“You Almost Look Like My Granny…”

Ahhhh. September in Texas. When the leaves have changed from green to brown due to lack of rain, the temperature has dropped to ninety-five degrees, and the breeze is desperately working overtime to escape summer, and usher in cooler weather.

School is in full swing, and the newness of the year is slowly wearing off. With Labor Day just around the corner, we are dreaming of those clear and crisp days that will bring with them the promise of Fall.

This year feels different for me. After thirty-eight years of being in public education, I will be retiring at the end of the year. In many ways, I feel like a rookie. I am looking at the days in a different way, with a different mindset. As I complete different aspects of my job as an elementary counselor, I realize some things have been done for the last time.

Viewing life in this way, has made me appreciate each day. I have a new respect for time and the fleeting pace at which it moves.

This is the beginning of the end of my career as a teacher and counselor, and in a few months, I will officially enter into a new season. In many ways, I’m already there.

I’m in the sandwich season–the time of life when I am in the middle, caring both for my mother, my children, and my grandchildren.  As I watch my grandchildren grow, I am also watching my mother enter into a new phase. As Cooper and Harper are in the Spring of their lives, my mother is in Winter. The days are shorter and not as bright.

I know many of you understand this season. While enjoying the joy, wonder, and innocence of young children, I am dealing with the hard, gut-wrenching changes that come with aging (with my mother, as well as myself).

As I appreciate each day at work, I also am appreciating the moments I spend with my mother, knowing that time is a thief, and I need to make the most of each visit.

My brother Greg and I have been traveling down the path and process of setting up home healthcare for my mom. Her mind is great–she can remember things from eighty years ago. Her body, however, is tired. Her back is worn out and she is in pain, making it difficult for her to get around.

We are so blessed to have found a wonderful caregiver, and that has made all of this easier for my brother and me. I have prayed about this for a long time, and when we found Mary, the first thing she told me was, “I’ve been praying for this job, and God has answered my prayers.”

Many of you understand the overwhelming feeling of experiencing things for the last time, and the knowledge that this is how we all should live each day, leaving nothing undone; speaking the important, meaningful words to loved ones; embracing the warmth of summer, and the cooler temperatures that will soon follow. Seasons change, but how we live during each season shouldn’t. I hope to take each day and recognize the gift it is.

When I was in second grade, I was given a Jim Croce 8-track tape for my birthday. I loved the song, “Time in a Bottle,” but was too young to grasp the meaning of the words. At age sixty, after all those years, I get it…

“…there never seems to be enough timeto do the things you want to do once you find them.”

Right now, stress abounds, but I also am experiencing a calmness. For the last several weeks, when I wake up each morning, I feel excited to start the day. I look forward to that early morning quiet time, when it’s just me, Lorelai, and my new fave–McCafe Iced Vanilla Coffee pods. There’s nothing like an iced coffee to help me face the day.

I believe the excitement of each morning is a mixture of wanting to get the most out of the day, and a nervous energy highlighting the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

As I walk along this well-traveled road, I know I’m not alone. What I feel is universal, after all we know “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

My emotions are all over the place, and I know without a doubt that the Lord is using precious elementary children, family, friends, and co-workers to bring joy and laughter my way. The days are anything but dull.

Here’s a quick re-cap of just one day at work:

  • I walked into a Kindergarten classroom for the first time this year. I was going to teach a lesson about what a counselor does, introducing myself to my new friends–5 year olds who have no filter. As I walked with confidence across the room, a little girl loudly exclaimed, “You almost look like my granny!” Yet another reminder that time marches on…
  • Following that encounter, I went back to my office and met with one of the students I see weekly. I was asking him to name his friends. He mentioned only one person. A little girl in his class. He followed this by announcing, (and this is exactly how he said it), “When I get very older, I’m going to date that girl. And then after that, I’m going to marry her!”
  • I visited with another young man later in the day. I was going through the beginning of the year Intake questions with him. The last question was, “If you could make one wish, what would you wish for?” His response: “I would wish there wouldn’t be anymore wars so everyone could get along.” Heartfelt, sweet, and wise words from an eight year old.
  • Another little girl I met with was telling me everyone who lived in her house. She named her father’s girlfriend, and then said, “Well, she’s not there anymore because they broke up.” When I asked if the father had a new girlfriend, she said, “Oh, he’s got four or five.” How do you respond to that?
  • Another little girl answered the one wish question by stating, “I wish my mom could come back.” Her mother passed away when this second-grader was in Kindergarten.

At the end of that emotional roller coaster of a day, I went to car rider duty. I saw a guy who works in our technology department, and I needed to ask him a question. As I walked toward him, something caught my eye. There was a creature leaping through the brownish-green grass. At first, I thought it was a small kitten, but when I took a gander at the long tail, I knew it was a rat. A big ol’ rat, that was gleefully skipping from the grass to the sidewalk in front of the kindergarten building.

I asked the tech guy if he saw it. He looked at me like I had lost my mind.

I mentioned this to my principal before I left. She said she could look to see if the camera caught it. All at once I was nervous. What if I just imagined it? I mean, I have been stressed, and burning the candle at both ends.

By the time I arrived home, I received a text accompanied by two photos: I had indeed seen a rat. I was nauseated at the fact there was a rat running amok, but thankful that I wasn’t losing my mind.

So what’s the take-away from this blog? For me, it’s to take nothing for granted. I sound like Captain Obvious. We all know that’s how we should live. But rather than it being a reminder, it should be a call to action.

  • Make the most of every moment.
  • Do the things that make you happy.
  • Spend time with those you love.
  • Embrace growing older. It’s a privilege some never have.
  • Notice the things around you.
  • Look for the lessons to be learned each day.
  • Learn from a child.

We all have a choice: worry about tomorrow, or embrace today. Although this season might bring both a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, I will remind myself that to know true joy, you also must know grief.

And that brings me back to being the meat or filling of the sandwich. Without the bread—joy and grief, the sandwich wouldn’t exist. I would be alone. Thankfully, we’re all connected. We need both ends.

What a precious season I’m in. I’m bound by the love, wisdom, and example of my mother, and the joy, wonder, and love of my children and grandchildren.

And, I’m extremely thankful and blessed to share the inner spot of the sandwich with my husband, Brian.




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