If Tomorrow Comes…

Thanks to my friend, Jan, over at Jan’s Sushi Bar, I’ve decided to give this here posting every day thing a try, y’all. It’s called NaBloPoMo,and I can’t believe how long it just took me to write that. Stands for “National Blog Posting Month”. You post something every day for a month.

It’s ridiculously hard ….damn near impossible….a monumental task on the weekends..the biggest challenge of my life so far….can we just say only seven days left?…almost over and I have really, really run out of things to saybecome the bane of my existenceworse than I ever imagined it would be…forcing me to dig deep these last few days.

The theme of this was supposed to be “tomorrow”, but really, how much can you say about something that’s never here, is not guaranteed to arrive, and yet, the whole reason most of us keep getting up every day. See? It’s not like just posting your recipe for making sweet ice tea, y’all.

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This little cutie pie is my granddaughter, Freya. I’m just going to blatantly cheat today and post a poem that my grandmother wrote about baby smiles, miles, gloom, shadows, God, tomorrow and time.

She would have adored this face, God love her.

TIME

Enjoy the times a little child smiles
Or old folks running their healthy miles.
Take time to smell flowers in bloom.
Look into the shadows – cast out the gloom.

Time is precious and time will tell
If its used wisely and used well.
Sometimes its wasted – that is sad!
One life lived is the time we had.

Our God created everything.
Take time to worship – His praises sing.
If tomorrow comes, what will you do?
Waste not the time that comes to you.

Gladys Parker
Sept. 2000

THE VALENTINE

This week’s Spin Cycle is about, what else, y’all? LOVE.

I could write line after line about how much I love my husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, my parents, my dog. But today my thoughts turn towards a person who greatly influenced my entire life, right from when I was a child. She was the glue that held my family together. She showed me, by her example in everything she did, what it means to have your priorities in the proper order. Her love and her fierce protection for her family never wavered and it never failed. She was my Rock of Gibraltar, my inspiration and my grandmother.

spaceballgladys-parkerThis is a picture of my grandmother, Gladys Parker, when she was about 15 years old.  She wrote the following poem when she was 88. The valentine she describes must have been around 76 years old. She was a down to earth, practical, no nonsense woman – not at all a girly, romantic type. The fact that she saved this valentine surprises me. The moral of the story? You just never know how long those valentines you send today will be saved, or how much they could mean…to somebody.

The Valentine

“You know I love you;
Can you guess who?”
Is written on my valentine.
Another like it, you cannot find.

Its kept among my souvenirs
Of the past – these many years.
Now and then I take it out
And remember how it came about.

Coming in to school one day
Upon my desk – there it lay.
A bright red heart, homemade too,
Saying, ” You know I love you”.

So childish and inquisitive me
Looked around – who can it be?
He had his eyes inside a book
He knew I knew by his look.

Its been so long – long ago;
His name now I do not know.
But many times I wonder how
This old man is doing now!

Gladys Parker
January 2000

Ans this is how Gladys looked in 2000, when this poem was written. She wrote hundreds of poems in her life, and even had her works published in a book, “Then and Now.”  Sadly, she passed away last October at 96 years old.  You can enjoy more of her poems, and read her life’s story here, at The Rock of Gibraltar, a blog I have started in her memory.

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Home Entertainment, or “How to Survive When You’re Broke”

img_0019This image is an original oil painting by my grandmother, Gladys Parker. You can read more of her poetry and learn all about this amazing woman at her blog, The Rock of Gibraltar.

This week’s Spin Cycle topic is supposed to be about sharing our best cost cutting secrets to help you get through these tough economic times. I must confess – I have no cost cutting tid bits. I’m kind of like Jan, over at Jan’s Sushi Bar.  I spent the first 24 years of my adult life living hand to mouth. When you’re always broke, and always poor, you don’t think about how to cut costs. You think about how to answer the phone when the bill collectors call. You think about how you’re going to buy a week’s worth of groceries on the measly nineteen dollars you have left over in your checking account, after you paid your light bill (late) so you could have power for a few more days.

We ate alot of grilled cheese sandwiches and canned applesauce, y’all. I don’t want to think about it, much less type anything about how I did it. I just did it.

So. Here’s my spin on this topic. I give to you the words of the wisest woman I’ve ever been privileged to know – my grandmother, Gladys Parker. She raised her three children, on her own, during the great depression.

One of her favorite expressions was “making do”. As in, “we just had to make do”. She was an expert at making do.

To say she was tough is an understatement. She had to be. And in living her life, she learned to appreciate, to revel in, the little things around her. She entitled this poem “Home Entertainment” because, truly, this is how she entertained herself. Not by spending money on movies, or dinners or in the shopping malls. She looked out of her window and marveled at the creatures and beautiful sights that were there. And then she wrote about it, or painted it, and in doing so, shared a bit of herself with the world.

HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Interesting, the things that I see
Looking out over my balcony.
Squirrels are running and playing today
Up and down their little highway.

Amid the trees – most limbs are bare
And not quite touching everywhere.
For the little gaps they care not at all
They take their jump and almost fall.

Two of them jump with great ease
Like a pro on the flying trapeze.
Another is running – then turns around,
Sizing things up ’til a new way is found.

The last one comes to try his hand,
Jumped right over – where did he land?
On a branch that bent far, far down
He nearly fell to the ground!

It’s fun to watch these dare-devils play
And beautiful birds that come this way.
Hadden Hall is the place to be
On the penthouse floor up in the trees.

Gladys Parker
January 2001

Snow Day in North Carolina!

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The Yankees down here just don’t get it, y’all. I’m talkin’ about snow! That white stuff that falls from the sky and only happens about once every three years, here in Wilmington, NC, where the yearly average snowfall is less than an inch.

Actually,Yankees know all about snow, of course, and to them it’s just a nuisance, and mostly why they’re all here.  But to us southerners, it’s more than just weather. It’s magic.

This morning the excitement at my workplace was palpable. We were all hoping and praying for the big event. The weatherman had promised us our snow day, and everyone was all a-twitter. How much would we get? Oh, did we dare to hope for the most he had promised – a possible four inches? Should we go to the store and get “supplies” (meaning, beer and enough sugar and vanilla to make “snow cream” ) in case we were all snowed in for days?

The Yankees, on the other hand, were disgusted with us. “What do you mean, they’ve closed the schools?” they asked, rolling their eyes. “It’s just a little snow, no big deal!”

Well, looky here, that’s one of the reasons we’re different from y’all Yankees and we always will be. To us, it’s a big deal.

So here’s what we’ve got so far. This photo was taken just this morning, by my son, Kyle.

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I think this poem sums up our sentiments pretty well. It was written by my beloved Grandmama Gladys, who passed away on Oct. 23, 2008, at the ripe young age of 96. Grandmama, bless her heart, was the epitome of a true southern woman. Her poem relays the depth of feelin’ about this magic called snow, that we all share.

A WINTER MORNING

I awoke to silence all around,
And there it lay on the ground
A carpet of snow crept into the night,
Making my world clean and bright.

Starlings puffed their feathers out
Making them look big and stout
As they huddled in cold bare trees
Looking for food in the freeze.

Where bread crumbs lay on balcony rails,
The birds made their tiny foot trails.
Children were sledding and laughing with glee;
Truly a wonderful sight to see.

Only the Master could paint this scene
Of the beautiful earth with air so clean.
Somber gray skies so still above
White down below – His symbol of love.

Gladys Parker
Jan. 2000

Southern Collards

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OK, y’all. This week’s Spin Cycle is supposed to be a poem.  This one is almost impossible for me, because I practically cut my teeth on poems. My beloved grandmother, who passed on October 23 of last year, was a prolific poet and artist. I already have posted  several of her poems on my blog. And, since my life’s goal was to be exactly like her, I started writing poetry when I was about nine years old. In searching through my archives of poems, both hers and mine, I finally decided on this one.

Being able to cook up a good mess of collards is the number one requirement of being a true southern cook, y’all. This poem is, I think, the last one my grandmother ever wrote. I found this hand written copy, dated May 2007, tucked away in one of her journals – the writing scribbled and hard to read, due to her failing eyesight. It is about one of her’s (and mine) favorite things….collard greens.

I think I know what inspired her to write this poem. My Aunt Barbara, who was was my grandmother’s daughter-in-law, and refered to as her “adopted daughter” in this poem, remarried a man named Benny, after my uncle died.  Benny, who is from Pennsylvania, never ate a collard green in his life, until he married Barbara and moved down south. He loved them so much, that he decided to try and grow them in his backyard.

Barbara, being one of those southern gals who’d rather spend the day shopping at Dillards than slaving away over the hot stove, had no idea how to cook them. So she did what all us southern women do in a pinch. She called up her southern mama, “Miss Gladys.”

This poem is the answer she got.

Southern Collards

By Gladys Parker
May 2007

When I was forty or so
And you were my daughter, adopted you know
I would don my apron the old fashioned way
Because you were coming for Mother’s Day.

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Here’s the collard patch, right outside
It looks a little country-fied
But, begging your pardon,
I like my garden.

The collards were cropped, a leaf off each one.
It makes them grow better – they get big in the sun.
Summer collards are okay to eat,
But winter collards are tender and sweet.

The pot is boiling with a streak of lean.
(Slab bacon, maybe, is what I mean.)
When the meat is tender the fork will tell.
Each leaf examined and cleaned very well.

Now, twist each leaf half in two
Place in the pot, like good cooks do
Cook ‘til tender and seasoned to taste
Drain – nothing goes to waste.

Even the “pot liquor” is good for you.
Or corn meal dumplings, cooked like I do.
So chop up the greens nice and fine
And they will taste just like mine.

IF

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If I had a million bucks
Or thousands – just a few
I would never hesitate,
I’d divide it all with you.

If I won the Nobel Prize
And that I’ll never do
But, if it really came about
You’d be honored too.

If I had just one wish
And knew it would come true
I’d wish for health and happiness
And share it all with you.

Health and happiness – magic words.
Sometimes hard to find
Often when needing them,
They’re right there in our mind.

So many ifs in our lives
Only dreams, its true
But honest – if “ifs” happened
My thoughts would be of you.

Gladys Parker
Dec. 04

What If… we could just slow down?

This week’s Spin Cycle is about the topic, “What if?”

I liked this poem, because it makes me think about how short life is, and what is really important.

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How Do You Live Your Dash?

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning … to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1900-1970)
For that dash represents all the time
That she spend alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard…
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat others with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash….
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
Author Unknown