Saturday, March 31, 2007

I've been collecting tax info all morning for my hubby. Seeing as how I'm so disorganized, that's a monumental task. In the middle of this mildly frantic search, he went to Kroger and bought a weather radio, then insisted I come program it. After I unpacked it, I sat him down in a good light with the owner's manual and told him to figure it out. Maybe that will keep him occupied for the next hour or so while I print reports from the banking software. It also could be better organized, but I'm not going to tackle that today. Maybe before tax time 2008, I'll do it. For people trying to live on a shoestring, we sure did spend a lot of money. "Cutting back" doesn't mean the same to me as it does to him, surprise, surprise! We probably need to have a serious discussion of priorities. Again.

Happy Birthday to my Number One Niece, Laura. Wish I had a recent picture of her, but I don't. She's lived up north ever since finishing college at Millsaps, first in Maine, now New York. I was so glad she came to her grandmother's funeral, and especially glad that she and Benji reconnected after several years of estrangement. With less than 2 months difference in their ages, they were close as children, but became alienated somehow. Maybe as adults they can be good friends again. I didn't get close to my favorite first cousin until we were in our 50's. I hope they don't wait that long. I'm hoping she shares the pictures she made at Jack's funeral.
Thanks, Betsy, for sending this recent picture of Laura and her 4 year old son Nathaniel.
Our long awaited rain is beginning to fall. We're about 5 or 6 inches below the average rainfall for this time of the year. Seems last year started out like this, too, but we finally got all we needed.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Father Tom's post from Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello deserves to be shared again. I have this book, but somehow with these single posts, I'm seeing these vignettes with new eyes. Trying to read the whole book at once left me with a larger dose of spiritual medicine than my system could possibly digest. Taken one at a time, they're very profound. Thank you, Tom, for sharing these.

His post of Monday the 26th gives a good description of all that happens during Holy Week at our church. Kinda reminds me of the old week-long Spring Revivals we used to have in the Baptist Church, without the meals. As organist, I was frequently invited to enjoy the hospitality of the different church ladies who cooked for the preachers and the musicians. At some point, the custom changed to meals in the fellowship hall provided by the different Sunday School classes. Even though the food was still great, it didn't have the warmth and charm of the meals served in the individual homes.

There is an effort underway at St. Philip's to form a supper club. It's for people who enjoy entertaining in their homes. As much as I enjoy going to others' homes for meals, I don't enjoy preparing meals for others. I'm much too self-conscious about my limited cooking skills, my small tacky house, my grouchy husband, my noisy dogs, any excuse will do. Just thinking about all the work involved gives me palpitations. That's probably the reason the revival meals became joint projects for Sunday School classes to serve at the church. Thank God, there are still people who consider casseroles and congealed salads to be fine cuisine.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

We had lunch at Fire Mountain today then I went shopping for a couple of hours. The temptation to buy new spring flowers was strong, seems they were everywhere. Until I finish cleaning my deck, though, the flowers will have to wait. I'm waiting on some rain to settle the dust and pollen first, otherwise I won't last long out there. We've got a 50% chance for Sat. and Sun. I hope we get it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Not much happening in this neck of the woods. Betsy moved today, back to her house in Jackson, so she's no longer a walk across the street away, but a 20 minute drive away. She's got a much roomier house with a yard and 3 dogs. They're outside dogs, though, unless the temp gets extremely cold or hot. I hope she enjoys all the extra space.

I found out last week that David O. has bought a house in the same neighborhood where Betsy and Richard will be living. I'm so glad he likes Jackson and obviously plans to stay here. Our church's music has flourished under his leadership and I would hate for that not to continue. We're giving him a housewarming next month. Everybody is buying Home Depot gift cards, which will be made into a bouquet by one of our very creative people. I still have not bought mine; I hope tonight was not the deadline to get it turned in.

Skip wants to come for a visit either next week or the next. With next week being Holy Week, the demands on my time don't leave much room for entertaining guests. In fact, Tuesday night is the only night I won't be at the church. I'll suggest he wait until after Easter.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Aunt Cathy got her niece's birthday wrong, it's the 27th. Sorry, Tarah. In our finest family tradition, you can celebrate for at least a week, even though "party" means entirely different things now that you're a settled, married lady, right? This wild child never had trouble finding fun from the time she was a 2 yr. old show-off streaking through her grandparents' living room singing, "Shake your booty," to the teenager who missed curfew and came through her aunt's kitchen window to be found asleep on the sofa the next morning. Tara Lee, Tara Lee! You always made me smile. Enjoy your special day, just don't go streaking in your birthday suit, ok?

I've got about 14 things vying for my attention today - bills to pay, thank you notes to finish, calls to return, a living room that has been transformed in the past week to a very messy artist's studio, spring cleaning, etc. My creative juices are flowing and I've got project ideas coming much faster than I can implement. So why am I sitting at this computer?

I'm outta here....

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Birthday to Tara Lee (aka Tarah), her 33rd, surrounded here by the 4 guys who love her the most. Three babies and still slender, you go, Girl!

Benji captured this sweet shot of the Pipster and I stole it from his Flickr site. Now that's an angel right there. Gramma loves you, Baby Boy!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, are two pictures worth two thousand words? I hope so.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I got a call one night this week from an old friend who called to express her sympathy for Mom's death. Flora is 86 years old and is one of the most vivacious and friendly people of Plantersville. She's lived in Jackson for over 50 years, but has maintained her ties to our hometown. She's related to a lot of the folks there through her Harris family, which includes the father of my children and our two sons.

She told me she no longer drives because of her macular degeneration, and how hard it was to give it up. She had visited with Mother, she said, when she lived at the Admiral. She claimed that Mother knew her, which surprised me, even played the organ for her. Mother had also told her that she wasn't driving "as much" since she came to Jackson because there was too much traffic, but that her car was parked in the garage in case she wanted to go to Cathy's house.

I didn't bother to refute Mother's inaccuracy to Flora, but the truth is that Mother gave up her driving altogether when we abducted her in 1998. She had become a danger to herself and to others, her insurance had been cancelled, and she wasn't telling us about all her accidents. I had to intervene.

Mother owned two identical cars and didn't even realize it, thanks to an unscrupulous car dealer, whom she considered one of her best church friends. He kept one at his shop, repairing her latest damage, then delivering it to her the day after her next wreck occurred. She thought he had repaired her wreck overnight. He even went to the trouble of removing her cassette tapes from the wrecked car, placing them in the repaired car, inserting the same tape in the tape player, so she would not be suspicious. Based on her bank statements and cancelled checks, we found out later, this had happened five times. He encouraged her to pay for the repairs herself without filing on her insurance, so that's what she was doing until she had a wreck that injured an old man, whose son was an attorney.

Trying to figure out this tangled business over the phone from Jackson with an 80 year old woman, whose mind was diminishing rapidly due to dementia, was not easy. Her pastor in Baldwyn, a former FBI agent, had gathered most of the pertinent facts. "You have to come get her," he insisted, "before she kills somebody." I drove to Plantersville that day determined to do whatever I had to do to coax her away from her home and her car.

I'd never been able to persuade my mother to do anything by reasoning, even before the dementia set in, so I used the only other tactic I knew would work with her- deception. I cooked up the tallest tale I could think of that might convince her to come with me back to Jackson: The State Treasurer's Office has unclaimed funds in Daddy's name and to claim it, Mama, you have to go in person to their office in Jackson, with proof of identity, your marriage license, and Dad's death certificate.

Mother was a sucker for sweepstakes, never "winning" anything but magazine subscriptions for all those $14.95 checks she wrote, so the promise of hitting the jackpot when she got to Jackson was the carrot I dangled in front of her. Little did she know, as we left her little maroon Buick Century parked in her carport, that she would never drive it again. I've never felt so low in my life.

We were in Jackson before I told her the truth. Thanks to her failing short term memory, she'd already forgotten about the empty promise I made to her. She stayed at my house for a couple of weeks, complaining frequently about all the bedrooms being upstairs, begging me to take her back to Plantersville, begging Mike, she even tried to bribe him.

Over and over, I said to her, "We're moving you to Jackson, Mama. We're selling your car[s]. Your insurance has been cancelled and your license revoked. You will not be driving again." Then Betsy and I took her to the Admiral Retirement Center to introduce her to her new home. She was livid. I had not seen her that mad since I was a small child and she was slapping at me with her house shoe. Again, I felt lower than a snake's belly.

I spent the first day and night with her to make sure she didn't try to leave, and by the second day, she was beginning to accept the idea of living in Jackson close to her children. Helping to seal the deal was the Admiral's cook Clemmie and her home-style meals. When we dismantled her house in P'ville, moved her organ into the parlor downstairs, and she played for the other residents, instantly winning their admiration and applause, she was sold. Two of the most difficult weeks of my life finally ended on a happy note.

Mother lived at the Admiral for 5 years and absolutely loved it. She couldn't remember any one's name, but she remembered her music. She was like a human jukebox, and most of the people there loved having her to entertain them. There was one senile old lady who resented the attention Mama got, but she called up that favorite excuse, "She's just jealous," and never let it bother her. (The complainer was also Church of Christ and didn't think Mother should be playing for their Sunday services, but she was soundly ignored by the organist and her fan club.)

I dread the health problems that come with aging. Losing my hearing, my sight, my mind, my mobility, all of it worries me. Hopefully, my children will be better equipped to help me than I was at helping my mother. And, guys, you don't have to make up any tall tale to lure me away from my house and my car. If you can hog-tie me, you can take me.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thanks to our Rector for posting this piece of wisdom from Anthony de Mello recently on his blog:

The devil once went for a walk
with a friend.

They saw a man
ahead of them stoop down and
pick up something from the ground.

“What did that man find?” asked
the friend.

“A piece of the truth,” said the devil.

“Doesn't that disturb you?” asked
the friend.

“No,” said the devil,
“I shall let him make
a belief out of it.”

A religious belief is a signpost
pointing the way to truth.
When you cling to the signpost you are prevented from
moving toward the truth because you think you have it

Anthony de Mello, SJ
The Song of the Bird


I was reminded this morning of the story in John 9 about the man born blind. The disciples, upon encountering the blind man, asked Jesus: Whose sin caused this man to be born blind? Was it his sin or his parents' sin?

Now where do you suppose they got the idea that the man's condition was the result of sin? Their prophets? Their rabbis? Their culture? Their parents? Their scripture?

Immediately, Jesus corrected their misunderstanding: You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light.

Could it be that we, like the disciples, are more comfortable with people who are born different from ourselves if we view them from a distance and discuss their condition, assigning sin and blame to them, rather than ministering to them, doing what we can to help them, embracing them as friend or neighbor? Could it be that our encounter with them is one of the many pop quizzes we get in the school of life?

"Look instead for what God can do," Jesus said. Not said, but implied was "for them and through them and for you when you get involved with them." Speculating about a person's condition is not the reason we are here, he says. We're here to do the work of our Heavenly Father. Concentrate on loving God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Then you won't have to worry about keeping all the laws or remembering what all the prophets said. It all boils down to these two principles.

Then setting an example for them and for us, Jesus "got his hands dirty" making mud to apply to the man's blind eyes. Immediately, the blind man regained his sight.

"But, Lord, what about him [a brother disciple]?" Simon Peter asked on another occasion, after being instructed by Jesus to "feed my sheep."

"If I want him to __________ , what is that to you?" The resurrected Jesus replied. "Remain until I return," goes in the blank, but Jesus could just as easily have said anything else. If I want him to feed my chickens, or my goats, or plow the field, or gather the harvest, don't worry about it. Do the job I gave you to do, and you won't have time to wonder about what he's doing. You will not have to answer for him, only for yourself. Get busy. The sheep are hungry.

May we take the fragments of truth we are given and not mistake our piece of the puzzle for the whole puzzle.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Our House of Bishops issued a resolution this week rejecting the ultimatum they were given last month following the Primates' meeting in Tanzania. It took moral courage and spiritual fortitude to block the surreptitious actions of the dissidents. They made me proud anew to be an Episcopalian.

The whole plot to undermine current leadership in TEC (The Episcopal Church) was revealed by the Washington Post back in 2004 when they published a letter by one of the ringleaders, outlining exactly what steps each parish should take in dissociating themselves from the "apostate TEC." I think this group is terribly confused, not just about TEC and its heritage of diversity and via media (the middle way), but also about God, the Bible, and Christianity in general.

I'm reminded in the midst of this controversy of my "God Box." From my perspective, I, and many others, see one thing; they and their followers are seeing something entirely different from where they stand. Yet, it's all the same box. Episcopalians have traditionally celebrated these different views instead of fighting about them. I think it's sad that our conservative element now wants to invalidate completely the views of the more moderate and liberal groups.

The issue over homosexuality is the primary point of contention, with our election of a female Presiding Bishop being the straw that broke the camel's back. We're nowhere near agreement on the injustice of patriarchy or the cause of gayness, and we may never be. But, as one contributor on the HoB/D forum said, "As Christians do we reject, ostracize, persecute as unholy 'other oriented' people until scientific evidence is conclusive? Or do we err on the side of grace, compassion and welcome? I would rather stand before the Great Judgment Seat of Christ and apologize for the latter."

"I pray that none will be offended if I seek to make the Christian religion an inn where all are received joyously, rather than a cottage where some few friends of the family are to be received." -- attrib. Richard Hooker

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

One of my reader's sent questions about the painted shoe box:
1) Why did you paint a shoe box?
2) What will you do with it, now that it's painted?
3) What does it look like? Pictures, please?

I painted my first shoe box several years ago when I began experimenting with acrylic paint. Since the medium is so versatile and will adhere to a variety of surfaces, and since I enjoy decorating 3-dimensional objects, the lowly shoe box presented itself one day as the perfect candidate for practice of different designs and techniques. I had lots of empty shoe boxes (what pack rat doesn't?), and they were free. I gave the first one to my sister, she took it to school and showed the art instructor, who used the idea in her class. I painted several more before my enthusiasm waned. (Nothing holds my interest very long.) But I continued to collect shoe boxes.

When my artistic muse returned on Monday and put my paintbrushes back in my hand, I immediately remembered the boxes I'd been saving for just this occasion. So after tiring of the single surface a canvas offers, I picked up one of the boxes. It's hard to describe how something so simple can be the source of such deep soul satisfying activity. It's like painting six different canvases at once. While one part dries, the next side is ready and begging for embellishment.

At some point, the idea of the God box came to mind. The only time I've encountered a God box was at a 12-step retreat when we were encouraged to write out our concerns and deposit them in a cedar box as an exercise in "letting go and letting God." It's a form of prayer, something intangible made tangible.

As I began to contemplate that idea, I realized my box was a good illustration of how different people have different views of God. No matter what angle we're looking from, it's impossible to see all the sides at once. Three is the most that can be seen at once. And every side is different. I haven't fully developed this idea, but it has possibilities, especially as a teaching tool for children and young people.

Whether this is an original concept or not, I don't know. I did a search on Google for The God Box and got several hits, but none that mentioned the same idea as mine. Pictures to follow...
I should have warned you - this is no sophisticated art form. Basically, it's the child in me playing with paint when I do this.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Yesterday I picked up my paintbrushes and began painting again. It's been over a year since I did this. I was inspired by a piece of fabric my sister bought for new kitchen curtains last week. It's a spring print with different kinds of birds and dogwood blossoms on a sky blue background. Birds and flowers are two of my favorite subjects, so I've painted her a new picture to coordinate with her curtains.

Trouble is, once I get started painting, I drift quickly into the zone. Hours pass before I know it. Nothing else is so relaxing. Today I spent 6 hours painting a shoe box. With the Singers and Standards music channel playing on the TV, and with Mike gone to the gym, then to lunch with Ron, and the dogs napping close-by, I got totally lost in the land of alpha brain waves, a kind of mini-vacation.

When Mike came in, his negativity sent me running for my upstairs sanctuary. I really didn't want to relinquish my peaceful place in the living room, but I was glad to have an easy escape available to me. It's not often I wait until 3pm to even log on to my computer.

The lyrics to a new song were in today's email, wish I knew the tune. It was written in 2005 by Dent Davidson of the Olympia, Washington Diocese for the consecration service of their new Bishop Suffragan. Our choir is buying a new anthem in memory of my mother. If David doesn't already have something picked out, I'd like for him to investigate this new song. I'll suggest it to him tomorrow night.

Open, open, open my heart. I must be open to everyone.
Often goes Love in the stranger’s guise. Open, open my heart.

You are the peace of all things calm;

You are the place to hide from harm;
You are the light that shines in dark;
You are the heart’s eternal spark.

You are the caller, You are the poor;

You are the stanger at my door;
You are the wanderer, The unfed;

You are the homeless with no bed.

You are the one driven insane;

You are the child crying in pain;
You are the other who comes to me;
If I open to another you’re born in me.

You are the door that’s open wide;

You are the guest who waits inside;
You are the light, the truth, the way;

You are my Savior this very day."

Open, open, open our hearts; we must be open to everyone.

Often goes Love in the stranger’s guise; open, open our hearts!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Some of the more unusual email I opened today included a link to the Rev. Albert Mohler's blog. His March 2 posting has caused quite a stir in certain circles. Seems he has been considering, of late, the possibility that homosexuality may indeed be caused by genetic factors. I say, "good for him!" It's about time. For those not familiar with Dr. Mohler, he is the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. As interesting as the initial blog was, equally thought-provoking is his reaction to all the feedback he got, which he posted on Mar. 16. Since every angle of this issue has been covered elsewhere, I'll not expound on the subject today, but I recommend it to those who are interested.

Another intriguing article from the L.A. Times says "We live in the land of biblical idiots." This March 14th opinion column is being discussed on one of my favorite email forums HoB/D (House of Bishops and Deputies of the Episcopal Church). Since this has been one of my few complaints about Episcopalians, I was glad to see the problem being taken seriously. Coming from a Sou. Bapt. background, I was shocked when, in an adult Sunday School class, people had to look in the index to find the book of Romans. Some didn't know if it was in the Old or the New Testament. That's one of the reasons Episcopalians love to get converts from the Baptist church, we are so thoroughly instructed with Bible study. Faithfulness in giving and attendance are the other two qualities they much admire in us, sometimes awarding us with instant status as serious Christians.

Paul Krugman, in his NY Times column writes a response to Time Magazine's recent cover of Ronald Reagan with a tear rolling down his cheek. Don't Cry for Reagan encapsulates the problem that has evolved from the conservative movement to the Bush Administration.

Obviously, I'm doing more reading than writing today.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mike and I had an ugly disagreement this morning and I came much too close to doing physical violence to him. We were watching the History Channel, a program about campus demonstrations during the Vietnam war, and I was trying to hear the narrator's summary statement at the very end. Mike started talking and I raised my hand in a "just-a-minute" gesture. He ignored it and just talked louder, annoyed that I had dare asked him to wait to speak. "Don't you hear the dog at the door?" he demanded.

It was his total disregard for my simple request that ignited my fury. "I've had it!" I exclaimed, and I jumped up looking for his cane to beat him to death. Totally exasperated, I was suddenly flooded with feelings that triggered the tears I've wanted to cry for a long time. The losses in my life that have piled up to overflowing - Mike's health, Mother's death, hometown friends, youth, control - it was all in there.

It was not a good cry, compared to some I've had. I immediately censured myself for having a "pity party," but a few tears escaped before I could turn off the faucet. Some of the pressure was relieved.

After about 10 minutes of emotional conversation and apologies, we had our devotional. The first prayer, A Morning Resolve, which we usually recite together, made me start crying again, so Mike did it by himself:

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking;
cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence;
exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.
In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.
And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then I read the Gospel appointed for today, Luke 18:9-14:

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’

That passage hit me hard, especially the commentary written by our fellow parishioner Bill Burke. (We've been using the Lenten devotional book written by St. Philip's Ultreya members.) Just last night I had criticized a Baptist brother for seeing everything in black and white, claiming to always be right. Now who is the worst Pharisaical hypocrite, Cathy?

We closed our devotional with For Today as we normally do, together:

O God:
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Thirty-eight years ago, I started working for Southern Bell Telephone Co. in Nashville, TN. Eight years ago I retired from BellSouth. St. Patrick's Day has always been special to me. From A Retreat with St. Patrick, here's one more prayer:

This day I call to me: God's strength to direct me, God's power to sustain me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's vision to light me, God's ear to my hearing, God's word to my speaking, God's hand to uphold me, God's pathway before me, God's shield to protect me, God's legions to save me.

May we all be inspired by Ireland's favorite saint, driving all the snakes we can from the islands we inhabit. May the greenness of the shamrock remind us we are ever growing and learning, and that none of us has reached ultimate wisdom or spiritual maturity in this life.

...dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne...

Friday, March 16, 2007

A child prodigy, such as my mother, doesn't necessarily grow up to be narcissistic. I believe there were several factors that influenced Mother's self-centeredness. Deedo was only one of them.

There were also her aunts, uncles and grandparents who elevated her status at family gatherings by allowing her to perform her musical magic, while the other children were expected to be seen, but not heard, causing most of her cousins to resent her terribly. The same situation occurred at school and at church, where she garnered much more attention than her peers. She was not just a good musician, but a gifted student, as well, winning all the academic contests and skipping from first to second grade at mid-term, then breezing through third and fourth grades in one year instead of two. Had she been modest about her accomplishments, the other children would have liked her better, but she frequently derided them for being so "dumb."

"They're just jealous," her mother consoled, and she used that excuse all her life, whenever she encountered a cold shoulder. Her emotional growth was stunted by that attitude, as she came to see most of her problems as the fault of others. There were no brothers and sisters to puncture her puffed-up pride, so she grew up believing she was always in the right and others were simply wrong. Nothing frustrated my father more than her inability to admit a mistake or say she was sorry for anything. She was very insensitive to others' feelings.

Jack enjoyed other advantages that further inflated her ego. She was always dressed stylishly, thanks to her mother who was a superior seamstress. And one of the silliest things she did was to drink Coca-Colas every morning for breakfast. She didn't do this at home, but waited until she got to school, so all the others could watch her enviously. If they had that sweet elixir once a week, it was a real treat. Jack had it everyday, and for breakfast, no less. What a show-off! One of her cousins told me this not long ago, and at 80 years old, she still had a tone of resentment when she told it.

If Mother was affected by the Great Depression, I never heard her mention it. Most people her age recalled very well its hardships and deprivation, but not Jack. She never lived in a house that did not have indoor plumbing or electricity. She never wore hand-me-downs. She had very few chores to do. She never worked in the fields or the garden. Her family was not wealthy, but they had more than most during that time. She remembered the 30's as a wonderful time when she and her mother were very close. She worked at her father's sawmill as a bookkeeper, then went to Jackson Business College. The only regret from that time I ever heard her express is that she did not take the full scholarship to Blue Mountain College that she was awarded as a high school senior. She was only 16 when she graduated, and much too young, her mother said, to be that far away from home.

So no, George, she was not a spoiled only child, simply because she had no siblings. Her spoilers were many, mainly her mother, and she was enabled all her life to take a pass on anything she didn't want to do. About 10 years ago, I overheard her tell a physical therapist, "My husband never made me do anything I didn't want to do, and you're not going to either." She had fallen on ice in her driveway and broken her pelvic bone. He was trying to help her recover, but soon fled her hospital room with, "You're the stubbornest old woman I've ever seen. See if I care that you never walk again!" The poor man had no way of knowing that she was exempt from the rules that applied to everybody else. Somehow, she recovered without physical therapy, which only reinforced her obstinacy.

The remark I heard the most last week-end from those who knew her was, "What a character!" Then they would smile, or laugh. She was truly an original.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It felt so good to get back to choir last night with my favorite irreverent Episcopalians. I had requested they pray for my dysfunctional family as we gathered for Mother's funeral, so I was happy to report that their prayers were effective and much appreciated. I heard a couple of stories about family feuds at funerals that made my family's discord sound very mild in comparison. I also heard how much they thought I favored my mom. I heard that from several P'ville people, too. It's in my double chin, the jowls and the sad eyes where I see Jack the most.

Daddy always told me I had my mother's hands. I just wish my hands could make music the way hers did. Just about everybody who viewed her body noticed her painted nails and remarked how they had never seen them unpolished. I picked up that practice, too, due in large part to her influence, but also to my father's. He thoroughly indoctrinated me with his idea of femininity:

The girl that I marry will have to be
as soft and sweet as a nursery
A girl to call my own
She'll wear satin and laces and smell of cologne
Her nails will be polished and in her hair
She'll wear a gardenia and I'll be there
'Stead of knittin' she'll be sittin'
By my side and she'll purr like a kitten.
The girl that I marry, the girl that I carry will be.

I asked Mother to bequeath her musical talent to me, but alas, I have yet to find it if she did. I was able to sing all 3 octaves from high C to low C last night when the choir warmed up with scales, an ability of mine she claimed to envy, but the fingers are still just as lost as they ever were when I sit down at the piano. Not only was Mother able to reproduce any musical score she heard (and usually it took only one hearing), she could modulate any song to any key effortlessly. She had perfect pitch and could identify all the wrong notes we played from 3 rooms away, very disconcerting and intimidating for amateurs such as her unskilled children.

Even though Mother seemed to have zero maternal instincts, she made sure we got "mothered" by her mother; whose idea that was, I'm still not sure. I wonder if Deedo ever blamed herself that Jack was totally clueless in child-rearing skills. Probably not. She gained a lot of her own self-esteem from the fact that she and Irvin had produced a child prodigy and was happy for her to stay very child-like in many ways. Why else would she so willingly step in and "take up the slack" like she did? In more ways than child-rearing, too. The pay-off for her was considerable.

Deedo was much better equipped to be a pastor's wife than Mother was. She loved to cook and entertain guests, she enjoyed Bible study and socializing. Her domestic skills and interests, her people skills far out-weighed her daughter's. Subsequently, she served as sort of a surogate hostess at the parsonage. Mother handled those duties adequately as long as Deedo was there to coach the cooking from backstage, to arrange the flowers, starch and press the table linens, wash the dishes, pots and pans, but Deedo died in 1965. Without her, Mother floundered. Her idea of entertaining guests was to sit at the piano and play music all evening. How could she possibly do that and serve a 3 course meal? "Let them eat cake!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Our coffeemaker quit last week, so we've been drinking instant Folger's for several days. That's as good an excuse as any to spend a few hours wandering around Walmart, don't you think? or Target? A tightwad like me does much more looking than buying, but we definitely need a new coffee pot, so that's how I'm planning to spend at least part of my day. I'd love to have one like Mary and Dave have, a Hamilton Beach Brewstation; Jill gave it to them last year for a Mother's/Father's Day gift. It makes great coffee and there's no glass carafe to wash everyday. I could probably find one online, but that doesn't satisfy my need to touch and handle and read the box like store shopping does.

Rain is forecast for mid-day, with thunderstorms possible. I need to be at home with Jay-Jay then, so I'll wait til that's over. I'm ready for some rain, this pollen is about to get me.

I'm losing a good renter this month. Betsy got her house on Gardner St. back and is planning to move back to it by the end of the month. Danny hasn't taken very good care of it, but it will be cathartic for her to clean and reclaim it. The hardest part will be the back yard where his junk shed, an old car and three dogs have resided for several years. I'm so glad she didn't sign away her claim to their property, most of the equity is hers, so she deserves to have it. Congratulations, Sis!

I didn't get very far with housecleaning yesterday, maybe 10% of all of it, but that's ok. As long as we're not having company, I'm comfortable with it. My sinuses told me to quit stirring up so much dust, so I quit after a couple of hours. Cleaning chemicals don't help with the allergies, either; I probably should order some of Don Imus's Greening and Cleaning products, or call in a maid service. I did get most of the death claim forms ordered.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Finalizing all the business relating to Mother's death will take most of my spare time for awhile. I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the moment. Thankfully, my hubby is gone for most of the day, so I should be able to concentrate. The blogging will be delayed, however, until I can put some of this behind me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mike just left for the gym, so blessed peace and quiet is settling down in my house and I could easily go back to bed and sleep a while longer. The time change was greeted eagerly by my early bird husband, who was tired of waiting until 7 to awaken me. The new 7 is much better aligned with his natural sleep pattern. He has done nothing but whine and complain since he got up, though, so I warned him not to come back home until he's adjusted his attitude. I have used up all my patience for his gloom and pessimism already. Lord, give me strength.

Our vet called about 8:30 last night to let me know he was at the clinic, if I wanted to get the dogs. I was so glad to get them back home. They are so affectionate and were a very comforting presence to me when I went to bed, snuggling extra close to their "Mommy."

I need to rifle through my purse and pockets this morning for all the phone numbers and email addresses I collected from different people this week-end. I scribbled them on various scraps of paper and stuffed them in whatever was closest. Several mentions were made of this blog and George's blog, and several people asked me to send the links. There were a couple of 80+ year olds who are computer savvy and surfing the Internet regularly. I was impressed. Welcome to the new readers and thank you for your interest.

The site meter has been out of order since last week, so the stats are off. But the stats don't tell the whole story of those who read this blog. Evidently, some readers are forwarding the posts to others to read, so the site meter doesn't account for them. I was humbled by some of the positive feedback I got, and I was amused by some of the not-so-positive feedback I got. I don't intentionally step on other people's toes, but sometimes I just can't help myself. I speak the truth as I see it and I have an unconventional way of seeing some things, so not everybody agrees with me. That's fine with me. They have first amendment rights, too, so let them express their own views. I totally support their right to do that.

My house is screaming for attention. If there's one thing I got from my mother it was her aversion to housework. Today I'll call on the Deedo in me and try to "getter done."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What a week-end! I'm exhausted. We went by the vet's office to get Gus and Jay-Jay, but no one was there for a Sunday pick-up. I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow. I've missed my babies terribly.

Mom's funeral was very simple, but sweet. I had her dressed in a white suit with pink lipstick and nail polish. I haven't seen her look so beautiful in a long, long time. Her number one grandson put the "Z" from a Scrabble game in her hand for the finishing touch. There was a lot more joy and laughter this week-end than sadness and tears. All her children and grandchildren were there, along with four great-grandchildren and several family in-laws. Everybody was friendly and cordial. I heard no animosity or rudeness, for which I was extremely grateful. I only wish we had made a picture of the whole group. I can't foresee this crowd being together again like we were on Saturday.

Ricky Bishop's eulogy was personal and affirming. I'm glad she requested him to do it. I liked the pastor, Danny Balint, at Plantersville, too. He has a calm, reassuring manner that was comforting, and a sincere desire to please that helped me feel confident enough to leave all the little details of the service up to him. The dinner served by the church ladies after the funeral was a veritable feast.

The highlight of the whole service for me, however was the trio's music. Katey, Laurie, and Molly have matured into beautiful women with equally beautiful voices. It thrilled me to hear them and brought me closer to tears than anything that happened all week-end. They sang "Blessed Assurance," "Solid Rock," and "Because He Lives." It was not hard to remember them as children running through that door from Sunday School to where I was seated by the organ with hugs and kisses for "Miss Cathy! Miss Cathy!" One of my favorite memories while I was there. Here is the most recent photo I have of LaRue and her lovely daughters. It was made before Laurie delivered Marlee K in February. I loved seeing so many old friends, especially LaRue, Mary, Jane, Jean, Lynette, Brenda, Gloria, Jeanette, too many to name. I wish I'd had more time to spend with them. I've got to make a point of going back up there when I have time to visit with all of them.

We ate breakfast today at Shoney's with Ricky and his family. Clay and Cooper could not have been sweeter. They're going to be in Gulf Shores for spring break next week and invited us down. I wish I could go, but leave Mike here. Fat Chance.

Mom's house appeared to be still vacant. I'm meeting with Steve Holland this week to discuss how we might be able to save it from being claimed by Medicaid. He came during Saturday's visitation and entertained everyone with his stories. He's as funny as Jerry Clower used to be, and handles stand-up comedy like a pro. No wonder he's such a good politician. I heard from a Democratic friend that he is a real thorn in the side of our Republican governor.

Mike got ugly a couple of times, but I stood my ground until he calmed down and got himself rational and under control. As an only child, he can't help that he's self-centered, so when I remind him that he must take my feelings into consideration, he usually does. I just get tired of having to remind him. It was the worst part of the whole week-end. It reminded me of what I went through with Mother following Daddy's funeral. The only child is at a real disadvantage in situations that require empathy. Neither Mike nor Mother are/were any good at it.

The weather could not have been more perfect, mild temps, no rain. With many first signs of spring, the landscape was mostly in soft pastels, with some bare winter tree limbs for contrast. Coming home on the Trace reminded me what a master artist our Creator is.

For everything there is a season...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Here's the obituary from the Tupelo paper today. No time for anything else. We're finally outta here.

Cathryn Johnson

PLANTERSVILLE - Cathryn Vance "Jack" Johnson, 88, died Tuesday, March 6, 2007, at Manhattan Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jackson after an extended illness. A Harperville native, she was born Nov. 12, 1918, to the late Irvin and D.O. Anderson Vance. She was valedictorian of the 1935 graduating class of Walnut Grove High School. She then went on to Jackson Business College. On Oct. 8, 1942, she married the Rev. Joseph Silas Johnson, a longtime Baptist minister. During World War II, she was employed with Southern Bell Telephone Company as a telephone opererator. While living in Noxapater earlier in her life, she worked as a secretary with Fair Lumber Company in Louisville. After moving to Plantersville, she worked as a secretary with Gravlee Lumber Company and later Milam Manufacturing, before joining The Peoples Bank & Trust Company until her retirement in 1984. She was a longtime church musician, serving at Noxapater Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Plantersville, and over 25 years with the First Methodist Church Baldwyn.

Services will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Plantersville. The Rev. Danny Balint will officiate, and the Rev. Rickey Bishop will deliver the eulogy. Burial will be in Plantersville Cemetery. W.E. Pegues Funeral Directors is in charge of the arrangements.

Survivors include two daughters, Cathy Garrett (Mike) and Betsy Conaway (Richard); one son, Paul Johnson (Judy), all of Brandon; seven granchildren, Ricky Borden, Benji Borden, Laura Conaway, Tara Conaway, Brian Conaway, Vance Johnson and Deanne New; 10 great-grandchildren, Clay Borden, Cooper Borden, Bella Golightly, Phin Golightly, Silas Borden, Nathaniel Goodyear, Sawyer Hoeschele, Griffin Hoeschele, Cyrus Hoeschele and Harlee Johnson.
Pallbearers will be Craig Gaines, David Hill, Billy Roberson, Dewey Davis, David Monaghan Sr. and Lawrence Estes.

Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. today and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.

Online condolences may be made at

Memorials may be made to the Plantersville Youth Program (Future Boys & Girls Club) in care of Create Foundation, P.O. Box 1053, Tupelo, MS 38802.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I'm so glad we scheduled this funeral for Saturday. I had trouble getting motivated to do much of anything yesterday except laundry. Betsy and I went to the nursing home to pick up Mother's personal effects; I still didn't find her dentures, though. And I did get most of the phone calls made that needed to be made. That took a large chunk of my time. All the kind sentiments expressed were encouraging, so today I'm more energized and ready to tackle the trip to Tupelo.

Hopefully, Mike got most of his anxiety over with and is ready to travel, too. His negativity at a time like this is just not helpful. Even though I decided early not to let it bother me, my chest pains started again. As long as Tylenol knocks it out, I'll be ok. I didn't get the EKG run. It will have to wait until next week. He did get the car washed and went to the grocery store. He's trying to contribute in a positive way, so I'm thankful for that.

LaRue's daughters have agreed to sing, for which I am enormously grateful. I don't want any organ music, I can't imagine any organ music that would comfort at this special organist's funeral, and since the arrangements have been left up to me, do I really need to consult anyone else about this? The church ladies are planning a meal after the funeral at the church, for which I hope everybody stays and enjoys. I still haven't decided how Mother should be dressed. I know she didn't want anything that looked like a nightgown, but her favorite pants suit was not hanging in her closet, so we'll have to use something else. A couple of her dresses are here in my closet, still in cleaning bags from several years back when she went totally to wearing pants. Maybe I should just use one of them.

So many details, and I haven't even started packing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mother left to go home last night at 11:10 pm. I'm so happy for her, no more pain and suffering, just everlasting joy in the presence of her Savior and her loved ones. O happy day! Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayers. Give rest to thy servant Cathryn, O Christ, with thy saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting. Amen.

I didn't find out about it until this morning. The phone line in my bedroom was causing interference on my computer, so I had unplugged it, intending to replace it, but hadn't. Betsy called after she got to school to tell me, quite perturbed that the nursing home had to call her instead of me.

The funeral will not be until Saturday at Plantersville Baptist Church, the hour not yet decided, but probably about 4 pm. The weather for Tupelo this week-end is supposed to be partly cloudy and mild temps, 70/48 on Fri., 67/48 on Sat. Visitation will be Friday night at Pegues Funeral Home and Saturday afternoon. Her friend Rickey Bishop will give the eulogy with Pastor Danny Balint assisting. I'd love to have the choir from Baldwyn and Plantersville combine to sing like they did at Daddy's funeral, or maybe the Peters girls trio to sing. Any chance of that, LaRue?

I've got so many loose ends to tie up here before we head to Tupelo. The dogs aren't going to be happy about being boarded again. Since we're staying with Dave and Mary, I may take them with us. The cats are ok by themselves, except Patches has a tail injury I'm concerned about. She came in last night with the last 2 inches of her tail hairless and bloody. She wouldn't let me touch it, and how it happened is anybody's guess. I just hope it doesn't get infected. I found the missing fur this morning on the deck. She must have got it caught in something.

Paul is at Lake Washington in a fishing tournament, but said he would come whenever I wanted him to. Ricky and family will drive from Tampa on Friday, Benji and family will probably come on Friday, too. Ricky is staying at Jeanette's, not sure where Benji will stay. Karen said they would probably just get a motel room. Benji has so many friends in Tupelo, I'm sure he can find a place to go. Betsy and Richard will probably get a motel room, too. I wish Laurie and Tara could come and bring their families, including Brian. I think it would help Betsy to get through this family ordeal if her children were with her. She felt alienated and ostracized at Daddy's funeral because she wanted Danny to sit with the family and Mother did not want him to. That should not be a problem this time. I just hope everybody comes in their most mature and civil frame of mind with volatile emotions under control.

Empower and bless our best behavior, Lord, and prevent any ill will from rearing its ugly head. Give me the strength and patience to navigate the treacherous waters of family feuds and grant us smooth sailing while we're gathered to tell Jack good-bye. Let us do honor to the memory of our parents, and bring honor and glory to you. In the sweet name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

There was a certain amount of money set aside for family expense in the plans we made with Pegues, but I'm thinking that money may need to go to the nursing home, since Medicaid never picked up those two months that were in dispute. Not sure how we'll cover that.

I've got several loads of clothes to wash, and more phone calls to make. Better get busy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Providence Hospice team met with me at the nursing home yesterday and went over the services they perform for the patient and the patient's family. There was a nurse, a social worker, and a chaplain, all Baptists, so I'm sure Mother is in good hands. She was frowning and moaning the whole time I was with her, which told me she was in more pain than the day before when she wasn't frowning. Pain medication will be applied by a patch, since she is not always cooperative in taking pills. There were a dozen or more forms to sign authorizing them to treat, to bill Medicare and Medicaid, a do not resuscitate order, etc. They asked me to bring her portable CD player back with some of her favorite music to play and agreed to ask the staff to keep the TV noise (something she used to complain about) to a minimum, since her roommate is not in the room most of the time.

When I told the chaplain that her idea of heaven looks a lot like Walnut Grove, he laughed and said, "I hope there's more to it than that. I'm from Morton and I never thought there was anything heavenly about it or Walnut Grove." (Morton and Walnut Grove are in the same neck of the woods, for you non-Mississippians.) Three Dog Night said, "Heaven is in your mind." They may be right. I know Mother would be deliriously happy to find a little white frame house like the one she grew up in with her mother and father and husband there to welcome her home.

My earliest memory is from this house. I was playing on the bed in the back bedroom and Papaw gave me a bottle of Coca-Cola. I lay down and turned it up to drink as though it had a nipple. Coke went everywhere, of course, choking me and soaking the bedding, which brought Deedo running from the next room to rescue the baby and to scold her careless husband, "Irvin, are you trying to drown the baby!" My recall of the incident has always been vivid. I've been told it happened when they were keeping me while Mother was at Baptist Hospital in Jackson having Betsy, so I was 15 months old.

Another clear memory I have is the night my parents came home with my newborn brother Paul. We lived in Noxapator in the Baptist parsonage. It was a very stormy night and the wind had blown open the gate to the barnyard allowing our milk cow Cherry to wander out and get lost. Papaw had been out in the driving rain trying to find her, but didn't. The power went out, so when Mom and Dad came in with the new baby, we couldn't see him very well in the candlelight. Later, Papaw and Daddy went back out with a lantern to continue the search for the lost cow. That baby is 57 years old today. Happy birthday, Brother!

Monday, March 05, 2007

I noticed on the inside cover of the Bible I use every morning that we were at the last day of Cursillo 12 years ago today. I made Cursillo history that morning by making everybody wait for me to start the early morning service. The staff came knocking on everybody's doors at some ungodly pre-dawn hour that Sunday saying we should all go to the chapel immediately, like there was some sort of emergency. Everybody but me complied. Not being an early morning person by nature, I balked. "I'm not going anywhere until I've had a shower and dressed," I told my roommate, "y'all go on without me."

As it turned out, they can't start until all participants are there. The early service is attended by not just those at the retreat but by our sponsors and former Cursillistas, as well, some of whom traveled many miles for this surprise welcoming and homecoming. Imagine my embarrassment when I finally made my appearance at a chapel service that was full to overflowing with people who wanted to congratulate and welcome us into the circle of the retreat's graduates and former graduates. I was the only one there fully dressed and with combed hair and make-up; everybody else was in sweats or bathrobes and most had not even taken the time to comb their hair. They all must have thought I was terribly vain to keep so many people, including the bishop himself, waiting while I took my time making myself presentable. I was teased unmercifully by those who knew me and some who didn't.

Cursillo is one of those spiritual mountain tops that is special while it lasts but not something I expect in my Christian life from now on. Most seemed to think it should continue forever and would if we continued to make the weekly and monthly reunion meetings and to follow the formula that had been carefully developed and prescribed. The evangelistic tone was a turn-off to me, and the exclusivity and secrecy of the whole group disturbed me. Coming from a very evangelistic background, I was alarmed by the number of Episcopalians who seemed to want to emulate what I was glad to leave behind with the Baptists.

It was billed as a leadership training retreat, and I realized I had not been called to leadership if this is what is required. It was like Summer Camp, Vacation Bible School and Revival Week all rolled into one event, much too much busy-ness for me. We met with the reunion groups called Ultreya a few times, but it seemed so elementary compared to what I'd already been taught that I soon lost interest. And as I soon discovered, most of the people who are involved with this movement are very conservative Republicans. None of them admired Bill Clinton, but me, and I had very little tolerance for their ridicule and derision for him and his fellow Democrats.

There is a large and lively contingent of this movement at St. Philip's. I've tried to persuade myself to get involved with them once again, but the one Ultreya meeting I attended was not something I could get enthused about. Some of my favorite people in the church are members of the group, and I always enjoy their company one-on-one, but put them all together and I feel nothing but relief when the whole thing is over. I wish I could be comfortable with them, but I'm not, and I can't pretend I am.

LaRue mentioned in her latest blog about being an introvert. When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test, I discovered that I am an INFP - introverted, intuitive, feelings and perception based, also interpreted to mean reserved, introspective, friendly, and probing. I was conditioned, trained, and expected to be extroverted for the first half of my life, but it wore me down. I need lots of down time, too, Friend, alone time, pondering time, blogging time. We do have a lot of differences, but in this way we are alike.

Henry David Thoreau said, If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Lots of women hear a different drummer, too.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mother looks incredibly well for the condition she's in. Her skin and her eyes were as clear as could be. Today she ate a good breakfast and all of her lunch. She looked up at me and smiled when I spoke to her, but she said nary a word while Mike and I were there. The television was on, but she wasn't watching it, so I turned it off, hoping to get some reaction from her, but there was none. She made soft, moaning grunts the whole time, her breathing and coughing were very shallow and I heard a rattle of congestion in her chest. I spoke with her about family members, but I couldn't tell by her facial expression whether she was listening or understanding what I said. She showed very little interest in anything I did or said, even the tunes I hummed did not generate any response.

Hospice care will be given without moving her. She stays in the same room with the same roommate and staff tending her. The main difference is that she will be medicated for pain. They have concluded by her little moans that she is hurting, even though she has not admitted she has any discomfort since being discharged from the hospital last May.

My chest pains have subsided, but I plan to get an EKG run tomorrow at the doctor's office. He may want to change my meds or something. I went to sleep at 4 pm yesterday and slept for almost 14 hours, getting up around 6 pm to feed the dogs and take them out. Then I changed into pajamas and went right back to bed, and slept until almost 6 this morning. I have felt much better today. Maybe all I needed was some rest.

Congratulations to Karen - she got the job at CBU! Benji sounded so excited in the message he left while we were at church. I hope he can land something similar. It will be so great to have them back in Memphis, I can hardly wait. Keep them in your prayers.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It's so good to be back at home, sweet home! I loved keeping my youngest grandchild and seeing the rest of his family, but between the short 2 year old and the 5'9" tall 2 year old, this gramma is tired. I was so stressed last night that I went to sleep shortly after 8 pm and woke up around midnight with chest pains. I took an Aleve and finally went back to sleep.

We took Pip to the Memphis Zoo yesterday and enjoyed about 3 good hours with him before the meltdown began. It was his naptime and brother! did he need it! We went back to the hotel, he finished his nap, and woke up in a delightful mood, ready to play. My biggest disappoitment of the day was to discover that my camera batteries were dead. I missed some really cute shots. Benji made this one on their way to see Gramma.

Gus and Jay-Jay were so happy to see us when we picked them up. They've both had baths, Gus had his annual check up and got his 3 yr. rabies shot. Jay-Jay got some "happy juice" on Thursday when it was stormy, and slept through the whole thing.

The nursing home called as soon as I got in to say that Mother is in a decline and needs to be moved to hospice. I gave them the ok, but they don't plan to move her until Monday. I'm planning to go see her in a little while and see if she will respond to me. The nurse said she is not responding to them at all.

Happy Belated Birthday to Betsy, who turned 59 yesterday. Paul has his 57th on Tuesday. May the increasing years bring increasing wisdom to both of you.