Category Archives: Memories

The Hour Disability Didn’t Exist

It was an unusually warm January day. The world was bright and beautiful. It felt much more like springtime than it did winter. A little boy climbed a hill using his walker, a constant reminder of his disability. As I climbed the hill beside him I had no idea that a miracle was waiting for us at the top?

You see, there was an enchanted object waiting for us to arrive. Most kids take these magical possessions for granted, often leaving them out in the rain or lying in the grass where they drop them to lay forgotten until dad mows the lawn. Those kids don’t see the magic of the object, to them it’s just a common thing, something everybody has. Sweet G and I know that there is nothing ordinary about this thing because we know that the one waiting for us has the ability to make disability totally disappear.

Sweet G approached the item with the aid of his walker but once he turned loose and was safely seated, his disability faded away. It not only faded away for Sweet G, it disappeared from the consciousness of everyone on that hilltop. For an hour Sweet G was just a normal kid. My husband and I were just typical parents. We witnessed something that I had given up hope of G ever being able to experience.

You are probably wondering what was waiting for us on the hill that day. It was a bicycle, not a regular bicycle but a magical one. Someone special provided a hand cycle for children at Infinity Children Services to use. I have no idea who they are but I owe them a huge thank you because when he was on that bike something mystical happened. As he put his hands on the handgrips and started to pedal, he broke away from the bonds of his disability. 

We spent the next hour running back and forth in the parking lot on top of the hill laughing, cheering and forgetting that disability exists. For an hour Sweet G literally pushed his therapist aside and said, “I’ve got this. I don’t need you.” Giggles filled the air as my little boy sped back and forth in a small parking lot on a magical bicycle that has the ability to make disability disappear. For an hour he was simply a little boy having a normal experience with his parents.

Sweet G’s passion for life outshines the darkness of his disability. He inspires me to overcome the challenges I face with dignity and grace. Sweet G has life figured out. He knows the secret to living a full and abundant life regardless of his circumstances. The world would be a better place if we were all a little more like my G. If a miracle cure was found today that would forever erase every trace of G’s disability, I’m not sure I’d want him to receive it. However, I would like for G to have one of those magic hand cycles so that when ever he wanted we could make his disability disappear for an hour or two. ; )

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Our Smokie Mountain Adventure: Part 1

The day was filled with excitement because my family and I were leaving after school to go on a weekend trip with a few of my classmates from high school. We had rented a huge house and were going to spend the next three days catching up with each other. It had been snowing here most of the day so school was released early. We hurriedly finished packing and finally hit the snow covered roads headed for the mountains three hours away.  A few of my classmates had already arrived at the cabin and reported no problems on the roads, so we kept our focus on getting there as quickly and safely as possible.

The roads began looking worse the farther from home we got. It was late afternoon and we felt sure that if we made it by dark we would be okay. My son and his girlfriend we’re following us in his car. It is his first real experience on the interstate and his first time driving in snow. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck. About half way into our trip I started to feel sorta queasy. I assume that it is nerves and car sickness and manage to keep my nausea at bay until we stop for a bathroom break. As we are about to pull back out into the roadway a sudden surge of nausea hits and I lose both my battle and lunch in the blink of an eye. It is now that I start to question whether I could possibly be suffering from more than car sickness and nerves but we have come to far to turn back now. We are closer to the cabin than we are to home and it is beginning to get dark.

Back on the highway we drive slowly making our way to our destination. We turn off the main road onto a very narrow country road filled with hills and curves.. Cars are sliding off the roadway. So far we are fine and haven’t had any trouble. We were within a couple of miles of our destination. This is the point that my “friends” decide to tell us that we will not be able to get to the house. The drive is icy and dangerous. They tell us to stop at a convenience store about a mile from the cabin.

I have managed to keep from throwing up since our last stop but as the gravity of our current situation sinks in, my nausea comes back with a vengeance. My husband buys me some zip lock baggies and I begin to fill them up. One mile separates us from a nice cozy cabin filled with old friends. We can’t walk the rest of the way in the dark pushing our disabled son in his wheelchair. What are we going to do?

To be continued. . .

Standing at the Screen Door

My parents divorced before I was old enough to retain any memories of the time they were together. There is not one picture of me with both of my parents. Not one trace of evidence from the life we lived together. For that reason I find it impossible to imagine that we ever had the same last name or lived together as a family although we did for only a short time.

In my earliest memory I am standing at a screen door crying for my parents. From what I can remember I believe it must have been springtime which means I was less than two years old. My mother’s sister is telling me that my Mom is at work and that my Daddy will be here soon to pick me up. That first memory is one of loss, abandonment, fear, and confusion. It explains a lot about who I am and how my personality was formed. I understand so many things about who I am and how that first memory held me prisoner without me realizing it.

I spent many years feeling like a victim. Social situations almost crippled me. I scrutinized every conversation and became my own worst enemy. Fear and shame were my constant companions until I slowly started seeing myself the way God sees me. Little by little I gained a new self image and stopped worrying about what others thought so much. Those feelings have not gone away but I have learned to control them instead of letting them control me.

Lately I’ve been feeling somewhat like that little girl; confused, afraid, alone, abandoned, unloved. I know that those feelings are real and justified but unlike that baby girl standing at the screen door I don’t have to let those feelings define me or hold me prisoner. I have a new identity in Christ. He will never leave me or forsake me. He shelters me beneath His wings.

Psalm 17:8-9 (KJV)
8Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

Christmas Tree

December 1984:
A young couple sit together in their tiny apartment discussing their decorating plans for their first Christmas as husband and wife. The ink on their marriage license is barely dry, having only been married for three months. They are both college students and their only source of income is from his part time work with his father and the generosity of their parents. Their bills are paid and they have plenty to eat but frivolous purchases aren’t made. Desire to make every experience special urges them to purchase a small tree only two feet tall. A strand of lights and a box of cheap wooden ornaments accompany the small tree back to the couple’s home. The young wife cuts a star from yellow construction paper and her husband fashions an angel from a paper plate. A decision can’t be reached on the choice between the angel and the star so the couple makes one of many compromises as husband and wife. The star is glued onto the front of the angel before they are both placed on top of the tree.

December 1985:
The same young couple travel to a Christmas tree farm and choose a beautiful tree to place in their home for their second Christmas. The earthy scent of the tree fills their home as they place the same lights and wooden ornaments on their tree. A new ornament is added to commemorate this year spent together. The young woman strings popcorn and cranberries to add as a garland for their tree. Memories are being made and traditions are being formed.

December 1986:
The couple now live in their third home. It is a small brown house two blocks from the center of their small hometown. A beautiful artificial tree is purchased for their new home. Pretty ruffled curtains hang on the windows of their home. A new living room suite, television, washer and dryer, a beautiful oak dining set and refrigerator have been added to their possessions since their last Christmas. A new ornament is added to their tree to honor another year spent together.

December 1991:
This year two ornaments are added to the Christmas tree. One ornament for the couple and one for their baby’s first Christmas. Each year they have added a new ornament to their tree. Popcorn and cranberries are strung by the young woman like many years before. This is a special Christmas because it is their first year as parents.

December 1994:
The couple built a new house this year. It is their first Christmas in the home they have dreamed of for so long. Two new ornaments are added to their tree.

December 2003:
A new baby graces the lives of the little family bringing with him new experiences and new ornaments to represent them.

December 2011:
Two trees grace the couple’s home. They live in their fifth home. Their two sons have grown. The oldest is a sophomore in college and the youngest is eight years old. Three ornaments will be added to a tree that is already filled with 27 years worth of ornaments. One of the cheap wooden ornaments is hung on the tree along side many others that have been added over the years. There is a birds nest with a dove nestled in the branches of the tree. It was made by the woman when she was nine years old. Beside the nest hangs a beaded ornament made by the man when he was nine years old. Ornaments that represent babies first years, tee ball, a trip to Disneyworld, a new job, graduation, the first year of college. A lifetime of memories fill the tree.

I came across that first star angel when we were decorating our tree. I have kept it all these years. It brought a smile to my face as I remembered how it felt to be 18 years old, sitting in the floor of that tiny college apartment cutting that construction paper star to put on our bare tree. God has blessed me more than I deserve. That young girl could never have imagined how full our Christmas tree would be someday, filled with the ornaments that represent the memories we have made together. Our Christmas tree has been ever changing like our lives. Someday soon our oldest son will move out and begin his life as we did. He will carry all his ornaments with him when he goes and his first Christmas tree will be filled with memories of Christmas past.

Autumn Memories

Fall is here and it brought along with it memories of years gone by. Years of running and playing with T underneath trees adorned in beautiful jewel colored dresses. Soft breezes nipping at our noses causing them to turn red and become as cold as ice. The absence of summer’s birdsongs make it almost too eerie to stay outside but we have hide and seek to keep us busy. I am content to be outside until darkness begins to close in around us because I have the king of the hill by my side.

The memory of another fall day comes into focus. I see a tow-haired boy about two years old running through a pile of leaves. His giggles rising above the sound of an approaching train. He is dressed in red overalls and a white turtle neck. His speech is filled with the sounds of y as he excitedly tells me to, “do it yike dis.” Suddenly he is transformed into a cowboy and takes off “yiding a buwll” with his arm flailing wildly as his head nods back and forth bucking to the rhythm of the imaginary bull. Slowly the sun begins to set and my heart starts to break as we have to let this day end.

Memories of hayrides with fellow homeschoolers push themselves the the center of my attention. Bowls of warm spicy chili lend us their heat as they fill our stomachs. The sounds of children laughing float down to parent’s ears as the adventurous children climb higher into the rafters of the barn over mounds of fresh bails of hay. Sweet songs and giggles dance into the night as a tractor pulls a wagon loaded with families nestled in sweet fresh hay. All too soon this day is over and reluctant children are shooed toward cars and home.

Six years ago we started hosting a Halloween party in our home. We have several special families that have come to our home year after year to celebrate fall with us. A traditional supper of chili and hot dogs is served before we all set out in my neighborhood for a fun night of trick-or-treating. There are special memories being made for adults as well as children. Each year is a little different as one by one our children grow too old to dress up and participate in the ritual of going from house to house gathering candy. This year our kids sat in the floor, sorted their candy, and began trading with each other. I sat and soaked in their energetic giggles and silly comments, knowing that there will never be another Halloween quite like this one.

The last memory comes into my mind in a rush. It is a cool fall evening after dark. Children begin to explore a haunted forest filled with witches and monsters and their screams fill the night. They play hide and seek until one by one parents arrive to retrieve them. This will be the last Halloween of their childhood. The next time Halloween will hold the same excitement will be years in the future when they take their own children trick or treating.

Life has a way of slipping by you if you’re not careful. I find that it’s the little spontaneous moments that keep returning to my mind. As I go through life I pray that I don’t forget to stop and enjoy the simple pleasures a day can bring. They are always there waiting for us to seek them out, if only we will try. Ready or not, here I come!

We Weren’t Just Fishin

When I was a little girl my Daddy would often take me fishing. He taught me how to cast my line in my grandparents’ front yard underneath the shade of a big white oak tree planted by my Papaw. Daddy tied a washer on the end of my line and made me practice casting into an imaginary lake. My grandmother sat on her front porch swing watching as I cast my line time after time until one of my casts went astray and hit the swing she was sitting on. That washer hit the chain on that swing and whipped around it several times entangling itself completely into that chain. Mamaw let out a little yell and cried, “Oh, Ellis! That child is going to kill me!” My Daddy replied, “Well get in the house woman. I am trying to teach this girl how to fish.”

When Daddy finally took me fishing he went prepared. He loaded up his tackle box, our fishing poles, a can of freshly dug worms, and most important of all he always carried me a snack. Daddy loved telling people about those fishing trips and he never failed to tell them that I was ready to eat as soon as we got to the lake even though he always made me fish for a little while before he allowed me to eat. After catching a few brim I was through fishing and ready to move on to the food. The thing my Daddy liked about this story was telling people what I always brought to eat. I always carried an onion and a leftover biscuit from breakfast. I know it sounds crazy but I ate onions like you would eat an apple and there was never anything that could match my Mamaw’s cold biscuits.

Back then I thought we were just fishing on those summer days but now I see that it was so much more than that. Daddy was making memories for me. He did that a lot. I think that since he only saw me for 30 hours each weekend he realized how precious time was so he made every attempt to make each activity special. He longed to be a major part of my life in the very limited amount of time he was given. He squeezed in as many memories as he could every weekend we were together and all the time I thought we were just fishing.

Fruit Ninja on the Prairie

I have been reading the Laura Ingles Wilder series of books to Sweet G. His love of all things electronic hinders his ability to comprehend a life without modern inventions. I continue trying to paint a clear picture of pioneer America for him but frankly I don’t know if I will ever be successful. The very basic simple life pioneers lived is very foreign to someone living in the 21st century. It is hard to imagine life without electricity, phones (landlines and cells), stores within walking distance, or better yet Internet shopping and Fed Ex!

As I read to a child I often stop and ask questions to teach them good reading strategies. Last week we were reading the chapter Scream in the Night from Little House on the Prairie. The story was set in the log home of the Ingles family in the middle of the night. Everyone was suddenly awakened by a terrifying scream piercing the night air. Since the family was living in Indian country where there had been unrest at times they feared being attacked. The immediate thoughts of the parents was that their neighbors two miles away were being attacked or were in terrible trouble. Pa dressed and took his gun to go and find out what was happening. Ma told the girls to go to sleep and she got into bed but didn’t go back to sleep but lay there listening.

This is where I stopped reading and asked, “G, why do you think Ma went back to bed but didn’t go back to sleep?”

He thought for a second before saying, “Maybe she was watching a movie.”

“No, remember G they didn’t have electricity or a television. She wasn’t watching a movie.”

He thought some more and with a huge grin on his face he said, “Maybe she was playing a game.”

“Now, G, who would play games in the middle of the night? Ma was not playing a game”, I said.

“Well you play games in the middle of the night. Maybe Ma was playing Fruit Ninja like you do.”

I have to say that although he was totally off base in his answer, his reasoning behind it was great! He simply related his answer to what he already knows. He lives in a world where Ma plays games in the middle of the night and takes naps in the middle of the day. Gadgets and gizmos fill his world until it is busting at the seams and he just can’t quiet imagine a life without those things. Needless to say we still have some serious work before we have history mastered. So, I guess I will just keep trying to convince my funny little boy there was once a life without stand-up comedians, cable television, and iPad games for Moms to play in the middle of the night. ; )