“Going to the Chapel…” Dixie Cups 1964

Welcome to SOLO at SIXTY!

For you married folk (and those who have become SOLO!), do you remember when you got engaged? Was it memorable? Special? Romantic? Honestly y’all, I don’t remember the exact moment I got engaged. Have I blocked it out? Possibly. I do remember going to look at rings, only 3 months after we started dating, and I remember talking to my parents in February, but beyond that…nada. Got married 6 months later, and stayed married for 35+ years.

I think a proposal should be memorable…romantic…special. It is, after all, a life changing moment for a couple. My son-in-law thought so as well – he planned a special trip to the beach house with my daughter, knowing that is one of her favorite places (besides Chapel Hill). Took her out to dinner then to the beach to look for shells, and, being an introvert, he waited for everyone to leave the beach. Well, by that time it was almost dark! He finally told her to look at the shell he had found. When she turned around, he was on one knee with a diamond instead of a shell. We now call this area “engagement sand” when we are on the beach. It is one of our favorite areas to set up our chairs! Joined them the following day to celebrate. Oh, and she did say YES!

“You don’t marry someone you can live with, you marry someone you cannot live without.”

OK, I cannot wait any longer – I am busting at the seams! I AM GAINING A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW! And I could not have picked a better one for my favorite guy, yes, my adorable son. He has been dating a kind, caring, smart, and beautiful girl who we (his sisters and I and of course my son!) absolutely love. She makes him so happy. As his mother, I cannot ask for more than for him to marry someone who fits right in our family, and whose family loves him just as much. Score 2 for us! My son’s fiancée (oh I love saying that!) has spent a lot of time with us – football games, basketball games, visits to Charlottesville, to Winston-Salem to see my family, and to the beach. She also spent a weekend with my younger daughter and me in Charlotte and ran a race with us when my son was out of town. As far as we were concerned, she was already a member of our family. And my son has felt a part of her family as well – and what a wonderful (and big) family it is! I met them last summer when they invited me for brunch one Sunday when I was passing through Charlotte on my way home from the beach. I had heard all about them from my son, and was so thankful to meet them in person, as I knew my son was very serious about this special girl. After all, I saw him kiss the top of her head once – and I just knew it then! Mother’s intuition.

“A daughter-in-law is one who marries your son and becomes your friend.”

So how did it all go down and how did I put 850 miles on my car in 2 days? My son wanted the proposal to be a total surprise and at a time when her family would be together to share the big moment. She is very close to her parents, 2 older sisters, their husbands and children, and her older brother (who my son is also very good friends with). He visited her parents to ask for their blessing and to see when the family would all be together. Just so happens that would be the week of the 4th of July. So he planned it for 6 pm Friday night, July 5th at Lake Toxaway in NC. I was blessed to be there as well. With no hesitation I was happy to drive 6 ½ hours to share in the moment – I would not have missed it for the world. Before I left home, I texted my prayer group and asked that they pray for the sun to be shining at 6 pm that evening and that I would explain later. Drove mostly through sun, constantly saying a prayer of thanks. Stopped by to see my mom – her exit is right off of I-40 on my way to the BIG EVENT! Sidebar:  Mom is doing very well! She is much better now that she is back home in assisted living, surrounded by caring people, and is progressing well with physical therapy. I told her that I was heading to witness her grandson getting engaged. “What? Is he old enough to get married?” “Yes Mom, he is 28 years old.” “WHAT?!? Has he graduated from high school yet?” “Yep, he’s actually a man now, Mom.” “Well give him my love.” “Consider it done!”

Momma’s back home!

So, back to the story… the sun was shining and I was sending up many thanks as I got closer to my destination. Until I turned into Lake Toxaway and, oops, it started pouring. Oh my, what would we do? Was there a Plan B? Nope. Ok, I had total confidence that the sun would shine – just like I did the day my older daughter got married and it was pouring rain in the morning, but clear by wedding time. Besides, my friends have a direct line to the Big Man above! After texting with my soon to be daughter-in-law’s mother, I parked at the top of their driveway and she smuggled me inside just as the rain stopped and the sun came out! No joke. My son took his (now) fianceé down to the edge of the lake and we all snuck out to the deck, cameras rolling. We watched them walk hand in hand to the edge of the water where my son got down on one knee, brought out the ring, and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. Thankfully, she said YES! And lo and behold, there appeared a beautiful rainbow. In her family, rainbows hold a very special meaning, and so I understood why it had to rain before the sun shone brightly on this sweet couple. Special blessings.

I have never seen such happy kids! Big smiles all around. It was a total surprise for my soon to be daughter-in-law. Her family, my daughters, my sisters (I could not keep it from them – they also love this special girl and of course my son) and I knew, but it was a total surprise for her, just as it should be. It was also a surprise for her 4 nieces and 1 lone nephew (ages 3-7), who kept asking why Michael was on one knee and why they were kissing! Then a lightbulb went off and they ran to them screaming “Aunt Jenny, can we be flower girls!” We celebrated with champagne and a sunset cruise on the lake followed by a wonderful dinner. Her family is so welcoming, fun, and musical! After dinner when all the grandkids were tucked in bed, we sat out on the porch with a lovely fire, a glass of wine, and beautiful singing accompanied by a guitar. I mean, one of her sisters met her husband in an acapella group, and I think they all have musical talent. Musical talent does not run as large in our family, but we do enjoy listening! What a wonderful day it was.

“Who we marry is one of the most important decisions in life.”  Nathan Workman

Saturday morning I woke up early, so happy and excited for my son and his fianceé. Plus I did not want to oversleep! I looked out my window to a beautiful calm morning with the sun reflecting off the lake. And who else was too excited to sleep? My future daughter-in-law! So we sat on the porch and just enjoyed the morning and talked. Oh my, she is so special. I could not be happier for my son or our family.

“Daughter-in-law: Created by God and hand chosen by my son to be loved, cherished, and valued in our family.”

Backing up a bit, I did spend the 4th of July with my daughters and my son-in-law’s family. My older daughter walked my 2.5 mile loop with me early in the morning (after her hour-long run!) and my younger daughter and I visited several wineries in the afternoon before I headed to a cookout complete with cornhole and fireworks. It was a busy and fun day, followed by such a special day.

My heart is full. I am so thankful. Big things are happening all around me. As I told you last week, my younger daughter is moving to Charlotte. I left my son and his soon to be in-law family Saturday and met my daughter in Charlotte to look at apartments before heading back to Charlottesville, hence the 850 miles. More to come on that next week. But first, this weekend is going to be filled with Hallmark Christmas movies (and packing up my daughter). Christmas in July y’all!

“Being a family means you are part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what.”

I hope your hearts are full too. I am savoring these happy moments and memories with my family, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS Did you watch the USA Women win the World Cup Sunday? Way to go USA’s WOMEN SOCCER!!

 

“That’s the Way… of the World…” Earth Wind & Fire 1975

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Ever felt both really happy and really sad at the same time? A bit confusing, right? Usually it is one or the other, but I am feeling both this week. My younger daughter was offered a job in Charlotte, NC, and will be moving soon… very soon! I am so happy for her because this is something she has been striving for. But geez, I am sad at the same time because I am going to miss her terribly. Not that I see her every day, but when I do see her, it is always a fun time. She is my “single buddy”. Over the last 3 years she has introduced me to almost all of the wineries (at least the best ones!) around here. We have worked out, run races, taken tennis lessons, gone to movies, cooked, and celebrated our birthdays together. And when I had my colonoscopy and my knee surgery, who took me? Yep, this child. Selfish, I know, but I am going to miss my girl. That’s the way… of the world…plant your flower and grow a pearl…

“The Sun is alone too, but it still shines.”

We’ve helped and supported each other. Flat tire? I’m there. Car accident? Be right there. Broken elbow (daughter)? Yep, right there. “Help, I can’t set my table ‘cause I am on crutches and company is coming!” “I’m on my way!” She shopped for me, updating my wardrobe. When I moved into my house SOLO, she spent the night with me when my sister left, so I would not be alone just yet. She is my editor and always ready with a “are you sure you want to say that on the internet?” I follow her advice as I trust her judgement. She will continue to be my editor. Right, sweet daughter of mine?!?!

“There is nothing as powerful as a mother’s love, and nothing as healing as a child’s soul.”

Needless to say, these next couple of weeks will be incredibly busy. In addition to helping my younger daughter pack and move, I’m also helping my older daughter and son-in-law finish their packing and make their temporary move. They are building a house which will not be finished for several months, but sold theirs within hours of putting it on the market, thereby finding themselves homeless at the end of the month. Offered to let them come live with me, but they decided to move to an apartment for a couple of months until their house is finished. I mean who wouldn’t want to live with their mother/mother-in-law for a couple of months… rent free even?!?! Go figure! So they are moving back to the apartment complex where they lived before they got married. Last weekend, I helped them pack up things that will not be needed in the apartment, but will go to storage (aka – my basement!). I brought back a load in my car, my daughter’s Tahoe was packed to the gills (with only enough room for my GrandDawg to sit with her head out the window), and my son-in-law’s truck was riding mighty low in the back it was so full. They actually started bringing boxes to my house several months ago when they “decluttered,” as suggested by the stager (who obviously knew what she was talking about), before their house even went on the market, and have continued bringing boxes every time they come to Charlottesville. Anyone who knows my older daughter knows she is one organized woman on a mission, so they are ahead of schedule on packing. (She’s the child who would have her school project ready to turn in a week before the due date, 2nd child would be finishing hers on the way to school, and my son in between!)

So here I am, happy for my kids, and sad at the same time. Feels kinda like becoming an empty nester again. Except I have been an empty nester for 10 years! And an empty SOLO nester for the past 3+ years. I have a dear friend going through the same emotions with a child moving to another state for medical school. Doesn’t matter how old our kids get, they will always be held so closely in their mother’s heart.

“There are only two lasting gifts we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”  W. Hodding Carter

But on the bright side (there is always a bright side), I will have 2 kids to visit in Charlotte, who will now be much closer to each other. And they are closer to the beach house and to my sweet momma and sisters. So it’s possible I might see them even more often! (Look out Charlotte!) And heads up to my older daughter who was forced up the rung of the ladder for finding herself closest to momma now. This child calls me twice a day, on her way to and from work, just to make sure her momma is alive and kicking! And to talk. I treasure these calls y’all. I do wish we lived in the same town. It is so much fun to be in the same town with your kids. Who knows, maybe one day we will all live in the same town…

“Stop looking for reasons to be unhappy. Focus on the things you do have and the reasons you should be happy.”

Honestly, I don’t have to look far to find a reason to be happy. None of us do. I know, I know… there are moments and days when it feels like nothing is going our way and sadness rules. Like everyone else, I experience these moments and days too. But the sun always comes out again. I am happy with my life and where I am in that life. Happy with my family and friends. As sad as I am to lose my buddy, I am very happy for her. And happy that July just took a right turn to being the busiest month of the year for me with my kids, because it means I am a vital part of their lives. Oh and happy that Christmas in July is now on the Hallmark Channels until July 14th with non-stop Christmas movies! How great to share my 2 favorite seasons – Christmas and summer, at the same time!

And so incredibly happy that I am now able to walk normally, take some cycle classes, and sweat! Or as my sweet momma tactfully said to me once after a run, “Do you think running brings out the poisons in your body?” “Well, that depends…are you telling me I stink?” “Yes.” Last week I took a cycle class every day – and even made that early, pre-dawn trip to take my older daughter’s cycle class at our club in Short Pump. (Gosh I hope my sweat did not stink – who am I kidding – I don’t care! I love to sweat!) And I can now walk 2 miles. Life is good!

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”  Michael Altshuler

Who can believe 2019 is halfway over? Time is flying by y’all. The older I get, the faster it seems to pass. Tomorrow we will celebrate the 4th of July. I’ve been lucky enough to share the holiday with my son-in-law’s family for the past 5 years. There is a big family cookout complete with fireworks (which I brought back from the beach last month – learned all about the limitations placed on fireworks in VA – bought them from a man with only 3 fingers! Ok just kidding there – heard that from Jeff Foxworthy).

“You are the divine firework. Ignite the sky with your spirit, spark the night with your flame.”

I hope your summer is full of fun, your 4th of July is patriotic, that your happiness outshines your sadness, and that you are enjoying each and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow. That’s the way of the world…

Best,

Leslie

PS  “It will be celebrated… with pomp and parade… bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” John Adams (1735 – 1826) – on July 4th celebrations

 

“Summer Breeze… makes me feel fine” Seals & Croft 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

June 21st, my favorite day of the year, the first day of summer. This year I got to spend my favorite day at my favorite place with some of my favorite people – my sisters and one of my kids. Girls’ weekend at the beach! And to say it was a beautiful, perfect day is putting it mildly. The humidity at the beach was low, the sun was high, and the “summer breeze” was just right. We stayed on the beach until late, and celebrated the summer solstice with a dinner of grilled shrimp and grouper cheeks, okra, corn on the cob, and green beans, served on my porch. Oh and wine. And fresh peaches over vanilla ice cream. It was fun, lots of fun with lots of laughter, lots of sharing old memories (which my younger daughter loved hearing), and lots of talking – sister style. And the daylight lasted a LONG time… longest day and shortest night of the year y’all. My favorite.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Charles Bowden

My 2-week vacation came to an end Sunday afternoon as my younger daughter and I headed back to Charlottesville. It was the most relaxing vacation ever. Enjoyed being alone for the first 10 days, but was thrilled when my daughter flew down for week #2, followed by my sisters a couple of days later. We spent long days on the beach, full circle back to our childhood summer vacations. Got to relive a lot of memories and had some deep conversations. Told my sisters I wish I could talk to mom about our parents’ divorce and apologize to her because I don’t feel that I supported her enough at the time. I mean, I was a 22-year-old new bride still in the honeymoon phase where the big “D” (divorce) was not even in my vocabulary. But my sisters both said that mom shielded all of us – she leaned on her sister. At which point my younger daughter reminded me I had done the same with my kids. Who did I call when I was told I would be moving to the new house SOLO? My kids? No… my sister, who came to me immediately. And my daughter said “you’ve undoubtedly told your sisters many things that you have not shared with us – that’s a Mom thing. Just like G-ma did.” So true. Made me feel much better as I have worried about this for the last 3 years. The unbearable pain I experienced when my marriage ended, which was basically the same way my parents’ marriage ended, opened my eyes as to how much my mother had suffered. And my younger sister, who was in high school at the time and still living at home, had to witness it all. Not a happy time for either of them. And I felt I had not helped mom (or my sister) enough.

“When traveling life’s journey, it’s good to have a sister’s hand to hold on to.”

Sisters (siblings in general) share a bond like no other. Who else have you known your whole life and share childhood memories with? So funny though, my sisters and I shared some memories that we could not all agree on! My daughter thought it was hilarious! We debated our dad’s wedding for one. My dad came to my house to tell me he was getting married. Mind you, it was on a Wednesday and he was getting married the following Saturday, but he did tell me. My older sister was in Mississippi visiting her husband’s family and I remember calling her long distance (when it cost big $$ to dial long distance) to say, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Should I go to the wedding? How would mom feel? Oh geez, who is going to tell mom? My older sister called our dear aunt, who told mom and broke her heart again. Mind you, it was 5 years after their divorce, not days, but still, we were not happy. Being the middle child, the peace keeper of the family, I decided to go to the wedding with my 1-month-old baby. Most awkward ceremony ever. Now… I would have sworn my younger sister went with me, but she has no memory of it. (Maybe her memory was fading due to the little cans of Crose’ Rose’ wine we were drinking on the beach!) She thinks they got married on a cruise ship and my older sister and I both said Nope. I mean, I remember rolling my eyes at her during the ceremony when daddy hesitated when it came time to say “I do.”  Plus, there were only about 8 of us there. As I had a newborn, I left as soon as the preacher said “I now pronounce you….” Thankfully. Not fun witnessing your parent marry the person who broke up your family. Loved my dad, made our peace, but never respected them. Just saying.

“May all your blues be the ocean and the sky.”

Since I was allowed to walk a mile, my younger daughter and I decided one morning we would set up on the beach and then walk to the pier for breakfast. So much fun! Then Saturday afternoon, my younger sister and I walked to the pier and got a drink at the bar – a frozen strawberry margarita for me while my younger sister decided on double-fisting and got a dirty monkey and a mudslide. Took them back to our spot on the beach. Older sister and my daughter opted for the rose’ in the cans.

“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

Last day on the beach was so beautiful after the storm that came up Saturday night while we were enjoying a grownup, classy dinner at Franks. The ocean was almost perfectly still, the sun was shining, and the summer breeze was blowing. After claiming our area on the beach, we decided that to keep up with walking my mile, we would walk back to the pier for breakfast oceanside. Learned that our favorite breakfast (and daytime bar) spot would be closing in October, when the rebuilding of the pier begins. (Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew 3 years ago.) We’ll miss it… but it will be back bigger and better. Just like life…

“The waves of the sea help me get back to me.”

So it is back to the real world for me. Got home late Sunday night from my first ever 2-week vacay and decided I needed to get my life back to my pre-surgery routine Monday morning. Started by taking a 6 am cycle class (got permission from my physical therapist as long as I took it easy). Have NOT taken a class since the morning of my surgery, April 23rd! Back to being able to carry my backpack and athletic bag in to work. Man was it hard to get up, considering I have not woken up before 8 am for over 2 weeks! But I did and I sweated and I loved it. Also walked the 74 stairs up to my office (up and down that flight 6 times during the day!). Hit the 6 am cycle class again Tuesday morning followed by physical therapy where I am cleared to now walk 1.5 miles. Asked if that meant just once a day or multiple times as long as there was time in between. (Remember, I take things literally and need to know specifically!) Answer? Can walk 1.5 miles multiple times. Also added some weight machines to strengthen my knee and leg. WOOHOO! Progress…On the road to total recovery, and the last 2 weeks aided that in many ways. Regrouped, recouped, renewed. Gave my knee some good healing time.

“The best six doctors: Sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise & diet.”

For the past 3 years, I have tried to stay so busy working, traveling, spending time with my kids, my family, and my friends, that I did not have to think about the reality of what happened to me. But being alone and living in the slow lane those 10 days brought everything to the forefront and basically forced me to think and reflect on the demise of my marriage and what I want going forward. I am content with myself, where I am, and where I am going. Gave some serious thought to my future (future blogs!). All is well!  The only BS I need or want is Beach and Sunshine. I love my special place. I love the calm I feel at the beach. I love the people I meet down there – everyone is happy at the beach. Even the birds (which I love too!). I leave the beach planning my next visit. Needless to say, I cannot wait to get back to the beach. My kids and I are trying to coordinate a time for us all to be together. And my entire family (sisters and their families) will meet at the beach to celebrate sweet Jack’s 3rd birthday in August. Plus I have a few other fun trips planned down South. Much to look forward to the rest of this summer.

So make the most of these long, summer days. Let the summer breeze make you feel fine.  Don’t waste the beautiful evenings that still reflect the sunshine of the day. Each night when you go to bed, you say goodbye to a day you will never get back. Do something that makes YOU happy each and every day. Don’t leave anything on the table, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Life is like the ocean. Waves will try to knock you down and push you back to where you started but once you fight through them, the entire ocean is yours.”

Best,

Leslie

PS  Did you know that Yoda and Miss Piggy were voiced by the same person? And who other than Frank Oz?

 

“Washed Ashore” Platters, June 1967

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Life’s a BEACH

Hey y’all! I have on my “resting beach face,” which means I am feeling good and life is good. I have now been on vacation for 13 days, and at the beach for 10 of those. Never done this before but it feels really good, so much so that I have lost track of what day it is! I am well rested and my soul has been renewed. And not to brag, but the weather has cooperated greatly. Sunny and cooler last week, hot and humid this week, with a beautiful weekend ahead. Had one rainy day, which I needed and appreciated. I never even got out of my jammies. I cannot tell you how long it has been since I did that. Read several good books, including “Summer Guests,” the newest book by Mary Alice Monroe, an author I love. She was down here at a nearby bookstore, so I went to see her, bought the book, got it signed, read it, and loved it! Slept many hours on the beach because I stayed up late reading books and watching Jimmy Fallon – things I cannot (or do not) do at home.

“There is a definite magic about the beach. People are drawn to it. Your mind becomes clearer. Your soul is at rest. Your stresses melt away. Your body is cleansed. For a moment, all is right in the world around you.” -B. Atkinson

Visited the farmers market twice and loaded up on fresh veggies and peaches to go with my fresh seafood. My brother-in-law was in town one night and we had dinner at a hole-in-the-wall local joint that was new to us and very good. Got dressed up (which means I put on makeup!) and took myself out to dinner a couple of nights. There’s a wonderful place 10 minutes from my house, in Murrells Inlet – the Marshwalk (similar to a boardwalk), lined with restaurants and bars where you can legally walk around with your alcohol of choice. So I got a beer, put it in my special koozie, and walked around listening to live music at each restaurant while checking out their posted menus. Came across a new addition this year – the BREW BOAT (kids, we may have to try this – looks like fun!). Finally picked a restaurant that is under new management with a new name, Catfish Johnny’s, and it was really good. Had the best cheese grits and good ole fried shrimp (I only eat fried food at the beach). But the best part was that since I was SOLO, I sat outside on their patio, at the railing, overlooking the people walking on the Marshwalk, listened to the music at Bubba’s Love Shak next door, and watched the goats on Goat Island. What is Goat Island? It’s a 20,000 sq foot island off the Marsh Walk, owned by one of the restaurants, who also owns the goats and moves them inland during hurricanes and the winter months, but lets them roam and maintain the island during the warm months. Local yore says that people were growing weed on the island and the restaurant thought this was the perfect way to handle that problem. (Wonder if the goats got high? I mean, they do climb trees!) It has become quite the center of attention for all Marshwalk visitors. And I cannot come to the beach and not have dinner at my favorite restaurant: Frank’s in Pawleys Island. I love eating at the bar, talking to and watching the bartenders who are constantly making and pouring drinks. Plus there are always locals eating at the bar which makes for great conversation, and there is live music. Not to mention, the food is great!

So several friends, family members, and co-workers reached out to see how I was doing all by my SOLO self down here. Are you lonely? Bored? Missing us? Of course I missed all y’all! But I have not been lonely, and never bored. I started my vacation with plans to do so many things while I was down here since I would be here 2 weeks – visit the local state park, go down to Georgetown, go to Murrells for lunch one day… but you know what? I did not do any of those things. To quote my momma, who was quoting my grandmother, “can you do less than nothing?” Because that is about what I have been doing. Sleeping on the beach, reading books (Someone Knows, Sunset Beach, Summer Guests, Queen Bee), collecting shells, and getting in my daily 5-mile bike ride all over Surfside. I have now biked up and down every street and neighborhood down here, several times. And I was cleared (long distance by my physical therapist) to walk a mile, so… you know it, I have been walking that mile – half mile to the pier and back. And y’all, I am finally able to walk normally without having to remind myself to walk normally. Woohoo! Progress.

“The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t want to be around drama, conflict, or stress… I’d rather be sitting on a beach chair on some secluded beach.”

As I have said before, I have very little patience, except when looking for shells and shark teeth. It is my obsession down here. I mean, I have bags and bags and multiple red SOLO cups (pun intended) of shells at my house, but I cannot go a day without collecting as many as I can find. It’s like building a puzzle – you are ready to stop when you find a piece that fits perfectly and that leads to another and another and another. Same for shells. Sometimes it takes sifting through a 100 broken shells to find that special one. I might bend down to pick up what I think is a treasure, only to find it is broken, but was covering up another treasure. Then as the tide comes in, the ocean moves all the shell pieces around, uncovering that perfect shell. It’s my obsession and my stress reliever down here, since running is out of the question for 2 more months. Plus it is a great way to get sun on my back!

Beach treasures!

 

“Whatever you are looking for, is looking for you too.”

Life is like that. We are all looking for that elusive, perfect shell. But there are many broken shell pieces covering it up. And along the way, we find many beautiful shells that are not perfect, but are beautiful in their own right. Took me a couple of years to move aside all the shattered pieces to find my treasures. But I did.

“I followed my heart, it lead me to the beach.”

My younger daughter arrived last night! Just in time for our traditional meal at Bubba’s Fish Shack (different from Bubba’s Love Shak at Murrells Inlet) for dinner. We actually closed it down and yes, we ate at the bar and had fried shrimp – best ever! And my sisters are coming for the weekend. Life is good! And better than all that – Mom was released from rehab and is back “home” where her caregivers were so happy to see her and are taking very good care of her. She has perked up greatly and we are so thankful.

Dinner at Bubba’s with my girl!

“Keep looking up…that’s the secret of life.”  Charlie Brown

So sift around and set aside all of those broken pieces in your life and find the good part, the part that makes you happy to be alive. And if you don’t see it right away, have patience and know that it is there, just waiting for you to uncover it. And make the most of every day because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that all Froot Loops are the same flavor just different colors!?! Me neither!

“Back On My Feet” Paul McCartney 1989

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

A lot can happen in a week’s time! Some good… some not so good. Last Thursday, my surgeon told me I no longer needed my brace (Throw that brace away! Wait, that brace was WAY too expensive to throw away!) nor my crutches, unless I found myself walking a long distance. All of a sudden, I felt lost and a bit afraid – I mean, I have not walked “normally” in over six weeks. And it was obvious. I left the doctor’s office on my own 2 feet and went straight to physical therapy. My physical therapist took one look at me walking in and said “Whoa girl, we have some work to do – immediately!” My giddy-up was so far off-kilter. Imagine Grandpappy Amos from “The Real McCoys” and you have the picture. She had me warm up on the bike, exercising for the first time in 6 weeks – squats, standing on the “hurt” leg, and walking around the room with a walking stick, until I could walk somewhat normally, just very slowly. Slow has never been a pace I enjoy, but slow it is. Part of it was being a bit nervous, but a big part was that my leg forgot how to walk! Seriously! Got back to my office and walked in slowly, as if I had a book on my head – very stiffly. After all the therapy, walking around, and getting on a normal bike at the gym, my poor calf hurt. Understandably. It hasn’t been used in over 6 weeks. But I am walking y’all! I just have to keep reminding myself, “walk normally.”

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”  Theodore Roosevelt

So… with my newfound freedom (from crutches), I decided to take 2 weeks off and get away. First stop was to see my mom on Friday at her new digs (the rehab place). Got to see her in action with both physical and occupational therapy. She has to get strong enough to be able to use her walker again in order to go back to her “home.” Takes a lot to get an almost 90-year-old up and moving around a week after hip surgery (or any time for that matter!). She is tired and afraid it might hurt. And boy do I understand that fear! My younger sister and I gave our older sister the “day off” and accompanied Mom to her post-surgery appointment, where the cute doctor was pleased with her progress. He asked if she was in any pain and she said “Pain from what?” “Your hip surgery.” “Nope, not me. My hip is fine.” And when we told her she had 17 staples taken out from her hip the day before, she looked at us as if we had 2 heads. “Staples?!? Well I never.” Yep, you did Mom! You just have to laugh and roll with it. But I admit, when I saw her x-rays and the rods in her leg and hip, I almost passed out! But she is a trooper and is giving it her all, when she can stay awake! And never complains. That’s Momma for you.

Once Mom was settled back in her room, I changed into my jeans (for the first time in 6 weeks!) and headed to Charlotte to have dinner with the most important man in my life – my son, and his beautiful girlfriend. My baby was about to celebrate his 28th birthday. 28 years old! And even more special, he shares his birthday with his sweet, beautiful girlfriend. Imagine that! I met them at Haberdish, “a mill town southern kitchen and craft cocktail bar” in NODA (which I learned is North Davidson, in Charlotte-speak). I gave myself plenty of time since I was not sure exactly where I was going, and got there early enough to sit at the bar with a glass of wine. I always love sitting at the bar. Met some interesting people and talked to the bartender while waiting for my son and his girlfriend. The food was fabulous, and what a fun night we had celebrating their birthdays! Walked around after dinner and ran into some of their friends. And unbelievably, we had no rain, though I did hit some heavy rain on the way back to Winston-Salem. But I did not mind, I got to see my favorite guy and his girlfriend and celebrate their birthdays. Life is good.

“The more you love your children, the more they learn to love others.” A. D. Williams

The weekend was forecasted to be a total wash-out. Total. Rain, rain, rain. 90% chance. So the thought of my Saturday plans had a bit of a damper on them. But hey, I was heading to Chapel Hill with my cousin (also a Tar Heel fan) to do something I have not done since I was in college there – attend a baseball game at The Bosh (Boshamer Stadium). And I could not wait! She told me to bring my crutches and my Handicap Placard. Unfortunately, I never got one – should have, because I always had to park so far away to have room to open my door wide enough to get out with my crutches. I did bring my crutches though, since I figured it would be a long walk to the stadium. However, we only had to walk down a short ramp in the parking garage and lo and behold there was a line of Carolina golf carts waiting to take the handicapped and elderly right to the entrance of the game. I guess we qualified for both? Whatever, we hopped on one quickly and off we went. Luckily, the weather forecasters were wrong, dead wrong! Not only did it not rain, it was sunny. And hot. No one had sunscreen, but we all had rain ponchos! And lots of enthusiasm. It was a great game and so much fun until the 8th inning, when we fell apart. Same scenario in the 9th. And we lost. But still, it was great being in Chapel Hill surrounded by fellow Tar Heels and spending the day with my cousin! My older daughter was watching the game on TV and asked where we were sitting. Told her 3rd base line behind the Carolina dugout, and that I had on Carolina Blue. That definitely narrowed it down, right? But she found me, because I had my knee propped up on an empty seat in front of me! Had a ticket for the Sunday game, but woke up Sunday feeling the need to spend the day with Mom. So Mom and I watched the game on the TV in her room and just hung out. And Carolina won, only to lose Monday, ending their road to Omaha.

 

“I see my parents as tiny children who need love.” – Louise Hay

Now y’all, I have NEVER taken two consecutive weeks off before. So I am making the most of it! My journey started in Winston-Salem, then Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem again, and then to my final destination… the BEACH! (yep, I am back to putting those miles on my car!) Cannot tell you how great it is to be back here. Just to breathe in that sweet, salty air. The weatherman was incorrect in the washout forecast down here as well. Spent all day Monday on the beach, except for a 30 minute downpour, typical summertime beach weather. Took a bit to figure out exactly how to walk on the sand, but I managed, slowly, very slowly, reminding myself to walk normally (didn’t want to look like a total dork at the beach, plus did not want to trip!). Also rode my beach bike for 5 miles since that is basically my only form of exercise. Would love to be running, but honestly, I could not run if I wanted to – this knee is so tight. Plus I am following the rules. Although after last night’s bike ride, I went down to walk on the beach and got almost to the pier when I realized, wait, I am not supposed to be walking this much. Turned around and headed back. Slowly. Enjoyed the sunset on the way. Have not yet seen a sunrise – I have been sleeping in! Makes a difference when you don’t have to get up early to run before it gets hot – you get to sleep in.

“An ocean breeze puts a mind at ease.”

My life has finally realigned itself. Landed on my feet (so to speak). I feel as if I have been in limbo for months, a bit disjointed, waiting to be able to resume my life as I envision it. Kinda like I felt 3 years ago – in limbo, wondering how my life would be SOLO. Like then, I felt the need to push a reset button, to do something normal that made me happy… hence – the beach. Just needed a change of scenery, to get back to the place that heals my soul. I know many of you prefer the mountains, or the lake, but for me there is nothing like the ocean. Not that I am going to get IN the ocean… I just like to be close to it, to look at it, and listen to its soothing waves. When the doctor said I should NOT get in the ocean – too many chances for my knee to sustain damage, I said “no problem, Doc.” (Remember the movie JAWS?!?!)

“Medicine heals the body. The ocean heals the soul.”

Ever feel the need to hit that reset button in your life? You can do it. And you need to do it. And you need to know that even when times seem dire, the sun will always come out again. Always. So pick yourself up and decide today is going to be a great day (every day), because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – This Sunday is the Strawberry Moon – meaning the full moon of June, named for the wild strawberries that ripen in June. Oh and it’s Father’s Day! Happy Father’s Day to those special Dads in our lives.

 

“One Fine Morning…” Lighthouse 1971

Welcome Back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Last week was so hot up here y’all! And from what I heard, it was hotter at the beach (not that I would know personally as I have not been able to go down there…YET!). But tomorrow is a new and wonderful day. The day I have been waiting for. My doctor’s appointment is in the morning and I hope to toss aside my partners for the last 6 weeks – my crutches and my brace. We became both friends and enemies. Luckily, they kept me upright, meaning (knock on wood), I have not fallen once. Tripped a time or two when I got going a bit too fast for my own good, but never fell. However, I have been very careful and have not taken many chances (not my normal character). Perfect example, last week I went to King Family Vineyards for Wine Wednesday and wanted to take a chair to sit out and enjoy the music. BUT… all of my chairs are in my basement with the tailgate supplies. Hmmm… should I go down the basement stairs on crutches to get a chair and lug it back upstairs? Uh…no! Not taking that chance. A month ago, my stubborn “I can do anything” self would have tried it. But my new “only one more week don’t screw it up” self said “nah, someone will surely find an extra chair for me.” Besides, it’s not like I could easily carry it. And as it turned out, my daughter set me up at a perfect table on the patio beside the musician. Such a fun night – even made some new friends and the musician gave me a CD of his music. Everyone is happy at a winery – wine does that to people! Good music, good wine, good weather… what a fun, carefree night!

However, that good mood took a dive south by the end of the week. Truly, I think being limited in what I can and cannot do, being on crutches, and everything taking me so much longer to do, finally reached the point of just… “getting old.” Not ME, but being on crutches. I had driven down Main Street towards UVA, my normal running route, and found myself envious of every runner and walker I passed. Gosh, if only I could trade places with them… I know, I know, I am so very close to tossing aside my crutches, but it will be quite a while before I hit the streets running, or even truly walking, and I do know it could be much worse, much worse. I just needed a day to wallow a bit. But still…

“When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of all the reasons to be Positive. There’s always someone who has it worse.”

Luckily, my younger daughter called and said, “Hey, do you have plans tonight? No? Ok, me either, wanna go to the movies?”  We have been talking about seeing Rocketman (the biopic Elton John movie) for months after seeing the trailer earlier in the year. “I’m on my way home and will swing by and pick you up – let’s go get a glass of wine beforehand.” Gosh I love my kids! And so we did. Sat at the bar, got a couple of appetizers and a glass of wine before the movie. And what a great movie it was – I learned a lot about Elton John’s childhood and even though I knew he was talented, I did not realize just how talented he was/is. If you like Elton and his music, you need to go see this movie. Next up for us is Yesterday – about a world without The Beatles. “Imagine” that! My younger daughter is a huge Beatles fan (just like her uncle!). She has coveted my older daughter’s Beatles doll collection, given to her when she was about 6 or 7 by, you guessed it, her Beatle-loving uncle!

The next evening dear friends had me over for dinner. Not only delicious, but lots of laughter and fun. Love my friends too! And just like that, my funk was gone. I always know that when things get me down, it will not last long, someone will be there to pick me back up. So thankful for all of these people in my life!

“A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.”  Winnie the Pooh

This is Raymond y’all. Everyone loves Raymond…After having said goodbye to their own sweet dogs, my sister and brother-in-law fostered Raymond several years ago when the no-kill shelter that rescued him sent out pleas for temporary fostering due to the prediction of a big snowstorm. My brother-in-law happened to be in VA during that time and went by to help out by taking a dog home. He chose Raymond, a boxer mix who was rescued after being used as a bait dog for fighting. Talk about being in a low place – poor Raymond was a trembling mess, afraid of everyone and everything. Never barked. But that winter day when my brother-in-law put him in the back of his car in a soft warm bed was the luckiest day of sweet Raymond’s life! Needless to say, Raymond found his fur-ever home. Took some patience on both sides to establish a trusting environment, but they did. No one knows exactly how old Raymond is, but my sister and brother-in-law intend to make the rest of Raymond’s life, the best of his life. To say Raymond lucked up is putting it mildly – he landed in the perfect home, where he is treated like a king. With only a couple of teeth, he feasts on Costco oven-roasted chicken and canned “Paw Lickin’ Chicken” which is, after all, gluten free! Yep, Raymond is the envy of all the dogs back in his old “hood” and in the current neighborhood as well. I mean, look at Raymond, I don’t think anyone could have gotten much “lower” than him, but in one day, his life turned around and he became King of the Castle!

“So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which as been denied.”  Helen Keller

And in one day, tomorrow, I am thinking I will be alright once again. My poor doctor… I have a long list of questions for him. Last appointment, he made himself comfortable while answering the questions on my list, and this time, the list is much longer. I need direct answers as I take everything literally. If he says to me, “you might be able to run a mile in a month,” you can bet I’ll be out there on July 5th running that mile. Actually, I am a bit nervous about giving up my crutches cold turkey. Just walk out of his office carrying my crutches? Will I be able to trust my knee? Will it hurt? It will be nice standing in the shower again (thankful for the shower seat I borrowed), I mean I have not showered at the club since surgery – I can’t stand up for the shower, plus I can’t carry my athletic bag while on crutches. I can’t even carry my backpack in to work while on crutches. I am looking forward to getting back to that place of comfort and normalcy. One.More.Day!!!

Last night with crutches on my porch!

“Always keep your head up because if it’s down, you won’t be able to see the Blessings that have been placed in your life.”

We all have our struggles and those “down days.” Many times it is not evident how much someone is struggling. It’s ok to wallow a bit, but don’t let it control your days. Look at all the positives in your life. We are all blessed more than we can imagine. Remember that good times are always just around the corner. So hang on and make the most of every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Thank you for the kind notes about my sweet Momma. She is doing well and is rehabbing her hip with PT and OT. Heading down to see her this weekend! Plus another fun weekend in store – to be in the next blog!

 

“Love me tender, love me sweet…” Elvis Presley 1956

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

It was kind of a scary week y’all. I woke up early Thursday morning from sleeping in my recliner (yep still sleeping there for another week!) to a barrage of text messages between my sisters. My older sister was at the ER with Mom who had fallen and broken her hip. She had gotten the call at 3 AM but waited until 6 AM to text us. One of our biggest fears – you always hear how bad it is for the elderly when they break a hip (or anyone for that matter!). Threw some clothes together and my younger daughter came over to help me pack and get my bag into the car, along with my backpack and laptop (darn these crutches!). Headed out to NC when my sisters called and said to wait and come Friday. Thankfully, my sisters were there with Mom, because y’all, it is NOT good if there is no one to look after the elderly. They were scheduling surgery for Mom when my younger sister (the nurse) said they could not because Mom was on blood thinners. “OH… ok we need to wait a day or so.” Uh, you think?!?!? I mean, it is right there in her record and my older sister had already told them.

Got to Winston-Salem early Friday morning and after walking what seemed a mile on crutches from the parking garage to Mom’s room (Forsyth Hospital is now so BIG), I settled in and stayed with Mom so my sisters could take care of things on their end. After all, I was there with no distractions or other responsibilities, and they do everything for her all the time. Mom and I hung out in her room Friday, with her in the hospital bed and me in a great recliner (who knew!) beside her. Carolina baseball was playing in the ACC tournament down the road in Durham, so we tuned in to catch them on TV. (We won!) Mom never once complained about the pain or anything.

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” Mother Teresa

Surgery was scheduled for Saturday morning. Beforehand, they asked Mom a lot of questions – her name, DOB, what year it was, if she knew where she was and what was happening to her. Her answers were entertaining – she gave her name, birthday without the year (would not believe she was 89), thought the year was 1998 (must have been a good year – she was 69 then!), said she was in the doctor’s “office,” and that she was having her tonsils out. Hmmm. When the next nurse asked her the same questions, she again started to say the year was “19,” but before she could say 1998, the nurse said, “yes it is 2019!”… don’t think that was going to be Mom’s answer, but whatever. My sisters and I walked to the cafeteria (which was almost half a mile from Mom’s room!) for breakfast, and to wait for Mom to come out of surgery. Our sweet cousin came by to check on Mom and brought her flowers. Surgery went well – doctor said they chiseled out her bone and put a rod in her leg – OUCH! She came back to her room and I settled back in the recliner and cut the UNC game on. It was a 4-hour ordeal but ended in another win! We watched most of it but both of us dozed off and on!

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” Tia Walker

The toughest thing was Sunday morning when the Physical Therapy team got Mom up and had her move from the bed to “my” recliner. I could barely watch, knowing it was extremely painful for her. But you know what? As scared as she was to move, and as painful as it was, she never once complained, screamed in pain, yelled, or cussed. But her face said it all as she winced in pain. This almost 90-year-old is one tough lady. Go Momma! And also a very polite and gracious lady as she thanked them once she was in the recliner and thanked each nurse when they gave her a shot, medicine, water, food. After all, good manners are imperative. Our Momma. Now you know where we “Holcomb Girls” get our strength, grit, and grace (and manners?).

“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”  Maya Angelou

Whew! Mom and I watched Carolina play baseball again Sunday afternoon, cheering loudly when we won the ACC Tournament! My nephew called to make sure kids were allowed on Mom’s hall and said they were coming up. I got my Jack and Izzie fix! Plus, Mom had not yet met sweet Izzie who is only 10 weeks old – that was the most special moment of the whole day. Family is what it is all about.

“Family is the most important thing in the world.”  Princess Diana

By the way, I never saw one nurse playing cards (take note Senator Walsh!). Most were so helpful, one even brought me a warm blanket because I was FREEZING. We became fast friends!

“The chance to give back some of the love and compassion and tender care to the parents who were there for us… is truly a gift.”  Gail Sheehy

So many of my friends have lost their parents. My sisters and I lost our dad in 2000. Let’s face it, we are now at “that age.” And so many are taking care of parents, my sisters for example. It’s not easy. And it’s not easy being so far away. Many of our parents are not as we remember them – their long term memories are there, but forget about any short term memories. My Mom asked us several times if her mom and dad would be coming to the hospital. We said that they were not traveling much these days but we would let them know. We “miss” our Mom, but are thankful she is still around, in relatively good health, good spirits, and still so sweet. One day this will be us. My oldest child has already given this some thought. She plans to pool our funds, buy a house for my sisters and brother-in-law and me, and hire good people to take care of us so that we can all live together. I wouldn’t mind that! And it makes pretty good sense!

Cheers! We needed a break!

“When spending time with your parents seems like too much effort, remember, one day all you’ll have are the memories.”

Several things came to mind this week:

  • No matter how old we are, we all need and want our mommas.
  • It’s scary to think that one day my sisters and I will be “orphans”, that our mom will no longer be here.
  • There will always be obstacles and challenges in life and how you deal with them defines your character.
  • We are all tougher than we think we are.
  • We should handle people with class and kindness.

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Speaking of handling people with class and kindness, did you do anything in remembrance of our vets on Memorial Day? I learned something very interesting which y’all might have known, but I did not, the difference between Armed Forces Day, Veteran’s Day, and Memorial Day:

  • Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday of May) – For those who currently wear the uniform.
  • Veteran’s Day (November 11th ) – For those who used to wear the uniform.
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday of May) – For those who never made it out of uniform.

The hospital had a memorial of sorts for Memorial Day – “the Missing Man Table” – the chair is empty to remember the missing.

So take care of your parents, siblings, family. Respect our elderly. Find your inner strength and put on a brave face. Share love and kindness wherever you can, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

Somewhere over the (double) rainbow…

PS only 1 more week on crutches! Will I remember how to walk?!?!