There is a place, inside my heart I guess. It’s a sad and quiet place. It’s a place I visit occasionally, just a few minutes to open the lid and drop another something inside. Then, the lid shuts and it’s gone from my presence of thought. The place is with me wherever I go, still there, sort of like a box, tucked away, hidden from sight. It’s not a bad thing to have such a box, a special compartment. It allows everyday life to have its everyday-ness. Over the years I’ve dusted off the box, more times than I would have liked, unlocked the lock and opened the lid. When I do, I catch a whiff of all the things inside. All the things over the last 37 years that I don’t understand; those intensely sad and hurtful things that have no answers. Here in this box are the things that have entered my life by force, I’ve mulled over, tried to reason into existence, and failed, and afterward acknowledged that there are, and never will be, any answers. It’s ok; the box is there, waiting for me, when I’m ready. And, with another addition, I acknowledge again there is a God who does have all the answers. I don’t have to have the why. It’s enough for me to say, I don’t get it, please take it, quietly, and put it in the box. There, I’m free again.
October 18, 2012 my stepdad took
his own life. So much sadness, so many
unanswered questions. So much I could write. I can’t
and I won’t hold on to all the questions.
They are my latest submission.
Rest easy Charles. May God give those you left behind, the
ability to do the same.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I guess I have been delaying the update of the blog because once I move to September, I have to talk about Nannie. On the first day of September, 2012, my Nannie passed away. It was a very sad day indeed. Of course I have known and loved Nannie my entire life. But, once I began to have children, rambunctious little boys of my own, I began to really feel a lot closer to her. I knew she was one of the few people who really understood what I was going through with them. And, I knew her experiences had been much harder than mine. Her first husband died when her boys were 9, 6, 4 and 1. She told me once about how her youngest, Samuel, was just taking his first steps. She was so excited for her husband to get home from work, to show him what Sammy had accomplished. Unfortunately, that's the day Charlie died in a car accident. He never got to see Sammy take those steps. It was 1950. I can't even imagine. She had been a teacher before having her boys, so, she returned to teaching. Eventually, she and her boys ended up in Jackson, she taught school, bought a house in 1955 and stayed in Jackson for the rest of her life. I admire her for so many reasons. Raising 4 boys on her own, having not only a bachelors degree in those days, but also a masters degree, teaching through integration, putting 4 boys through college, remarrying in 1977 and losing that husband to a heart attack in 1982. She lost a son and a grandson. But, Nannie remained the sweetest and most kind person you might ever meet. You would have never known all she had endured. One thing she said to me, not too long ago, sticks with me, and has really become my mantra over the past few years. The boys and I were visiting her apartment and I was going around behind them, removing breakable things from reach. Nannie sort of laughed and said, I used to do that same thing when the boys and I would visit Auntie (her step-mother-in-law). Then she said, her father-in-law came up behind her and patted her on the back one day and told her, don't worry Helen, they won't be young forever. That has really stuck with me and I try to remember it when they boys are all over the place. Another thing I remember was when Luke was born, she said to me, you know, I won't be around to see him grow up, and that makes me sad (she was 92 at the time). I said, Nannie, don't say that! But, of course it was true and that makes me sad. In the last few months of her life, I really understood the phrase, "this mortal coil" and was, in a small part, glad for her that she was finally released. But, I will miss her still, undoubtedly. She's an inspiration and I hope I can live my life half as well as she lived hers.
A few pictures of Nannie and my boys:
Helen McCall Burnett passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 1, at the Orchard in Ridgeland, Miss. following a brief illness. She was 97.
A longtime Jackson resident, Mrs. Burnett was retired from the Jackson Public School System where she taught second grade at Duling Elementary, Davis, Lake and schools in Prentiss, Laurel, Seminary and Richton. She was a graduate of Belhaven College and obtained a Masters of Elementary Education at Mississippi College.
Mrs. Burnett was a longtime member of Trinity Presbyterian Church. She was an avid bridge player and loved her regular bunko group. She was a member of Cosmos, Maids and Matrons, La Mercredi and other organizations and was a devoted reader.
She was the daughter of Sam and Katie Lee of Prentiss. She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles O. McCall, and second husband, Wylie D. Burnett; a son, Samuel H. McCall, sisters Vivian Braddock of West Point, Kathryn Downing of Laurel, and Mildred Livingston of Prentiss, and a grandson, Charles O. "Chuck" McCall III.
Mrs. Burnett is survived by sons Charles O. McCall Jr. and Douglas L. McCall, both of Madison, and Mike McCall of Jackson; and a step daughter, Marilyn (Bill) Michael of Joplin, Mo.; and grandchildren Celia (Jeff) Wilson of Haslet, Texas, Jeff McCall of Ridgeland, Michael McCall of Washington, D.C., Angela (Lee) Thigpen of Jackson, and Neil (April) Carter of Jackson, and nine great grandchildren.
Friends and family will long remember her kind and gentle spirit, disagreeable only when her beloved Atlanta Braves would lose a game. An aspiring pianist who played by ear, a young Helen Lee would steal away to the Belhaven music hall basement where she would delight her classmates with a little ragtime. She often played piano during assembly programs at schools where she taught. The family extends appreciation to devoted friends Dr. David and Cynthia Gandy, longtime neighbor Annie Bess Hinton, caregiver River Lee Moore and the Orchard staff for their loving support.
Memorials may be made to Trinity Presbyterian Church, 5301 Old Canton Rd., Jackson, MS 39211, or French Camp Academy, One Fine Place, French Camp, MS 39745.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Ah kindergarten. I have waited and waited for you. How is it so far? It’s pretty good. It seems a little early still, even though he’s been in school for nearly a month. The hard parts? Getting up and going so early in the morning has been a big change. Jeff and Luke leave home between 7:20-7:30, to arrive in class by 7:45. We used to leave home at 8:45 for a 9:00 preschool start time. Luke is still having Jeff walk him down the hall to class, instead of getting out in carpool line, or even leaving Jeff in the ‘lobby’ of the school. Luke’s teacher says not to worry. Another hard part? The class size. He has 22 in his class, with a max of 24. That seems like so many 5 year olds to be responsible for, not just managing them but actually teaching them. I’m so blessed that Luke is smart and does not need a lot of one on one instruction. I guess I remember having 22, and a couple of years 28, third graders and how hard it could be. And, those kids were 8 and 9, not 5. Then there is the attendance issue. You have to be there every day and on time. These people are serious. No more staying home with mom just because I have the day off and miss you so I’m keeping you with me today. We were out of town at my grandmother’s funeral and they called, I called, and two weeks afterward, they called again to remind me I have to bring in a note stating my excuse. I felt like I was the kid again. Anyway, it’s still a good experience, so far. Luke’s teacher seems with it, organized and structured but sweet and kind and calm, just what I had hoped for him. He’s been getting good behavior marks, with the exception of the day he poked a table mate with a pencil (later I found out she told him he was stinky and he could not come to her party). He told me he was horsing around and it just happened. Thankfully his teacher gave him the benefit of the doubt. And, he is starting to read, an event that makes me cry I‘m so happy for and proud of him. He has learned the first ten high frequency sight words, with 90 more to come over the next 20 weeks. We’ve started working on them every night and I’m so proud of how he works, even when he’s so tired that he has to pause for yawns. We’re reading books together and it’s amazing how he can remember the words. If I had known teaching someone to read was so magical, I’m sure I would have majored in that. Kids in 3rd grade mostly know how to read, we work on comprehension strategies so this is my first real experience watching someone go from knowing no words, to reading a book. When I ask Luke what he liked best about his day, he tells me “when we went outside.” I ask him what books his teacher read to him that day and he says that she does not read books to them, like Mrs. Cheryl and Mrs. Susan’s class. Mrs. Cheryl and Mrs. Susan are still our gold standard and thanks to them, Luke is well prepared for kindergarten. Of course I think his kinder teacher is good too; kinder is just a different world from our awesome HG. The hardest part is letting go, letting kids be kids, letting Luke learn to get along without me, handle things when someone is less than nice to him, make his own friends and learn how school works. I know it’s just the beginning of a lot of letting go I’ll have to do (which does not make it easier by the way). I’m also excited for him. Elementary school is my place, where I spent some GREAT years of my life, teaching and making friends with some amazing people. So, kinder is, so far, what I had hoped it would be for him. I have said before what a different teacher I would be, now that I have kids. I think most of all I would realize the gift of getting to be with someone’s pride and joy, all day, every day, and that would mean infinitely more to me now than it did then. So, big sigh, happy and a little sad. I guess I better get over it. #2 will join him next year.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
So, once again I'll attempt to put a month of our lives into one post. Picture heavy for sure!
The end of July brought the end to my summer courses. For the first 2.5 weeks of August, I was free to spend my days with the boys. Here we are, playing in the backyard.
After about a week, we started exploring the malls around Fort Worth. We found one with a merry-go-round (and a Build-a-Bear, I'm a total push over for stuffed animals).
Poor Eli had to wait in the stroller with me. No adults allowed on the merry-go-round and I could just see him tipping over part way through.
About a week into our time together, our AC went out at home. We braved the 100+ heat for almost a week before heading to my Dad's in MS. Poor Papaw, he had just gotten rid of us a week before and now we were back! Here's Luke with a puzzle he built while there (this is also when I discovered what fun toys the Dollar Store has).
While we were there, we visited the Children's Museum of Jackson. It was really great! We spent an entire afternoon there and got to try out all sorts of exhibits.
Eli loved the trains, of course.
Nathan's favorite was the construction crane.
Nathan with his favorite work partner. You're a good sport Papaw.
Outside was a spray park. TONS of fun!
After a few days, the AC was fixed so we headed home. This is Nathan as "Adventure Boy."
Heading on an adventure he tells me (it was over 100 degrees and he has two shirts on and boots, he meant business).
My work started back in mid-August (boo). After my first Saturday class we all had a nap at home. It was awesome!
In case you can't tell, Nathan LOVES dress up stuff. Here he is as Racecar Pilot Hockey Boy (his title). Love the way the ear covers smush his face. My little chipmunk.
Helping Daddy mow.
Meet the teacher night for my big kinder boy!
One last hurrah in the new pool from Grammy!
We've been trying out new churches. Two little buds waiting to leave.
First day of the new preschool (more about this later).
And finally, the highlight of our August 2012, Luke's first day of kindergarten! I'll come back and write more about this monumental occasion. I'm running short on time (as usual) and wanted to get these up but I have much to say about this special day and time in our lives. I can't believe how big he is and how much I miss him. I did not appreciate how much freedom there was when your kids are in preschool versus elementary. Sigh....times are changing. More to come on this!
Headed in to class on his first day!