Love, Text, and an iPhone

We discovered on long car rides the best antidote for entertainment is not to install an expensive dual headrest TV/DVD players for the children, but to simply surrender hand-over our iPhones.

It works wonders to keep the peace. There is music, games, and a camera. A gazillion options of fun. There is no fighting in the back seat and the only worry is how many car chargers do we have if those suckers run out of juice.

On this particular road excursion, last November, the car ride home took four hours and could best be described as – most blissful car trip EVER!

iPhone!

Then something crazy cool happened…….

My oldest step-daughter (age six at the time) taught herself how to text. The little booger was reading at age four. Spelling at age three. It wasn’t too surprising that she easily figured out the icon, the key pad, and the art of texting. Mostly because of her older step-sister sitting next to her who can text a billion messages a minute and holster the phone in her back pocket without blinking an eye.

I must admit, when I first read the text, I was confused. Why would Jason text me while driving? More importantly, why would he text me while driving and while I was sitting next to him? The message was from Jason. Then, I remembered who had his phone. I took a peek at the backseat and heard a giggle. That’s when I figured it out and replied back.

Our conversation went like this.

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With each reply, the giggles increased, and dang if she wasn’t pretty fast at texting too.

I was completely enamored. They are the sweetest messages!

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As sweet as a bowl of chocolate Cheerios in a heart-shaped bowl. My little text buddy.

These precious little pearls of devotion are what will get me through those days (like Mondays) and step-daughter teen years. I latch onto these nuggets – knowing the future is shaky in blended families – and cherishing the good times. Someday – I might hear those knife-through-the-heart phrases; You’re not my mom! I don’t have to do what you say! I don’t love you!

I will read this.

I will remember.

I will save it forever.

A picture of love via iPhone.

She told me this Sunday (which I heard was un-officially Step-Mom’s Day?) that if it was or wasn’t….she would do anything for me. Really? Anything???? Anything.

I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Way too tempting! Foot massages, cleaning, and laundry. Oh the possibilities!

This girl has the purest of intentions when it comes to sharing her adorations. She is such a treasure.

The funniest (and scariest) thing about the text messages that night? Well, Jason and I got to wondering……..if she was smart enough to text me…….. Was she smart enough to text anyone else? And if she did? Who?

Yeah.

About that.

She DID text someone else.

Her Mom.

Jason’s ex-wife.

Thankfully, the message wasn’t near as descriptive as mine, because HONESTLY? What would she have possibly thought getting a text message from her now married ex-husband chock full of affection for her? I can only imagine. Ummm, yikes!

When we read the text Molly sent to her, it wasn’t near as bad as we thought. Instead of being downright awkward, it only bordered sheer creepiness.

The text read: Goodnight.

Love, text, and an iPhone.

Don’t you just love technology and super smart children?

Have you ever gotten (or sent) any embarrassing texts?

**this post courtesy of my iPhone photo gallery**

Grandma at the Graveside

Driving to graveside with my heart crushed, I didn’t feel the after effects of the tears, but sniffled and wiped my nose. Silent and disbelieving, through the window, I watched the long line of cars proceed ahead. The lead car (the hearse) a few car lengths away. In my mind, I vividly recall every detail. The little blue casket dwarfed inside the giant Baptist Church. Flowers with blue bows, little stuffed lambs, and plastic rattles. A pastor trying to comfort a family stunned by the loss of an infant only a week old. It just couldn’t be, but it was.

He was an angel, here for a short time, but why?….. why?….. It seemed so cruel to watch my sister hold him, rock him, and then cry by his casket. Not just cry, but – rip-your-heart-out and die – despair. A grief that was palpable. The ache I felt is nothing compared to what she feels. I can’t imagine, nor would I want to. Is he in a better place? Well, sure. But why? Why him? Why us? Why do babies have to die? Tears well up and drop because…. I don’t know the answer to that, and I never will. All I can do is be there for her, and be as brave as she is.

We reach the graveyard. Tires crunch on gravel. The day is overcast – of course. There is a tent set up over the grave. It has a green covering to resemble grass – to cover the hole. The chairs face the “grass” covered in velvet cloth. It is the most depressing place I have ever seen. My sister is still with the family car waiting for the casket and has not yet arrived. It is only my brothers and I, with a few friends strolling up. I see Grandma Owens being led to a chair under the tent awning on the first row. It’s hard to look at anyone. I can’t bear to see the bloodshot eyes, and the red noses. The pain, all the more real, when you look in the face of your family. All of us hurting.

Grandma is holding up very well. She sees the flowers set delicately around the graveside. Beautiful sprays of baby’s breath with delicate blooms unfolding love for a little boy we knew for such a short time. I watch as she moves toward the flower spray near the back, to touch, and to feel, and check the tag to see if it’s hers. One second she is there, shuffling toward the buds, the next she is gone. Gone! It all happened so fast, and it took a collective gasp of horror around me to realize……Grandma fell into the baby’s grave! Oh my GOD!

My brother reacted immediately. He jumped up and ran to her. Fearing the worst, a broke hip or arm. He struggled and yanked her tangled legs from the fake green carpet that was now dipped into the grave hole. He tugs her up, shaking his head in disbelief. As shocked and horrified as she is, we quickly realize Grandma is fine. She is not hurt, only embarrassed.

My brother exclaims loudly as he leads her back to her chair, “Grandma! What are you doing? Stay out of that grave! It’s not your time yet.”

Chuckles blow from hands clasped over mouths. Heads, and shoulders shake, because really? Really! That just happened. Grandma took a dive into the grave.

We laughed that day seventeen years ago, a sad day, but we laughed. We still laugh about it. Beneath the tears and the loss, we will always have that memory of Grandma at the graveside.

**This is a true story**

This post brought to you by…

This week’s prompt was to write a short piece in which a character told a joke and a character cried. The piece has to be maximum 600 words and must be able to be read aloud in no more than 3 minutes.

****I have a BUNCH of pictures from today. We had about six inches of snow, plus we had the little girls, and boy did we play. I will post pics this weekend. Happy Friday!****

Bass Tower I

The following is a fiction piece.

On the twentieth day, of the second month of the year twenty-eleven..I stand in an underground hallway – gazing in each direction. My mind numb from the cold, and cold from the fear. Both – a constant I have lived with the past fourteen days. Would I live? Would I die? Could I withstand? Could I stay strong? Is this the end of time?

Fourteen days ago, I drove through sleeting snow to get to my job. It was a hairy ride, but in North Central Texas, weather changes. Could get worse….could get better. Either way, by the next day – no doubt – the sun would shine, and any snow and ice would melt. People emerge and continue on. By noon, it’s like nothing ever happened. It’s usually a sliver of what the weatherman predicts. So I drove to work, and I made it, like I always did. Snow has never kept me from clocking in.

That was two weeks ago and the snow just stopped. I haven’t seen my family. I haven’t heard a word in ten days. I don’t even know if they are alive……..or if anyone is…….other than the people trapped in this building.

The hallway curves to the left. A skylight covered in white. A connection between two towers. A gathering place for the forty-three survivors fighters. We discovered the hall as the warmest place. Closest to the ground and insulated. A strong support. The snow stopped at the fourth floor. Four floors.

I am not sure why the building did not (or has not) fallen. It creaked. It moaned. But it held. Both towers held. The cafeteria and parking garages – not so much. It’s still uneasy. You can’t help but wonder how much longer it can take the weight.

Part of me thinks the world is gone. Whatever happened to stop the temperature rise, to create an abomination of snowfall, and an enormity of this scale…well…it has to be the end.

But it’s not.

We are still here, myself and forty-five others. The thought passes too quickly to stop. My heart crimps. I swallow the lump in my throat. Forty-three others. There are only forty-three now and I will never adjust to that, but I can’t think about it. I can’t blame myself, or anyone else. I file it away, because today, the snow stopped. Today, the sun appeared. It’s the day we find out.

Are we the last ones?

A team of three will set out wearing hand-made gloves, hats, scarves, and snow-shoes. None of which we had at the beginning of this journey. You just don’t need it. Most of winter here is upper 50’s with a rare 30 degree thrown in. But now, everything has changed. Our new clothing items are a necessity. And they may not save us. But we have to try. We have to know…..what’s left.

I head to the stairwell to the fourth floor. I have said my good-byes to all but a few. I have promised to return. I’ve looked into every eye with determination. Seeing the desperation for news. Seeing hope, pain, and longing. And seeing the ones who have checked out. Resigned their situation to nothingness. They will not make it much longer. The fire inside that yearns to live, not only feeds your soul, but keeps you warm. Without it, you freeze. From the inside out.

At our window exit, I turn and take the warm hand of Margaret. I look into her liquid brown eyes. I beam every bit of strength I have into her soul. Be well – my eyes tell her. Remember what we went through – know why we are here. Don’t forget the days trapped in the elevator. Don’t forget how we got free. Don’t forget it was no accident. Keep HOPE alive. She is my friend. She is my family. Our short time has been a life-time. Without a word spoken, I turn from her, yet she knows I am with her.

Next, I grip Davey’s hand. The janitor, the rescuer, and the maker of all winter things. He is the oldest of the bunch at a spry seventy-two. But I couldn’t pick a better man to lead the left behind and continue to keep their fires alive. He will use every bit of his experience and know-how to keep the camp going strong, with resources a-plenty. My squeeze tells him everything he needs to know.

Lastly, I bend down and hug Brendan. The only child in our group. He is six and sharp, and now – well, he is wise beyond his years. He knows where to find water. He knows what water is drinkable and what is not. He can fit in the tiniest of spaces. He is lively and bright, and I don’t want to let him go. I don’t want to leave him. I feel his little back shake. I don’t hear his cry, he is too tough for that, but the silent weeping…….does me in.

For a split second, I want to call off the mission. I want to sit on the floor and just be. No worries. No fears. Just be. Just live what days we have left.

But I can’t. Moving toward the window, I look at my iPhone. Battery dead. I remember what I saw on that screen. The last text message I got.

Took shelter in church basement. We R safe. Girls w/me. Battery almost dead. I ❤ U!

That.

That is why I will go. That is why I will venture into the unknown. Because after fourteen days…. I have to know if they are alive. If I will ever hug their neck and feel their warmth again.

Lander, and Gary have stepped out. They await me, packs, and supplies in hand. They squint at the sun. It all seems surreal. I step through the exit and take my first unbalanced step on snow. My feet sink a bit. I hear the whisper crunch. I can’t look back. There is only forward.


**This weeks prompt is to imagine you are trapped alone or with others at a single place during a ginormous blizzard or its aftermath.**

There is a story, for every day, of every year past.

Do you remember this time last year? What you were doing? Where you were going?

Do you have days when you realize…..Wow, that was a YEAR ago…….really? It stuns you.

You can’t believe the time has flown by, that it’s December, almost Christmas and New Year’s (again).

I have glimpses of those years past all the time. Maybe, it’s just having a good memory, or from the photos I take.

For instance, I came across this photo.

Two years ago, bowling with a broken right hand.

This was at the end of the seven weeks casted at my friend Karen’s birthday party. My cast was pretty grimy and I had (almost) mastered being a one-handed (with a non-dominate left hand) typer, writer, hair washer, and eater extraordinaire. Amazing what you can do when you have to. However, my bowling was not so hot – at all. I always remember my cast this time of year, because I could NOT put up the tree one-handed.

Last Thanksgiving, this is what the girls looked like together. Crazy cute, right?


This year.

Still crazy cute!

What’s funny about this is Brownie. Last year, Molly had a death grip on Fred; my mom’s Shih-tzu and our love of Fred is the reason we ended up getting Brownie Poo in July.

Molly holding Fred.

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday. His last birthday.

A year ago today, was the last day I hugged my dad, and kissed his cheek.

We drove to Ada on Saturday. Sydney made her first loooong driving trip in the driver’s seat under our supervision (notice I was in the backseat). She was fifteen with her freshly printed permit.

Sydney with only her drivers permit driving to Oklahoma.

She did very, very good. We drove straight to the hospital where dad had checked himself in about a week or so before. He had a hernia that perforated part of his bowel and they had done surgery. I had talked to him on the phone, his birthday, and he sounded pretty weak. But fact is, he had worse things happen health-wise in his life. This wasn’t anything. But…in all the hustle and bustle of this time of year, I opted to just stop, and spend the day traveling to Oklahoma to see him. Just in case. IF something happened, I didn’t want to have any regrets, or I should haves….

We arrived to his room and he looked a little more worn than I expected, but better than what he had sounded on the phone. He did look older. Jason, Sydney, and I sat and visited for a while. I don’t like hospitals. I, especially, don’t like Valley View. My grandpa died there, my second cousin, my step-dad…..I just don’t like the place. The only thing good from Valley View was the memory of seeing my favorite aunt, dad’s sister, there. She used to work at the front desk and as a crazy teen I would stop by to see her. But she had moved to Houston many, many years ago.

Dad was watching football.

Dad was a man with nine and half-lives.

Dad was going to be fine.

I left the hospital room with a squeeze and a kiss fully knowing, I would see him again. At home, in front of his big screen TV, watching OU, with his trusty Buddy dog at his side.

We went to the local Mexican food place for my fill of queso with mushrooms from Polo’s. The only place that makes it just the way I looooves it. When we go to pay, I realize, I don’t have my purse. Now, you know what happens when a girl realizes she doesn’t have her purse, and all her worldly possessions on her persons.

Yeah.

It’s panic mode. I searched the car, the restaurant, the sidewalk……everywhere….and came up with only ONE place it could be. My dad’s hospital room.

Huh.

Isn’t that strange? Because, I never lose my purse. Or forget it.

Never.

At first, I was a little irritated. We had said good-bye already. We were ready to hit the road for the long three hours of driving. What was this?

Then, I gathered my thoughts. I listened to my instincts. One thing I wished I had done was brought dad a present, or a card. In our rush, we had just taken off from Texas and came to the room empty-handed. So we went to the local Wal-Mart and I shopped for my dad’s Christmas. I shopped to cheer him up in that dreary white-walled hospital room. And I brought him his favorite things – OU stuff.

I also, picked up a Christmas fern plant in substitute for a Christmas tree, just in case, he was stuck there until close to Christmas.

Dad's OU blanket and Christmas fern.

He brightened up when we returned. It wasn’t just the gifts either. It was the surprise, the second visit in a day. I didn’t even mention my purse sitting on the empty hospital bed in his room. He kept wanting me to hold his blanket up so he could see all the colors (he is color blind like me). Reds he DOES see. The furry bear guy – which I have no idea what he has to do with OU – reminded him of his Buddy dog. He loved it. He had me lay it out on the bed next to where he was sitting. We admired the blanket. We admired the Christmas fern. We watched some football together, talked, and laughed. I left happy I had gone back. I needed that time and his smiles. No regrets. I knew, I just knew, he was going to be fine and recover – like always.

Dad passed away about midnight the next day of major heart failure.

My last-minute trip to Oklahoma. My return to that hospital room. It was no accident. It was a gift. My Christmas gift. From God, from dad, from the world of father’s and daughter’s. It was my last good-bye. My last memory.

Oh, how I cherish my favorite blanket.

Merry Christmas Dad. I miss you. I remember this day…has it really been a year?…and I’ll never forget it.