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red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?

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friends

#Friends ♥️

It’s been two years since I wrote the following post (11/12/17). But thanks to Facebook memories, it appeared in my Timeline today. And I’m thankful it did. Because it reminded me of the many wonderful people I have in my life.

Yesterday, I thought I was holding it together pretty well. I was feeling all the emotions that come with being mom of the Groom… a groom who is the baby of the family, and also the rock and glue… still, I was doing good. A few people even complimented me on my composure. 🤔

But then…

as we lined up for entry, Matt and Joe Laughridge, two of Garrett’s closest and longest friends, both spoke gentle kindness to me, as they always have, and I began to feel the tears building.

A few salty drops managed to escape my eyes.

Before we started down the aisle, Matt said, “I’ve got you. I’ve always got you”.

And I began to taste the liquid salt.

As he escorted me to my seat, I looked over the congregation of guests, and I saw something that broke the dam.

I saw Love.

A lot of love.

Love that rescued. Love that offered a place to sleep. Food. Hope. Promise. Forgiveness. Friendship. Peace. A listening ear. Transportation.

Unearned love, given freely.

On both sides of the aisle, people who love my son, turned compassionate expressions toward me. And each time my eyes landed on a face, my mind played a video reel of the roles they’ve played in our lives.

Someone whispered, “you’ve raised a good man”. I could no longer see through the tears.

I remembered the love these family/friends have given. The sacrifices made for people they didn’t even have to love…

Some were family… most were friends.

That kind of love is rare. And seeing them all in one place, together, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the realization of how many people truly love Garrett.

And I cried the kind of ugly cry you don’t want to cry at your child’s wedding.

The people there, ages ranging from child to geriatric, love Garrett because he loves back, without strings attached. When one of his groomsmen said, “He’s the most loyal man I know”, I heard soft echoes of “yes, he is”.

I agree. ❤️

Family is a gift from God. Friendship is a bonus gift of love from Him.

This was never more evident to me than it was yesterday.

Photo credit to Cindy Harter Sims , one of God’s bonus gifts to Garrett Able and our family.

🔹 Cindy Harter Photography

Little Red Slippers

My grandmother Crawford would put up her Christmas tree mid-December; a fragrant, local evergreen.

Christmas 1967 was different. She caught the Christmas Spirit early, and had her tree up the week of Thanksgiving.

She had never done that before.

By December 1st that year, packages wrapped in bright paper were nestled beneath the boughs of her tree. One package for each grandchild. Everyone commented, but didn’t complain, on her premature decorating. They wondered “whatever could she be thinking, putting a tree up so early?”.

Back then, most people decorated a week… two at the most… before the Holidays. Setting up a live tree one month before Christmas was unheard of. But there sat the Crawford tree, in the front window, for all of Hickory Flat to see.

One afternoon, around Thanksgiving, I went shopping with her. On that day, she got behind the wheel of her big, blue Chevrolet Impala and I snuggled up next to her. On the bench seat. No seatbelts required.

Lois Emma Benefield Crawford aimed her Chevy Tank in a southward direction on Highway 5, and before long we had left Cherokee County. We were rolling down Highway 41… destination: Marietta.

More accurately, our compass pointed to Kmart and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Browsing around Kmart, we lingered for a while in the shoe aisles. And it was there, that I came across the most beautiful pair of house slippers I had ever seen. Red velvet mules, trimmed in red fur. And they were just my size.

I couldn’t stop looking at them. Couldn’t resist running my hand over the furry red trim, even as it tickled my palm.

She stood very still, and I felt her watching me.

“Neetie, you like them shoes?”

I looked up at her… her blue eyes were intense, like sapphires against her dark complexion. Beautiful eyes. But there always seemed to be a hint of sadness behind them. The kind of sad you see in the eyes of poor people. People who keep going, even though life doesn’t cut them many breaks.

I answered her: “Umhuh …. I think I’ll ask Santa for these”.

We finished up at Kmart and made our way to Dunkin’.

We both had a single donut. She had coffee. I had hot chocolate. We nibbled our treats, sipped our hot drinks, and I talked about those red shoes the whole time.

“If Santa brings me those shoes, I won’t just wear them in the house. They are so pretty, I’ll wear them to school, too. The bottoms are hard, like real shoes. Not soft, like house shoes”.

She laughed a little.

On Christmas morning, I found a package addressed to me:

“To Neetie,

Love, Maw and Papa”.

The wrapping paper was covered with chubby little Santas, all playing in a falling snow. I was hesitant to open the package. Because I knew there would never be another.

Life had changed since our Kmart shopping excursion.

On December 4, 1967, the phone rang. It was late for a phone call. But I wasn’t yet old enough to be fearful of late night calls. So I answered, and heard my grandmother’s voice on the line.

“Neetie, I need to talk to your mama. I love you.”

My dad found her on her kitchen floor, the phone was nearby.

She was gone.

Without warning. Without saying goodbye. Her heart had simply betrayed her, it had given up and quit.

Christmas morning, I sat on my knees by her Christmas tree, and told my mom I didn’t think I should open my gift. She told me the decision was mine, but encouraged me to remember that the gift was something my grandmother had given me, her oldest grandchild. And it was something she wanted me to have.

Carefully, I pulled back the tape. I couldn’t bear the thought of ripping her paper, paper she had selected. In my mind, I could see her at her kitchen table, drinking coffee… wrapping gifts. Humming along with the radio. Her Coca Cola clock illuminating the wall behind her.

I felt so lost.

My chest was heavy with grief when I opened the gift from her. And when the paper was pulled away, I wanted to cry. Cushioned in a blanket of white tissues, lay the shoes. The most beautiful shoes in the world.

But I didn’t feel joy at receiving them. It’s not that I was disappointed in the gift. I loved the slippers and I was thankful to have them. But I missed my grandmother. I wanted to go back to the day at Kmart. And stay there.

My mom still has the red shoes. They are in my old room. They’ve been around for 52 Christmases now. And I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the sacrifice Lois made, to buy them for her seven year-old granddaughter.

And I wonder if she had a feeling that she would soon be leaving us.

I don’t know. But this I do know… some of us have complained about our people decorating too early.

It’s ok. Let them have some Christmas joy. Don’t shame the family and friends who want to stir up some Christmas memories a little early in the season.

They may know something you don’t.

Merry Christmas 🎄

Danita

Two of Lois Emma Crawford’s great-great grandchildren.

My friend Lorie Hamby’s tree.

She decorated in October that year. She said the lights and decorations made her happy. I said she should leave her tree up all year… “no shame in your Christmas game”.

It was her last Christmas. ♥️✨

Let Me Know If You Need Anything


We say it to our friends, family and mere acquaintances when they’re going through the valley times of life. With Facebook, I read those words everyday. Just this morning, two different people I know posted of deaths in their immediate family. Their Timelines were filled, one after the other, with friends offering condolences followed by: “Let me know if you need anything”.

I resisted the urge to reply to each consoling comment….They need something. But they’re not going to ask for your help. 
Recently, my cousin’s mom died, unexpectedly. A few weeks later, her husband lost his battle with cancer…(but he went out fighting like a champion). In the middle of these tragic life events, Denise was also planning and preparing for some of life’s most celebrated moments: Her daughter’s wedding and her son’s graduation from high school; his registration for freshman year of college.

She needed things. She needed something. I know she did. But she never asked.

I’m guilty of saying to her, “Let me know if you need anything.” She said she would, but she didn’t. And I understand. I wouldn’t have asked or told either. It’s difficult for me to ask for help. I think it must be for most of us. It isn’t a matter of not being able to admit we need help; no, we simply don’t want to inconvenience others.

Not long ago, someone I know became a widower. He and his wife attended a large church, they had been members of the church for several years. When she died I went to the funeral home, expecting a large crowd from their church. But the church crowd was missing. One couple from their church had visited, they brought a cake or a pie. Except for the pastor, no one from their church attended the funeral. A few weeks later, the widower, elderly and now living alone, announced in church he would have surgery the upcoming week. No one brought him meals. Yet many, during his wife’s death and before his surgery, had said, “Let me know if you need anything”. 

We feel better when we speak words of comfort to the hurting; we beseech the grieving to call us in their time of need. Who are we? A loved one is in the middle of a raging storm and we ask them to call us? 

May I suggest we change our approach? People appreciate our sympathetic comments and good intentions. But really, what good are intentions if not followed by actions? If someone you know is going through a difficult time, just know they need your help, and do something to ease their stress.

Accidents, illness, tragedy and death don’t come calling when we have everything in order, shiny and spiffed up. They come in the middle of the night, when your laundry basket is full and your grass needs mowing; death knocks when your cupboards and fridge are empty, and your floors need to be swept, when clothes need to picked up from the cleaners; when children need to be fed.

Moving forward, when life happens to my friends and family, I’m doing what I’ve watched my friends Rich and Angie Alexandersen and TC Chassay Zimmerman and an anonymous family member do numerous times. Show up. I have never heard them say, “Let me know if you need anything”.  Instead, they understand that you will need something, and then they show up. Whether anyone asked or not.

**I’m very fortunate, I have several family and friends that Show Up in my life. I’ve learned so much about friendship, family, love and the real Church from them. **

Let’s all Show Up today.

Danita

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