Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

I parked the car as close to the house as I can listening to the voice in my head sneer, “It’s better to load you with, my dear.” I struggle to stack ONE more box into it. One more set of childhood photos, and drawings. One more heirloom punch bowl. One more antique secretary empty of the fantastic treasures it held in my childhood. I wish I could fit the Grandfather clock in the car too, but there is no way, even if I repacked everything. I have zero room.

Already, the long drive back to Texas, and the unload will take many hours. I look back at the house. The house I grew up in. Where I had many tea parties, birthday pool parties, and wild teen parties. The house where I saw my first car parked in the driveway. The place I would leave to explore. Across the street to the pond, among the big pine trees, or over the barbed-wire fence next door to Mr. Sliger’s pasture. I would dodge cow patties down to the river bed where I would find a big rock to sit on and pretend I was a girl in a storybook. But that was many, many years ago…..

Now, at forty-one years old, the cows are long gone, Mr. Sliger has passed away, and I am driving my Mom back to assisted living. I had to come here. I couldn’t just let it all go.

My brother said, “You better come get what you want before the house (and everything in it) sells. She doesn’t want to come home anymore.”

Earlier, when I told her where I was going, and she asked to come with me, I hesitated. I didn’t want to bring her here. I didn’t want to see her in her house with all the dogs gone, most of the rooms empty, and every cabinet cleared out. I wasn’t sure how she would react, but I needn’t have worried. This place is empty since her husband died, and her love of the things she kept for so long is no longer. This revelation is conflicting to me. I revel in sadness, gladness, and awe. I never imagined this day. But I am happy for it. And I am so glad she is not lonely anymore.

I look back. Just once more, and that is when I see it…….

I grab my camera. “I’ll just be a minute, Mom.”

“What are you doing?” She calls out. “Angie, we have to go. I have to get back. I can’t miss dinner.”

Her voice fades as I get closer and look through the viewer of my camera.

One solitary butterfly has landed on Mom’s butterfly bush.

One orange glimmer amidst the green and purple hues. It’s not hard to spot in the shadow of my childhood home.

I can’t help but click the shutter – just one last time.

My mom loves this garden. She labored many days over her plantings. Seems she was always making new garden beds. I wrote a post over a year ago (seems longer) Mother’s Garden. Her beautiful garden. So enchanting. So much part of her.

To see this butterfly bush grow from a small container plant to tree size…it reminded me of the past, and of the future.

My capture of it seemed a fitting good-bye.

But the magic is witnessing this lone butterfly.

Maybe it kept my heart in my chest. Maybe it spoke to me in a way that only nature can.

It’s not really good-bye…..is it?

Nothing can take the memories of home away.

Like the butterfly…life changes…it morphs…it grows…it becomes something beautiful.


It flies away.

So I go…..but I don’t forget.

As I enter the car, I pass my camera to my mom. “Did you get anything good?”

I display the screen with the orange butterfly alight on her bush and her breath catches. “Oh! That is beautiful. Can you make me a copy for my apartment?”

My heart smiles, “I can, Mom. No problem.”

I turn the car towards town. I take my mother home.

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown

See more of the weekly photo challenge by visiting The Daily Post

If Heaven had a Father’s Day

If heaven had a Father’s Day….I’d visit for a while.

I’d have my arms held out so far, my hug would stretch a mile.

In my Father’s eyes I’d see, the beauty of the day.

I don’t think anyone, or thing, could keep me far away.

I’d sit and chat with him about, all the days gone by.

We’d laugh and smile and reminisce, high up in the sky.

I’d have so much to share with him, I’d never want to part.

But all too soon the day would end, heavy in my heart.

Every moment from then on, I’d think of him so dear.

Sitting in those puffy clouds, smiling ear to ear.

I miss you more than words can say….Oh heaven if it’s true?

Would you have a day for us? To last the whole year through.

Happy Father’s Day…from here to there.

I love and miss you!

A Christmas Gift to Remember

Another busy weekend and it wasn’t spent shopping. That, I still need to do.

What I did do was take portraits of the little girls and their mom. It was my Christmas gift to her. I wanted her to have pictures of just her, and her girls. Ones she could share with her family and know they weren’t prints I’d have all over the walls of our house. Because, I LOVE prints of the girls all over the walls of our house, and I probably would. Which? Is why I made them a gift so I wouldn’t steal them ……they are hers.

I’ll just give you a peek.

It was a really nice day. I had my assistant Sydney with me. We went to a park. It was incredible to me that it is December and the leaves are still in color change.

It set a magical scene.

One of the many reasons, I love Texas. Maybe we don’t get to see snow that often, but we get FALL for a long, long time. Psssst, love it!

The girls were excited to have step mom, mom, and sister on an outing together. It was getting in a car and going somewhere. Just us girls – weee!

I was really happy to know they acted the same with her as they do at our house; giggly, loud, and silly – or just like normal little girls.

Sometimes, I get a little afraid when they show affection towards me. There was a time their mom wasn’t very happy about that.

That was a long time ago.

We have come a long way and made great strides toward blended family relations. Based on how we get along, I think a lot of things have changed for the better. Now, I hug with no fear, even her.

I recognize the beauty of mothers and daughters. I could never take that from any one, nor would I want to. I want to always support that bond and encourage their love. What child couldn’t use more love?

More hugs? More laughter?

Am I good person for doing this? People tell me I am. But I don’t think of it that way. I didn’t take photos to get ahead, or to earn favors, or smooth ruffled feathers. I took photos because I love these little girls.

I love them like I gave birth to them myself.

But I didn’t.

I have this woman to thank for that.

For two precious angels I get to love too. I hold that very dear to my heart. I am grateful, so grateful, for being blessed as their step mom.

Incredible husband, beautiful step daughters, stunning daughter, and an ex-wife that is open to my crazy ideas of family. If this is the time of year blessings are counted, I need more than my fingers and toes.

A time to reflect. A time to reach out. A time when we humble ourselves like the deity that crossed the heavens to be a helpless infant for our hope. Hope and love – a gift to always treasure.

I am embracing this time of year, and I am sharing gifts of a different kind. Ones I hope will always be remembered.

Now, I must go and edit my next set of pictures. I took them the next day. Another gift…..a gift of education, a gift of pure pride. My amazing husband got his masters degree and I was there to capture the exciting event (I wouldn’t have missed it – not even for a Survivor finale – right, honey?).

The rite of passage line starts here

At the door to the Texas Driver’s License field office, the Friday before school starts.

Seven in the morning. Doors open seven-thirty.

By the time we get to the information desk, we are number 84.

Sydney holding her number with number being served in the background.

Waiting and waiting in the endless line. Standing room only.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Because to get here, you have to go here. Where it all begin….behind the wheel.

A year ago, my daughter started the dreaded drivers ed at school, which included manual training. The one in which your fifteen year old knows more about road rules than you and is not afraid to point that out. Of course, this is BEFORE she even drives a real car. After weeks of classroom time, the brave dedicated drivers ed instructor teacher paying for his Harley, takes the little darlings (that must be some Harley) out on the road. Then, he deems them worthy of a getting a permit to drive YOUR car – with you “instructing” (or cowering in fear) your child yourself. It was at that time, I could only WISH for the droning correction of road violations and inches from the curb or corner, rather than – the floorboard stomping, rear bucking, clinging to the passenger door handle with all my might – ride of my life. Imagine going from annoying trivia to downright death-gripping terror.

Over and over and over.

There was not a happier soul than me on this child’s 16th birthday. SWEET SIXTEEN. Dreams of the DPS; a license waving, smiling child-o-mine warranted safe for the roads. Whoopee! I would be FREE.

Except I wasn’t. Unfortunately, we didn’t practice parallel parking. More unfortunate? That’s the first thing they make them do. If they can’t? They fail.

Didn’t I ask her if she could parallel park? Why yes, yes I did. Her answer, we did it once in driver’s ed. Do you feel comfortable testing? [:shrugs:]

In all honestly, I failed my parallel parking, but the nice DPS officer – dad of my brother’s best friend – passed me anyway. We were hoping she could be marked off for that and move on. But that wasn’t so. According to the strict, leather pant wearing (even I was intimidated) female DPS officer, you did have to pass that, or fail.


So she failed, then she headed off to Mississippi for the summer with promises of practicing driving EVERY day. Her dad assured me, he would take her on the road and do his parental duty. He would step up and partake the same hell instructing, I had done the last six months.

Ah, but see, there is a little problem. What he did not tell me (and still hasn’t, but I figured out on my own thankyouverymuch) is that he has a phobia. it’s not very known, in fact, I couldn’t find the correct term. Fear of riding in the car with a teenage driver. But it’s something like amaxoephebiphobia (your welcome). Yeah. This is a real issue. Like spiders.

So she comes back from two months of bliss with absolutely NO ROAD DRIVING PRACTICE at all, but a really nice beach tan to show off. And do you know what that means in the feeble facebook, text messaging, iPhone, MTV mind of a teenager? We start ALL OVER. I assure you, there is no memory of driving skills. I re-take my place of PAIN in the passenger seat, except this time we add in parallel parking practice upon every outing.

I insist on the busy streets. I insist on parking between two cars. I insist on highway driving. I insist on everything that makes me cringe and weep. It’s a rite of passage. She must be a driver (to get to school, the mall, work). And we did, we drove everywhere – curbs, medians – you name it. All to build up to that day. THE DAY she tests again. When she is finally ready. That day when I can finally ride in the car with her, play words with friends on my iPhone, not stomping, not bucking, not worrying, if I will smack the windshield with my face. Just glancing here and there, playing my words. Ahh. Finally.

So we head to the DPS where begins our line. Our number. Our long wait.

Oh. Mm. Gee.

And then.
They run out of driving tests ten numbers before ours is called.

And then.
We wait in line anyway hoping they have pity on us.

And then.
They don’t and we leave frantically driving and calling other DPS offices.

And then.
They are all full too.

Anyone else a, Dude, Where’s my car fan? Heh.

And then.
We try the country. Cleburne. Because Cleburne is NEVER busy and Cleburne DPS office actually answers their phone and still had driving spots open.

It took us an hour to get there.

The line looked liked this!


They ran out of spots while waiting in line.

And then…….
I called mercy. Uncle. It. Just. Wasn’t. Happening.

Crushed, we left. All that work, and she didn’t even get a chance to try.

I know you think, well, no problem – just go back the next day. But see, the drivers ed paperwork expired. So she had to re-request that, and then wait to get it back. School started, and there ya go. Another few weeks fly by.

Until yesterday, when we ventured back for another beating. DEEP BREATHS. Seven AM, you guessed it. Already a line formed for when they open at seven-thirty, but thankfully not as long. I refuse to get there with my lawn chair at four am. Refuse. By the time we got all the paperwork filled out, new thumb prints, and cute smiling little pic in front of the blue screen. The first road test opening was noon or three. She had school. I had work. I asked if a non-parent could bring her back for the driving test and they said yes. So, we got a three pm slot with Jason picking her up from school and taking her to it. I was disappointed to miss it. I really was. I wanted to see her face and give her a hug, win or lose. But it just didn’t work out, and you can’t say I didn’t try.

However, I am marrying the most wonderful man in the world. Even though, I wasn’t there. He texted me every moment. He knew how much it meant to me. He knew how long we practiced (and him too).

The officer beginning the test.

Sydney parallel parking like a champ.

She passed, she did it! Yay!

No one told me how emotional this would be. How hard and how rewarding.

Congratulations Sydney! You are a licensed driver in Texas and successfully completed a child’s (and parents) rite of passage. I am so very proud of you.

Now about that driving by yourself thing? Well, I think we need just a tad more time before we are ready. Maybe, we can follow behind you? Just for a little while……