How do you fix a GRAY Japanese Kubota tractor that has been abused, destroyed, ignored, hammered, wrecked, knocked around, bruised, shattered to the point that IF the right parts were found, would it actually work? Would that key turn and that starter roll IF all the pieces were in place? Would papa's tractor - now a sad pile of metal - be reborn to dig and haul and move?
Would the memories of riding in the driver's seat, feet dangling, while papa made sure the brake was mashed and the gears were changed, do the trick? Sitting on the laps of Titans have been known to change lives before. Will those memories propel us to finish what we've started?
And even though this rescued tractor has sat on that trailer for the more than a year, three of its four tires are flat, and for the life of us, that key still won't turn and that motor won't sing, can we do it? Will we do it? It won't be for lack of trying.
So this tractor fixin' project has been in the works for well into two years now. As time allows, Len and Ty piddle and poke and search for the right parts, the right key, affordable replacement tires. I watch Ty and I know that bringing this tractor back to life is a way of keeping his papa close at hand. Len knows that getting this tractor in working order has nothing to do with it's ability to work, but everything to do with keeping his step-son's memory of his grandfather alive. That's enough reason for him.
I watch Ty wipe the years of time-stamped dirt from the tractor's once vibrant shell, knowing that it will never be as beautiful as it once was. For one reason, time has added layers that scrubbing just won't erase, and for the most important reason, his papa isn't around to make it shine.
So, if they get it running, great. If not, then great, too. It's home, and it's loved. Just like papa.
it's what a son does. his gets his mama a bike for her birthday so that she'll be around for grandchildren. plus, she gets to be cool riding down the road with a mesh basket and silver bell. i use the bell much more than i should except i forgot to use it on the second day as i was being chased by two flesh eating dogs (they appeared to be rich dogs with nice collars and manners but i wasn't going to stop and ask). i did prove to myself that the rest stops made the prior day were just whimpy on my part. i could make it the entire distance without a breather if motivated by fear. so thanks, ty, for thinking of my future. i'll do my best to hang around.
my birthday week of men
i've always thought it kind of cool to be the lone girly fish in a sea of men. surrounded by testosterone, manly men sporting guns (the arm-candy kind), smiling and being shifty. if you're a woman and reading this, tell me i'm wrong. you can't. i know you too well.
it's my birthday week - yes, when you're this old, you get a week - and i started thinking about all the men that i have been around these past seven days. so, here's a list, in order of appearance :)
1. lloyd carter: he's my touchstone to my past. a father of a friend who reminds me just how good life was and is. his smile is contagious and his attitude, inspirational. len and i spend last sunday afternoon with his family, at the family reunion. since our parents are gone, we've adopted new parents plus an entire family. i can't think of any better than this man. thank you lloyd for loving me and showing me the way. you're a 91-year old-pistol!
2. his holiness the dalai lama: i know what you're thinking. you really weren't with him, but i like to think sharing the same air space counts for something. after all, a year ago, if you had told me i would be 'shooting' this man, i would have laughed in your face. so there's two moments here; one of opportunity and one of inspiration. being in gwinnett arena on wednesday proved that you're never too old to dream. if you want something badly enough, well, then, go get it. today, i'm 54, and i - along with my husband - want to be tops in the travel/writing/photography industry. i'm on my way because this week - i photographed THE dalai lama. wow. secondly, it never hurts to hear some common sense preached. simple concepts of love, compassion, respect - that's all it takes to solve the worlds greatest ills. sounds like the thoughts of another who changed the world. i'm overflowing with gratitude.
3. ty johnson: yes, he's my son, and i'm partial. as a mom, i have that right. over the past few months, he has been my inspiration. len and i have been watching him map out his life, attempting to figure out the path that will lead him to where he wants to go (and, yes, it has nothing to do with spelling). it's not where he wants to go that's impressive, it's the steps he's taking to get there. the old adage of "it's not the destination but the journey" rings true. he has taught me the importance of commitment to a goal and the risk of being steadfast and to jump when all those risks line up. i'm proud of him, and i'm proud to be his mom. i'm tickled-pink to find a hand-written note on the counter before sunrise. again, so much gratitude.
4. len garrison, sexy man: that's his listing in my phone. when i call upon my voice commands to dial him up, she always asks if i want to dial "len garrison, sexy man". i always giggle, and say yes. and then i giggle more when i realize that he's mine. and as he reminds me on my birthday card, he's "my own personal sheldon". and then i remind myself of just how lucky i am. rock-bottom was my only option until i found him - or rather, he found me. then he raised me up, allowed me to dream, and promised he'd be there every second. that - my friends - is the gift that keeps on giving. overflowing with gratitude.
so these are my men of this birthday week. a distinguished assortment of testosterone.
the 11alive forecast told of a perfect day in georgia. an "11" on the wizometer. i tend to agree. it's only a few hours old, and perfection is rising.
i love being a mom. i love being a mom especially when i see my children exhibit manners, try new adventures, comfort a friend, say 'thank you' and 'you're welcome'. i'm not one of those southern moms who require their child to say 'm'am' for i just don't think it's a necessary requirement of etiquette. plus, it makes me feel very old. so, that is not a word i push, but i do push being respectful and being polite. i don't have time for the 'you should know i appreciate you' or 'i shouldn't have to say it' - well, of course you have to speak up. there's no agenda. no hoops. just plain ole' manners. there's no substitute - or excuse - for that.
my son has been watching my husband and i fall head over heels in love with photography. he's seen the amazing photographs we've produced. trust me, they've been a long time coming - and we have miles to go - but my son is impressed. "mom, give me pointers," he said this weekend. "let's go riding and you show me how."
nothing inspires me more, nothing makes me do the 'yippee' dance like my son liking what i do and wanting to do it as well. and i'm sure he doesn't understand how proud that makes me. and he won't until the day his son or daughter says that to him. he'll remember when he staggered with his mom through the waist-high grass to get a shot of an iron horse, and he got one good one from about three dozen clicks. that was a good day. it was a great beginning.
so, yes, children, there are words you have to say. words we as parents want to hear simply because they are the favorable fit at the precise moment. thank you for wanting to do what i do. thank you for reminding me even though you hated to be corrected when you didn't acknowledge a good deed, you learned what you should do.
thank you - for your deeds and your words.
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.