Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reminders Are Reality Checks

So I drove a thousand miles in twenty four hours, just to check on my Lost Boy back in Georgia.

I was on a four day Staycation from work, putzing around Orlando doing whatever I wanted to do.

Day one:

We (Massey, Tim and I) went and had dinner with my brother and some friends (yes I have friends here now) at his lake house and enjoyed a late afternoon cruise, even saving a little fawn from either drowning or becoming some gator's dinner by circling and leading it back to shore from the middle of the lake.

Day two:

Drove by myself to Cocoa Beach to watch a rocket launch. Blinding sunlight made it hard to even see what I was filming but was  pretty awesome. Found a better video on the web.

After getting home from the beach, and talking on the phone with my younger son back in Georgia, knew exactly what I needed to do on day three of my staycation.

I threw some clothes in a bag and headed back home shortly after six AM the next day. When your kid sounds like they need a friend, it's a mommas job to be that friend. It's the job I relish.

Had a great visit and enjoyed every second being with him. He's starting a great new job but is in a waiting period of a few weeks...in other words, he's broke.

I remember all too well how that feels. At least he's twenty five, I was in my fifties. He wouldn't take any money from me but at least let me take him out to eat a couple of times.

Zach and I are so much alike it is almost frightening. My other two kids are so different from me I wonder if they're really mine.

Zach and I butt heads like billy goats with helmets on.

But not this particular weekend.

I got back to Orlando with no dollars to my name,  a car payment due in five days but the feeling that it didn't matter.

Nice side note reminder...

I stopped around Gainesville, Florida.

I had zero cash, my low tire pressure had been on for miles and miles. I went inside to pee, and asked the cashier if I bought something with my debit card (which had seven bucks left on it as well) could she add a dollar twenty five and give me back five quarters to use the air hose outside. I'd found one quarter after scrounging every seat and floorboard.

She said "I'll do you one better" and reached behind her for her own purse. She counted five quarters out of her wallet and handed them to me, then said this.

"You know, I've been down and out before and other people helped me; it's only right I do the same for you."

Touche' !!

 I'm the type of person (at least hope I am) who doesn't forget another persons' kindness. I got back on the interstate when my sister called to check on me and see where I was. I'm glad she did. I noted exactly where I was so that next trip up to Georgia can stop at that same exit, that same gas station and pay it forward to that wonderful woman.

Life is the domino effect. It truly is.

 I drove a thousand miles in twenty four hours and exhausted all the money I currently had to make sure my kid was alright.

And a stranger  gave me money out of her own pocket on the return trip to make sure I was okay on my way back home.

Love is the key. Love is the answer. I often wonder why more people don't get it?

Love has seen me through more situations than I care to count, but have always appreciated the love.

One act of kindness speaks volumes as to what kind of person you are.

I'm a simple person, true fact.

I'm not ashamed we were pretty stinking poor for quite a while.

It was humbling yet enlightening.

How would you ever know if you were a lucky person if you sometimes weren't?

I got back to Orlando and back to work. First night , knocked it out of the park...halfway to my car payment. Worked the next night and all is good now.

Here's the thing about being a server. If you don't make enough money, you're not a good enough server.

Trust me...true fact.

So I'm doing okay now.

I've been loved and I've loved.

I've been through some tough times it but came out of it just fine.

We've been to the bottom but paddled like crazy back to the surface and feel like I'm jumping off the high dive, doing a double back flip with a lay out twist...or whatever that means.

Life isn't guaranteed.

It's simply a journey....your journey.

Make the most of it, or you will miss all of it ... worrying about the stupid things.

Till next time...COTTON

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Heartstrings Are The Strongest Strings

This has always been one of favorite pictures of Zachary, chilling in a bubble bath when he was about six or seven years old.

Here are the two biggest heartstrings always pulling me back to Georgia. I mean, I love and miss and tons of peeps back home...but these two I simply can't live without or see enough.

My sister and my youngest son, my Lost Boy.

I left Orlando shortly before six thirty AM yesterday to drive up and see them both. I still had two more days off and needed to see them. I was almost to the Georgia state line when suddenly, out of the blue... this song came on the radio.

Ironic at best.

I mean, how many times do you really hear Ray Charles singing "Georgia On My Mind" on the radio?

I drove 85mph the entire way, only stopping once for gas, slowed by traffic for thirty minutes and was picking up my Lost Boy by 1:30 for a late lunch.

Zach's had a rough run of it lately;  having to be a grown up all alone with his family living in another state when he's lived with them forever.

I couldn't have done it at his age, and has had a lot of obstacles put into his path, but has never complained.

Not once.

Which also makes me love and miss him even more.

Cindy, I miss simply because she's Cindy.

She completes me.

Not only is she my sister, but also happens to be one of the nicest human beings I've ever met.

So after lunch, Zach and I headed over to my sister's house to wait for her to get home from work.

It was great, no one at home and could plunder together through kitchen cabinets, the pantry and the refrigerator without feeling guilty...just seeing if there was anything that we might want or need to eat or drink.

I found the tequila for Zach...after calling Cindy to ask if she had any. My brother had left a bottle there last time he visited.

Thank You, Chris!

We took their boxer out back to the field and Zach ran her like a greyhound. Her name's Zola (our maternal grandmother, Zola probably wouldn't have been pleased) but should have been named Zoloft anyway...she has some emotional issues.

We even made (held) her to take a video.

We also went back to their vegetable garden and holy shitake mushrooms...

Welcome to Eden!

Cin got home and we stayed up late talking and laughing. Harvey, my brother in law (thank you Harve) took Zach back to his house while my sister and I continued the Par Tay.

I got up this morning and went to pick up Zach. We ate at Golden's on the square and tooled around.

The restaurant he is helping open is right off the square and they had a smoker out front with burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cobb and watermelon.

I hung around a couple of hours and got to know all his new work relatives. I think he's going to be just fine, once the restaurant gets open.

It's closer to than from and think will do really well, great location and lots of buzz talk going around about it's opening.

I hung around but finally had to leave for home... my new home. I drove back to my sister's house and packed up. It was almost two.

She had said she was coming straight home from church but wasn't back yet. I thought about leaving her a note...at two, saying "When did you switch your membership to an AME church?"

Two o'clock...perfect timing, would be back in Orlando by eight if I drove like a demon (like I do). I stopped in Senoia to gas up and get a big ole Co Cola Icee before hitting the highway. I opened the back door of my car to throw out trash and saw Zach's boots in my back floorboard. My boy don't have much, he's living on a shoestring until this restaurant gets open and knew he needed those Justin Boots I bought him last year.

I turned my car around and drove all the way back to the Newnan square.

At least I got to hug him one more time.

Well worth it.

So then, ironically enough (again) on my ride back to Orlando...this song comes on the radio.

Number one: my husband absolutely loves The Who.

Number two: my son Zachary has the bluest eyes ever, and often hides his feelings behind them.

So I drove once again like a demon back to Orlando. Made it in six hours flat. I should be a Nascar driver.

It seems crazy, especially since Zach and I fought more while he was growing up than I did with either other of my two kids

It's tough bringing up someone who is so much like you that you want to warn them where they are headed.

So I reached the flatlands again, going back home...my new home. I'll have to say it's a beautiful site.

I love all my kids. They are all different. I love them all in different ways. Variety is the spice of life.

I live a spicy life.

I am a hundred pound giant.

Till next time...COTTON

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.


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