Happy Tears, Selfish Tears

Two weeks ago, my husband and I sent my youngest child off to college.

I have heard stories throughout the years of the enormity of this event, but it was not until my son slowly faded away amongst the flocks of people at the security checkpoint that it finally hit me. My time as a day-to-day, hands on mother was over.

When we got back into the car, I wept. “Are those happy tears or sad tears?” my husband asked. “Selfish tears,” I sobbed back. Yes, selfish tears, I told myself—but why?

Happy tears

Before I continue about my “selfish tears,” let me talk about my “happy tears.” My youngest has known since middle school that his passion lies in developing video games. It took him awhile to hit his stride and hunker down with all the academics involved in such a career, but once he did, he soared like an eagle.

Last Spring, he was accepted into his first-choice school—a private college that specializes in game development and computer science. No one was happier for him than me. I will always remember the look of astonishment and joy on his face when the email came in and yelled out through the house, “I got in!” I dropped what I was doing to run to him and hug him. As a mom there is no better happiness than seeing your children succeed, so my heart was full…and my tears were happy. Incredibly happy. We spent the next few months finishing all the high school stuff and preparing for Fall. I relished every moment, knowing that the time to let go was coming all too fast. Then, two weeks ago, the time came.

Selfish tears

I spent the next several days after my son left trying to figure out why I was such an emotional mess. How could I feel so happy and yet so sad all at the same time? Hence the aforementioned “selfish tears.” The answer finally came.

Because I am a mother.

Mothers are unstoppable forces of nature. We love our children fiercely and unconditionally, while simultaneously being able to put them in their place and dish out tough love. We are forever the soft place for our children to fall and the voice of reason in a cruel world. We are masters at managing chaos and soothing both “boo-boos” and heartbreaks. Having a loving mother is a great gift, and the ability to be a mother is a blessing.

For 28 years, I have been a mother.

28 years of:

Babies, bottles, diapers, sleepless nights, doctor visits, broken bones, school supplies, homeschooling, parent conferences, report cards, after-school activities, band practice, large grocery trips, helping them move apartments, making breakfast, lunch and dinner…every day, washing laundry, clothes shopping, staying up until they get home, mentoring, advising, butting in, arguing, grounding, debating, watching them succeed, watching them fail, being their biggest cheerleader, driving them to school, picking them up from school, drying their tears, holding their hands to cross the street, holding them when they are sick, sad or confused, signing permission slips, worrying, crying, laughing…the list could go on forever.

In other words, my very existence has been my children. And now my “nest” is empty.

Don’t get me wrong—my life is far from over. I have many hobbies that I can now pursue full time and I can focus on helping my husband and I become healthier. I can stay up late and sleep in if I want. We can go on adventures without it needing to be on a school break. I can volunteer, I can read, I can write, I can knit all day—I am excited about what this next stage of life will bring. That said…

I have selfish tears because:

I will miss giving my son a hug before school every morning.

I will miss hearing him yell out, “I’m home” every afternoon and then hearing about his day.

I will miss wishing him goodnight before I go to bed.

I will miss binge watching Top Gear with him.

I will miss going to the bookstore with him and getting donuts afterwards.

I will miss…him

Yes, he will be back, but as all experienced empty nesters know…it will be different. He will no longer be a young man. He will be a man. And just like his brother and sister before him, he will be different. And ya know what?

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. It is the number one parenting goal: that they grow up, leave the nest, and become happy, healthy, successful human beings who navigate life and society with civility and grace. I give myself this reminder daily.

So while I may still cry a few selfish tears from no longer being that hands on, day-to day mom, I sit here today knowing those tears will soon fade. I will adjust to this new stage of life knowing that my children are happy, healthy, successful and “living life to the fullest, one day at a time.”

Refreshing Ginger Lemonade

I love fresh ginger. I also love lemonade, so combining the two is a match made in heaven for me. Just adding a small amount of ginger syrup to a glass of lemonade takes the summer staple to new heights of refreshment and delivers a great kick to the taste buds that is sure to please.

I start by making a simple syrup of fresh ginger and sugar. Once the syrup has simmered for about 45 minutes it is ready to add to a cold glass of lemonade. This syrup packs a pretty potent punch, so it doesn’t take much to give your lemonade that extra zing. My husband and I prefer different levels of ginger so I store the syrup separately– this way we can add as much or as little as we’d like to our lemonade. That said, you can absolutely make a full pitcher once you have figured out the ratio you enjoy. If making an entire pitcher, be sure to stir it each time before serving, as the syrup can settle on the bottom.

This ginger syrup is extremely versatile so if lemonade isn’t your favorite it can be added to your favorite hot tea for a spicy zing. With ginger’s excellent anti-inflammatory properties, I have also used the syrup as a standalone tea, omitting the sugar by half or even altogether.

Speaking of sugar, my recipe has a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar, which admittedly is a lot. So, if you are avoiding or limiting your sugar intake, feel free to adjust the amount to your specific needs.

Whichever way you use it, this ginger syrup is both versatile and delicious — play around with the recipe to find your favorite consistency and strength.

Made the recipe? Make changes to it? Let me know in the comments section — I welcome new ideas 🙂

Ginger Syrup

–1 “hand” ginger root, peeled and sliced into thin, lengthwise strips

–4 Cups water

–2 Cups sugar

Bring water to a boil in large pot. Once boiling add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add ginger, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes.

Strain syrup to remove the ginger (keep the ginger strips–you can use them to make a 2nd batch of syrup or cut them up and add to a stir fry.)

Can be used right away or stored in fridge for later use.

If saving the strips, place in airtight container or Ziploc bag–use within a week.


–1 Cup lemon juice

–1 Cup sugar


Combine juice and sugar into 2 Quart pitcher. Fill pitcher with cold water and stir well.

Ginger Lemonade


–ginger syrup

For every cup of lemonade add 1/4 cup of syrup

Pour over ice and enjoy!

This ratio is moderately potent, so adjust according to your liking 🙂

Goldilocks and the Potato Soup

A few days ago I found myself staring blankly at the meal list I had so painstakingly prepared right before the stay at home orders were issued. I remember thinking at the time how useful it would be in making sure my family had 3 square and healthy meals a day for the next month or so. Ah…the best laid plans.

So far that meal list had been a life saver–one less thing to worry about during the day. Just pick a meal and make it. But on this day none of those meals seemed to fit my cooking mood, hence the mindless staring at the paper pinned to the fridge. The mindless staring soon became mindless meandering, searching through the pantry, freezer and fridge, looking for something that would fill tummies and “fit” my mood.

My rumbling tummy soon shook me out of the zombie daze and I began to purposely peruse the kitchen for things that needed to be used soon or be lost. Potatoes, onions, milk. Hmmmm. I quickly realized with it being rainy and gloomy outside it would be the perfect day for some homemade potato soup , so I went searching to find my old recipe. Unfortunately what I remembered as a delicious soup now seemed lackluster at best, so I sought help from the web. No luck there either. Most recipes were either too “uppity” or too simple. I needed easy, yet hearty. At this point I felt like Goldilocks, so I decided to put my cooking talents to the test and create a new potato soup recipe–one that took ideas from the fancy web sites while staying true to my old, worn out version–a recipe that would fit my family “just right.”

It turned out beautifully, so I have decided to share it–hope you enjoy it!

Goldilocks Potato Soup

Prep time: 30-45 minutes       Cook/Simmer time: 1-2 hours      Servings: 6-8


6 medium russet potatoes (about 6 Cups), peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes

1/2 medium onion (1/2 Cup), chopped finely

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Cups Chicken Broth

2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup

2 Soup Cans Milk (use the cans from the cream of chicken soups)

6 Slices Bacon

1 Cup cooked, diced ham (optional, but adds extra heartiness and flavor)



  • Cook bacon until crispy, reserving 1 Tablespoon drippings. Set aside.
  • While bacon is cooking…rinse diced potatoes, place in bowl, cover with water and microwave 5 minutes. This will soften them up a bit and reduce cooking time.
  • In large cooking pot…add bacon drippings over medium heat. Saute onions until tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add liquids–broth, can soup, and milk. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Return to boil, stirring constantly so potatoes do not stick. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender and soup has thickened to your liking (about an hour). Stir every 15 minutes so that soup does not stick.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste after soup has cooked awhile, as the cream of chicken and chicken broth already have quite a lot of salt/flavor.
  • For additional heartiness, add a cup of cooked, diced ham to the soup during last 30 minutes of cooking.

Serving/Additional Notes:

Serve soup with crumbled bacon pieces on top and toasted bread on the side. Additional topping suggestions: chopped scallions, chives, sour cream, cheddar cheese.

  • I added the diced ham to this recipe the day after I made the soup, as I had forgotten I had leftover baked ham in the fridge. The ham really bumped up the flavor and heartiness of the soup and took the dish to a higher level.
  • Note to my fellow RA warriors and anyone who suffers from chronic neck or back pain: this recipe requires quite a bit of cutting, stirring, moving and cleaning of pots/utensils, which can cause pain in the hands, shoulders, neck and back. If you have a significant other or a child who is old enough to help, ask them 🙂
  • The longer the soup simmers, the thicker it will get. On the flip side, if leftovers are too thick, add a little extra milk when reheating.
  • I used russet potatoes, yellow onion, 2% milk and chicken bouillon cubes (to make the broth). If you do not have these exact ingredients, use whatever you have–golden potatoes, red onion, whole milk (or half and half), or can broth.





Observations from the Outbreak

“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” – Lee Iacocca

Words to live by as we, the human race, face such a small, yet seemingly insurmountable foe. It is easy to be sucked in by the mass media coverage and let fear take over, leaving no room for optimism or faith. Struggling with these issues as well, I have observed and learned a few things about myself, my world, and my fellow human beings around the globe. Some are humorous and anecdotal, some are scientific, and some are philosophical. All of them, however, have struck a chord in me and I would like to share them.

1. People have no idea how much toilet paper they use in a month.

I have read countless articles on this phenomenon–noting phrases like the “fear/contagion effect” and “panic driven purchasing.” Yeah, I get it–you see someone in the store with 5 packages of toilet paper and you think, “hmmm, do they know something I don’t” or “wow, maybe I should stock up just in case.” And while I agree with these thoughts, I propose an additional one–we really don’t think about the amount of toilet paper we go through. When it is close to running out we just go buy more. It is a side thought almost, like buying milk or bread. Maybe I’m wrong–maybe everyone else out there can give a number for how many rolls of TP they use in a week and I am the odd ball. Wherever the answer may lie, it is still food for thought.

2. Parents are learning just how difficult it is to teach.

On a daily basis educators must not only teach various subjects but must get and maintain the attention of their students. All of this while presenting the material in an enthusiastic and understandable way. I have read countless stories from tired and frustrated parents who grapple with keeping their kids engaged in their work or who struggle to remember how to do math and science (and then teach it). People who once frowned upon or didn’t “get” the idea of homeschooling are now actively seeking out information and advice from the home school community. I homeschooled for 10 years before returning to the workforce, so I know exactly how these parents feel. Even though I am physically and academically prepared to teach my son at home for the next 6 weeks, I am beginning to feel the pressure to meet all of his needs in a timely and patient manner. Our country is getting a taste of life pre-public school, and while I think it’s extremely cool, I feel for those parents who are feeling lost, scared or unprepared.

3. The mass media and politicians will always use a national crisis to their advantage.

I like being an informed citizen. Reading and watching the news is important to me. And while I am accustomed to yellow journalism and “fake news” it baffles me the amount of mud slinging and fear mongering that has been rampant in the media lately. I understand the role the media has to play in order to keep viewers/readers, and I get that politicians never take a day off from trying to get ahead, but when that gets in the way of helping our nation navigate an unprecedented event, I get a little testy. For this reason I am trying to keep myself from watching/reading too much. This. Is. Hard. It is hard but necessary in order to keep myself calm and not fall into the Chicken Little Syndrome that seems to have invaded the media and politicians.

4. In the constant battle between humans and Mother Nature, Mother Nature will always win.

We live in a digitally dominated society where information and entertainment can be spread in milliseconds. We have biotechnology which provides better medicines to prevent, treat and cure illnesses. Advanced engineering provides stronger buildings that can withstand earthquakes. I could go on and on, but at the end of the day none of these advancements can fully protect us from what Mother Nature has in store. Hackers can infiltrate our systems, buildings can still collapse, and a microscopic virus can bring our society to its knees. Whether you call it Mother Nature, God, or Darwinism, it is times like these that we are reminded (or at least I am) that we are not in charge.

5. Our bodies are fragile, but our spirits are resilient.

For as complex as the human body is, it is also extremely fragile. Body systems that work together to ward off illness and disease can sometimes be no match for a simple, tiny virus. It has been many years since the world has seen such sickness and death, and I watch and read about so many families who have lost loved ones during this outbreak. It pains me to realize how the mere act of going to the grocery store puts me and my loved ones at risk. But when I go back and read stories about pandemics of the past, I see how the human spirit prevailed through it all. Through that loss and hard ship there were still people out there, helping one another to survive. I see that today as well with neighbors helping neighbors, young people running errands for the elderly, and families reconnecting while they are self-quarantined at home. I see medical professionals and first responders working tirelessly to help the sick. Pushing us forward, the human spirit can be a calming presence in the face of sickness and sadness.

6. We are all in this together.

Mother Nature does not discriminate. When it comes to our current antagonist, COVID-19, no one is exempt. There are no free passes. Math is not my best friend–I much prefer a good book, but I do believe that once this outbreak is over, every soul on this planet will have been affected in some way by the virus. Either you had the virus, had a friend or family member who had it, had a co worker who had it–you get my point. At some point we will all be affected physically, emotionally, academically, financially and/or spiritually. The only difference we will all have is in how we handle it. We can freak out and panic or we can approach it calmly and rationally. For the most I have been calm and have prepared as much as possible. Am I scared? YEP. Am I worried? YEP. Have I bought too much toilet paper? ABSOLUTELY. Am I alone in this? NOPE. We are absolutely all in this–the entire planet. But, as always, we will get through it. We will mourn our losses and then carry on as societies and nations. We will learn to hug our loved ones a little more (once quarantines are over, of course), we will appreciate (hopefully) the little things in life, and we will be able to tell our grandchildren about how we survived.

One-Word Theme for 2016: GOOD | Bleeding Espresso Bleeding Espresso

My First 30 Days of Summer Break

“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. you can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.” ― Deb Caletti

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Ah, summer break–that magical, much anticipated time of the year for both students and educators. We spend 180 days counting down to these first few beautiful weeks–to that first morning where the alarm clock remains silent and the coffee is sipped slowly in the calm of mid-morning.

Summer break gives me permission to slow down physically and emotionally. In these first 30 days I have taken long naps, walked in the park with my husband, and had long, enjoyable conversations with family. I have also been able to catch up on laundry and house work–and all at my own pace.

With the anxiety of a looming bedtime and early wake up taken away, I have the flexibility to schedule (or not schedule) my day however I like. I like being able to grocery shop during non-rush hour times and experience the park at noon on a week day. I like being able to put my hair in a bun, be in my pjs all day and play video games till the wee hours of the morning giving no regard to time.

In essence, I like being able to just…be…me.

I like sleeping in, cooking for my family, playing video games with my husband, sending my kids goofy texts/memes, watching old Frasier episodes at 1am, and calling my mom “just to talk”. Summer break allows me the freedom to do these things without the nagging anxiety of the strict school year schedule. It gives me a break from who I am “supposed” to be and allows me to explore who/what I “want” to be.

This morning I woke up at 5:30. Voluntarily. Brilliantly. Quietly.

I am grateful for this time. Summer has indeed opened the door and let me out.

Summer- like life, is short and you don’t have to be “on” summer break to capture and enjoy its spirit and essence. So even if you have alarm clocks and schedules directing your day, I challenge you to open your own figurative door and let a little bit of that summer spirit into your life.



The last 30 days of school

As an educator, I have a unique opportunity that a majority of the working population does not have. I get to experience that magical time known as “the last 30 days of school.”

We can all remember the excitement that those last days brought as a child–less homework, class outside, fun end of year projects. As teachers we get to see this excitement through the eyes of the kids–and it gets contagious. Despite having to suffer through state testing and end of year reviews, we get caught up in the joy. Here are a few things I have noticed are different between the first 30 days of school and the last.

The first 30 days…

1. Get up 3 hours before school -no pressing of the snooze button.

2. Set out clothes and prepare lunch the night before.

3. Spend way too long on hair and makeup-even though it will all be a mess by 10 am.

4. Arrive at work 30 minutes early to prep for the day.

5. Stay 30 minutes late cleaning classroom.

6. Rush to grocery and then home to make dinner.

7. Eat, clean kitchen, shower, talk with family for a few minutes , then fall asleep watching Netflix.

8. Repeat for 150 days.

The last 30 days of school…

1. Get up 2 hours before school-hitting snooze at least twice to sneak in a few extra minutes.

2. Grab outfit from the “floordrobe”-who cares if it’s wrinkled. Peanut butter sandwich or leftovers for lunch.

3. Hair in ponytail and no makeup-it’s gonna be a mess by 10am anyway.

4. Arrive at work 10 minutes early-make sure coffee mug is full-get ready to give 100% to the students. There is still work to be done.

5. Leave as soon as students are gone–after making note that students will clean their messes tomorrow morning.

6. Skip grocery store–peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. On paper plates.

7. Eat, throw away paper plates, spend quality time with family, then binge watch Netflix for 3 hours. School is almost over, we should relax, right?

8. Repeat for 30 days, wishing we had this attitude from the get-go.

Life is short, y’all. No matter what job you have, remember not to let work consume you. Consume and surround yourself with the people and things you love.

Live like the last 30 days of school.

“Floordrobe”–baskets or piles of washed clothing that have not been put away. Your wardrobe is essentially on the floor.

The Birth of Little Miss Twitch

Nickname: a usually descriptive name given instead of or in addition to the one belonging to a person, place, or thing.

During dinner on our first date, my husband was introduced to my Tourette Syndrome in full force. I guess the excitement and nerves got the best of me and I was twitching all over the place. When he asked if I was nervous I decided to go for “full disclosure” and tell him all about my Tourette’s.

I was worried how he would respond, as most people up to that point had not been too understanding. At least he would shrug it off and say, “well that sucks,” or at most he would ask silly questions like, “do you swear all the time like they do on TV?”  But instead I got something I hadn’t experienced before–compassion. He didn’t make fun of me, ask dumb questions or change the subject. Instead he grinned at me and said, “so then you’re not nervous, you’re just Little Miss Twitch.”

We have been peas and carrots ever since.

After that, Little Miss Twitch became my nick name. This lovingly humorous way of letting me know my tics are out of control has helped me come to terms with my Tourette’s. It has helped me see that I can define my disorder, instead of it defining me.

A year ago when I decided to begin my blogging, I wanted a pen name. I needed a name that was easy to remember yet embodied my personality. I thought on it for several weeks to no avail. Then one night after an especially twichy evening my husband came to me, grabbed my hand and said, “Hey Little Miss Twitch–are you ok?”

I realized at that moment I would find no better pen name than the one my husband had given to personify my Tourette’s.

That night Little Miss Twitch– quirks and all– was born.



Snow Day Serenity


Snow days are precious in my home. We see them as special “gifts of time” to enjoy our hobbies and each other. On these days we relax, eat leftovers and drink lots of hot chocolate. Time stands still on these days as Mother Nature forces us to stop and breathe for a bit.

My favorite part of a snow day is getting up around daylight and going for a walk outside–before anyone else has tread on the snow that is freshly fallen. Carol Rifka Brunt says it best,

“There’s something about walking in snow that nobody walked on.”

I love taking in that first deep breath of crisp, clean air as I make my way down the hill and then through the snow carpeted neighborhood. The trees, so delicately decorated in white, look like something out of Norman Rockwell picture; and the snow, still falling, makes the most beautiful sound when it gently falls onto the trees and houses. It is the only sound I hear, as no else is out and about yet.

This quiet, this serenity, brings me a calm and peace that is reserved only to snow days. It is unique. It is rare. It is special. I revel in it every time.

Going back inside to the warmth of my home the coffee, freshly brewed, sends out a welcoming scent as I make myself a cup. I love how coffee just tastes better on these days, as if I have slowed down enough to actually enjoy the flavor. In fact, just about everything tastes, feels and sounds better on snow days.

After my walk outside and substantial amounts of coffee, I spend the rest of my day in the loving arms of my family, soaking in every gifted moment. But it is that early morning walk in the snow that sets me up for a calm and relaxing day and allows me to focus on and appreciate my family.

“Snow days are precious gifts of time that should remind us to slow down, breathe, and enjoy every moment with our loved ones.”—LittleMissTwitch




The Great Equalizer

Just as there are seasons in the weather, there are seasons in our lives–happy, sad, difficult, mournful, peaceful, challenging. With any luck those more difficult seasons, like a harsh winter, do not last very long and we can look forward to the welcoming warmth of Spring. It is the promise of that “rebirth” that gets us through the cold and dismal times–the hope that things will get better and life will move forward once again.

I am currently in the midst of one of those difficult seasons as my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) has decided to invade itself upon my happy little world once again. (Yes, I personify my RA.) In the more than 30 years that I have had RA, there have only been a handful of times that the disease has worsened, and the past few months it has shown no mercy. For the first time in my working career I have had to go on medical leave because of the pain, and it has taken its toll on me emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically.

Like being snowed in during a cruel winter, so is my body and mind. For the last month my body has been unable to go out into the world as it once did and my mind has been stuck pondering all the what ifs that go along with the acknowledgment of a disease that is progressing.

I have given a name to this latest season of my life and my RA–The Great Equalizer.

There was once a time that my RA was not so harsh–not so advanced. I could do pretty much what everyone else did, with only a few limitations. I reveled in the fact that I was one of the lucky few that had a very slow progressing disease. But this season of my RA has been especially unforgiving and it has made me come to terms with my own invincibility. Things I used to take advantage of being able to “do” are no longer givens, and I must learn to ask for help.

I have not been able to do much during this time except rest, which is a luxury I rarely give myself, hence the “equalizing.” This rest, while needed and helpful, has also led to some anxiety and questions about what lies next for me in life.

As a person of faith, I am told, “ do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV) How very easy it is to know this verse–how very difficult to follow through with, especially during times of uncertainty while lying awake at night.

It is in these sleepless nights, however, that I have been reminded of yet another verse–one of my go to-s in times of despair.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV)

My body is broken right now, and may never fully be the same. But what I have learned during this time is that I am absolutely not in control. (Hard pill for this control freak to swallow). The Lord is in control of this snow storm and it is my job to slow down and rest–something that He knows I need and would not give myself otherwise. I need to come to terms with my limitations and trust that He is preparing the way for me. I need to be content with my weaknesses so that His glory and strength can be seen and I can move towards the new life He wants me to lead.

I will weather this stormy season and faithfully await the welcoming warmth of Spring.


For Daddy…

I have always been fascinated by how brilliantly the human brain connects our senses with memories–most especially sounds and music. With music being one of the grounding blocks for my life, I have a figurative soundtrack of memories in my head to recall the experiences I have had, and I love how just one note from a familiar song can cue up that playlist.

My Daddy and I shared a common love of music–most specifically rock and roll. I grew up with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd–all the greats- and Daddy and I both liked our music loud.  Nearly every memory I have of my father has music playing in the background, but there is one in particular that means the most to me…

Saturdays were for house cleaning, and as a 10 year old tomboy living in the country, scrubbing was the last thing I wanted to do on a sunny afternoon. My Daddy knew this all too well and would occasionally interrupt my cleaning (after I had given good effort to the chores inside) with the excuse that he needed my help outside with some “project.” On one particular Saturday the project was washing the truck, which was one of my favorite things to help him with, and I remember rushing outside as fast as I could.

“Get in the truck,” he said.

“But I thought we were gonna wash it?” I yelled out.

“Just get in the truck,” he hollered back. So I jumped in without further question, wondering what in the world we were really going to do.

He drove down the gravel hill to the road and then to the creek on the other side, where he plomped that big ole Chevy right in the middle of the running water. The water was probably no more than a couple feet high at its peaks and fairly cold for a summer day, but to a 10 year old short girl, it was impressive. My daddy parked the truck in one of the more shallow areas and let me out. He then turned on the radio (nice and loud) to our favorite rock station and got out to wash the truck. We must have spent 2 hours there getting that truck clean, although my daddy did most of the work. While I did a few things to help my dad, I spent most of my time splashing in the water, digging up rocks, and playing with turtles and frogs. Daddy got on to me for playing with them–something about getting warts or being bitten, but I kept on anyways and he eventually quit trying to stop me. Daddy liked seeing his little girl have fun and get dirty–in fact he relished in letting me get dirty and then laughing hysterically when my mother would get upset at the sight of my filth.

Don McLean had a popular song out at this time called “American Pie,” and while Daddy and I were in that creek washing that old Chevy, it came on. We both sang out loudly and without a care in the world. When I asked him later why we went to the creek to wash the truck he simply replied, “Why not?”

Three years ago this past weekend my daddy passed away, and while it was expected it was nonetheless devastating and heartbreaking. He was a rock for me and my family, and we all miss him dearly.

Today while driving home from work, “American Pie” came on the radio, and the soundtrack of memories flooded into my brain. In one moment I was instantly transported back 35 years and 2,500 miles–from the suburbs of Seattle to the backwoods of Middle Tennessee. I could feel the mud all over my skin again. I could taste the cold, fresh water. I could see the beautifully green trees and bushes. And lastly…

I could hear my Daddy singing along with me to that song.

I have always been fascinated by how brilliantly the human brain connects our senses with memories–most especially sounds and music.

I did not cry this weekend on the anniversary of my father’s passing, but today on my way home, the song on the radio made me break down in tears. They were not tears of sadness. They were in fact, tears of happiness. I am so happy to have been blessed  with a father who spent time with me and loved me dearly and unconditionally. A father who loved his family and community with all he had. A father who worked hard every day to provide for that family. A father who gave me many great memories. One who took the time in life to say, “Why not?”

Thank you, Daddy, for, well…everything…

Here’s a link to “American Pie” by Don McLean–enjoy