Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Date Night

My hubby of 25 years and I go out each week for "Date Night." This is a time for just the two of us to reconnect with each other and escape from the world. There is no TV, no Internet, no phones, no people, just the two of us. Sometimes we do something interesting, but most of the time our adventures are pretty tame....dinner out, then a shopping trip to Wal-Mart for dog food and toilet paper. Woo Hoo! Exciting stuff.

Whatever we end up doing, we do it together and that's the important part. We talk about how our day went, what bothers us, what we found funny. We talk non-stop. We hold hands. We nuzzle and give each other little kisses in the check-out line at Wal-Mart. (Don't gag here, it's really very romantic.)

Tonight we decided to eat dinner at a restaurant in the neighboring town, about a 40-minute drive. En route hubby commented, "You know, I miss visiting your mother." I was surprised at this revelation. Most men don't really enjoy visits with the mother-in-law, much less miss them. I replied, "I'm sure I can find us a little old lady to visit who lives halfway across the state. She would probably be tickled to death to see us." [Sidenote: My mother was in poor health for two years before she passed away and we visited her every third weekend. The trip was an arduous trek of 1.5 hours each way over bad roads, then later, after she moved to assisted living, the trip was three hours each way.] He said, "It's not the visiting I miss, it's the trip. I got to be with you six hours during the drive....just us."


That comment made me realize that after Mom died last Christmas, I was all too happy to stay holed up in my little house and go nowhere and see no one. We had spent far too much of our lives over the past two years driving around the backroads of Arkansas and home sounded like a great place to be. Unfortunately, our little nest has far too many comfortable distractions for us as individuals. We don't take the time to be "us" as a couple when we're there. That's Not A Good Thing.

So, this spring Date Night will be observed in a neighboring county. We will try all the little hole-in-the-wall restaurants Lower Arkansas has to offer. We may even drive two counties away. If my baby wants to spend time with me in the car, who am I to deny him that togetherness?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Great Obits (#2) - Secret Fishin' Hole

ROCKPORT, Texas - Harry, 67, passed from this life on Friday at his home.

Harry was an avid fisherman and a United States Navy veteran. One of his greatest joys was taking all the grandkids fishing; he would bait all the hooks and just smile when they hooked a big one. Harry was a man of very few words and he did not leave behind a great fortune for his family, but he left behind something that most of us only wish we could when it's all said and done. He left behind the wisdom of knowing when to and not to speak, knowing exactly what to say, and the fact that if you know nothing about the subject you probably shouldn't say anything at all.

Harry died just as he lived, very modest, nothing fancy and when given the grim news just a few short months ago about his illness, he chose not to put his family through the long road of hope and suffering and trips to the hospital and countless dollars spent on him; he simply said "Let's Go Home". Harry did just that and without the aid of doctors or miracle workers he once again did it perhaps the only way he knew how, the old fashioned way... He took it like a man!!

Until now, Harry never lived in a mansion or walked on streets of gold. He now fishes in a pond where the catch will never grow old. There will not be a large church gathering or a line of visitors or friends. Just one final request from one of God's simple men. He asked to be cremated and his ashes scattered in the wind near that secret fishin' hole he thought was all his. Final resting place, Estes Flats in Aransas Bay at Rockport, Texas.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Why You Should Write Your Own Obit

Bonnie, age 68, of Hot Springs, died Saturday. Besides the standard born on, daughter of, married to, survived by info, this was the only line that told who she was and what she did with her life.

"Bonnie collected angels and enjoyed watching her afternoon stories."

It didn't even have something like "member of the St. Jimmy Goad Missionary Baptist Church." Good Grief! Was this woman a bigger introvert than me? She was survived by three sons, three daughters, seventeen grandchildren, one brother and six sisters.

Could not one person among them come up with something more imaginative to write in her obituary?

"Speck talked on the phone and enjoyed playing on the Internet."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Great Obits (#1) - If You Feel Compelled

This is the obit of a fellow I wish I had known (bold emphasis mine):

ARKADELPHIA - Vernon, formerly of Fordyce, died Saturday. Vernon was a veteran of World War II, and was severely wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany. He overcame the doctors predictions who told him he would never walk again. He would laughingly comment, "They gave me a rifle and told me to shoot at someone and I wasn't mad at anybody."

He was a successful businessman, operating the Lion Oil jobbership for Dallas County. He became interested in timberland and bought and managed his timber investments until the last day of his life. He believed in conservation and in leaving the land better off than when he bought it. The family has requested no flowers, but if you feel compelled any gift would be appreciated to Alzheimer's Research.

Burial will be at a little cemetery on the farm were Vernon was born near his beloved Goathead Deer Camp, casual dress required.

Vernon seems like the kind of guy I would have felt privileged to call a friend. A salt of the earth kinda guy, kinda laid back, trying to make his little corner of the world better off than when he started. He probably didn't want a lot of fru-fru fuss made over him at his funeral. He probably held the opinion that paying good money for funeral flowers was wasteful. God grows beautiful flowers for free, why cut a bunch that will only wither and die in a few days time?

Hoping to avoid having to deal with a bunch of potted dieffenbachia, the family gave mourners an out..."if you feel compelled." Well of course folks would be compelled. Proper southerners don't show up at funeral doings empty-handed. They send flowers, a casserole, or a pie.

I would have split the difference. I would have shown up at the funeral in my bib overalls with a few spring bulbs and a spade in my back pocket and planted jonquils around Vernon's headstone. I think he would have liked that.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Signs of the South

Officials in the Great State of Louisiana have deemed it worthwhile to put green dumpsters on the sides of the backroads. I think this is a fine idea. It keeps the woods from becoming cluttered with people's garbage. On the sides of these dumpsters are signs that read "No Scavenging." I would think scavenging would be the ultimate in the cause for recycling. One man's trash is another man's treasure. I have seen entire living room suites sitting out there for the taking. Some looked better than mine.

These bins are prime sites for graffiti. Who could resist such a nice big billboard? Spray painted on the side of one in four-foot letters was, "EDDIE LEE IS JUDAS." Only in the bible-thumping South would someone spray paint a biblical slam. I would expect to see something like "Eddie Lee sucks" or "Eddie Lee's momma is a ho," but not "Eddie Lee is Judas." Only in the South, God love her.

Just past Eddie Lee's public condemnation was a yellow caution sign. Usually these mark upcoming hazardous roadway conditions such as railroad tracks. All this sign said was "CHURCH". Only in the South would you find a sign cautioning that you are approaching a church. I guess it warns you that you have exactly one-eighth of a mile to get right with God. Throw out that demon whiskey bottle and those evil cigarettes! You are fixin' to meet the Lord! Can you pray enough in one-eighth of a mile at 55 MPH to get right with God?

The State Highway Departments of Louisiana and Arkansas aren't the only folks that put up questionable signs. On the interstates of California yellow caution signs warn "Landscaping Ahead." I suppose this means the bougainvillea will leap out and attack your car if you aren't careful. You gotta watch the oleander too, it's a little shifty-eyed. Here in the South where we actually do have carnivorous plant life known as kudzu, these signs would have some merit. You can stop for a red light and the kudzu will completely consume your car before the light changes.

My favorite sign was found in the backwoods of Clark County, Arkansas, on a little dirt road in front of a house with a living room suite in the front yard. (Maybe these folks went dumpster shopping in Louisiana.) There were actually two signs on the single signpost, handmade and lettered with care. The top sign proclaimed "Kountry-Smoked BAR-B-QUE, Ribs-Chop Pork & Beef." Below it, lettered with equal care plus a few graphic renderings of the product, was a smaller sign that read "WORMS."