Saturday, March 27, 2010

There Is Always A Rainbow Somewhere

Today I put out 150 pounds of grass seed. Within the hour, a big storm developed, bringing with it some good sized hail. I went out to the porch to take photos of the hail, and only when I looked at the pictures did I realize that something very beautiful was formed from the storm.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Spring Break to Remember

Does anything ever really go according to plan?

What was planned to be a carefree long weekend during the first few days of Spring, turned into quite the opposite. My niece and her friend wanted to go to our condo in Kansas City to celebrate their Spring Break. We timed it so we could also attend a John Mayer concert while we were there.
We found out right before we were to leave that there was "some snow" expected in KC that weekend....perhaps we should have taken it a little more seriously! Here is what we found when we arrived Friday evening.!


In addition to the blizzard-like conditions outside, the pilot light for the central heating unit in the condo wouldn't stay lit (among some other issues we discovered in the condo that I won't go into here). So while waiting on the heating repairman to come (by Monday, 3 different ones had to come in 3 days!), my innovative niece and her friend did what they had to in order to keep warm. Notice those smiles!


So, as their friends lounged in the sun on the beaches of Florida, these girls rolled with what nature brought their way, put on every layer they could find (including a blue bathrobe!) and made the best of the situation. And the beauty of it all was that they never complained. I think they "got it" that they would go home with more stories than the beach babies would have.


No girl passes up a Kansas City Plaza shopping opportunity, so despite 12+ inches of snow, my niece and her friend set out - ON FOOT - to do their bit for the economy. They returned with snow-filled boots, wet coats, but with some adorable finds.
I told my niece that one day she would find this all very funny. She probably wondered exactly WHEN that day would be!



My niece Janae (red shirt) and her friend Ashton at the condo Monday night, dressed for dinner, and the John Mayer concert. The snow is melting and the temperature outside is rising.....and so are our spirits!




You would never know from this photo, but I had to actually convince them that getting a giant bag of cotton candy at the concert would be a fun thing! This was before our mouths turned blue!





Amazing concert! John Mayer certainly earned his money and the tickets could have cost double and I still would have felt they were a bargain. He played a lot of new songs and almost all of his old favorites.
When he sang "Why Georgia Why" I was instantly transported back, years ago to the night before another niece (interestingly enough, named GEORGIA!) got married. My sister (Georgia's mother) and several of her friends and I sat in the hotel parking lot, packed into my little BMW, enjoying a bottle of wine as we listened to a new young artist's recently released CD. The new young artist??? John Mayer!
There was a jumbo tron screen directly behind his large band, so you could see every detail of what was happening on the stage.
J.M. apologized for recent inappropriate comments he made in an interview and said "By now, I should have died 1000 deaths.....by mouth", and explained that at his age, he should now know better. He interacted with the audience and came off as a very likable and intelligent fellow......not to mention cute beyond words!






So.......maybe the weekend wasn't what we planned. But then, is life ever what we plan?
Sometimes, if you are lucky, it is even better!
Happy Spring Break, y'all!









Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sometimes They Listen.....

........but usually they don't.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tribute to a Friend......

The eulogy I wrote for my dear friend of 42 years is probably the most difficult thing I have ever tried to write. I am now at a loss for words to describe the giant hole his departure has left in my life......even if I could find the words, they would not be adequate. So, rather than write something else, I would like to share the eulogy I gave last Saturday at his Memorial Service.......which I hope, paints the beautiful picture that was Gary's life.
GARY G. SMITH, December 1, 1938 - February 12, 2010



GARY SMITH MEMORIAL

FEBRUARY 27, 2010

MY NAME IS BETTY WOODY. I FIRST MET GARY 42 YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS 18. HE WAS MY AUNT HAZEL COOPER’S BEST FRIEND…….AND HE REMAINED SO UNTIL SHE PASSED AWAY, 4 MONTHS AGO…… AND 5 DAYS BEFORE HER 100TH BIRTHDAY.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT ONCE SAID: I THINK SOMEHOW WE LEARN WHO WE REALLY ARE, AND THEN WE LIVE WITH THAT DECISION”. GARY LEARNED WHO HE WAS, AND HE MADE THE MOST OF IT.

HOW DO WE MEASURE A MAN’S LIFE?

BY HOW MANY FRIENDS HE HAD? BY HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

BY HIS CREATIONS?

THE AWARD-WINNING BROADWAY MUSICAL “RENT” TAUGHT US THAT YOU MEASURE A LIFE IN LOVE. AND ISN’T THAT WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK OF GARY? LOVE?

GARY LOVED LIFE. HE LOVED GETTING UP EACH MORNING, ANXIOUS FOR WHAT THE NEW DAY WOULD BRING.

GARY LOVED WOMEN….ALL WOMEN……ALL TYPES! HE ALWAYS SAW THE BEAUTY IN EACH ONE OF US, AND LOVED HELPING US ACCENTUATE THAT BEAUTY IN WAYS WE MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF ON OUR OWN.

GARY LOVED HIS FRIENDS, AND HE PROBABLY HAD MORE “CLOSE” FRIENDS THAN ANYONE I EVER KNEW. AND WHENEVER EACH OF YOU VISITED HIM IN THE HOSPITAL, I COULD ALWAYS SEE THE JOY YOU BROUGHT HIM AS HE SAT UP A LITTLE STRAIGHTER IN HIS BED, HIS BEAUTIFUL EYES WOULD BRIEFLY REGAIN THEIR TWINKLE, AND THAT MISCHIEVOUS LITTLE-BOY SMILE WE ALL KNOW TOO WELL WOULD RETURN.

ONE DAY AT THE HOSPITAL I TEASED GARY ABOUT ALL OF THE BEAUTIFUL WOMEN HE KNEW AND HOW HE COULD BE SO CLOSE TO THEM ALL. HE GAVE ME “THAT LOOK”, SMILED AND SAID “HONEY, WHEN YOU DO SOMEONE’S HAIR FOR 30 YEARS YOU KNOW ALL OF THEIR SECRETS……..AND I’VE KEPT THEM ALL!!!”. I HAD TO LAUGH, BECAUSE HE KNEW MINE TOO!

GARY WAS A GOOD FRIEND TO ME…….GARY WAS THE TYPE OF FRIEND THAT PLANNED A SURPRISE 60TH BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR ME IN HIS HOSPITAL ROOM, COMPLETE WITH A CAKE, PRESENTS AND ALL OF THE FESTIVITIES……….SCHEDULED FOR THE NIGHT HE DIED.

GARY LOVED CREATING BEAUTY. HE COULD TAKE A BARE SPOT OF EARTH AND TURN IT INTO A RAINBOW OF COLOR. HE LOVED MIXING ART WITH NATURE AND TURNING A NON-DESCRIPT PIECE OF LAND INTO A SANCTUARY. HE COULD SEE THE BEAUTY BENEATH THE SURFACE OF AN OLD HOUSE THAT OTHERS MIGHT OVERLOOK. COME TO THINK OF IT…….HE DID THAT WITH EVERYTHING…..LAND, PEOPLE, HOUSES, FURNITURE, ART……..HE ALWAYS SAW THE BEAUTY UNDERNEATH AND COULDN’T WAIT TO BRING IT TO THE SURFACE.

GARY LOVED HIS FAMILY….HIS BROTHERS AND SISTERS, HIS CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN….ALL OF HIS RELATIVES. AND HE WAS SO PROUD OF EACH ONE OF YOU. HIS WISH WAS THAT YOU FIND HAPPINESS AND LIVE YOUR LIVES TO THE FULLEST. AND THAT LOVE WAS RECRIPROCATED, ESPECIALLY IN GARY’S FINAL DAYS.

GARY’S SWEET SISTER JEANNIE PUT HER ENTIRE LIFE ON HOLD THIS PAST MONTH TO COME TO LITTLE ROCK AND CARE FOR HER BROTHER. AND AFTER HIS DEATH, SHE STAYED ON, AS GARY WOULD HAVE WANTED, TO CARE FOR JIM. GARY’S NIECE FROM VIRGINIA, LINDA, CHANGED TRAVEL PLANS TO COME SIT BESIDE HER UNCLE’S BED.

GARY’S CHILDREN KEPT A VIGIL AT THE HOSPITAL, MAKING CERTAIN THEIR FATHER KNEW HOW MUCH THEY LOVED HIM, AS THEY TRIED THEIR BEST TO GRASP THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION. AND HIS SWEET DAUGHTER MICHELLE WAS HOLDING HIS HAND AS GARY TOOK HIS LAST BREATH.

AS YOU CAN SEE, GARY LOVED A LOT OF THINGS. BUT BOY, DID GARY LOVE JIM!

GARY AND JIM HAD THE SORT OF FAIRYTALE ROMANCE THAT WE ALL DREAM OF HAVING WHEN WE ARE YOUNG. THESE TWO SHARED A LOVE BASED ON RESPECT, TRUST, COMMON INTERESTS, DIGNITY…….AND THEY REALLY, REALLY LIKED EACH OTHER.

AFTER 35 YEARS TOGETHER, THEY STILL HAD THAT SPARK…..THEY STILL FLIRTED WITH ONE ANOTHER, AND THEY STILL FOUND MAGIC IN THE SIMPLE THINGS IN LIFE THAT BOND A RELATIONSHIP THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES. WHETHER THEY WERE WORKING IN THE GARDEN OR COOKING A MEAL AFTER A LONG DAY AT WORK, THEY ALWAYS DID IT….. TOGETHER.

WILL WE EVER BE ABLE TO STOP THINKING OR SPEAKING IN TERMS OF “GARY AND JIM”? I HAVE USED THAT PHRASE SO MUCH IN MY LIFE, IT IS ALMOST LIKE IT IS ONE PERSON.

AND THAT IS HOW THEY BATTLED GARY’S LUNG DISEASE…..TOGETHER. JIM WALKED EVERY STEP OF GARY’S JOURNEY WITH HIM AND WAS DILIGENT IN MAINTAINING GARY’S DIGNITY TO THE VERY END.

JIM KEPT A JOURNAL CONTAINING EVERY CONVERSATION WITH EACH DOCTOR, AND WITH ALMOST HOURLY GUIDANCE FROM THEIR LOVING FRIEND AND ADVISOR, SHARON STREET, THEY WOULD COLLABORATE TO MAKE THE BEST DECISIONS POSSIBLE FOR GARY’S CARE.

THE LAST HOUR OF GARY’S LIFE WAS SPENT THE WAY THE PAST 35 YEARS HAD BEEN…WITH JIM. GENTLY CRADLING GARY’S HEAD IN HIS ARMS, JIM RECOUNTED THE DETAILS OF THEIR LIFE TOGETHER, BEGINNING WITH THEIR “LOVE-AT-FIRST-SIGHT” MEETING AT MY AUNT HAZEL’S HOUSE FOR A SUNDAY AFTERNOON GAME OF CARDS. HE REMINDED GARY OF THE PLACES THEY HAD BEEN, THE THINGS THEY HAD DONE, AND THE MEMORIES THEY CREATED……TOGETHER.

THE LAST WORDS GARY HEARD BEFORE HE LEFT US, WAS JIM, SOFTLY SINGING THEIR SONG….”YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL…TO ME”.

SHORTLY AFTER GARY DIED, ONE OF HIS LONG-TIME FRIENDS SAID. “I FEEL SO LOST……GARY WAS MY SAFETY NET”. I THINK MOST OF US HERE TODAY FEEL THE SAME WAY.

WE WILL PROBABLY NEVER HAVE ANOTHER FRIEND LIKE GARY.

BUT THE POINT IS….WE CAN EACH BE THAT SORT OF FRIEND TO SOMEONE ELSE.

WE ALREADY KNOW HOW..........BECAUSE GARY TAUGHT US.