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.