Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Whoopsie Daisy!


I heard the comment from across the room of buzzing extended family yesterday and immediately searched out my mother's presence. She looked stricken and unable to breathe. As she made a speedy retreat to elsewhere, I was close on her heels. No one had intentionally meant to bring us pain. The comment was nothing in a normal life. However, it had hurt deep a wound already so infected.

Outside, I put my arm around my Mama's shoulders and hugged her to me. Like we tend to do all the time now, she said she was sorry. I told her she didn't need to be. I also told her that "the hole in the middle of the living room floor" was also susceptible to people unknowingly shoving us in from time to time. There is no malice or ill intent; it just happens. I bumped mama with my hip and said to her with my best Erkle impression, "Oops! Did I do that?" I am sure she had the same mental picture of such an action knocking us flailing into a giant, black pit. We smiled at each other and our moods were lightened enough to continue on.

I think this is why mourning periods used to include the mourners not venturing out into the social arena for at least a year (sometimes more). Social norms of dressing in black were supposed to be a signifier to the rest of the world that you were in mourning and a certain amount of respect was to be given and distance accepted. T. J. Wray said in her book that she missed this observance. I don't think I agree, and I don't think Gayla would either. If we gave ourselves a year to live in our grief totally, we would miss the joy of at least one, much-anticipated wedding and the births of several little new souls. Then there are the little boys and not-so-little girl in our lives who would grow up in that year and all their firsts we would miss. Too much life happens in a year to simply not show up. My family and I all know this and so we are present. I guess all we can ask from the rest of the world is to not hold it against us if we have to make a speedy retreat to recover our composure every now and again.

BOOK NOTE: I am not sure how I feel about The Shack so far. Finished Chapter 6 last night...almost like there are too many descriptives.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day


Growing up, Memorial Day was usually the first day of Summer Vacation. It was the signal of sleeping late, playing outside after dark, and, best of all...NO SCHOOL! There were fish fries, homemade ice cream and watermelon. We have been known to go camping, fishing and the like. I think I was almost a grown woman before it dawned on me what the day should really be about.

If you don't know a man or woman who has served our Nation's military, then you don't live in the United States. If you don't know someone who has died while serving, then you are blessed. I am one of the blessed. I am thankful to all who serve and grateful that my father (ARMY), father-in-law (MARINES), brother-in-law (AIR FORCE) and husband (ARMY) survived their enlistments. I send a prayer out for all those who did not and all those who are currently serving. You are all my heroes and I thank you for all you do.

To learn more about Memorial Day, visit Answers.com at http://www.answers.com/topic/memorial-day

PERSONAL NOTE: I downloaded The Shack to my Kindle yesterday and will start reading it this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"You're Either the Gas or the Brake."

You may have seen the new commercials for Hertz with the slogan "You're either the gas or the brake." If not, look them up on YouTube for a good laugh. I am definitely the BRAKE and my sister Gayla was the GAS. Even if it doesn't look like it, I am planning out everything in my head or on paper. Sister had a plan and went with the moment of adventure (see "V is for Vacation" blog). I am afraid of more things than you can count, and sister was always up for the thrill of the ride.

I used to hate the words "We'll see." I would be trying to make a plan and asking Sister to commit to taking part. If she said, "We'll see," I just assumed that meant "NO." After thinking about this little personality dichotomy of BRAKE or GAS, I think she may have been telling me to make the plans and be ready to adjust to whatever change is in our future.

Adjust, compromise, go with the flow, go where the wind goes...just writing those words makes the skin on my arms crawl. However, I will try it...as soon as school is out, Hunter Hell week is complete, oh and family vacation is over...SEE MY POINT!?! I can't make it through a single day without planning it from feet hitting the floor to collapse at bed time. Nevertheless, I make a promise to myself to feel better about adjusting and compromising. Ride the brakes a little!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Footprints in the Sand

Photo Source

I keep playing this poem over and over in my mind. There's a really cool story on the history of this poem. Check out the Link at the bottom of this post.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."

Click here for one of the many stories written on who is the Author of this beloved poem.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Positive Post Tuesday!

Do you ever have a song get into your head and just run around in circles like a puppy coming in from the rain? That's me today! "Here's a few of my favorite things..."

FABULOUS BOOK! A true must read...The Help is one of those books that makes you feel a lot of pride (and equal amounts of shame) about being a southern woman. I like to think I'd be Skeeter except I would have put an end to Hilly's bully tactics pretty durn quick.

THIS SONG MAKES ME THINK OF GAYLA AND SMILE... Dave Matthews Band has a song on their Stand Up CD called "American Baby" and I had never heard it until Sister's memorial service. I look at the lyrics "I hold on, to you, you lift me up, And always will, I see you in life..." and feel comforted.

"It's so FLUFFY!" Our family just loves Despicable Me! Darby and I watch it all the time and Chad gets sucked in as well as he's walking through the den. Best Christmas present this past year because it came with a little Minion. I named him Dave!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Singing in the Rain

Photo Source

What is it about songs, shows and books that pull at the heart strings and yank you around to see the pain of losing someone you love even if you're doing everything in your power just to plow on through? It's heart wrenching. There's one song in particular though that seems to be haunting me. During times of complete breakdown and distress, "The Dog Days Are Over" starts playing on whatever radio is within ear shot. At first, I didn't think anything other than, "Yeah! Sure they are...I DON'T THINK SO!" However, it's happened so many times now that I am beginning to get a little spooked.

Additionally, I am more and more feeling the urge/need to write a song. Now, I am no more a songwriter than I am a surgeon. Nevertheless, the thought comes into my head more than once a day and nags at me constantly. How do you even go about something so monumental when you have no known ability to play an instrument (the tuba doesn't count) or assign music to lyrics? This same feeling invades my being about writing a children's book as well. This I have a feeling about where to start at least. Throw in my desire to make a quilt and paint a masterpiece.

Wait! Hold the presses! Could it be that I just want to create something that would contribute to the world? Do I want there to be something out there of significance that says, "She existed and mattered!"? Hmmm...things to ponder some more.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Space Mountain

Photo Source

Remember the blog on FEAR? Well, Space Mountain is another time I let my Gayla drag me into something kicking and screaming. When we were 13 and 15, respectively, Mama and Daddy took us to Disney World. Sister had one goal...Space Mountain! Being a chicken in every respect, I so did NOT want to ride a roller coaster.

I made Gayla promise the ride would not go upside down. She promised! Then she and I stood in line for an hour and a half. All the while, Gayla was beaming with excitement and I was listening to the screams of terror emitted from the pitch dark right above our heads.

Finally! It was our turn. I thought I might throw up as Gayla skipped to the little car where she claimed the front seat. I sat directly behind her, wrapped my arms around her real tight, and buried my head. Then, for the next 60 seconds, I screamed like a banshee right in sister's ear as we were zipped around in all directions in complete darkness.

At the end of the ride, when the lights go red as your ship is "landing," I think I hollered, "Oh, God! We're dead! We're in hell!" Gayla whipped around, glared at me with venom, and screamed at me, "You ruined it!" I felt horrible and tried to apologize. However, she would have none of it. To make it up to her, one of our parents stayed with her to stand in line and ride it without me while the other took me and Bubba to the Tea Cups.

I found a video of the ride with the lights on and have included the link so you can see how lame it looks with the lights on. Plus, I swear we were going faster than the video shows. Goes to show you, everything is scarier in the dark.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


1972 was a leap year that began on a Saturday. According to Wikipedia, "...It was the longest year ever, as two leap seconds were added during this 366-day year, an event which has not since been repeated."
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–3 in Super Bowl VI on January 13. On March 22, Congress voted to send the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification. On April 17, women were allowed to run the Boston Marathon for the first time. There were two failed break-ins at the Watergate Hotel in May. Five White House operatives were arrested in June for their efforts. By August the last ground troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. Bobby Fischer and this new game show "The Price is Right" were big to-dos in September. Atari's "Pong," the first video game to be a commercial success, came out in November. Apollo 17 and its visit to the moon were big news in December. Shaq was born in March and Jennie Garth, Jennifer Garner, and The Rock joined in the fun later on. However, 1972 is most important because my Gayla was born to Mama and Daddy. She would enjoy a little more than two years as an only child before I so rudely ruined her fun. In those two years my parents have said Sister was their guinea pig baby. She taught them how to be parents. Gayla had the blondest hair and huge blue eyes. Also, she was the first grandbaby so she was everyone's doll. I wish I knew more about the time when she was the center of the world. 1972 was a good year...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Pits

I've fallen in a hole today and cannot seem to get out. Even staying busy isn't helping because I feel like I am running under water, while holding my breath, and carrying 100 pound dumbbells. I am still moving forward and accomplishing tasks at hand, but on the inside I am screaming from the enormity of the pressure to put one foot in front of the other. Still that is better than when there's a lull because then I cannot breathe through the panic setting in.

I'll try again tomorrow...sorry to be Debby downer today.

Photo Source: http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn182/H2OLily_2008/Universe/Black_Hole-1024x768.jpg

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion."

Truvy from Steel Magnolias couldn't have said it better. In fact, I should probably sit down and watch my favorite movie of all time soon since SarahG and I have been quoting it religiously for the last two months. Yes! I cry ... a lot! Most of it I do behind closed doors or in my car so I don't make anyone feel uncomfortable or that they need to comfort me. MyChad sees most of it, but I hide even from him to save him the heartache of seeing me hurt and not being able to fix it.

There's laughter too ... a lot of laughter. Mostly, I laugh at the less-than-appropriate things other people say. I thought I would share the joy today.

On day two of Life without Gayla, I was in the area of our gym and already had it on my list of to-dos to cancel our gym memberships at LAFitness. I had just left sister’s office after visiting with her sweet co-workers and was already pretty shaky and emotional. I walked into the gym, asked for the manager and explained what had happened. I asked the perky little blonde manager, "What do I need to do to cancel our memberships?" Miss Perky didn't say anything in answer but began typing away on the computer and asking me questions about addresses and e-mails. After a couple of minutes of silently and uncomfortably waiting there, Perky turned to me, gave me a sheet of paper she had printed off and explained that I just needed to mail said paper. I thanked her and turned to leave. Perky smiled, waved to my retreat and called out, "Thank you! I hope your day gets better!"

On day four, myChad bravely took me to the crematorium to make arrangements. I had chosen this particular place because it was close to our home and because I really had no clue as to what I was doing, this being my first time to be responsible for such a thing. The funeral director was as she had been promised: sympathetic, helpful, kind, etc. However, she was also all about business. At one point she was showing me their "deep discounts" on a price sheet, and all I could think was, "Dear Gayla, please don't hate me because I took you to the Wal-mart of crematoriums!" However, the conclusion of our visit was the kicker. Discount Director said, "You're doing really well for your first time. It will be even easier the next time you need our services." DD pointed to my husband at that point and said it could be him next time and she hoped I would return to do business with her. I was stuck between the horrible thought of losing my husband and laughing at someone up-selling funeral services in the midst of the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I could go on and on. However, let me just give everyone a little hint on what to say when you don't know what to say. Tell the grieving persons you're sorry. If you knew the deceased as well, then tell them how he/she influenced your life. Say how much you loved him/her. Then listen. Also, unless the information is offered, do not ask, "What happened?" or try to press for details. Do not ask this grieving individual to re-live the death of his/her loved one by telling you how it happened. Google is an amazing tool, and it will provide you the details you desire.

Photo source: http://www.types-of-flowers.org/pictures/magnolia.jpg

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Few of Her Favorite Things...

Shopping has never been my favorite sport, nor will it ever be something that I just feel like doing for "fun." I would shop with myGayla whenever she wanted though because it was exciting to watch her just see something she wanted or needed and just buy it. When I am forced to shop, I always keep my eyes open for things that my loved ones would like. Each of them has their own "list" that runs through my head like a marquee listing favorites and hobbies. You can imagine how shopping in the last two months has gone. There are many store clerks befuddled by the weeping crazy lady on aisle 10.

Gayla's Favorite Things:
Dirty Dancing and anything Patrick Swayze
Kasey Khane, Carl Edwards and anything NASCAR
Electronic Battleship and all games with cards (Spades, Phase 10, etc.)
Anything Weenie Dog Related
Scooby Doo
Neutral-colored or brown sweaters
Wuthering Heights and The Scarlet Letter
Un-sweet iced tea from Sonic (Sonic Ice)
Steak and baked potatoes
Shrimp (dreading those commercials for Shrimp Fest at Red Lobster)
Grilled Cheese
Reeses Cups
Sweet tarts
Now and Laters

You can imagine why I spend a lot of time in stores weeping!

Photo Source: http://www.westcoastweathervanes.com/IMAGES/Human-weathervane-images/Mary-Poppins-weathervane-photo1.jpg

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Reading" Club

One area where Gayla and I have always differed was reading. She hated it and I loved it. To me, immersing myself in a world outside of reality was like vacationing not only in an unknown place but as any character my imagination decided to be.

A little more than a year ago, I introduced sister to audio books. Her career required her to travel in her car a lot, and she wanted something to keep it interesting. It turned out that this idea was right up Gayla's alley, and suddenly, I had a reading buddy with whom to talk about our books.

Gayla would "read" her books and send me texts about what shocked or tickled her funny bone. She sent me a text one day that said, "I really enjoy our book club chats." She told me she wished audio books had been around when we were in school because she would have liked reading more. Sister was an auditory learner and could use her inner eye to see the story so much better than if she were reading the written page.

Two new books in a couple of the series we were following came out this month. My heart shattered when the reminder Gayla had me place in my phone went off. I purchased the books on my kindle and read them with vigor, hoping to have the same excitement I had when we shared this experience. However, I have since finished the books and am thoroughly disappointed. I don't know if it is the writer's fault or if my interest in reading is waning. I contribute most of my disappointment to the loss of my reading buddy.

I started reading The Help last night if anyone is interested in reading with me!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


As a child, fear of dogs plagued me to the extreme. I would like to say it was the Boston terrier in a diaper who chased me at full speed during a family reunion or even the vicious mutt that lived on the corner who chased me at a fuller speed from the bus stop that ruined me for the little dears. Whatever the cause, I was driven to a panic anytime our canine friends came near. This included the critters that lived with us throughout my life.

Finally fed up with me being afraid, Daddy decided to use bribery to get me over it. He told me that if I would make friends with our family's pet schnauzer, Jen-Jen, then he would take us to Chuck-E-Cheese, a new and fantastic restaurant that all of my friends were exploring at the time. Yet the lure of pizza and games could not bring me to call a truce.

Gayla also desired to join the "in" crowd at this new eatery and entertainment factory. Therefore, she made it her mission to "help" (MAKE) me conquer my fear. She made sure we were alone in the yard, and she held Jen-Jen with her head away from me. Gayla pulled me crying and shaking over to the dog and made me start petting her. Sister talked to me the whole time, telling me the puppy would not hurt me and only wanted me to love her. We were out there for an hour or so, and eventually, like letting my bicycle go when teaching me to keep my balance, Gayla released Jen-Jen to fully play with me. Upon seeing that I was not going to be eaten alive by our dog, I simply "got over it" and, true to his word, Daddy took us all to eat horrible, card board pizza and play expensive games.

Gayla was always my champion. She encouraged me and sometimes drug me kicking and screaming into living this life. If I was afraid, she held my hand and spoke to me kindly (except for Space Mountain...once again...so very sorry). If I was unsure, sister laid out the pros and cons for me. A few times she even laid down the law. That's what big sisters do! There's still so much I am afraid of in life. Who is going to hold my hand and talk me through it now?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I am sitting on that bench longingly gazing at the wishing well and fiddling with my lone coin. I want to enter into the beautiful garden of life and thrust this silver piece into the wishing well and have one wish to cover all desires in my heart. I don't want to worry anymore...about finances, about my child's future, about the siding that is rotting on the back of our house. I want to stop smoking and lose 100 pounds. I want to be able to say "yes" to every reasonable request my child or my husband makes. I want to make all of their dreams come true plus those of my family and friends. Tack on that we need peace in our world, and every child should have a loving and safe home in which to grow up. Everyone in the world should have shelter and food. The list of wishes is endless.

The logical side of my brain starts categorizing these wishes to help with the selection of the one wish to cover all wishes. It narrows the field little by little. Takes out the ones that are not in my scope of control. Plays "eanie, meanie, miney, mo" with a few. Takes into consideration the theory that there needs to be a plan to assist in the outcome. Finally, I have it!

I boldly walk up to the wishing well, thinking, "This will solve everything!" Right before the traditional closing of my eyes to insure the wish come true, I look at my reflection in the still water and see the eyes of my Gayla. I smile and the Gayla reflection smiles too. My wish to beat all wishes escapes my mind through the tears that begin to flow, now replaced by the one desire in my heart that is impossible. I toss the coin to her, whisper my wish, and return to the bench to ponder the world that continues to revolve around the sun that didn't go out.

Photo copyright © Cynthia Morris, www.originalimpulse.com.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


So much has been said to me about praying recently. I have always considered my prayers to be a conversation that never really begin or end. Neither have I really wholly relied on the "standard" prayers because they don't always feel like I am communicating but rather reciting.

Prayer flags, primary colored panels of cloth, strung along mountain ridges and peaks in the Himalayas, have always intrigued me. They are said to bless the countryside, are used in healing ceremonies, and are used "to increase life, fortune, health and wealth" (Wikipedia). I like to think that the prayers are carried on the wind to their destination in God's heart.

Metaphorically, FaceBook has become a set of prayer flags if you think about it. Each day, we set out our feelings, thoughts and weights. The wind of technology picks up our writings and carries them to our friends. I read Gayla's FB pages as much as I read my own. I see her family and friends sending out their prayers for her. I do the same. When I have something to tell her that I don't think I can share with the world, I send her a text message.

I communicated with my sister everyday either via Words With Friends, text messages, or meeting up to go to dinner or the gym. Since her death, I have continued this communication through writing these notes, posting to her FB, sending her a text or just calling out to her in my prayers. I still have not dreamed of her but hope to hear from her some day. I'll keep hanging out my prayer flags and hoping the wind will carry my words to her and fill her with my love.


Hanging in my Gayla's guest room, is a water color of a bright yellow sunflower, framed with a burgundy mat. I painted this picture with love and pride because sister had asked me to create something for her new home. I asked her what she had in mind, but she only told me to paint what I wanted her to have. I wanted her to have all the happiness and sunshine in the world to fill her heart and her home. I wanted her to have joy and to have all her dreams of family and friends come true. I wanted her to have it all because she deserved so much more than life had dealt her so far in her young life.

Gayla was my sunshine and, in my eyes, could do no wrong. I knew she wasn't perfect but only saw those things in her that were. I would defend her against anyone who said or did anything to hurt my sweet sister in word or deed. I always felt like she deserved a better sister than me and felt like I was getting away with being mediocre because Gayla didn't see all my flaws and failures. In my mind, there was this one perfect sister to whom I was thrust upon, but she loved me anyway and was still my biggest fan. This had to mean, or so I thought, that I had hidden the broken and tarnished parts of me from her and spared her somehow.

It has been brought to my attention that I wasn't so good at keeping my flaws hidden from Gayla, and I was not getting away with being mediocre. However, I HAVE to choose to believe that she loved me inspite of or even because of those things in me that I hate and have worked my whole life to fix. I HAVE to take the same advice I gave Gayla not too long ago: "Sister, there is only you and me in this relationship. No one else factors in to how you and I are with each other. You should never listen to anyone who tries to speak for me as far as my feelings about you go." If I don't make these choices to see our life together this way, then I have to live the rest of my life thinking one of the people I loved most in this life for just being herself didn't love me just for being me. I would not survive a life like that.

Please note, this isn't a dramatic ploy seeking reassurance or back patting. This is me telling the world, I am how I will always be and have always been...completely imperfect. I don't want nor need to hear the negative things that anyone has ever said about me, whether that is my sister or the stranger on the corner. I say enough negative things to myself on a daily basis. However, I have promised my Mama, My Chad, and my SarahG that I will not do this anymore.

Photo source: http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p280/GrizzlyWill/Photography%20Stuff/Sunflower.jpg

I love you, love you, love you!

All weekend long when I would tell my nephew James III that I loved him, he would respond, "you don't love me." I would say, "I love you, love you, love you. You know if I say it three times I must really mean it." We did this three or four times during the weekend. Well he kept right on with his way of saying it until I was walking to the car to leave. He was sitting at the back door playing in his new wheelbarrel. I told him that last time, "I love you, James!" he started saying, "I love you, love you, love you, Jaimee. I love you, love you, love you." He followed me all the way to the car yelling it to me. I guess he really meant it!


I grew up playing with baby dolls and dreaming of one day being a mommy. Lighthearted play became a back-burner mission once I was of age. My goal became an obsession in 2001 when I started having complications with endometriosis. However, in 2007, just as I was getting my fairytale with the love of my life, I had to give up the dream of being someone's Mama. Or so I thought!

Almost in the same instant that the ability to become a mom was taken, the most beautiful, smart, funny, caring little 10-year-old girl opened her arms wide and told me, "You're my Mama, Jaimee." If it weren't for Darby (and Chad), I surely would have lost my mind with grief over the past four years. Darby girl has taught me as much as I have taught her. She is the best daughter a gal could have. (It's really funny to see her get on to her Daddy if she thinks he's being unfair to me...hehehe).

I may have missed out on the "Firsts" of the beginning decade of her life, but I'll be there for the rest. I was there to hold her in my lap when the "dreaded first" entered her life. I'll be there for the first day of high school and college. I'll hold her when her first heartbreak seems like it will tear her in two. I'll be the one in the passenger side when she tries to parallel park the first time. My car will be her first fender-bender. I'll take her to pay her first ticket. I'll help her fill out the application for her first job. I'll get the first call that she's found the person of her dreams and is ready to get married. I'll help her figure out how we'll break that news to her Daddy.

I cannot count all the "firsts" I will witness through this amazing little woman, but I'll be there. Do you know how I know? I know because I have the best role model for how to be a Mama to a daughter, my Mama.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Now that the A to Z Challenge is complete, I have to come up with a way to keep writing. I have chosen to find a photo each day, take the inspiration and run with it. Let's see where it takes us.

Two story Thursday!

As I have said previously, Gayla gave amazing gifts of all kinds. In 1996, Gayla gave me a porcelain carousel horse on a wooden stand that was also a music box. I've never been a girly girl collector of such things so we were both in giggles when I opened the box and was struck for what to say. Gayla reached over and wound up the music. It began to play "Wind Beneath My Wings" from the movie "Beaches." Immediately reduced to tears, I grabbed her and hugged her fiercely. I asked her, "How did you know that is the song that always reminds me of you?"

Gayla replied, "Because it's the song that always reminds me of you."

Eyes roll and everyone groans when the song comes on these days since it was over played to infinity when it first came out. However, my eyes tear up and I sing along proudly. Always have and always will! I am singing to my sister and have to sing extra loud now so she can hear me.

Photo copyright © Hank Kellner, hank-englisheducation.blogspot.com.

My second story is of a trip to the Gulf of Mexico with Gayla, James II, and Dana. We all traveled down in sister's truck and camped on the beach. Dana taught the three of us how to grill hot dogs in the sand (little gritty but good!). We all slept in the bed of the truck like four bugs in a rug. We talked Gayla into letting the sea gulls eat food off of her while she laid on the beach. I was sunburned from top to bottom. Dana took pictures of it all. Nothing amazingly special about the memory other than we were adult kids playing at the beach. I loved that trip.

B is for Ballet

When Gayla and I were little girls, our mama enrolled us at Patty Smith's dance studio to take ballet. I remember the classes. I remember not practicing like I was supposed to. I remember watching Gayla like a mimicking monkey during our three minutes on stage. Unfortunately my brattiness must have won out because that was our only year of ballet. We did try tumbling though. For a year! My poor sister...she loved to dance. In college she finally got her dance class...C&W! From them on she was a dancing fanatic. There were a lot of nights spent dancing in our 20s. She told me once that I could only marry a man who would dance with me. So I did. During our last Epic Fun night at the end of January, I danced with my sister. It was Epic!

A is for Angel

NOTE: This post was originally posted on my FaceBook in early May 2011. I received 9 "Likes" and 13 comments of encouragement to keep blogging. It was then that I truly began using my blogger area. Thank you for visiting from the Weekend Rewind. 9/16/2011

This little endeavor began a little late in April so I started with "C is for Cheese." However, everyone knows you cannot have an alphabet without "A" and "B". Therefore, the next two notes will round us out.

The word ANGEL means "messenger," specifically messenger from God. I was made aware that angels are quite the debate from their appearance to their origination. I like to believe angels are messengers through deed and word and that they can be earthly or other worldly. I have been told more times than I can count to be comforted that my Sister Gayla is an angel in heaven watching over us all. I really hope she's just enjoying heaven and isn't wearing herself out trying to keep up with us all...we're a bit of a handful! How do angels communicate with us? It seems dreams are a common medium. T.J. Wray's book on sibling loss and grieving has an entire chapter dedicated to dreams and how surviving brothers and sisters say their dreams of their lost sibling help them with understanding, acceptance and/or closure.

MyChad said I was dreaming about Gayla the week after she died, but I don't remember the dream. He said he came to move me from our sofa to our bedroom one night, and I looked up and said with a wide smile, "We are bowling, and all of Gayla's horses are winning." He decided to leave me be. I wish I could remember the dream. What message am I supposed to get from it? Since I don't remember it, is it really a message? And why is everyone else dreaming about Gayla and I am not? The book says it will happen and to just be patient. We all know that is NOT my strong suit.

I think because sister was taken from us, we all have so much we want to say to her and hear from her. I am guessing that is why so many of the dreams that have been shared with me have the dreamer and Gayla talking or trying to talk. I would love it if sister could just tell me how I am supposed to survive her. I go to bed each night reciting what I will say if Gayla appears in my dreams so I don't waste any time. I will tell her, "I love, love, love you. I miss you so desperately. You were the best sister I could ever have been given. I'm sorry that I am not being stronger. Thank you for inspiring me to do what I am supposed to be doing. You were my angel on earth and will forever be my angel in heaven."

Z is for Zinnober

Zinnober as a color is "Chrome Green." On further search it's also an element that can be used in the making of mirrors. Finding a "Z" word that I could expound upon was a challenge that my husband took on when he heard me tell my mother I couldn't find a good word for today's note. He chose this one because he knew my Gayla's favorite color was green. Although she preferred a more traditional forest or kelly, it works.

As small children, Gayla and I were dressed alike for almost everything. My mama was trying to make sure everything was equal and neither of us felt like the other got something more than her sister. I didn't care...I wanted to be everything Gayla was and that included absorbing her fashion. Gayla on the other hand was not as pleased and no one should expect the older sister to feel any differently. As our ages progressed, we learned to ask for different colors of the same outfit. I grabbed on to BLUE as my favorite color so sister chose GREEN. This also worked because her birthstone was Peridot.

Additionally, I am not sure if anyone ever noticed this, but Gayla's eyes changed colors. They could be blue or they could be green. I am sure it had more to do with her clothing choices for the moment, but she and I at one time in our lives said one was for a good mood and the other was for a bad mood. We were silly sister girls...we could make stuff up like that.

For sister's memorial service, I wanted to wear green in her honor but didn't own, nor could I find anything, that was green (unless I wanted to wear a Bull Shoals t-shirt or some horrendous left over St. Patrick's day garb). I decided I would have my toes painted green. I found the color when we arrived at the nail salon and held to it. It was so UGLY that Sarah leaned over at one point and said, "I am sorry, Jaimee girl, even your beloved sister would not allow that color on her toes!" I agreed but was sticking to it even after it was smudged and repaired twice when they put my flip flops on me to leave. It has been more than six weeks, and I cannot bring myself to remove this gawdy, not EVEN John Deer Green, nail polish from my toes. I think we have moved past the necessary vanity change to a public service for me to take care of this. I'll probably cry when it's finally removed. Can't wait to try to explain that to my pedicurist!

Y is for You

You are the reason I am surviving.

You are my rock.

You have touched my broken heart.

You carry me through each day.

You invade my soul.

You have my heart.

You are my hero.

You I love more each passing moment.

X is for Xenurine

The word "xenurine" means "a species of armadillo." This particular critter is also known as a cabassou and is native to South America, with five toes and enormous claws. For those of you who were wondering how I would pull this particular letter off today, hide and watch. ;-) My younger brother James II and his lovely bride Dana collect armadillos! TA-DA!! The long-awaited love letter to two of the most important people in my life...

James: To say our youngest years were tumultuous would be an understatement. You have to understand though, my time as the "baby" was usurped not only by a new baby, but a baby BOY! James loves to tell people our parents "got the one they really wanted" with his birth. Might be true, most likely is not. During this time in our lives, Gayla was our glue. Through her we could play together and get along enough to have a happy childhood. There's a picture of the three of us collapsed on one another asleep in the back seat of our Crown Victoria that would show us to be the perfect children...ASLEEP! High school was another story. We equally tortured one another. However, I do have a fond memory of James being the perfect "date" to a band banquet. He opened doors for me, pulled out my chair for me and spent the whole evening being the perfect guy. Even better, somewhere during our college years, we truly became friends. During one visit with him at A&M, we went to a baseball game and heckled the pitcher mercilessly. The matching T-shirts we bought that day are still around today; he's worn his out so I gave him mine. When I was preparing to move to New York, Gayla and I traveled to A&M to see Bubba and Dana. We took pictures under the Century Tree, ate at Panchos and had a really good time. With the birth of his two sons, James III and William, and the addition of my Darby, our common bond as parents continues to strengthen our relationship. He picks at my child and I dote on his. Most importantly, as adults it is a great comfort to me that we are friends as well as siblings.

Dana: Who do I credit for the shift in my relationship with Bubba? Maturity gets an honorable mention, but our Dana gets the most recognition. When Dana un-officially joined our family in 1994, she brought something to our little clique that is indescribable. I truly believe the close relationship she had with her two brothers influenced James to improve the relationship he had with his sisters. Additionally, their marriage in 2001 was a highlight in all of our lives. Almost anyone will tell you Dana is the quietest person they know. However, wait till she gets going. She can make you laugh from out of nowhere. My favorite story to tell is kind of gross but really funny. There are just not enough rolls in packages! One night at the end of dinner, someone asked, "Does anyone want the last roll?" James said he did. Gayla picked it up and licked one side of said bread, asking, "How about now?" Bubba picked the thing up and licked the other side, saying, "Yep! I still want it." Dana threw her foot into the ring, picked up the roll, and ate it. "Too bad for yall!" she calmly stated. That's our Dana! I love spending time with her because she helps me be a better woman, wife, mother, daughter, friend, aunt and sister...just by her influence! Dana changes the world by showing us all how to behave and how to love.

W is for Woman

I don't know if it's because she is a "Boomer" raised by a 50's mom or not, but MyMama is the best kind of Woman...a feminine feminist. She raised Gayla and I to be strong, educated, career women who still wanted to be moms and wives. Mama brought us up to think for ourselves and stand up for what is right. We were more than capable of taking care of ourselves and sharing our lives with others. She made sure we knew the golden rule inside and out, including the "loop holes." Ha! Also, is anyone else aware that my mother is a superhero?

The first time I realized my Mama was a superhero was at Spring Lake Park's public pool. We were taking the requisite Red Cross Swimming lessons one summer, and as I held on to the side of the pool, I saw this flash of movement and heard my Mama yell. I looked to my left just as my 5'1" mother vaulted over the four-foot chain link fence and snatched up a toddler who was headed for the water. AMAZING!

The second time I was made aware of her super powers I was throwing a tantrum (shameful!). In a fit of hormonal rage, I picked up an orange from the fruit bowl and chunked it at her. The accuracy with which Mama caught it right in front of her was astounding. The force with which she should have paddled my behind would have been one for the record books.

Today is my superhero's birthday. It's one of the Big-0's but I won't say which one. From her sweet, tender, love-filled heart to her quick wit and amazing soul, you cannot help but love Brenda Gail Moore. She is the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up. I love you, Mama! Happy birthday!

V is for Vacation

If there was one thing my sister Gayla loved, it was VACATION. There were the countless camping trips as children, the one trip to Disney World, one jaunt she took to New York to see me before I moved home, our cruises, and on and on. Most recently, our vivacious Gayla decided she would take a trip to Mexico BY HERSELF! I was wracked with worry from the moment I found out until the minute she arrived back home safe. My sweet little Gayla was going to a foreign country where she didn't speak the language and all scenarios of danger filled my little imagination.

Each day I would check her FaceBook and anxiously await her texts. At one point in the week, she wrote, “Took the bus into the shopping part of town. Spent too many pesos. Stopped at Margaritaville for a margarita and nachos, and then back to the hotel for some time at the beach. I still didn't get to go parasailing. I highly recommend everybody take a vacation by themselves at least once in their lifetime. It has been a wonderful experience so far. I will let you know how the zip lining goes tomorrow.”

When I finally got the text that she was back in DFW, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Over the next 24 hours, Gayla posted pics and showed us all what a good time she had experienced. To say the least, I was so very impressed with sister’s brave act of adventure. I felt silly to have worried so much. It never even crossed my mind that I should fear her doing an everyday thing like going to eat breakfast at Waffle House and getting a pedicure. Nevertheless, this lazy Saturday luxury would end up being the trip I should have feared.

We have all tried to reason out why she took one road instead of another, questioning our own decisions on March 19. I have blamed myself for so many things that I irrationally think could have changed the outcome. Nothing is going to change this though. There is no rewind or reset button on life. My advice: be like Gayla; adventure out, spend your pesos, eat some nachos, rest on the beach and do something to get your adrenaline going. Life is too short to live it waiting for someday.

U is for Unique

One of a kind, unlike any other, unparalleled, incomparable...Gayla Leeanne Moore had no equal. She was the one and only of her kind. She is never to be replaced or substituted. She is my unicorn, and I was blessed to have such a valuable treasure in my life.

**sorry if this note is short...sad and angry today...can't be positive...tried**

T is for Treasure

Time to watch these babies grow

Reasons to laugh out loud

Evenings spent on the back porch rocking

Artwork to frame and hang

Songs to sing along

Understanding of real love

Everyone I call family and friend

S is for Sister

I knew this note was going to be a big one. Much like “P,” “S” has been weighing on me almost from the beginning of this exercise in self-help. Only one word could be used for this letter…SISTER. T.J. Wray said it best when she wrote, “From schoolyard bullies to teenage broken hearts, from careers to marriage to dreams [fulfilled or] unfulfilled, our [sisters] have been there through it all, life partners in our journey through time.”

I remember beating up that bully because he threatened Gayla’s safety and standing firm with my mother as she told the school they could not punish me for it. Gayla and I shared each others’ heartbreaks too because when she hurt, I hurt and vice versa. As adults Gayla would not allow me to reinact that school yard justice mostly because she knew it wasn’t really in me to duke it out. We both hated confrontation. However, she knew I would if she would give me the okay because I wanted her safe and protected. I was an adult before I knew she felt similarly for me. Gayla told me once that it hurt HER feelings when people insulted me for my weight. She then said, it was the same hurt she felt when they would turn around in the same breath and tell her she was “too skinny.” I spent all my life looking up to Gayla and wanting to be just like her only to find out in that moment that she felt the same way about me. Although different in so many more ways than we were alike, Gayla and I shared the same heart and core values. She was my biggest fan and I was hers. This made us more than sisters, it made us friends and partners in this life.

My one and only “freak out” so far included me screaming at the top of my lungs, “It’s not supposed to be like this. We are not supposed to do this until we are REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY OLD!” Gayla and I used to joke that the nursing home we shared would have to call Darby to report we had been racing our motorized wheelchairs in the hall again or throwing pudding in the dining room. Who am I supposed to race and start food fights with now?

Once again, in order to find my inspiration today, I enlisted my friends and was blown away by the love and friendship among sisters that poured in. My wish is for none of you to ever feel this sort of pain and loss. That you get to be those old ladies getting in trouble together if not for racing in the hallway, then for throwing your pudding at the other inmates. I salute the treasure of sisters who inspired me today and also their sisters who support, inspire, love, and cherish each of them equally. I pray you each reach out to your sister today and hug, kiss, praise, or whatever you’re able to do. I thought I would have a life time to continue praising and loving my Gayla only to have her stolen away from me way too soon.

Praise and love to all of the following sisters: Lacy and Kellie, Nikki, Jenny and Karri, Holly and Kerensa, Shelley and Shannon, Sarah and Rachael, Philicia and Deborah (sending you so many prayers of healing), Tamara and Deanna, and Sarah, Annie, Becky, Alex and Jackie. Mama Kathy I love you and am thankful for you every day.