“MOM” Earth, Wind & Fire 1972

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY… a special post for a special lady.

Y’all know I retired this blog when I took on a new position in life, Grandma, or “Lala” (Southern Grandma name and also my first 2 initials!). But every now and then I plan to bring it out of retirement for special occasions, and this is one of those special times. 

A phone call from my younger sister very early on Saturday morning, February 6th, changed my life. Our sweet momma had passed away. How could that be? I was supposed to go see her in just a few days. So many thoughts raced through my mind… was my sister sure? Mom was not sick and my sisters had just had a window visit with her and Mom had looked good and was laughing and happy. They showed her pictures of Chase (my grandson). Not sure if she put it all together considering she thought my kids were still in school, but she thought he was adorable (and he is!). So what happened? We just don’t know. But she died peacefully and we cannot ask for more than that. But still… it is so hard to accept that our sweet momma is no longer with us. 

“Because the love of a mother starts before birth, her love will endure long after death.”

My sisters immediately went to be with mom and were allowed to stay with her until the funeral home arrived. They facetimed me so we were all “together” waiting, shedding tears, and sharing memories. While they were waiting, so many caretakers came by to share their sadness at losing “Miss Betty”. They said she was truly a shining star there. When the funeral home administrator arrived, we said goodbye to mom and each other, and I found myself at a loss. What to do? My sisters told me not to come to NC yet. I let my kids know their sweet grandma was no longer with us. My older daughter wanted me to come spend the night with her, and my Charlotte kids wanted to come up, but honestly, I just wanted to be alone with my memories. I know Mom now has all her faculties about her in heaven…  she is healed and her memories are all there. Plus she is celebrating with her momma and her sister, who she adored. Probably filling my dad’s ear a bit as well!

I did spend Sunday in Richmond with my older daughter, son-in-law, and my sweet grandson… the circle of life. He was just a perfect angel and healed my heart in so many ways. Then Monday, I went to Charlotte to spend time with my younger daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. And Tuesday, I finally headed to Winston-Salem. Met a special friend for breakfast, and before meeting my sisters, I went out to visit my dad’s gravesite. I had not been there in a while and wanted to feel his presence. My parents had a deal that my dad would raise the boys and my mom would raise the girls. Hence, the reason I always refer to my mom as the one who raised us. Hard to believe it has been over 20 years since we lost our dad. And now, we have lost our sweet momma, which means we have no living parents. Such a feeling of loss…

“That feeling of “I want my Mom” has no age limit, no time limit, and no distance limit.”

My sisters and I, and of course my wonderful brother-in-law, cleaned out mom’s room. We each took some special things to remember mom by, and decided to donate her recliner and most of her clothes to the residents there. Of course I got her Christmas sweaters! Once we finished, my sisters and I went out to the barn where my younger sister boards her horses. Due to the pandemic, we had yet to meet Dixie, her newest horse. It was such a beautiful February day that Tuesday, sunny and upper 60’s, and the views from the barn were gorgeous, not to mention the horses. I felt pretty brave and fed the horses, letting them eat right off my hand. Admittedly, I panicked a couple of times and dropped the carrots! We also went out to see my older sister’s new art studio in Reynolda Village, but first, we needed lunch. Village Tavern, at Reynolda, was our first choice and we were able to eat outside before walking over to my sister’s art studio. It was so good being with my sisters. We made some decisions about mom’s final arrangements. Thankfully, my older sister had taken care of making most of the plans a year earlier. We decided we would bury mom’s ashes Mother’s Day weekend with just our family in our church graveyard. So it was time for me to head back to Charlottesville. On the way out of town, my nephew’s wife called and asked me to come by and see them. Of course I would go! Hung a right in Kernersville and headed to High Point. So happy to see their smiling faces and get hugs from Jack and Izzie. I had not seen them since way before Christmas. As I once again headed home, I realized that since Sunday, I had seen everyone in my family, all the people I love most in this world. My momma would have loved that. She was all about family. She loved her family fiercely and we loved her back. 

“A Mother’s Prayer is that her children will love each other long after she is gone.” (This is my prayer too!)

Our mom also loved the beach – our family vacationed at the beach every summer. Many years at Surfside Beach. And when my kids were little, mom and I would often go to the beach mid week with the kids and the rest of the family would come down for the weekend. I treasure those times I had with mom. My kids love the beach as well. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So it only makes sense that my sisters and I had the funeral home save out part of her ashes that we will spread at the beach Father’s Day weekend when we have our annual sisters’ weekend. 

Mom also instilled a love of reading in her kids. She and my aunt would read book after book after book, especially on vacation at the beach. When all of my kids were with me at the beach last summer, I looked down our line of beach chairs and noticed everyone was reading. I was a proud and happy momma! 

“Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.”

Our mom was a woman of many talents and a very hard worker. She always worked several jobs. She transcribed and typed (yes on a manual typewriter!) medical reports for doctors (at home) when we were little, was a successful realtor, and was a personal secretary to a lady of society. She had great administrative, organizational, and creative skills

And she was not only a great cook but a very skilled baker. I didn’t actually get that skill to the degree mom had. I remember one time I had baked a cake for our cousin who lost her dad. Mom stopped by my house, took a look at my cake, and asked if I had made a chocolate cake. Uh no, it was a lemon pound cake (perhaps a bit overbaked?). She went home and made another one for me to take. Bless her. And as a seamstress? Mom was just the best! We always had a new outfit (made by mom) for Easter, Christmas, our birthday, and always before we went on vacation. And our Easter and Christmas outfits included new patent leather shoes (always black because you can not wear white before Memorial Day!) and a pocketbook. Not a purse, a pocketbook. I remember one year Mom painted little wooden pocketbooks for us.

“Behind all your stories is your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.” Mitch Albom

Mom loved our church, New Philadelphia Moravian, and her church family. She loved her Sunday School class and her Circle. She was a diener (served at Moravian Lovefeasts) and served on the boards of the church. She sat on “our pew” every Sunday until her health would no longer permit it. Mom had many church friends, work friends, and neighbor friends. She was kind and gracious and fun.  

“A mother is someone who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”

We celebrated Mom’s life last weekend, as we had decided on Mother’s Day weekend, hoping that we would all be vaccinated by then (we were) and the weather would be nice (it was).  My sisters and I placed mom’s ashes (half of them) in her gravesite Friday morning with some white roses. Her beautiful headstone had already been placed at the head of her site. And Saturday, all the people mom loved the most (still living), her daughters, son-in-law, grandchildren and their spouses, her great grandchildren, and her sister’s children met at God’s Acre at New Philadelphia Moravian for her graveside service. It was beautiful. The Moravian band played, our minister spoke encouraging words to us, and our church’s special flutist played “How Great Thou Art,”  “Amazing Grace,” and  “In the Garden.” We found an old church offertory envelope in Mom’s lockbox with the songs and “flute” written on the back. Mom’s wishes were carried out. My sisters and I, and all of Mom’s grandchildren spoke about how classy, loving, strong, and caring Mom was. And funny, even if she didn’t realize it. Lots of tears and laughter. When my son graduated from college and we had finished lunch at Top of the Hill, Mom asked our server for a roll. What? Yep… so as my older daughter said, life is too short, so have that roll after dinner. 

Mom would have loved the service and our wonderful lunch afterwards at my older sister’s house. We all knew that Mom, my Aunt Jewelle, and my Grandmother were smiling down at “their people.” We were all together having Mom’s favorite foods. And my older sister even made mom’s lemon pound cake, perfectly I might add. She got mom’s cooking, baking, decorating, and entertaining skills. I got mom’s mothering skills. My younger sister got mom’s hard work ethic – she has always been such a hard worker and loves to work in the yard, like mom. 

“A mom is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend.”

I left my sister’s house with my Charlotte kids to spend the rest of the weekend with them. Got to meet the newest member of our family, Cooper, a black lab puppy. Also spent time with sweet Ruby, my younger daughter’s rescue. Oh and of course my kids. It was a wonderful, yet bittersweet Mother’s Day for me. Best part was spending time with all of my kids, my grandson, and the rest of my family. That and the letters from each of my kids that they handwrite to me for Mother’s Day each year. I cherish and save these. Added 3 more to the collection. My favorite gifts. 

So what’s next? On our sister’s weekend in June, we will say our final farewell to mom as we spread the remainder of her ashes at the beach. She loved the beach as much as we do. I am so thankful for my sisters and brother-in-law and the relationships we share. I am also blessed to have the greatest kids in the world. And their friends… my son’s “2013 Carolina Crew” friends blessed me with beautiful flowers. What thoughtful kids!

2013 Carolina Crew – my son’s college friends sent these to me…

This past year, COVID robbed us of precious in-person time with mom. Over the years, my sisters and I celebrated Mom’s birthday in many ways … in Chapel Hill the year my older daughter was a freshman. A trip to NYC one year. A cruise another year. Many at the beach. For her 80th we had an open house at our church, and for her 90th we had all of our family plus my cousins at her assisted living. And of course for her 91st, thanks to the pandemic, my sisters and I stood out in the rain, singing Happy Birthday while watching her through a window blow out the candles on her cake. That was the last birthday we will celebrate with our sweet momma. It was a year since I was able to hug my mom. That’s a long time. No matter our age, we all need and want our mothers. They gave birth to us, raised us, supported us, loved us unconditionally. And they will always be with us, in our memories, in our hearts, and when we look at our children and grandchildren. So here’s to you mom, you were the BEST!  

“A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.”

If you are lucky enough to still have your parents, spend as much time, in any form or fashion, as you can with them. Call them and listen to them. Because that day will come when you have to say goodbye forever, and as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“And in my life, I’ve always loved her… And in my life, I’ve always cared… And in my life, I’ll always need her… The mom I know, I love so well…”  – Earth, Wind & Fire 1972

Take care y’all,

Best,

Leslie

PS – My older sister read this poem at the end of Mom’s service:

“You can shed tears that she is gone,

Or you can smile because she has lived. 

You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back, 

or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her, or you can be full of love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and life yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. 

You can remember her only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. 

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what she’d want: Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On.”

David Harkins

“Bye Bye Baby, Baby Bye Bye” Four Seasons 1969

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

Well Happy New Year y’all! And Welcome 2021. Did you party hard or did you welcome the new year in a quiet way? I chose the quiet way and loved every minute of it! So… did you make any New Year’s Resolutions and if so, have they fallen by the wayside yet? For the past several years I have kept my resolutions – first, I said I wanted to see my kids more often, which I have done. Then last year I said I would not let anything (or anyone) steal my joy, and I was pretty successful with that one as well in spite of the pandemic. And this year? This year I plan to let go of, and not fret over, the things I cannot control. And trust me, I am a control freak, so this is a major task, but one I plan to conquer. And I don’t know about y’all, but now that Christmas is over, I am ready for SUMMER! Ok, maybe one big snow, but then summer can’t get here fast enough for this girl!

Happy New Year!

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”  – Alan Cohen  

I hope your Christmas was special, even if it was a bit different from other years. I have to admit, this one was pretty good for me. I had my kids here, even the newlyweds! As there was no in-person church on Christmas Eve, we stepped back into our Moravian shoes and celebrated the Moravian Christmas Eve Candlelight Lovefeast from my sofa as it was live-streamed. We had all the fixings – Moravian Buns I had bought while in Winston-Salem, coffee (though my daughter-in-law and I had Chai Lattes), and of course I had Moravian candles from years past (I can never get rid of those!). Even had an old program. All set! Love my kids for appeasing their momma’s desire to be a Moravian on Christmas Eve!

“After almost a year of listening to people talk with a mask on I finally understand what Charlie Brown’s teacher was saying.”

I cherished the time I got to spend with my kids – we worked on a great puzzle depicting Charlie Brown’s Christmas, which has a special meaning for my kids from their childhood, and watched movies. We even made a visit to Old House Vineyards – the site of my older daughter and son-in-law’s wedding in 2015. This beautiful vineyard has changed in the last 5 years… it now boasts not only a wonderful winery, but also a brewery, and a distillery. We reserved a spot by the fireplace – loveseat and chairs around a table – shared wine and lunch and gave an outside “wedding” tour to my new daughter-in-law. Even found the Love Lock my daughter and son-in-law locked on the pier during their wedding. What a fun day! 

“The most important time is family time.”

But that night after dinner my older daughter called and told me to STOP DRINKING! Well, I only had a couple glasses of wine in the afternoon at the winery, but why stop? She thought she might be in labor… but like all first time moms, did not know for sure. I remember that feeling – we almost waited too long to head to the hospital when she was born! Their doctor sent them to the hospital for a labor check and at 11:30 Saturday night my son-in-law texted to say it was REAL. Ok folks, the Baby Plan was put into action 8 days early! I grabbed my bag and headed to their house to stay with my granddawg so the soon-to-be parents would not worry about their fur baby. I became her person. She knew something was happening and stuck to me like glue (dog hair and all) and I loved it. And at 4:20 Sunday morning, Chase Michael Boland entered this crazy world and I became a Grandmother. A role I have anticipated for a long time. I could not wait for them to come home (they couldn’t either!). No one was allowed at the hospital except my son-in-law. Darn the pandemic!

“The littlest feet make the biggest footprints in our hearts.”

My Charlotte kids stayed and worked from my house an extra day so they could come to Richmond to meet their nephew when he came home Monday afternoon. What a joyous occasion!  Y’all, a new man has stolen this SOLO’s heart… finally! Yep! And he’s adorable and loves to snuggle! As a matter of fact, on my last visit with him I held him for 5 hours. I am tearing up the road to Richmond as often as I can as I just cannot get enough of being with my new grandson. I am over the moon! And the feelings are like no other… just like my grandmother friends have shared with me. You truly cannot imagine it until you experience it. Best late Christmas present ever!

“Something magical happens when parents turn into Grandparents…”

Today marks a new day in our country. I am praying for peace and unity, as well as an end to this pandemic, and a return to a life that will be better than before the pandemic. Maybe we will look at life differently. We’ve all lost something this past year – people, jobs, opportunities… but maybe, just maybe, we have gained something too. An appreciation for things we took for granted.  A desire to lead a slower life. A learning to adapt. An awareness of what is truly important in our lives. And maybe, just maybe, 2021 will lead us to a meaningful life full of health, wealth, peace, love, and hugs. 

“I urge you to be PEACEMAKERS. To love PEACE. To seek PEACE. To cherish PEACE. To create PEACE.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

And with the new year comes a new chapter. And for me, that new chapter is filled with my new grandson. This also brings an end to a wonderful chapter in my life – this blog. This blog has served its purpose for me. I was able to pour out the pain of finding myself SOLO after 35+ years of marriage, share the road to finding myself and a new life on my own, as well as the joys of being SOLO. Along the way I hope I have helped others see that when life throws you a curveball, you not only can survive, but thrive. Thank you for sharing your time, support, and comments with me over these past 4 years. Please keep in touch – email me at leslieholcomb20@gmail.com or find me on facebook. I love to hear from you! 

“So Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye,  Bye Bye Baby don’t make me cry…” Frankie Valli

And remember y’all, we need to make the most of each and every day of 2021, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Your future needs you, your past doesn’t.”

Best,

Leslie

PS – Today is our 59th Inauguration Day… wonder why Inaugurations are always on January 20th? Well… the 20th Amendment states ‘The terms of president and vice president shall end at noon on the 20th of January.’  Lots of “20’s”! By the way, my favorite number is 20 (probably because of my birthday!)

“The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of PEACEMAKER.” – Richard Nixon

Peace Out y’all!

“We Need A Little Christmas” From the Broadway Musical Mame, performed by Angela Lansbury 1966 (also performed by the Muppets!)

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

It’s almost time to say farewell to 2020. Adiós. Au Revoir. Sayonara. Ciao. My birthday and Thanksgiving have come and gone and here comes Christmas in just 2 days! I think this year “We Need a Little Christmas” more than ever and we needed it earlier than ever. Yes, my tree has been up since the day after my birthday when my daughter and son-in-law came with their truck to help me get my tree. I always put my tree up early, but this year was a bit earlier. Felt right.

Oh Christmas Tree….

“Don’t you love it when the Christmas tree is the only light in the room??”

Did I mention that my daughter and son-in-law were not in Charlottesville for my birthday, but because we were having a drop-in BABY SHOWER for my older daughter? Yes y’all, I am going to be a Grandmother any day now! I have known since early July when my granddawg pranced in my front door wearing the cutest pink scarf that said “Big Sister.” I looked at my daughter and said, “are y’all getting another dog?!” “Nope,” she replied! I immediately got the message, screamed, and hugged the soon-to-be parents! What a happy (grand) Momma I was (and am!). But I was sworn to secrecy for months. Now, I am finally able to share that Chase Michael Boland will join our family the first of January (if not before!). A dear friend gave me an ornament that says “On the very day a baby is born, so is a Grandmother” and friends, that is going to be ME!  Oh my word, I had to keep this secret for months. Proof that I can keep a secret! 

“Grandparenting is the stage in life when you finally understand the true meaning of the best is yet to come… because you’ve reached it.”

What a great way to finish celebrating my birthday – celebrating one of my favorite girls after a week of having other people make me feel so special. My coworkers decorated my office with streamers, signs, and birthday confetti – so nice to be able to celebrate a bit with them now that our work schedules keep us apart, just as our closed doors do (new Covid protocols). I also got to try out two delicious Charlottesville restaurants: The Ivy Inn with a friend, The Clifton with my daughter. We were celebrating both of our birthdays, hers on the 17th, mine the 20th. Brought her home from the hospital on my 30th birthday. Best birthday present – one that just keeps on giving! I cherish my birthday, even at 63, it is not a blessing all get to enjoy.

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey

I also took an online grandparent class… yes… the new parents signed me up! (Everything is online these days!) However, I am so glad I took the 2-hour class – I learned a lot! I mean, nothing is the same as when my kids were born – honestly, I do not even know how they are alive today seeing that they slept on their stomach and NEVER on their back which is totally taboo now. They had bumper pads, blankets, and stuffed animals in the crib which is also forbidden. And they only slept in our room for one night – we could not sleep since every peep they made we sat up thinking something was wrong. Nope. Now they are supposed to sleep in their parents’ room for months! Also, no rice cereal and applesauce as their first foods – it will probably be avocado. WHAT?!?! But the greatest thing I learned (or am trying to learn) is the new mantra – I will not offer my opinion unless asked! 

“A grandmother is like an angel who takes you under her wing. She prays and watches over you and she’d give you anything!”

In spite of Covid, I have tried to find any opportunity to bring the Christmas spirit into my life. I was able to take a private evening tour of Monticello which was decorated for the holidays, and where Mr. Jefferson made an appearance. I also enjoyed luminary night in my neighborhood. And I hosted my sisters and my kids for a weekend that included making Christmas wreaths (their Christmas gifts from me!). This was the third year for my younger daughter and me making Christmas wreaths at the Market at Grelen (a wonderful nursery and shop), second year for my younger sister, and first for my older sister, older daughter, and my sweet daughter-in-law. It was so much fun! All the greenery is fresh from the property. We even learned to make bows. Finally, my bow this year was worthy enough to remain on my wreath! Hoping this becomes an annual family event!

“Wreaths… Hung to fill our homes with holiday cheer, they’re made in circles with no beginning or end to symbolize the endless connection we have with family and dear friends.”

More family time was enjoyed last weekend as my sisters and I had our Annual Sisters Christmas Baking Day! We made lots of goodies – peanut butter balls, fudge, molasses cookies, lemon cookies, chocolate/raspberry squares, chocolate pecan clusters, peanut brittle, and sugared pecans. Many were Mom’s recipes. We laughed, we sang out loud, we had fun. (My brother-in-law hid downstairs until we called him up to take a picture!) Unfortunately, we could not bring Mom out to my sister’s to help bake, but we did take several trays of goodies to her caretakers and got to visit with her, masked and 6-feet apart, for 30 minutes. So hard to keep our distance when all we want to do is give her a hug and get that good mom hug in return. Only 2 of us were allowed in so my older sister and I went. It was my Christmas visit with mom… my sisters will go back on Christmas Day. 

“Family… where life begins and love never ends.”

So, as trying as 2020 has been, it has also been filled with blessings in my family. We added a beautiful daughter-in-law in October, AND… we will have a new addition to our family any day now! Last Christmas without a little person around! So much to be thankful for. Christmas is almost here… my kids are here… winter is here… we are gaining 1+ minutes of light every day… only 2 more days of Leslie’s 25 Days of Christmas Sweaters (see pictures below)… and I think we are all ready to move on to 2021. I wish for all y’all a wonderful, happy, and healthy Christmas season and a healthy and prosperous New Year. Make the most of these days because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Christmas Blessings from my family to yours…

See you next year friends! 

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” – Charles Dickens

Best,

Leslie

PS – 25 Days of Leslie’s Christmas Sweaters!

“Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” Tams 1968

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

OH the Tams! This is the song we chose for our Mother/Son dance at my son’s wedding last month. So appropriate, as this momma was so happy! Weekend could not have been better – perfect venue (Kiawah Island), perfect weather (sunny and upper 70’s), and the perfect couple. All that was missing were some close family members and treasured friends. But I can guarantee that the family and friends who were there enjoyed an amazing wedding weekend like no other! 

Covid prevented my “tribe” from attending the wedding, but only in person. They were all there in spirit (and watching via zoom!). And truly, as my son’s mother-in-law said, my prayer partners were successful – they had prayed for decent weather and good health for all those in attendance. Both prayers were answered – absolutely perfect weather and not a single case of COVID! Two of my dear girlfriends sent me off to the wedding with many special treasures: Willow Tree statue of Mother and Son, Mother of the Groom handkerchief and a carry-all bag, special tissues to “dry my happy tears”, wine (do they know me or what!), an ornament representing the three of us, and a very special heart bracelet which was the only jewelry I wore on my wrist for the wedding. I felt the love y’all!

My “MOG” gifts…

“My friends and family are my support system… Without them I have no idea where I would be.” – Kelly Clarkson

Fair warning – I am going to recount the weekend… be prepared! Plus an overload of pictures!

For safety’s sake, I quarantined at the beach before heading to the wedding. Plus Kiawah is only 2+ hours from my beach house so just a quick trip for the wedding. My older daughter and son-in-law also came down for a couple of pre-wedding days. We then met my younger daughter and my son in Kiawah on Thursday for lunch. The weather was so beautiful we were able to sit outside and enjoy the amazing views. We wanted a special remembrance from the weekend, so after lunch we headed to a cute candle-making shop to make some candles! We had a reservation, and were the only ones in the shop, so it truly was a family affair. There were 100+ scents to choose from and we had to pick 2, as well as our containers. None of us chose the same scents and all were appropriate for our personalities. Of course I chose Sea Foam and Charleston Harbor to get a fresh, beachy scent. While our candles were “setting” we met my sister and brother-in-law at a cute wine bar. Sat outside with a glass (or 2) of wine and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.

After my kids and I settled into our house Thursday afternoon, we picked up my sister and brother-in-law (who were staying nearby) and headed to my new daughter-in-law’s parents’ house for dinner. We were first treated to Sunset Cocktails on the beach and truly, it was the most gorgeous sunset I have ever seen. Ever. My son has talked about these sunsets and we were so lucky to have such a beautiful evening to be able to witness one. We enjoyed the sunset, mingled our families, and watched all of my daughter-in-law’s nieces and nephews (all part of the bridal party!) enjoy playing on the beach. Wonderful dinner, wonderful evening, wonderful families. And once we got back to our house, my son and I practiced our Mother/Son dance which we had planned and practiced during our family summer vacation. I wanted a really upbeat song and since we taught our kids how to shag (dance!) when they were little, it was only appropriate our dance should be shagging to a beach music song. And what better one than “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”!

“The most cherished moments happen when friends and family get together.”

We woke Friday to another beautiful day and went for a long walk around Kiawah in the morning before the Bridesmaids’ Luncheon at Cassique. Our views at Cassique were amazing, as was our lunch. And so much fun visiting with the women of my daughter-in-law’s family. The men were on the golf course during this time. My sweet brother-in-law, who had not played golf in many, many years, cleaned up his clubs, bought a couple new ones, took a few lessons, and played several rounds with friends so he would not embarrass himself (or us!) playing with the men. He succeeded and since he is now retired, has kept up his golf game! 

My sister, daughters, and I left the luncheon, picked up the flowers for the rehearsal dinner and headed to Osprey Point to decorate. Another beautiful venue in Kiawah. We placed all of our flowers and votive candles on the tables, the “One Day Away” napkins, plus the slide show of the couple from birth to present that would run through the rehearsal dinner and the Meet And Greet afterwards. We had just enough time to run home, change clothes, and make it to the Catholic Church for the rehearsal. 

Once we all practiced walking down the aisle (extent of my role!), bowing at the altar, speaking parts, prayers, blessings, etc., we found our way back to Osprey Point for a cocktail hour and the rehearsal dinner. I proudly gave my Mother of the Groom speech, officially welcoming my new daughter-in-law to our family. I included 3 pieces of advice: always remember why they fell in love, always cherish one another, and perform at least one act of kindness for each other every day. We then toasted the happy couple and my daughters had their turn to share some funny stories about their little brother and to say how happy they are to gain a sister. They shared that they were not thrilled with their brother’s choice when they first heard his date was due to a bet he lost because Villanova had beaten our beloved Tar Heels in the final seconds of the NCAA Basketball Championship… you see, the newest member of our family is a Villanova grad. However, the following year, the world righted itself when our beloved Tar Heels won the Championship! All kidding aside, once we all met Jenny, we immediately knew she was the one for our Michael. 

“Men are what their Mothers made them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

After our dinner, the event planners transformed the area for the Meet and Greet – a gathering for all of the wedding guests on the island. So fun to see my son’s friends! A great time was had by all, so much so that we had to tell everyone it was time to go at 11 pm!

When the kids and I got back to our house, we stayed up VERY late talking and laughing! Oh, and practicing one last time for the Mother/Son dance! And we woke up Saturday to the loveliest day for a wedding! My son and I dropped his car off at the Sanctuary Resort where they would spend their wedding night. My son-in-law then dropped my daughters and me at my daughter-in-law’s house where we would get ready, and he and my son headed to The River Course, which has the most unbelievable men’s locker room, where the men were gathering to celebrate pre-wedding. I had so much fun being with all the girls and the flower girls having my hair and makeup done by professionals. And being able to see my beautiful daughter-in-law in her stunning wedding dress meant so much to me. It was such a special morning, and just a preview to a special and beautiful day. 

“Where there is love there is life.” Mahatma Gandhi

We arrived at the church and my very handsome son walked me down the aisle to my front row seat where my sister and brother-in-law were waiting for me. I told him I had an extra tissue (thanks to my girlfriends) if he needed one, but he said he thought he would be ok. Me too! I was so happy that tears would not be a problem. The bridal procession came down the aisle, such beautiful girls (2 of them mine!) and handsome men. The couple decided to have all family – 4 sisters, 3 brothers-in-law,1 brother, plus each of them had their best friend. A perfect bridal party that they will forever be close to. Oh and the precious nieces and nephew who were not only adorable but so well behaved. They made their parents proud. Speaking of proud, I could not have been happier or more proud of the man my son had become. And when he saw his beautiful bride come down the aisle, he had tears in his eyes, and such love that my heart was full. So many guests commented on the love and happiness that these two so obviously share. The Deacon who married them said that their goal in life as a couple is to get each other to heaven. What a beautiful goal. Once he pronounced them Mr. and Mrs. Madigan, and they shared that big wedding kiss, they celebrated all the way down the aisle. My son-in-law escorted my daughter out and then returned to escort me. What a beautiful and meaningful wedding ceremony.

“Marriage is the golden ring in a chain whose beginning is a glance and whose ending is eternity.”

But now it was PARTY TIME! Well, Party #1. Since it was a Catholic wedding, it was held at 2 pm, but the reception would not begin until 5, so there was a Garden Party at yet another beautiful Kiawah venue – Kiawah River. (See the pattern here? Honestly, all the venues on Kiawah are gorgeous!) The sun was shining and a gentle breeze was blowing. The trees were huge and loaded with spanish moss and wooden swings. Tables were spaced around, waiters served hors d’oeuvres, wine flowed, cornhole was played, people were swinging (including me!), and a wonderful band entertained us. And the weather was absolutely perfect, as were the views. Perfect time to visit and enjoy each other. And then it was time to head to Party #2…

“Once in a while in the middle of an ordinary life love gives us a fairy tale…”

Party #2 was at, yes, another beautiful Kiawah venue – The River Course. Cocktails were served on a beautiful porch overlooking the golf course. The band and dance floor were set up outside under lights strung overhead. Before dinner the bride’s father gave a wonderful and heartfelt speech which led to the Bride and Groom’s first dance, then the Bride and her Father’s dance, and lastly, the Groom and his Proud Momma’s dance to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”. And dance we did!

“Your son will hold your hand only for a little while, but he will hold your heart for a lifetime.”

Dinner was served inside at tables with the most beautiful settings and floral arrangements. As I said, due to COVID, the dance floor and band were shuffled outside under lights which was much more fun. Dancing in the moonlight! And dance we did to the Atlanta Showstoppers who were amazing. My younger daughter and I went out on the dance floor for the first song and did not leave for 3 solid hours. Song after song after song – all great dancing songs. No slow songs. Just upbeat, fun songs that kept people on the dance floor all night. Needless to say, my feet were killing me Sunday morning!

“Our family is a circle of strength and love. With every birth and every union, the circle will grow, every joy shared adds more love, every crisis faced together, makes the circle stronger.”

And yes, Sunday we woke up to another beautiful morning. A going away brunch was held at the Ocean Course, which was on the beach and gorgeous. Luckily, I was now in tennis shoes, not heels, which made my tired old dogs happy! We enjoyed a wonderful brunch and got to visit with the newlyweds before saying goodbye. It was the most amazing weekend and I was on a happy high (still am!). My younger daughter and I said goodbye to Kiawah and headed to my beach house to quarantine and catch up on some much needed sleep. Oh and have seafood and enjoy the beach. 

“Heaven does seem a little closer when you’re sitting by the ocean.”

Then it was back to the real world and month end at work. But my heart was (still is) full. A mother can not ask for more for her son than for him to find the girl of his dreams and marry her. And for that girl to be beautiful inside as well as outside, and fit in with our family so easily. As the Deacon who married them said in his homily, their purpose in life is to get each other to heaven. They will succeed. 

“Two amazing women can love the same incredible man in completely different ways. One is his wife, the other is his mother.”

On a separate note, I want to commend my daughter-in-law’s family and the wedding planner who thought of everything, down to a change of shirt for my son at the reception! We had such a fun, wonderful, weekend joining our two families. Thank you to the good Lord for blessing us with perfect weather and good health for all. It has now been almost a month, and we are all still smiling and talking about how wonderful and beautiful this wedding was. 

“Sometimes I just look up, smile and say, ‘I know that was you, God! Thanks!’”

On my way to the beach before the wedding, I stopped in to see my sweet momma in person for the first time since February. We were limited to 2 visitors, so my older sister went too (younger sister was working). It felt so good to be close to her, yet so sad not to be able to hug her. Not sure who was happier to see who! We were masked and kept our distance, but I did share pictures of her on my phone I had uploaded from my picture sorting (remember last blog?). When we took a picture together before leaving, her sweet caretaker told her she had to put her mask up over her nose, not down around her chin. To which she responded, “what mask?” ”Well Momma, the one that has been keeping your chin warm!” Made us sad that Mom would not be going to my son’s wedding, but for many reasons, that possibility was out of the question. Besides, in her mind he is still in elementary school! I’ll share pictures with her on my next visit to see her. I also left her with some more good news…. But that will have to wait until next blog!

First in person visit with our Momma!

I know these times are very trying and many will not be able to share the holidays with family this year. As I have learned, “there is always, always, always something to be thankful for”. I hope you are able to find something to be thankful for as we celebrate Thanksgiving next week. Make the most of each and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow. 

“Well, it’s the same old story all over the world…
Girl meets boy, and boy meets girl…
So be young, be foolish, but be happy…
Live your life for today, for today…
Life is too short to worry about unimportant things…
Reach for the sky, touch your star, and then you find your dream, find your dream…
So be young, be foolish, but be happy…” –  THE TAMS!

Best,

Leslie

PS – Guess what y’all! This Friday, November 20th, is my birthday! Yep, I’ll be 63. Not sure how I am 63, but I am celebrating it all week! Also, some other special people were born on November 20th… Ethel Butcher (special lady I have known all my life!), Dierks Bentley (country music singer who was on Jimmy Fallon last night!), and our President Elect, Joe Biden!  Happy Birthday all!

“Dancing in the Moonlight…” King Harvest 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Can you do less than nothing? According to my Grandmother Isabelle, yes, you can. And basically, I did exactly that this past rainy, gloomy, chilly, stay indoors Saturday. Well, except for watching Carolina football WIN and finishing a project that took me over a week to complete. What project? Organizing and sorting all of my photographs that have been stored in large storage bins for YEARS, just waiting to be placed into photo albums. MANY large bins. And they will never see the inside of a photo album! Any of y’all have photos that never made it into photo albums even though you had good intentions? Thankfully, my million and one photos are now organized into those same bins but separated by each of my 3 children, family pictures, extended family, friends, and Leslie’s special pics. Yep that’s 7 bins people! Almost rivals my Christmas decorations! Of course I had a huge impetus to accomplish this major feat – I needed photographs of my son’s life for a special slide show that will run during the rehearsal dinner and the Meet & Greet at his WEDDING NEXT WEEKEND!

“Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future. – Sally Mann

That’s right! Wedding is just 10 days away y’all! I cannot wait! What seemed to be so far in the future is now right around the corner. And due to the pandemic, the number of guests attending the wedding is smaller than originally planned, which actually works out for social distancing and the limitations on the number of people allowed in the venues for the wedding and the celebrations that follow. Luckily, many events will be outside, making for even safer gatherings. And I am so excited that we’ll be “Dancing in the Moonlight,” as the band and dancefloor are being set up outside. It is going to be such a fun and beautiful wedding! I’ll share pictures next month. (more pictures to sort!)

“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” – The Book of Tea

Well here we are, 7 months into our new COVID way of life. Seems we are settling into a routine of mask-wearing and social distancing. It is now second nature to put that mask on. And to keep a safe distance from others. Even for me, a big hugger, sadly, hugging is no longer my first response. Learned behavior. Might as well accept that we’ll still be wearing these lovely masks into 2021. This time last year, who would have thought we’d be in the midst of a pandemic in October? Even this past March, we were so thankful that the wedding was not until October – I mean, surely this pandemic would be over by October! Nope… still here. And who would have thought that we’d be missing college football games (though my kids randomly got tickets last Saturday) and tailgating? Not me! This time last year I was tailgating with my kids in Chapel Hill before a football game, then headed to Kiawah Island with my sisters to begin the rehearsal dinner planning for my son’s wedding. Now, a year later, all plans for the rehearsal dinner have been finalized. Menu, table seating, decorations, and slide show photos! I cannot wait to welcome my new daughter-in-law into our family formally. I could not have picked a more perfect girl for my son if I picked her myself. I am one blessed momma!

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one can take.” – Cardinal Mermillod

Speaking of mommas…. I FINALLY get to see my sweet momma in person tomorrow. I can’t hug her and we will have to wear a mask, but I get to see her in person. I cannot wait. Part of organizing my photographs included separating out all the pictures of my momma – those of her alone, with my sisters and me, and with all of her grandchildren. Brought back so many memories and made me miss her even more. Same for my sisters when I texted pictures to them. We are so lucky and thankful to still have our sweet mother with us.

I stopped to reminisce about so many happy times throughout the whole process of organizing my photos. Actually took pictures of photos on my phone and texted them to my kids and sisters. Ask any of them and they will tell you that I flat out take A LOT of pictures. I always tell them that one day they will thank me, and after going through these pictures, they truly will thank me. It was a long, arduous, emotional, but very fun project. And the photos I pulled of my sweet son? Priceless! Only problem I had was paring down the number of photos of him from 1000 to 950! Next project? What to do with all the pictures on my phone! 

“I love those random memories that make me smile no matter what is going on in my life right now.”

It’s Fall Y’all… just like my front porch pillow states. I have finally accepted this fact (like I had a choice). Got my annual pumpkins – one grey ghost and one bumpy, my mums, and my fall wreath, but I am still lamenting the end of summer. All in all, it was a really good summer for me. Even spent a late September weekend with my older daughter and son-in-law at the beach, where I am heading tomorrow to quarantine until the wedding. Hoping for some summerlike days over these next 2 weeks. The call of the beach is very real for me!

 “Notice how the trees do not cling to their leaves. Fall is about releasing the old to make room for the new.”

Cannot end without reminding all y’all to vote. I voted early and in person. Piece of cake. Ten minutes from the time I parked my car until I got back into my car. I don’t care who you vote for (well….) but if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about anything. This is the most important election of my voting life and I am proud to have my “I VOTED”  sticker! Make yourself proud too.

VOTE!

“The vote is precious. It is the most powerful, non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.” – John Lewis

Next month I’ll have so much to share with you, especially the details of my son’s wedding! And pictures of us “Dancin’ in the moonlight…Everybody’s feeling warm and bright…It is such a fine and natural sight…Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight.” I plan to totally stay in the moment these next 2 weeks, be thankful for all the blessings in my life, cast my worries aside (hardest one for me!), and enjoy every experience and all the time spent with those I love. I hope you too are able to stay in the moment these days and enjoy all the little (and big) things life presents to you daily, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Keep Calm! I’m the Mother of the Groom!”

Best,

Leslie

PS… Did you know that today, October 14th, is National DESSERT Day? No joke! No excuse needed today to have dessert before your meal. And by the way, tomorrow, October 15th is Global Handwashing Day – how appropriate is that?!?

“O-o-h Child… Things are gonna get easier…” The Five Stairsteps 1970

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

It has now been over 6 months since COVID appeared on the scene and changed the way we live our lives, meaning it has now been over 6 months since my sisters and I have seen our mom in person. But that didn’t stop us from celebrating her 91st birthday on a very rainy day last week. Senior assisted living facilities are closed to all visitors, but we delivered balloons, a cake, napkins, party favors, and of COURSE a birthday tiara to Mom’s facility, then sloshed around in the pouring rain to the windows of the dining hall where the residents had gathered to celebrate. Imagine the three of us huddled under an umbrella singing “Happy Birthday” at the top of our lungs! The sweet caretakers had mom right at the window so she could see us, and bless her heart, she kept telling us to get out of the rain! Maternal advice. She could not understand why we were outside, in the rain, but she sure was glad to see us. We were so glad to see her too. Tears slipped out of her eyes which set us all to crying. But we also laughed a lot too. Mostly because my sister accidentally put trick candles on mom’s cake, so they kept relighting when she’d try to blow them out! Finally the caretaker took them off and handed them out the window to us so their smoke alarm would not go off! 

“In a world full of chaos, remind yourself that there are still things going right in your life. What can you be grateful for right now?”

How are y’all doing? Any big changes or is life moving along as it was a month ago? Life is about the same for me. Just hoping “things are gonna get easier...” We are slowly finding our way back… very slowly. Our fitness clubs have reopened, with reduced hours and reduced members. Restaurants have reopened with outdoor dining and limited indoor dining. Some churches in VA have opened with social distancing, but in NC, churches are still online. Most schools are still dealing with online learning. Mask wearing has become second nature. Thank the good Lord sports have come back, though for how long is anyone’s guess. 

“Only when normal things are not normal anymore do we realize how special normal things are.”

Carolina held its first football game with no spectators. Only parents of senior players. I mean, seriously? Parents not allowed to watch their kid play in person? In an outdoor stadium that holds 51,000 spectators, parents could not socially distance themselves? Worse than that, in Winston-Salem, ESPN Game Day was at Wake Forest as they welcomed Clemson for their season opener. Again, parents were NOT allowed in the game. There was a kid from my high school (West Forsyth!) who was waiting for that game – he plays for Clemson and wanted his family and friends in Winston-Salem to see him play. Nope. Didn’t happen. As a parent who attended all my kids’ games, I cannot imagine parents of college athletes not being allowed in to see their kids play! 

Since we were not even allowed to tailgate in Chapel Hill, I went to my daughter and son-in-law’s house to tailgate in their UNC Shrine, aka my son-in-law’s Man Cave. We were all decked out in our Carolina football attire, even my granddawg. And we had our normal tailgate food, except we substituted barbeque for burgers at half time (game was at noon). Their large TV with surround sound almost made it feel as if we were there. Well, kinda. Every first down when the announcer said the normal “First Down TAR…”  we followed with “HEELS”! We got to do that a lot! Thankfully. Carolina won. Unfortunately for my friends in Charlottesville, UVA’s first game was cancelled due to a COVID outbreak on their opponent’s team, Virginia Tech. So odd for those rivals to be slated against each other in the first game of the season. Rescheduled for later in the season.

“Delays are just the beginning of grand adventures.” – Kathy Carlton Willis

Counting down to my son’s wedding… only 5 weeks out! My older sister and I made a trip to Kiawah recently to finalize plans for the rehearsal dinner. Due to COVID, some of our plans have to be changed. We’ll be spacing people out, and having servers instead of serve yourself stations. Still… it will be wonderful! I cannot wait! My daughters, younger sister, and I also recently went to a very special bridal shower for my sweet, beautiful future daughter-in-law. It was very safe – outside, socially distanced, masked (except for a picture), food was in individual packaging, and it was so much fun! Her sister had reached out to my son to answer many questions for the game “The Nearly Wed Game” and we all enjoyed his responses, proving that he and my soon to be daughter-in-law know each other very well! We are so thankful this wonderful girl will be joining our family.    

“Looking forward to something and counting the days one by one brings out happiness that cannot be measured by words.” – Aasifa Hameed

What have you learned from this thing called Covid? I have learned that I am now an introverted extrovert or extroverted introvert. Meaning that I kinda like being by myself! Don’t get me wrong, I love going out with friends and being with my family, but honestly, I also enjoy being by myself – working from home or at the beach. Life has been slower and simpler, but I’ve also learned that there are blessings in every situation. Was reminded of that recently when catching up with an “old” friend who surprised me with a visit while passing through Charlottesville. If I were not where I am today I would not have spent as much time as I have at the beach, would not have spent as much time with my kids, family, and friends, would not be having all of these fun experiences, and would not be visiting wineries. Speaking of which, that is one area I have ventured out to. Always outdoors, always masked until seated. My wine buddy (my younger daughter) came up for Labor Day weekend and we ventured out to 4 wineries – all with outside tables. So great having my wine buddy back with me. 

“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” – Dave Hollis

Cannot end without acknowledging that women lost a true advocate this week when Ruth Bader Ginsburg lost her courageous battle with cancer. Though small in stature, she was a powerful woman who fought for equality for all people until the bitter end. If you have not seen the documentary “RBG” or the film “On the Basis of Sex”, I highly recommend you make the time to watch both. Have to admit, I was not aware of total realm of RBG’s influence on so many things I take for granted until several years ago. I wish I had been aware much earlier. As Maria Shriver said, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to make life equitable, just, and fair until her dying day. She was 87 and still suiting up every day. She always had something to give and to say, and she never stopped trying. She used her voice every single day on behalf of what she believed to be right.” What an example to follow…

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turnout to be great, good fortune.” – RBG

What can you do to make life better not only for yourself, but for others? Go out and make each and every day a good day. Be accepting, be understanding, but most of all be kind. Be grateful for each day because none of us is promised tomorrow.

“O-o-child, Things’ll get brighter…”

Best,

Leslie

Fall has arrived…

PS – So… It’s FALL y’all! Yesterday at 9:30 am, the Autumnal Equinox, otherwise known as the first day of fall, arrived. The start of fall is determined by the exact time the sun is above the equator. I know many of you are happy about the arrival of fall… but I am not yet ready to say goodbye to summer!

“HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME” Sly and the Family Stone 1970

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

My Happy Place!

One Friday evening in July, I found myself sitting on top of the refrigerator in my kitchen at the beach with a drill in my hand, looking around at a bunch of cabinets without doors, wondering how I got there… and how I would get down! Has quarantine been getting to anyone else? How are you dealing with it?

Y’all know I have been spending more time at the beach this summer. Well, while I was down there last month, I decided a face lift was in order. NOT ME, y’all (though I could probably use one!) My beach kitchen. I have been talking about it for a while and finally decided the time was right. My niece suggested painting my upper cabinets white, and then using a splash of beachy color for the lower ones, so I took her advice. Started one Friday evening, taping out my kitchen, washing my cabinets down, sanding, cleaning again, and then using an old drill I discovered in my storage area (should have brought the one I got for Mother’s Day) to remove all the cabinet doors. (Very proud of myself for figuring out how this relic worked!) That’s how I wound up sitting on top of my fridge removing cabinet doors, thinking to myself that I might not be in the safest spot, but hey, it had to be done! As one of my beach neighbors told me earlier in the summer, I have had to man up to take care of things by myself.

Saturday morning I started painting cabinet doors out on my porch, where it was so HOT the paint dried in half the time. Got 2 coats on both sides of the cabinet doors and by Sunday morning I was pulling up all the painting tape and reattaching the doors. My sister had offered to come help me but I was able to do it ALL BY MYSELF. Proudly. However, I did wait until my son-in-law arrived to put all the new hardware on the doors and drawers and install a new light fixture. (Sometimes I realize my limitations!) It has completely changed the whole look of the kitchen, making it brighter, lighter, and updated. Nothing like a fresh new look to boost your spirit. Just what the “covid doctor” ordered.

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean

And nothing like family to lift your spirits, especially at the beach! My kids came down for our family beach trip and loved the new kitchen! And loved being together. Me too. And then there was the Holcomb beach weekend with my sisters, my nephew and his sweet family. Lots of family time, which I loved. We celebrated sweet Jack and Izzie’s birthdays, as Jack is turning four TODAY, and sweet Izzie’s birthday party was cancelled back in March. My younger sister’s birthday gift to Jack was the hit of the beach – an actual excavator which Jack used to move sand for his sand castles. Along with his dump truck. We had beautiful weather and lots of time on the beach. Izzie was a bit unsure of the beach, but warmed up quickly. Jack loved everything about the beach – the sand, the ocean, the frozen lemonade cart, and the starfish he caught with the fishing net I got him (and released back to the ocean)! I bet he’s the only 4-year-old who can identify the state shell of SC (the olive) or an augur, both of my favorite shells. Wonder where he learned that?!? My patient brother-in-law taught Jack how to fish on the beach – even if the fishing rod was 2+ times the size of Jack. As my sisters said, we love our family, and we are so blessed. 

“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” – Leo Christopher

HOT HOTTER HOTTEST! That describes this summer’s weather and I have loved every hot minute of it! This past weekend was the exception up here, though. Saturday was cold, rainy and dreary – it was 70 degrees, y’all! Cold. After a morning cycle class, I spent the rest of my day in my “day jammies”, doing, as my mother would say, “less than nothing”. We all need a day like that every now and then. I know many of you are looking forward to fall’s arrival, especially after getting a taste of it last weekend, but don’t count me in that group. I don’t want my summer to end…

“Time is precious, waste it wisely.”

So how are y’all? I believe everyone is ready to view COVID19 in the rear view mirror, though it doesn’t look like that will be happening any time soon. Mask wearing and constant hand washing have become second nature. UNC tried in-person classes, but that only lasted a week. I feel for college students, and high school students, heck, all students (and their parents!). This is not what anyone envisioned life would be. I have ventured out a bit, always with my mask. But I am tired. Tired of wearing that mask. Tired of no hugs. Tired of not seeing my mom. Tired of not being in my normal routine. Tired of just worrying about COVID – possibly getting it and the long term effects of it. Ok, enough whining. But we all need to “wine” every now and then, right?!?! Decided I needed to “wine” some more on Sunday, so I ventured out (masked) to a couple of wineries. Wine tastings COVID-style (see pictures below) are definitely different. Knowing most wineries do not offer glassware, I took my own. And I was the envy of the other guests. 

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”  Groucho Marx

It may not seem like it right now, but we are all blessed in one way or another. We are here. We woke up today, even if we didn’t change out of our PJs. These tough times will pass, and even if life does not return to the way it was, I truly believe it will be better. Find what makes you feel blessed, or find something that gives you a boost (a face lift, maybe? haha!) and concentrate on that every day. Don’t throw these days away, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow. 

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”  Bill Watterson

Best,

Leslie

PS – HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY JACK! And happy WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY DAY – created for photographers to “share their world with the world” which is why I included so many pictures from my world today! Enjoy!

Southern Speak…

(REPOSTING FROM AUGUST 2, 2017!!  AN OLDIE BUT GOODIE! ENJOY! NEXT WEEK BRINGS A NEW BLOG!)

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY! With school starting in a few weeks, I thought it might be good to have a language lesson – get ready to learn how to speak (or understand) the language of the South!

Hey All Y’all!  That‘s Southern for “hello” to a group of more than 2 of “you guys” for my Northern friends. April 1,1997 (no fooling!) we moved our family from Clemmons, NC to Charlottesville, VA, where we landed in a wonderful cul-de-sac of families with children about the same ages as our kids. Our next door neighbors (remember the dear ones who moved to KY?) had children that were the exact ages and sex as our kids: Girl, Girl, Boy. Ironically, our boys were both named Michael and thus became “the Michaels”. I digress…back to our cul-de-sac. Not one family was from Virginia (or South of the Border). We were the only “Southern” family. The other families hailed from California, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania, and then there were the Madigans from North Carolina (proudly, I might add). I was very worried about us moving “up North” away from our family, friends, and roots, but we were welcomed so warmly you would have thought we were in NC! And our first “Hey Y’all!” was met with warm smiles. We were gonna be ok.

“Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is kinder or more beautiful than silence.”

It was a BIG adjustment for me moving from my hometown where I had lived all of my 39+ years, not to mention leaving all of my family and friends behind. I had to make this place in the upper hemisphere home for my family. We needed to fit in and find our way.

The kids and I started exploring Charlottesville and discovered Bodo’s Bagels. We had NEVER had a bagel – they were non-existent in NC when we left in 1997. NC had biscuits. Big biscuits. Lots of biscuits – Bojangles, Hardees, KFC. (By the way, also non-existent in the South back then: Field Hockey and Lacrosse. Had no clue what these sports were but signed the girls up to play. Learned on the fly.) Driving around town, I came across a familiar sight – a shoe store that I had loved in NC – Phil’s Shoes (precursor to Rack Room – remember this was in 1997), and when I told my neighbor that I found a Phil’s she kept saying “What? We have a Field’s here?!”  She was so excited! I guess Fields was some special Northern grocery store she loved and I kept saying “Phii—-il’s”…(multisyllables). I finally had to spell Phil’s for her to understand me! I never knew I had an “accent,” even though my godson from MD would say to his mom “Talk like Aunt Les,” until my neighbor could not understand what I was saying! Kinda like pen and pin, ten and tin… sounds the same to me.

“It’s not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”  Audre Lourde

I loved our new house up here and wanted to send pictures back “home” to my friends and family. After all, it was April and the previous owner had planted 1000 daffodils in the back of our house that were now blooming. I was on the other side of the lake behind our house when my neighbor yelled out to me – “What are you doing over there?”  To which I responded, “I am making a picture of the back of our house.”  “WHAT? Making a picture? With a camera? OH you are taking a picture!” I learned quickly that no longer will I MAKE pictures but will TAKE them!

We headed “over yonder” to the school to meet the teachers. We could walk to the elementary and middle schools, which my kids did daily. We also cut off the lights, cut off the TV, cut off the car… no one else did that! And we were always “fixin” to do something or go somewhere. “Hey, we’re fixin to go out to supper…wanna tag along?” “Supper” became “Dinner” up here.

That Christmas, Santa brought my son, then 6 years old, a UNC toboggan (among other things!). When our neighbors asked what he got for Christmas, he excitedly told them he got a new UNC toboggan and promptly pulled it out of his pocket and put it on – he was so proud of his toboggan and wanted to show it off. Yet everyone was looking around, confused. Where was his toboggan they asked? He told them it was right there on his HEAD! Yes, a toboggan is a WINTER HAT, not a sled!

“Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You’ll have many opportunities to change a mood, but you’ll never get the opportunity to replace the words you spoke.”

It should be no surprise that I was a cheerleader in high school. Head cheerleader, actually! My fellow cheerleaders and I got together at the beach a couple of years ago for a mini reunion. It was great to catch up after 39 years! Somehow, we got on the topic of Southern Speak. Many of us live in different areas of the country now but still have our ties to NC. One of the girls shared the story of a time when she flew with Piedmont Airlines (based out of Charlotte, NC), back when they merged with US Air (based in Pittsburgh), around 1987. She and her fellow Piedmont “stewardesses” (before they became flight attendants) greeted each other with “How’s your mom an’em?” Well, the US Air stewardesses were looking at them as if they were aliens! Those Southern gals just wanted to know how the family was doing!  (Click on the video below to see how a real Southern “Stewardess” and Southern Cheerleader greets another!)

 

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”

When I go back and visit family and friends in NC, my Southern friends comment as to how my accent has become “Northern”, which is hilarious considering my co-workers sometimes look at me as if I speak a foreign language! And when I come back to VA after being in NC or SC, my language definitely moves south until it recalibrates. Our auditor from Chicago, who has worked with me for over 10 years and has often heard me on the phone with my Mom, comments that when I have a conversation with her, my Southern roots are out in full force. “Hey Momma…how are ya? Whadya have for supper? Whatcha fixin to do? Cut your tv on to the Hallmark Channel because there’s a right good movie fixin to come on.”  (Honestly, y’all, I really don’t talk like this anymore! Do I?)

All of my southern friends know there is only one unit of measurement: right. It drives my co-workers absolutely crazy. “How many more entries do you have to make this month?” “Right many.” “How many is that?” “I don’t know…I just know I have right many more to make.” “How long will it take you?” “Right long.” “How far did you run today?” “Right far.” “How was your run?” “Right good!” “What’s the temperature outside?” “It’s right warm outside but it’s right cold in my office Y’all and I am cutting my heater on right now!” I must tell you that I have proof that using “right” as a descriptive word is legal and right (correct) because it was used in this manner in the liturgical response in the New Philadelphia Moravian Church Order of Worship Bulletin on July 21, 2013! I happened to be in church that Sunday and brought the bulletin back from NC as proof to share with my co-workers. It stays on my bulletin board at work. That’s right impressive proof if you ask me! Oh my… maybe I do still talk like this!

 

Another conversation with my friends and co-workers – “Hey can you ski?” “ Well I used to could?” “HUH?” “I said I used to could ski. And I might could if I tried again.”  Right?!  Aren’t there things you used to could do? Or might could do again if you tried?

“Those who judge will never understand, and those who understand will never judge.”

Remember, no one ever retires and moves up North! Before we moved here, a family from NY moved to our Clemmons neighborhood. I got to know them right well, and the mom asked me one day, “Why are all these people bringing cakes and cookies to our house? Are they casing it?”  “No Helen, that is the Southern way of welcoming you to the neighborhood!” (I always made a Moravian Sugar Cake to take to new neighbors – yes, I might have been checking out their house, but not casing it.) Same neighbor also told me she had no idea when you were supposed to turn on your air conditioning – she did not have AC in upstate NY. (OK this could be considered a perk of living “up north”). She asked if the nightly news would one day announce “Today is the day you turn on your AC.”  I said, “No Helen, they would say – ‘Today is right hot so all y’all need to CUT on your AC.’ But seriously, if you are in your house and are sweating and right hot, it is time to CUT on your AC.”  Bless her heart!

Basically, we all speak the same language, we just use different slangs. But what is most important, is that when we do speak, we must think about what we are saying. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If you can’t be kind, then just be quiet!

Y’all have a great week! The weather has been right nice up here recently. Here’s hoping it is just as nice where you are. See you next week!

Best,

Leslie

“Summertime’s Calling Me”… The Catalinas 1975

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

I hope July is finding y’all well and adjusting to the latest fashion trend –  wearing a mask. Remember when you used to hang dice or something fun from your rear view mirror? Well, I have a mask hanging from my mirror, and I am not alone. Sign of the times…

No words needed!

My major New Year’s resolution was not to let anything steal my joy in 2020. Who’d have thought that months later we would all be wearing masks, working from home, socially distancing, not going to church or movies or the gym? Still… I am following through with this resolution. I am not letting Covid19 steal my joy!

“Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought life would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living.” – Rachel Marie Martin

My sisters and I celebrated our Sisters’ Beach Weekend over Father’s Day in June. Perfect time to be together at the place our daddy loved most: the beach. We did not go anywhere except the beach, where we stayed all day long. We ate in, drank wine, read books, had lots of laughs, reminisced about our childhood (and adulthood), and enjoyed being sisters. Plus we had perfect weather. Could not have asked for more. Decided we will continue our annual Sisters’ Beach Weekend over Father’s Day every year – perfect time for us to be together.

Holcomb Sisters!

“Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other.” – Carol Saline

The day before my sisters arrived, I was on the beach late afternoon (my favorite time), reading a great book, when I heard someone say my name. Surprised, I looked up to see my late childhood friend’s mother, father, and sister. They, too, continue to vacation in Surfside Beach and there they were standing right in front of me! Of course, my first instinct was to hug her mother, which I did without thinking! Holy cow I broke a big rule! But I was so happy (and surprised) to see them – I spent my childhood between their house and mine, beach trips with her family, and with mine, from elementary school through high school. They were supposed to be celebrating many family milestones including grandkids’ college graduations, acceptances to grad schools, etc., but with the current state of affairs, and everyone coming from different parts of the US (many hot spots), they cancelled the BIG family get together. 

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

As tough as this summer has been with COVID-19, it has also proven to be one of my best summers. Being forced to work from home has given me the opportunity to spend more time at the beach, working from “this home” and enjoying a change in scenery. I’ve read more books, enjoyed more time with family, and caught up with old friends I haven’t seen or spoken to in years, which adds up to a great summer in my book. 

“If you walk in joy, happiness is close behind.” Todd Stocker

I did head back to Charlottesville at the end of June for work, but stopped by Winston-Salem to have a window visit with my sweet momma along the way. They are still in “lock down” and I am not complaining – they are keeping our momma safe. I just would love to see her “in person”. The following weekend, my kids all came to my house for the 4th of July! Having all my kiddos under the same roof did this momma’s heart good. And what fun we had! We visited breweries and wineries, always outside and socially distanced from others (we had sweet Paige, my granddawg, with us after all!). We had dinner at home. We watched Hamilton on Disney (so enjoyed that!). And we had a front row seat for the fireworks on Carter’s Mountain from a special friend’s deck. A year ago on Sunday, I was in NC watching my son propose to my future daughter-in-law, so we also celebrated their one year anniversary of being engaged. Perfect weekend! Lots of joy!

“Change is constant…Good or bad, sometimes you have to just ride the waves of life until the tide turns… and it always does.”

I was able to slip away recently to Old House Vineyards (where my older daughter got married) with a friend, traveling in a convertible. Y’all, there is nothing like riding through a picturesque countryside in a convertible on a beautiful day. Totally makes you forget about the state of the world. We have to make the best of these times and not let them shut us away from the people we love. Look for opportunities to find joy. Wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain proper social distancing from others, but do have fun and spend time with those you love (even if it is virtually or through a window!), and make the most of each and every day, because, as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Just think of happy thoughts and you’ll fly.”  – Peter Pan

Best,

Leslie

PS – Don’t forget today is TAX DAY! And it is also GUMMI WORM DAY! Did you know gummi worms were created in 1981 by a German candy company? And did you know that “gummi” means rubber in German – the texture of gummi worms. Just saying!

Say HELLO to my Little Friend!

Reposting from July 5, 2017!!! An oldie but goodie! Enjoy!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Ok, I know what you are thinking… But you are going to be surprised!

March 1, 2017… D-DAY – Divorce is final. It’s also the first day of Lent, a season of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter. So, what do I do? Celebrate? Cry? Or pull myself together and realize, Hey I am now totally free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want, and with whoever I want? I chose the latter. I decided I needed a present to celebrate my new-found freedom. For years, I coveted my friend’s VITAMIX Blender (yes I remember the 10th Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet…”)  but I just could not justify the splurge. Now, however, I felt that I deserved a special gift just for me. So I broke down and bought myself a VITAMIX Blender! And we have been best friends since.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” (Robert Frost)

Right after my separation, I could not eat. Could not sleep. Could barely function. As I said before, I was so thankful to have a job that forced me out of bed that first Monday SOLO, or I might still be there with the covers over my head. Food was the farthest thing from my mind. After dropping too much weight, I knew I had to get my act together and begin eating something, and if it was not going to be much, it should be healthy. HELLO smoothies! I became a smoothie QUEEN! (I am also a Dancing Queen – just ask my coworkers.) Using my old blender, I experimented with smoothies that included a big handful of spinach, frozen bananas, frozen strawberries (or whatever fruit I had on hand), dash of cinnamon, some protein powder, and Almond Milk. I figured that if nothing else, each smoothie would give me 2+ fruits, a veggie, and did you know that Almond Milk has 50% more calcium than regular milk? Plus, it is a good source of Vitamins D and E. Score one for me! (Sidebar: When my kids were growing up, I bought about 8 gallons of milk each week – Thank you SAM’S for cheap milk! I have not bought a gallon of milk since I moved into my new house. I buy a quart of milk each time my son comes to visit. And last week I bought a quart as I was making dinner for some friends and was not sure Almond milk would work in mashed potatoes and banana pudding. I only have Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk in my refrigerator.)

Yes, the old blender worked (did I mention it was a wedding gift?), but I had to stop and start it too often because it would get “clogged” (like my marriage). Still, I used that old blender every morning until I brought my VITAMIX home! The other week I had all of my kids down at the beach with me (remember the longest day of the year post?), and I made them smoothies every morning. Just grab and go and take them to the beach (and be healthy!). I went to the Farmer’s Market down there and bought fresh local peaches and strawberries. I always buy a big bunch of bananas, (cheapest at Trader Joe’s) let them get overly ripe, then peel, slice, and store them in baggies in my freezer. This adds a perfect sweetness to any smoothie. And I promise you, unlike Pop-eye, you will not taste the spinach! A lot of people use kale but I have only used spinach. Did you know you can freeze fresh spinach? I could never use all of the spinach before it spoiled, so it was a blessing to learn that spinach can be frozen, which makes for a better smoothie anyway. My freezer is always stocked with ziploc baggies of bananas, spinach, and lots of different fruits for my smoothies. (I picked 17 pounds of fresh strawberries this spring – and did you know you do NOT have to cap them? Turns out the tops are really good for you… wish I had known that BEFORE I capped all those strawberries!) I make a smoothie every night and keep it in the fridge so I can have it for breakfast first thing in the morning. Starts my day off right!

strawberries

“I can’t control everything in my life, but I can control what I put in my body.”

BD (Before Divorce), my ex was the master griller, and as our old neighbors can attest, we grilled out steaks every Saturday night. Filets, medium rare, baked potatoes, salad, garlic bread. AD (After Divorce), now SOLO, I have become the master griller (I got the Weber Grill), but I rarely grill steaks – only if my kids are in town (which they were this weekend and yes we grilled steaks). Now I grill salmon. And it is not the salmon of my childhood (pronounced SAL-MON out of a can) that my mother fried in patties and served with pinto beans. (Don’t ask!) No…this salmon (wild caught) is so good…seasoned with a little olive oil and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. (I love TJ’s) I will bake a sweet potato and grill okra to go with it. Heavenly! Honestly, BD I never ate salmon. AD – it is on the menu every week! And speaking of food and dinners, last night we grilled turkey burgers, corn on the cob, gray zucchini (found at the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market Saturday), and roasted sweet potatoes sliced into rounds and seasoned with… yes… Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning! (this is NOT a commercial for TJ’s). I also have to admit that most nights, my favorite dinner is scrambled eggs, grits and toast. It just does not get any better (or easier) than that.

If my summer ever slows down, I would really like to get to know my VITAMIX better. I want to make my own Almond Butter, guacamole, soups (yes it even heats the soup up!). There is so much more I can do with it. But for now I am happy with my special smoothies. And yes, I am happy!

“If you look for the good in life, you’ll find it.  CHOOSE to be happy, to be at peace.”

Do any of you make smoothies? If so, what fruits, combinations do you use? I am always looking for new recipes AND new ways to use my VITAMIX. Please share!

DSC_0426

Maybe we will talk about the OTHER little friend later on!

Off to make my smoothie for tomorrow!

See you next week.

Best,

Leslie