happened. Looking back now, during this chasm, I see that I grew selfish and snobby and probably did more to push Dad away instead of trying to draw him in.

We didn’t have much in common with Dad at all.  The biggest bond he had with Sister was his love of fruitcake (Gross!).  Kris could bake anything and everything she put her mind too.  I remember for many years, several months before Christmas, Dad and Kris would work in the kitchen together assembling a fruitcake.  Kris would bake, Dad would soak the finished product in alcohol, then they both would carefully wrap this disgusting concoction, and put it away in a cabinet to let mature.  The Family Unit never touched this stuff.  What we didn’t know was Dad would bring the fruitcake to work to share and would brag on his daughter’s baking abilities.  I heard he bragged on me too.  About what, I don’t know, because Sister sucked all the craft talent out of the Family Unit.  I can’t even draw a stick man.

Fast forward to when I turned 14.  Our oldest sister FINALLY had a baby.  This little package was so welcomed into our family.  Dad, the grouchy, old German, turned into a puddle of mush.  We had no idea who this man was.  He invaded the Family Unit with a vengeance.  When my niece turned one, Dad drove home from work with the biggest stuffed teddy bear I had ever seen.  He had it sitting in the front seat of his truck when he pulled into the driveway.  I blew a gasket.  I made a big scene about the fact he never, ever did anything like that for me – and I was his baby – the baby of the family!  Six months later on my birthday, he rolled into the driveway with the same teddy bear for me.  I saved that thing until a few years ago when we downsized. I had no more room for this big blue and white stuffed monstrosity, and stuffing was leaking everywhere.

Over the next few years, the grouchy, old German started changing.  He became human.  Old Woody was yelling less, he loved our friends – our friends actually came to our house to see him!  He would sit in front of the TV and laugh his head off watching Three’s Company.  He came to parades to see me march with my high school Flag Team.  Who was this man?

And then we learned just how cruel fate could be.  Dad was gone in a blink of an eye.  He died one month before I turned 18, 4 months before I graduated high school and 4 months before my sister’s wedding.

The greatest words I never heard
I guess I’ll never hear
The man I thought would never die
He’s been dead almost a year
He was good at business
But there was business left to do
He never said he loved me
Guess he thought I knew

Dad has been gone almost 40 years now, about the time Reba was breaking into the country music scene, about the time Hubby was first hearing of Reba.  Full circle – closing the gap with me hearing THAT SONG live.

My Dad was once a grouchy, old German, but he was my grouchy, old German.  He was my Dad.  He is MY DAD.  And I love you.  Guess I thought you should know.