I have no doubt I was a handful. Yet, she chose to bring me home—60 years ago today.
I honestly believe she and Kimsey had no idea what was before them. In their 50s, they were just excited that the number at the table would be three rather than two. They didn't realize how exhausting a child could be, how annoying, difficult, obstinate, self-serving, messy, needy, pushy, demanding . . .
And as I grew, I realized how old they were. None of my friends has parents the age of mine. No one had white hair except my mama. "What was with that?"
"Why do I have to go with daddy and Besse (the mule) and mama gets to stay home? That corn patch doesn't need me. Daddy doesn't need me. I'm only 10! I don't want to go . . ." I went because mama said to — and, she pointed toward the hickory tree.
"It's noon already?" Mama would bang on my bedroom door and urge me to get up. It was Saturday. Saturday's were for sleeping or so I thought. It was also for washing clothes and then hanging them on the line, ironing, picking beans, washing the car, cutting the grass, and anything else that needed to be done. Idle hands (children) are the devil's handy-work!
"Daddy, turn that radio down!" Every school morning like clockwork, the Pentecostal preachers on WCON Cornelia would be daddy's school enthusiastic wake-up call! He would turn the radio on full blast, make his coffee, and sit at the end of the dining table—waiting for me to get up.
By the time I graduated high school and moved on to the big leagues of junior college, I started feeling a twinge of sadness. Could it be I actually missed my parents? The parents - that to me - we equally as annoying, difficult, obstinate, self-serving, messy, needy, pushy, demanding - as I.
Years came and went, and I was the weird kid that always went home on weekends from UGA. Then I married, and I was the girl who had to see her parents at least every other weekend.
Then daddy died, and I wasn't sure I would be able to catch my breath again.
When my life fell apart in 2003, mama stood beside me. She'd offer me tidbits of wisdom (from the Bible of course). Some I took to heart; others, I just let flow through me like the wind. She stayed until Len picked up me and my three children, gave us a home, and made everything alright.
Then, mama died, and I wasn't sure I would be able to catch my breath again. And, when my daughter disappeared, well, I was sure that family was simply an illusion.
Somewhere in the back of my heart, words rose to the surface when I needed them the most. "You can do anything you put your mind to," I would hear mama say often. Never words of love, but always words of encouragement. She knew that more than love, I would need encouragement in this life. Love would find its way to me, and with her prodding, so would happiness.
I love baby's toes. When I see a little one, I always reach for the toes. There something unique and tough about toes.
I looked at my 60-year-old toes yesterday while I was out feeding the animals. "These toes have been around for 60 years." Think on that. I never in a million years would have imagined making it to the old age of 60, yet there are my toes. Holding me up like they have always done. Celebrating 60 good, hard, rough years.
Thank you Juette and Kimsey for giving those toes a home. For teaching me right from wrong, for teaching me how to live.
These toes aren't as cute as they once were, but they're still standing. From the tip of my toes to the top of my white head of hair, I'm grateful to see another decade. I'll keep standing.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.