Tag Archives: family

F is for Family and Friends

“Love your family. Spend time, be kind and serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised and today is short.” –Unknown

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating  virtues of humans, are created, strengthened and maintained.” –Winston Churchill

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” –Alex Haley

I think of my family and friends a great deal. They are what either boost my morale or knock me back down to reality. They can break my heart or fill me with joy. Friends come and go, but family remains until death do us part. People often talk about dysfunctional families. When I was younger I thought my family was abnormal, but soon realized there is no such thing as normal.

Many years ago I interviewed my mother long before she began showing signs of dementia. I wanted to discover what made her tick, and in doing so, find out who I am. I learned through deductive reasoning why she became who she is, but I am still trying to see how it links to me. Her memories of her birth family are vivid even now when she is half mad, but she cannot recall events of my childhood. Was her inner life so unbearable then that she blocked it all out? Did having three small children drive her insane? Her mother died when I was three years old, and for many years to follow there were hints and murmurs among adults that she lost her mind with grief. Now, she calls me six or more times a day looking for her long dead mother and sister, crying for someone to come get her and take her home. She also reverts back to the time when my youngest daughter was small. My mother and mother-in-law took turns watching Morgan while I worked. Those were happy times for us all.

So it is only the happy times she recalls. I don’t blame her wanting to go back. If only we all could go back to happier times and relive them with relish. I want to be there for my mother, even though we are miles apart. I wish I could comfort her while she waits to return to the family she lost so long ago.

As for friends? Few stay. I rarely let go of a friendship, unless they let go first or die. My grandfather once said, “If you have one good friend in life you’re damned lucky.” I have a handful who have been around for many years. Will they be there in a flash when I’m in desperate need? It’s doubtful. Mainly because their families come first. I understand.

Instead of allowing my mother’s grief and my longing for friends to drive me insane with depression, all I can do is try to remember something I once heard: we are the memories we keep in our hearts.

As for you, dear reader, cherish your loved ones. Never waste an opportunity to let them know how much you care. Those moments will become the memories that sustain you.

“What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life–to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” –George Eliot

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” –Confucius

 

 

 

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D is for Daddy

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Me and my Daddy.

Not every man merits the name Daddy, but it’s a term of endearment my father deserves. I called him Daddy when I was a child, but soon switched to plan ole Dad once I hit my teens. It wasn’t until recently that I reverted back to calling him Daddy. It came automatic even though at times I feel we have traded roles. C. Wayne Greenlee was the “go-to” man when any of us kids found ourselves in a rough spot. If he couldn’t fix things for us he had earned the money to pay someone who could.

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My daughter Miranda showing her “Papa Wayne” how to be gangster.

He grew up poor on a farm where his family barely scraped a living. He was outgoing, friendly, worked hard and loved to play football. He played at Breckenridge High School (two time Texas All State team and Texas Football 3A Champions) in small town Breckenridge, Texas. Receiving a football scholarship, he went on to play offensive and defensive tackle and earned a degree in Geology from The University of Oklahoma. His 1955-56 team won back-to-back national championships, and their record for 47 consecutive wins still stands unmatched today among college teams. After graduation, he and my mother struggled financially for many years. Before he became a Petroleum Landman, he worked three jobs as an oil scout, gas station attendant, and high school football referee while my mother raised us three kids.

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My Daddy and Mommy: Wayne and Dixie. It wouldn’t be Christmas without another OU sweater.

His perseverance and hard work paid off. After we kids had grown and moved out, he went out on his own and became an independent Petroleum Landman. He is the true definition of a self-made man. He came from nothing, climbed to the top–stumbling a few times along the way–and did what he set out to do: to become financially independent while working at a career he loved. He always said the oil and gas business was a lot like gambling. He thrived on it and, at times, got lucky. Many people bash the oil and gas industry, but they don’t realize it’s not all about the big corporations. There are good, decent, honest men out there like my father who sometimes pay their dues working for corporate America but eventually head off on their own.

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The Orange Bowl: where my Daddy’s team won a national championship. It wasn’t until many years later that the university offered these legends their championship rings.

As for the personal side of my father, I know you would fall in love with him once you met him. Always looking on the positive side of life, he is the most generous and laid back man I know with a sense of humor that is endearing. I’m proud to call him my Daddy.

He has taken excellent care of his family. Now at the age of 80, he is slowly coming to terms with the fact that it’s his family, his children, who need to return the favor. He is determined to take care of his wife of 60 years, my mother, who, after several falls leading to head injuries which doctors blame on a series of mini-strokes, has been diagnosed with dementia (possibly Alzheimer’s, but the jury’s still out on that one). His role as caretaker is taking its toll. What can we do, but help him hold onto his dignity and independence for as long as possible?

momanddad.phpSo now when I go see my parents I have to speak a little louder and repeat myself often. And when I hug him goodbye I always say, “I love you, Daddy.” I’m not even sure if he notices that I’ve resumed my childhood term. I should have never stopped using it. “Daddy” doesn’t sound childish to me anymore. It sounds beautiful . . . like true love.

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Santa in My Heart

I always was a believer in miracles.  If I concentrated or prayed on something long enough, hard enough, everything always worked out.  Santa Claus was a miracle to me; I believed in him with all my heart.

I felt him in my heart when my friend Linda and I would walk hand-in-hand on cold winter nights, gazing at bright stars, singing Christmas carols as the smell of evergreens and apple cider wafted through the music-filled air.  I could almost taste his spirit when I sipped on hot cocoa and ate brownies from the neighbors down the street when they offered these treats as gratuity for our carols.

I had heard rumors before that Santa wasn’t real, but I refused to listen to such sacrilegious nonsense.  He was real!  My parents had said so.  My older sister and brother had said so.  Santa brought me gifts every Christmas.  I wrote him long lists of all the toys I wanted and he seldom disappointed me.  He even drank the milk and ate the chocolate chip cookies I set out for him.

Why, I also heard his booming laughter and the jingling of his reindeer’s bells and the patter of their hooves on the roof as they flew off into the midnight sky.  No one could ever convince me that Santa wasn’t real.

My conviction held true all the way to third grade (though my mother and sister would love to think I was naïve enough to believe until sixth grade).  Then one day David, the class clown who enjoyed using the teacher’s stapler whenever she left the room to entertain the class by stapling the warts on his hands, made an announcement.  He was going to help his parents play Santa that Christmas.

I had to stop working on my vocabulary words to find out what his remark meant.  “What do you mean ‘play Santa’?”

“Just what I said, stupid.”  David had never been particularly nice to me.

“But you can’t do that.  Santa might get upset.”

Half the class broke into a fit of laughter.  “You mean, you still believe?”

Of course, I still believed.  I couldn’t do otherwise.  So David and I began a long argument that continued out on to the play ground.

“I bet if you asked your parents, you’d know Santa wasn’t real,” he said as he picked at his warts.

“I bet you ten dollars you’re wrong.”  There was no way a gross, mean little boy like David could know what he was talking about.

“Okay.  It’s a bet.”  He offered his hand, but when I didn’t take it he yelled, “You’re so stupid.”  He ran off to irritate some other girl.

We would have shaken on the bet but I didn’t want to touch his warts.  I just knew David was wrong.  There was no way Santa could not be real.

I went home that day and walked straight back to where my mother was playing Christmas music on her organ (no, they weren’t called keyboards back then).

“Mom, tell me the truth.  Is Santa real or are you and Dad really Santa?”

My mother looked at me with sad blue eyes and hesitated.   “Why do you want to know?”

I hadn’t expected that response, so I admitted, “I bet David ten dollars Santa’s real.”

My mother looked like she was going to laugh.  “Well, since you’re old enough to bet, I guess you’re old enough for the truth.  Your father and I are Santa.”

I burst into tears.  She took me in her arms and hugged me until I stopped crying.  I guess I got over the shock quickly because I don’t remember the news having spoiled any future Christmases.  To this day, Christmas is my favorite holiday filled with love and family traditions.

The memories I’ll cherish forever: like the joy I saw in my oldest daughter’s eyes when she was small and awoke one Christmas morning to find the Snuggles bear in bed with her along with a note from Santa or when my youngest daughter discovered with delight a trail of Santa’s sooty footprints throughout the house.  Santa was as real to them as he was to me.  He brought us all such simple happiness.

I never did pay David his ten dollars.  As far as I was concerned Santa was still real.  And to this day he is still real to me, at least in spirit; his spirit is alive and well in my heart.

 

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