I’ve been enjoying the “off season” of Florida. It’s hot and humid and wonderful. Here are a few snippets…….
Prior to moving to the mid-west we lived in a beach community on the east coast. If it weren’t for the beach I do believe the county would have been more united and cosy and family-like. A true community. But tourism ran many residents lives, and I can’t blame them.
When you start making money on your historical home as a Bed & Breakfast or your small business of selling anything from surfboards to ice cream…… well, I can see why it turned that way.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a privilege and a blessing to live there for twenty plus years. We made good solid friendships and the kids grew up in a small town atmosphere where most people seem to know who you were.
What I want to focus on is a small local business we fell into one day back in 1994. I say “fell into” because once we crossed the threshold they made a way into our hearts as well. Stuck for life.
We had moved to this lovely area when our daughter was a senior in high school. They fact that she was more than willing to leave her past three years of high school behind and begin again in a another school was proof enough that we were meant to be there.
After a few days of her school year she came home and asked me to take her to a small music store to buy guitar strings. Over the bridge we went and found this little “mom and pop” store front in the owners home. It helped that the young man working there was cute and adorned bright red hair. I still don’t know who he was or his name.
The owners of this business were also employed in the school district we were a part of. Mr. and Mrs. J. Mrs. J taught at the Junior High School – music of course. And Mr. J at the High School, also music.
Well, our daughter talked about Mr. J often. His kindness to her is what pulled her in. I, a concerned parent, had to meet this man whom my daughter seems to be quite taken with. You know what I mean – I was cautious.
What can I say. When I met Mr. J for the first time, in his store, he had me. He was a rare human being. He looked like a hippy (which was a plus for me) and when he opened his mouth the kindness of God came out. Let me tell you how. He had a way of saying just what a person needed to hear.
I remember one warm summer day I had put on sandals. I have always been self conscious of my feet. They are long and I always thought rather ugly. I walked into his shop that day with thoughts of covering my feet up and he says, “Mom! (always called me mom) You have beautiful feet! You should never cover them up!” I have heard him over the years encourage so many people of all ages with similar things.
Our daughter became good friends with their oldest son and we became regulars of his shop. We bought strings, guitars, basses, keyboard, cords, picks, tuners, lessons, etc. over the years. He handed me a harmonica one day and said, “You need this, Mom”. I walked out with a harmonica.
Our two youngest sons took classes in school with both Mr. and Mr. J and excelled. Our youngest learned guitar from their son. I remember picking him up after his lesson and peeking in the room to find the two of them rocking out and jamming on their guitars.
Their store was magical. You could walk in there and find Mr. J with a captive audience telling one of his many stories of his colorful life. The time he met James Bond (Sean Connery) or James Michener in the small town he grew up in. Or his stories of Linda Ronstadt and countless others. Oh, and his love for Tom Waits.
I could go on and on about Mr. J and Mrs. J. Don’t forget the Mrs. J! She even let me assist her in her strings/violin class in Junior High (Lord knows I couldn’t play that thing!) – it was an honor and a privilege. It’s because of Mr. J that I play the Ukulele!
Well, we just saw them on our trip back east a couple of weeks ago. They are well and retired from teaching and closing the store down. It is a good time for them and a sad time. The end of a good thing for the community and themselves but the beginning of a new chapter of their lives.
You see, they were teachers to our family and we respect them and always enjoy seeing them. But one day an incident happened and we became a part of them. Mr. J suffered an ailment and we were privileged to pray for him through this ordeal. When troubles come upon us it is an opportunity to get close. To be real. To become a part of another. They are stuck with us.
And when our family suffered the loss of our daughter they were there. Their son, in California, was our ears and eyes of what was happening out there (see my post Our Darkest Day) . They have been good friends. We only get to see them once a year or send a note back and forth now and then, but this kind of relationship runs strong and deep.
I want them to know that. I want the J’s to know that their faithfulness and kindness to so many kids and their families has not been in vain. They have brought the power of music, poetry and art to so many. We will all miss their store and all the fun times that happened there. But I am confident that if I stood in the middle of the small shop area I could hear the whispers of all the stories spoken over the years. I’m sure I could hear the melodies written and taught to so many.
Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. J for all you have brought to our family!
My hubs and I have been on a road trip. The first half has been related to his business.
The second half will be with family -Yay!
But so far I have loved meeting new friends and seeing old friends whom I have missed.
Here are a few taken on my iPhone 5 – sorry.
A fellow blogger that crossed my path a while ago has published a book. It is full of truth and pain and her reality. Her memoir.
I purchased this book through amazon.com for my kindle. I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. But I had to. I tend to feel the pain as I read and needed short breaks. That is a GOOD thing. Why? Because we all have come from dysfunctional backgrounds. But some faced harder things than we may have. Or perhaps I should say different things in our past.
I never went hungry or was physically abused. I had more of the verbal attacks and great loss and left to myself to heal.
As I read through Mary’s book, Running in Heels, I thought of people I have met over the years who had to endure great pain. Is it fair – no. But the way our God had his hand on her (and you, dear readers) through all the pain is fantastic.
This book is a great read for anyone. For your heart – yes. And for others you know and those you will meet, it will be of great help. A must read.
We all need to know that someone else has gone through what we are facing or have faced. We all need to know that God was with us and is and will see us through. Life is not easy, for anyone. But it can be redeemed and turned around.
Thank you Mary for writing your memoir.
It is now my summer time. It actually started about two weeks ago. The university is pretty quiet now and I don’t have my sweet grand girls five days a week. I am still adjusting to the quiet and the freedom to stay in my pjs for hours.
The girls did come over for a few hours the other day. Since the first one was born, Lucy, I sang to her. She liked to fuss a lot with me and singing certain songs always worked to comfort her. They still do at the age of four. One song I sang to her was Sloop John B – I changed the words a little so I wasn’t giving her ideas to drink all night and get into a fight to: Singing all night – till it was nearly daylight. It works. Her other favorite is JJ Heller’s song, The Boat Song. She both loved the song and the music video on youtube.
Penny, however, didn’t take to those songs. Her comfort songs became How Much Is That Doggie In The Window, Jesus Loves Me, and Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. She can watch that video over and over. She travels to a different beat.
Since I took up the Ukulele a couple of years ago, I play their songs for them (except for shake it off – I do that a cappella). Well, I must show you what Penny June did with my uke. I normally don’t let them play it. But I put her hands in position and off she went……. I am bragging, I have that right, I think she is a natural.
Drum roll please…….. Penny June singing and playing How Much is That Doggie in the Window……..
For those who know, I care for our two grand daughters while our son and lovely wife attend university full time. Finals are over and we all collapsed yesterday.
A very busy semester just ended. This past week our little Penny June (eighteen months), AKA \, came down with a cold. Kids tend to hate having their noses wiped. And why should they like it when they have Uma’s shirt to just rub on back and forth until the problem is solved?
As my title strongly states – Love IS stronger than snot. It’s a good thing I love her to pieces. After raising four kids I’ve learned there isn’t a mess that can’t be cleaned. Well, except for the black oil pastels our middle son used on the rug in his room so that when you lifted his art work up from the floor there was a tan rug “picture” framed in back on the carpet. Nothing got that up………. But all else is a piece of cake.
I didn’t always see it that way. I cleaned up constantly when my kids were growing. But there came a day, somewhere in my past, that I really realized that “crying over spilt milk” is not the end of the world. It’s just a minor inconvenience.
Love wins. Look at my life. I’m a great complainer to God (and husband) and they still love me. God loves me so much that I have a picture implanted in my head of Him laughing loudly with arms folded over his chest. A real gut-type belly laugh just because He loves me and enjoys my antics. Please note: I have many antics and strive daily to overcome my bad attitudes.
And that, my friends, is how I try to enjoy my grand girls. Just laugh and enjoy their antics. Why? Because they will grow up and become their own adults and enjoying their growth while I can is delightful! All the things I think are problems that need solving in my life become very small when I actively try to not sweat the messes and other little things in life.
Life is short. It really is. And if I can accomplish one thing in my life I want it to be that I didn’t sweat the small things and that I took the time to enjoy the snot on my favorite shirt…….. because I am totally washable!