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

Neal’s Post from the Past: “Mama — Tell Her Now!”

Since we’re nearing Mother’s Day 2022, here’s an old post from back in 2012 about the power of motherhood. Both my parents have since passed away.

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“Mama.”  Perhaps no other word in our language evokes such tender and loving feelings.

My mom turned 85 on May 2.  Here she is with my dad (88).  They have been married for 65 years!

Geneva Mae Reavis Saye and Harold Hulon Saye Sr.

If I had to answer the question, “Neal, what’s the greatest lesson your mother has taught you in life?” I would have NO problem at all answering.  I learned the lesson so, so early: the power and authority of humor and laughter.  Some of my greatest memories growing up consist of roaring with giggles and laughter at some of the silliest things.  My mother is a master at seeing the lightness in situations. 

The Christmas when I was about six, I asked for a real juke box, and FOUND IT it my parents’ bedroom closet on Christmas Eve. Mama thought it was hilarious when I started yelling in confusion, “WHY is my juke box in your closet??!!” She said, through fits of unrestrained laughs, “Santa wanted your dad and me to try it out first.” (That Christmas began my distrust of Santa.)

Or the time when I asked for (and finally got) a rocking chair for my sixteenth birthday (don’t judge me), and she (like you probably) laughed and said, “WHO wants a rocking chair on their birthday?!” I still get teased about that very practical and emotionally calming gift.

Or her ongoing confusion with the words “veterinarian” and “vegetarian.”

Or the Christmas when I was about eight and had this obsession with making sure the ornaments were placed perfectly (in my opinion) on the live tree branches. I had gone to bed, but thought that maybe I should check the tree one more time for spatial accuracy of the bulbs and tinsel. A big round glass ornament on a limb just out of my reach needed attention. Reaching up, I grabbed the branch, too hard, and pulled the ENTIRE tree on top of me, electric lights and all. Screaming in holiday terror, I flailed at the evergreen monster till my mom and dad ran into the living room. I distinctly remember my dear mother hooting with laughter and saying to my dad (far too loudly), “Just look at what Neal’s done now!”

Or her ongoing advice throughout the decades:  “It’s really not that important, Neal.  You’ll laugh about it soon.”  And I usually did.  (Except for early Christmas memories.)

What an incredible privilege and joy to have a mother who taught me when I was younger and who continues to teach me to this day that happiness is a choice. That laughter is an answer, a solution, a medicine. That humor is a gift to get and to give.

My advice on this glorious Mother’s Day:  Don’t wait till your mom and dad walk out of your lives forever to tell them, show them, how very much they mean to you and how much you love them.

HAPPY, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 2012!

I dedicate this beautiful version of the song “Mama” by Il Divo to my mom and to yours.  And remember to tell her now!

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

Neal’s Post from the Past: “G”

A post from back in 2014 about my grandson Gabriel, aka “G.”

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I have FOUR grandchildren.  (Yes, you’re right, I’m FAR too young.  We all know that.  It’s a given.  But sometimes Mother Nature has a way of bypassing her laws of when people should have grandchildren–and presents them in, well, early, early middle age.)

Anyway, the second-from-the-oldest-grandchild is Gabriel, 5, a rambunctious bundle of pure little boy-ness.  He’s often affectionately referred to simply as “G.”  In his most recent pre-K school report, the patient-as-a-saint and give-her-a-raise teacher wrote that Gabriel is “smart, funny, with many friends … and has a touch of naughtiness.”

Here’s G (on the far right) with a few school buddies,

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And here he is the other night with older brother Daniel (8).

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Today I received this text from my daughter/G’s mom Amy:

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The brutal honesty of children.

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Back to 2022. Here’s Gabriel yesterday trying on his new contacts.

And over the weekend playing basketball against a much bigger fellow.

G’s team won! Think “David and Goliath.”

After I finished this post, I shared the old picture of Gabriel and Daniel with Amy. She found an old video of the same night when they were dressed in the oversized jackets…

Posted in Quick Quality Quote

Neal’s QQQ — “Quick Quality Quote” for Today: 2/22/22

A new blog category offering inspiring … or perspiring quotations.

But first, isn’t today’s date so very cool and all “Twosday “?! Ex-wife/retired math professor Donna (I’m still struggling to find a better term than “ex-wife”) explained 2/22/22 on our family’s joint text thread. That’s me saying, “Happy, Healthy….” and then Donna answering:

[Fyi: I had Just finished PREDICTING that I would win tonight’s Mega Millions before reading her text.]

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Okay, sorry, here’s the inaugural QQQ:

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.”

Philosopher Abraham Joshua Hershel

Let’s BE.

Let’s LIVE.

Let’s be HOLY.

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

Neal’s Post from the Past: “10 Reasons I Loved My Little Trip to Visit My Folks”

A post about aging parents from way back in 2013. Both my mother and father have passed away since then. Please excuse my camera “photography” from a decade ago.

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Early yesterday morning I drove up to my north-of-Atlanta hometown of Ball Ground for a short visit with my mom and dad.

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My dad–Harold or Tub–is 89 (90 in November–come to the party!), and my mom–Geneva–turned 86 in May.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun we have when I visit.  They taught me (are still teaching me) to laugh, to enjoy life.

Here are Ten Reasons I loved my little visit.

1.  The early dinner that awaited me upon my 11 am arrival.  Okay, for some of you this will be a bit confusing, but in Ball Ground lunch is called dinner, and dinner is called supper.  (Breakfast is called Hardees.)

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My favorite meal in the whole wide world consists of 1.) my dad’s creamed yellow corn.  2.) My mom’s fried sweet potatoes.  3.)  A tomato and an onion.

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The corn is scraped, raw, from the cob and meticulously cooked stove top, stirring constantly to keep it from scorching.  It has the taste of heaven.

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These sweet potatoes look a little burnt, and they should.  That gives them the carmelized flavor.  Cooked in a large cast iron pan, there’s nothing better.  One stick butter, one cup sugar, sliced sweet potatoes.  Orange joy.

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Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Thank you, Jesus.

2.  The bird clock in my parents’ bathroom.

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I like it best when the batteries get old, and the hourly bird calls become eerily elongated.

3.  Walking around my folks’ small house (which my dad built BY HAND 34 years ago), looking at the bushes and trees.

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4.  Eating supper at Cracker Barrel.  During the meal a very overweight but jolly lady came over to our table and said to my mom, “Honey, can I give you a hug?  You remind me so much of my little grandma.”  “Why, of course!” Mama replied.

“”Our hugs come in twos,” my dad said with a laugh.  And then was amply rewarded.

I thought about saying, “What about me?  Three’s company.”  But my mouth was full of turnip greens and chow chow.

5.  My mother repeatedly getting her supper choice, “eggs in the basket,” confused with a meal she had about forty years ago at IHOP called “pigs in a blanket.”

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“Now what do you call this again, Neal?”

From the Cracker Barrel menu:  Eggs in the Basket–Two slices of Sourdough Bread grilled with an egg in the middle of each, cooked to order and served with smoked sausage patties, turkey sausage patties or thick-sliced bacon and your choice of Fried Apples or Hashbrown Casserole.

6.  Still at Cracker Barrel, as my dad stood in line at the counter paying (he INSISTED), another lady just finishing with paying her bill, saying to my dad, “Here, sir, let me pay for part of your meal with the rest of my gift card.  Happy early Father’s Day?”  And my dad, a bit confused at first, trying to PAY her for the gift card, before she finally hugged him and said, “No, no, I want to do this for you for an early Father’s Day present!” (While I stood over to the side between the pulled taffy and the Brad Paisley cd, unsuccessfully holding back laughter.)

As we finally left Cracker Barrel, my mom said to my dad, “You sure are hugging a lot of women today.  I gotta get you out of this place.”

7.  After loading mom’s walker in the trunk, and getting us all in the car, my mom, saying, “Tub, you should have asked that lady what days she usually eats at Cracker Barrel,” sending the three of us into giggles for two red lights, when I said to them, “I wonder if she would like to adopt us as her other family,” (which really wasn’t all that funny, but still got us roaring all over again, in the way you sometimes do when laughter is in the air.)  Pulling off the Ball Ground exit from I-575, my dad said, “Those hugs were a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.”  Because, of course, it was only 5:00 and we had already finished supper.

8.  The feeling, even at my age, of being HOME.

9.  The difficult but important discussion we had on this trip about what my mother would do if my dad died first.

“I just hope to goodness I go before Tub.”

“Now Neever (his version of Geneva), we can’t control those things.”

“What I really wish is that we could just go at the same time,” my mom said with total sincerity.

“Well, that might be possible,” my dad said with a twinkle in his eye, “the way I’ve been driving lately.”  And we all laughed, at something so unfunny.

10.  Experiencing irony as I was leaving Ball Ground the next day, stopping by a convenience store for a Yoo Hoo and a lottery ticket.   The long-time teller printing out my ticket, as she mouthed, “straight to hell,” the lyrics of a country song blaring from the radio, and then handing me my Power Ball and saying, “You have a blessed day, sir!”

A joyful, blessed trip.

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

Neal’s Post from the Past: “First Bite of Meat & the Kardashians”

A ridiculously silly post from back in 2012.

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This afternoon, my Grandtwins took their FIRST bite of baby food meat, chicken to be exact.

Here’s Matthew‘s reaction:

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And Madison‘s:

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Uncannily similar to the response I had when it hit me that Keeping Up with the Kardashians was about to enter its 8th season.

Posted in Family

Basketball Goodnight

So Husband Robert and I took grandtwin Matthew to his rec department basketball practice this evening.

Matthew is the one with his arms spread in the white T-shirt.

His team is in a basketball dance, of sorts.

After practice:

Abu (my grandchildren’s name for me): “Did you have fun?”

Matthew:”Yes!”

That’s all that matters.