“Sometimes on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one.” ~ Unknown
We all had such a good time yesterday that I caught not one, not two, but three smiles from Tony Adkins. He’s the sweetest man ever was, but he rarely smiles even when he’s super happy. So, when I caught the first smile I thought it was an anomaly. It wasn’t. Tony was smiling throughout the day. That just tickled me to death because I love him very much and want him to be happy. I’m sure to catch more smiles as the years roll on.
“Never underestimate the power of kind words” ~ Unknown
We had our fall family gathering today at Uncle Harold and Aunt Phyllis’ farm in Morgan County (that’s Eastern Kentucky for those unfamiliar). Fall’s brisk weather finally swooped in and made the day crisp and overcast. Perfection. We ate hearty foods, drank hot coffee, had our annual hay ride, shared birthday cake for Dad and Aunt Linda, and told ghost stories. In fact, that may have been the most fun of the day, sitting in a room surrounded by the elders telling stories of visitations and haints galore; the fantastic and the believable. There was something very, very different about this gathering from the others we’ve had. I sensed a calm in the air. The bittersweet thirst for those no longer with us while reveling in their memories in unadulterated happiness. Perhaps Cousin Brian was on to something during the hayride. “We are the age our parents were when we went on hayrides,” he said as we sat sandwiched between first and third generation Terrys. It happens to every generation in every family, in slow, often imperceptible ways until one day Cousin Brian sees the culmination of time in a single moment. The realization that the changing of the guard is fully underway. This is just one blessing of this family; to have sustained multiple relationships over decades that can come together and celebrate goodness. To be truly grateful for the gifts in spite of the sadness, to me, is a mark of great faith. That is something this family has in spades.
“Everything comes to you at the right time. Be patient.” ~ Unknown
Tony and Charlene are having a large yard sale tomorrow in West Liberty. At the last minute, not wanting to miss out on the upcoming holiday extravaganza, they threw a summer dinner for the family who could get to them in Lexington. It was a great way to spend a Monday evening, and the food was, as usual, fantastic. If I haven’t mentioned it, my aunt Lois Nell makes the best baked beans in the world. She’s also not at all afraid of my camera (see above photo). She’s getting a lot better with it, too. I better be careful or she’ll be taking all the pictures before I know it, and that can only mean one thing: I’ll be in them. That will never do. HA! I sure enjoy this bunch, and I’m really lucky they let me hang out with them.
“Each day I am thankful for nights that turned into mornings, friends that turned into family,
dreams that turned into reality, and likes that turned into love.” ~ TinyBuddha
We tried to have a surprise birthday party for Charlene this evening. I say tried because she was seated at a table for ten…before anyone else arrived. So much for the surprise in “surprise party.” Nevertheless, she was happy to see us all, and we enjoyed good fellowship with one another. I hadn’t seen the family since my birthday dinner back in January, but it felt much, much longer, I suppose because I’d spent so much time with them in the fall. I’ve missed them, so I was very happy to be in their company for a couple of hours. Tony’s daughter, Anastasia, joined us, too. You’ve met her son, JC, many time before. He’s dad’s buddy. Yes, I’d say, all in all, a good time was had by all, and we had birthday cake.
“The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.”
~ Tibetan Proverb
I had the great fortune of dining with some of my family to finish off the birthday weekend. I only get to go to Longhorn Steakhouse when mom and dad are in town, so that’s where we headed. I swear, even though they’re a chain, they make the best steaks I’ve ever eaten – and they’re consistent in that quality. Anyway, Mike Moore has a birthday four days after me (plus he’s four years younger), so I’ve dubbed him my birthday buddy. It’s a lot more fun to celebrate when there’s more than me to celebrate. I can’t think of anybody I’d want as a birthday buddy more than Mike.
This dinner with the family meant more to me than dinners in the past. I’m not sure why. I only know that I was deeply honored that they could join me. They’ve each helped me so very, very much in this life, and always when I needed them the most. So, yea, I’m still a few hours away from my actual birth date, but I’ve had the best birthday weekend I could ever want. Who knew turning 53 was gonna be so awesome?
“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Today was an especially important day. Today, our Hero turned 79 years old. We learned just how bad his heart condition was after his heart attack last year. That, coupled with other significant maladies, pretty much ensured he had very limited time. I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised, and overwhelmingly grateful, I am that he lived to see this birthday. Make no mistake about it. Shorty Terry is one of the toughest men you will ever meet. Not only has he outlived expectations, he is maintaining his health pretty doggone well, all things considered.
Losing Uncle Greg yesterday was not just devastating to the family, it was concerning for our Hero because of his own fragile health; because losing Greg, not two years his junior, drove home his own impending departure; and because he loved and respected Greg deeply. He is heartbroken. In light of Greg’s passing, mom and I had planned to hold off on birthday festivities, that was, until Lois called this morning. God bless her for always going the extra mile for her family. By 10am she had rallied the sisters and the local cousins (she would have rallied the brothers if they lived closer) for a birthday celebration in the sun. It was exactly what we all needed, and it was especially important for our heartbroken Hero. He finally had the birthday party he’d always wanted, and it took the sting out of losing his beloved brother. Once again, today proved that no matter how heartbroken you may be, there is always something to be grateful for. My plate remains overflowing with gratitude.
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
~ Carl Bard
I came home to continue processing wedding photos only to realize the picture I posted last night was actually Crystal’s, which explains why I didn’t remember the barn being in my shots…because it wasn’t! I laughed out loud. This time I’m making sure I post something I actually shot. So, let’s talk about the happy couple in this picture. Even though Tony and Charlene married later in life they actually go way, way back. They dated when I was a little girl though I didn’t realize it at the time. I just thought Tony was part of the family since he was also my Uncle Ralph Paul’s best friend, and he was around all the time. He remained close to my parents after Ralph Paul was killed in Vietnam and he and Charlene split up. In short, Tony has been part of my life as long as Charlene has. I’m not entirely sure why things didn’t work out between them, but it didn’t, and they eventually married other people. In January of 2016, Charlene found her husband had died suddenly of a heart attack. It was a shock. Being a compassionate man, Tony sent her a sympathy card. Meanwhile, he was no stranger to heartbreak. His beloved wife, Sandy, who had struggled for years with diabetes and cancer, was at the same time taking a turn for the worse. She died three months later in April. Charlene sent him a sympathy card. Fast forward 15 months, give or take, and here they are. You really never know what will come from such tragic circumstances, but Tony and Charlene are proof that if you can open your heart to the possibilities of healing and happiness, beautiful things can happen.