Category: Guest Missive 2022

Complete… by JoAnn

When I wash my dishes, I fondly look out the window at my backyard and beyond. I have several trees in my yard, and I often see a variety of birds. This past summer, I had a Jackrabbit and a Cottontail bunny that appeared a few times. There is a squirrel that lives in one of the trees as well. All of these creatures make my day much brighter when they decide to visit, and I catch a glimpse.

Beyond my backyard are acres of a farmer’s field. The field was full of small trees and brush when I first moved into my apartment. After a few years, the owner decided to put the field to good use. They took many weeks to clear the field and prepare it for planting. Their first crop was soybean, followed by corn. This year, much to my surprise, cotton was grown. That was a shocker to me. I have lived in this area for 30 years, and cotton is a crop you don’t see much anymore. When we first moved here, cotton fields were a plenty, and the gins stayed busy during the season. But soybeans slowly took over. So it was quite the change to see cotton growing in my backyard.

The cotton grew beautifully, and the farmers spent several days in a row picking it up last week. Their large harvesters started their hum at daylight and finished after dark. The field is now clean, and I can see as far as my eyes will allow. I adore the view this time of year when all the leaves are off the trees.

I have been placing collectibles on my windowsill for some time. I enjoy something pretty to look at along with my view. Most of the trinkets have memories attached, like a little ceramic container with a Robin bird painted on it that my daughter Robin gave me when I first moved into my apartment. I have a tiny glass bottle that contains sand from when my daughter Chelsea and my son-in-law Jake went on a cruise to the Caribbean. I also have an owl figurine wearing a chef’s hat and holding a spoonful bowl. There are a couple of pieces that I adore because they are simply vintage. I love vintage items for the history and memories that they hold. But no matter what I have added to my kitchen window sill, it seemed incomplete. It never looked quite as cute or made me as happy as I desired.

One day, when I was cleaning my living room and making room to display Christmas decorations, I picked up an old clay cross I had bought at a thrift store for a couple of dollars. I love crosses and have several displayed on my walls. But I needed nails to hang it and kept forgetting to buy some. So it had just been hanging out in my living room. I looked around, scoping out my apartment. What could I do with this cross? Maybe I should re-donate it. I read the scripture embossed on the front. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11”. Golden wheat is embossed across the center as well. I really love this cross. I didn’t want to give it back. I looked up at my kitchen window sill. Maybe it would look okay among my other little treasures for the time being. I placed it in the center of all my lovelies. A smile came across my face like a ray of sunshine after rain. The old cross had found its home. The window sill that I never felt was complete was now perfect!

It’s funny how something so small can give me the biggest smile. I don’t quite understand how silly little objects can bring me such joy, but they do. I am certainly not alone in this. People have forever been collecting “things” that bring a smile to their faces. To me, that old cross, and the small items my children gave me, are just reminders of the things I dearly love in my life. Little things that make my life feel complete.

I will continue to downsize my home as I age, continuously rotating out the clutter. But the little reminders that make me smile, those things will stay forever.

Christmas Stockings… by JoAnn

Growing up, the highlight of every year was Christmas. The whole month of December meant parties, decorations, letters sent to Santa Claus, the anticipation of snow, and a much-needed vacation from school. It was the last month of the year, but the best month for so many reasons.

My sister and I would begin our holiday season with the arrival of the annual Sear’s toy catalog. The excitement when our mama would hand over the iconic catalog was worth the one-year wait. She would give each of us a pencil to circle our favorite toys. Of course, we understood that everything we marked would not be under the tree come Christmas morning. But we would dream of which things might. No matter what Santa brought us, we would be overjoyed. Some years would be lighter if money were tight, and some, we would have more under the tree. But I never remember it mattering either way. I only remember loving everything I received and how much fun my sister and me would have.

Another tradition was hanging up our Christmas stockings for Santa to fill with small gifts. It would usually be candy, an apple, an orange, and a few nuts still in the shell. It may seem silly to a kid today, but back in the 60s, those items weren’t available all year round to kids like us. They were treats. Sometimes, there may even be a small toy in our stocking or another small surprise like a necklace or a pack of Old Maid cards. Our mama was very good at gift-giving. She always picked out or told Santa about things we would really want. I don’t remember ever, not even once, being disappointed in anything I received for Christmas.

The very best Christmas stocking was always the forgotten stocking. When we would get so caught up in the opening and playing with our gifts that, we completely forgot about our stockings. Sometimes it would be later in the day, and it would suddenly dawn on us that we hadn’t checked them. Our mama got a kick out of seeing just how long it took us to remember we had stockings too. It would be like Christmas morning all over again.

It’s been many years since I had my own Christmas stocking. I did enjoy filling my three daughters’ stockings every year, though. I tried to make them very special, just as my mama had done mine. I’m pretty sure I succeeded with that task. Wonder what it would be like to wake up on Christmas morning at 60 years old and have a stocking filled by Santa Claus. I imagine I wouldn’t feel 60 at all.

Here’s hoping you have a stocking to check this year. Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays… by JoAnn

Well, another year is coming to an end, and it’s time to celebrate the holidays once again. Thanksgiving was the first tradition to enjoy with family and friends. It’s usually my favorite because it is more relaxed. There are no worries about gift exchanges or the weather being too cold. It’s just a laid-back time to enjoy the company of people we love being around and having a delicious meal together. This year I spent the day with my oldest daughter, her husband, and my three grandchildren. My youngest daughter also joined us. We had a wonderful meal and even better conversation. My favorite thing has always been the laughter, so it’s great to get together with family that laughs a lot. It is therapy to me and the best part of every get-together we have.

Next week is Christmas, and everyone I know is rushing to finish their preparations. There are gifts to be purchased and grocery shopping to do. Recipes are to be chosen for each and every meal. Everyone wants their favorite goodies made year after year. Decorations and Christmas trees are up. I need to take a drive after dark and admire the hard work of my neighbors. I am always amazed at how many lights some will use to decorate their home. But they sure are beautiful to look at.

It’s been quite a few years since I did any of the abovementioned things. Oh, I have a few decorations scattered around and a jolly-looking front door. But I last had a Christmas tree when I adopted my cat four years ago. Every year I think maybe she has gotten old enough that a tree wouldn’t phase her. But then I watch another video online of a cat knocking over a fully decorated tree and lose my confidence. Maybe next year.

I no longer cook all the goodies I did when my daughters were growing up. I leave all that to them now. They are excellent cooks, and I enjoy trying their recipes for a change. But I do miss the specialties my own mother used to make. What I wouldn’t give for a piece of my mama’s fudge or a slice of her delicious fruit cake she made every Christmas. That fruit cake was everyone’s favorite. I even wrote a story about it. You can find it among all my others.

This year I hope to spend Christmas day with all three of my daughters, their husbands, and my three grandchildren. I hope we have a glorious time just being together. Good food and entertainment will be nice, but I’m mostly looking forward to seeing them all in person and giving them big hugs. Oh, and the laughter. I’m really looking forward to the laughs we will share.

Wherever you are this holiday season, I hope you are with someone you love and feel blessed to be in their company. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!!

She Looks 60… by JoAnn

Not a day goes by that there isn’t at least one reminder of our aging process. Some days, there is an abundance of reminders. It gets to be rather tiring and even depressing at some times. But what can be done about it? Absolutely nothing! Not after you’ve reached a certain point.

Like a skier on an icy slope, the years go by faster and faster. Once you hit 50, things seem to be all downhill. It’s hard enough to keep up with everyday life, much less the little annoyances that keep pecking away at us like a pesky little bird.

Oh, I know, you are probably screaming at your screen that I can exercise, go out with friends, eat healthy, travel, and do so many things to help. Maybe I could. But none of those things will take away the one thing that aggravates me the most lately, the spots. The dreadful age spots.

Every time I look in the mirror, I see a new one. Or one I didn’t notice the last time I looked. Forget about wrinkles, they only show when I smile. I don’t believe that to be so bad. But these dang spots. Where do they come from? Is it my inner self sending a secret message that it wants to get out? Or is it a road map of my life that is naturally tattooing my skin? Whatever they are, I wish them gone.

I bought my first bottle of Oil of Olay beauty lotion when I was 15. I fell in love with the smell and how it made my face feel. I have been using it ever since. I have always gotten compliments on my complexion. In my 30’s, people told me I looked to be in my 20’s. In my 40’s, I was told I looked too young to have grandchildren. Now that I am 60, well, I look 60. Enough said.

My mother had beautiful skin. Her face was wrinkle and spot-free till she passed at 76 years old. She always had a glowing complexion. I guess that gene passed me by. Although, our lifestyle has been different in many ways. She never worshiped the sun as I did in my younger years. She never put on a bikini and sunbathed for hours on a beach. She had a beautiful olive skin tone due to her Cherokee background and didn’t want to get too dark, so she shielded herself from too much sun. On the other hand, I could not get dark enough in my teens and twenties.

Scientists say the sun causes damage. But how does it show up some 40 years later? I must have bought hundreds of bottles and jars of beauty secrets during that time. Obviously, the secret is out. There is no secret! The question is, what do I do now? Or what product do I buy now? No wonder the beauty product industry is a billion-dollar-a-year success.

I write this all in fun—no offense to anyone. And don’t worry about me. I have come to terms with the fact that I am getting older each and every day. Just like I have been doing all my life. Each year of our lives, we have continued to grow and change. That is all we are doing now. The changes include grey hair, reading glasses, and spotty skin. Ugh.

This coming new year, I will make a resolution to improve myself. Just like I have every year, my entire adult life. That sounds pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? But this year, it will be a resolution to improve all of me. Mind, body, and spirit. That way, all the pressure won’t be on just what my body looks or feels like. I will do things to improve my brain function and peace of mind. And it will be okay if all that people say now is, “she looks 60.”

Night Vision… by JoAnn

I haven’t always enjoyed driving. I was extremely nervous when I took Driver’s Ed class back in high school. Even after passing that class and receiving my license, I was still not too interested in being the one behind the wheel. However, after graduating high school, I realized I wanted a job and some much-desired independence. This meant I would have to grit my teeth, get in a car, and drive.

Over the years, I learned to be a safe driver. I would drive my kids to school and back, along with wherever else they needed to go. But I still remained a somewhat nervous driver. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I truly became comfortable driving and enjoyed it. Once comfortable behind the wheel, I began driving my three daughters the 400+ miles to my parent’s home each summer for a vacation. That gave me a wealth of experience and the confidence I needed behind the wheel. I loved the independence I had earned.

It has now been over forty years since I learned to drive. I still enjoy a nice leisurely drive on the country roads where I live in Tennessee. Beautiful scenery, fresh air, and sunshine always brighten my day. Unfortunately, I now find it a chore to drive at night. My night vision seems to be dwindling with each passing year. It’s no real bother to stay in my neighborhood. I can make a quick trip to our neighborhood store, gas station, or my daughter’s. But that’s as far as I feel comfortable driving after dark.

There is another reason besides my poor night vision as to why I no longer want to drive after hours. One that is a huge pet peeve for me. The new super bright LED headlights that are now installed on vehicles. They must be wonderful for the vehicle’s driver, as they can probably see with enough clarity to spot that raccoon ready to cross the road. But for the person in front of them, it’s not so much fun. They are blinding!

Those super bright lights quickly give me a headache when there is heavy oncoming traffic. They can even be disorienting. For some reason, mainly in the small county where I live, people who drive big pickup trucks enjoy getting on the tail of my small compact car and letting their bright lights shine through every inch of it. It is likely the younger folks and not the older, more experienced drivers. I have not noticed this happening except in my small county. For some time, I’ve wondered if it is a fad among younger drivers. Surely they are not in such a hurry that they need to crowd me by riding my tail. I have never had anyone try to run me off the road. They just like to hang close behind and try to read the writing on my dashboard with their brights. I’ll admit I have lost my religion a few times when my little car is being lit up like a Christmas tree by a pair of those LED headlights.

My daughters are probably relieved that I have decided to only drive in my own neighborhood at night from now on. I, on the other hand, have mixed emotions. Even though I know it’s the right thing to do, I still can’t help but feel like I’m giving up some of my independence. And wondering if this is just the first step to eventually hanging up my car keys for good. I’m hoping it’s not.

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