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!

 

I am Not Okay

Throughout Thanksgiving, I refused to show sadness.  I wasn’t going to blog anything sad.  I wasn’t going to post anything sad.  I wasn’t going to utter anything sad.

Today, at work, the façade cracked and a co-worker noticed.  I had to fess up.

I am not okay.

Throughout my husband’s decline, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I carried all financial responsibilities, along with watching his decline.

But I still had him as a sounding board.  If I heard a crazy noise coming from my vehicle, I could consult with him.  He would calmly talk me down, explaining what it could be.  It never was as bad as my mind imagined.  If work had to be done on my house, he was the ultimate handyman.  He always had a solution to whatever repair we faced.

I thought I had the weight of the world on my shoulders back then.  The weight has shifted.  And it got heavier.  Granted, without having to pay for his medical issues, I regained some financial freedom; however, I have the weight of every decision being mine and mine alone.  I no longer have a partner to bounce anything off of in order to make a sound decision.

I feel like everything is breaking – my house, my car, my mind…….

I am intimidated.  I am vulnerable.  I am alone.

I know, I know, I know.  I have been preaching God’s word and God’s goodness for weeks now.  I know all about Psalm 69:1 – “Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck.”  I can recite many other verses, but right now my mind is not taking comfort in them.  I need to flounder in my self-pity a while longer.

I am experiencing deep anxiety.

I am not okay.

My friends and loved ones will be nervous to read this.  Don’t be.  Eventually, I will be okay.  Probably by next week I will bounce back seeking God’s word and strength.  I have always been resilient like that.

But for today, I am not okay.

Today, I want to peel my skin off and climb out of it.

Today, I do not want to be me.

 

(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

And do not hide your face from your servant, for I am in distress.  Answer me quickly.  Psalm 69:17

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

 

God’s Not Done With Me

Over the weekend, I wanted to shed my grieving widow persona and just be the Super Avon Lady.  Nothing else.  Not a care in the world.  Just doing something I love and not thinking of anything else.

But God is always thinking of me and finding ways to mold me into being a better Christian.

I was minding my own business, peddling my Avon wares at the local town fair.  There was another lady vendor in close proximity to me and a gentleman peddler. This lady vendor, how can I delicately put this – this lady vendor did not know how to shut up.  She talked to us incessantly about the same thing over and over.  By the end of the first day, I and the other gentleman vendor were fit to be tied.

I dreaded returning Sunday to have to face Lady Mouth Vendor.  Lo and behold, I wasn’t even in my booth when she scurried over to pick up where she left off Saturday.

God certainly has a sense of humor.  In this new life of mine, the one where I am walking deeper with God, He drops convictions on me at a whim.  I can’t say I heard a voice.  But I felt words pressed upon my heart.  Those words said, “Gretchen, this woman told you she is 61.  Look at her.  She is out here working her booth alone.  She might be lonely and just wants to hold a conversation.”  I was thinking, well if she wants to hold a conversation, why doesn’t she shut up long enough for someone else to participate?

I am sure you know that is not the attitude God wanted me to have.  So I said, “Okay God.  I hear you.  I will give this a try.”

So as Lady Mouth Vendor continued to talk, I looked her in the eye, nodding in agreement, and commenting here and there.  By my actions, I hoped I was conveying interest.  Then something happened. I was interested.  We began an easy banter that carried throughout the slow parts of the day.  Once I put my attitude in God’s hands, He guided me and the experience was exhilarating.

I was experiencing the situation through a servant’s heart.

This God thing really works!

Here I was, just trying to be Avon Lady Extraordinaire, when God was working on me when I wasn’t even expecting Him to show up.  After all, I was happy at the moment.  I wasn’t doom and gloom widow.  I wasn’t crying out to Him for help.  But He crept up on me like a Ninja and pounced.  God always shows up.

I hear you, God – servant’s heart – go through life with a servant’s heart, and my world will be a better place.  And I might just make someone’s world a better place, too.

In my earthly way of thinking, I think God is not done with me yet, His work is just beginning.  However, in heavenly terms, God has been working on my since before conception.  You know – that ‘I can count all the hairs on your head’ thing.  (Side note – can you put a few extra hairs on my head, God, please?  Aging seems to cause a thinning reaction.)  So I guess I am in a super blooming phase of God growth.

I have always been a believer.  Borrowing a term from a friend, I did not consider myself born again, I considered myself ‘born into.’  I was raised by a faith-based mother.  And for goodness sakes, I have an aunt who is a nun and my brother was a Franciscan Monk.  I never knew a life without Jesus.  We talked about Jesus, and I knew he was my savior because he died for my sins.

We went to church.  I listened to the sermon.  I went to a Christian grammar school.  But I was not a Bible-Page turner.

In my adult years, I read the Bible and attended Bible studies.  My faith was growing.  Little did I know this was just the tip of the iceberg.

It took my husband’s suicide for me to ‘live’ in the Bible.  These past 5 months I have truly felt and seen God’s hand in my life.  I am not only a Bible-Page turner, but I live in the Bible.  This has opened my heart for verses to find me exactly when I need them.

James 1:2-4 smacked me in the face this weekend.

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Lady Mouth Vendor was my trial for the weekend.  I like to think I passed that trial.

I feel my old self is shedding and I am growing into my new skin – a better skin – a skin that wants to exemplify God to the world.

I am developing a servant’s heart.

I shared my conviction with the gentlemen vendor.  He looked at me like I grew another head.  Oh well, all I could do was show him I was truly making an effort to interact with Lady Mouth Vendor and not be aggravated by her.

The best I can do is live by example.

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I witness this servant’s heart experience first-hand through my pastor son-in-law and my daughter.  Every Monday night, they open their home to a group of college students.  This is their personal ministry.  They break bread, worship and do fun activities.  My young grandchildren have a blast with this extended family, and they are learning, at a young age, to have a servant’s heart.  It’s truly a fun night in their household.  Even several international exchange students participated in the convivial pursuit of pumpkin carving.  This young family has the opportunity to bring the gospel to far-away places without ever leaving their home.

This beautiful couple experiences all the regular turmoil of a young family, but they always have the joy of the Lord carrying them through every step of life.  They act with humility while serving others.

I want to enrich college night in their household.  They manage to do all of this on a pastor’s salary alone, with three young children – 5 and under.  The Lord always provides their needs.  I ask the Lord to help me help them.  The best way for me to assist at this moment is financially and through prayer.

I am going to combine something I love doing with the need to have a servant’s heart.  I am going to use my Avon superpowers and tithe my Avon online earnings to their college ministry.

First world problems – we have so many online sights we can shop through.  I ask for you to take a look-see at my website.  A portion of the proceeds will be used towards Monday College Fun Day in the pastor’s household.

It’s not your grandmother’s Avon anymore!  You can peruse a catalog in your leisure, and have your favorite products delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time shopping online with Avon, use code WELCOME10 for a 10% discount on any size order.  Enjoy free shipping with a $40+ order.  Check us out:

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

We have a saying in Avon:  This is the company that puts mascara on lashes and food on tables, that fights wrinkles with one hand and Breast Cancer with the other. That knows the value of a perfect lip, but still opens its mouth and speaks out against Domestic Violence and for women’s financial independence. This is the company that not only brings beauty to doors but also opens them. The company that supports 6 million Representatives in over 100 countries. This is Avon.

I am going to use my Avon business to put food on the handmade table (lovingly built by my pastor son-in-law) for college night and to spread the gospel as far away as Africa from a cozy house in southern Mississippi.

And while you are at it, I don’t know her needs, but please say a little prayer for Lady Mouth Vendor.

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

I Haven’t Taken a Bath Since 2014

Yes, I figured that title would grab you.  Yes, it is true – since October 2014 to be specific.  A sit down bath that is.  I have not taken a sit down bath since my bi-lateral total knee replacement in October 2014 – 33 months!  Most of my fellow knee-warriors know this experience.  The fear is real people!

We have a very small tub here at Spooky Hollow Southern MS.  The shower portion is handicap accessible (done by my husband to take care of his klutzy wife), but the tub portion is not.  The only way for me to get out has been to kneel and slither out like a snake.  Well ouchy – I cannot kneel on my metal knees because that still hurts!  The fear is real people!

Oh how I wanted a bath.  Things have been rather stressful here at Spooky Hollow and I wanted to soak.  While a shower is cleaner, a good, long soak in hot water can do wonders for the mind, the headaches and the blood pressure.

AND, being the Avon lady, I have a bevy of bubble bath scents at my disposal (Endless Ocean, Cherry Blossom, Vanilla Cream, Cucumber & Melon, Lily & Honeysuckle – to name a few).  I stock up on these for so many uses besides in the tub.  However, this is a favorite of my grandchildren – and thank you Lord for that.  Did you know as the Avon bubble bath is cleaning your kids, it is cleaning your tub also?  Yes – so true!  No ring around the tub.  You get a twofer – clean kids – clean tub.

I keep multiple scents for multiple uses.  See a small compilation below:

  1. Use to wash down the tub surround, shower walls and doors (Mix baking soda, Avon Bubble Bath & vinegar).
  2. Leaves bathroom fixtures shining.
  3. Cleans the vanity top, cabinets, any surfaces, even your walls.
  4. Can replace your body wash.
  5. Good refill for liquid soap, it’s mild on hands – THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES!
  6. Helps reduce toilet bowl build up. Place 1 cap full in the tank every week.
  7. Can be used to hand wash dishes in the sink. DO NOT use in a dishwasher.
  8. Clean the fridge inside and out. It will help remove odors.
  9. Use as a laundry detergent and you no longer need a fabric softener. 1 cap full is all that’s needed to do a great job and to remove stains.
  10. Great for hand-washing delicate items. Miserly substitute for Woolite.  I like the Sensitive Skin Bubble Bath for this.
  11. Pre-treat stained items. Just dab the stain with bubble bath and let sit 10 minutes. Then wash as normal.
  12. Will clean your jewelry.
  13. Use to clean your eyeglasses.
  14. Add to the children’s wading pool to keep the pool clean.
  15. Add to cleaning water for cars, campers or trailers. (interior and exterior surfaces)
  16. Use to test tires, blow up pools or gas lines for leaks.
  17. Use as Snail Repellent  in the garden – mix equal parts water and bubble bath and spray on flowers. Do not spray directly on edible plants, spray soil around base.

BUT now I wanted to use my bubble bath for a relaxing soak, specifically the Lavender Garden.  DANG IT!  What’s a girl to do?  Well since I didn’t have a hoist readily available in my bathroom, I used the next best thing – my cell phone.  Yes, I brought my cell phone into the bathroom, just in case I got stuck.  What?  I needed a plan of attack to take the plunge – literally.

As advertised on my Avon website (YourAvon.com/ghegwood):

Bring the spa treatment home with the Lavender Garden Bubble Bath. Soak yourself in bliss and soothe your senses with the fresh aromas of lavender and chamomile. This relaxing bubble bath is great for daily use and its long-lasting bubbles stay the duration of your soak. Comes in 24 fl. oz. bottle.

BENEFITS
• Relaxing bubble bath calms mind and body with fresh scents and long-lasting bubbles
• Up to 24 bubbly baths per bottle
• Dermatologist tested

I started the water, I poured in the bubbles, I smelled the heavenly scent, I was about take the point of no return.  Momentum was building.  In my mind I heard drums beating – maybe it was my heart.  Get in, get in quickly – before you change your mind (said the little devil perched on my shoulder).  I hesitated before I stepped in.  I put a toe in, I pulled a toe out, I shook it all about.  I turned around to run from the temptation.  Slowly I turned.  I put a toe in, an ankle in – then I went for it – I took the plunge.  Aaaaah!  That relaxing moment.  Life was good.  Like turning off the faucet, I had to turn off my mind as to how I was going to get out of the tub.

I relaxed.  Tension starting melting away.  The headache was going away.  Life was good.

UNTIL……

Until it was time to get out.  I starting letting the water out and started wrestling the exodus from the bathtub.  I could not stand up like normal people, because – well those that know me – you know I am not normal.  The bottom of my tub is much higher than the bathroom floor.  I threw my legs over the ledge of the tub, but my feet didn’t reach the floor.  I sat there scrunched like that a while, like someone put me in a fold-a-way bed and closed it on me.  I was trying to figure out a way of slithering out without having to put weight on my metal knee.  By now, the water was gone and I was getting cold.  My attempted exits lasted as long as my 20 minute soak.  Finally, I had to do it.  I had to put weight on one knee to get out of the tub.  Oh did that hurt.  And so did my back and neck from all the stretching and craning I was doing trying to get out of the tub.  Man oh man, I needed a good epsom salt tub soak now to relieve sore muscles.

Was it worth it?  You bet your sweet bippy.  In this hectic world we live in today, a 20-minute Avon bubble bath infused soak is a must.  Lesson learned:  Next time I bring in a thick piece of foam to kneel on for my exodus!

Life of a Strong Woman

Mom called me from her ICU room this morning to wish me happy birthday.  Ironically, she was in the same hospital 56 years ago today delivering me.  Her little 95 year old self sounded so frail and tired.  But I know the iron and steel behind that frail sound.  Momma has been a fighter since the day she took her first breath and has lived to witness much happiness, lots of tragedy, and almost a century of history.

Late December 1921, when Warren G. Harding was the 29th president of the United States, my mom was making a two month premature entrance into this world.  The doctor and the mid-wife were at my grandmother’s house.  A lifeless, tiny one pound baby girl came into this world.  The midwife put the dead baby into a shoe box and returned to tend to my grandmother.  Once finished, the midwife was about to prepare the baby for burial when she noticed the tiny baby kicking and full of life.  1921, no neonatal, no oxygen tents, no major medical advancements, this little miracle survived and became a full-fledged fighter.  While that little baby was making her entrance, the U.S. Supreme Court had just ruled labor injunctions and picketing unconstitutional.  People were flocking to see The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which vaulted Rudolph Valentino to stardom (maybe because he did that sexy tango dance in a smoke filled Argentian cantina), and the kids were dancing to  I Ain’t Got Nobody by Miss Marion Harris, and Ain’t We Got Fun by Van & Schenck.

Valentino’s sexy tango was nothing compared to my mom’s parents going through a divorce in the late 20s.  Scandalous.  Her daddy left her, a little sister, a sick baby brother and a good wife, all for wayward women.  That left an impression on my mother all the way to this day.  This made her fight for everyone she loved, to keep them close and protect them from the hurt she felt as a child.

The Great Depression came, but being poor was nothing new.  After her dad left, the family, once thriving and financially fit, was thrust into a world of poverty.  But my mother only grew stronger.

In 1939, mom graduated high school at 17 and married my daddy.  Franklin D. Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States.  Lisa Meitner, a Jewish woman in exile in Sweden, published her discovery of nuclear fission, otherwise known as atom splitting.  The United States declared its neutrality regarding the war in Europe.  Kids were dancing to Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday, When the Saints Go Marching in by Louis Armstrong and crooning to Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland and Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller.  My mom and her friends flocked to see Gone With the Wind to hear Rhett Butler say that famous phrase with the curse word, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

The 1940s came, growing my mom’s family and taking my daddy off to WWII.  My mom was told she would never have children, that her insides were too small and deformed from being a preemie.  That didn’t stop my momma.  In 1944, while WWII was raging and FDR was re-elected, making him the only U.S. president elected to serve a 4th term, momma delivered a bouncing baby boy.  The favored movie that year was Arsenic and Old Lace about two sweet old spinster sisters poisoning lonely gentlemen callers and burying them in the cellar.  The last line of the film was censored and changed from “I’m a bastard” to “I’m the son of a sea cook.”  Kids were dancing to Swinging on a Star by Bing Crosby and the Trolly Song by Judy Garland.

In 1948, my mom thought her family was complete when they welcomed a daughter into the fold.  Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States, and he ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Korea (to be completed in 1949).  Ella Fitzgerald sang Tea Leaves and Judy Garland starred in Easter Parade.

The 1950s brought some surprises.  In 1956, Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, and the Methodist Church opened fully ordained clergy status to women and called for an end to segregation within the denomination.  And 8 years after they thought their family was complete with a boy and a girl, mom and dad welcomed the birth of a 3rd child, their second daughter.  Surely this was the final child and the baby of the family.  Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th president, was re-elected.  The movies to catch that year were Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The King & I, and the Ten Commandments.  Doris Day sang Que Sera Sera and Elvis Presley shocked audiences with his grinding hips while singing Heartbreak Hotel. My mom thought he was so vulgar.

So if mom and dad thought the 50s brought surprises, they were in for it in the 60s.  Six years after their little bundle of joy, my mom was sick and not getting better.  She finally went to the doctor for tests.  The doctor later called her and asked, “Gladys, you really don’t know what is wrong with you.?”  She said “no I don’t and you are scaring me.”  He said, “You are pregnant.”  Momma cried.  She said this baby will be in kindergarten and she will be walking with a cane.  My daddy couldn’t believe he was going to have kids going on dates while a baby still played on the floor.  They accepted this fact and just knew they were having a baby boy, which they would christen Matthew.  Surprise again.  Their 4th child and 3rd girl was born.  John F. Kennedy was our 35th president, the U. S. broke diplomatic relations with Cuba and East Germany erected the Berlin Wall. Breakfast at Tiffany’s and West Side Story were the popular movies and Patsy Cline was rising to fame, signing I Fall to Pieces.

In 1962, their son graduated high school and joined the Franciscan Seminary. In 1963 a horrible tragedy struck and Kennedy was assassinated.  In 1965, their oldest daughter got married.  But a terrible tragedy close to home was about to happen.  In 1967, their oldest child, their only son, would succumb to throat cancer.  While movie goers were being shocked by The Graduate, and young girls were fainting at the sight of The Beatles, my mom was burying her first born.

My momma’s heart was pierced.  Mom had a picture of the Blessed Mother hanging in her room.  Mary’s heart was pierced by a small sword.  That picture used to scare me until my mom said it was a representation of how Mary’s heart felt after the crucifixion of her son and how her heart felt after losing Eric. Well now I was terrified by that  picture.  Whatif my mom died of heartbreak and left me?  After that I was truly protective of my mom’s heart.  I was so afraid of her fracturing.  But my mom was tough – a true steel magnolia.  In 1968, when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, I saw tears streaming down my mom’s face.  The pain on her face was so raw.  I knew she was thinking about Eric.  I was so heartbroken for her.  But she plowed on and tried to make things as normal as possible for us.

Onward to the 70s, and we were hoping for a calm decade.  In 1975, as President Ford (our 38th president) announced that the Vietnam War was “finished as far as America is concerned.” He said that “the fate of responsible men and women everywhere, in the final decision, is in their own hands, not ours.”  We were rather oblivious to this though because my oldest sister was about to give birth.  My mom and dad were having their very first grandchild, a little girl.  Such exciting times.  Jaws and Rocky Horror Picture show were the box office hits, and John Denver was thankful he was a country boy.  At the end of the decade, mom’s 3rd child was preparing to get married, and her 4th child was going to graduate from high school.  Things were looking bright (except that Jimmy Carter was our 39th president).  But fate would try to smack down my momma again.  As people were watching Alien and dancing to Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough, my mom was burying her husband of 39 years.

In 1980 mom welcomed another grandchild, but also found out her 2nd born (and 1st daughter) had cancer.  How can that be?  How can fate deal this.  My mom lost one child to cancer, and now another had this horrid disease.  This just could not be.  But it was.  We lost Donna in 1981.  While the world impatiently waited to find out Who Shot J.R., my mom was burying a 2nd child.

Life moved on.  Mom married off her youngest child (me!) in 1982, welcomed two more grandchildren in 1985 and 1988, and married a wonderful man – our neighbor.  I told her that brought on a whole new meaning to Love thy Neighbor.  We welcomed new siblings and grandchildren to the family, faced the deaths of mom’s mother, her aunts, her sister and her brother.  Now it is just mom and her sister 11 years younger than her.  And that youngest sister has developed dementia these past few years.  My mom is the lone one standing out of her siblings – the oldest – and still kicking.

Mom was born when the United States had only seen 29 presidents and she recently just watched the swearing in of the 45th president.  She has lived through highs and death blow lows.  I truly believe had my mom not had me or my sister late in life, she would have succumbed to sadness after the death of her second child.  Eric died at 23, Donna died at 33.  The year Kris turned 43, my mom cried the entire year, fully expecting to lose another child.  Alas, the spell was broken and mom didn’t even wince when I turned 53.  Mom never expected to see me, her baby, grow up.  But she has surpassed that. She has watched me become a senior citizen and has seen her great grandchildren.

Yes she called me from ICU this morning, but she is going to recover fully and live to be 100 just like she promised me.

I Don’t Do Grass

Growing up in genteel south Louisiana, I had a daddy that firmly believed girls should be girls.  He never let us near the lawn mower, or any tool as a matter of fact.  Heck, I was in my 40s before I learned the beauty of “Righty Tighty, Lefty Lucy” when using a screwdriver.

Daddy died in January, 1979, one month before I turned 18.  What an unexpected shock that was.  The man who led his family was gone.  Thank God my mom had lots of business sense so we were good in the finance world of our household.

Spring rolls around.  The St. Augustine grass Daddy so lovingly took care of is sprouting out of control.  What to do?  I was 18, I figured I could conquer the world.  Took me, Mom and Sister about 20 tries to get the old lawnmower running.  I didn’t have the beautiful straight lines my dad regarded the only way the lawn should look.  But it was done.  Next, the edging needed to be done.  These were the days before the weed eater.  Took me, Mom and Sister 20 tries to figure out how to start the thing.  I remember hearing my dad proudly discussing beveling the blade to make the grass edge slant away from the sidewalk.  I ended up digging canals instead of dainty trenches.  The yard looked terrible.  My mom hired a professional service to cut our grass after that, figuring that expense into her new monthly budget.

Fast forward a few years, I married a man like Daddy.  He did all the man stuff around the house.  I tended to the house and flowerbeds.  Fast forward another few years as Hubby is getting a little older with aches and pains of his own.  He asked, “Why don’t you cut grass like my Mom and Sisters do?”  My shocked reply was, “Dude, you knew that when we got married!  Why are you asking now?  I DON’T DO GRASS.”

Fast forward many years later.  We are grandparents with replaced hips and replaced knees between both of us.  We can probably set off alarms anywhere with all the metal in our bodies.  And we live on 3 acres of property in south Mississippi where the grass needs to be cut every 3 days (year ’round if we have a mild winter).

I STILL DON’T DO GRASS.

Hubby has been quite concerned lately about what is going to happen to me and our property should he join the dearly departed early.  He is approaching the age his dad died.  Historically, most of the men in his family didn’t make it to 60.  I used to joke and say I was going to marry someone else WHO DOES GRASS.  Now that we are this age, that joke is not so funny.

This morning, I had an epiphany thanks to an article in July 2016 edition of Southern Living magazine about returning to nature.  I am going to join our local arboretum and start looking into natural plants.  These are plants I won’t have to baby.  These plant will attract insects that feed the birds.  These plants attract butterflies and bees.

So armed with my Avon Bug Guard (I DON’T DO NATURE WITHOUT AVON BUG GUARD), I am going to select a small, small, really small section of our 3 acres and implement a natural garden.  This is all new to me because I am used to lawns that look like golf courses.  I DON’T DO WILD.  So I am going to start with a small, small, really small area for natural and see if I can stand the tall, natural grasses.

If this works out, who knows, I might implement this into other areas of my back 40 (feet not acres) and give the hubby a break in cutting grass.  Then he and I can relax on the porch, point our rocking chairs towards the west, and enjoy growing old together because I pray this man is around long after 60 to enjoy our country life together.

Wish me luck and stay tuned.

God Knew We Needed a Cat

I never liked cats.  I wouldn’t touch one, much less own one. My two best friends from school (KB and PO) loved cats.  I’m surprised that friendship endured.  One of my more serious boyfriends, who I envisioned of marrying one day, loved cats.  That sunk that deal.  My kids never asked for a cat.  I figured they didn’t like cats either, or was it because they knew their momma would explode if they asked for a cat.

And then………grandkids come along.  My oldest grandson has persistently asked for a cat.  My persistent reply was, “No, no, no, let me think about it, no.”

He’s 12….he now owns a cat, several cats.

You see….while I was busy living my life like I thought it should be…..God was working another deal.  On Easter Eve, a very pregnant cat showed up on our porch begging for food.  We live in a rural area with only two neighbors (who did not own this cat).  We have 300 empty acres behind us.  Where did this cat come from?  But we had to feed her.  We couldn’t turn away a pregnant mommy.  I called the SPCA about bringing her in.  They said, “We don’t like taking pregnant cats.”  My reply, “Neither do I.”  They replied, “Well you have to make an appointment to bring her in, or it will cost you $20 to drop her off, and we don’t have any more appointments open today.”  My thought was, great, come Monday, I will probably have a herd of cats to drop off.

We fed and watered her.  The two grandkids living with me kept vigilance over her that day.  And guess what happened that night?  Yes, she went into labor.  The grandkids kept running to me giving me updates.  I would not go outside because I did not want to see.  My husband stayed up with her until 3:00 a.m. until all kittens were born, making sure momma cat was okay (Dear Husband doesn’t like cats either).

Easter morning.  I wake up to a basket of momma cat and 6 babies.  Good grief.  I started that moment preparing the kids that as soon as the kittens were able to go, go they would, and the momma would go too.  The momma cat didn’t like my Frank the Faux Pug.  Frank is king at my house.

And then……we named her.  Momma cat was now named Clara, after Dr. Who’s last companion.  We even said it with a British accent.  I posted pictures of Clara and her brood asking who wanted kittens in a few weeks.  One friend, a non-cat owner, immediately claimed one.  Thank you so much RHK!  The kitten would be named Begniet.

And then……one kitten died.  My grandkids had dubbed it Runt.  Runt was buried with ceremony on our property – which is turning into a regular pet cemetery.

The days were passing and the grandkids had a name for each kitten.  12 year old named one Whiney because it was vocal and full of meows.  I was furiously posting on FB for people to adopt these kittens.

And then…….I noticed my grandkids were outside more….off the computers…..off the tablet…….off the TV…….outside laughing, cuddling kittens.  I started looking at the kittens.  They were so darn cute with their antics.  We were quite entertained.  And the kittens were tolerant of Frank the Faux Pug.  12 year old resigned himself to the fact the cats would leave and asked me if I would only give them to someone we know because he wanted to know how they grew up and to make sure they were treated right.  My mind conjured an image of someone adopting Whiney, driving away, and 12 year old waving goodbye.  Broke my heart.  I spoke to Dear Husband (DH) about keeping Whiney and letting the 9 year old pick a kitten for herself.  It was agreed upon and we broke the news to the kids.  They were super excited.

I started noticing a change in my grandson.  12 year old is severely ADHD, a label I never believed in.  I always thought people who medicated their children were just lazy and didn’t want to discipline their child.  While that may be the case in some, God showed me that was not an attitude to take.  We, as his family, always saw a compassionate side in this child, but his wild streak dominated, wreaking havoc in home life and school.  My grandson’s compassionate side was growing beyond belief while nurturing these kittens.

Begneit was adpoted and is happily living with the RHK family.  No one asked for the other cats.  DH admitted defeat and said we will keep them all, including Clara.  Next order of business, spaying all the females.

While my skin still crawls when a cat brushes up my leg, and I go into orbit if one wraps its tail around me, I have resigned myself to the fact that I am now that lady – The Cat Lady.  (I liked it just being called The Avon Lady – what the deal?)

We dropped the British accent and now Clara is just plain old Clara, the American Calico Cat.  But I added a middle name.  She is now Clara Grace.  By the Grace of God, Clara showed up on my porch, pregnant and hungry.  By the Grace of God, Clara has pulled us away from our busy lives and we now sit on the porch all together laughing at Whiney, Skittles, Rae and Nix.  By the Grace of God, my grandson is becoming this nurturing, sweet little fellow.  By the Grace of God……..

 

Arrived Alive at 55

So I find myself at a crossroads at 55 years of age.  My job, that I truly love, is ending next week.  For the past 8 years, I have poured blood, sweat and tears into my career.  I am working for a government contractor.  Do you know who benefited from my blood, sweat tears?  The government and my company.  Sure, I benefited from a paycheck.  But I missed holidays, weekends and evenings with my family due to some task that just had to be done before – Before what?  Before we all die?  Before the company implodes?  Before the government shuts down (well, that one actually happened).  I think not.

I have ‘dabbled’ with an Avon career for 3 years now – working this only part time and halfheartedly.  In that 3 years, my team has grown to more than 30 reps and I am enjoying commissions from this.  Where would I be today had I put my blood, sweat and tears into my own business?  I bet my sales & team commissions would pay my house note – one less thing to worry about.

I will most likely find another job for insurance purposes mainly, but I am going to invest in myself and my family.  I am going to really work this Avon business because no one can pull the rug from under me. I am the only one who can sabotage myself on this.  No longer will another company profit off of breaking my back.

I am going to enjoy my Avon and get back to enjoying my garden.  I will speak with reps and customers on the phone as I am canning my veggies.

Now that’s a life I can enjoy!   And you know what – I can share this opportunity.

Start you own Avon business TODAY?  Only $15 to start.  You can work from home, set your own hours & days, no minimum order or inventory, bonuses available, FREE WEBSITE – AND – you can earn up to 50% profit.

Visit my website:

http://www.youravon.com/ghegwood

I have arrived alive at 55, now it is time to quit playing it safe, take a chance and DO SOMETHING THAT WILL BENEFIT ME AND MY FAMILY.