Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Year in Review 2016


The kind folks at Facebook suggested I repost something I wrote last year titled The Christmas Letter, and I re-read it, and it did remind me of the value of looking back over the past year and recording it in a somewhat more permanent way than my Facebook posts.  In that post I commented about not enclosing a summary of our family activities with our Christmas card anymore, and I guess I probably assume that most of the people who care about us stay in touch through Facebook, but that’s not really true.  And, that lovely Christmas album is still sitting in the armoire awaiting my getting “a round tuit” and filling it with the history of our family Christmases…so here’s this year’s update.

The Christmas Letter 2016

For some reason 2016 seems to have flown by faster than ever.  No major surgeries for anyone, although both Walker and I have had some really annoying lingering coughs which reminded us that we don’t throw things off quite so easily at our age.  Otherwise, we’re all pretty happy and healthy. 

Our most significant adventure was our trip to Israel.  Ten days of “forced marching” in the Holy Land is an amazing experience.  Highlights were staying in a guest house above first century “cave homes” where Jesus probably played and visited, and possibly lived, visiting the Al Aqsa Mosque—only the second group of Christians allowed inside (after being draped in appropriate garb), and a day at Masada on our own.

Most of the grandkids are tweens or teens, except for Beau and Emmett who remind us of the pleasures of having little ones around when they visit.  Emmett adores being with his cousins, and manages to keep up with the big guys amazingly well.  Beau is a ray of sunshine punctuated by intermittent thunder storms.  She’s a real chatterbox, sings all the time,  and is the best eater of the bunch.  We have to stock up on avocados and eggs and beans and rice when she visits.  The kids enjoy each other, and we take great joy in seeing them make music together.  They performed and recorded a special song for our 50th wedding anniversary that brought tears to our eyes under Molly and Katie’s direction.  Sarah and her kids flew in and surprised us for that momentous occasion, making it just perfect!

Walker’s hobby farm yielded about 125 pounds of pecans this year, meaning lots of roasted pecans for gifts and lots for cooking.  The freezer is stuffed.  The most fun was the day in Arkansas at the “Indian Museum” and pecan picking with the whole family over Thanksgiving.  The older kids drove the four wheeler for the first time, and I even picked up my share.  He's had a decent number of quail covey's since the weather got cooler too and loves it when he and the dogs can find them with guests.

The most significant achievement of the year was the founding of Special Friends Fellowship Club, a project of the Diocese of West Tennessee.  It was Janie’s idea, prompted by seeing the work done by other denominations, and a nudge by a voice in the middle of the night asking, “Why aren’t you doing something with your own church?”  A letter to some clergy resulted in the trial run over the summer, and it went so well that the program was extended into the school year.  We have twenty special needs adults on roll, and the whole family has helped out through their churches.  Walker III is thrilled…it’s almost as good as Young Life, and he loves helping with the planning and setting up.  Big Walker is the muscle of the program, turning Janie’s nutty ideas into reality whether it be hanging a mirrored ball from the ceiling or hauling a hay ride around the church property…he’s always agreeable.  We have all been blessed by new friends from the diocese and these wonderful young adults and their sweet faith.

It was a hard year in some ways, some dear friends left us and others are fighting illnesses.  We are not happy with the result of the election, and are anxious for our country, but we have seen a lot of changes through the years, and we’ve weathered them all.  We carry on, knowing we will make it through whatever comes our way in the coming year too.  Seeing our grandchildren and their friends turning into such fine young people gives us such hope for the future, and maintaining friendships through it all is what it’s all about.

Happy New Year and Blessings to all,

Janie

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Long Time no Write

I was messaging with someone today and mentioned my Blog and started thinking about how long it had been since I had written anything...since Mother's Day...WOW!  It's not that I haven't had anything to say; those of you who actually know me, know that I always have plenty to say, but I'll have to admit that the past six months have actually stifled me considerably....and that's not a situation I find my self comfortable with.


Ordinarily, in the midst of a political season, I think I'd have plenty to say, and I think a good many of my friends would be on the same page as I am....but this year is different. (Actually it started changing in 2008 when my youngest daughter convinced me to vote for Obama, which I'm proud to say I am happy I did.)  Even my husband and I aren't on the same page this year, and I'm not even sure what two of my daughters think because we all seem to have some sort of unwritten agreement not to stir up trouble now that things have really become ugly.  Most of my Mah Jongg group think I am at the very least a Socialist, possibly a Communist, and they don't hesitate to tell me that I've been "drinking the Kool Aid".  I'm to polite to say what I think of them being able to watch the news at all and come to the conclusions they have.


I post the most well-thought articles supporting my beliefs on Facebook, and the comments range from my few friends who love them to some pretty ugly stuff from those who disagree.  The last month or so those comments did become a bit more tempered, and the consensus leaned toward " well both candidates are awful, but the country will be doomed if the Democrats get to appoint all those Supreme Court justices, so we'll take our chances with Trump."  So I stifle myself for the most part...or as much as I'm capable of...but I wake up every morning with this deep dread in the pit of my stomach, and I wonder whether I'm failing in some way by not trying harder to influence others.


But, I don't think influencing others is actually possible this year....at least I've had no luck at it.  We aren't listening to each other much, and I honestly think we don't really respect the other side very much anymore.  And, so in a little over a week it should be over, and  I hope it will all be like a bad dream and we'll all go back to taking care of our families and playing Mah Jongg or Bridge or golf or tennis, or go to the office and talk about football or basketball, or the holiday movies and which ones might be Oscar candidates.  Maybe life will be sane again and we will all be friendly and comfortable with each other....maybe.


Blessings,


Janie

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Another Mother's Day

I read back over my old posts about Mother's Day, and once again find that this pseudo holiday has a  strange tug on my heart.  I saw a number of posts by folks who were missing their mothers this day, as I definitely miss mine.  Even some of the older ladies I used to be in contact with who became mother substitutes for me are gone now.  I realize that I AM one of the older ladies.

I fear this not going to be one of my chipper posts where I find the happy side to share with you...I'm just not finding the words for that kind of post tonight.  Maybe some of you feel the same way.

The gardenias are budding, but not blooming yet this year.  The last couple of years they were hit hard by late winter freezes, but I see in them hope for a sweet reminder of Mama in the not too distant future.  My girls showered me with thoughtful remembrances and words and Katie prepared a lovely luncheon for me and her mother in law.  It was a beautiful day, and I have so much to be thankful for. 

All of us are in relatively good health; the children are thriving and happy; we have enough of everything we could possibly need and most of what we want.  We splurged recently and travelled to Israel, a trip of a lifetime that I never really expected to be able to make.  One of the best things about the trip was seeing that things at home went just fine without me.  My girls and Walker's driver made sure that he had everything he needed (after I made sure that some of his favorite meals were in the freezer) and all went so smoothly that I wondered why I'd been so hesitant to go in the first place.

The joy on Walker's face and in the fierce hugs he gave me when I got home, however, reminded me that he might not need to have me here all the time, but he certainly does like it when I come back.  One of these days, though,  I'm going to travel to a place  I can't return from, and it really makes me sad to think that the empty feeling I have on Mother's Day when I think about my mama will settle over my own children too, especially Walker.

Walker grieves loss more deeply than I ever imagined.  His memory is so acute for every incident in the past that he carries his grief in an active phase much longer than most of us do.  I don't think there's any "cure" for this trait...it's just the way he is, but sometimes, like when there's a death, even the death of a pet, his grief  breaks my heart.  If I'm still feeling sad on Mother's Day fifteen years after my mother's death, how is he going to cope when I'm gone?

  Maybe my fears are unfounded.  My girls came through when I was gone to Israel, and they will probably come through again....I hope so.

Blessings
Janie

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mixed Up Blessings

 
Walker age 2 with his Dad
 
I was reminded yesterday by the ever so helpful folks on Facebook that today is Worldwide Down Syndrome Day, so named because 3/21 symbolizes that folks with DS have three copies of  the 21st chromosome, causing all the things about them that make them unique.

Well, my guy with DS is certainly that, and as I think back over forty years of life with Walker, I am so amazed at where we were then and where we are now.  I've come so far from, "I don't know how to do this, and I really don't want to know how." to...hey, "Look what we've done!" 

 A long time ago, when I first announced to our friends and family that Walker had Down Syndrome, I sent a note along with the birth announcements saying that we at long last had been blessed with a son, but that ours was a mixed blessing.  Eventually, I tweaked that phrase into what will eventually be the title of my "Walker Stories"...."Mixed Up Blessings".  Because that's exactly what Walker has been to us.  He has taught us to celebrate whatever comes along, because almost anything can turn out to be a blessing if you just look hard enough.

So, We'll celebrate this day along with others who have learned the same lesson, and I'll thank all of you who walk this path along with me and love my guy as much as I do.

Blessings,
Janie


Rocking out at Heartsong Church on a lovely gift from a church member
 
Technology for Sarah for Christmas
 

Associate of the Year 2015 with Molly and Owen Gooch and Katie Monaghan
 
God Bless the USA!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leaning Forward

Walker sat in on his ISP planning session this year, and actually tuned in to see what we were discussing, and surprise, surprise...he had something to say about what he'd like to accomplish.  There is a new format which I don't completely understand, and the state worker didn't exactly explain, but it involved setting goals based on the client's "dreams".  Up till this point, I had kind of assumed Walker's dreams were where he would find the next snow globe for his collection or where he and his PA would eat lunch next week, so I threw out that maybe he'd like to someday take  a trip with some friends.  Much discussion ensued about the steps that would lead up to that happening, but she wrote some things down, and I kind of forgot about it.  Walker did not.

A couple of days later, he came in while I was watching the news and asked me to pause the TV..  "Um...you know how that lady talked about a trip?"  I kind of scratched my head a minute, and then remembered the ISP, and told him I did.  "Well, you know those cruises we see on Wheel of Fortune, the one to Italy?  That's what I'd like to do."

Wow...from not wanting to go anywhere too loud or more than a short drive from home...this was a huge leap.

Walker has been attending a class at the University of Memphis for about a year.  It's basically an enrichment class that's part of the Speech and Hearing Department, and he absolutely loves "going to college."  He has become devoted to his new University, proudly wearing a Memphis Tiger's tee every time he goes to class, preparing carefully for 'presentations' with his 'editor' and learning about things he never really thought about.  I think it's the happiest he's been in years.  He asked to attend a football game this year, something he'd never shown any interest in whatsoever, and yesterday, he asked his dad to take him to a basketball game, something really, really outside his comfort zone because of the noise. "Just not too high up, though," was his only request.  I don't know who was happier, him or his dad, who struggles to find anything in common with Walker, who usually prefers to go to a play or the ballet with me to shooting guns or watching sports with his dad.

I think up until Walker got his cell phone and started expressing himself more publicly on Facebook, I really didn't realize that I had assumed too much in thinking that his job and our family life was enough for him.  The past few years with young college students as his attendants has opened up a whole new world for him, and I realized that I had become a bit lazy.  Just because he disappeared upstairs after dinner every night, I assumed all was well with him. 

For many years, he had watched videos of his choice or sorted through his Polaroid pictures or whatever he wanted to do after dinner in complete solitude, and I thought all was well.  That first iPhone and his brother in law and niece and nephews teaching him how to use Facebook opened up a world to him that he had never imagined.  When his cat disappeared, he posted about it and people offered sympathy, when he was suddenly "graduated" from Young Life, he wrote on and on about that loss (and still does).  I realized that I needed to get busy again and set up his life with more stimulating activities.  It was a little hard in the beginning, but now he has a pretty full schedule most weekends going to dances and special events, and his favorite a Friday morning Breakfast Bible Study at a nearby church.  I don't think he's ever been happier.

I'm glad Walker has found his voice, even if it surprises me sometimes.  Maybe he will someday get to take that cruise to Italy...Heck, he might even win it on Wheel of Fortune....he's an amazing player!

Blessings,
Janie