2
Jan
2018

Last week, I experienced proof-positive that happiness can be contagious.  My extended family (my family, my sister’s family, her in laws and a family friend – 12 of us in all) went on a Caribbean cruise over Christmas week.   On the first night prior to departure, in New Orleans, my husband and I walked into the rest of the group in the hotel lobby and received a very animated “HeyyyYYYYYyyyyy” from them.  It was annoying as hell and very funny as well. The inflection had an effeminate quality, if that helps you to hear it.  Naturally, the HeyyyYYYYYyyyyy immediately caught on, much to my husband’s chagrin.

Everywhere we were, after that moment, you could hear the subgroups of our party issuing the hey call.  It helped us find each other in noisy bars, expansive lobbies and crowded, dark theaters on the cruise ship.  It became our signature.  (We  realized about halfway through the cruise that there was another group using “Dilly, Dilly” as their mating call. It was very funny, too).  If you wanted to find people in the buffet area, all you had to do was walk through sounding “HeyyyYYYYYyyyy” and listen for the answering call.   We had a laughter filled trip!

I did not really realize it, but other people noticed our boisterous, happy group.  We found out, happily, after we had our Secret Santa reveal on the last day of the cruise.  We were sitting in one of the more comfortable sofa groupings in one of the main bar areas, opening, and cheering the cleverness of our gifts (we all drew names and the rest of the cruise, spent time identifying the perfect gift – mind you, one of our 21 year olds drew an 86 year old’s name. It was a fun challenge).

As we sat and laughed and chattered, a couple, about retirement age, came up to us and told us that, “We have been watching  and enjoying all your joy and happiness this week.  Would you allow us to take a picture of your entire group for you to have as a memory?”

Wow.  Just wow.  It made me feel even happier that our joy was outwardly visible.  That it radiated so from us that other people were affected by it.  Happiness is a state of mind.  It may not be possible 100% of the time due to life events and struggles, but a huge component of it is being open to joy.  Let it in, when you are able.

26
Nov
2017

Little tiny things hit you out of the blue to remind you that your children are really adults and are transitioning into their own visions of adult life.   My daughter said she wanted to be “at home” to watch and celebrate the iron bowl yesterday.  She meant her apartment at auburn, not her room in this big old house.  This coming at the same time we are helping her brother to find an affordable aparment tugs a little at the heart muscle.  But it’s okay. Life goes on.

 

And, PS, Amazon, we really do not want your HQ2. The last thing we need is for rent to skyrocket with an influx of new population. Haha.

27
Apr
2017

One of the most vivid memories I have of my late grandmother is from an event posthumously honoring my grandfather.  (A side note: my grandfather refused awards of any kind.  He preferred to work behind the scenes and adhered to a philosophy of not drawing attention to his good works.)  I do not even remember what the honor was for!

At the time, my grandmother was in her mid-80s and had been unable to walk for many years.  Usually, when I visited, she was in her bed, but with a pretty bed jacket of some sort. She always had on make up and her hair done.

For this particular event, she had dressed in a cream linen suit with ivory lace and beading on the jacket sleeves and on the front neckline.  It was a gorgeous suit.  Her hair was done, and her eyes were gleaming.  I remember, someone had helped her situate herself in a very regal, velvet-backed chair at one area of the room, not right by the door.  A tremendously long line of people were waiting to greet her, one at a time.  These were the captains of the city and state, for my granddad had been involved with politics and politicians, as well as his law practice.  Each waited his or her turn to see my grandmother, kneeling to speak with her in time.  She was absolutely glowing that day.   Her bright blue eyes were filled with laughter from social events long past.  Her hair was the whitest of white, platinum almost.

If I can remember an 85 year old woman as beautiful, why can I not see it in myself at any age?

23
Apr
2017

One of the scents that is capable of immediately and forcefully reminding me of childhood is that of Honeysuckle.  Every time, I catch a whiff of the stuff, I am transported to a patch of scrubby grass and a grown up ditch, near the clotheslines that stood behind the apartments where my family lived in Oxford, Mississippi. We weren’t there very long, only two years, while my dad finished his doctorate.  Many of my childhood glimpses and snippets come from this place – I was between four and six years, then.  I remember, after the honeysuckle waned, the blackberries coming forth in full force.  Mom would send me, and whomever else was hanging about, into the overgrown vacant lots back there to hunt the berries.  I distinctly remember her always giving us a pail of water, with sugar melting in it, to wash the berries with.  Rarely did many actually make it home in those containers.

We have honeysuckle up here in North Alabama.  Only, it’s not quite as much and not quite as fragrant as it was in my memories.  But, you know how memories are, we tend to remember the good things as very, very good.  So, maybe honeysuckle doesn’t smell quite the same in reality.

We went down to Auburn this weekend to see some baseball and catch The Tempest at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (very good – go).  In the evening, after the game on Friday, we were strolling across campus to my daughter’s dorm when the scents hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s warmer down in Auburn, and the honeysuckle was in full bloom. The heady scent was just like I remembered it.  And to add to it, there were quite a few tea olive bushes around (at least I think it is what they are called, or something similar).  They have an extremely sweet perfume.  When I first encountered them in New Orleans, I always thought someone nearby had overdosed on some overpowering Giorgio, but eventually, I figured out it was the bushes.

I love that smell.  I miss it.  It always makes me feel happy.  I just stood there in the cool evening breeze, letting it waft over me and carry me back to my Freshman year on Tulane’s campus.  I almost cried.  I cannot believe my youngest is in college. Where did the time go?  It was just yesterday, I was tromping through briers, cutting up my shins and knees, picking blackberries.