Friday, July 29, 2011


So after a very long day yesterday (my grandfather's memorial), Brian and I were trying to relax.  I looked at him about 8 pm and said, "It's hot in here!"  He reminded me that he has turned up the air to 77 during the day in an attempt to give the air unit a rest.  Oh yeah.  So, I continued to work on the latest blog. 

But the house seemed to get warmer.  Now granted, I was wearing rolled up jeans and a black shirt and it had been a stressful day, but it seemed a little toasty. 

Brian went to turn the thermostat down and realized it was 80 degrees in the house...and we aren't that frugal.  Dang it.  He checked all the vents.  Nothing seemed to be coming out of them.  Double dang it.

I called the Home Warranty and talked to a very nice man in Illinois who lives without air conditioning every day.  (?!?!!??)  Brian went to see about getting a new air filter, but Lowe's was closed.  (That trick usually bought us some time at the little house.)

I fought Brian's suggestion of going to his parents' house to sleep with our two dogs and even the cat.  I spent the night before at my grandparents' house and didn't sleep well.  I wanted to sleep in my own bed so much.  I couldn't bear to think of sleeping in yet another bed, not my own.

Brian and I verbally duked it out; adding a little more hot air to the situation.  Finally I realized that it was silly to sleep in the heat.  At almost 11 pm, we loaded everyone up and went to my in laws' house.  (They are currently in Lake Tahoe for the season.) 

We did sleep in more comfort and despite my worst fears, the cat didn't disappear under a sofa or a bed, never to be seen again despite Badger's best efforts to play with/torment her.  Now, in our haste to leave our home oven, we didn't take anything for the pets.  We had already fed them and we could get water where we were going. I suggested bringing litter, but we made it out without it. 

Azalea meowed most of the night and was back at it this morning, but as I said I was so pleased that she stayed close to us, that's all I was focused on. 

Brian brought Bear, Azalea and me back to our house this morning.  Within blocks of the house, Azalea could bear it no longer...and she peed all over me.  I couldn't believe it. 

No air, can't sleep in my bed and now my cat pees on me.  And y'all, she REALLY had to go.  Sigh.  She was really glad to see her litter box for the rest of her business...and so was I!

I'm still waiting for the air company to call and tell me when I shall be rescued from the triple digit heat though so far, it's not too bad here in the house.

  Tonight Brian and I were supposed to have our anniversary dinner at the winery where we got married.  I hope we make it, but I have a feeling that isn't going to happen either.

Dang it. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What I Wanted to Say

Today was my grandfather's memorial.  I wanted to speak, but I knew that all anyone would hear was a blubbering mess.  And I know myself well enough to say that no matter how well I prepared, it would be that way. 

My Aunt Janis wrote a beautiful speech, and just as when my grandmother died a little over a year ago, she made it through it well.  I hope to have that fortitude one day.  She says that many years from now, the expectation is that I speak for her.  Yikes. I'll have to start preparing now.

But I wanted to speak about Grandpa.  I wanted to tell everyone there how I felt about him.  So I will tell you now. 

Our family is extraordinary and it is my grandparents' most important legacy.  They would have it no other way.  They had four lovely children who married lovely people (and stayed married to them).  Each couple had two children (a girl and a boy).  And now, in December the youngest of those children will be 21.  Most of those grandchildren are married.  And all of the married grandchildren (but me) have their own children. Nine great grandchildren.

We joke that for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter we will have to start renting the Wise County Convention Center to accommodate everyone comfortably.  But that's only my "immediate" family.  That doesn't count my cousins from Arkansas and my great aunt's family who we are so close to that we don't make picky distinctions like "first cousin", "second cousin", etc.  We are just  My husband, from a relatively small family, wants a score card to keep up at the larger gatherings...and we have been a couple for almost 15 years.

That is my grandparents' legacy.  And I am so grateful for each person.

My grandfather is known as Groucho to most people, a nickname bestowed on him by my uncles when they were still in school...long before there were grandchildren.  I have never called him that.  He's always been Grandpa to me.  But the rest of the family and many others around Bridgeport called him Groucho. 

He was a patriot, a member of the Greatest Generation, a proud Marine.  He served his nation in World War II in the South Pacific.  He never talked about it a lot, but he was so grateful to have been able to give his service to his country and he enjoyed spending time with other veterans.

He was strict and it was devastating to think of disappointing him or my grandmother.  My brother and I both agree that was the best discipline possible.  "Will this disappoint my grandparents?"  If so, then it wasn't worth it. 

He didn't have little pet names for each one of us.  No, not "Groucho."  He called us all "good for nuthin'."  But you knew when he said it just by the tone of voice and the chuck you usually got under the chin that you were far from good for nothing.  You were everything

He smoked a pipe and chawed tobacco my whole life and I'm sure many years before.  The tobacco grossed me out; I won't lie.  But the smell of that pipe comforted me like no other smell.  The holes in all his jackets and shirts as we went through his clothes this week gave me a giggle.  The embers from his pipe were always escaping.

I only remember dancing with my grandfather once.  We were at a family reunion about 8 years ago now.  I have a great picture of the two of us laughing as we tried to be graceful together.  It is one of my most precious memories and possessions.

Our family is a symbol of love.  We aren't finished growing and though they can no longer be with us, my grandparents are so glad to be together again, to watch us all.  And while I miss them more than I can ever explain to you, I am so grateful for that.

I couldn't say all this out loud, but my family has made me who I am; my family--my grandfather is amazing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Death in a Small Southern Town

My grandpa died yesterday.

He and my grandmother lived for about 70 years in the small town of Bridgeport, Texas.  He and my grandmother raised their four children there.  Their two sons remained there and raised their children there.  A long tradition of Meyers family values has been established there.

When the news about my grandpa reached the town yesterday, friends went home from church and started baking and cooking.

My mother and I went out today to help with the funeral decisions, answering the phone, receiving people at the house.  Most of my family had the same thoughts...and I think just to be near one another.  The visitation and funeral isn't for another few days.

But the food and visitors are already rolling in.  We are trying to keep a meticulous account for the thank you notes to be written in the days to come.  A chocolate chip pound cake, a ham, chicken, enchilada casserole, iced tea (sweet and unsweet), potato salad, cinnamon rolls, even a huge bucket of ice.

We have done all we can to suggest donations to the church instead of flowers, but my grandpa was famous for his beautiful yard and green thumb and I have no doubt that the church will overflow with beautiful arrangements. 

Such strong roots in a small community means that both he and my grandmother touched many lives.  And these people aren't shy about wanting to condole with us.  I only regret not knowing who most of them are!  Being an outsider from "the big city" as I am, I do not know them and they do not know me.

The small town folks are chattier and warmer, that's certain.  Even now as we order flowers for the church or arrange the service, they want to take some time and talk with you.  I am constantly amazed at the steady stream of people in and out of the house, some just coming to check on all of us...some bringing that delicious food I mentioned.  I am grateful for them.  Glad my grandparents had them.  Glad my Bridgeport family will have them in the days to come.

And on Wednesday we will have the visitation with hundreds of people, if it's like my grandmother's.  It's a little exhausting thinking about it, especially since I won't know many of them, but I am so proud of how well loved Grandpa is. 

And finally Thursday, the memorial service.  Many more people, more food.  And by then, I wonder, Will I even be able to taste it?

This has been precious time with my family, cousins I only see about twice a year now.  I know we need to do better; we don't live very far apart.  Seems so incongruous, but we had such fun looking at pictures today from when we were kids. We really need to spend more time together regularly.

So though I have nothing to compare it to, I have to think that Southerners know how to make the death of a loved one a bit easier to manage.  And I do hope it's not restricted to Southerners. Everyone needs to feel the loving arms of a community like this in times of matter what part of the country you hail from.

A New Kind of Writing

I am a writer and though it's been awhile since I've checked in here, I think it's time I found my voice.

I am a writer and today, I wrote my grandfather's obituary. 

We write so many things in our lives...daily even.  Lists for the grocery, checks for bills, Christmas cards, reminder notes.

And as many things as I have written already in my life, I truly wasn't expecting to be writing this.  A few years ago, I wrote a history of our grandparents so that someday all of our cousins and our children would know them.  As invincible as they have always seemed, I knew we could not keep them forever. 

Today, that history helped me write what everyone would read about him, his life.  It seemed so stark, so matter of fact to have his remarkable life summarized on a single sheet of paper like that.  I'm not sure how I feel about it still, but we had a deadline staring us in the face, and my mom, aunts, and uncles approved it. 

So, now I have accomplished one more piece of writing. I wish I could say it will be the last obit I write, but I'm sure it won't be.  I just hope it will be many years until the next one.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Badger and Bear's No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day

Badger: Mom's little nephew came over again today. Man, that kid scares me!  He's so loud!  I never know how to act around him.  Am I supposed to chase him?  Bite him?  Ignore him?  I'm so confused.  I just don't know! 

Bear:  No doubt, my friend.  He's a little tornado, for sure.  You just have to stay still.  That's the key.

Badger:  That's so boring. 

Bear:  Maybe.  But he's not blowing in my face all the time or chasing me around the living room or yelling BOO at me!  Just you, dude.

Badger:  Oh and what about that hoop thing he had today?  That was a whole new nightmare. 

Bear:  You are such a scaredy cat, dude.  At least I walked through it when Mom showed me how.  And while we are on the subject of what scares you--what's up with bicycles and scooters?  That gets a little old...all the barking every time a kid rides by on one of those. 

Badger:  I'm just being vigilant and consistent.  You can't let your guard down, man. 

Bear:  Yeah, uh huh.

Badger:  So, as if a morning with the kid wasn't bad enough, Mom decides a BATH would be a good idea?  I didn't stink...that badly. 

Bear:  What do you have to complain about?  What was that like your second bath in your whole life?  You are such a baby; you won't even let her brush you.  That's why you got a bath, doofus. 

Badger:  It was still traumatizing.  Dad would have never let her do it.

Bear:  You wanna bet?

Badger:  Honestly, I'm too tired to argue about it now.  I need a nap.  What about you?

Bear: Man, baths have worn me out since I was a puppy.  Let's grab the couch as soon as Mom bails. 

Badger:  Excellent idea, my brother.  Can't wait till Dad gets home.

Bear:  Maybe I'll be ready for my walk by then.

Summer Camp

For the last 12 years, I have spent one week each summer at Lake Texoma with 30 teenagers from all over the world as their counselor.  It's probably the coolest summer job...ever.

The Lions Club International brings these teens together each summer to promote peace and understanding among the nations of the world.  And my brother provides the ski boat; I make sure there is plenty of aloe vera after the days in the sun and Benadryl for the inevitable mysterious allergic reactions. 

David and I have a routine that we follow, arriving early before the campers to establish our rooms and theirs.  We pick their roommates, you see.  I find it's one more way to force them to mingle.  We all stay in one building, but the boys are required to sleep on their designated floor and the girls on theirs.  (They always think we are so provincial...all of our rules.  No drinking, no hanky panky with the other campers.)

David and I are charged with their safety and happiness.  This year was particularly successful, despite the trip to emergency on the 4th of July.  Tubing mishap.  All is well, however. 

The kids give presentations about their countries; we've come a long way now that we have power point.  Much more entertaining and easy to put together. 

We taught the kids to two step and Cotton Eyed Joe.  We even did the Chicken Dance. 

We watch movies, play Twister, stay up late and eat junk food.  We put together a "talent show" for the families at the end of the week.

And by the end of the week, teenagers who were complete strangers when they arrived cannot do without each other.  If that happens, we have done our jobs.  This year was such a success, we probably should have gotten a bonus.  (Just kidding.)  The bonus is seeing their faces when they are together.

As I watched them learn to ski, seeing the pure joy on their faces was payment enough honestly.  Spending the week of the 4th, the week of our nation's independence is even more meaningful to me.  Nineteen nations coming together, creating relationships---some that will last a lifetime.  The hope is that some day, when they have the opportunity to make a difference in the world they will remember this brief time in Texas with these friends. 

I am so grateful for this gift each year.  Each camp is so special and this one has been magical so far.