Posted in Throwback Thursday, Neal’s Post from the Past

Neal’s Post from the Past: “Oh Possum! (Warning: A Bit Gross)”

Here’s a silly post from back in 2013 about an encounter with an unfortunately deceased possum.

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So Tuesday I picked up grandson Daniel …

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…at soccer camp and headed back to his house.  Traversing up the driveway, discussing Skylander Giants, we both saw this at about the same time:

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A small, dead, open-eyed possum in the neatly manicured front lawn.  “Look, Abu!  A big rat!” Daniel yelled, as he excitedly unbuckled his seat belt, careening toward the thing.

“I think it’s a possum, Daniel, and I also think he’s dead.”  (WHY do I use verbs like “think” in times like this?  The possum was dead as a doornail with bugs swarming around its head.)

“That means he’s not breathing,” Daniel explained to me.

“Why don’t you go in the house and cool off, while I get rid of our friend?”

“NO!” Daniel screamed.  “We have to show it to Mommy!”

“Well, he can stay here for a few minutes.”  (Like the possum was going somewhere.)

At about that time, Olivia and Larkin, the cute twins from next door, came running into the driveway, straight from a pool party.  And of course, Daniel had to show them …

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… explaining that the “rat, I mean possum, was dead and couldn’t move, so don’t touch it till Mommy comes home because we are going to show it to her.”

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Her expression says it all.

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(Touch it?!)

Posted in Gun Insanity

Addendum—The Abomination #2: “Daniel Defense & Death”

Did you see the now-deleted Daniel Defense tweet posted about a week before the Texas mass shooting? (Daniel Defense is the Savannah-based firearms company that made the assault weapon the Texas shooter used to murder 21 children and adults.)

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It is pure EVIL to use the Bible and little children to encourage civilians to buy and use assault weapons designed and intended for the military.

Posted in Uncategorized

Neal’s Post from the Past: “The Viewing & The Circle of Life”

Here’s a post from a decade ago dealing with the death of my father-in-law and my young grandson Daniel’s struggle to understand.

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My father-in-law passed away earlier this week. Death, of course, is difficult for anyone to cope with, but perhaps especially so for young children. Because they are still so close to birth, little beings of the morning, and because their life experience has been with newness and fresh discovery, with joy and giggles, death must seem unfathomable, foreign, outside of understanding.

But like most kids, my four-year-old grandson Daniel likes to understand: “Abu, why can’t I sit on top of your car? I could see a whole lot better.” “Abu, my teacher won’t let me bring my sword to school and fight like the blue Power Ranger. Why not?” “Why can’t I say potty words?” “Why do we have to wear clothes when it’s hot?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

When his parents arrived at the funeral home north of Atlanta the other evening, they told me that Daniel had, as usual, been plying them with questions about the current subject which went beyond his grasp–his great-grandfather’s death. “But if Papa is in heaven, why will everyone be sad?” “Where IS Papa?”

I played with Daniel and his little brother Gabriel in the large kitchen area of the funeral home, where friends had brought mounds of food. Their mom and dad, Amy and Orte, walked through large white windowed doors and down a narrow hall that eventually led to a sitting room where the family received guests who came to pay their respect and offer condolences. Papa looked pre-cancerous in a striking gray suit, snow-white shirt, and brown and gray tie patterned with tiny crosses. He had been a Methodist minister in the North Georgia Conference. A large United States flag, achingly resplendent in red, white and blue liveliness, lay across the unopened lower half of the coffin. Papa was retired Air Force.

Every few minutes, Daniel ran over to tiptoe and peer through the windows of the white doors, gazing down that long hallway which twisted and turned but allowed no view of Papa. “Where are Mama and Daddy? I want to go too.” A few minutes later: “Why can’t I go in?” “Is Papa in there? Where?” “Let’s go in there, Abu.”

A while later, when we were eating lasagna in the kitchen, Daniel was still asking, asking. I made a decision, a decision you may not have made. I asked Daniel’s mom and dad if I could take him in to see Papa. They agreed, mainly (I think) because they trust me, and they know how much I love D.

I picked Daniel up and asked him if he knew what had happened to Papa. “He died,” came the quick answer. I told him that yes Papa had died. “And he’s in heaven,” Daniel added. His confusion centered on who or what was down that hall that everyone kept traversing. He wanted understanding, answers. He wanted to walk down that hall.

So we did.

The kitchen had been noisy with visitors loudly talking, eating, reminiscing, and occasionally laughing at the past. Its tiled floor amplified the clicks of my boot heels as we walked, Daniel in my arms, toward those doors, dividing doors which in my grandson’s mind led to answers. As we passed through them, my heels, like everything and everyone on that other side, grew quieter on the deep carpet.

We entered the viewing room, and walked past adults talking in hushed tones. Daniel kissed his Nana (Donna is the oldest of the four daughters of Papa), then his Great-Grandma, who sat regally next to the coffin. But his eyes were looking, searching.

Not expecting Papa to be lying down (why didn’t I think to tell him that detail?), Daniel finally found his great-grandfather.

He looked for a while, and finally asked quietly (Daniel doesn’t usually do “quiet” very well), “Is Papa sleeping?”

“No, not really sleeping. He died, remember?”

We stood there for about a minute, Daniel growing heavy in my arms.

“Are you ready to go, baby?”

“No.”

Other folks waited patiently for their turn behind us. Daniel started to lean over toward the coffin, paused and looked at me for permission (and like “quiet,” D doesn’t always do “permission” well). I nodded, and Daniel touched the white satin edges of the liner and then Papa’s right arm.

Giggling just a bit, Daniel said, “It tickles.” I smiled.

“You ready now?”

“Yes.”

We walked back through the hall, toward the kitchen. When we got to the doors, I saw through the windows my daughter Amy and Orte, waiting. I put Daniel down, and he pushed open the door. His dad asked him, “Are you okay, Daniel?”

But he was already off, running on the noisy tile, chasing his little brother. Doing “loud” once again.

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With Daniel back in 2012
And now. (Seriously?)
Posted in Humor, The Joy and Wisdom of Children

Neal’s Post from the Past: “Magic Dream Spray”

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A post from the past about … magic and family. Heads-up: our family text groups have gotten MUCH more complicated since this old post. We now have what I named “Just Family” (ex-wife Donna, daughters Amy and Emily, and me. Then there’s “New Family Plus” consisting of all the above plus the spouses.

To throw a bunch of wrenches into the textual road, there’s also now just “Neal and Donna,” “Neal and Emily,” “Neal and Amy,” and every other two- or three- or four-person family configuration you can come up with. I have gotten into trouble too many times to count by getting the text groups confused and texting something I shouldn’t have.

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Magic Dream Spray

Do other folks out there do what my family does? All get iPhones and set up a little Family Group Messaging System? Well, my two daughters Amy and Emily, along with Donna (even though divorced now, we remain the best-est of friends) have done just that. And it’s such an incredibly efficient strategy for staying in touch, bothering each other constantly and having SO MUCH FUN!

The other night, daughter Amy (and mother of grandsons Daniel, 7 and Gabriel, 4) sent us this text:

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I LOVE faith-stretching strategies such as that!  My response:

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A bit more of Amy’s explanation:

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Me:

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End of discussion until a couple of days later when we received this text from Amy as she, Orte and the boys were driving down to Florida for the weekend:

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Family … magical.

Maybe that’s what family is … Magic Dream Spray.

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers 11/26/21

1. Robert and I enjoyed a big ole modern family Thanksgiving celebration with daughters Amy and Emily (and their fams) and ex-wife/great friend Donna.

And a pic that defines Awkward Family Photo …

I had just made some silly, jokey remark, and grandson Daniel was the only one who thought it was funny. He thought it was REALLY funny.

2. Cranberry sauce. More specifically, MY cranberry sauce. With allspice, brown sugar, fresh squeezed oj and zest.

3. My aging, sometimes achy and imperfect but wonderful body.

{No pic until said imperfect body is perfect. Do not expect body pics in the foreseeable future.}

4. Robert’s sometimes odd but always delicious soups (which he often makes up on the fly). This time, Baby Bok Choy and Shrimp.

5. The countdown to Christmas. We put up our Travel Tree last night, Thanksgiving night—a tradition. What’s a Travel Tree, you ask? It’s a Christmas tree, with each ornament from one of our travels. (More about the Travel Tree on my blog each day during December.)

Happy Last Weekend in November!

What are you thankful for this day?

Posted in Humor, Neal's Writing, New, Savannah Joy, The Joy and Wisdom of Children, Transition, Uncategorized, Where Happiness Finds You

The Bear and the Unicorn

For my recent suxteee-seckth birthday, I celebrated with my big ole’ modern family …

… at Savannah’s Tequila’s Town restaurant in Sandfly.

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(Seriously?  Can you believe they come hooting “Happy Bday” laden with tequila for the celebrant!  Even though I had my large head prepared for an oversized sombrero and some flan.)

Post-tequila I received some neat gifts, but perhaps my Favorites came from five-year-old grandtwins Madison (inappropriately pictured above next to the tequila) and Matthew. Their mom let them pick out their gifts for me.  Madison gave me a pink unicorn in a love mug …

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…while Matthew opted for a brown bear that actually smells like chocolate when you rub it vigorously!

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(Matthew is in an over-smiling-for-the-camera stage.)

Oh, they also each got me a large skein of yarn–yellow from Madison and green from Matthew.  Not that I knit (who has the patience for that?!), but because they like to unravel the yarn, make giant spiderwebs and throw it all over the furniture and each other.

Thus, inspired by the tequila, when I got home I opted for a quick photoshoot to document my suxteee-seckth.

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Moral of Story:  the strangest little gifts ofttimes make for the biggest shots of … Joy.

Posted in In Our Own Backyard, The Joy and Wisdom of Children

Rainbow Joy

Last evening I went to a fun but bittersweet farewell party for good buddy Ellie Covington (who is Texas-bound, Galveston).

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After a torrential downfall forced the party onto the carport, the late-stayers ventured out onto the dock by the marsh and saw this …

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(Do you see the second one to the right?)

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Of course, we all had to get a little silly.

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I quickly texted the pic to my fam and got this response from daughter Emily (mother of grandtwins Madison and Mathew) from the other side of Savannah:

“We can hold it too!”

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The joyful promise of a rainbow!

May the excitement and happiness of children be with us all, especially Ellie as she makes her move to the next successful stage of her life!