Knit and Pray

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Friendship. And Black Holes.

            My soul and writer friend, Sally, recently introduced me to Netflix. Ahhhh. Sweet. Restful. Entertaining. Relaxing.  I found a brand new world of television.
            Those who read my words and/or who know me well are aware that I’ve never been a TV addict. Off and on some shows interested me. Now and then I found time to relax and enjoy watching make-believe life come alive with happy endings within thirty minutes of allotted time. Somehow, as a fiction writer, few modern day sit-coms or dramas hooked me.

So be it.
My life is always full.
Busy.
Solving heavy problems.
In real life.

Then came marriage. And THE NEWS.

So be that, also.

Again, those who read my words and/or who know me well are aware that in addition to many other things, I am a caregiver.
Full time.
Twenty-four seven.
To two precious and beloved care receivers.

And…. At 77 years old, my own health demon issues rise up and make a frontal attack at the most inopportune times.

That’s life. Also.

Therefore, escape is sometimes golden. Beautiful. Sustaining. Restful. Replenishing.

Enter:  WEST WING.

Wait. The plot thickens.
You also know…. I am one of those die-hard, disgusting, awesome, judgmental, understanding, stupid, intelligent, surprising conservatives who leans just a tad to the right. J

Disclaimer: I am so hooked on The West Wing that I am writing my congressman to determine what happens if, in the next presidential election, I write in Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet  for President. Will that be a vote for Martin Sheen?????? (Awesome)

But, I digress.

            My husband and I continue to count birthdays and life is slowing to that snail’s pace. *sigh*  We now belong to that terrible, left-out, sad, group known as the “home-bound.”
            Actually, we really do go out a lot. We regularly and routinely visit our physicians: primary care peeps, physical therapy specialist, eye doctors, hearing aid professionals, skin cancer surgeons, and many others who try to keep us moving and well and independent.

Because of many and sundry problems and health issues, we find it more and more difficult to get to church and, sadly, our participation in our many and sundry volunteer activities ceased several years back.

            YET – we LOVE life. It is a thrill when a child or in-law or grands or great drops by for a short or an extended visit. We love it when a niece, nephew and/or their offspring stops in to chat. We make a point to go out to dinner occasionally and what fun that is….in our still small town, we ALWAYS run into people we know!!! We try to remember to call up friends for lunch dates from time to time. We take part in any and everything possible to stay busy, alert, involved, interested. and interesting. We read …. And yes, we watch THE NEWS. We are most certainly well informed.

Lonely.
But, well informed.

So. What does “The West Wing” have to do with all of this? Besides entertaining me on those long nights when I struggle with that evil spirit Restless Leg Syndrome????

So glad you want to know.

In Episode 32, both John Spencer and Bradley Whitford turned in brilliant performances. In the next to final scene,  Leo McGarry (John Spencer) told a story to Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford). The story stopped me cold. I back-tracked. Listened again. Cried. Replayed the scene.
Yes.

Leo, an alcoholic, understood life. He cared deeply about his friend Josh who was in a life and death struggle with post violence trauma.

Ahhhhh, yes.

With apologies to the writers and/or the original creator of “the story,” here is my version.

          A woman walked down a busy sidewalk. She tripped and fell into a hole. A deep hole. A dark hole. A hole so deep and full of mud and muck and slick sides she could not get out.
          A physician walked by and the woman yelled, “Doctor!!! Can you help me?”
          The doctor stopped. He found a piece of paper, wrote out a prescription, and dropped the paper into the hole.
          Later, the woman stopped sobbing when she heard a minister walk by. She screamed, “Pastor, can you help me?”
          The minister stopped. He also found a piece of paper, wrote down a prayer, and dropped the paper into the hole.
          Sometime later, nearly dead, the woman hears someone else approaching. It is one of her friends. With almost her last, weak breath, the woman pleads, “Friend, can you help me?”
          The friend jumps into the hole.
          The woman looks at her friend in angry astonishment and spews, “Are you crazy? Why did you do that? Now both of us are in this hole.”
          The friend smiles, “Yeah. But, I’ve been here before. I know the way out.”

  
            Maybe you don’t know about dark holes. I’m glad.
            I do know. I have spent time in several black, muddy, slimy holes. I’ve been there.
           And..... I have known and loved friends who almost died in one of those holes.

Life-sucking holes come in all colors of black from spousal abuse to homelessness to death's-door-illness to grief to simple and ordinary things that change lives and hearts and souls.
            I am thrilled to tell that that I DO know the way out.
And, I have jumped into more than a few holes with others. Many times. Sometimes the friend turns on me when we find our way back to the good world. So be it.
            Some who climbed out were grateful and grew and learned and turned around to help others in turn.

The take-away?

Judging does not help.
Spending time in the hole with a friend is, indeed, a v.e.r.y good thing.

I am exceedingly blessed with friends who jumped right into that black, slimy, dark hole with me, sat still for awhile, and then showed me the way out. I still remember and treasure each one of those precious souls. You know who you are. I love you.


Please. Pass it on.

Dearest Love and Blessings,

      Liz


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy 28th Grandson John


  

 Auspicious occasion.

Must be recognized as such.
Twenty-eight years ago tonight, I held my baby daughter's hand as she writhed in pain to bring her own baby son into this old world.
And yes, John was worth all of it.
There is no way to show a life so large on Facebook.
It takes a blog post all unto it self to attempt to kind of do justice to the amazing man my daughter brought into this world. All alone. Without medication. To protect her baby.
Job well done, Melinda.

This amazing son of my daughter's is now a husband and a minister of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He and his lovely wife are making their own home, creating their own joys, going through their own doors. They are ready to welcome another generation into their hearts. My own baby daughter and I are eager to meet her grandchildren and my great grandchildren and to celebrate all the new memories.

A picture is worth how many words? In John's case, a few pictures can only touch the surface of the delightful, astonishing, life-changing, precious, loving, and giving man 
who graces our lives.


1986 Summer. My Baby ready to birth her baby


1987. And what a guy she brought forth.
The first of so many doors that would open for him
as he followed his own path.

1988. 2nd Birthday with his beloved great-grandmommy who turned the world for him


1989 Three years old with Marine Uncle
1990. Four. Already the Performer
1991. Five. 


1992.Six. Yep. He's already in charge.


1993. A life-long gift to make friends and influence people.
Mr. Green had not spoken in years. Then John became his friend.
   

1993. Six. A new town. Always the center. Always surrounded by friends.

1994 And off to school in another new town.
1994. Seven. Always surrounded by family, too. Four generations. 
    
1995. Nine. And just how high will you jump, John????
As high as you want! Go, John, GO !
                       

                           

1997. Eleven. Heritage School
1996. Tenth birthday in
 Fredericksburg.
                    
1996. First plane trip ALONE. To
Louisville, KY with Uncle Eddy
& Aunt Julie
 



       
1998. Twelve. On Stage.
Again.
                                 
1999. Thirteen. That infectious grin stayed.
             


2000. Fourteen. John is a cousin.
Madeline Herbert.



2001. Fifteen. The infamous Winter Formal Sit-down Dinner
(yes, that is Ashley's left hand on the right of Austin. *smile*)

2002. Sixteen. Mr. Sax serenaded Memaw at her wedding.


2003. Winter. Enter--ta-da--ASHLEY for real.


2003. Summer. Best Friends Forever. (His truck in the background. )


2003. After Boys' State. Rough plane ride alone.
Survived both congress and angry skies.


2003. And the seventeenth birthday. With Best Girl, Mom
and Family.
                                               


2003. Just John. Just another tux.



No history of John is complete without the.....
BLACK COAT.
2003. Leavenworth, WA

2004. Yes. We made it to graduation year.
And he DID go to the prom with ASHLEY.
She and Memaw knew it all along.


2004. Awards Night. And, oh the conversations and events
and occasions on our front porch.

And YES, He did graduate Fredericksburg High School

2004. Of course Ashley was there !!!


And, Off to Texas Lutheran University. Oh goodness, oh dear, oh glory. OH MY !! 




They said goodbye and Memaw drove his mother and his girl back home.
Yes, a LOT of tears.

2004. EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. A man. And he voted. 

2005. Summer. His Nineteenth was just around the corner.


2006. The Year of the Hair.
Beautiful. Gorgeous. Thick.
TWENTY years old.
He did it once !!
                                     

2006. The hair came off when Ashley came home from mission trip.
2007. Those twenty-one candles almost melted the icing.
Now he is really The Man.


2008. TWENTY-TWO Wow. Look at that grin.

Yes, he counted the candles.


2008. Earning a living. Paying their way through school
Well, he did not wear the cap while serving.


2009. Does he look tired? Old man at TWENTY-THREE

2010. Really, REALLY Big Year.
UTSA GRAD. 

2010. TWENTY-FOUR. Celebrating in San Antonio.

2011. And look, Our Man of the Day is
TWENTY-FIVE and still grinning.

2012. Ahhhhh. Yes. The to-be Mrs. and Mr. John Lowrey.
November 3, 2012.
No, we have never seen our man in robes at his first church nor heard him preach.
Our love must transcend the miles these days. 

2013. At least a bunch of family got together around Christmas.


2014. Happy Ending. A son makes his mom proud.
Mother's Day. Together.

John, dear one. I love you dearly. 


Friday, July 18, 2014

Hook or Pitch ???

Sometimes there are golden gems on Twitter.
Found one today !


In addition to my own health issues that took me out for over six months, I am a stay-at-home caregiver. But, God blessed me big time and provided enough healing so that I could resume caring for two of the most special people in my world: my husband and my adult daughter. Life is busy and hectic and frankly, except for medical appointments, I don't get around much anymore.


Over the past few years, writing fell to the bottom of my "Must-Do-To-Survive" list. Then, Dear Heart and Daughter both struggled with changes in abilities and needs so they went to the very top of my list. I have been in a serious learning mode. And they say old dogs can't learn new stuff. Well, let me tell you..... but, that's for another post.

About a month ago, my stress level went through the roof. One day in sheer desperation I turned on the intercom, shut the office door, and pounded the keys. Have no idea what I wrote that day, but I put words together, threw in a comma now and then, and watched rambling thoughts tumble from my tired brain to the computer screen.

In short order, I took a deep breath, opened the office door, and resumed vigilance. With a smile. I pondered, long and hard, the sudden change in my attitude. Ahhhhh. Well, it seems that, for me, working with words restores sanity.

I began to carve out some time every day or so to weave words together and my breathing eased, my thinking calmed, my smiles felt genuine.

A few days ago, on one of those rare occasions when we enjoyed a short visit with new neighbors, the subject of my writing came up. Our new friend asked, "What do you write?"

Oh dear. I have not submitted a single thing to a contest or answered a single call for submissions in over three years. The "writer" within me had gone into hiding. Or somewhere.

Somehow, with hands jammed into my pockets, I mumbled something about 'personal experience pieces, anthologies, personality interviews.'

The neighbor smiled and tactfully changed the subject. Back at home, I checked my web site. Sure enough, I'm still there and all my publishing credits still look somewhat impressive.

To test the writing waters, I posted a few longer face book posts. Then, I tip-toed back into my Twitter page and typed out some 140 characters. Power!! So, I pulled out one of my most beloved short stories that has never won anything and worked it over. Just preparing the story for submission to a major contest went to my head so I went for broke and pulled out a memoir to submit also. Just kind of went crazy there for awhile.

Winning or getting my work published is not the issue. My writing career began in the closet some sixty years ago and it is okay if my next twenty writing years stay in the closet. Getting those thoughts into words is ecstasy. Developing sentences, creating paragraphs, explaining ideas, formatting ideas, jotting down scenes, and creating characters is thrill enough. For today.

Except, a writer is never satisfied. Last night while trying to think of something to expound succinctly on Twitter I read a tweet from Hope Clark. Followed the link and oh boy. Right between the eyes.

ELEVATOR PITCH. Goodness, I used to have one.

So, while I am busily recreating my own personal pitch, if you write, check out the blog I found. It is a gold mine. There is a HUGE difference between the "hook" and the "elevator pitch." R.S. Mellette at From the Write Angle hits a home run.

Hook or Elevator Pitch

And, yes, I understand that all my close personal friends doubt that I can say ANYTHING in a few, chosen, succinct words. [ Big Smiling Face Here ] Just wait !!! In between dishes and laundry and transporting and ...... well, the words await !!!

Hugs and love and happy writing.

Liz