A Snowy Day in Georgia

It’s a snowy day in Georgia and much of the south today.  A soothing comfort envelopes me when I watch the lacy flakes gently fall to the ground. 

As a child, when I noticed a winter Tennessee sky turn a pale grayish-white, I pulled my white rubber boots lined in red fur from the back of the closet.  I dressed in two pairs of pants, multiple pairs of socks, sweaters, earmuffs, and gloves, then bolted for the door.

“Lynn, it is not snowing yet!  Where are you going?”  Mom would shout when she saw me resembling a stuffed polar bear heading for the wild white yonder. 

“But, it’s fixin’ to!  And it’s going to stick too, Mama, so I want to be ready to sled!” 

The houses, full of young families with children, stood side by side on a long straight street.  By the time my boots were barely damp, all the other neighborhood kids were outside, watching the sky in anticipation.  Parents everywhere turned up their furnace, made cocoa, and searched for extra gloves and mittens.  We yelled as we watched the snowflakes stay on the street and gathered in groups to go sledding.

By the end of the day, tired, wet children sloshed home, stood in front of the fire where socks and mittens lay across a fire screen to dry by the following day.

Remembering the highlighted days

If they are still living today, I doubt anyone who resided on that neighborhood street would disagree that those days were highlighted as some of our best.  For me, I wouldn’t take anything for the wonder of a snow day that brought laughter into homes everywhere.

Not much has changed since then except for my boots.   I never grew up, nor did my friend who lives next door to me today.  I believe we are about the only ones on our street that pray for enough snow to cover a hill so we can go sledding.   The little kids look at us kind of funny, but do I care?  No.  You see, age has nothing to do with having fun. 

I learned that little tidbit of wisdom from some folks I wish were with me today.

 One day in the early 1960s, a Tennessee snowfall began on a Wednesday.  My father’s best friend was the town pediatrician who regularly took Wednesday afternoon off to play golf.  It was an absolute, die-hard, must-do mid-week activity for Dad and Dr. Gene. 

The rest of the story

The snow started to stick to the ground the minute it began.  However, Dad and Gene were concerned that they might not see a white golf ball on white fairways.  They briefly wondered if playing golf was such a good idea.  As we know, good ideas and fun may not always go hand in hand.  

So, rather than giving up a golf day, they each took red and pink fingernail polish and painted dots, stripes, and stars on little white dimpled balls.  They were the only proud souls on the course, of course,  because they assumed they had outsmarted the snow!

Soon,  the local newspaper staff heard about two undeterred gentlemen playing golf in the foul weather.  The news crew quickly scurried to the course, and, sure enough, the boy’s picture was on the front page of the paper the next day.

The only thing these intelligent grown boys forgot was when the snow piled upward, the balls sank deeper!  Even as we laughed about their escapade for years, my dad would respond, “Hey, at least we got to play a few holes before we ran out of balls!”

Continue to play

The humorous, fun, playful things in life give our stay on earth the sunshine.   And no matter how old we are, we need to still play.  We should laugh at ourselves and join the kids in frivolity.   Our sense of humor is just one of the best ideas God had when He built us. 

I would command everyone to quit putting their age before joy if I could!  Be the kid, be happy, be humorous, and don’t wear frumpy clothes.  Stay bold, stay relevant, and laugh.  Take a moment to be funny, be silly, remember your childhood friends, and savor the memory.   How grateful I am for that long street where children gathered, dogs howled and smoked billowed from chimneys in a place called home. 

Our days are numbered here, but someone might remember us and our goofy ways long after we are gone.  It is then that you will still create a smile like my dad and Dr. Gene did for me on this snowy day in Georgia.

Grandpa’s Diary: A guide to living

It was Christmas 1969 in the Tennessee mountains when my grandmother (aka Grandpa*) opened her gift from a friend.  The present was a handsome, small green leather diary with a gold lock and key.  Grandpa had never written in a journal before, but she felt she must use her friend’s generous gift.   My humorous grandmother wrote on the inside cover, “I’ll try to remember to write as the days pass, but guess I’ll forget to write half the time!” 

Grandpa never missed a day until the end of 1970, when grief left the pages void of words. 

Last year, while searching for an old photo in a box Mom left me, I  found the diary.  Reading this beloved woman’s words as she lives through the year is an indescribable blessing.  I feel Grandpa left a bit of her soul for me to find.  And ironically, in 1970, she was the same age I am now.

The first days of a new year

Thursday, January 1, 1970:   “Mother fell and hurt her arm.  Ice and snow accumulated on Monterey’s roads, causing treacherous driving conditions.  I stayed with her all night.  It was slick out there, but I made it!” 

The next day, she wrote, in part, “ I finished crocheting an afghan, but I didn’t like it!” Why did she diligently work to complete it if she didn’t like it?  But knowing her,  I am confident she gave it to someone who indeed loved or needed it.  

On the following Sunday, she bathed her mother, washed her clothes, attended all church services, and relished the beautiful winter day when the sun glistened on the new-fallen snow.   

January 11, 1970:  “The weather dropped to 8 degrees below zero today.  I couldn’t go to Sunday school because I needed to stay with my mother, who is in the hospital, and also help my very sick brother.”

This was how Grandpa spent her first days of a new year.  As I read each page, I realized there was not one day that she didn’t explain the weather conditions, care for someone, check on someone else,  prepare a meal, and go to church on Sundays.  She was able to “get her hair done” on some Saturdays, listed the folks who had passed away, and prayed for folks who were still living. 

The rest of 1970

By early June that year, while caring for all the others, Grandpa was hospitalized.   She took her little diary with her, and even though ill, she still described the weather as she looked out her hospital room window.

Later in June, my first child was born, and she visited us in Georgia.  How joyful we were, but her mother and brother were not well when she returned to the mountains.  And she again drove the roads each day to care for them.

On December 2, 1970, Grandpa’s mother, Mollie Randolph Sparks, died with her daughter by her side.   On December 5, she wrote, “It’s mother’s birthday.  She would have been 94.  I miss her so much today, but she is asleep in a better place.  No more suffering and pain.  “

Nine days later, on December 11, Grandpa’s beloved brother died and was laid to rest beside his mother.  After the funeral, the words ended in the little green diary except for one sentence the following day, “It’s pretty today.”

A year in the life of a woman that cared for others more than herself.  She found beauty and wonder in the sun shining, the garden blooming, sewing aprons, laughing with her grandchildren, attending church every Sunday, and catching fish.   Even in pain, Grandpa was happy.  Unlike any heart I have ever known,  her  life reflected a soul filled with love for her friends, family, and God.

Enriching our lives

Not once on her pages did she speak of politics, philosophy, or discord.  She was the salt of the earth,  a beacon for faith, and adored by countless folks.   Her unselfish acts of kindness and giving taught me courage, determination, and to relish even the coldest, darkest days.

Grandpa lived God’s words and principles all her days without one ounce of hypocrisy, complaint, or self-importance.  She could be willful but never mean-spirited, and unkind words were never spoken or written.

What story will your diary tell this year?  Will your days record your unselfish love for others?  Will kindness reign in your life?  And will you notice how beautiful a day is even when life is challenging?

If you do, someone in the future possibly will write your name and spread your life journey to inspire others.  It is how we live each day that gives our earthly time value.  

How do we enrich our lives, heal our souls, and enjoy our world?  The answer is simply, ” with love and kindness.”

*if you would like to know why Grandpa was called by that name, go to www.lynngendusa.com and read the blog: “Her Name was Grandpa” Note: “Her Name was Grandpa” was one of my first columns and it spread throughout the country from Seattle to New Hampshire and throughout the south. What is in a name? Everything.