Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Saying goodbye...

It didn't take long for me to realize how much I missed having a dog around the house. It'd been about a year since our toy poodle, Abraham "Abie" had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Telling Joe I'd never have another dog because it hurt too bad to say goodbye, he knew in his heart I couldn't hold out. Obadiah "Dobie" joined our family in 2004. Our daughter accused me of getting another toy poodle to replace her when she was planning to leave for college in the fall of that year. He wasn't a replacement, but he sure was good company when I was missing her so much!

Yes, she was only 12 miles up the road at University of Tennessee.
Yes, she came home on the weekends to do laundry.
Yes, she'd call me sometimes while walking to her classes.
(...and, yes, I missed her so bad I could hardly stand it, but I'd never admit that to her.)

For 15 1/2 years, Dobie was a part of our family. He knew us so well that he had us figured out! He knew our schedule! This dog wouldn't even stand up from his bed, stretch and yawn prior to going out for his morning constitutional until he heard Joe putting his keys in his pocket! Dobie had his own little routine, as well!

Over time, this lively little guy settled into a more quiet lifestyle. Dobie loved to be next to us in a chair or on the sofa. He didn't actually sit on our laps much - unless he was riding in the car. And he didn't particularly like riding in a car, but the Valium prescription the vet gave us made trips a lot easier.

We lived in Alcoa, then Cleveland (TN), Kingsport, and finally in Maryville. Dobie adjusted well to each house but the last one. By the time we moved to Maxwell Lane, he couldn't see much and his hearing was rapidly diminishing. Seizures started to occur a lot more often, and the last two seemed to really mess him up. Our little guy's life had been much more difficult these last several months and we knew it was just a matter of time. When he would just stand in the middle of a room, not understanding/seeing where he was, we would move one of his little beds nearby and help him into it. He'd curl up and sleep for hours. He stopped eating, pretty much stopped drinking...and I think he was trying to tell us it was time to say goodbye.

Joe and I were in the car driving to a funeral on Saturday when I suggested maybe we needed to make the final arrangements for Dobie. He said that he'd been feeling that same way all morning. So we did it...

Sunday night, I gave him a bath and washed his blanket. On Monday, Joe and I took Dobie to his former veterinarian in Kingsport, Dr. Gary Andes, and signed papers for euthanasia. Gary was so kind and gentle with him - and with us, knowing we were hearbroken to do this. Then we took Dobie's body to Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home where our nephew Jacob and his friend Steve Britt, carefully took care of our little guy. (The funeral home has a cremation service for pets - dignity and kindness for our sweet Dobie.)

I placed his frog leg (remnants of his very first toy from our dear friend Sue Martin) in his front paws, then wrapped Dobie in his favorite yellow blanket and said goodbye. And now we have a beautiful little wooden box with his cremains to remember him.

He's a dog! But it was heartbreaking to let him go! He was our fur-baby! I don't like goodbyes anyway, but this one was pretty tough. Dobie had a good life and he knew he was loved...even to the end.

He was the best dog we ever had...the smartest and healthiest...and still had all his teeth! He gave us a lot of joy and unconditional love, and we're grateful. Let me leave you with a few shots of this sweet baby-dog...

Friday, August 31, 2018

Aunt Edna

In my growing-up years, we lived in Virginia. Both my parents’ families were in Ohio and we would usually see the Moores and the Millers when we made our annual summer trip to Columbus and points beyond. Some of my memories include spending time with Grandma and Grandpa Miller in their home out in the country in Morrow County. Grandpa was a carpenter. Grandma sold greeting cards. My sister and I would sit for a long time during each visit and look through her big books filled with sample cards. Another thing we did (every single time we were there) was look through the photo albums they had from Japan. My daddy’s baby sister, Edna, and her husband Harold, were missionaries with the Wesleyan denomination and raised their family on the mission field in Japan. Uncle Harold was a superb photographer, so the many photos we saw looked professional to us. Grandma had many of those albums! We watched our cousins grow up through those pictures because we only saw them in person every few years when their family would be in the United States on furlough. Those photos were the way I knew my cousins from Japan! Thankfully, I know them better now that we're all grown! So thankful for all my wonderful cousins!

The thing I remember the most about those photos was my Aunt Edna. She always seemed to look so content and serene. Dignified. And she was so very beautiful! She played the piano and some of the photos would show her playing in what I assumed was their home, or in a church service. Other pictures would show them singing together. When they were in the States and the Miller family would make music…singing, playing the piano…just like we always did when we were together, I remember Aunt Edna’s voice. It was sweet, just like I knew it would be!

That voice fell silent on this earth, August 29, 2018 at 11:11 p.m. when she moved into the presence of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was 94. She’s with her husband again. Her four children were with her when she passed…one of them on FaceTime, as she lives in Japan where she and her husband serve as missionaries.

But her sweet voice is not really silent at all, because she is busy praising the God that she served for so many years. And you can bet she and Uncle Harold are singing harmony with all those saints!

Edna Marie Miller Johnson leaves behind her four children and their families – Lorelei, Flossie, Tim, and Nathaniel, her baby brother, 90-year-old Jack – along with many nieces and nephews who loved and admired her.

To quote my sweet brother Joe, “God bless her forever.”

As always, I close my blog with this quote: "If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!"

Monday, June 18, 2018

Promises Kept

When our daughter was nine years old, a movie was released that she just had to see. “The Flintstones” was in theatres in the spring of 1994. Joe and I took Hannah to Roanoke, Virginia on his day off and we enjoyed popcorn, soft drinks, and family time watching the movie.

You know how it is when there’s a movie on HBO that you really, really like? I can watch the same one several times and not think a thing of it. Seeing “The Flintstones” once was plenty for me…but not for Hannah. A few days after our trip to Roanoke, she begged and begged to see it again. Joe told her they’d have a date night and go back for pizza and a movie.

The day before their big date came and she was getting excited. Then the phone rang…

Her daddy was a United Methodist minister, and if you know anything about that denomination you’ll know that there are lots and lots of meetings. Sometimes there are meetings to plan meetings! Joe was closest to the telephone while we were eating dinner, so he picked it up. You could tell from his side of the conversation that a specially called meeting had been set for the next evening. The chairman of the Finance Committee was calling to insure Joe would be there.

I saw Hannah’s face change as the conversation wore on. Her little eyes looked down as if she’d cry…but she didn’t. She was used to her daddy having to spend evenings now and again at the church. I watched her as Joe wrote down the time and place of the meeting. Her date night had been spoiled. I hurt for her because her daddy was very good at making time to spend with her on a regular basis. But this was the Finance Committee! Any preacher knows you don’t miss one of those!

Then he told the voice on the phone that they’d have to conduct the meeting without him. He had a previous engagement that couldn’t be broken.

She was his “previous engagement” and she knew it! When she heard those words Hannah’s eyes lit up! And a smile so big it could’ve lit up the room came across her face! Once again, Daddy kept his promise to her.

That’s his habit. If he gives you his word about something…even “The Flintstones” movie…he’ll keep it. I’ve grown accustomed to this in the 44 years we’ve been married.

When I was a kid, I remember times when my dad’s churches would take up so much of his time that he’d be eating dinner at 9 or 10:00 at night. When he first started as a pastor, he had five churches! Five! When we moved to a place that only had two churches, we thought we had arrived! Ha! But meetings, hospital visits and the like kept him pretty tied up. I’m not criticizing his dedication. His devotion to his ministry and his family were inspiring. But when you’re a kid, there are things that stick out in your mind.

When I was 14, my dad promised that he’d take me shopping to buy a dark skirt for a choral concert at school. My sister was in that chorus, too, and we had one dark skirt between us. I was growing taller and needed a new one. Dad told me what day we’d go after school and he’d take me to Wilsons (my favorite hamburger place) for supper after shopping.

The day came and Dad called the house to tell us that he’d be at the hospital all evening because a church member and their family needed him. No shopping. My heart sank. At the age of 14, I couldn’t understand why he’d need to spend an entire evening with church members!

Now, after being a pastor’s wife for all these years, I appreciate so much more why my dad did what he did. It’s the ministry. It was necessary! He was needed. That was his job and calling!

But what I saw Joe do for our little girl that night in 1994 has stuck in my mind all these years. I can still see the look on her face when she heard about his “previous engagement” and the delight she took in her daddy at that very moment!

Joe has been dedicated to his ministry for 46 years. He has been extremely effective every place he’s been appointed by the UMC. He's guided churches through building projects and renovations. Every church he's ever served has grown! I’m very proud of the pastor he’s been and the man he is. His love for Christ and His church is obvious. But in all that dedication, one thing he’s always done is family first! Over all these years, I’ve come to realize that not every pastor knows how to balance home and church. Joe does.

What you see is what I get! Joe is the same no matter what. He’s happy, dedicated, and a man who totally loves Jesus…and totally loves his wife and his family. Not every pastor’s spouse has this balance, but I can say with certainty that I do!

Now that he’s retired, we don’t know what God has in store for us, but we’ll be waiting to see. Meanwhile, there’s joy in the journey. Part of that joy comes from living with a man who keeps his promises. I am blessed.

i love you, Joe…

(I got my skirt, by the way. That night I dug around in my mother’s sewing patterns, pulled out some dark brown fabric, read the directions and sewed my own skirt on a sewing machine no one in our house had ever used!!! I’d never sewn before! A temper tantrum turned into a lifelong love of sewing!)

If you have a pulse, you have a purpose…so make your life count!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

He mowed the grass in a tie!!!

This is a photo I took of my daddy one summer…and yes, he’s mowing in a tie!
When I was growing up, he usually had a tie on every single day. And he’d leave it on until bedtime because he never knew when a parishioner would need the pastor! It wasn’t until he retired that I saw Daddy in sports shirts and slacks!

His brother, Virgil, used to tell me that Daddy always looked like he’d “…just stepped off of a bandbox!” He told me that Daddy would press his own clothes so he’d get them just right. Grandma thought he was vain for doing that, and told him so. She was a member of the Friends (Quaker) denomination and pride was a thing to be shunned. (Guess it should be for anyone!) Uncle Virgil said that Grandma’s critique didn’t stop Daddy from looking his best. He was quite a handsome young man, so I’m sure all the young ladies appreciated his extra efforts!!! A few years later, our momma certainly did! Then she started ironing his clothes! (smile)

As a little girl – and even as a teenager – I would help my dad with chores. He’d be on one of those wheeled dollies that you lay down on to slide under a vehicle…and he’d pull me under the car with him on a gray wool blanket, so I could hold the light and hand tools to him as he worked. I still have that blanket. I remember at the age of nine, helping him change the shock absorbers on our 1957 Chevy! I loved it when he’d change the filter on his cars so I could cover them in aluminum foil, to pretend they were swimming pools for Barbie, Ken, Midge, and Skipper!!!

This past Friday, I took lunch to our very pregnant daughter. Sitting at her dining room table, I saw her New Yorker magazine cover and it made me smile and feel tears welling up in my eyes…all at the same time. It looked like something my daddy and I used to do! I was his shadow!

We had our moments – like the time his hearing was better than I anticipated. And the time he tried to teach me to drive a stick-shift, then stormed into the house, threw the keys at my sister and said, “I’m too old for this! YOU teach her!!!”

When Daddy was sick for three months, I spent a lot of time with him. He was in a nursing facility, but the medical folks were gracious enough to let me sleep in his room on a cot at the foot of his bed. I bathed him, helped him in the bathroom, changed his sheets, measured and emptied the bag filled with fluid coming from his liver, and anything else he needed. He cried one day as I bathed him, saying he hated that I had to do that for him. I told him it was my privilege…then to stop his tears, I told him a funny story about Mother. It’s the story I tell in my comedy routines now! He quit crying and chuckled, then laughed.

It was the last time I heard him laugh.

During those three months, we took care of some things. I asked a lot of questions. He answered them. I had a problem with the decision he and my mother made when they moved to take another church between my sophomore and junior years in high school. I asked why. And he told me. I was satisfied with the answer. And, as it turned out, that move was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.

Another Father’s Day has come and gone without me being able to call Daddy to tell him how much I love him. He’s been gone for 17 years.

So I’ll tell you that I miss the man. I love him to this very day…

And just as I always do at the end of my blog postings, I’ll remind you of this: If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

…the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

My new closet looked so good, I posted a photo of it on Facebook. Proud of my hard work at our recently purchased home…I thought myself to be in pretty good shape to tackle the next project.

That was the Master Bathroom. Check that off the list. Looks good, even though the curtains aren’t on the window yet because they’re in some box I packed that’s stacked in the house.

Today, I’d planned to work on lining the kitchen drawers and getting that most-important room ready before the weekend when Joe will be driving home for an overnight visit. You see…he is still in Kingsport finishing his work at First Broad Street UMC through the end of June while I am here getting settled into our retirement home in time to welcome a new granddaughter in a few weeks.

The title of this blog, borrowed from the book/movie “Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is more true than I’d like. It started this morning at 2:55 a.m. and went downhill from there.

Here I was all snug and enjoying sleeping on my new pillow (yes, it’s a My Pillow and it’s too wonderful for words) when I heard a loud noise coming from my perfect closet. My husband had told me it wasn’t a good idea to load so many clothes on that rack. I retorted that the builders put in this closet system, so it MUST be able to handle the weight.

My first thought when I heard the noise was, ‘Joe was right. I hate it when he’s right.’ I got out of bed, opened the door to the perfect closet and found all my clothes and shoes on the floor. I closed the door. What could I do about it at 3 a.m. anyhow?!? After about 30 minutes of stewing, I finally fell asleep. I’m sure if it weren’t for the new My Pillow, I’d have been stewing for MUCH longer…

This morning, after taking measurements and photos of the wall to see what I needed, I headed for my favorite store to pick up new brackets and all I needed to bolster the support for what should again become the perfect closet. The wall wasn’t damaged in the catastrophe, so I didn’t have to get anything else. After showing her the not-so-perfect closet photo on my phone, I paid the cashier for my purchase, and headed to the restaurant where I’d grab a bite before going home to be “Mrs. Fixit!”

Wait! Where’s my phone?!? The waitress brought my order and I was in a panic. I ran to the checkout and borrowed a phone to call the store I just left. No, they hadn’t had a phone turned in at Customer Service. I scarfed down my soup and egg roll, then quickly drove back to the store. I searched the parking lot. I searched the shopping carts (buggies, if you’re from the south) and the phone was nowhere to be found. The cashier who’d checked me out earlier got the head of security to check video footage. He saw when I’d shown her my photo, then closed the flap on my phone and laid it in the baby seat part of my cart, covering it with my purse. He even saw where I’d walked in the parking lot. But the phone was not seen after I covered it with my purse. We walked out there and he kept dialing my number so we could hear it ring. Over and over, he dialed it. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

I left there and drove back to the restaurant. No, they hadn’t seen it! I drove back to the store. No, it hasn’t been turned in. I drove to my Verizon dealer to see if they could help me. They ‘pinged’ my phone and said it was at the front of the store where I’d shopped. I drove back to the store. No. It still hadn’t been turned in! Then I saw the security footage guy.

“Glad you found your phone!”

“I didn’t find my phone.”

“You texted me that you did…said it was in your car.”

“I didn’t text you. Whoever has my phone texted you.”

Then the security footage guy texted a message to my phone that the owner was standing right there with him and wanted it returned – no questions asked. He even added the little white lie that the police department was ‘pinging’ the phone and knew where it was.

Within 10 minutes, my phone magically appeared at the desk in the ceiling fan section of the store. He raced to get it and handed it to me! He didn’t see who left it, but he will - because he’s going to check the video footage. I was so happy to have the phone back that I hugged the guy!!!

After checking my phone, I saw that all the ‘notes’ on my phone had been deleted. Quotes, scriptures, funny stuff and…yes, passwords. No one would know which passwords were for which thing except for me. But they were gone. Boy, is that little stinker that stole my phone gonna be surprised when none of those passwords work because I hurried home, got on my computer and changed all of them. Even called LifeLock to let them know what had happened so they could be alerted.

The clothes are still on the floor in my closet. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “…tomorrow IS another day!”

But for today, the title of this blog posting is accurate.
I’ve been quite emotional since this move to Maryville. Happy to be here. Sad to leave my friends and church in Kingsport. Happy that Joe is retiring. Sad that he has to stay up there and finish while I’m down here missing him (except for Sundays that I drive up to hear him preach). Happy that I’m only 25 minutes from my beautiful/wonderful/amazing daughter and her growing family. And aggravated that someone would steal my iPhone!

So…it’s only a cell phone. I lived without one for years. Why did I get so upset about it?!? Because I don’t know people’s phone numbers by heart……..and it’s full of pictures of my granddaughter! Duh!!!

Remember. If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bed, Bath & Beyond

My husband had never stepped foot in one of my favorite stores. Until tonight. And he may never be the same!

I enjoyed myself way more than I ever have before while shopping the aisles of my beloved Bed, Bath & Beyond! Watching my hubby discover all the wonderful items offered in the store was better than any shopping spree I’ve ever had! He was fascinated – like a kid in a toy store – at all the offerings!

Every time I wandered away from him into another aisle, I’d hear, “Hey, Beth! Look at this!” I’d dutifully go to his side and see what fascinated him: a lighted, mounted shaving mirror…or a massaging chair…or a $399 Dyson Hair Dryer. (Frankly, the expensive hair dryer fascinated me, too – not because of the way it worked, but how much it cost!)

He was amazed at how perfectly stacked the bath towels were displayed above the shelves. I kinda hated to mess up his fascination at the uniformity of the stacks by telling him they weren’t really stacked, but that the towels were tucked into forms to make them look stacked even though they weren’t.

I shop in BB&B all the time and up till now have never found so much wonder among the merchandise as he did! Shopping with my hubby is almost always fun, but tonight was exceptionally fun!

Did we buy anything?
Is the Pope Catholic?!?!???!?

I came home with a “Better Brella” – the kind that reverses when you close it so the rainwater doesn’t soak you when you pull it into the car on a wet day. When I saw it I was fascinated!!! (insert wink here)

Always remember: If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Monday, November 13, 2017

First Kiss

When her mother was pregnant I didn’t even know she was a she!

I couldn’t wait to hold her. But before that, I had to kiss her mother and make sure she was okay after giving birth to her first child.

When I held her, I’d only known her name for an afternoon. Ophelia! What a wonderful name!

Time passed. She grew.

I told her granddaddy that I couldn’t wait for her first smile. When I got it, I can’t describe to you how happy my heart felt!

The next milestone I couldn’t wait for was when she would finally recognize me. The day after she was born I’d made up a little song just for her. And one day, as I sang it to her for the umpteenth time, her eyes lit up when she looked at me…kind of like ‘hey, I know you!’ My heart melted!

So, the natural next goal was the first kiss she’d give to me. She’d thrown a kiss to me a couple of times and that was too adorable for words! But I was waiting for a kiss on the cheek.

Last night, I babysat for Ophelia while her mother and daddy went downtown to a play. Little One and I played on the floor till she was exhausted. I got her ready for bed and we cuddled, read a book, then headed to her room. The lamp gave off just enough light for me to see her cry and reach up her arms for me to pick her up and not leave her in that crib. It worked. I picked her up, sang to her as I swayed back and forth till she was asleep in my arms. After gently laying her down in her crib for the second time, she awakened and reached those sweet little arms for me to pick her up again. But I was strong. I left her there, rubbed her back for a moment till she took the cry down to a soft whimper. Within two minutes she was quietly sleeping. I left the room with a little sadness because our fun night was over.

Next thing I knew it was Sunday and time to drive back home to Grandaddy. As I said goodbye to her at the front door, she was in her mother’s arms. I always kiss Ophelia’s mother first…when I see her and when I say goodbye. So, after that I asked Ophelia if she’d give me a kiss. I leaned forward. She leaned forward. And then she planted an open mouth kiss (which is the only thing a 14-month old knows how to give) on my right cheek!

On this day, November 12, 2017, I got my first kiss from my first grandchild…exactly fourteen months, two weeks and four days after I kissed her for the first time!!!

My heart is happy all over again.