Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I love geraniums, especially red geraniums. I love them because my Grandma loves them. She always had tons of them planted around the house my Grandpa built for her. Whenever I see them I think of her. I have several silk geraniums I keep on the entry level of my home.

If you are new to my blog you are not aware of the fact that our oldest daughter, Chai Tea, ran away in January. It was a shock to say the least.

I always wanted to be a Mom. I've regretted not finishing college but only because I don't have that piece of paper that would have said that I could have done something else if I wanted to. I actually wanted to have ten children. I'm not particularly fond of teenagers at the moment, but I've always loved children. I can't remember ever not feeling that way.

A friend of mine gave me two books recently, Mama Get the Hammer! There's a Fly on Papa's Head! and I'm So Glad You Told Me What I Didn't Want to Hear. Both were written by Barbara Johnson. A couple of days later another friend gave me a copy of Fresh Elastic for Stretched Out Moms, which was also written by Barbara Johnson.

Years ago, when our children were small, my husband bought me a book of hers for Mother's Day that I don't recall the title of. At the time, I was a bit taken back by what it was about. My husband bought it because he said it was supposed to be funny. It was, but it was about her son coming out of the closet and I just didn't relate. I read it and then stuck in on my bookshelf until a friend's son left his wife and two kids for a man. I then gave it to her.

I flipped through the books a bit but didn't really start reading them until a couple of days ago. I recalled that my Grandma had one of her books called, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and be Happy. I learned that Barbara Johnson had four sons. One was killed in Vietnam and then five years later, to the day, another son was killed in a car crash. Then she learned her third son was gay. Prior to all of that her husband was in a terrible car crash and sustained some brain damage and almost died. Wow. That all certainly put my heartbreak into perspective.

I decided that I wanted to know more about her and find out what she'd written recently. I googled her and went to her website. I learned that she died in July of 2007 and that she'd been one of the Women of Faith speakers. I was dumbfounded. And then I cried. And I don't know why. I guess because as I am reading her books... I somehow feel connected.
Patsy Clairmont is one of the Women of Faith speakers. I went to the conference they had in Denver in August 2005. I didn't know anything about it or the speakers before I went. I read somewhere on another blog (I wish I could remember where) that Patsy had started a blog. I've never read any of her books but I remembered her from the conference. For the life of me I can only remember that she had, at one time, been afraid to leave her house and something about riding a bicycle... and that I laughed so hard I hurt... and her name. I went to check it out and have left some comments. She has sweetly visited here and left a few of her own. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Patsy has actually co-authored with Barbara Johnson.
How aware are y'all of the Women of Faith conferences? Because, I've been in church for over twenty years now and... yeah, I heard of them but I just didn't pay that much attention. How come they weren't more on my radar? They are all over my radar now.
It's funny, a friend's husband wanted to treat his wife and a couple of her friends to see Anita Renfroe some months back. I was honored to be included. I didn't know who she was but I was up for a girl's night out. She was HiLaRiOuS. And guess what? She is also a Women of Faith speaker.
I am definitely going to the next Women of Faith conference that comes my way! And y'all should too (unless you are a dude).

This is one of the planters of many that surround my Grandparent's home. We were last there 4 years ago and I was upset that the planters were empty. My Grandpa had died two years before and my Grandma was living there alone with my Down Syndrome Aunt. Those planters were always filled with geraniums. Before we left, I went and bought some and planted them for my Grandma. I hoped that she would be able to water them and that they would grow and cascade outward as hers had always done in the past.
My Grandma is now 94 years old and my Aunt is 50. They are living with my Mom and Step Dad in Washington state and the home my Grandpa built, seen here, is in Southern California and being rented out. My Grandma has dementia. Sometimes she remembers but she often does not. It is heartbreaking.
Patsy Clairmont said something in one of her posts in April about the combination of laughing and crying. We've been seeing a counselor since Chai Tea ran away and he likes to pick up his coaster and say, "Anger and hurt are a two sided coin, the amount of anger you feel is equal to the amount of hurt and the amount of hurt you feel is equal to the anger." He usually spouts this when I say that I am not angry about something, just hurt. When I read that about the combination of laughing and crying it made me wonder if that is also like a two sided coin. Not in the same way as the anger/hurt.... but maybe in the context of having to have experienced deep sorrow in order to truly experience joy.
My geraniums draw my eye now more than ever. Not only do they remind me of my Grandma and make me long for the way things were, but they now remind me of Barbara Johnson and the fact that, although she is gone, her words of encouragement live on and give me hope.


Brenda said...

(((((((hugs)))))))) I love your geraniums. I pray things work out with your daughter and she matures and realizes what she needs to do.

Patsy Clairmont said...

I was a teenage runaway and brought my family real heartache. I am so sorry for your pain, your sense of loss, and I understand your anger. May your heart not be dismayed, we runaways have a tendency of circling back to the place where we were just takes some of us longer than others to realize our parents are not our enemies but our greatest cheerleaders.

Runaways are usually heart-heavy and mind-deceived, we really believe if we could escape the rules of our family we could live our own way and be happy. We have no idea that "our own way" leaves us muddled and disconnected to what we need most.

Prodigals usually have happy endings. May your heart blossom in this desert season.

Coffee Bean said...

Thank you Brenda and Patsy for your encouragement! Patsy, I am a bit blown away that YOU were a teenage runaway... I am getting some of your books TODAY!

And to all who read the comments... just so you know... this post has made me insane because halfway through it stopped putting spaces in between the paragraphs. They are that way in the draft and then are taken out when I publish. I've gone back and forth and back and forth and... Stuff like that makes me cRaZy.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

You and she and the whole family have been in my prayers since she ran away...
Hugs and more prayers

Pioneering in PA said...

Hopefully things work out with Chai Tea.

It's rough watching your grandparents go the "other way".

And I have days where I can find out someone passed away, who means absolutely nothing to me or my life, and it tugs at me, making me emotional. I think that for those of us with big hearts, it's just a course of nature.

Have fun with those new books you are picking up!

MUD said...

This week I found out that the writer of a column I read has a son that is joining the Marines this year right out of high school. I tried to share with her that parents are responsible for teaching their children right from wrong but once they leave the nest, they make their own decisions and the parents aren't responsible. That doesn't make it easy or easier, but it might help put it in perspective. As a teenager, my parents just let me do anything I wanted and I feel that I was prepared to do anything when I did leave home. I left on good terms and we have shared a relationship over the years. Dad is gone and Mom isn't that far behind. Good luck to you. Barb has geraniums and somehow it takes her back to her grandmother's farm. MUD

Kathy said...

You write beautifully Kelly. This one brought tears to my eyes for many reasons. I have also been on both sides of the teen thing, bringing grief to my parents and then one of mine ran away to be a "carnie".... the good news is, all works out.
Thanks for the prayers.

Elysa said...

Okay, win the award of being the first person to make me cry today. Sigh...but wow! I had actually made it past noon!!!

DaWei said...


Now, is that a stupid comment, or what. Enjoy.

Alison said...

great post...I have never heard of those incredible women but I plan on looking them up today. I love the anger and hurt true. I also feel that in order to experience true joy you need to suffer with pain first.

great new picture of you BTW!!

Debra W said...


So glad to see that you are continuing to try to make some sense out of your journey. Seems like you are being led to a certain sense of understanding! I like it when things begin to come together like that.

You and your family are always in my prayers. I know that things have been very hard for you and I hope that you are doing okay.


Flea said...

The name is really familiar, but I haven't read her books. Her story does sound heartbreaking, but the books seem to imply that God, in His grace, brought her through it? Thanks for the reading tip. :)

Renee in Seattle said...

I just found your email in my junk box and am so glad you are blogging again. I have thought of you often and I'm really glad you are back.

I have tagged your blog in my favorites, now I have to catch up.....

Chris H said...

Be thankful you DID NOT have 10 children~! I have 8 and let me assure you, it ain't all that much fun. My favourite flowers are Hydrangeas, as they grew all over MY Grandmothers garden! Sweet memories eh?

Carin said...

Wow, you are really getting some comments now, great!

I love the titles of those books. I will have to check those out.

My mom had a geranium that was over three feet wide. She kept it her sunroom. Most people could hardly believe it's size.

Will pray for your daughter.