Posted in Friendship, Relationships

Skinny Jeans

 

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Boo had skated around the fact that he was eating exactly what he wanted in spite of the doctor’s warning.  “Your blood sugar is getting higher.  You need to change your eating habits and get more exercise, and it would help if you lost a few pounds.”  Still, he had his stash of candy and cookies semi-hidden on the third shelf of the pantry behind the flour, brown sugar, and the grandkids’ Capri Sun.  I use the term ‘hidden’ loosely.

It took one more threat from the doctor for the message to click.  “If you don’t change your ways, I’ll be putting you on insulin shots.  Here’s the name of a dietitian to help get you started.”  I heard all of this second hand, mind you, and it took him a few hours to disclose what was actually said because he had stopped off at Starbucks for a Caramel Macchiato and pound cake, just a little reward for after the doctor.

Boo reluctantly relayed the information, grudgingly called the dietitian, and went about his way saying, “I’m going to eat whatever I want until I see this nutrition person.”

“I’m going with you to the dietitian,” I said.

“You just want to make sure I tell the truth,” he countered.

“That’s right, “ I said.  “I don’t trust you.”

boo

One week later, we saw the dietitian who was a beautiful, thirty-something, tall, slender nurse.  She was sweet on the outside, but it didn’t take her long to see through his antics.  Yes, I helped him answer her questions honestly.  Yes, I ratted him out on a few things, but I saw him really listening as she explained carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins.  Almost overnight Boo began watching his carbs, forgoing desserts, using sugar-free creamer, and walking 10,000 steps.  It was a miracle.  As the pounds dropped off, he started to envision himself quite the stud.  “I think I’m almost ready for skinny jeans, what do you think?” 

 “Maybe just five more pounds?” I offered.

We went from grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with a generous handful of chips at lunch, to baked fish and Charro beans.  We had berries for dessert instead of double stuffed oreo cookies and ice cream.  We even bought Fitbits.  In fact, Boo became a zealot, watching every bite he put in his mouth.

 When we walked together, I would come home angry.  I envisioned us walking hand in hand down the road of love and health; sharing goals and encouraging each other on our fitness journey.  His focus was to walk briskly and clock his miles, no time for idle chit chat, let alone hand-holding.  So, we opted to walk separately, allowing him to go faster and me to stay sweeter. 

 Six months later he was down thirty pounds and looking svelte.  I, on the other hand, was down three pounds and sneaking potato chips.   How is it that men can just put their minds to it and make this losing weight look so easy?  I think women just have slower metabolisms and don’t forget the whole hormone thing, we’re challenged at every turn.

This year at Christmas, Boo finally got his wish of skinny jeans!  As he pulled the jeans gleefully from the wrapping paper, he grinned like a little kid and stood up to hold the jeans next to his legs.  Even though he needed a little help to pull them on, once he zipped up they fit like a glove. (literally)  Truthfully, I never thought of Boo as skinny jeans material, but I wanted him to live the dream, and he is.

“Enjoy your new-found hotness!” I teased.

“Oh, I will,”  he smiled, as he turned around and checked out his rear end view.  “GQ has nothing on me!”

Posted in Relationships

See Me

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His eyes locked in on mine and the whole depth of his life was etched on his skin, the skin someone had once loved.  Maybe he was still loved, but I saw the story in his eyes and it stopped me.  It stopped my breath and I looked away.

He didn’t say anything, but he asked with his eyes.  Without thinking, my daughter and I opened the door and hurried in with the other assortment of customers; hurrying into the dollar store for super bargains and cheap deals.

It wasn’t until we were all the way in that I noticed the door was shut and he was still outside, but I kept moving, diverting my eyes. 

My daughter was the first to act, walking purposefully back toward the door.  She didn’t say a word to me, but as she opened the door she said, “Hello friend, may I help you?”

He quickly looked down and then glanced back up as he said, “Yes, thank you.  I need to do some shopping.”

His wheelchair was a later model, worn and frayed at the top of the backrest, and basic black, totally utilitarian.  I could tell he had been a tall man, because his one long leg remained, half filling the space of the chair, while his hands gripped the armrest.  

The chair was his home, with a cushion to sit on, and a cloth pouch tied onto the back of the seat holding a grocery bag, bandana and well used water bottle.  The chair was moved solely by the strength of his arms, which would turn and push the large, dirty, frayed wheels.  But, his face…his face frightened me because it was so rough, yet so incredibly tender and open.

There was a beautiful, kind quality to his face that reached out as if to whisper, 

“I’m still me.  I’m still in here, in this tired, worn shell. Can you see me? The real me?”

Shame crept into my body, as I hurried over to hold the door. My daughter gripped the handles behind the backrest and with a strong push, helped him over the threshold and got the bag from the back of his chair.

“There you go,”  she said.  “Anything else I can do for you?”

“No, thank you.  I didn’t think I would make it in,” he said, looking down.

And he shyly wheeled himself forward, down a crowded aisle with greedy shoppers.

She took no credit for this action, as I told her how proud I was and what a kind thing she did.  It is a part of who she is to help the unfortunate or downtrodden.  It was a quiet lesson to me to keep my eyes open, my heart soft and my hands ready to help.

Shame, whether his or mine, does not teach us anything except to abandon ourselves.  Perhaps he had old shame lurking nearby, I really don’t know.  But, I know my shame at not following a faint nudge to help a fellow human, lingers still.

I learned a lesson that day that came from my daughter who was not afraid to open a door; not afraid to extend her hand.  A lesson I hope I will always remember.

Posted in Death and Dying, Relationships

From Fear to Hope

From Fear to Hope  by Ginger Keller Gannaway

For over two months fear has been part of my daily life. As COVID19 continues to kill about 1,000 people a day in the USA, I’m adapting to living during a pandemic. Then sixteen days ago an eight-minute and 46-second video shocked the world and stirred up other worries. Now protesters march in cities all over the world and demand justice for George Floyd. Everyday holds uncertainty and fear for so many people. Important change is rarely easy or peaceful.Am I next?

I watch and read updates about the unrest and the impassioned calls for justice. Cardboard signs on the fence around an elementary school two blocks from my apartment show support for the ones demanding change.

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black lives matter

The protesters are a mix of people from different age groups, different races and different countries. Most marches are peaceful; some involve violence. But all show bravery and determination. Change has to happen! I love the verbs used by rapper Killer Mike. We must : “Plot. Plan. Strategize. Organize. Mobilize.”

Even as I wear a face mask and practice social distancing when I leave my home (and I know the virus is not going away for a long while), I feel hopeful for our future because people are coming together for change, for justice, and for a better future. A friend in New Orleans sent me a beautiful picture of protesters in Jackson Square. He said he felt a sense of love and energy and hope! Amen to that!

NOLA hope

Sam Cooke sang it so well!

 

Posted in Family, Food, Relationships

It’s Not Like Granny’s

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Granny Malcolm

 

He saw a can of salmon on the kitchen counter.  “Are we having salmon croquettes?” he asked with a huge grin.

“Yep.”

“ I love salmon croquettes!  My granny used to make them.”IMG_3149

In the humble circles of Texas, we eat salmon from a can.  Of course, now that we are more worldly, we enjoy fresh salmon broiled or baked, but salmon croquettes are what we grew up on.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s in Amarillo, we only ate canned vegetables, canned tuna, even ham from a can.  It’s hard to imagine now, but that tin smell and taste seemed normal.  Nothing came in an easy-open pouch or fresh frozen.  The croquette recipe I remember is:   canned and drained salmon,  saltine cracker crumbs,  an egg,  and maybe chopped onion if you want to get fancy

 You first had to dig out all of the small bones from the can-shaped salmon.  We were always warned that you could choke and die if you swallowed a bone!  Then, you mix it all together and form patties that you coat on both sides with cornmeal.  Next, you pan fry until golden brown.  Yum!

Boo grew up in a small east Texas town.  To this day, his brother, who still lives there, doesn’t lock his house or car.  It’s just an easy-living atmosphere.  When Boo was in high school and could finally leave campus, he and a friend would walk to his granny’s house for lunch every day.  Sometimes they would eat sandwiches, but mainly Granny made those growing boys a hot meal; meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast, and salmon croquettes.  So when Boo saw the can of salmon, he immediately thought of dear Granny, God rest her soul. 61048007487__F2BF2BA6-F46A-4CA1-BA8D-E175087C4A0F

There are many meals I’ve made through the years that did not quite match up to Granny’s.  Usually, the comments from Boo go something like this:

“Where’s the gravy?”

“Granny used to always make mashed potatoes with meatloaf.”

Most of the time I catch myself before snapping, “Well, I’m not Granny.  God rest her soul.”

Granny must have been a saint.  She loved to cook and see her children and grandchildren eat her food.  She equated food with love and Boo has told me several times that my cooking is good, but to make it great I’d have to cook with my heart, not my head.

Even Boo cooks with love.  On nights when we agree to just fend for ourselves, I get cheese and crackers and then I hear Boo rattling pots and pans and I smell bacon.  Granny used bacon with everything.  He will whip up a beautiful omelet, bacon and blueberry pancakes, while I sit down to my hard cheese and a few Ritz.  “I didn’t know you were going to do that!” I whine.  “I cook with this, Boo (making a heart shape with his hands) I cook with this!”IMG_3145

While I admit, love is the furthest from my mind when I’m preparing a meal, I do pride myself on the fact that you will not starve at my house.  My food is nutritious, simple and I have a few never-fail recipes, but my heart is just not in it.  I’m not dear Granny, God rest her soul.

While I was mixing my croquettes, I asked Boo, “How did Granny make the salmon croquettes?”

He looked at my ingredients and said, “Well, for starters Granny chopped up the onion so fine, I couldn’t see it.”  I got out the knife and rechopped onions even smaller, trying not to be resentful.  And, about thirty minutes later, when I saw the contented smile on Boo’s face and heard him say, “This is just like Granny used to make,” I knew I had succeeded.

“Thanks, babe,”  I said and I sent up a special thank you to Granny, God rest her soul, for helping me find the love.  I salute the Granny’s of the world.  All of the beautiful people who live to love and love to cook.  I admire them and respect their spirit, heart, and soul, and I admit I could stand to be a little more like Granny.

 “Granny, if you’re looking down on me, please give me a little nudge now and then, so I can make Boo happy with my culinary efforts.” 

 Grant me the serenity not to snap at his requests for gravy, 

the courage to try new recipes, and the wisdom to know my limitations. 

 Amen.

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Posted in Relationships

We Need To Talk

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written by Nancy Malcolm

 

He was reclining in the usual spot on the couch, CNN news looping the same stories they reported yesterday when I apparently ghosted in and sat down.

“Oh!  You scared me!”  he said.

“We need to talk,”  I said.

“Okaaaaaaaay,” he replied, and his face went ashen.

I’m sure he did a quick inventory to see if he had done anything wrong or blatantly irresponsible.  “I’ll put my lunch dishes in the dishwasher, he said, ” Don’t worry.”

“Would you please at least pause the T.V. so we can talk?”  I asked.

And that’s when it happened.  He rolled his eyes, not at me directly, but because they were facing the T.V., I saw it from the side.  My sixty-two-year-old husband is really a twelve-year-old in disguise.

He paused the T.V. but his body stayed reclined.   Facing forward, he glanced in my direction, hoping that would be enough.

“Could you at least turn this way so we can see each other?”

He shifted my way but I could tell he was not in the mood for a serious discussion.  We’ve known each other long enough for us both to know the signs, and there are always signs.

Oh sure, I knew better than to lead off with “We need to talk.”  I knew other tools to use, ways to incorporate less threatening phrases, but it jumped out of my mouth, flew out into the air and landed in his space.  Ooops there it is.

And this is where my story takes a surprising turn.  I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I heard a clap of thunder, metaphorically speaking.  Suddenly, in a blinding light of clarity, I had an epiphany or as a friend of mine says; a talk with Tiffany

I realized we had been in this exact place many times before.  I say ‘we need to talk.’ He rolls his eyes. I get upset and he gets defensive.  It was about to be a lose-lose situation. What I needed to talk about had been talked about before and so it would probably be filed in his ‘nagging’ folder, never to be seen again.  I knew I had a choice to make: same old-same old or something new,

I had wanted to have Talk #32:  You never say anything sweet to me anymore.  You never compliment me or say words of affirmation.  I would quote from Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages and end with guilt.  “I always try to say sweet things to YOU….” No wonder the man’s eyes glaze over right before he rolls them.  I had too many ‘always’ and ‘nevers,’ and I heard myself plain as day, the voice from Charlie Brown: “WaaaWaaaaaaWaaaa”

As if on cue, I saw his baby blues lock in on me.  I remembered that earlier that day he had watered all the outside plants and vacuumed out my car.  He was home, not out gambling.  And, I had no doubt that he would put his lunch dishes in the dishwasher.

Sometimes God does for you what you cannot seem to do for yourself, and as I looked at my husband my mouth opened and out came, “I just wanted to tell you thank you for vacuuming out my car.  That was so sweet of you.”

I felt my eyes widen and I couldn’t believe my ears, but I tried to act cool and nonchalant. 

For a few seconds, he stared at me, then said, “Is that it?”

“Yes.  Thank you, honey.  It means a lot.”

“Okaaaaaay.  You’re welcome.”

And with that, I patted his leg and said, “Carry-on, Boo.”  I turned to leave the room and I heard Wolf Blitzer’s voice starting up and the recliner go back a little farther.  I know his eyes never left the screen, but as I walked away he called, “Love you” 

“Love you too,” I answered, and I meant it.