Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Christiana, Tennessee.

Miracles do happen. The woman who works off her garage so she doesn’t have to drive has successfully driven 13 hours in two days to get to my sister’s house. Frankie and my niece Sara came with me. We were on the last few hours of the drive when we stopped to get gas and go through a drive-through at Burger King.

We were still in Indiana, but right on the border. I had gotten cut off driving several times that day so there was a lot of swearing coming out of my mouth, as well as comments about how dumb and thoughtless people are. I say politically incorrect things quite often at this stage in my life because my patience apparently got used up around age 46. A discussion about the South had come up. My traveling companions were both saying they were not impressed with the South in so many words. I was saying I love it down South. People seem much friendlier and polite. They were commenting on their accents and other stereotypes.

The drive-through line was very long so I had my niece jump out of the car to throw our bags of garbage in the trash. Next thing I know, this truck drives around me and cuts in line. I was like, “Oh no, you did-n’t” and Frankie quips with, “Yeah mom, people are so polite in the South.” The guy’s windows are open so Sara comes out with, “You know, there IS a line.” I drive up next to him and for some reason my mood snapped from irritation to playful. I put my fists up at the window and say, “Hey, you wanna fight for it?” He is flustered and says he thought my car had stalled or something. He said he had all day and I was more than welcome to drive up in front of him. I should have said, “So if you thought I was stalled you were going to drive by me rather than offer to help?” but instead I told him I was totally joking and that we had been in the car for days and it was fine that he went first. We kind of laughed and the moment was over. Or so we thought.

This is the point of the story when I was telling my other niece and she told me I was crazy. And lucky that guy didn’t have a gun in his truck.

We put our order in and then drove up to the window to pay, and the guy said in his cute Southern accent, “Y’all are all set. The guy ahead of you just paid for your lunch.” I couldn’t believe it. I beeped my horn and the guy in the truck waved. I waved back. He totally made my day. My week. I quipped back at Frankie, “HA! Southern people ARE polite!” I loved it.

This is also the point in the story where my other niece said, “You are supposed to pay it forward and pay for the person behind you.” And before age 46, I would have done that. But at 49, I didn’t even think about it. It was all about me. I reveled in it and was happy there are nice people out there and I was the recipient.

Tomorrow I am going to see my daughter Emily’s friends from Georgia. She is bringing her two daughters to come and see me. I thought of it when I said it was all about me. These three lovely women will boost my self-esteem enough to last for a month. They love me like crazy and it is so mutual. They say “yes ma’am” and they hug me constantly and tell me they love me over and over again. I am going to eat them up tomorrow. I just can’t wait. No patience required when I’m around them. I’ve always been a person with a very long line of critics in my life so these chicks that just unabashedly and unconditionally adore me are a breath of fresh air.

Even at 49 with a grumpy, menopausal mind, there is so much to be grateful for!


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Southern Summer

Last week, my daughter and grandkids, drove up from Georgia with her best friend, Melinda and three of her kids. The kids were on fall break as they started school the first week in August. Now you know how much I love having a full house and seeing my grandkids. But this was the first time I have also had the pleasure of southern hospitality in my own house.

The last day they were here, my friend Summer came over to see everyone. I was introducing her to Melinda and her daughters and it hit me that they had very similar personalities. They both are unpaid good Samaritans and help people around them tremendously. For example, right before helping my daughter through her hospitalization, Melinda helped a woman escape from a man who had put acid on her pillowcase. If you follow my blog, you know how much Summer has helped me and my family through thick and thin. That is how Melinda came to be dubbed “Southern Summer” and I was sorry I had already changed her name to Melinda in my writing. Melinda would have loved the name Autumn, and that would have fit perfectly with Summer. But alas, Melinda it is.

Her daughter Misty is just shy of her 18th birthday and is more capable and mature than most of the adult women I know. No exaggeration. Her daughter Miranda is 13. I was shocked. I kept telling everyone she was 16 because I thought she was. She is the same age as my Frankie. That just didn’t seem possible. Now I know what they say about boys being way behind girls developmentally, but holy cow. It was really hard to comprehend they were the same age.

Her youngest Natalie, is eight and the same age as my grandson Parker. She would come to the door of the room where I was trying to clean up the tornado-like mess and say, “Sorry Miss Darcy. Can I help you clean up?” And then I would faint. Where did these children actually come from?

I have to admit, I am terribly flattered by all the “yes, ma’am'” responses I got. I know it’s just the way they talk, but I loved it. They also hugged and kissed me several times a day and asked me when I could move to Georgia.

And then there was the cooking. Sausage biscuits and gravy for breakfast. I can’t even begin to tell you what that was like. Melinda laughed at my “Yankee milk” because it was 2%. Nothing but whole milk for them. She laughed when she found the sausage had been put in the freezer. They eat so much sausage in the south, that they never freeze it. She didn’t even know it could be frozen.

Fried green tomatoes and southern fried chicken for dinner. Mashed potatoes with the craziest yummy gravy I’ve ever had. Mmmmm…  I don’t even want to know how much weight I gained while they were here.

There was karaoke night. Miss Melinda used to be a singer by profession. When she took the stage at my little hole in the wall dive bar, the little group of people there went crazy. She was outstanding. And there was that cute southern accent with her, “Ya’all are so kind” statements and that was it. She was our Georgia Peach. And everyone in the place bought her drinks and shots all night long.

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She is more my age than my daughter’s age, and I believe we have bonded on our own rites. We initially bonded over the love and concern for my daughter, but now I know we are also kindred spirits. She is of the caliber of my dear Summer. She is my Southern Summer now and her daughters have a very, very deep hook in my heart.

My Emily is very lucky to have her for a best friend. And I am very lucky to have met her, as well as her southern belles. I miss them terribly already!

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