may 25, 2013

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Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our to-do list.” ~ Patti Digh

smoke tree morning
smoke tree morning

Let me take a moment to give thanks for some vitally important people (in no particular order) which I simply haven’t had time to do over the last several months. I’ve been crazy busy, but I’ve had a lot of help along the way.

Mom and Dad’s anniversary party would have never been a success without my family. My aunts Janet and Lois went above and beyond; Barbara, Linda Gail, Virginia, Judy, Charleen, Mabel, Phyllis, and uncles Harold, Darrel, Greg, and Phillip did the heavy lifting with the decorations, cleanup, and awesome ideas, but none of it would have happened without my cousins Missy, Mike, Renee, Jessica, and Lanelle. Eight or ten years ago, I put the family through a lot of needless angst, and while we all got our feelings hurt, this party was a testament that blood really is thicker than water. No matter what happened 50 years ago, 10 years ago, or anything yet to come, we get over it, move past it, love and support each other the way a family should. It might not be pretty, but we do it. My wish is for everyone to have such a resilient family unit.

Getting Janet back into her house was no small affair. My mother risked unmentionable personal loss to get that house built. She’s always been a risk taker. While I admire it, it also wears me out <insert laughter>. I wouldn’t have her any other way, though. It’s that indomitable spirit that has helped her survive more than her share of trials and tribulations. She worked her ass off to get Janet into that place. My cousin Stanya Franklin Terrell did the same. She washed until her little hands turned to pale prunes. Janet still wouldn’t be in without her. Terry Lykins has been like a member of our family for as long as I can remember, and when we needed help, he didn’t hesitate. Stacy Yelton and Annie Bassoni took time away from their free days to lend a hand. Sally Barker and Tim Conley have busted their butts, too, to help that little town survive and they have done right by us always. You just can’t ask for better people in your life than the people who have helped Janet, and that includes everyone who helped me get what she had left out: Rhonda Prater Crooks, LeeAnn Elam (and husband whose name I don’t remember), Charley and Kayla Conley, Betina and Anthony Gardner, Crystal Heis, Ken Trainor, Becky Ryder, Gordon Hogg, and John Hynes. It truly took a village to do this.

Mindy Cardenas keeps me sane all the way from Wisconsin. Yes, she’s super woman. Her husband and kids can confirm this. Our Friday talks have helped navigate extremely rough waters. More importantly, I am a more enlightened being because of her friendship. She never let’s me walk this journey alone, and I owe her a debt of gratitude that I  can never repay. Meanwhile, Marie Dale, Crystal Heis, and Stacy Yelton keep me sane on the homefront. We’re our own little support group at work. We try to lunch together each day, and it’s the most important hour of the day for me. All the world’s problems are solved, and I learn something new at every sitting. Crazy busy would just be plain crazy without them.

madame detail
madame detail

Speaking of Stacy, she’s extraordinary. She takes care of my car (above). She looks after my cats. She gives me advice. She listens to me. She removes expired food from my kitchen to keep me from accidentally killing myself (or her). She knows all the things I don’t. I depend on her to fill in the blanks of what I don’t remember, and especially what I don’t remember to do because I’m too busy. Most importantly, she makes me laugh and she makes me thankful to have someone so important in my life. The very core of my being would be tragically lost without her. To call her a blessing would be an understatement.

Finally, my dad. It’s sappy as all get out to say that he’s my hero, but sap be damned, he really is. You talk about a guy who has overcome the odds: that’s dad. When I awoke from surgery earlier this week it was him I asked for. Instinctively, I knew I needed his calm, his soothing, his gentle nudge to gather my wits and get up. It was he who told me as we were walking into the hospital that morning, “Kopana, this is only a tune-up. We all need one every now and then.” His wisdom is simple, but he is right nearly 100% of the time. He laughs and talks to me now more than he did when I was a child. Most of the men closest to me have died. With the exception of my grandfathers, they’ve all died way too young. My life would be savagely poor without my pop, and I thank God she’s taking the best last.

There are so many others who help me along the way. Their gifts of kindness and compassion have not gone unnoticed. If you’re having a bad day, stop for one second and think about the last six months of your life. How many people have done something for you, helped you in some small way? There may be some you don’t even know about. Whether it’s one person or one thousand, you are rich beyond measure. Never take them for granted. Say thank you even when they’ve done nothing in particular to warrant it.

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