Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holday Stress

Seems to me that magazines, newspapers and yes! even blogs,
begin  in November with notes and instructions, tips and sure-fire ways…methods to  have a
stress-free holiday eason!

I am now a Senior Citizen---and spend plenty of time remembering Christmas Past.

The earliest stress at Christmas that I can recall was my Freshman year at Eldon High School.
   There was: {and I checked it out in the year book}

Choir at the Church Big Christmas Program
{back then teens sang in the adult choir and were expected to do more, really than the Adults}

Music Programs at School  
{Our Mixed Chorus sang at most of the churches in town... Big Program at School done twice.....Band Concert, Girls Sextet, Trio, and German Band playing at service clubs etc.   Marching Band played and marched in the  Jefferson City Christmas Parade}

Add to that Basketball Season was getting underway, and that was
big doings in Eldon!   Miss a ballgame?  Unheard of!!!  
We didn’t have football, so all eyes were on the gym.

I earned my little monies by baby sitting at that time. 
Young adults with small children were no different than now, parties call for babysitters.
You know, nothing compares to Christmas in a small town.

The next three years, more and more of the same,
but you need to add dating to the mix.  
I must admit, I liked that part!

Then there were New Years Eve  parties and I certainly did not want to miss
a single one.  I don't think I ever did, really. 

We generally had some snow at
that time of year, so there were also sledding parties,
ice skating without skates,
bon fires and hot chocolate and singing and fun.....and stress!   

I just had to be  ALL-IN all the time.  In everything!

Now let me tell you I think that is just the time I became a Stress Junkie!
I became a Mrs. when I was just 19.
Later that year, my Mr. joined the US Army.
We had a Baby Boy.
Man, that was some Thanksgiving!

Pvt. Buster was in Advanced Training and  didn’t know for sure that
 he would get any of the holidays off.
To our surprise, he was there the night after our son was born.
 He was there to take me home, in my Daddy's car, as we did not have any wheels of our own.
He even made it home on Christmas Eve.....right after local stores closed. 
Again, you gotta love a small town, because they opened up and sold him Christmas gifts for us!
That was a wee bit stressful!

That was the beginning for our family of many Thanksgiving and Christmases.
Pastoring a small country church.
Christmases on the move between Columbia, Green Grove, Eugene and Eldon.  
Celebrating Christmas with both families and our Church Family.
Getting Degree  from Missouri University


Then moving to Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky 
which brought us Christmas away from our parents and families.  
We had a big Christmas with our growing family, because the church we belonged to saw to it that there would be presents under the tree.
The second year there we had a Baby Girl to add to those two little boys.   

Now, if you want stress, here’s a formula. 
We had NO money:
Bob working nights and going to school days and I was babysitting and  taking in laundry

BUT…
We had Christmas.
That was a new kind of stress!

He graduated and we moved to Pioneer Mission work.
Christmas plays-somebody had to write them-so I did.
Music-somebody had to play the piano and get kids singing- so  Rae and I did.
Decorating home and church
Making School Christmas programs
Delivering food to folks who were needy
Singing to Shut-ins
who wereliving in homes (before there were laws against such things)

Yep!  We had stress! 
 But you know what? 
 It was lovely!



Until our children all graduated from high Sshool and beyond
 there have always been Music Programs at our churches.
{There still are but I no longer sing in them}

 The children moved.
 To places in  Europe, Macedonia, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma
New York, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia,Tennessee, Pennsylvania etc. etc. etc.  

 I must add that we moved, the Preacher and I, to Alaska.
There,  we were REALLY separated from our children and parents.
We did not leave our church at Christmas because we needed to be there.
Our congregation was young and away from home.   
We felt they needed us.  You know what? 
It turned out they did.  

We spent those Holidays away from our blood kin,
 but oh!  the joy we had and celebrated with the Family of Christ. 

In all this there were parties, programs, plays and writing and staging and doing
and helping.    We did them all, just like when our children were the little ones. 

Our family is still scattered all over the USA.   We have little great-grands singing, acting,
playing piano, in programs in lots of states.   We are not able to be there to see them and applaud. 

So now, in this stage of life, the stress is so different.
But let me assure you, it is stress, all the same.
Now, you might say,
“Listen here, old lady! Aren’t you are retired?  You are supposed to be stress free!”
Is that what you think? 

Yeah!  Right!!!

In a way you are right.
Sure I have stress , but it is not the same type of stress.
My stress has to do with medical issues, with intangible things that come with age.

 I told my little tale above to be able to say this:
It has been my observation that we would lose something if
we did away with all holiday stress. 
 It is like being on edge.
Like letting loose the emotion that goes with the season,
with this stress comes
 laughter
 happy tears
 just a bit of sadness
goose-bumps
sighs
oooohs and  aaaahs
and that warm feeling of love
that flows over you when you behold the Christ Child in his manger bed

 
 Being a little edgy and being charmed  and awed anew
 with the wonder of little children in choir robes singing Silent Night.
Not being consumed with the material, but consumed with the Love of God,
the giving of the Word, the song of the angels, and the Love of God! 

You go ahead and try to make your holidays stress-free, if you like.
But, for what it’s worth, I'll take some stress and if you don't…
I think you’ll miss out on some rare emotions and blessings!!!

~Charlotte

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On Father's Day

My Sweet Daddy. He is my first memory.  Strong, large hands reaching over the top of the crib to take me into his arms.  Holding me high up on his shoulder and singing, my chin buried into that spot where he broke his collarbone long before I was born. It made just the right little spot for me to rest my chin.  I slept in my crib in my parents' room for a long time, so this memory is probably from my toddler years.

I was born when he was in seminary and he worked nights loading trucks for Nabisco after going to school.  Mother tells that he would come home and ask if he could wake me up on occasion. He would say it had been several days since he'd seen my eyes.  She says she always agreed and he would pick me up, wake me, talk and sing to me and then rock me back to sleep.  I was a Daddy's girl from the get-go.  In fact, I have proclaimed myself to be the Queen of Daddy's girls. 

Daddy's Girl

I remember him taking me up in his arms to stand at the window during a raging storm.  I was so afriad, but he held me there and told me of God's love for me.  He assured me that God would take care of me and that he would also take care of me.  He sang, "I know whom I have believed" and he calmed me.  Now when the thunder rolls and the lightning crashes, I think of being held in My Sweet Daddy's arms and I stand at the window and know that God will care for me.  And that My Sweet Daddy loves me.

My earliest concept of God was so shaped by My Sweet Daddy. Loving. Meeting my every need. Always there in times of trouble. Expecting my best. Longing for my obedience. Swift discipline when necessary. Holding me in his arms. Providing for my safety and well being. How easy it was for me to believe in God and  that my Heavenly Father loved me when I had such an earthly father! 

As I grew older, time and time again My Sweet Daddy provided wisdom and encouragement to me. In my darkest personal hours, he was there. When a doctor told me that I probably had what he would call 'products of conception' and suggested an abortion, it was My Sweet Daddy I called. Months later, when that beautiful product of conception...my Annie...was born, My Sweet Daddy was there.

I remember when I was a military wife with my husband on a remote tour of duty, My Sweet Daddy would come and get my toddler son to go get a coke or perhaps get gas in the car.  He seldom called ahead, because I was almost always at home.  He would knock on the door and ask if he could borrow Jamie for a few hours.  And it was always when I was at my wits end with a toddler and a newborn and feeling very alone.  Silly me.  I am never alone when My Sweet Daddy is near.

I remember when my marraige was falling apart and my parents were living in Alaska!  Is there anywhere farther away from Alabama than Alaska?  Didn't seem so at the time.  My phone rang and it was My Sweet Daddy.  He was flying down for a meeting and if he added one leg to his flight, he would earn a free ticket.  Did I mind if he came and spent a few extra days with me?  Did I mind??  Just when I needed him most, there he was! 

Then, when the failed marraige ended in divorce.  I wanted to take my maiden name back.  I asked my Daddy if that would be okay with him, and he was so pleased. I have the sweetest letter that he wrote to me, telling me how proud he was of that name, and proud that it was once again mine.   In time, when I met the Rocket Man and we became seriously involved and talked of marraige, My Sweet Daddy welcomed him to the family and has been nothing but gracious and kind and inclusive both of my Rocket Man and also his girls and family.

No matter what the occasion, no matter how dark the day, no matter how wonderful the news, I still call him.  When I call and say, "Daddy?  Its Mollianne!"  he always answers, "Hello, Doll!"  Oh, how my heart is warmed and there is a peace that falls upon me.

Every man I meet is measured against My Sweet Daddy.  Very few make the mark, but some have.  Rocket Man does.  He possesses the same sort of  integrity, honor, wisdom and courage that my Daddy portrays.  I knew he was the real deal the day he reminded me of Daddy in those qualities. 

Still Daddy's Girl

Daddy's step is not so quick as it used to be.  His hands are weaker than those hands that lifted me from my crib after a night of loading boxes for Nabisco when he was in seminary.  He is learning to live with a recent diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease.  He lives with some degree of pain in his back almost all the time.  His years show more than they ever have.  But that intellect and wit and love are still there.  He is still, and always will be My Sweet Daddy.

While I won't be with him on Father's Day this year, my heart will be there.  Because there is a part of my heart that belongs to My Sweet Daddy. Him and only him.

As I write this, and think about the love we have shared, tears are falling from eyes and splashing on the keyboard.  They are tears of thankfulness for such as Daddy as mine. Tears of gratitude for the love that we share.  Tears of awe for the person he is and has been.  Tears of joyful remembrance for all the wonderful memories I have of and with him..  Tears from a tender heart of a Daddy's girl who has never known a world where he was not.  Tears of grief  for my friends and for my family whose Daddy's are no longer with us.

So I close with this.  Always this.  I love you, My Sweet Daddy.

Happy Father's Day.

~Mollianne

P.S.
One of the best things about  My Sweet Daddy is that he married My Amazing Mother!  She is a blog post, a story, a novel and a technicolor movie unto herself!  If you dont' know her...you ought to!  What a woman.  And what a love story they share.  Father's Day isn't complete without thanking them both for showing us what a strong marriage could and should be.  I love you both!  More and more!

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Elopement Tale!


Bob and Charlotte then
That tornado went through Jackson Tennessee sounding like a huge freight train. On the third floor of Lovelace Hall, one of the woman's dorms at Union University, we were rounded up and pushed to the ground floor. We couldn't hide in the basement it was unusable. That old dorm made it, and morning dawned bright and clear. There is no place like Tennessee after a storm. Our trees were not down and the grass was so green and the mud! Oh, my! The mud!



Friday is a good day on college campuses I think. I went to two schools and we all loved Friday. I was in my room after lunch, and the monitor called upstairs [no such a thing as an intercom system in 1952] that I had a gentleman caller. I grabbed a scarf and flew down the stairs because I did not want to keep him waiting.....there were too many pretty Baptist girls looking for a Preacher-boy.


We went to the movies and walked slowly back to campus. We had already taken our pennies, nickels, and dimes and purchased our wedding rings. Plans for a Christmas wedding had been cancelled, and now it was spring, and my name was still Younger.


After spending a couple of hours in the Library, where I could go without permission, we slipped out the back door and left campus [without permission; a big no-no] and made our way, half a block to Pat and Mike's! All college kids should know a Pat and Mike...they were the best. [And could they make Boston Cream Pie!]


As we walked in Mike said: "How long are you two going to wait?" I really don't know what Bobbie said...I just walked to our favorite booth. After a few minutes we had our Boston Cream Pie and an Orange Crush. Jerry Green joined us. After some joking around, Jerry said, "If you don't marry that gal, I am going to give her a try!" Now, I am sure Jerry was just joking, but on the way back to the dorm, Bob asked me if I would like to go to Mississippi and get married…TOMORROW!!!!! I think I jumped into his arms, and hang the rules, I kissed him. For once, I was speechless!


We agreed to meet at the cafeteria at breakfast and finalize plans. You see, it was past time to be in the dorm, and I was always late and pushing the line. I sure did not want trouble now.


I thought that morning would never come. No sleep for this little eighteen year old girl. I never gave a thought to the ramifications. We were throwing caution to the wind. We were getting M-a-r-r-i-e-d! Married! That's all I really wanted.

That night, another tornado made its way across northern Mississippi, uprooting trees and laying down fences.   Saturday dawned and I was ready!

We met at breakfast. Bob had the Greyhound schedule. I had standing permission to go to Memphis to see relatives. No problem there. I had to get my white suit cleaned and there was time. Where was that Navy blouse? Need a purse to look somewhat like it belongs....details, details, details. They were not a problem...I was running on excitement!


So we boarded the bus. Oh, that bus-ride! There were folks with cages containing live chickens and hoes and rakes, and groceries of all kinds with boxes of undetermined things. It was strange to Bob but, I was born in Tennessee and lived in Oakland when it was a little country town, used to ride the bus to go to the movies on Saturday afternoon. Of course I rode the train mostly...but it contained the same sort of things.


Keep in mind a bus ride through West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi in 1952 was not even remotely as it is now. We stopped at cross roads, at lanes, at driveways, and even just on the side of road to let folks off and on. In those days, one rode the bus to grocery shop or to the doctor or just to visit because there were not so many cars. The tornado had flattened barns and out buildings and the most incredible thing.....took the feathers off chickens. It was a funny ride, and I mean "ha-ha" funny. We laughed and simply enjoyed the trip.


As we drove into Corinth we passed a beautiful columned Southern Baptist Church, I suggested we get married there. There was a big hotel on the square and we checked in. The town was FULL of folks, all the stores doing booming business and the Court House was open for business (on a Saturday!). That was a good thing!


We walked up the steps to the Court House, and some old men, "The Spit and Whittle Club" simply looked up and pointed the way to the license office. I wondered how on earth they knew what we were there for. Corinth Mississippi was known as the "marriage capitol" of the south.


Bob got a taxi to take us to the church, at 2:00 P.M. after lunch at a little hole in the wall place on the square, and change of clothes we were on our way. Did not go to the pretty brick church we saw, instead we went to the parsonage of a smaller church in town, where the taxi driver went to church. Rev. Smith performed the ceremony, with no witnesses, and in a few minutes, maybe 15, I was at last Mrs. Bobbie Buster!!


And then there was more. Eloping has its good side and then there is the other, not so good side. My Daddy had to be told, my mother had to cry. We had to tell Bob's folks, too. We couldn't tell it till we could get a room in the Married Wing of Adams Hall. That was two or three weeks later...and I cried myself out of tears, almost.


That is Part of the Story........the rest to be played out in family, and now here we are 59 years later. Those that said "It will never last" and "that Charlotte is too flighty" were just blowing in the wind. The songs of our courtship are still sweet to us. We would sing "To Each His Own", "My Happiness", but most of all we loved the song "I'd Rather Have Jesus".


I would not change a thing. The hard times, and we had some, only make the good times "gooder". At the time, what I thought was love, and it was, is absolutely nothing compared to what we have now. God has blessed us over and over. I am so thankful and grateful and full of praise at his continuous love and guidance.


Wonder what the next years hold? Cannot tell but I can guarantee that there will be love aplenty and some hard times and good times and laughter and tears and there will be Bobbie and Charlotte Buster!

Bob and Charlotte now



~Charlotte

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Island

Have you ever lived on an island?

I never had until January of this year.

At that time we inhabited a very nice little
island located on Sunset Strip in Eldon Missouri.
Bet ya' didn't know there is an island in Eldon.
We came to this "Island" when Bob begin a time
of weakness, virtigo, and illness.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in February.
 'Nuff said about our reasons for being on our Island.

Island living is not bad. Our island is inhabited by "The Man"
and yours truly.   We have running water, TV, Cell phone
and Land line, and a PC all connected to the "main land"
and our family. That is a real plus to" Island" living.
The best part of "Island" living is
the time we have with each other...
time for "remembering" and for watching TV together,
for laughter, for Bible Reading and
prayer with lot of sleep. You would not believe how
we have solved all the world's problems.
We have access to fresh food, grocery stores
as well as the Drug Store [this is important] and Doctor's Office.

Food, you ask???? Goodness, I have baked bread, biscuits,
cornbread, cinnamon rolls, and made dressing several times.
I read my cookbooks and been on Web sites, then made lots
of new things. We have eaten well, believe me.
Course there have been breaks, like KFC
and McDonalds and Subway.
That necitates a quick trip to the "mainland"

We have had some visitors. I will admit they have been few
 and somewhat far between,however we love it when they happen in.
Our Children come when they can get their "boats" headed this way.
Since they all live on the "main land" and have jobs
and children, they are not "docking" often.
They are in daily communication,
and would be here if we needed them.

Island Living is best described as being isolated --- in some ways.
Unless we have visitors "sail in" we really
do not know what was happening in our "home town".
That is the reason I renewed our weekly "rag" a couple of weeks ago.

All our active lives, [before "real retirement"] revolved
around our Church. Bob was a Pastor/Preacher,
and I might add an excellent one!
That was completely candid,
I would not be prejudiced.
We loved our " Calling".
Seems strange to not know what is happening
down at the Church-house.
We get the weekly bulletin on the
Web, and sometimes hear from our friends,
but....it certainly is not the same.

Just a part of "Island" living.

Our goal is to make it to the "Main Land"
for more than Doctor's Visits.
Our hope and plan is to be back in Sunday School
and Church. To go out to dinner with friends.
To take rides to the places around here that we love:
Eugene, Mary's Home,
Down along the Saline,
Lake of the Ozarks, Out to "C"
and Weaver's.....to name a few.

To go to our see our friends who are "shut-in"
and we love to visit.

Those things will come.
 And when they do----

We will leave our Island Home and once again,
live on the Main Land.


~Charlotte

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good News from Home

We are walking down a new path in our family.  My Sweet Daddy has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.  As we are collectively figuring out exactly what this means, praying from distances and often feeling every inch of the miles that separate the miles between us...Mother continues to be the glue that holds us all together. 

Daddy is not the first in our family to receive this diagnosis.  His mother, Grandma Buster, suffered with Parkinson's.  As his health declined in recent months, our concerns grew.  I was there for a week after Christmas and left with a heavy heart.  Something was wrong!.  It was more than simple aging or rebounding from radiation he received 18 months ago. 

As I talked to Mother, almost daily, and kept in close sommunication via email, my concerns grew.  Their winter was long and dreadful.  They were snowed in for days on end.  Daddy wasn't himself.  When I talked to him on the phone, he wasn't cutting up or teasing me.  Something was wrong.  And I felt and feel so powerless to do anything.

In February, I had a bit of minor surgery on my finger and as I was talking to Mother on the way home from the process, I sensed that things really were not good at all.  The next morning, I got a call to say that they had gone to see their Doctor.  Dr. Carr sent them straight to the hospital for testing. 

The initial diagnosis was Parkinson's.  Something was wrong.  But now we could arm ourselves.  Daddy with medications and the rest of us with information.  He has improved with meds and under Mother's ever vigilant care. 

This morning, something wonderful happened.  For the first time in 2 months, my Sweet Daddy went to church.  Maybe your Daddy doesn't go to church every Sunday, but my Sweet Daddy is a preacher and has spent his life in the service of God...in the pulpit.  Not just going to worship, but leading worship.  In the past 13 years, during his retirement, he has been on staff part time at a local church.  He retired from that back in October.  And until he felt too bad to do it, he was still preaching the Word on Sundays, filling in around their town when needed.

Today, the sunshine is just a bit brighter and the songs of praise in my own church just a bit more joyful to me.  I didn't know for sure until this afternoon, but I had a sneaking suspicion that my Sweet Daddy was going to be in His Father's house for Sunday Worship.  And he was.

Here is the note that was sent from Mother, the Matriarch of us, to let us know that he had once again gone to the House of the Lord on Sunday.

This day dawned beautifully but cold. 
 But there was nothing this morning to keep us from Worship at our Church with our Friends together. Bob was in Worship this morning at First Baptist  for the first time since January 9!

 I could not keep from smiling....Folks seemed so glad to see him. When most of your life has been spent in the Meeting House" or living in close proximity, it was THE place to rejoice.

Big Daddy/ Papa/Bob is doing much better..Today marks the fifth day---in a row of feeling good. Been months since that could be said.  Still has some back problems, get another shot on Friday. The meds for that "ol Parkinsons" [Grandma Busters term] are working. Bob can tell his stories and talk without hesitation, most of the time. The Doctor has upped the med for that and it should get even better. All this is good!

God bless you and yours.
Bigmama/Oma/Munner/Charlotte
 
~Mollianne

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Confirmation Sunday, 2011

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A Blessing

As is often the case, crisis situations bring along with them blessings.  The crisis involved this week was not of my own.  Not my blood.  Not my niece.  Not really my family.  The crisis is in a family of my family. 

A little girl, fighting for her life in CICU at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.  Who happens to be my niece's-husband's-brother's-daughter.  Clear as mud, right? If you are not already praying for Greer Underwood, please do so.  She is very ill.

The blessing to us was time.  Time spent with our great-niece, Casiday.  Greer is her cousin and Casiday came with her mother (Teri Lynne) and daddy (Scott) to Birmingham from Georgia to be with Greer and her family. 

But a hospital waiting room isn't really a fun place to be, and I asked Teri Lynne if we could come and get Casiday and bring her home with us for a few days.  Huntsville is just 90 minutes from Birmingham and we thought she might enjoy being with us rather than just hanging out in the hospital.

I will say that I think she enjoys herself wherever she is.  What a delightful young lady!  Vibrant and full of life.  Just a little bit sassy, friendly and a joy to have in our home.  She has a dear heart and a  pleasing personality, is creative and very funny.

I looked at her and saw pieces of people I love.  She is in many ways her Mother's child.  And I have loved Teri Lynne since the moment I knew of her existence.  Before she was born, before we knew she was a girl...I loved the baby for whom I was going to be 'Aunt Mollianne' for the very first time.  A role I cherish and share with 12 nieces and nephews, ranging from age 5 to well...however old Teri Lynne is!  Not to mention the plethora of great-nieces and nephews.

She has a sweet tooth that has come down through our family from Neenie to Bigmama to Mollianne to Teri Lynne (the line gets crooked here) to Casiday.  I learned to love a Sugar Sandwich-white bread, spread with butter and sprinked (or dumped) with white sugar and eaten quickly in hopes of making another-as a small child when Mother would make them for me.  Teri Lynne says she learned to love the same treat made by the same hands. 

She has hazel eyes.  Not as dark as mine, but hazel nonetheless.  We looked at each other and talked about our eyes.  Many in our family...most, probably, have blue eyes.  I always thought my eyes made me different and I wished for blue eyes. As an adult, I have come to love my eyes, because they are very like my Mother's in color and size.  Looking at hers and knowing that those eyes go on to another generation was a wonderful feeling. 

She has a tender heart.  She loves the outside and the world God made.  She adores dogs and cats and even likes lizards.  She giggles.  She teases.  She has her Uncle Ed's number and plays him like a violin on occasion.

She said thank you for each meal, each treat and for the time she spent with us.  We have grown up daughters, so having an eleven year old girl was not out of our experience.  It has been awhile, however, since we listened to that sort of silliness and wisdom wrapped up in one. We are used to boys of the same age, and they are different creatures.  Very different.

One night, as we had a lively discussion about teeth brushing, her Uncle Ed looked at me and said, "This is a different sort of stimulation than I'm used to."  Absolutely, Uncle Ed.  Absolutely!

That night, as she laid snuggled up next to me watching a movie, I felt a wonderful sense of time and space.  I was holding my brother's grandchild close.  My beloved niece's daughter.  My great-niece.  Part of the next generation of my family.  And I prayed that she will have good memories of her time with us.  And carry a small part of us in her heart through the years. 

Thank you, Scott and Teri Lynne, for trusting us with your girl in your time of crisis.  What a blessing she was to us. Her laughter still rings in my ears.  Her art-work signs (my favorite being the one that says, 'Edmund likes Pink') are where she left them for us.  We have laughed over Casiday-isms all week long and hope that our next visit will be soon.

~Mollianne

Friday, February 25, 2011

All good things must come to an end

The Buster women have spent the week celebrating the birthday of one of our own, my dear Aunt Linda. Somehow I got to be lucky one to close out the week and it's extra lucky for me because I happen to know that Linda loves Friday's. So hopefully, I'll make her day just that much sweeter!

So, what can a girl say about Linda? Geographically, we've never been close, but that just makes the time we spend together that much more special.

When I was young, 10 or 11 maybe, I got the honor of spending 2 weeks with her and Joey at her house in Colorado! And what a fabulous time it was!! (Way before she had daughters of her own--I like to say I was the practice kid.) She took me swimming, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and even to Mesa Verde!! I have at best a very foggy memory, but I'll never forget that special time we spent together.

I know we saw each some between 1991 and 2008, but the next real time I remember spending with Linda is when she brought her family over to my mom's for Christmas. It was Linda's (5),  Mom's (2), Me's (4), and THE Grandparents (2)! A house full of generations, family, love, and traditions!
Unfortunately there was a little heartache, too. This was Linda's first Christmas away from Colorado and it was hard for her. I can still see us sitting on the step, her head on my shoulder, her hand in mine, me whispering words of comfort to my aunt. I'm not happy that her heart hurt so, but I'm glad that I could be there for her when she needed someone.

What else to say???
Oh my stars!!
Nobody, and I mean nobody, can braid my hair like Linda and I do so love having my hair braided!!
She gives fierce hugs!
She loves her children!
She loves all of her family!
She understands my phone booth!
She has a precious heart and I'm glad to call her family!

Happy Birthday Week Linda!
I hope it was all you deserved!!
                                                                            
                                                                                             -Annie

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More than Just an Aunt

When I was growing up, Linda seemed more of a big sister than an aunt.   She's only seven years older than I am and those seven years often seemed the difference between uncool little girl and really cool big girl.

In preparing to write this post, I recalled countless stories of time spent with Linda ... laying out with her and her best friend Bernadette {I really thought I was cool then!  They were in HIGH SCHOOL!}, discussing the movie "Footloose" and admiring the red boots Linda had gotten after seeing the movie, her frustration about having to share a bathroom with me, and countless trips for ice cream.  And, she let me be a bridesmaid in her wedding!


But more than all those fond memories, I am thankful that Linda was there during some of the most difficult periods of my life.   When I was in second grade, my parents separated for awhile.   My brothers, my dad, and I moved in with my grandparents and Linda.   I had a little room across the hall from Linda's bedroom and many nights, Linda graciously allowed me to crawl in bed with her and encouraged me that my parents would get back together.  {She was right!  They did and on April 2nd, they will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary!}

While I was in college, I found myself in a very difficult and scary position ... again it was Linda who listened and encouraged.  I even spent some time with her during one summer and, once more, Linda was a voice of encouragement and support during a time of great darkness in my life.


Now, we laugh about how her oldest is much like I was at that age.   Since my girl started playing soccer like her middle, we have yet another thing in common - the title of soccer mom.   And her youngest will always hold a special place in my heart as she carries a portion of my name ... Samantha Kaitlynne.

Linda is a strong person, an incredible mother, and an incredible photographer.   But most of all, Linda has been for me a friend.   It's been said you can't choose your family but you can choose your friends ... I'm grateful that Linda is both family and friend.

Happy birthday, Linda!  I love you!
Teri Lynne

Funny Girl

We are celebrating my sister, Linda, on the occasion of her ??th birthday on Generation to Generation this week.  Her actual birthday was Monday, but we like celebrations and we like stringing them out as long as we can,  Right?

Linda has been referred to as many things in the family.  By her own proclamation, she is 'not the baby' of our family, although she is the last born of my parents.  Daddy used to say that they had '3 kids and a pet'.  Our entire family would look at her and say, in chorus, 'Wash you hands, Roger' to mimic a commercial that we heard on television when she was little.  Affectionately called 'Little Bit' by some and even 'That Little Boy' (her all-time favorite, as she was eternally mad at The Almighty because she wasn't a boy)...she burst into our family in the middle of the night and has kept things interesting ever since.

As I've thought about stories involving Linda from childhood, I've smiled a lot.  She was really a funny, funny child.  There are enough years between 'us' (we 3 older children) and 'her' that she is in many ways an only child.  But she was always in the thick of things, demanding to be heard and seen. 

She really did resent being a girl.  I can remember Mother having to be harsh with her to get her to wear a dress.  When our oldest brother got married, Linda declared that she wasn't going if she had to wear a dress.  Her hair was always cut very short, and if someone mistook her for a boy, she would say, "Did you hear?  They thought I was a BOY!"  I used to think that she was the only person I knew who could walk out the front door clean as a whistle, and go around the house and come into the back door and be so dirty that another bath was in order.  I now have a grandson with that same talent.  It must run in the family.

She loved horses and dogs and fishing and swimming.  She hated being still.  If it was Sunday, you could be sure that Linda was going to be in some level of trouble because sitting still during church two times in the same day seemed beyond her abilities.  She was a busy, busy girl.

She spent countless hours in our backyard, playing with Daddy's hunting dogs.  She taught them tricks and when she was angry, she would exclaim that she and Duke were going to "run away and join the circus. We know tricks and stuff!"  One trick that she never accomplished was teaching Duke to salute when she sang The National Anthem, but she sure gave it a good try.

I will never forget looking out of the window of my bedroom and seeing her put that dog's paw up over where she thought his heart was and telling him that he was putting his hand over his heart and he should leave it there.  Then she would strike a similar pose and sing "The Star Spangled Banner" as loud as she could and more than a little off-key.  I called Mother to come watch and we laughed until we were weak.  She did it over and over again.  And while Duke didn't keep the pose or do it on cue, it wasn't because of a lack of effort on Linda's part.  I might add that Duke patiently stood and occasionally tipped his head and howled while Linda sang.  As much as a dog can, that dog loved Linda.

Linda is still busy.  Only now her business involves being the mother of 3 lovely daughters of her own.  She is as involved in their lives and their activities as any mother I know and she loves it.  She has come a long way from that little girl in the back yard, but she will always be that funny child in my heart. 

Happy Birthday  Celebration, Linda.  I love you!

~Mollianne

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Linda Show

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For your Birthday, Linda!
We're celebrating all week long!

Love you,
Mollianne

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Linda

There it is!


The Gift

A small flower pot, red and white checked, with a picture on one side and the inscription " I Love You" on the other. You might say, it is nothing special.  I would beg to differ with you.....it's the little things that warm a mama's heart.  Let me tell you about this little pot.

I am the mother of four wonderful children, God has been so very good to me. They all are loving children and are not at all hesitant to say they love us. That is very special.  When they were growing up, lots of "special" art projects went to grandmothers, Sunday School teachers, wonderful loving eighbors, and close friends. I always encouraged those gifts. You see we were most fortunate in our friends. They loved our children...and that is not always the case.

Well, we moved when Linda was in the fifth grade. Her older sister, Mollianne was a senior in High School. We moved from the flatlands of Southeasat Missouri to the mountains...of Colorado. We were
excited and loved the mountains, however, leaving friends is never very easy on anybody, but children reflect their parents attitude, and they made the move with grace and tho' it was not easy, they were happy girls! I think they understood that we knew we were doing God's will and families are meant to be together.

We arrived in Colorado in January, at semister break. We moved in. Buster Girls enrolled in school soon as possible. The girls started school and begin to make new friends and learned new and different customs that are the life in Colorado.
The fifth graders were well into planning a Valentine party, and doing a gift for a friend. Linda was very lucky, you see, she had one of the nicest teachers, who knew just how to handle a "tom boy" fifth grader, moving in from out of state with a accent and a big voice! We were so grateful.

Valentines Day....Linda was one week from a Birthday! A Big Birthday. But Valentine's day, she came in from school, in a run. She had a surprise....for ME! That little flower  pot, and you know, for the life of me, I cannot remember what was in it... if it had anything in it....it just said:

I LOVE YOU

Thirty six years later, Linda is all grown up.  She has three girls of her own.  She has  "things" they have made and given her...and she knows what it means to a Mama's Heart.


That little pot sits proudly, with red roses and every time I look at it I see a little "dirty face" and big blue eyes and I feel bug hugs that said those three little words:

I LOVE YOU
 
{This post is the beginning of We Love Linda week on Generation to Generation.  Linda's birthday is today and we are going to celebrate all week long.  Be sure to check back and see how we are celebrating.  Happy Birthday, Linda!  We love you. ~Mollianne}
 
~Charlotte

Charlotte and Linda

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Uncle Bob

Eleven years ago, our family was welcoming a new baby girl {Casiday Hope} and anticipating another birth {Jeffie Jean}.  The next generation of us was exploding with life and we were all thrilled.

In the midst of that, we suffered one of lifes bitterest moments and it hit us hard, as it often does.  I was busy at home on Saturday morning, doing my usual chores and busily getting ready for my husband's return from a business trip to Japan.  My phone rang and my plans changed.

My Uncle Bob {Bob Austin}had died unexpectedly in Memphis.  He's was Neenie's brother and they had lived together for nearly 8 years, as they were both widowed.  I live 4 hours from  Memphis and was very close to my Neenie.  As soon as Ed arrived at the airport, we high-tailed it to Memphis to stay with Neenie and try to be of help.

My Uncle Bob was truly one of a kind.  He was small of stature, very dapper and to me the epitome of all things Southern.  I could listen to his honey-sweet drawl for days. When I was a little girl, I thought he looked like a movie star!  He collected antiques and called his things, "good junk".  He teased like nobody else and he was fiercely loyal. He loved his Lord, his Wife, his Daughter, his Sister {as he called my grandmother, because he said he didn't know her well enough yet to call her by her given name, Irene}, his friends and his extended family. His love of life and the people he met was obvious in all he did and said.

In retirement, he had a shop in his back yard where he framed pictures.  I could spend hours looking at the beautiful things he had there.  It seemed that all of Memphis made their way to his door at some time or another.  The young women who worked for him loved him and he called them his 'Angels'.

At his visitation, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who stood in line for hours just to pay their respects.  They came from all walks of life and each had something kind to say about Mr. Austin.  They wanted to speak to his family and there were numerous tales of some kindness in deed and word that Uncle Bob had shown to them at some time. 

The morning of the funeral, we were getting ready and a big black Cadillac pulled up behind the house.  I went out to say that my Uncle had died and the shop was closed.  An older gentlemen got out and asked to go in the shop.  He wanted a piece of scrap molding to put on his desk to remember Mr. Austin.  One of them men with him gave me a name, which meant nothing to me.  I went in the house to get the key, as this sounded like a reasonable request and told Ed who is was and what he wanted.  Ed looked at me and asked me if I knew who Kimmons Wilson was.  I said no and he explained that Mr. Wilson was the man who started Holiday Inn. 

Mr. Wilson was unable to attend the funeral and he wanted to pay his respects and get a piece of molding.  We helped him look through the scraps until he found a piece he wanted.  He said such kind things about Uncle Bob.  Bob had framed some pictures for Holiday Inn corporate offices.

The night before, a janitor came and told me how kind Mr. Austin had always been to him, saying hello when he came into the building, asking about his wife and children.

That is just the sort of man my Uncle Bob was. Not concerned about a person's 'status' or station in life.  Concerend about the person he was speaking to and making you think that you were the most important person he had to talk to that day.

I miss him.  I miss hearing him say, "Come in this house, little girl."  I miss listening to him talk on and on with my Ed about Memphis Tiger basketball.  I think of him when I see a package of Little Debbie's because he confessed to me that he was addicted to them.  I laugh when I see yellow flowers, because he always said that there were "too many yellow flowers in the world." 

He was one in a million and I am very thankful that he was a part of my life and my family.

Bob Austin
~Mollianne 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sloppy Joes

There are moments when I really believe in time travel.  You know, when a taste or smell or sound transport you someplace else and for just a nanosecond, you *are* removed from your present surroundings and  experiencing something all over again.

That happened to me today.  Our chef here at The Church House makes THE best-ever Sloppy Joes.   We used to have Sloppy Joe and Tater Tot Fridays when I first worked here.  That was the menu once a month in our DayCare and our Church Staff would jockey for position to be on the call list if there were leftovers.  I have been known to be extra helpful-if they needed help-in the kitchen the week before Sloppy Joe Friday, in hopes of scoring one.  You really are SOMEBODY around here if you rate a Sloppy Joe and so far, I've been able to stay on the approved list.  I hope to stay there.

Last week, I inquired about the next offering of Sloppy Joes.  It doesn't happen solely on Fridays anymore, by edict of the new DayCare Director {what is she thinking?}.  So I have to be a bit more sly about it.  I found out that Thursday the 10th was the next scheduled day for my favorite lunch meal and while I couldn't find my makeup case this morning [seriously....} my first thought this morning was, "Sloppy Joes!"

When I got to work, I went straight to the kitchen to see if I could make the coffee or do anything else useful.  Chef was there all alone and cleaning out the fridge.  We had a bit of ice and snow last night and I saw while I was getting ready that school was delayed by 2 hours.  Making small talk, I mentioned that it must be nice not to be making breakfast for all the little darlings this morning.  He informed me that they wouldn't be there at all today.  What?  I thought there was a delay?  Nope...after I checked, they cancelled City Schools, and the DayCare closes when the schools close.

My face fell.  "But today is Sloppy Joe Thursday"  I said defensively.  What were they thinking?  Chef said he wasn't thrilled, because he'd already made them.  I sensed a glimmer of hope for my palate. 

Can I help you sweep?  Fix your coffee? 
Empty the trash?  You need help... I'm your girl!

He laughed and told me to get to the kitchen before he left around 11:00 and he'd set me up.  I didn't even really have to ask. God Bless Chef Phil.

I presented myself promptly at 10:40 and was rewarded with a bun and a serving of the amazing Sloppy Joes to heat in the microwave.  A bit of a sacrilege, but I'm willing to drop my standards on occasion.  I heated up the meat and tenderly filled my bun.  I took a deep whiff of the tantalizing armoa and bit in.

In a flash, I was no longer standing in the kitchen of the Church House on a snow day in February 2011.  I was back in the cafeteria of Alma Schrader Elementary School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and it was 1968.  I could smell that funky dairy/milk odor of the cafeteria.  I could feel the green plastic tray in my hand.  I could hear the lunch lady saying, "Move along...move along."  Everything wonderful about lunch when you are in the 4th grade was right there for just a second.  I bit into my Sloppy Joe, which was ever so much better than anything I ever had at the cafeteria at school and knew that it was worth my efforts.  Best lunch I've had in weeks.

Thank you, Chef Phil.  Not only for feeding the hungry, but also for providing that wonderful trip back to another time and place when life was easy and lunch was fun.
~Mollianne

Monday, January 24, 2011

There was Music in Our House

Music has always been a very important part of my life. My mother played the piano. Her home in the small town of Oakland, Tennessee, was full of Irene's piano music. Her father, my Daddy Jim impressed on her that her music was a gift and she must use is whenever and whereever possible. Irene, known as "Sistah" did just that.

When I was a little girl, we did not have a piano in our home. When we went to Big Mama and Daddy Jim's house, Mama played for us. At church Mama played....and I loved to hear and see her. She was small, and the piano so large. We would go to the church, which was just across the stree,  and she would practice. Most times, I was with her, and Daddy would come out of his office and just stand in the doorway and smile.

Now, my Daddy was no slouch in the music department. He directed our congregation and choir with natural talent. His voice was strong and though it was  not a solo voice. Daddy, Malcolm, was the music leader in
revivals when I was a girl. He would take me with him, to small towns and country churches, in Tennessee, Northern Mississippi, and East Arkansas. He also was a dynamic preacher....why he could make you smell "hells-fire and brimstone" and this little girl wide eyed and wondering.

The choir at Malcolm Avenue sang for Association Meetings often. I only remember a few songs, but I was there on the front row singing every word with them. After all, I was at every practice. I remember
a chorus they sang: "Good Morning up there where Christ is the Light, Good  Morning up there where cometh no night". I remember one night, when the choir was practicing, they all stopped and I kept singing. The choir applauded....and I got my first taste of performing! It was a heady thing!

Daddy would take me with him to country revivals. He always had a "Sunshine Choir" made up of children. We came early, learned new choruses and sang for services. We sang: "I Will Make You Fishers of Men"; " The Birds Up in the Treetop"; "Every Day With Jesus"; "One Door and Only One" and many more. Daddy would stand me up on a chair or in one case on the piano, and I would sing my heart out.

I had not started to school yet, so it was not a problem, me going with him. I don't know how many little girls had a Daddy, in the 30s, who would take them places with out Mama. Mine Did!! {Just a note, he also took me fishing and hunting before I was 9. When I was 9 he left for WWII} What a fortunate little "Tomboy" to have a Mama and a Daddy who understood. We lived in the south where girls were really supposed to be GIRLY! In case you get the wrong idea, I really like pretty fussy clothes and hair ribbons, but they did not stay that way long on Charlotte.



When I was six, I started taking piano lessons, and practiced across the street in the church building. I got caught over there late one afternoon in a horrible storm. My Daddy came striding in and took me home in
his arms and very soon after that a piano was part of our own furnishings.

I still took naps in the afternoon. I still slept in a baby bed too. We  had two bedrooms, but some of the family always lived with us and I slept in the room with Mama and Daddy. I distinctly remember waking
up and hearing piano music.....not the radio.....real piano music. There it was!!!!!!!! A spinet, when they were new, in our living room. Daddy built a stool so I would quit kicking the sound board.

I would like to share a song I learned to love, in my teen years. Daddy would say: "Rene, play "Evening Prayer" for me." He would say to me..."You need  to learn that song". I can close my eyes and see that fine Malcolm Younger standing behind his "Rene" singing:

If I have wounded any soul today'
If I have caused one foot to go astray
If I have walked in my own willful way
Dear Lord, Forgive

If I uttered idle words or vain
If I have turned aside from want or pain
Lest I myself shall suffer thro' the strain
Dear Lord, Forgive

If I have been perverse or hard or cold
If I have longed for shelter in Thy Fold
When thou hast given me some fort to hold
Dear Lord, Forgive

Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee
Forgive the secret sins I do not see;
Oh guide me, love me, and my keeper be
Dear Lord, Amen
{The melody is haunting....beautiful written by C. M Battersby and Charloes H Gabriel----copyright 1913. }



I really think that this song would be a wonderful prayer for any child of God at the close of any day. I would love to hear that Man of God, my Daddy Malcolm and his Dearest On,e Irene, filling our home with music
again, like I did in a time long gone....but that music is still still alive in my heart. The love that filled the Parsonage (poor as we were) where we made our home, be it in Memphis, or Bolivar, Tennessee; or Eldon, Missouri, made it the best place too be!


Thank you, Heavenly Father, for our little family
for the love that was obvious, the fun things
we did, for a Mother and Father who loved you
More than life..... ~Amen

~Charlotte

{Edited to add this video of Jim Reeves singing "Evening Prayer" on the Grand Ole Opry.}


Thursday, January 20, 2011

On my Papa's 80th Birthday...

I got a letter a few weeks ago in the mail from Oma asking me to write down some memories of my Papa. I’m going to admit that I’ve been putting it off. I had a million excuses—school and family make up most of them. But the biggest reason I haven’t written anything is that I don’t know what to write. It’s not a lack of time spent with him or a lack of wanting to participate. It’s that I have a horrible memory and don’t know what to say about such a great man that would be special enough to share.

Papa, my brother, Jamie, and me

I have memories of rubbing his feet—for a quarter—when he visited when I was young. I’ve always been in awe of his hair—it never moves and always looks fabulous. He tells great jokes and amazing stories. He sings beautiful songs. I have watched him preach—what a joy!!

But those aren’t special memories. That’s just part of who he is. Special memories—like the day he told me I could give my son the Buster name. Or give that same son the same middle name of that wonderful man. He held my hand and gave me his handkerchief as I cried at the funeral of a man I loved. Then, a few years later, he preformed the wedding ceremony in my mother’s living room to bind me in eyes of God to the man who loves me and my kids. He sat outside and talked to me and ate hot dogs off the grill as my husband cooked dinner for us all.

Some of those memories are fuzzy, more of a feeling or something that someone reminded me of. There is one though that is crystal clear. Something that happened this summer. I was able to watch my Papa do something wonderful, a little sad, and a whole lot amazing. I watched him perform a funeral service at one of his old churches for a dear friend. Watching him do that, not knowing the family so being a total outsider, was really meaningful to me. But after the service…I watched so many people shake my grandfather’s hand, throw their arms around his neck, watch their faces light up just being near him. My Papa, their Brother Bob, made a difference in these people’s lives. They think he’s special and amazing. I’ve always thought that about him, but watching all of those people who love him made my heart fill with joy. He’s not just that amazing to me, his granddaughter, but he is that amazing to everyone who knows him.

I am so lucky to be a 30 year old woman and celebrate my grandfather’s 80th birthday. I wish I could be there with him, but it just can’t happen, I just hope he knows how much I love him and that I’m thinking of him on his birthday, just like I do every other day.

I love you Papa!!
~Annie          

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lessons in Lady-hood

In 1977, I was the blushing bride of an Air Force Second Lieutenant. I had grown up in a parsonage and had gone to teas and coffees and served punch throughout my teenage years. I was familiar with the manners and pleasantries one might need to attend such things. I was not, however, confident that I could hostess such an affair.

I wrote my Neenie and asked her for some help and guidance. Neenie was a true Steel Magnolia. A lady. The real deal. The type of Southern Lady whose purse and shoes always matched, who always had a hankie in her Bible, who had kind and gentle manners and carried herself with an elegance and grace that I have admired my whole life. She was my go-to girl for such things.

Questions on raising a boy went immediately to my Mother, who is also a lady, but also a tomboy. She knows how to do the genteel things and I only hope to have a home as hospitable as hers when I grow up…but when I was growing up, kids would come to the door and ask, “Can your mom come out and play.” She had more requests to play than I did.

Below is a copy of a note Neenie sent me about Afternoon Tea, in reply to the letter I wrote her asking for help.

Dear Mollianne,
I received your letter and I am sure that you will be able to hostess a lovely tea. Use your prettiest dishes and if you can, put fresh flowers on your table. Matching paper products and a candle or two will add an elegant touch. If you keep it simple, it won’t matter that you don’t have silver serving dishes. Those things will come in time. No one should expect that as a new bride, you will already have those things. Here are some suggestions for a simple but elegant afternoon tea that would be suitable to honor someone such as a bride or an expectant mother.

I know that you can do this and do it well. I am proud of you and will be anxious to hear how things turn out.

As Ever,
Neenie

I don’t know if any of you might have to help hostess an afternoon tea. But, if you do…I’d recommend Neenie’s suggestions. I had a heck of a time making those strawberry cookies and they didn’t look like strawberries. I did not inherit her artistic abilities, but I tried and they tasted pretty good.

Her encouragement meant the world to me, and I thought that this might be a good place to share her thoughts with you.

~Mollianne


From the Kitchen of Irene Younger

For an afternoon Tea:
Assorted small finger sandwiches with ham, pimento cheese and egg salad for stuffing
Strawberry cookies
Coconut Macaroons
Tea of spicy and orange flavors

Strawberry Cookies
2 packages (3 oz each) Strawberry Jello
1 pound firmly ground coconut
¼ pound ground blanched almond, pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Reserve half of 1 package of the Jello. Mix remaining Jello with remaining ingredients. Shape a small amount of mixture into the shape of a strawberry. Roll each in a mixture of reserved Jello and 4 Tablespoons of red sugar. (To color sugar, add a bit of red food coloring and rub between fingertips OR buy pre-colored sugar (in baking section of food stores). Make Green icing leaves or buy marzipan berry hulls.

Coconut Macaroons
1 1/3 cups flakes coconut
½ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract

Stir all ingredients together well. Drop from teaspoon 1 inch apart on well-greased cookie sheet. Press down end of coconut flakes with back of a spoon.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from pan at once to wire racks to cool. Use a wide spatula (they break easily until they cool)
Makes 18