Mighty Mouse(tte) Lost Her Head

I admit it.  I’m weird.  I don’t know what it is inside me that makes me simply a complex enigma, but that I am.  Maybe it’s that illusive Y chromosome, which could have made me a little less ‘off’.  Or perhaps, it’s that southern charm instilled in me during the age of feminism; both of which I pride myself on.  But regardless of the cause, it remains the same…  I’m weird.

I feel like I did as well as could be hoped when it comes to soldiering onward while caring for my dad.  I remained outwardly patient, even when I internally wanted to rant and rave hysterically against my mother, my brother, and even God at times.  But now it’s been over two months since I lost Dad, and there are more and more days that I don’t know where my head is.

When all I could do was “carry on,” “move forward,” and “soldier on,”  I did gracefully.  But what now?  Shouldn’t that have been the hard part?  Now, I can’t help but look at my life and wonder.  From the outside, I own a home, have a great career where I’m respected, appreciated and able to contribute to the betterment of humanity, have a loving family, and have a dog who thinks I’m the Queen of Quitealot (especially when I have treats in my hand).  Heck, I own a washer, dryer, fenced-in backyard and all the amenities which would be the envy of June Cleaver.  I worked in slums with abject financial poverty, counseled parents with abject spiritual poverty, and worn fine evening gowns to balls with people of great emotional poverty.  I’ve danced on my Dad’s toes, climbed mountains and waterfalls, and loved deeply and profoundly.  And yet now, as I approach my 28th birthday, I wonder if it’s enough.

Twenty eight seems oftly young to feel as old and used up as I feel this year.  And the great shame of it all is that I not only feel used up, but I also feel so unaccomplished.  As long as I was forced to go on, it came naturally.  But the pauses, the pauses have always been my Achilles heel. Despite having more free time, options and opportunities open in my life than I’ve had in years, here I am approaching my 28th birthday feeling so old.  Now, please don’t taunt me with how much life is still left to live at 28.  Age might be the calendars years you’ve lived on earth, but it does not perfectly correlate with the feeling of youthfulness or oldness.

I guess I’ll have to take the opportunity of my birthday to pull together an image, a dream, of what my life would look like once I feel more together again.  Because regardless of age or oldness, I suppose now is always a good time to take steps towards the life I dream to live.

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Happy Birthday Mattie Bug

If there is one thing my brother has ever done extra “right,” it’s that cute little boy in the center of this picture. He is a giggling, pooping. climbing machine who knows how to melt Aunt Bonnie’s heart. Being an aunt is the BEST! It’s pure joy mixed with some rubber ducky bath times and a dash of dirty diaper bombs.

Matthew, or “Mattie Bug” as I like to call him (much to my brother’s dismay), turned one last week, and we celebrated in style. We went to a petting zoo, a punkin chuckin contest, a hayride, a pumpkin patch, and we topped it all off with cake to be worn, not eaten. Now if that’s not a way to roll in your first birthday in style, I don’t know what is.

For those of you unfamiliar with the sophisticated intricacies of the redneck ways, let me enlighten you on the science– dare I say art- of punkin chunkin. Punkin chunkin is a pressurized cannon loaded with pumpkins and straw which are launched into open cow pastures. You are judged for distance or accuracy, but the real fun comes in making bets on the safety of the BMW parked a little too close to cow pasture. The best part was how Mattie Bug clapped and squealed with us as we watched pumpkin spray all over the field. Proof that the fruit don’t fall far (from its Daddy; Mommy was covering her ears).

So, happy first birthday to my favorite nephew! You are a joy who makes it worthwhile to get up every day, as well as 7 times every night. I LOVE YOU!!!

Celebrating One Mic Down

The week we celebrated.  Celebrating is still so tough.  Many of the bands my dad played with over the years got together and hosted an evening of music.  There was bluegrass, blues, jazz, folk, gospel and a dash of old school rock ‘n roll (think Elvis Presley era).  Band after band played music Daddy loved.  Each band left an empty microphone where my dad would have played with them.

The night was wonderful, but it was also tough on mom and me.  We shared a scarf as tissues, each of us blotting our eyes with one end of the scarf.  My mom is always a resourceful thinker.

The performances were made up of a motley crew; I’d go as far as calling some of the men gruff.  Men that despite my needling can’t seem to give up smoking or worse yet, nasty chewing tobacco.  They’re big and burly.  The kind of men who would polish up a shot gun when their daughter brings home a new boyfriend.  And here these men stood, bleary eyed, soft as marshmallow fluff.

They told stories of how my dad would be the only man in Shelby strutting down the sidewalk wearing a Hawaiian shirt because he believed that every day might as well feel as good as a vacation.  (My mother gave him these shirts in one of her infamous, “Relax Dammit!” moments, and the shirts stuck around.)  They wrote tribute songs to him.  Some cried on stage; others took a quick stage right as needed.  And the audience gave mom (and me, but mostly mom) a standing ovation when a Heritage award was given to my Dad for his service cultivating arts from the heritage of North Carolina.

Most of the work bringing the night together has to be given to a dear friend, and near brother, Darin Aldridge.  He’ll always hold a special place in my heart located somewhere between my father, my childhood and pure love.  He organized it all, bringing together generations of friends for a night of pickin’ and grinnin’.  And when they all got on stage, and their eyes rolled back in their heads because they were so in to the music, I knew, “Dad would love this.”