Author Archives: Barbara

About Barbara

Grandma, Education, Lifelong learner

A Letter to the U.S. Congress

Message to Our U.S. House of Representatives:

I have not always been a Democrat. However, I confess that I am an impatient card-carrying progressive liberal. My years of seeking a middle ground ended when I “drank the cool-aid” and found it factual.

Here lies my impatience. Time seems to drag by endlessly while children suffer in detainment centers, respected peer-reviewed scientists face threats to their research, we stare at the possibility of another war, international leaders in free nations disdain us, and dishonesty replaces truth.

Although I want Democrats to demonstrate fairness, I believe current events propel immediate and courageous actions. The time has arrived to say “No,” to unacceptable behaviors and policies. For these reasons, I request the following actions. Continue reading

Being Pro-Choice AND Despising Abortions

Growing up in West Texas, my Aunt Maggie taught me that life falls into clear categories of black or white — right or wrong. She assured me that she always provided correct information and therefore, I would never be faced with confusion or doubt. That seemed perfectly sensible to me until I took a college class called Situation Ethics. In the course, I listened to other students as they stated beliefs about controversial issues. “That sounds right to me,” I would think until the next person made a totally contradictory claim. “Oops, that also makes sense.” By the end of the semester, I gave up my quest to define rights and wrongs as I realized that life, with its complexities, usually falls into shades of gray.

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Welcoming a New Life

I confess that I had not anticipated holding a shower for a great grand baby. That event only happens to “old” folks. Surely, I’m not old enough or wise enough for this. And yet, we welcome this little girl with open and loving hearts.

Melissa, our son’s wife did most of the work but allowed me to act as a co-hostess and hold the party in our back yard. The weather cooperated and we gathered around thirty caring friends to celebrate this new life.

Sharing a Goodbye Tribute

Susann Couch Flowers, my friend and cousin, died March 11, 2019. It may sound mean to write this, but I must tell the truth. Susann was older than I was. To be specific, in 1940, she beat me here by 39 days. Our parents were cousins as well as good friends. Her grandfather — my Great Uncle Bob and my grandmother — her Great Aunt Cordie united us. And so, we have been connected for 79 years.

Regardless of what others may have thought through the years, in our advanced decades, Susie and I decreed that we were cute babies and adorable little girls. My Aunt Maggie would have said that as teens, Susie was beautiful and I was attractive. My Aunt Maggie never lavished much praise for fear of encouraging conceit, which she vowed was one of the unforgivable sins along with sex before marriage. For two years in high school, I was our class favorite and in our senior year, the honor went to Susann. We accompanied the award winning Pecos High choir with a four handed piano rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic. Together, we sat at one piano with Susie playing two-handed base while I used both hands for the treble. Continue reading

When Life Seems Unfair

When Life Feels Unfair

Our very special friend left her physical body this morning and transitioned to what I believe will be a new adventure. First, I begin with a background story about her husband, Blake.

Over two years ago, I received the following message. “Mom, Blake has been in a terrible car accident. Medics barely managed to pull him from the wreck alive.”

Our son’s best friend from childhood lived with us during their high school years. During that time, Blake became another son to me. Although limited financially, whatever I had, I split equally among the three children. That meant that my time, energy and love also went three ways. And so, information about Blake’s accident became terrifying and personal for me.

After waiting for Blake’s surgery to end, each of us in the waiting room gave thanks that he had lived through the surgeon’s work of putting his broken body back together. No one knew what the final outcome would be. As he lay unconscious, his wife, Janet allowed each family member to see him for a few moments. At the end of the evening, my turn came. As I viewed Blake’s swollen body, my thoughts went back to the young teenager who had needed love and attention. I recalled the fun and laughter, his silliness, and his outrageous science experiments.

Hard days followed surgery. Days wondering if he could heal. Days seeking Divine assistance. Ultimately, doctors released him from the hospital and his “one step at a time” recovery continued in his home. A hospital bed took over a front room. Each night, his wife, Janet slept on the floor beside his bed. For countless weeks, Janet maintained her vigil — always present and always prayerful. Without Janet’s constant loving service, he might never have walked, driven a car, or returned to work. She gave her all and Blake recovered.

Life does not seem to be fair. Janet’s diagnosis of widespread, aggressive cancer felt unjust for one who lived a life of service. For weeks, prayerful requests for comfort surrounded this faithful servant who always exemplified love for God and devotion to family. Today, the bonds of her pain ended. I imagine she soars. And so, once again, we do not understand and cannot justify. Once again, we focus on the Divine and ask for guidance.

Be free, Janet. You were, and will always be loved.

Making a Prayer Request

I believe in the power of prayer; not as a magical method to get what I want but as a force of love extended to others. Sometimes, prayers do not yield the results I want. Yet, the force of energy sent from one person to another binds us in love and connects us in Spirit. Today, I make a prayer request for a family I cherish.

During the years our son attended middle school, a neighborhood kid sometimes came to spend the night. In the summer before the boys entered high school, spending the night happened with increasing frequency. After the two teens moved our son’s friend’s stereo into David’s room, I realized the time had come to rearrange our home. Thus, during all four years of high school, an additional teenager blessed my life with fun, laughter, ridiculous antics, and love. No dull moments — ever!

As the years passed, the two young men graduated from college, secured gainful employment, married and had their own children. Even without times for “sleep-overs,” the commitment between both men and the connections between their families continued. For me, the feelings of love and wanting to protect never went away.

Today, this very courageous, special family faces heartache. The wife and mother, whom we all love and admire has been advised to cease aggressive chemotherapy against the cancer invading her body and to seek comfort care. Knowing that pain now floods Janet’s body, grief, as part and parcel of life, fills our hearts. I write this post to request prayers for guidance, peace, love, and above all comfort for Blake, Janet, her mom and all three children. Thank you.

Accepting the Adventures of Aging

There seems to be no way to deny the realities of aging. OK, I get it. I accept those little lapses of memory, the declining hearing, and less than secure walking. Unfortunately, I seem to have turned a new and dreadful corner. My grandsons now feel a compulsive need to “tattle” on me to their father (who happens to be my son). David telephones and the conversation begins with, “Mom, the boys tell me that . . .” Drat those pesky little 6’5” and 6’2” boys.

I tell myself, “Those little guys want to help their grandma. How sweet.” Another voice silently insists, “I want to do this (the subject of their tattling)! I do not need their protection!” However, whether or not I want their help, I am now convinced that their plans to take care of their antique grandmother will not be going away any time soon. Can I adjust to this new subtitle in the chapter?

With this realization comes an avalanche of emotions. Pride that these grandchildren have grown into young men who care, gratitude for the love and patience of my own children and sadness that my “job” as caregiver no longer seems needed or wanted. Did I not come here to protect and to guide? What the heck happened?

I suspect that all older people sometimes wonder if life will outstrip finances. Even more relevant to me, the question becomes whether I will outlive all usefulness; all purpose. It does not seem enough to send good thoughts and prayers. And so, with no small amount of grief, I seek to accept this new phase.

I end by sharing that on several occasions over these holidays, I looked at the faces of those I love down our long table: my husband, our children and grandchildren. As they shared ideas, laughed, and enjoyed a meal together, I gave thanks for a moment of pure love; total gratitude. Those moments became my private heaven. Do I dare complain about anything? I think not.

Responding to the “Punchline” of the Story?

Christmas prompts us to remember the long-ago birth of a baby boy. Even after the passage of over 2,000 years, this baby’s remarkable story continues to provide hope.

The story tells about a dark skinned, Jewish baby who arrived during a dangerous time in Judea history. After hearing news about a baby born in Bethlehem, King Herod sent Magi to locate him. Herod’s harsh leadership and lies had already created a climate of distrust. However, the story continues by stating that an angel appeared to the baby’s father, urging him to take the mother and child and seek asylum in Egypt. After King Herod heard that the family could not be found, he ordered the killing of all boys ages two and under who could be found in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.

According to the story, the young couple and their baby thus became immigrants fleeing for their lives. Most likely, they lived in poverty with little to show in terms of wealth or prestige. Common, humble people, they raised their son in the Jewish tradition. History reveals                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  that regardless of a lack of material or social importance, the child grew into a remarkable man. Remarkable enough, that after more than 2,000 years, he continues to be an agent of change.

How can this story possibly provide hope for us today? We too, live in harsh and dangerous times. Suspicions and lies permeate a climate of fear. Just as the young couple faced cruel leadership, we too have many families frightened of those in control. Like the young parents, we have immigrants traveling wretched miles, risking dangers and even death to plead for safe asylum, and to seek better lives for children. As in the time of King Herod, we too witness terror and probably life-long damages to young children. Many times, we also turn our backs on the suffering of others.

And yet, even after 2,000 years, the Christ Child continues to send a message of hope. Today, as in days gone by, the baby’s message tells us to feed the hungry, welcome the homeless, and visit those in prison. His message declares that within each person a sacred spirit lives. Each of us gets to decide whether to follow King Herod into an existence of fear or follow the message of a baby who came to proclaim love.

Atrocities toward others have occurred throughout the ages. Often, as individuals, we feel powerless. The Good News; the Christmas message assures us that when we do what we can to help those in need, we live with peaceful hearts. Even in the struggle to help, we can relax knowing that kindness has a life of its own and will not be snuffed out by cruelty.

Each time we stand up for our ideals; each time we choose humans over money and material possessions, we send a small ripple of hope. All those ripples will ultimately converge. Jesus, a small, Jewish baby grew up to change the social and political equation. Today, any time we take small actions with loving hearts, we too change the equation of injustice. The story of the Christ Child does not let us off the hook. The good news – the “punch line” of the Christmas story insists that love and peace ultimately win over evil. I wonder what might come about during this season, if we all remembered the message of love given to us by a baby. The hope of the story rests in this message.

Sources:

Matthew 2:1-18 “The Magi Visit the Messiah.” New International Version.

Rigby, Jim. “The Meek Will Inherit the Earth.” December 2, 2018.

Remembering Veterans at Thanksgiving

As we enter the Thanksgiving Season, I seek to acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions of our military men and women. Included among the veterans honored this week by a Dripping Springs middle school sat our own family veterans: Lane (Coast Guard), Jordy (Army) and Chris (Army from Vietnam).

In addition, all of us celebrated our grandson, Dalton who currently serves in the Air Force in South Korea.

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HAPPY EXPECTATIONS

Even though we all know that I am much too young to be a great-grandmother, that’s exactly what is going to occur. The end of May, a sacred little being will join our family. “The torch will pass, the gene pool will expand, and a new life will bless our lives.”

Lane and Margie recently shared this happy and exciting news. Today, as I welcome our first great grandbaby, I give thanks for new blessings coming our way.