The First Man I Ever Loved

Posted by Kim on Friday Oct 17, 2014 Under Uncategorized

*Thanks to Danielle and Chris Tanner for the beautiful video.

The first man I ever loved was your Grandpa. He was born October 16th, 1935. He was the most loving man ever, and not because he was my daddy. If he was just someone I had met, I would have loved him all the same. Many people did. I spend so much time trying to figure out how to explain him to you. My one wish is that you could have known him. How wonderful he would have been with you. How much you would have learned from him. If I can pass any of that to you, I will spend my life trying. Trying to be the role model he was to me. Trying to influence you the way he influenced me. Trying to love you the way he loved me. He was a beautiful person.

I was a daddy’s girl, but it goes much deeper than that. I guess it really started at the tender age of 5, like you are now, and my daddy was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs and lymph nodes. It was the 70’s and cancer research had really just begun. I think it did something to me deep inside to know that my daddy was so sick. I think I knew he might die. He was selected to participate in a new experimental treatment called chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He left home and I didn’t see him much. Next thing I know we are moving to Virginia so he can be near his family because he only had months to live. They had done all they could do for him at the hospital. So we waited. And we waited. And he kept living. I think I felt that every day he was alive was a gift. I got my daddy after all.

So there was a connection that I can’t quite explain. I can think of a thousand words to describe him, but they don’t seem quite enough. Yes, he was kind and gentle. He was humble and generous. He was courageous and sensitive. He was funny, yet a thinker. But he was so much of these things. He never talked about himself or anyone else. He never complained. Ever. He never got mad. I never heard my dad yell. He was always simply positive and full of love.

He owned a little convenient store. Nothing fancy. Actually in a not so nice neighborhood, but he loved that store. He loved his customers. And they loved him. They loved him dearly. See, he took care of them. When they didn’t have money for food because they had to pay rent or fix their car, he gave them whatever they needed. Sometimes they paid him back, sometimes they didn’t. But he didn’t care either way. He wanted to help. He put a pool table in the back room and the kids would stay there all the time. He was like their daddy too. The entire community loved him.

I remember so many special things about my dad. Things that I didn’t realize were special at the time. Like how he’d come home from the store and bring me a roll of SweeTarts. Or how each night he’d count his daily earnings from the store on a tv tray in front of his chair. And how he loved to have his head scratched. We had a deal. I’d scratch his head during the tv show and I’d get a break during the commercials. (This was before Netflix.)

I remember how I just loved to talk to him about anything. It seems like whenever we went anywhere, dad and I would find a little spot to sit. Like at family reunions, or when visiting others. We were both quiet by nature and didn’t participate in much of the activities. Even when I returned home to visit, I remember many nights just sitting on the sofa talking about nothing. But that was everything to me.

I remember Sundays at church. He always sat on the back left pew. And at some point during the service he’d offer me a mint. He never sang the hymns and he always cried during prayer. Afterwards we’d go sit in the car and wait for mom.

I remember how he used to always ask me, “Who do you love?” And even though he knew my answer and I knew he knew my answer, I always played along. Sometimes I thought it was so corny, like how I do the same silly things with you, but now, as a mom, I get it. That’s all he really cared about – that I loved him. He just wanted to have some fun with it.

I remember when he was recovering from a back injury when the lawn mower flipped over on him. He had to stay in bed for awhile. I would come home from school and we would watch the soap opera General Hospital together. He was really into the drama. We would make our predictions and figure it all out.

I remember how when I was in quiet thought he’d say, “Penny for your thoughts.” What I now love about this, is the realization of how much he truly cared about what I was thinking about. He wanted to know what was going on inside my head. Not to be nosy, but to connect with me. I catch myself doing the same thing with you. When you’re quiet, I just want to see what’s running through your little mind. Lovingly curious.

I remember how he always winked at me. Anytime we were sitting anywhere, he’d catch my eye and give me a wink. I always thought that was so cute. So sweet. If he couldn’t catch my eye, he’d say, in a very particular voice that I can still hear today, “Hey, Kiiimberrrlyyy…” and when I’d look, he’d wink.

I remember his crazy dancing in front of the tv. He would squat and place his hands on his knees and then move his hands crisscross from knee to knee. He thought he was so cool. And so did I. We would laugh.

I remember him saving up all year to take his summer vacation. He loved the beach. He’d sit on the balcony or under the umbrella with his drink. He didn’t have to be doing anything. Just there. He was so peaceful and calm.

I remember our trips to the horse race track in West Virginia. He loved the races. We would sit side by side and he taught me how to study the horses. When I tried to pick one based on the name that I liked, he explained the statistics to me and not as if I were a child, but he talked about complicated columns of numbers as if I were an adult. Then we’d go place a smart $2.00 bet. Yes, this Christian first man, loved to bet! We talked about what we’d do with our winnings, which were never much at all, if any. The real joy was taking the time to make intentional selections and then watching our horse race like a champion. It was a thrill and he taught me that life is exciting when we think about what we do and purposefully make choices.

I remember Sundays at the bowling alley. He was a serious bowler. He had been on a bowling league before getting cancer and he had trophies because all he knew how to bowl was strikes. Me, on the other hand, only bowled gutter balls. He prepped me every time it was my turn. He guided me with instructions about how to hold the ball, how to move my arm, and how to line the ball up using the arrows. But to my disappointment, I most often went into the gutter. He never got frustrated with me. Every time I was up, he started all over again like it was my first time. I wanted a strike so bad, but not for me, for him! For him because he worked so hard trying to help me. He was always patient with me.

I remember when I was in Kindergarten and I couldn’t tie my shoes. At his store he made me a practice board from a piece of a Sunbeam bread box. I thought it was the coolest thing. I practiced and practiced and before I knew it, I was tying like a pro.

He was innocently funny, which made him all the more charming. Like the time he was at the mall with mom and he saw toe socks. He thought they were gloves and said, “That’s just crazy. They know nobody’s fingers are that short!”

Or like the time I wanted a pair of Guess jeans. I asked if I could get a new pair of jeans and he said, “Sure. What kind?” I said, “Guess.” He said, “Jordache.” I said, “No. Guess.” He said, “Gloria Vanderbilt.” I said, “No Dad. Guess is the brand. Guess jeans.”

Or like the time he walked down the sidewalk at home one morning on his way to the store and mom stepped out the door and asked him what pants he had on. He said the ones she had laid out. Well, come to find out he had put on the ones she had laid out for her. He just laughed and said he thought they felt a little funny.

He always put on silly hats or made funny faces. It was more funny when he did it because he was such a quiet, private person. His humor just kinda slide out of him and gracefully spread out to others.

He liked to predict what was going to happen in movies or better yet, he always claimed he had already seen whatever movie we were watching. When I would tell him it had just come out, he’d respond, “Well then I’ve seen one just like it.” Whatever dad. :) He had a playfulness about him with everything.

I remember his dreams. Oh, he loved to dream and I would join right in with him. We’d sit and plan what he could invent or what new business venture he could start. He had a table by his chair and in his table he kept his legal pads. We’d sketch out our new home we were going to build or the pool we’d have put in. None of these things ever happened, but we had ideas and he taught me to value my ideas. We dreamed big and when we dreamed, we really believed it was possible. He had a vision and that vision made every day new. Every day I really thought was the day something big was gonna happen.

I remember how he always had a positive outlook. I had so many screw ups. I made so many mistakes and stupid choices. But not one time in my life did he make me feel anything but special. I would ask him what he thought. I would want to know what his opinion was and he always told me, “Do whatever is going to make you happy.” He never shared his opinion because he wanted me to think for myself and above all, be happy. At the time, I thought ok. That’s nice. But now, as a parent, I respect it so much. All I want for you, is for you to be happy. And there will be times when your happiness will not be my decision or my choice. And you will not always do what I want. At that time I hope I can be the parent my daddy was and put my happiness aside in order to put your happiness first. That’s hard to do. But I learned from him that in the end, the way real love works is – if you’re happy, then I’m happy. Real love doesn’t demand. It inspires.

I remember how our first dog Byte loved him! Whenever he came to visit, she stayed right by his side. And she was not a social dog. She actually didn’t like anyone. But she loved my daddy!

I remember so much about my daddy, but every day that passes without him, I’m afraid I lose some. I miss his positive vibe. He brought clarity and goodness. I catch myself imagining what he would say or how he would react. I do this, so I can keep learning from him. So I can keep growing as a better person and as a mom. While people might see his gentle, quiet ways as weak, I see them as nothing but courageous. He had everything going against him, but made everything go for him. He had compassion for others no matter what the situation. I don’t know many people who can really do that. He lived honestly and proudly and with his whole heart. If I can be half the person he was, then I will be a good mom.

I have nothing but good thoughts when I think about my daddy. I can’t help but smile. One of the best things he taught me was how people should act every day. He was the perfect role model and thanks to him, I found the second man I ever loved…your daddy.

I think of the man you will grow to become. All the lessons I have learned from my daddy are helping me and guiding me every day with you…the third man I ever loved.

As his birthday draws to a close, I think of him. I think of him every day. But today I think of his life. His beauty. His tenderness. I think of his triumphs and his struggles. I think of what the world was like with him in it and what it’s like with him gone. I’m happy. I’m sad. I laugh. I cry. I think of all I’ve learned from him and how much I need him now. How much you need him. I think of how lucky I was to have had him for a dad. And my greatest tribute to him, is to be that kind of mama for you. I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but you deserve it. I will do my best. After all, I had a great role model.

I love you too much.

 

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One Sick Boy and 2 Naughty Dogs

Posted by Kim on Thursday Oct 2, 2014 Under First

You got sick during the night. It was nasty, but you are always so sweet about it all. At the mention of staying home from school, you spoke up and told us you WERE going to school. Poor guy. Fever. Vomiting. And sweetness. You really are a good patient.

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You fell right back to sleep. Me, no such luck. I spend the rest of the night feeling your forehead and listening for the first sound of grab-the-boy-and-run-to-the-bathroom-before-it-comes-out-everywhere. Some time before my alarm, I doze off and bounce right back up. I walk about in a stupor. What do I do if I don’t have to pack your lunch? Oh yeah, blow dry my hair. What do I do if I don’t have to get you dressed? Oh yeah, leave a little early. What do I do if I don’t have to carry you to the car? (Yes, I carry all of you to the car because you can’t wake up. I will probably get another hernia, but I love your head on my shoulder.) So, what do I do? Oh yeah, look at you one last time laying in the bed sleeping. I feel weird. I pull the front door shut. I walk out into this new morning feeling so strange. For 5 years these are exactly the things I did each morning. All of a sudden, it all feels so wrong.

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It was a lonely ride to school. Even though you are normally asleep on the drive and it’s quiet, you’re there. This morning the quiet makes me feel lost. It’s funny how for 14 years I rode to school every single day by myself. Alone. That’s the only thing I ever knew…until just over a month ago when you started riding with me. In an instant, that 14 year old habit was nonexistent. I mean, like it never happened. Like that was someone else entirely. The 31 days we’ve been in school seem like the way it’s always been. How is that?

I get to school. I turn my lamps on by myself. No Minecraft video playing in the background. No pouring of juice. No reminder to brush teeth. Just me and my classroom and I move through my morning routines, but I keep thinking to myself, “Tru is not down the hall.” It makes me appreciate how much I love knowing you are there and so close to me. What a lesson in habits and our ability to adapt and change. My 14 year old habits are gone and my 31 day old habits are solid.

Then I come home. To this…

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Yes. 2 naughty dogs. During the night I left the dirty linens in the hall to be washed. I should have known better, but it was the middle of the night. It was dark. They really should be more considerate, but I guess they picked up on the smell. And thought it a good idea to eat the mattress pad to pieces. The mess extended way past my camera lens. But, that wasn’t quite enough, so they romped around the yard for a bit. Hey, why not? The sprinklers were on. Fun time. When they were all done they came back in through the doggy door and left muddy paw prints all. over. the. house.

What a crazy day. I’m having a cup of coffee.

I hope tomorrow is back to normal.

I love you too much!

 

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Nature and Breathing

Posted by Kim on Saturday Sep 27, 2014 Under Photoetry

***Tru took the pics of our visit to Vereen Gardens AND his words are laced throughout this post. His thoughts and feelings about nature.

Nature and breathing.

They go hand in hand.

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Leads us to the nowhere.

And to everywhere.

It takes us around to see beautiful things.

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To be so free.

Unleashed and pure.

To live simply.

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It’s imperfect.

It’s weird.

Yet the greatest artwork ever created.

A perfect masterpiece.

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I need it.

It makes us more loveful.

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It makes us more smileful.

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It makes us more heartful.

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Without it there’d be no life.

So go there.

And get lost in it.

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Go there and come alive.

I love you too much.

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, 7:20 PM – Rainbow on the Beach

Posted by Kim on Saturday Sep 20, 2014 Under Tru Moments

The moment.

Driving home from Grammy and Poppy’s house along the boulevard and I spot a rainbow. Daddy goes to turn on our street and I say, “No! Go to the beach access.” He hesitates and I point straight ahead.

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We’re like, “Look at the rainbow! Isn’t it gorgeous!”

(It was really glowing. Almost neon. The pic doesn’t do it justice!)

And then you’re like, “Let’s go on the beach!”

We run onto the sand and then we look south and we’re like, “Whoa. Look at the sky!”

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And then you’re all like, “I’m getting in the water!”

And so you did.

Clothes and all.

The end.

I love you too much!

 

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A Fire Like Never Before

Posted by Kim on Sunday Sep 14, 2014 Under Uncategorized

This is one of those posts that has been blowing through my head for 5 years. A spark of an idea, but no direction to go with it. It’s just a burning feeling that swells up and I want to get it out, but nothing. It simmers down before I can make any real sense of it. This has been a reoccurring phenomenon since you were born. I’m wrestling it today. I’m gonna bring it to fruition even if it’s the worst piece of writing I’ve ever written. Here we go.

There’s a story you like for me to tell you again and again. “Tell me about when I was born mama.” This usually happens as we are driving down highway 31. Past the crispy looking trees and foliage that are now growing more dense. You know the connection.

It was the end of April 2009. You were due any day and North Myrtle Beach was on fire. A fire like never before. It burned through neighborhoods and jumped highways. It was burning up everything in it’s path. People were fleeing their homes for safety.

Our world was smothered in a big cloud of smoke. It was hard to breathe outside without a little coughing and ashes were swirling around in the air like black snowflakes. The forest burned. What once was full of trees, was now bare.

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A midst all of this, we fled our home to go to Loris Hospital. As I wait to meet you, the world outside is ablaze. Little did I know, my own world was about to ignite. My heart was about to be turned on and fueled like never before. Just like the forest that is now growing more full, so is my heart. There’s new energy. A new landscape. And new love. A fire rejuvenated the forest while a boy rejuvenated my life.

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Thank you for adding the spark every day to my life and to my heart.

I love you too much!

 

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Vacuuming

Posted by Kim on Sunday Aug 31, 2014 Under Tru Haiku

Trying to vacuum

Crazy dogs think it’s playtime

Laugh and dance and clean

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My Heroes: First Day of Kindergarten

Posted by Kim on Saturday Aug 23, 2014 Under First

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School. My home away from home.

The one place I know well. The place I go every day and even when I’m not there, it’s on my mind. It’s just a part of who I am.

As excited as I am for you, you would think I’d be completely comfortable with you starting school. But as I walk down the familiar hall and greet my teacher friends, I strangely feel like I’m in a foreign land. Nervous, anxious, excited, scared, and confused. My stomach turns for you. My palms sweat for you. And my mind races. I’m sure you feel the same, but you go right on in and do exactly what you’re told without batting an eye. Later, I see you walking out to recess and you smile the biggest smile and wave your little hand excitedly.  A sense of relief floods over me and I’m so incredibly proud of you. On my way to lunch I see you in the computer lab helping the child sitting next to you. You have gone from one extreme to the other. From playing all day with Daddy and Poppy to working in a room full of strangers.

Your teachers, Mrs. DuBose and Mrs. Hobson are angels. All you’ve ever known is the love and comfort of family. Yet, somehow they have slipped right in under the radar. They very quickly changed your little world and you love them. You love school and I could cry. I’m sure it’s just another day at work for them. Another first day in kindergarten. Just doing what they always do. Not realizing the impact they have made to one little boy and one mama. I’m far beyond grateful. They are my new heroes.

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(Seconds after pulling out of the school parking lot to go home after school.)

You’ve had a very FULL day.

I have a very FULL heart.

I love you too much!

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The Night Before Kindergarten

Posted by Kim on Tuesday Aug 19, 2014 Under First

The night before Kindergarten and I should be asleep, but instead I think. I think of the baby boy who softly changed my world.

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The baby boy who has brought more laughter in 5 years than I’ve experienced in all of mine.

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I think of the baby boy whose gentle nature has taught me to feel more compassion. More joy.

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The baby boy with sparkling eyes that make every moment new and sweet.

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I think of the baby boy that I have wrapped my heart around and now into the world he goes.

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No longer a baby boy, but a big boy.

He goes worthy of love and belonging. A big boy ready and strong.

He goes on his own.

I love you too much!

 

 

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Tru Haiku: Rainbow

Posted by Kim on Thursday Jul 24, 2014 Under Tru Haiku

Rainbow of mine arched

above, brighter and brighter

our island of peace

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(That’s you and I way down the beach. Looks like the rainbow is coming out of our head.)

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A Boat Ride: The Struggle’s Real Y’all

Posted by Kim on Tuesday Jul 22, 2014 Under Uncategorized

Going for a boat ride can be a bit tricky. You love, love, love the island. You love anywhere we stop to explore, but you are not fond of the ride to get there. You are active. Engaged in life. Enveloped in all you do. So, to just ride…hmmm.

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Lilu, on the other hand, loves every second of the outing.

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You and her sit at the front of the boat and tell Daddy to go fast.

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You eat crackers.

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You make faces and laugh to pass the time. How silly can you get?

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And for just a second, you dangle your feet off the front with Daddy. I think the fact that it scares me to death and it’s against the law, makes you like it all the better.

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You check out the shrimp boat with it’s birds in delight.

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If we still aren’t there, after all of that…

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Finally, the moment has arrived. What you love to do most of all.

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Cannonball!

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And then, after lots of jumping, the ride back. The process starts all over again.

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No matter what, you have a knack for finding fun.

I love you too much!

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