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Cussing

 For Annie, featuring an appearance by our dear one, Patsy. This isn't something I'm especially proud of, but, I can cuss with the best of them.   Maybe it was because my grandfather was a sailor, and he taught my mother some of his most descriptive curse words.  During my tender years, I absorbed each of them from her as rapidly as a clean sponge soaks up whiskey.  I didn't start cussing on a regular basis, however, until after my dad died.  My mother, sister, and I were thrust into survival mode overnight.  Suddenly it was acceptable, and perhaps even appropriate, to use tough language.  It matched the mood of my heart.   My father, on the other hand, was a shining example of Christian gentility.  He would have rather bitten off his tongue than cussed.  Not only did he feel that it dishonored the Lord, but he believed cussing made one seem coarse and unloving.  In the 11 years that I knew him, I only ever heard him utter one swear, after an 18-wheeler nearly side-

Highly Favor-ed

I’ve always been told I favor my Aunt Patsy.  I’ve heard it for years at family reunions and funerals.  It’s a nice thing to hear.  We have the same ash brown hair and eyes.  We share the kind of face that evolves from sweet adolescent roundness to angled sharpness, maturity settling on us as an attractive map of honed edges.  Our smiles are so tall that our cheeks briefly turn our eyeballs into thin horizontal slices.  And when we flash these toothy grins at others, grins are always returned. We both have a desire to show up in loved ones’ lives and make them better – whether that involvement is requested or not.   We both love Jesus.   And we both miss my dad.   Aunt Patsy showed up for me countless times in my life.   Sometimes, her gifts were pretty and proper but merely aspirational for a grubby kid living in a trailer - a pearly lavender Bible, a custom ring from Pardon’s Jewelers for my sixteenth birthday, an electronic Brother typewriter.   She even made chicken pox bearabl

Paint

 In honor of those of us who are irresistibly swayed by cosmetics, I present "Paint."   One sunny afternoon, Mama and I waited for the bus in front of Miller’s Department Store.   I had just walked through a flotilla of bays lined with confection-colored products.   Mama’s rule, look with your eyes, not with your hands , was firmly in my mind as I mentally traced the rounded, neon edges of the counters.   Each item displayed was designed to entice female passerby with promises of beauty, and I was enchanted .    Tired after a day of downtown shopping and mindful of the bus schedule, Mama hurried us out onto Locust Street.   Naturally, I wanted to stay and poke my finger into every beautiful pan of eyeshadow and then swipe a rainbow across my brows. To keep me quiet, she dug into her purse for the tiny, bullet-shaped Avon lipstick sample she had been given with her most recent order.   She handed it to me, and I popped off the white cap to reveal a frosted pink mound

Rage, Rage!

  Today was the first time in 467 days that I hugged my mama.  But who's counting?   "Ugly cry" doesn't even begin to describe it. This pandemic has robbed us of so much.   I wanted to pay tribute to Mom by sharing the following true story, which she gave me permission to post.  It's from an upcoming project I'm working on.  I mean for it to honor my mom.  You may disagree how honorable it is, but if so, I respectfully counter:  if you know my mom, then you will understand.  On days like today, when I remember the former vitality of my mother and I lose count of the number of my own silver strands, stories like this one make me feel like we're all younger and shinier.  So rage, friends! Remember and rage against the dying of that light - however you can.   Heffers A “heifer” is the term for a female cow who has never given birth. A “heffer,” however, is the uniquely Southern word for a woman who is acting as stubborn as a bull, as dirty as a pig, and as du

Love in the Time of COVID

Hey.  How you holding up? We're good - healthy and whole.  I'm considered essential, although I am only a lady who answers phones and checks people in at a standalone oncology building.  People like me are not on the front lines.  We're considered more....field HQ, according to my adorable walking military dictionary, Ben. We've not been able to see Mom in person for almost a month now, and that will continue until at least the end of April.  Obviously, this is difficult, but she is blessed to be where she is.  No visitors are allowed, everyone who enters is screened (same as my work), and residents are screened twice a day.  Plus, Mom is able to use video chat with me, so I can have eyes on her every day. I enjoy our chats, and always try out a filter when I'm on a call with her.  So far, my favorite is the one that turns your face into a giant foot.  I imagine the person who designed it was in the middle of a fever dream or perhaps on their 11th bottle of wi

Building Blocks

It's said that the sign of a healthy city can be measured in the amount of cranes and construction found within its limits.  Often, this growth is inconvenient or unwanted even as it is required. Our lives are no different.  Christians believe our paths are set by our Heavenly Father, to accomplish His will and not our own.  Sometimes when He starts to tear down and rebuild, however, we feel like packing up and moving away rather than trusting the demolition process. Ben and I have been involved in some form of demolition for months now, all of it good.  Last September, right around the time Ben started with his new job, we decided to repaint the whole house.  I knew that if we didn't start right then, by the time he went full-time in January, it wouldn't get done.  I love owning a home, but one thing I didn't realize was how nothing stays looking good for that long - especially paint.  The warm historic green I chose for the interior 4 years ago faded to a dull m