Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Trouble in Tennessee

Last week we went to Tennessee for Thanksgiving. While we were driving, my niece Sara saw on-line that a bus of children were in an accident in Chattanooga. As the details unfolded, it appeared like it might have been on purpose. Now it is hard to tell. At the least, the driver had been complained about and six children are dead. Horrid.

At the end of the week, I drove to Chattanooga to meet my dear, dear friends that I wrote about last week. Melinda is a friend of my daughter Emily in Georgia. She was an amazing help when Emily had her time in the hospital. She has a fascinating life and history of travel and culture, but to me she seems like everything good that you think of when you picture a Southern mom. She is beautiful and charming, and she has raised five children. I haven’t met her son, but I’ve met her four daughters. Three of them came with her to meet me last week. Laura is 19, Mia is 17, and Lily is 14.

They say boys don’t mature as fast as girls do, but I can’t even believe that Lily is the same age as my Frankie. She is gorgeous like her mom and sisters. The other thing they all have in common is they are polite as hell. I love the “yes ma’am” thing they have going. When I was waiting at the table for them to arrive, Lily and Laura raced to see who would get to me first in the booth. They both hugged me hard and long and I just wanted to cry. I mean, I just adore these women. I can’t tell you how honored I am that they seem to adore me back.

The truth is, I was pretty sick that day. I kept trying to talk myself out of it because I was so damn excited to see them. Of course Melinda could not be fooled and she called me out during lunch. I had to admit I was fading. We decided she would drive my car to a drugstore, then to their hotel down the road. The girls would stay at the mall and shop, which is what we were supposed to be doing the whole day.

Melinda took excellent care of me and she acted like she didn’t mind one bit that her time with her girls and myself was turning into laying on beds chatting instead. We were surprised though when the girls got to the hotel shortly after we did. They told us an announcement came over the mall and they were locking down the stores. They were able to get out. It was a bit unnerving when the truck didn’t start right away but they got to the hotel safely. We had to wait for the story to break on-line and then on the news later. There was a lot of confusion, but the story we got was there was a shooting at the mall! We were in shock and scared out of our pants.

It turned out the incident was actually in the parking lot and thankfully only person was taken to a hospital. It was most likely a personal issue and not a mass anything. Not that it was a good day for that person, but until you get the correct information, it very well could have been another massive tragedy. The odd thing, is that before anything happened, Melinda and I were talking about Laura and what an amazing woman she is. She is a rock in a crisis. I told her that Laura is more mature and responsible than many women I know who are much, much older than she is. She is an old, wise soul. She just proved us right. Bad week for Chattanooga though. Holy cow.

And now there are those raging fires. I don’t mean this in a condescending way in any shape or form, but poor, poor Tennessee. That is a lot of hits in a couple of weeks. Let’s all keep the people there in our thoughts and prayers.

To Laura and her delightful girls: I owe you a REALLY fun time, hopefully very soon!


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Full House

I guess I’m on a game card streak. At least as far as titles go.

My quiet house was turned upside down this weekend. My daughter Emily, her husband, and my two grandkids came into town Friday night and stayed until Wednesday morning. Emily hadn’t met her niece yet so Matthew and his wife made an effort to bring the baby over as often as possible. It hit me about 10 PM Friday night. Hey! I have all four of my kids under the same roof. And all three of my grandkids too. I couldn’t have been happier.

The pool was a hit. The water was only 62 degrees, but the kids didn’t care. I don’t go in until it’s at least 74, but I prefer 76 or higher. An even bigger hit was the hot tub. Colin said to me at the end of the weekend that if he never hears the words pool or hot tub again, that would be fine with him. They were relentless. But look how darn cute they are! Frankie was a proud uncle all weekend.
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Now don’t get me wrong. I am still OCD. I actually did pretty well. My house and yard looked like a tornado had hit. I find I can do about a day and a half completely ignoring it. Then I flip out and have to do a massive re-ordering so I don’t go crazy.

We had a big fire Saturday night and my neighbors came over. The next morning was Parker’s 8th birthday party. At 9:45 AM I woke everyone up who was still sleeping and cracked the whip. My neighbor popped over later and said he couldn’t believe it. It only took about an hour and a half with all of us, by the yard was completely transformed as was the house. There were two lawn mowers going, the kids were banned from everywhere possible, and soon everything was party ready, including the feast that Emily had prepared. I told Colin it would be amazing if we had that much help every week.

By the time they left, I was utterly exhausted. My house was trashed. My yard was trashed. There were moments when I thought I would go bonkers. But overall? Overall, I was thrilled to have my house full of life and people and relationships. If only I could figure out how to make it happen more often.