Last night my house was so full of past, present and future…love and friendship, that it should have burst at the seams.
As we gathered to shower Ariel with gifts that would assist her in caring for the newest addition…I was overwhelmed by the treasures I held in my little home. The whole scene reminded me to step back and pay tribute to the years past, present and future. Although everyone could not make it, as it was scheduled on a weekday, so many did and I am counting my blessings this morning.
My little secretive daughter, Ariel, had a secret guest she had no idea would attend. Ms. Maggie. Ms. Maggie babysat Ariel and Craig when they were little (Ariel was a baby) and I worked at Pizza Hut. So many years go. Maggie’s son Shaun couldn’t say Ariel so they nicknamed her “EO.” She is a trusted soul and I never worried about how my children were treated as she cared for them. She is a loving caring soul. We remained friends and our children enjoyed birthday parties and Ariel’s nickname stuck…that even Ed calls her that that still.
Ed came in with his wife, Charlotte. Ed goes all the way back to Papa’s adolescent days. Charlotte is new in the past recent years. He was there when Craig threw his infamous fit at the age of five…and oh, were we ever so embarrassed. I was cleaning his house when Craig got his head stuck under Ed’s privacy fence. Ed rode to Florida on a family trip with us, on his motorcycle when all the younguns were younguns and William wasn’t even borne. Charlotte and Ed went on a trip with us again, William the only youngun this time…and yes, they were on a motorcycle.
Connie, Papa’s Moma, and Jan, his sister was a part of that adolescent world of Papa’s when Ed entered. They were able to attend last night, too. So many showers ago…just think, Jan was around when Connie was pregnant with Papa and I wonder if she attended a shower with Connie for her brother in Taiwan 54 years ago. I am overwhelmed when I think of the connections through out lives and the plans God unfolds. Connie, as she sat there watching her granddaughter open gifts…did you realize Connie so many years ago that you would be blessed with so many lives? Even though George, due to the link being broken, did not get to meet Ariel’s new addition, he is with us in our hearts and the chain will link again someday. I know you miss sharing these events with him.
Aunt Juanita was happy to see you, Connie. Two ladies that have lived long blessed lives, had to say goodbye to their life long partners, both military wives, sat across from each other bringing so many pieces of history to my home. Oh, the wealth of experience they bring to me, to the younger women in the room. How many baby showers have they been to? How many babies have they held? Aunt Juanita will be 90 in January…and I can’t even type that without my eyes tearing up. I remember a valuable lesson that she took the time to teach me when I was young. We all had balloons, and like most children, mine escaped. I reached up and tried to take over Aunt Juanita’s balloon, who carried one, too…cause she’s got a bit of kid in her heart. She lifted her balloon hand out of my reach and did not let me take over. She may have never realized it, but her taking the time to talk to me about being greedy and expectant, was a very valuable lesson. Aunt Juanita was always there for Moma…and Granny, her partner in crime…when have they not been a team? They even share the same birth month. Granny will be 88 in January. I remember when I was 6 visiting in Lexington, going to the park with Granny, and her sliding down the slide with me. I remember it like it was today. She has ALWAYS been spunky! They have always been so giving. The many folks they have ministered to in nursing homes over the years are insurmountable. And Granny, still sweet, Granny, last night coaxed over little Henry, whom she’s never met before, and fed him some cupcake icing. And they both grinned like they had been friends forever.
Henry, Nancy’s grandson and Darcy, her granddaughter shined on everyone last night. Not real clear as to why Noel took to barking at the car seat that Darcy was in but let’s bet she get’s over the car seat fetish real soon, like starting in December. Aunt Nancy…reminded me last night during a game something I had forgotten…how much Ariel wanted to be “Aunt Nancy” when Ariel was wee little. She loved Aunt Nancy so much, she wanted to be Aunt Nancy. She requested I even call her Nancy. Nancy has introduced me to so many things that has changed my life….simple things, like shrimp…and yet, future inspiring and altering things like Southern Early Learning Lab and Ms Elswick. Nancy is a beautiful person and has touched so many lives. Her grandchildren will learn, as they are learning everyday, that her touch in their lives is one in a million. Darcy is Jen’s newest…Jen has so fervently fought to adopt Avery and longs to have her home. I think God appreciates her love for a child so far away, and her protective instinct to fight for her that He has blessed her with another…Darcy. And Jen is happy to receive the blessing. And again…I remind you that my small little home should have been bursting at the seams last night. Henry is Sarah’s little one…and what a horrible aunt I was for planning Ariel’s shower on Sarah’s birthday!!! Nancy brought Henry with her since Sarah also had a class to attend…so really, her teacher is just as awful as me! Melissa, Nancy’s youngest…and well, although she still has that title, she quite the young woman. She has been through an ordeal…and yet she travels the road before her with strong will and determination that she is a warrior I admire. A beautiful warrior, I will add…inside and out.
Henry, Nancy’s grandson was born in the same hospital, the same day just hours before Delva’s twins. Delva is my neighbor of at least 12 years. Aurora, Crysta and Shaila came with her last night. Just three of her five. Crysta and Shaila campaigned for Henry and James (one of the twins) to get together. Sweet little big sisters looking out for sweet baby James. Aurora came to my care when she was 6 months and I continued to babysit after Crysta was born. I do not walk out in our yard when the girls are playing without receiving a warm “Hello, Mimi!” Even when they have company…even when I stop by during work to visit the ladies room…never failing…and all this talk about moving my sweet neighbors away…I try to escape from the thought. As we played a game last night, one of the questions being, “What did Craig entice Ariel to stick up her nose at the age of five?” I was reminded of Aurora…and how she stuck a piece of chicken up her nose and how I had to work at removing it…in front of her patient Moma. Oh, the memories.
A neighbor on the left, a neighbor on the right…I call her Andy, her real name is Jennifer. I’m telling you…look around you…there are jewels you don’t want to miss! I met Andy through Ariel. Ariel in her young entrepreneur state went looking for business…dog walking business…at least 11 years ago. Further in the years, Andy helped assist me in getting ready for the physical testing with Metro. She helped me with running and set ups…and her words of encouragement are remembered to this day. She helped with the party last night…and her daughter, Lilly was with her…Lilly, a perfect name for a blossoming soul. She wanted to be here…she felt the love and excitement…and I was glad she came. I’ve even seen her outside lately playing with Shaila…I love the connection. Andy’s dog Bosco was Winston’s best friend. Buds, they were…and maybe they are at the rainbow bridge enjoying each other’s company again.
Oh, and the connection between Molly and Crysta. The giggly gals, who were together as babies as I babysat are still enjoying each other’s company. Rosie got her a bit late due to car troubles…but the joy on Crysta’s face when Molly did walk through the door! Jacob’s face when he walked in…was like, “Ew, all these women…get me to safety!” Rosie…what a Moma you are…homeschooling Molly and Jacob…they are so enjoying it. I am so enjoying watching you. Oh, “Ms. run off to California”…so glad you got through that spell…and learned from it. Thinking about you running off to California….and then riding up to Maine with me…I smile…all the roads you’ve traveled. Oh, how I loved seeing you and Missy standing at the bar chatting. Be still my beating heart.
Athena, Kylie and Leah were able to be here, too for a short time. Athena homeschooled her little ones for a period. I homeschooled her husband for a period too. Garrett is a favorite that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. He and Athena are such a pair. And Athena, did I hear you correctly amidst the wildness in my home? You aren’t moving to Florida? I have been given a second chance…not to blow it this time. We have to get together more often. I need to pull photos of Kylie playing with Silas, and our trip to the museum…Kylie has to remember those moments. I need to create moments with Leah, too.
Papa turned to me as we glanced through the photos, that I didn’t get enough of…and points to Tiffany. Who is this, he asked. Oh, Papa, she has slept at our house, Ariel has slept at her house. A teenage friend, from Ariel’s adolescence…like Ed is to yours. He said, “I didn’t recognize her. She’s a beautiful woman, now.” Yeah, they don’t stay little…and when I showed him photos of her son and daughter, I thought he’d flip his gourd…”No way,” he said. “How does it happen?”
How does it happen?
I wonder myself as I see Becky moving around assisting with the shower festivities, without me even asking. I see her standing with my daughters in past gatherings, captured by film…I see her smiling at Craig on their wedding day. I see her in the labor room ready to give birth to Emily and being a real trouper despite how her labor day did not go as she had dreamed it to. And sadness fills my heart as she and Craig are separating…and I am losing a daughter. Emily is losing her little family unit. Oh, how I pray and wish my experience, my love could help mend this family, so dear to me. I am reminded that I cannot fix all things, I cannot began to understand but God in His infinite wisdom and power is in control…and nothing happens to my loved ones that isn’t filtered through His hands. I must trust and obey.
Obey…I smile thinking about it…something Emily did not want to do as she left last night and even after she arrived home. She did not want the party to be over. She cried, in her over dramatic way, as she talked to me over the phone, “I want you to hold me, Mimi, I want my Mimi.” Funny, just the night before when she was in the bed at MIMI’S house, she was crying, “I want my Daddy, I want my Mommy.” A first, but we had switched her to a “big girl” bed and the resistance to change comes from her father’s line. The only other child I know that had a hard time with bedtime was Molly.
Last night…was no different. As Jacob and Molly were giggling and chatting after the lights were out…no crying or fit throwing as in the younger years…but not a willing sleeper, still. I went into the room…again…with promises of moving Jacob out into the living room…but with desperate pleads of go to sleep so I can… they did. The night ended with everyone falling to sleep with a smile.
I lay there thankful for Ariel’s mother-in-law, Tammy. Who came to the shower, who has been such a blessing to Ariel, and has even taught her to crochet. She helped clean up after the shower and got Ariel and Noel all packed up and ready to head for home. This will be Tammy’s first grandchild…and she’s anxious and I am happy she will get to experience the “Nana” in her life. She has a love for children and it shows in the younguns involved in her life. She’s in for a real treat!
Even though Moma couldn’t be with us…yet, another broken chain…to be linked again later as God calls us home one by one…I made one of the gifts given to the game winners, a tribute to Moma…a plague that said, “Life is a journey not a destination.” And it had a butterfly on it…it was one way of having her here with us. She had quite a journey, even though it was too short.
At the end…Ariel was swollen and tired…she sat on the floor after all the guests left admiring her precious baby things that will soon encase her “little cupcake.” I know she is anxious. She wants everything to be just right. She is keenly aware of the connections of past, present and future here in our home. She is after my own heart. People are important to her, memories are precious to her and she is about to embark on a mission that will change her forever…and for the better…and she will fulfill the role of a mommy as she has always dreamed she would…and I will remember…the day she was born and placed in my arms, her holding me close, her precious funny faces, her precious way of reading my mind as a very young child, her little toes and the fuzz she loved to pick out of them, her love for her family from day one, and I will remind her…to savor the flavor of each day…to be consciously aware that time brings roses, and on the “bad mommy days” not to focus on the thorns…to stop and smell the roses…and to always come home because my little house needs the warmth…it’s a small house, but it holds a wealth of love.