The Sweetest Gift

Tags

, , , , ,

Almost 31 years ago, I gave birth to the miracle that is my daughter Amy.  From the moment she entered this world, my focus became centered on taking care of her needs, trying to give her as many of her wants and dreams as I could, and helping her grow strong so that she could achieve her dreams in life that needed to be done on her own.  As most mothers find out, my dreams and wants pretty much took a back burner as life drew me through divorce and trying to carve out a living…life just wouldn’t let me do the things I’d dreamed of or go to the places I’d hoped to see.

And that was alright!  My “big” dreams became simpler as I got older.  Yet there was one place that continued to stick in my mind…one place I dreamt of visiting and exploring ever since I was a child…Washington DC.  I would spend hours clicking through the Viewmaster reels of the city and marvelling at the grandeur of the scenes that appeared before me.  I would gasp as the image of the Lincoln Monument filled the screen, amazed by the sheer mass of the sculpture.  I WANTED TO SEE IT ALL!!!

I always regretted that I was unable to take Amy to explore the city as a child.  It was a place I felt everyone should experience at one time in their lives.  Then 4 years ago…she moved there to live and work.  I explored the city through her eyes in her pictures, her emails and her phone calls as she went through her days, still knowing that I would probably never see it any other way.  It wasn’t a trip that Joker and I could make easily in the camper with the limited time off work he had, nor was the money there for plane fare and hotels.  So I remained content with the visits that we did have when she would come home, but always dreaming of the day I might be able to go see HER.  Forget a plane…I’d flown several times before but I hadn’t ridden on a train since I was too young to remember.   I could take the train which was infinitely cheaper albeit a 23 hour trip, spend a few days, and then make the trip home.   I started saving back what I could, but was still far short of what I needed to make that dream a reality as soon as I would’ve liked.

Then last summer she called me to tell me she was going to give me a very selfish birthday gift…I would be getting a round trip train ticket to Washington DC,  I would be staying for a week with she and Dave in their home, and I was to accept the fact that I would pay for nothing.  Despite protests (for isn’t that what mommies do?), she said “You’ve always done things for me.  This is something I want to do for you.”

I admit to being scared.  Where I once was fearless in my youth, I was now hesitant in my age.  I’d never been to a city as large before in my life.  I just KNEW that “little country towngirl” was stamped on my forehead.  Boarding the train from a little outdoor depot, I settled into my seat as I watched my husband fade from view, everything familiar and comfortable and filled with love behind me as the wheels took me further away.  I made it through the train change in Chicago (my word, there’s a jillion tracks there!), my confidence boosted as I settled into my sleeper car for the 19 hour trek to DC.

Amy warned me!  She told me it could be a bit overwhelming.  I thought I was prepared for the feeling as I left the train and made my way to the front of the station to meet them…but nothing could possibly have prepared me as I emerged into the fall sunlight under the largest American flag I have ever seen to be faced with a view of the Washington Monument that brought me to tears.  I made it!  My “dream trip” was no longer a dream…my daughter had made it a reality.

Then my daughter’s arms wrapped around me, holding me steady and on firm ground, bringing me to earth with her love as I used to when she was a child.  After a whirlwind tour of the city I was wondering if I would ever be able to make sense of it all as I was on my own most days since she and Dave had to work.  They laid careful plans and directions out for me, but I still felt hesitant that first morning when I set out.  Could I do this????  Was I getting too old to handle a trip of this magnitude myself???

That week I proved to myself that I could.  I walked more miles than I could imagine possible, I saw every monument (some several times), I visited the Smithsonians and the National Archives and the Capitol and the Library of Congress, I walked some more, I ate foods I’d never had a chance to try,  I shed tears at the Wall,  I visited bakeries and coffee shops and bookstores in Dupont Circle, I rode the subway and the double decker bus, I stood outside the White House lawn in the drizzling rain, and I met some of the most wonderful people from all over the country and overseas.

And I never once got lost!

Each night I would meet Amy after work for the walk home.  We would share our days and she would  listen to my enthusiastic adventures, often with a smile on her face as I babbled on that reminded me of the ones I once had as she babbled on about her adventures as a young child.  In ways our roles were reversed…she somehow knew I needed to regain some of the confidence that sometimes ebbs away with age.  And in the sharing of those walks home and the evenings that followed full of food and laughter and sharing, I found a deepening respect for her as a woman living her own life…we no longer were just mother and daughter, we were united as women who have been doubly blessed with the bond as mother-daughter!

It’s a subtle shift…one that I realize is inevitable as I look back at the way it has shifted the same way between my mother and I over the years.  It’s a shift that is so very difficult to express…that words can barely express but is known so deeply in my heart. There were so many times that I wished I could bottle up all the sticky kisses and “little girlishness” of her childhood and keep it forever.  The reality is that it will always be with me forever in my heart. I will always have that.  But this deeper, newest of phases in our mommy-daughter saga is one that I would not trade for the world as well.

Amy gave me many gifts that week… she gave me my “dream trip”, she gave me the opportunity to renew my confidence in myself at a time when it was lacking, and she gave me the gift of deepening our bond as women and taking mom and daughter to a whole new level in life.  It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life.

She will always be my little girl…that will never change.  She will always be my biggest cheerleader as I will always be hers.  And she will always be the best woman friend I will ever have the honor to be blessed with in my life.

It’s the circle of life and love!

Lost and Found

Tags

, , ,

It has been almost a year since I wrote my last blog post about our “exodus” from our home due to flooding.  I haven’t written another word since…until this day.

At the time I had no clue that the following year would hold such intensity.  It was a year of intense joy, but it was also a year of such pain, fear, heartache and realization that it literally rocked me on my heels and left me without words.  I mourned the loss of those words, knowing there were stories to be told and encouragement to be given through them.  But try as I might, the words would not come.

And then I let it go, knowing that it would all come back when the time was right.  Not MY time…HIS time!

I’ve been wandering through my own personal wilderness, unsure of where I was going or if I would even arrive safely.  Despite letting it go, I began to wonder if my words would ever come back.

This morning I woke up at 6, started the coffee, and dodged the dogs playing at my feet as I went to get dressed.  Reaching into my jewelry box for a pair of earrings to wear, I came across these.

As I hooked them into my ears, I thought of the dearest woman who sent them to me and how we laughed about how fitting they were for me… CoppertoGold.  Sitting down with my coffee, I fired up my computer to find a simple 5 word email from her.

“I remember you most friend”

Then another voice that said “NOW is the time!  You may have been gone but you are not forgotten.  You have always been gold…you just forgot that you were.”

His timing was not mine…and I am once again humbled by it.

Now there are so many words that it may take me awhile to piece them all together, but they are back.

He is sooooooooo good!

On The Rise

Tags

, , , , ,

The recent weather around the country can only be classified as unbelievable. It seems night after night the news is filled with stories of torrential rains, tornados, and flooding. We watch the lives of people unknown to us blown away, floating away… and forever changed in ways we all hope to never know.

Joker and I have spent more nights in the showerhouse taking shelter from violent storms in the past weeks than I want to count. We’ve emerged to find nothing and noone harmed in the campground by the high winds and heavy rains, though farms nearby are littered with downed trees and silos.

And we’ve watched the lake we call home rise higher and higher with each passing day.

It came home Thursday when we were told that we needed to evacuate the campground as soon as possible. The water was expected to be over the roads by nightfall and the park would be closed until the floodwaters receded. We should expect to be away from the place we call home for at least 3 weeks if not longer.

And so it began…the hurried “see ya laters” to the other hosts who were facing the same thing we were, the phone calls to family and friends letting them know where we were heading, the choosing of what needed to be taken and what could be left behind for us to recover when we returned, and following our caravan of RV’s in the car to our safer haven. 3 hours later, Joker and I loaded up the dogs and began our trip.

Making my way out of the park, my gut was wrenched by the sight of familiar trails, meadows, and woods where the deer loved to play. What was once emerging green springtime is now a pond of water that laps at the top of the road. One road was already barricaded because of the water that lay on it. The remainder of the road out was threatening to be taken over by the churning water at it’s edge. Soon it too would succumb.

And I cried. My sense of loss was keen. It didn’t matter that I knew I would return eventually. I was leaving the place I call home and love so very much, a town that embraced this stranger to it just 2 years ago, and friends who I will not see on a daily basis for awhile. There will be no tomatos or peppers planted in the small plot next to the camper this year. I won’t be able to see the new fawns who might be born or play hide and seek with the raccoon who has taken up residence in the culvert next to our site. The hummingbirds who had started to come to my feeders will have to re-acquaint themselves with them when we return. I will have to wait to see how some of the kids have grown up and re-kindle old friendships from summers past. We WILL return, though it will take some time.

In the meantime, we chose to land at Beaver Dam State Park where Joker and I first began our “camping adventure” two and a half years ago. I only have to re-learn a town that remains familiar to me. The faces here are the same as evidenced by the line of site techs on mowers as I came back into the park today, all waving like mad and hollering “welcome backs”. The heartfelt welcome brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart!

Our situation is miniscule compared to what others across this country have faced in the devastation of the storms. The kindness and compassion of our friends who offered places to stay and put the camper without a second thought…the countless phone calls and text messages to make sure that we are ok…all let us know just how rich we are!

We are blessed! We were able to take our home along with us and most of our possessions where others have only been able to watch theirs blow or float away. I can only imagine (and hope I never have to experience it) the grief and horror of those who have totally lost huge portions of their lives.

The severity of each experience differs, but there is one thing that I am sure remains the same…

We are safe, we are together, and that is enough!

 

Time For A Change

Tags

,

Somewhere along the way, I found the stories stopped.  It’s not that they weren’t in my heart waiting to be written.  I realized the other day that the site decor was no longer inviting to me…it was stale…and it was time for a change!

So the process of change has begun.  Gone is the “signature Copper to Gold” picture.  In it’s place is a brighter color, a fresher face, and the promise of more to come.

I love spring cleaning!  :)

Can’t Take The Country Out Of The Girl

Tags

, , , , ,

It had been almost 2 years since I’d seen my daughter Amy, the last being when she came in for Joker’s and my wedding. A Kansas girl born and bred, she’d been living in the nation’s capital working in PR for the past several years. Used to the hubbub of big city living full of PR events and happy hours and a never-ending choice of things to do and see, I wondered if a 5 day visit back to the small town country where I live in Southern Illinois would bore her to tears after a day or so.
 
 
I found out something… you can take the girl out of the country but you CAN’T take the country out of the girl!

We drove through the countryside that first night, windows in the truck down and our hair blowing everywhere when she took a deep breath and said “Just smell that corn!” Her comment made me stop and think…it’s a smell I’m so used to experiencing everyday that I often don’t notice it any more. But in her world of concrete and glass and hubbub, it was noticeably different…somehow relaxing…I knew then that the country part of her had never left.
 
So much so that she made a stop on the way back to the campground one night to romp through a neighboring cornfield with her camera…despite the fact that we both knew it had been sprayed with liquid manure early in the morning.

We had a glorious 4 and a half days together. Rather than sleeping on the couch in the camper, she spent the first two days in a hotel as we had “family time” before Joker headed to NC to see his brother. Relative luxury before moving from there into the camper with me for the last two days of her visit, with a bathroom you can’t turn around in and whatever you need in easy reach of wherever you’re sitting.

Blissful “girl time”!

We sat outside doing nothing with our feet up…we hiked trails…we played gin late at night…we went to the post office…we ate lunch at smalltown diners…we drove in the evenings looking for deer…we cooked supper together and shared a beer as we ate outside in the evening breeze…we took a kazillion pictures as she taught me what she knew about photography (my latest passion) and helped me edit photos…we talked about everything and then some and laughed…we watched “girl shows” on television…we consumed what would appear to be a gallon of “stinky dip” for old times sake…and we loved!

I’ve always loved my daughter more than anything in the world but I fell more deeply in love with her and the woman she has become and continues to become. She is one of the strongest and most courageous young women I know. Walking away from the corporate PR world, she’s started her own PR firm and is succeeding beyond her wildest dreams. She’s taking the plunge before she’s “too old” (if you can actually be too old at the age of 28) to audition for American Idol in a few days, gaining a coveted golden ticket for the auditions. She and DK are heading for Costa Rica in a few weeks to see parts of the world they’ve never seen before.

I’ve always wanted her to experience things that I never will in my lifetime and succeed beyond her wildest dreams…she’s doing just that!

Through it all there remains the beautiful soul that has “country blood” running through her veins…the blood, that with a deep breath, can slow the world down…make you smile… put things back into perspective… bring peace.

I love you my little country girl!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.