Friday, June 23, 2017

Learning To Love Life Again


I'll have to say living thirty minutes away from Cocoa Beach, has made it easier than harder to adjust to my new life.



Having Massey here with me has made it even easier. There's nothing more rewarding to a momma than to have your twenty one year old daughter consider you to be one of her best friends...yes I am blessed.
Ole Ziggy wasn't too sure what to think about all those dogs on the dog beach but found out quickly why they weren't all drinking from God's gigantic water bowl.




The beach has been my happy place for as long as I can remember...



and now fortunately can go whenever I have two hours to spare.



Fortunate is the key to my life.

Webster's defines 'Fortunate' : "Bringing something good and unforeseen; auspicious. Having unexpected good fortune; lucky."

Auspicious is "Attended by favorable circumstances; propitious."

Propitious is "Kindly; gracious."




I am kindly gracious for the favorable circumstances which led me to this life in Orlando.

Sure beats being broke, but also fortunate things worked in our favor.

What we temporarily lacked financially was always taken care of by people who loved us and even sometimes by strangers. When strangers help you out, you know you're living life right.

I try.

If you don't try, why should others?

I've made a few friends here. A few good friends here are more than enough to make me happy.

I have more than plenty of friends (and then some) back home in Georgia, across the country and even across the Pond.

There isn't a single one of them I couldn't call at any time of any given day.




Once I got back to work here in Orlando, it was better...but not really.

It takes me quite a while to feel comfortable as a new server in a new job; mainly because is the only area of my life which I am an absolute stickler about; insisting on my own ultimate perfectionism, which know am capable of.



 I'm an old dog, it takes me a while to learn new tricks.



My theory about my chosen profession has always been:

If you're not making enough money, you're not that good of a server.

BAM!

So I'm finally making pretty good money again and even have people come in and ask for me.



I woke up this morning and saw on the news that there was a rocket launch from Cocoa Beach at 2:20 PM. My bestie had homework but assured me it was okay if I went without her.




Not my video. It was so stinking bright at the beach I couldn't even see what I was filming, which ended up being my fingers and certainly didn't catch the booster landing.

It was hotter than hell but got to sit on the beach for an hour, reading before the rocket launched.




I came home, cooked dinner and packed a bag.

Day three of my staycation, will head out at six AM for Georgia. My Lost Boy needs me and I need to be there for him.



He's in between jobs but has the opportunity of a lifetime in a few short weeks. He'll be the Sous Chef in a restaurant opening mid July in Newnan, Georgia.

He's struggling, just like both his parents did for a while but fortunately has a momma who can drive seven hours and be with him for thirty six.

I'll buy the kid some groceries, spending the day tooling around with him. Plan on going to Pine Mountain with him and then both spend the night at my sister's house in Senoia.






He's never asked for anything but wish I could give him everything. I'm thinking a big fat hug is needed and more than happy to drive seven hours and give him one.

I'm not sure who needs the hug more...

Til next time...COTTON








Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

We used to call Diddy "Old Man" as grown kids. His response was always "That's Mister Old Man, to you."

He was a great father. He was a great husband. He was a great man and a friend to everyone. He never remarried after our mother suddenly died in 1977. He said no one would ever compare to her.



He died from West Nile Virus in 2002.




Happy Father's Day, Mister Old Man.


The trunks he had on in this picture were ones my mother had bought him, and the picture was taken probably four years after her death. I believe that was the year he got a new pair.






It was long before I met Tim and even before Cindy had her two boys. We decided to (make) take Diddy to a new water park that had opened in Destin. It would be fun for him and get his mind off sitting on a beach without our Mama.



Let me stress it was my brother's idea.

I've never met anyone who doesn't like my brother. He's the funniest guy you'll ever meet, with a heart of gold. The older he gets, the more he turns into a carbon copy of our father...except for the fact our father never had a cocktail or occasional cigar. Chris isn't scared of anything and the only thing scared of Chris is one of his employees not doing their job.



We all drove to the park, paid and went in. We started out easy with the concrete water flume ride. We all got our foam mats and behind each other in line at the top. Diddy went first, easing down on to the mat in a sitting position with his legs out in front of him and carefully pushed off.  Chris, who was behind him in line immediately plopped his mat down and took off like a rocket after Diddy, catching up with him in under three seconds, smacking right into him and together tumbled to the bottom in a knot of arms and legs.

My father emerged from the wading pool at the end of the ride with his trucks split wide open in the back. He spent the rest of the day with the foam mat wrapped around his butt.

Chris decided we all needed to take another run at the flume. We all hiked back up together but this time Diddy refused to go in front of Chris so my brother said he'd be more than happy to go first.

Chris once again jumped onto his mat and took off like a rocket. Our father stood there and gave him time to round the first curve, disappear, and once again slowly eased off.

Diddy slowly floated around the first curve then saw ahead of him, my brother... holding himself back on the flume with arms and legs spread out like a spider, waiting for my father to crash into him. Once again they tumbled the rest of the way in a knot of arms and legs.

Our father never went to another water park with us, but at least we bought him a new pair of swim trunks that weren't from the sixties and looked like shorts Bobby Riggs used to wear.





That story never gets old with us. I don't think it ever will. Mister Old Man was everything any kid could ever hope for in a parent...and I got him.



I miss him each and every day, just like I do my other parent.



My only consolation is they are together again, upstairs with The Big Guy...watching over all of us.






Diddy held my hand, as a kid, showed me the way...always leading by example just as Mama did.   



With all the tragedy of losing my mother when just seventeen, somehow I made it. He loved me even when I didn't deserve it.








I'm not sure how he made it, losing the love of his (and our) life but did.  God took him quickly (ten days) when his time came, and in hindsight am grateful for it.


He had Mama for twenty five years as his wife before she died. We had him for twenty five more years as our Diddy.

They were both amazing people and loved by every single person who knew or crossed paths with them. Truly bridges over any troubled water you may encounter. 

Happy Father's Day, Franklin Bridges Leach...



You were my bridge over troubled water.

Til next time...COTTON




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Here Comes The Sun?

I guess I shouldn't complain. It didn't rain here for almost three months and everything was dry as dust. Wildfires everywhere and not one blade of grass in our yard.


Charlie just scrubs his back on the black sand filled with ant hills. I'm assuming, by this point he isn't allergic to them but then again, they probably run from his smell.



For the past week, it has rained like a mofo. And I don't mean a drizzle or light shower...hence the term, mofo.

I had to make myself,  but bathed the dogs, swept and mopped the entire house and swept the screened in back porch, aka the dog's "Crib."

 Massey cleaned her bathroom and I cleaned ours.

It's so refreshing to walk into your bathroom first thing in the morning and look into the mirror without looking through a spatter of dried toothpaste stuck all over it, and  small globs of it dried in the sink like  cheap dinner mints.

Once it was all done, our tiny rental house was so nice to be in, I almost felt ashamed I had to force myself to clean it.

Here's the thing.

When you have three (big) dogs living inside a tiny cement cubicle with a back yard so small that once they take off running will bang into the other side of the fence before they reach full speed...you kinda feel sorry for them, yet are grateful they still seem happy and love you.

My three dogs fall right  behind my three kids as far as my love goes. Not a single one of my dogs have ever asked me for anything or complained about the way I treat them. Not one of them has ever asked to borrow money from me or pouted when their water bowl is a bit slimy.

It's a good thing I'm not a dog.

That's kind of the way I see life.

They can't complain but instead hope I'll simply understand them and comply.

We should all be dogs.

Grateful for what they have, forgiving in an instant and forget misgivings even quicker, with no feelings of resentment.






I'm thinking dogs are smarter than humans. They are certainly more compassionate.


So back to the rain.



We needed it.

I didn't want it, although know it was needed. I moved here for the sunshine.

There's life in a nut shell.

You want what you want.

You don't necessarily think about what you need.


Relating to having dogs, and pretty spot on...



I've prayed and wished, I've survived and pretty much laughed about it the entire journey.




Then my upbringing comes back...not to haunt, but inspire me.

It makes me think about life.






Think about my life over the past decade.

Think about how we almost lost everything. Think about how lucky I am, with all the losses. I have family who loves me unconditionally and continuously.




How in the world can I possibly complain when I have all these people who would do or die for me?

Not to mention about fifty other people I could call at any time...any hour or any day.




That's the time you realize no matter what life throws your way, you're still lucky.

On our climb back, have spent quite a bit of time trying to Pay It Forward. Not enough time, but it's a start.

As long as you start, as long as you try, as long as you continue...good things will happen when you are a good person.

I started with baby steps. A card in the mail. I've worked up to cooking for peeps here who I really care about. A co worker or a neighbor.

You don't realize how  much baby steps mean until you take them.

We have to quit placing blame, pointing fingers at others... we should instead extend our hand and ask what we can do to help.

 Life only gives you one chance...make the most of it.

Til next time...COTTON





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Perfect Marriage

Today is my parent's wedding anniversary. If both were still alive, would be celebrating their sixty fifth year together.











I feel so lucky to at least still have all these pictures, in fact still have their wedding album where these are kept...along with the boutonniere she gave him.



My mother filled out every page of the album, all the wedding gifts she received and who gave them. There's a scrap book section at the back and trust me, she had that filled as well.



I absolutely love still having their wedding invitation as well, especially since I now have a daughter we named Massey Ann Cotton, almost twenty two years ago.


My Diddy looks pretty stoked about heading for their honeymoon in this picture as they left the reception.

Seems they didn't make it all the way to their destination of Daytona that evening. Here's the receipt from their wedding night, eighty two miles south of Atlanta.

They made it the next day, seemingly after creating our oldest sister the night before.







Mama even saved the flier from the movie they went to while on their honeymoon.




They remained married for twenty five wonderful years.


They had the perfect marriage. They were the perfect parents. We had the perfect childhood.




I absolutely love the above picture, taken with my sister's Swinger Polaroid camera in our kitchen on 2545 Bayard Street.

Funny story. Our parents never fought, never argued. The closest they ever came to an even heated change of words was one night when he'd worked late and came home to find out we'd eaten all the dinner mama cooked. He decided to just make a sandwich instead and went to get two slices of loaf (Colonial white) bread. We were out of bread.

Mama didn't act too concerned about it so Diddy commented, "You never seem to run out of cigarettes." Mama didn't miss a beat but calmly replied "If I smoked bread we'd never run out of bread."

Classic Ann Leach!!










The memories I have of growing up with those two as parents are as priceless as the memories I've made, having the above two as the Sib's they gave me.








Our mama died when I had just turned seventeen. Our Diddy died when he just turned seventy seven.

Both deaths were devastating. Both deaths were defining moments in my life.

Case in point, when my daughter was born.





It seemed only appropriate to name my daughter after my mother. Massey was actually due on October 5th and couldn't believe my luck...that had been my mother's birthday! Also as luck would have it,  had major complications and ended up having an emergency C-section on August 19th in the early morning hours after an ambulance ride to the hospital. Massey barely weighed four pounds.We both almost didn't make it, but did. My sister was in the waiting room with my husband and the rest of our family when she suddenly noticed the date... it was August 19th.

That was the date our own mother had unexpectedly and suddenly died.. August 19th in 1977.



Talk about coming full circle.

Massey flourished and has grown into a pretty amazing young woman.



She's my best friend. I still have Ann Massey with me in life, she's just Massey Ann now.






Life is the one journey you need to make the most of, and enjoy every step and every turn of the way.



Looking back over my life, with all the twists and turns have realized (sometimes in hindsight) how truly lucky I've always been.





Life is what you make it...embrace it while you can. It doesn't come with do overs.








Happy Anniversary to my parents, Frank and Ann Leach.




Thank you for teaching me how to be a good person... I hope to make you proud.

Til next time...COTTON