whose will?

“It seems to me that the spiritual answer is to be found in neither optimism nor
pessimism about the future, but in complete trust in God.

Fr Benedict Groeschel


(Percy sporting a “mimi” hat / Julie Cook / 2017)

And just incase you’re confused…the question is not who’s Will…?
As in who is Will…?
But rather…whose will…?
As in mine yours, ours or His…..

The past couple of days, weeks and even months I feel as if most of my posts
have had one central theme in common…the simple matter of will.

As in the constant tug of war we play with both ourselves as well as everyone else…
with the ultimate tug and pull and war being with God himself.

When I was a little girl my grandmother Mimi would crochet and knit up a storm.
Sewing, knitting, needlepoint…you name it, she did it.
Yet none of that ever appealed to me…it was not ever to be my forte.
I just didn’t enjoy it and I especially loathed trying to learn it.

I don’t know if it was a patience thing or rather that I just opted for
other creative outlets.
Today a reattached button is about the extent of my sewing endeavors.

My grandmother however was profuse with Mother following in hot pursuit.
Afghans, throws, bell pulls, pillows, samplers, seat cushions, stool covers…
all of which now oddly adorn my home.
But the specialty, or rather the pièce de résistance being always, the “mimi hat.
A crocheted toboggan like thing looking oddly like a flapper’s cap.

Everyone got a mimi hat.

Colors were limited to brown, beige, rust, cream, antique gold….
You’d put the hat on your head and immediately your hair was now a flat static
fly away mess. Wildly and weirdly standing on ends atop your head so you
had no other choice but to keep the hat pulled down tight on your head…
while looking a bit odd wearing the thing in the house especially in the summer.

Mother would make us put on and wear the blasted things when we went to visit
or if Mimi would come to visit us.
Not that Mimi would expect it, but Mother knew it would make my grandmother happy
seeing us “enjoying” her handiwork.

I hated them.

My choice in wearing the hat was that I could either fight and refuse or
I could suck it up, acquiesce and please…
I opted for the later because I did not want to make my life miserable while
making everyone else’s lives miserable.
Nothing like a 7 year old demanding no to a parent demanding yes.

The same held true when I was made to wear a dress every time we visited our other grandmother, Nany. Since Nany bought the bulk of our clothes, Mother knew that
if she wanted to keep her mother-n-law happy, she’d better be putting her kids
in those nice new clothes. Never mind that I was happiest in jeans or shorts.

Which goes back to mother having a choice…
She could either give-in to our whining and let us look like sloppy bumpkins
while drawing the ire of the woman who had bought us all sorts of nice clothes
or she could get us gussied up and uncomfortable while drawing the praise of this
matriarch.
She too chose the latter.

I learned early on that sometimes its best to give a little while giving in a little
rather then reveling in being self centered with a life short lived
in a sea of selfishness.

Yet our society appears to have forgotten about biting the proverbial bullet…
Living in a nation that is now in a constant state of in-fighting over the notion
of our own individuals wills, is proving both counter productive and most
oppressively destructive.

It says a lot about us as a society that we are constantly demanding our own
will to be done.
As we’ve moved from the consideration of others to simply damning others.

Fr Benedict reminds us of the importance of a will other than our own…
“‘Your will be done.’
This conviction should be the ultimate intention of all your prayers–
along with finding our peace in the acceptance of that will.
Certainly, to pray like this is a gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“It is out of two things, acceptance and obedience to God,
that we receive the great gift of peace.”

If we persist in this hellbent quest of ours, demanding our own will rather than
seeking out and yielding to His will,
we will be damning not only others but ourselves in the process….

When we went down last month to West Palm Beach for my aunt’s funeral,
As we sorted through my aunt’s belonging determining what should stay
or be tossed, I found a box full of mimi hats.
Funny how these some odd 50 years later, seeing those hats brought a warm smile
to my face and a most warming sensation to my heart.
I was immediately transported to a happier time.

How different that could have all been had I refused so long ago to have ever
worn one of those hats preferring to be self-centered and selfish.

Seeing them all these many years later may have actually brought back some very
difficult memories rather than the happy ones I felt suddenly seeing them again
all these many years later.

I opted to bring two of them home.
I won’t be wearing them, but I’ll be happy knowing that I now have them…
I just think the cats are probably now thinking what I use to think….
that these are really stupid looking hats….


(oooo lala)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

the sippy spoons

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in
and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep,
leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can.
Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better
hour because it is dead.
Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones,
while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”

Beryl Markham


(my grandmother’s silver sippy spoons / Julie Cook /2017)

Our trip to West Palm Beach was long, short, sad and wrenching.
653 miles spent driving down on a Friday…
only to then turn around and drive it all back again on a Monday.

It took about 10 hours, with only one quick stop for gas.
Coupled by a constant flow of bumper to bumper traffic hurling itself,
as if lemmings on some odd unknown mission, to an unforeseen southward destination.

We drove and we drove to what seemed to be the ends of the earth…
but that would have been Key West and that would have required more time with
more stops than our backsides would allow.

The color of the sky changes when one is traveling so far south—
It goes from the more familiar north Georgia’s typical hazy blue sky,
to a faint veiled gauzy cloudy azure blue…
Maybe it’s because the land lays so flat, punctuated only by pencil thin palms
as the soil is more white sand than dirt…
and with the sun so intense, light easily reflects back upon itself.

The heat of day does not dissipate with the waning of a day as it does at home.
It doesn’t back off when the sun finally sets, providing that long awaited
respite of comfort.
There is actually a tremendous heaviness that engulfs one’s whole being…
this being due to the overtly high humidity which makes breathing nearly
impossible.
And I thought our humidity was bad.

Moving from air conditioned buildings, which is essential to survival,
out to the oppressive heat and unrelenting sun leaves glasses fogged over
and skin and clothing feeling sticky and oddly wet even before one has had
proper chance to sufficiently break a true sweat.

This is the place Martha called home for the past 30 years.
A far cry from the years spent in Alexandria, Virginia during the early years of
her marriage.

I now understood why…for despite the apparently tropical beauty,
Martha would always protest…
“no no, let me just come up there”…
And because of that one fact, of her always wanting to come to us as she
would always prefer to venture north,
this was our first visit to West Palm Beach.

Martha would drive or fly up several times during the
year, staying for a couple of weeks at a time,
back to state she still considered home…
or more specifically near the city of her birth and raising….
Atlanta.

I can’t really say all that I should or would like to at this point
about all of this…not yet.
Having lost three of the most important people in my life in the past six months
has simply taken its toll…
As processing the emotions, memories and feelings of such emptiness
will take some time.

One by one… the supports and shorings are now gone…
Those that helped to hold up the life I had always known…
This is part of the transition where I become the shoring to others…
a transition that denotes change, loss, growth and new…
all rolled uncomfortably into one.

My cousin, Martha’s adopted daughter,
had asked that I come to the house the day following the funeral
to see what if anything I would like to carry back home with me.

Martha was an avid antique collector…
and her collections were eclectic at best…
old antique Papier-mâché halloween decorations with a proclivity for pumpkins.
North Carolina’s famous family of folk art pottery, the Meader’s ugly jugs,
along with the primitive pottery of Georgia’s Marie Rogers.
The Ohio Longaberger baskets numbering in the hundreds…
to early vintage RCA radio dogs..
all the way down to antique turkeys of every size and shape.

I was really overwhelmed when we walked into the house and actually saw
the level to which some of the “collecting” had spiraled.
Her house not equipped for the excessive spillover.

My cousin immediately asked if I would like Martha’s sterling silver
flatware set.

Once was a time, long long ago, when every young bride
looked to building her proper entertaining set of silverware.
Receiving the coveted wedding gifts of silver pieces was as common
as the throwing of rice…
That being a particular pattern of sterling silver complete with
utensils and serving pieces.
Everything from teaspoons to seafood forks to butter knives….
As that now all seems to be for a time that was more civilized than
our own today.

But already having my mother’s and great aunt’s sets…and truth be told,
as my world shrinks, entertaining and cooking is now not nearly what it once was,
I tried to instill the importance of her keeping the monogramed set for both her
and her own daughter.

But when she opened the dusty old silver chest, my eyes locked immediately on the
well tarnished bundle of silver drink spoons / straws…
or what we had always referred to as sippy straws or spoons, depending on who
was using them.

While growing up, whenever we visited my grandmother,
we were always served a tall glass of icy cold
Coca Cola complete with a silver sippy straw.

Coke never tasted so good as when sipped through an elegant silver straw.
It provided a seemingly civilized air of savoring verses gulping and quaffing.
Probably Mimi’s way of getting us to slow down, enjoying and not wasting…
as she was a woman who lived during a time when waste was indeed considered sinful.

The straws were always kept in a certain drawer in my grandmother’s kitchen…
inside the 1920s small Atlanta Buckhead home.
A pale wooden light green kitchen cabinet, I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye,
was where the straws, always shiny and polished to perfection, were stored.

In 1989, when my grandmother passed away, Martha and I were the only two left to
the task of sorting and emptying the house for market.
She got the straws.
I had always wanted just one…
just one to remember.

Over the years I’d see other straws at various antique markets and silver stores,
always thinking I’d buy myself just one,
but in the end deciding it just wouldn’t be the same…

It wouldn’t be one of the straws I’d gleefully
retrieve out of the pale green drawer, delightfully anticipating plunging
it into my frosty glass of brown fizzy liquid…
as I’d gently clench the straw between my front teeth,
feeling the cold drawn liquid being pulled up into a parched waiting mouth…
So refreshing because Mimi’s house, back in those days, was not air conditioned…
an icy cold Coke, on a hot Georgia summer’s afternoon,
seemed like the greatest treat a child could have been given…

I asked my cousin if I could have the straws.

She was 10 years younger than I was and did not have the same fond memories
from time spent with our grandmother.
Being so much younger and living so far away, never afforded her much time to
bond with the long widowed woman with the poodles there in Atlanta as I had.

I had been the only grandchild for many years and we only lived 10 minutes away.
Plus Mimi was not a warm and fuzzy grandmother like others and what warmness
there was, faded with her mind as the dementia grew more and more.

My grandmother had lived a hard life.
A life that she had forged alone for herself and her two daughters during
a depression and a World War as a widowed woman…
long before it was common for women to own a business and work outside of
the home.
Both of which she did very successfully for most of her adult life.

My cousin was more than happy to give me the straws and seemed almost
sad that I really didn’t want to take much more as her task is now daunting
as she figures out what to do with years of accumulated treasured stuff.

This as I still have my own years of stuff to sort through at Dad’s.
As both cousins are now left to the task of picking through,
as well as picking up, the pieces—
all of what stays and all of what goes.

My cousin tells me that she wants to sell the house, eventually moving northward
where there are actually seasons, hills and trees…
verses living where the sky meets the ocean coupled by the
oppressive heat, humidity, and an azure blue sky….

I think I’ll polish my straws and then do something I haven’t done in years…
I’ll pour myself a Coke, a real Coke…bottle only mind you,
over a tall glass of ice…and I’ll plunge a straw deep down into the glass of
cold fizzy liquid as I draw up the memories of lives once known but always loved.