From mud puddle to seashore

This morning my Uncle Stanley died.

He had been in poor health for some time, and even before that he struggled with many other matters as well.  He was no doubt weary, and his body was no longer serving him well.  He had been on life support more times than I can remember and had managed to fight back again and again.  I remember joking with my dad after one of those touch-and-go instances that he may have been part cat.  Nine lives and then some.

My earliest memory of him is when he came to stay a weekend with us when I was still young and pudgy and bossy (some days I guess I may still be the latter two of those things, anyway).  He was in the next room as I was matter-of-factly bossing my big sister around and I remember his chuckle as he told my dad what he’d overheard me say.

When that big sister of mine called me crying this morning, I remembered that for some reason, that Johnny Cash voice and the crinkles around his eyes when he was happy and smiling and doing well, and then I shed my tears too.

The sadness and the mourning are a completely natural response.  But after sitting with that for a moment, I started to think of what he must be seeing now, and the immeasurable peace and joy that must come with moving from a broken body in this mud puddle of a world on to the beautiful seashore of the afterlife, for we truly are

“like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”-C.S Lewis

We cling to this life, not being able to fully grasp that we are offered something that is

SO

MUCH

MORE

when it’s over.  We can’t comprehend the magnificence of what we have not yet experienced, so we try desperately to stay in our insufficient little shells in this broken little place because the beautiful parts of it, which are really only mere shadows-whispers-of the glory to come, are all we know by which to measure.   And maybe that’s the only way it can be.

It’s natural to mourn the loss, but Stanley knew where he was going and I believe he was ready.  My aunt says his favorite song says, “When I get to where I’m going there will be only happy tears. I will shed the sins And sorrows I have carried all these years.”  How lovely that is.  So even though we will mourn, right now my Uncle Stanley is having the time of his afterlife at the Seashore, and so I mourn and rejoice simultaneously.

So let me rephrase that opening sentence for more detail and accuracy:

This morning, after coming near death at least a dozen times over the past several years, my Uncle Stanley with the Johnny Cash voice who struggled with the health of both his body and his spirit for a great portion of his life slipped out of the wearisome burden of his earthly body and went running into the open arms of his heavenly Father.

Yes.  That’s so much better.

 

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

 

Resu-mom

Well friends, Kristen is now driving all over the place, Anna is officially a teenager and it has been occurring to me more and more lately that my girls are growing up and will be gone from my little nest in, oh, about five short minutes.  But let’s not wallow in panicked self-pity today.  That’s not what this post is about!  This post is about what I’m going to do when they’re gone.  In other words:

What’s a  momma with nobody to momma gonna do with herself?

My girls and I are pretty tight, and at the risk of sounding kind of pathetic and non-progressive to my more career-oriented readers, I admit to being pretty tied up in my title of mom to the point that my identity is pretty centered around it.  And that’s ok with me, since in my opinion if you bring life into the world you should probably expect to center your world around raising those beings for a good chunk of years.  But yeah…I am going to need something to fill my time when that job is done.

I am going to  need a distraction of epic proportions.

Or at the very least something that keeps me on a schedule where I really am forced to not stay in bed weeping into my pillow alone in the fetal position and feeling like my life and purpose are done the entire time Seth is at work.  ‘Cause that’s not sexy.

I need to start think about me and what to do with me and all of that jazz.

So in that spirit, potential future employers, here’s my resume for your consideration.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Angela Hayden

Objectives

Fill time in a productive manner and contribute to my work environment in a manner which distracts from the fact that I am a sad empty nester who wakes up every day to an empty house.  Avoid curling up into a ball of self-pity by realizing that I can be happy and fulfilled even with daughters gone from home.  Prevent self from havin time to call/text children so much in any given day that they begin to avoid all calls/texts from my number.   Find self apart from identity as mom.  Allow husband to go to work daily without looking at me all confused and terrified as he says, “You…gonna’ be okay today?  Do you need me to cancel my meeting and take you to lunch? Or maybe to a therapist?”  Help supplement costs of college tuition, room and board because good God amighty how ’bout that college inflation?!?  Make shoe money.  Possibly also make handbag money.  Okay, definitely shoe and bag money.  And, not to backtrack too much,  possibly therapist money.

Employment Experience  

Mom – 1998-present

Job duties included but not limited to: loving, caring for, and developing productive, kind, thoughtful human beings.  Listening skills almost perfected, as is ability to detect mood of teenage daughter by tone rather than meaning of actual words.  Tricky.  Proficient in knowing when a toddler needs a cuddle, a kindergartener needs to feel independent, and whether a high schooler needs either to cuddle and/or feel independent (This is a highly specialized skill set which can only been developed with years of experience.  I will admit to not exactly being sure how that might translate in the corporate world unless it has in recent years, unbeknownst to me while I was home, become acceptable to cuddle either coworker or employer.  Will give this further thought).  Fairly adept in walking the line between being a mother who is “cool” and not being a mother who is “trying to be cool.”  Exceptional at being certain daughters feel confident and valued so that they do not end up wearing thong bikinis in a biker bar for attention.  Adept in raising beautiful, intelligent, independent thinkers who do not feel the pressure to be just like everyone else and who feel zero need to wear a certain shoe or have a $50 sweatshirt (because seriously, guys, a $50 sweatshirt?) just because most of the popular kids do it.  Accomplished in raising two incredible, faith-filled young women with such beyond-their-years wisdom and inner beauty that it will move a mother to tears if she thinks about it too much (Please disregard tear stains on resume).

Secretary – Engineering firm –  2000-2002.

Manager – Off-campus Dairy Queen, Auburn Alabama – 1995-1997

Education

Auburn University, Auburn Alabama: 1994-1996 – No degree to show for all that student loan money.  Would rather not discuss this point further.

Prattville High School, Prattville Alabama: 1990-1994

References

Supplied upon request, assuming I can find Charlie from the closed Auburn Dairy Queen and the engineer I worked for decades ago.  They may both be dead by now, but I mean, I think they thought I was a’ight.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 I think that’s a pretty good start.  I’d totally hire me.

 

Upping the Auntie

(See what I did there?)

7 pounds, 12.6 ounces of pure little boy perfection entered into this world in a hectic operating room crowded with medical professionals and maybe a couple of invisible, newly-assigned angels at around 4:00 pm. yesterday.  Every square inch of the remaining space in the room was  filled with the thick and anxious worry of my little brother, who I am proud to say cried tears of relief and proud papa joy when his first son made his entrance into this world.

I know babies are born every day, but I’m pretty convinced that this one is kind of special, not that I’m biased in any way.   This makes me a proud aunt for the third time and I am pretty sure that I may steal him.  The line between proud aunt and creeper kidnapper is thin, y’all.

Babies are such miracles.

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Welcome to the world, Evan Wayne.  Prepare to be spoiled.

76 degrees of perfection

I live in Alabama where winter, in the truest sense of the word, doesn’t really happen much.  I mean, sure, we have a dreary season after Christmas when it gets a little gloomy and cold enough to put on a coat (which, for the record, is hard enough for this southern girl), but relatively speaking our winters are the sort that make Minnesota folk roll their eyes…which  is absolutely fine by me by the way.  Roll ‘em, suckers.  I’ll just be over here NOT digging my car out of a snow bank.

But this year has been a little different.  This winter was grotesque.   It has been bitterly cold, sometimes icy and consistently miserable.   I’m not kidding when I say portions of the state literally shut down for almost an entire week because of it…which probably means Minnesotans are still rolling their eyes but for different reasons, but whatever.  Parenthetically,  I really don’t know how you northern people do winters much worse than this on an annual basis.  What makes you stay?  I’m totally serious because the word “uninhabitable” comes to mind.  Y’all know you can leave and head south, right?   *serious face*

Anyway, after such a nasty couple of months, thanks be to God, this weekend has been balmy, sunny, almost 80 degrees and pretty much perfection.  This is the time of year that I typically get annoyingly giddy about the change of the seasons so you can probably imagine my mood this particular balmy Sunday after this particular winter.  I took my book outside by the pool and read and when I came back in and noticed the faint tan lines on my shoulders from my tank top I almost shed a tear of joy.

And as I was reveling in the lazy, almost tropical kinda’ Sunday sunshine, I was thinking about how it is sometimes hard to remember the balmy feeling of an 76 degree moment on a Sunday afternoon when you’re right in the thick of a relentless February cold snap and maybe that’s why every spring when the sun and the warmth returns and wraps you up in itself it just feels kind of miraculous and fresh and exciting every. single. year.

And as a result I wonder if people who live in eternally balmy places can even really even appreciate the warmth at all.

It hardly takes a sage to recognize that there’s a life metaphor in there y’all.

I think I’ll go back out, stretch back out in the lounge chair and roll around in my gratitude a little bit longer.