Thursday, June 25, 2015

The End of a Generation

The last month we had a lot to do. The month ended with my grandfather's Arlington Cemetery burial and family reunion. I wasn't able to be there for his funeral and this was my chance to honor the hero that he was. Ellie was strapped to me as we placed a rose at the resting place of her namesake and I wish for everything that both of those amazing people had been here to meet my darling girls. They would have wondered what I was thinking and probably told me that this was too much for me. I'm pretty positive my spunky grandmother would have dropped a few "Good God's!!" 

But they would have choked up when my girls slipped their hands into their life-worn, aged hands. They would have loved them well. Shirley Jean Moschell Penny would have loved sitting with my Ellie and drawing her out of her traumatized shell. She would not have minded Ellie's rough, too loud voice. She would have told her to keep talking, keep yelling until she got it right. And she would have believed, despite any other evidence, that Ellie was going to be okay. Robert Flood Penny would have been first in line to take Everlyse on long, slow walks around the block. He would have described those stars that he navigated so well in ways that would make my girls see them and reach for their sparkling light. One hand would be looped behind his back awaiting the return of his other hand as he pointed to the North Star and the Southern Cross, knowing that my girls would follow the tilt of his voice and lift their faces to the night sky. 

I grieve that Ellie and Evers won't know the smell of his starched shirts and sweaters or smell the leather from his loafers as he entered a room. I grieve that they won't associate the aroma of a good roast with their Great Grandmother. I grieve that Everlyse won't be able to share tiny shoes with her Great Grandmother and that I won't have that moment of horror seeing those gaudy things on her feet. Every child should know the taste of plastic fruit and the knowledge that some strange insanity exists in the world because non-edible food somehow became a staple decoration in homes. My girls would never be fooled by the plastic chocolate that bore the marks of too many children trying to steal a sweet bite. My girls would know by feeling them that the rest of us were all fools. 

It still feels like if I could just find the right road in Sarasota I could loop my car around, passed the gourd making neighbor, and pull into the driveway. If I could hear the screen door closing and smell the laundry detergent wrapping its scent around the garden I could knock on the door and hear the shuffle of slippered feet one more time. I would turn the knob and slide my shoes by the door and listen for the TV guide to rustle to the side table. A voice would say, "Well, come in, come on in. Shirley they're here." and back to him "Robert, I know that! Come on in, come on. Have you eaten? Do you want a root beer? Robert, take them to the garage for a soda." 

They were the very best of The Greatest Generation and I know that every time I have the will to go one more round with Ellie that it is because they taught me these lesssons. 

*Every person is valuable.
*There is evil in the world. Fight it.
*Don't quit, ever.
*Love each other, always.
*Today is enough.

What I wouldn't give for one more soda from the garage.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Being Branded

Fallen, hard, impossible, failure, pain, agony, rain, tears, lonely, inadequate.

These words were subtly whispered. I felt their slight breeze as they sneaked into small cracks of my heart but never recognized when they made themselves at home. They were small and subtle and I thought nothing of them until all of them combined  and together found strength in my exhaustion. Together, as one whole, they stood as an intangible force intent on becoming my ruin. They worked so hard to become words with importance, with weight, words that could define my soul. They were eager to finish their work. 

Before I even had time to recognize their existence they left me broken and bruised. Whispering their own names over and over again in my heart, they found solace in creating misery, every action creating a branding on my soul. Ever so slowly I noticed changes, a head that couldn’t lift itself all the way, tears that constantly begged for release, insecurities and lips that leaked poison.

I can’t say that they don’t deserve their day in the spotlight, because at one point or another in the last week they have all had moments of defining a hard truth in my life. However, I can say that they deserve clothing, covering, and smothering. 

Because one man, God in flesh, bled for their destruction. 

Truth meet the One who defined you. 

He left me branded with one word, one beautiful, glorious word. 


Today I choose to clothe myself in mercy, sweet,blanketing and smothering mercy. I wrap my wounded, shameful soul in this gift that the cross has left for me.  Despite the words that deserve to be branded on my name, I choose to grasp the one that leaves me humbled and knowing that I can never be abandoned. 

Mercy is branded on top of my name. 

I choose one over the thousands. 

I choose mercy. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Anatomy of an IEP

Days before, weeks before, you begin to research.
Because, frankly, you are an awesome, rockin', momma.

Because you have these amazing kids who 
deserve every ounce of who you are
to help them become every ounce of who 
they can be.

You beautify and try to look professional.
Probably changing a million shirts because they 
all definitely have some sort of kid stain.

And then, THEN, you remember to forget it all.
Your kid is at stake. Time to gear up and 
take on this IEP

You arrive to the meeting place.

You inevitably find these members:

The one who looks like you did before your third shower.

The one you feel sorry for in the way that you
are sure she has had the kind of day that you probably call normal.
Still, your sympathy is with that one. 

The one who is geared up and ready to fight with you
and for you 
and against all the others who dare to cross paths with her.

The fashionista. Enough said.

And the one who is totally, 100% off their rocker.

And you secretly think to yourself that this 
more or less sums up the group of you.

 You work together.

At some point around the halfway mark your mind wanders.

Around the one hour mark you see this happening around 
the table.

And then this... 

which ends in this...

The two hour mark finds you feeling like this.


Then just as you are about to give up on life...

The objectives and goals begin and the end is in sight.
Which is good because you have resorted to this.

And wondering if there are any of these,

And you feel as old as this...

And then you remind yourself why you are there and 
what you are working towards, your child's future.
So, you find yourself thankful for all the time everyone
has taken to put into this.
And you get in your car to go home.

Which actually looks a lot more like this,

At long last you arrive home,

To study everything you just learned,

Because they are always worth it.

P.S. In case you think I exaggerate. I just came home yesterday from a four.hour.IEP. 
My girls were and always will be worth every second of that time.
And I handled it,