Missing Her Again.

I’ve been crocheting a blanket for my grand-daughter  and listening to Christian music, specifically, the CD from Heaven is Real and the Newsboys CD. While listening to the Heaven is Real CD and crocheting that little blanket, my thoughts turned toward my mother. This time twelve years ago, she was in the hospital dying of ovarian cancer.

I never would have imagined missing her so much. Sure, I knew I would miss her. I just never thought it would be like this. You know, to the point where tears fall from your eyes when you least expect it or where  a mere look from your sister can remind you so much of that lady who took the best care of you she knew how. A word uttered can remind you of the  way she said something or the emphasis she put on that very word.

None of us are given a handbook on how to raise our kids. Nope, we are pansters where that is concerned- we just fly by the seat of our pants and hope we are doing it right. Even though I thought my mother was doing it all wrong when I was a teenager, I found out later, she couldn’t have done a better job if she’d had that handbook. Some of the things she taught us, like  loving each other (“blood is thicker than water”), we were taught to love God even more. I remember wondering when I was a little girl how in the world it was that I was supposed to love God more than I loved my mother? That was more love than was fathomable to me.

As an adult, I can see that is how much my mother loved us. More than we could fathom. And she still had more love for God. It is much like my feelings for my own kids. My mother taught me how to love God and for that I will be forever grateful.

I took my mother to the hospital just after Thanksgiving in 2004. She supposed she had a virus and couldn’t keep anything down. I hated spending time at the hospital, having a son who was there a lot, but she had spent her time with me at the doctor, so it was the least I could do for her. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. There was nothing they could do for her and I knew she wouldn’t be here much longer. I stayed with her every chance I could, wanting to spend as much time with the woman who gave and sustained life to and for me. We talked and laughed and said all the things we hadn’t said to each other.

I told her what a great mother she was, even though I didn’t always act as if she was and in fact sometimes acted as if she were my worst enemy and spewed hatred towards her. I never hated my mother. I loved her deeply. The way we love our mothers is with a love so deep, it is just too difficult to understand. She told me I “turned out pretty good, after all.” I cried. I needed to know that even though I provided my mother plenty of disappointment, it was not a complete loss. She loved me anyway. And she was proud of me. That’s all I ever wanted to hear from her. She didn’t disappoint me.

My sister and I were there when she passed away. Truly, she had already gone, but her body kept going, slow to give out. I miss my mom terribly today and I am crying as I write this. If you have not told your mom today that you love her and thanked her for doing her best to bring you up, please do it today. Let her know she is the greatest mom ever and you appreciate all her hard work.

As for me, while it seems like ages until I see my mother again, I know it will be just a blink of an eye. I love you Mother and I miss you.

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One Last Time

I couldn’t help but think about my mother this Thanksgiving. I thought about the many meals she planned just for her family to come celebrate with her all the things she was thankful for. She didn’t have the happiest of childhoods, she lived through the depression and life with my dad was difficult because he suffered from a mental illness. Still, she was thankful she made it through all she did.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, she would grab a couple of used envelopes and on the back of one envelope, she would write everyone’s names . On the other, she would write her shopping list. She had rather large handwriting, so, in the end, the whole envelope would be written on.

She would go to the store, bring home the groceries and hide anything she thought we might get into before she cooked, like the colored marshmallows for her cathedral cookies or the large marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Mother began to cook. As she  cooked, the house filled with the savory aroma of a big old Tom Turkey roasting in the roaster,. That roaster sat on the washing machine while it cooked that turkey to perfection.. She had a humongous bowl in which she mixed the dressing. She made two  extra large dishes of it. Her dressing was by far the best thing she made. There was  a time when I realized it would be prudent to get the  recipe if I wanted to carry on the tradition.

“I won’t know how to make it after you are gone and no one will know how to make it,” I told her.

“Well, I just put in a pinch of salt, some sage, bread crumbs, chicken stock, you know.”

“Yeah, but how much of it? I need measurements.”

“Honey, I don’t measure it, I just know how much to put in.”

“Can’t you just measure it and tell me?”

“I wouldn’t know how.”

I never learned that dressing recipe and I have tried to duplicate it as best as I can, but to no avail. Now that my mother is gone, so is the dressing I loved so much. Oh, what I would give to have just one more Thanksgiving with Mother. The cooking, the laughter, the late nights with her during the holidays-now gone, but never forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Compliment

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This past week, I have had shingles. I’m okay and it didn’t get bad, but it has lasted a little longer than I thought it would. As a matter of fact, I thought I’d be well by now. Nevertheless, I went back to the doctor today to make sure I am no longer contagious as we plan to have Thanksgiving dinner with my son’s in laws. My daughter in law is expecting next month and I wanted to make sure I would not expose her to anything.

Well, sir, a routine  doctor’s appointment turned into the best compliment I have ever gotten. Here’s what happened.

I walked out of the office and entered the reception area. I handed my paperwork to the receptionist when she started a conversation with me.

Receptionist : I saw your book at The Well (a coffee shop in town). It looked so cute, I bought it for my kids.

Me: Oh really?? That’s so nice. I hope they are enjoying it.

Receptionist: Oh they love it! They ask me to read it every night . It’s their favorite book; their bedtime story.

Me: Oh, that’s so great! Thank you! You’ve made my day!

As an author, I don’t think there could be any higher compliment than a child loving the book you poured your heart into,  and wanting it to be read at every bedtime. I actually got goose bumps from that interaction with the receptionist.

I hope there are more children who go to bed with Jack Learns to Grill. It’s a book written for each child who reads it.

Thank you to the receptionist who made my day by reaching out to me. I am truly thankful and grateful for all my readers . Happy Thanksgiving!

Jack’s Fight, an Update

Thursday, I took Jack to the vet for the surgery to rid his body of a cancerous skin tumor. The vet, Dr. Brittain, thought it would be approximately a forty-five minute surgery. As it turned out, it was a little more complicated than that. But, he came through the surgery with flying colors . The incision was quite long , due to the size of the tumor and it looks as if he’s had a tummy tuck.

But, the news is good. No cancer in his lymph nodes and she doesn’t suspect any on the inside. The tumor could grow back, but in the event it does, we’ll catch it when it is small and it will be easier to remove.

Two days after his surgery, he is happy as a lark and last night resumed howling with the coyotes promptly at 11:15 p.m. as is his nightly ritual. He is on antibiotics for two weeks and then his stitches will come out.

I am so grateful to my friend and fellow author, Jackie Smith, for setting up a Go Fund Me account for Jack. We could have never gotten the surgery without it. For those of you who donated to the account, thank you so much. Our Jack is on the mend!

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Jack’s Fight

It has been an emotional time here at Baker’s Acres. Our Jack, an American Dingo, who stars in his own book- Jack Learns to Grill , was diagnosed with a fast growing cancer. He has a tumor on his side and it has gotten quite large very quickly. The vet told me surgery was needed, but I didn’t know how that would play out since we  live, like some Americans, paycheck to paycheck. How we were going to pay for his surgery, we didn’t know.

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Enter my friend, and fellow author Jackie Smith. Jackie is such a great friend and would do anything for her friends. Upon hearing my sad tale of Jack’s cancer and having helped me publish Jack Learns to Grill, she offered to create a Go Fund Me campaign. Maybe there was a light at the end of the tunnel! Maybe there was some hope for my Jack!

Once I sent the information to her, Jackie then set up the campaign and got it off the ground. She didn’t waste any time. Our goal was met in two days time! Two days!

This whole ordeal has restored my faith in humanity and reinforced the importance of having good friends. I want to thank all who donated, some were friends and relatives of Jackie’s and some of mine. Whoever you are, whatever your reason for helping, please accept my sincere gratitude.

As of now, surgery is set for next Thursday . I will keep you updated on Jack’s progress. He is a lovely boy who deserves a long life. I’d like to think that’s possible now.

Thank you all for your help!

 

 

 

 

 

Books, Dance and Weddings

These past few weekends have been really busy ones for me. Last weekend, I was attending Authorfest up in Denison, Texas. It was so much fun and was a two day event. Friday, there was dinner and readings from the participating authors and Saturday, there were book signings , Bark and Paws events and even a parade. After the main event Saturday, there were more readings from the authors.

When I got home from church, Sunday, my kids came over, along with my grand daughter. This is an every week occurrence that we love. It gives us time to catch up with what is going on in our kids’ lives and time to play with Miss Doodle. She loves to play school and of course, being the kid, she has to be the teacher. She is quite strict and we get sent to time out if our participation is less than stellar. At any rate, there is a lot of giggling, eating, laughing and loving all meshed together in these little visits.

This weekend, Saturday boasted Doodle’s first dance recital. Her little class danced ballet to “A Spoonful of Sugar” of Mary Poppins fame. All were cute, but , I have to tell you , being the doting  nana, our little Doodle was the best and the cutest! When I was dancing in recitals, we danced and went home, glowing because we had made our mommies and daddies proud, but these kids, well, they get flowers for their performances . So, the glow is only secondary to the big people flowers they get for dancing their little hearts out.

Sunday, my husband, Stephen and I drove up to Pottsboro, Texas to Camp All Saints, the camp we perform “labor of love” weekends (getting ready for the children who come to the camp during the summer) with our Church for the unhoused. Only, this week, we went for Jason and Tricia’s wedding. What a beautiful couple they made. Tricia in her yellow dress and wedgie shoes and Jason in his nice pants and suit coat. Their vows, tender and loving made me think back to my own wedding day. Talk about glowing- Tricia was the most beautiful bride. Jason is a lucky man to have her and she is a lucky woman to have Jason.

And the world keeps on turning.

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Working Title

Hey y’all! I have finished the sequel to The Conservative Congregant and now have a working title. The title, as of this moment is “And Time Stood Still.” It encompasses the book pretty well, I think .

If you have read The Conservative Congregant, then you know it is about a woman who leaves her comfort zone to make a meal for the “unhoused” congregation of The City of Hope. The City of Hope is a church for the unhoused or homeless folks of the city. It is set in Dallas as the book is based on my actual church, The Gathering. The Gathering was a dream of Archdeacon Jim Webb  of the Episcopal Diocese here in Dallas. Thankfully, he was able to see it come to fruition before he passed away .

Back to the book. Because Eloise Dowager stepped out of her comfort zone to feed the homeless, many blessings come her way. I don’t know if you have noticed it, but that is truly what happens in real life. TCC  follows her as life takes her through the many changes that take place in her life, up to and including the day she makes the dinner. The blessing she receives is much more than one could ask for and she is truly blessed.

The sequel follows up on her blessing and all that entails. I cannot go through it with you for obvious reasons. But, suffice it to say that something big comes out of this book. I am very excited about it and hope to publish it to be released in June 2016.

My plans are to publish one or two more novellas and then publish the novel that will tie the story fully together. I hope you will follow me in this exciting journey and pick up the books as they come out in print or on Kindle.

Have a great week  and keep reading!

 

One of a Kind

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(Granddaddy Walker, Barbara Walker and Mama Walker)

Mama. That’s what we called her, though she was not our mother. Mama was the best grandmother-my favorite grandmother. She was my daddy’s mother and she was all mine. Well, that’s what I thought. She was a farm girl. Had been all her life. So, she was not a tiny little thing and she was not fragile. She could milk a cow with the best of them and who knows what else. She was not fat, but round and her lap was the most comfortable I think I’d ever slept in. She called me her favorite, but I think she told all her grandkids that. And every one of the grandkids knew they were her favorite. I sure did.

Mama stayed with me while my parents worked and my sister was at school. The days were filled with her working in the yard and me riding my stick pony. It was imperative I learn how to ride that stick horse to perfection because I wanted to be just like Mama. One time, while pulling weeds in the beautiful flower bed, Mama fell backward. She told me not to tell Daddy, but I had been worried about her and told him anyway. Besides, I never could remember when I was supposed to be quiet about something.

After working in the yard, Mama would read to me and she taught me to read when I was three. I loved it and she loved teaching me. We’d have lunch and I thought I was the luckiest little girl in the world because before I took my nap, I was allowed to watch
“As the World Turns”, her favorite soap opera.  Once it was over, we’d make the long trek down the hall to my room and she would lay down with me. I could never figure out how she woke up before I did, but she always did.

Mama took a blood thinner because she had hardening of the arteries. It made her smell funny- like medicine. But, it was Mama’s smell. It didn’t smell bad, it just smelled like Mama.

She made dinner for all of us because my parents worked so late. I can’t remember all she cooked, but I make her chicken and dumplins’ to this day. Oh my gosh, if ever there was as wonderful a meal as her chicken and dumplins’, I don’t know where it could be found.

There is nothing like yesterday’s grandmothers. They were old fashioned, they loved to give you things to eat and drink that made your body work more efficiently, if you know what I mean. And they were a tough bunch, having been farmers and whatnot all their lives.

Every kid thinks their grandmother is the best and you know what? They are right! I’ll bet your grandmother was the best as well! Here’s to our grandmothers!

 

 

A Love Song For Stephen

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I love Valentine’s Day as much as the next girl. I love to be told I’m loved and adored, I love to laugh  with my husband, Stephen and I love presents. But, some years, we’ve not had enough to get a Valentine’s present and make it through the week. You know, those lean years when you just have to choose which is more important. It is during those times I have felt more love than when I am given some token of love.

Love is a state of being. It’s not just a one day thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying (or am I ?) that one day out of the year does it for most people. I somehow can’t imagine that. But, many times, people choose only to show their affection through words and gestures on this one day.

My husband is not perfect. Neither am I. That’s what makes us so perfect for each other. But, my husband brags on me, tells of when we met with a gleam in his eye, talks about strengths he sees in me even before I see it myself and I do the same . We’re crazy about each other! That’s the whole thing. We are the real deal.

It’s not always been this way. No siree. There was a time when we were divorced. For two long years. I’m here to tell you we were the world’s worst divorced couple. We were miserable together and apart. But the thing was, we were more miserable apart than we ever were together. I moved away -way far away – to Granger, Texas. A four hour drive  from Stephen. Distance made no difference. If my car broke down, Stephen was there. If I was sick, he came to nurse me back to health. Flat tire? He came Stephen from Dallas to fix it.

Eventually, I moved back to Dallas and because I had no place to stay, Stephen let me stay at the house. It was Valentine’s Day 2000, when  he and the boys came in my room and said they’d talked and wondered if I would marry him again! He had asked the  boys if it was okay with them before he asked me. It was romantic and amazing and I realized I never had lost the love of my life. So, we married that April. We still celebrate our first marriage on our anniversary and six months later, we celebrate our second wedding anniversary. What could be more perfect than that?  We have the occassional argument, but not often at all.

So, I would like to suggest that Valentine’s is a state of mind and we would all do well to practice it every day. Besides, it’s more fun. It’s not the cards, flowers and stuff. Shoot! I have those things. But, the best thing, is the state of mind.

Stephen, “Wild Horses couldn’t drag me away.”

Beyond Words

I am hardly ever at a loss for words. I’m a natural talker and words are always my best friends. But, last night, my friend, Kim, sent me this photo her daughter took of the marquis of Half Price Books Flagship store in Dallas. It’s me! On the marquis! I was so surprised. I have a book signing for The Conservative Congregant this coming Sunday, so the store was advertising it.

I was so shocked! Needless to say, I’ve never had my name on a billboard, marquis or anything other than the role at school. So, I wanted to share this with you . I don’t want to toot my own horn, but it’s pretty cool!

 

 

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Which leads me to talk a little bit about marketing books. I’m trying to learn how to do this as Independent authors do not have the luxury of a publicist or marketing director. So, I thought, “What better way to advertise than to use my husband.” It was brilliant when I saw the advertisement for the shirt. I had to buy it. It was his Christmas present this year. He laughed when he saw it and said, “It’s really all about you, isn’t it?” Well, maybe  not all the time, but it’s fun when it is. Enjoy his promo ad for me.

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