If a house could….be a home

Children are not casual guests in our home.
They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and
instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.

James Dobson


(The home of past and present while Dad was still living inside / Julie Cook / 2017)

A very long time ago, my mom and I would often go on Saturday mornings to
Symphony Hall of which was adjacent to the then High Museum of Art…
Atlanta’s fledgling art museum.

Since I don’t actually recall what they called those music and brunch events,
I’ll just say it was pastries and music.

The Atlanta Symphony would provide a breakfast/brunch of various
pastries and beverages and then put on a small yet lovely concert.

My mother had joined the museum early on as my grandmother, her mother-n-law,
was one of the early promoters for Atlanta to get her own museum.

She and my grandfather were to have flown on that fateful flight in 1962 to and from
Orlay, France but opted not to go…
This is what Wikipedia has in a nutshell on that flight:
Air France Flight 007 crashed on 3 June 1962 while on take-off from Orly Airport.
Air France had just opened its new office in downtown Atlanta, and this was the inaugural flight.
Air France was doing its best to publicize the flight; hence,
it was filled with Atlanta’s elite.
The only survivors of the disaster were two flight attendants seated
in the back of the aircraft;
the rest of the flight crew, and all 122 passengers on board the Boeing 707,
were killed.
The crash was at the time the worst single-aircraft disaster and the first single
civilian jet airliner disaster with more than 100 deaths.

The so-called “Atlanta elite” were the leading art patrons of the city.
They were hoping to forge a relationship between France and Atlanta as
the up and coming southern city was looking to develop an artistic and cultural footing.

But that is all another story for another day…
today’s thoughts are different.

When I was a young teacher, I found myself spending summers at the High Museum of Art
taking courses for art educators.
I’d spend weeks driving from Carrollton to Atlanta—back and forth daily
for the duration of each course.

During one particular course, our instructor had us keep a journal/ sketch pad
within arms reach at all times.
She would assign various tasks for the sketchpad and would also encourage us to reflect
in the journals about the assignments.

When I found myself at the Museum, wandering about,
I noted just how difficult it was for me not to think almost constantly about my mom.

I had lost her six years prior and so the Museum, along with Atlanta in general, still held
many shadows of my past.
It was often heavy shadows that I was very much aware of.

It was as if some specter was constantly walking by my side when I was in town.
It was often a very palpable sensation.

During one assignment, assignment 6 to be exact, the instructor had us wander off
and write about something…what that something was eludes me now but this
is what I wrote…along with a note I offered to the instructor who I knew would be
reading what we had written…included is also her comment back to me…


(the doodles of an old journal / Julie Cook / 2019)

“locked deep within my heart is someone I no longer know–
Forced back inside by anger and overwhelming pain.

Was it by choice or convenience that you left?

Your agony was short-lived, 6 weeks is what we counted but how long had you been counting?
Your presence lingers in the shadow of my daily life…and I often think I hear your voice
while my heart will skip a beat.

I don’t cry as much anymore.
Six years has brought healing or either a welcomed numbness.

I use to scream and yell at you for leaving me.

I don’t know if I’ve ever forgiven you or not.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve forgotten how to pray.

I’m not the same person that you left, you wouldn’t recognize me–
I often don’t recognize myself.

With your death, there cane a death within my soul.
A part of me went back inside, In life, you never thought you mattered much,
but in death, the impact of you and the lack of you has changed me forever.

(Note: my mother died 6 years ago from cancer.
The illness was very short-lived–
which was a blessing—but so fast it was like a blur.
As a teenager, she was my enemy.
As a ‘grown-up’, she was my best friend.
It’s just that I never told her that.

My mourning and dealing with the loss has been very much a private thing with me.
I didn’t have the opportunity at the time–because of taking care of my dad.
So–sometimes I can write down and express it.
She and I use to participate in a lot of museum/symphony activities—
so one of her shadows haunts me here–
but it is a part of the life long healing)

Response: Julie, I hope you don’t mind but I read this note to your mother–
it’s beautiful and universal-(love the reflection in the eye)

And so this incident and particular journal entry all came flooding back to the forefront
of my consciousness this past week when I found myself back in Atlanta.

While on my recent nursing duties, caring for our ailing Sheriff,
my daughter-n-law and I were chatting…and I think I made some off the cuff comment
about my hating the house…the same house they call home.

You hate the house?!,” she asked with alarm.
Yes” I nonchalantly replied.
You hate what we’ve done to it?” she fretted.
“OH…
No!!!
Not at all…
I love what you’ve all done…making it yours!
I just hate the past part of the house that was mine…

Many of you already know that the house our son and daughter-n-law call home
is actually the house I grew up in…having moved into when I was all of two years old.
Just about the Mayor’s same age.

It is the home of my childhood.
A childhood and growing up that consisted of tremendous dysfunction.

I often wonder what life would have been like had my parents not adopted my brother.
What if they had gotten a different baby?
Or no baby?
Would our lives have been different?
Happier?
More normal?
But what is normal?

There’s not a spot that I can’t stand inside, outside, in the basement,
out in the yard or even on the driveway that I can’t recall some sort of
melancholy or even dramatic event.

I even remember getting out of bed late one night, when I was still in high school,
stealing away to the sun porch where I closed off the door to the rest of the house
and knelt by a chair that had been my grandparents,
praying that God would bless me with the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
I thought if anything could fend off the madness inside this house,
it would be the Holy Spirit.

I also vividly remember when finishing my prayer…I felt no different.
Fruits, for me, have been a process of living.
I think God knows I need more time to ripen than most.

After having spent the past 8 days at the house, caring for the Sheriff
and the Mayor, I headed home late Friday evening…

It was a terrible sight to behold—A Friday evening, attempting to
merge onto the top-end of the Perimeter…

I found myself, once again, with tears streaming down my cheeks
as I made my way onto the interstate—
not because of the ridiculous traffic nightmare I was about to be entering into but
rather because of what I was leaving behind.

My two precious grandchildren.

I was to have stayed until Saturday night as we had plans to visit
Santa Saturday then have dinner out as a family to celebrate my upcoming
milestone birthday…but…I was headed home to die in bed.

Here it was, the height of rush hour, I was sick with the Sheriff’s crud and
I was headed home only to miss out on the Sherrif’s first Santa visit…
I felt as if I had let them down.
Let myself down.

But that part actually turned out ok…depending on who you ask.

The Sherrif was still too sick to venture out to the mall…
so it was just The Mayor and her father who went to see Santa.

In her pretty red, green and black plaid tafia dress
(I didn’t have a tafia dress until I was getting married),
black tights, black patterned leather shoes and matching hair bow…
The Mayor marched herself right down the aisle of the mall happily holding
her dad’s hand…up until…until she had to go boldly forth,
alone…

The video I later received let us all know that the visit was actually
on the disastrous side as the Mayor squawled non-stop upon Santa’s lap.
I couldn’t help but laugh.

But on that Friday night, feeling like crap and totally exhausted,
which more than likely lead to my melancholy mood, all the while tiptoeing
my way through a sea of red brake lights and cars,
I found myself asking…oddly asking an inanimate structure a question
or maybe it was more of a favor.

If a house could…if a house could actually offer, or perhaps afford,
those within its walls comfort, affection, protection, joy, happiness, peace and warmth…
would it please do so for this next continuum of my world?

The past will always be the past…for good or bad…
but for this newest generation…I ask for your kindness and love…

For what makes a house a home?

And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true,
and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant,
so that it may continue forever before you. For you,
O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your
servant be blessed forever.”

2 Samuel 7:28-29 ESV

Questions and the spirit of God

“We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness
of other people, and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit
of compassion which is truly the spirit of God.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(The Sheriff slumbers / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The Mayor profiling / Julie Cok / 2019)

Firstly…The picture of the Sheriff above is when his parents bring him to me before they
leave for work.
This is a pre-sickness shot.

I will usually put him in my bed and let him wake on his own time since this week he
was free from the dreaded daycare while in recovery mode.

So after visiting the Pediatrician yesterday, it appears that the Sheriff has basically
the croupy crud—
of which she believes he got when he went to the hospital on Friday for surgery.

Don’t you love going to a hospital well, relatively, and coming out like Typhoid Mary?

There’s not much to do but wait it out.
And that’s hard when it comes to babies.

When they are miserable and we, those entrusted with their care and well being,
are helpless to make things all better, we grow anxious,
worried and agitated…and quite miserable ourselves.

Moments, such as feeling helpless while watching the innocent suffer,
most often envoke a bit of ire with our Creator—if not sheer anger.
In other words, we get mad at God.

We get mad over all sorts of things but when it comes to watching our little loved ones suffer,
things can get out of hand frighteningly fast.

I know I felt it when our son was a baby and was sick and had surgery at 3 months.
Just as I know my son and daughter-n-law feel much the same now with the Sheriff…
as well as with the Mayor.

Throw in exhaustion as you sit holding a baby who can’t breathe, and coughs nearly continuously,
upright all night…
and you, my friend, have a toxic breeding ground for damaging negative emotions…
Of which set up a hard barrier between our Heavenly Father and ourselves.

It is at such moments when we lose the blessings He wants to offer because we
have essentially turned our backs.

And so after reading the day’s two quotes, I found them rather appropriate for just those
very moments…the moments when we find ourselves questioning what we don’t know or
understand regarding our God…which mind you can be so very vast.
But it is at such times that we must cling to what we do know.

Questions are always fine…but questions mixed with anger and resentment are spiritually
debilitating.

May we continue, as children, to learn trust while reaching our hand out to a loving Father who
longs to hold that outstretched hand.


(silly faces before we both got sick / Julie Cook / 2019)

“When uncertain about God’s will, it is very important that we tell ourselves:
‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me, there are always others that
I know for sure and can invest in without any risk, knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’
These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing the
essential points of every Christian vocation.
There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided: finding ourselves in darkness
about God’s will on an important question…
we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged,
that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day, like being faithful to prayer,
maintaining trust in God, loving the people around us here and now.
Lacking answers about the future, we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

Captain’s log…aid and comfort

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
James Baldwin

Captain’s log:
800 days 8 days and counting and still no sign of
the ship home…or is there…???

Ok, so I am in no way, shape or form a Trekkie however I did grow up watching the original
Star Trek whether I cared for it or not–all because my little brother liked it…
it was to watch either that or the fake and phony WWE Saturday night smackdowns with
“Mr. Bionic Elbow, Tapdance on your Tonsils himself, Dusty Rhodes”

And yet oddly I could always relate to that one opening line from each Star Trek episode…
Captain’s Log
as I was an avid keeper of a diary and marker of time.

And so since I have been stranded on/ in this barren planet house of
our son’s with a mending Sherrif, I thought I should attempt a transmission from this great beyond,
attempting to connect with the outside blogosphere…
maybe even getting beamed up—or is that beamed home?

The Sherrif has been mending quite nicely…that is until recently.


(a typical male out shopping/ Julie Cook/ 2019)

And no that is not a picture of him at the local jail but rather in the shopping cart
of the local Target (pronounced Tarjay)

And here he is even attempting to take after his sister, the Mayor,
by showing an odd affinity for his toes…


(evening bath time and toes/ Julie Cook/ 2019)

Meanwhile, the Mayor has been her busy self with all sorts of mayorial business.


(a Mayor who loves her flowers/ Julie Cook/ 2019)

Here we see her actually working in her yard—the Mayor has not quite yet grasped the concept of
deadheading spent blooms, preferring rather to remove all blooms…

She fancies herself as a natural-born landscaper as we see her assisting her “Da” in
gathering up pine straw…

She has also been busy in the decorating process as she had installed her very own new
additions to the main bathroom…voila


(the Mayor very own toilet / Julie Cook / 2019)

Yet unfortunately, during what was supposed to be a week of productive healing,
I must report that the Sherrif has gotten an upper respiratory infection
along with a throat infection…we’ve been to the Pediatric Urgent Care earlier in the week.

And thus, in like kind, the Sheriff has graciously now passed along this malady
to his day nurse and chief woobooville aid.

Since the Sheriff is still very puny, we are scheduled to go see his pediatrician this afternoon.

A six-month-old who cannot blow his nose and who is constantly coughing, as well as
drowning in a sea of mucus as his throat is sore and hoarse…
squeaking and croaking rather than cooing and babbling, is well, troubling.

So hopefully, this now ailing nurse will then be able to depart, late this evening,
after nearly 9 days of constant care, beaming homeward—
we hope… while the Sherriff begins to finally dry up!

Prayers said that the Mayor and the remaining staff will stay as healthy as possible!!


(the Mayor comfoting the Sheriff / Julie Cook/ 2019)

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

update on James

Before surgery…


(James with his daddy walking the halls before surgery)

After surgery


(James headed home after his ordeal)

It was a long day…
James’s surgery was successful…circumcised and his plumbing repaired.
There was an aside thought by some of the medical staff regarding the blue vein that has
been prominent on the bridge of his nose between his eyes since birth.
They have suggested a visit to the pediatrician and a genetic test as there may be an issue
with how his body’s cells process proteins.

But that will be an issue for another day because we are just breathing a heavy sigh of relief.

Thank you all for the prayers that have sustained us…
as those prayers will continue to sustain us throughout his recovery…
and those prayers will also help his sister, the Mayor, during this time
of the most terrible of the terrible twos…

My mom let me know all would be well…as her roses are actually blooming…
coming off such a heatwave followed by now freezing temperatures…
Perseverance…followed by blessings…

The Force

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.
Yoda


(the Sheriff tries on part of his Halloween costume/ Julie Cook / 2019)

Master Yoda or is that Master Sheriff?

Master Sheriff notes that the Force is strong in this one, the Mayor…
And he should know…

Here we have the Mayor trying out her Halloween costume…her favorite latest Disney
character…Vamperina.
Vamperina and her family have moved from Transylvania to Pennsylvania.
The Mayor loves to sing along with the Ghoul Girls…
However, the Mayor is not a fan of the bat wing hat.


(The Mayor just wants to be outside)

Master Sheriff is always ready with a smile…

Next Thursday will be the Sheriff’s first time to trick or treat as his sister is one up on him.
The following day, All Saints Day, the Sheriff will have his long-awaited and dreaded surgery.
As any surgery with any child is dreaded.

James will finally be circumcised along with any additional work in order to realign the urethra,
helping to prevent the reoccurring kidney reflux.
He has been on antibiotics since birth.
It is time to be free of medicines, infections, and fevers—
and the added worry for his parents!!!

Our prayers are to the One True Force—the Great Healer, Jehovah-Rapha

norovirus yet no cruise

Tuesday morning we received a call from our son that work had sent him home due to being sick…
really, really, sick.

A high fever along with the inability to stay out of a bathroom.

He was off to see his doctor.

We got another call later that it was not the flu… but…..
The doctor told him that if he was no better by the afternoon, he needed to go to the ER.

I think when your doctor sees you and then tells you to go to the ER,
things must be getting out of hand.

Next call… he was in the ER.

So off we went to rescue the Mayor and Sheriff, or maybe we were rescuing their mom…
either way, we were the cavalry riding in for the rescue.

I did consider donning rubber gloves, a surgical mask along with a bottle of Clorox for
the drive over.

We went and rescued the children from the Big House, the Pen, the slammer…aka daycare.
Next we did the grocery store run and finally the pharmacy.

The ER called with the following day with the lab results…
The Norovirus…
the bane of anyone who likes to frequent the cruise world.

And here we were with none of us having been near a cruise ship and yet we were living
with the same associated misery…
pity…

The kind ER doctor thought to email the CDC’s Norovirus fact sheet…

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus.
You can get norovirus from:
Having direct contact with an infected person
Consuming contaminated food or water
Touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth

Outbreaks are common
The virus spreads very easily and quickly
Norovirus spreads:
From infected people to others
Through contaminated foods and surfaces
Outbreaks can happen anytime, but they occur most often from November to April.

The culprit, in our case, was most likely from last week when the Mayor took ill
as the ER doctor said cruise ships were not the only hotbeds… daycares were also
a highly likely suspect.

We are finally back home as everyone seems to be on the mend… for now…
and I just pray we are spared!!

Meanwhile the Mayor liked her watch that her watchmaker ‘Da’ brought her
and the Sheriff continues to practice his push ups…

critical mass

I actually don’t think it matters how early or late you are as long as you
hit critical mass.

Drew Houston


(someone is hiding / Julie Cook / 2019)

According to Merriam Webster:
Critical mass, [is] in nuclear physics, the minimum amount of a given fissile material
necessary to achieve a self-sustaining fission chain reaction under stated conditions.

Critical mass is a term most familiar in the world of physics but it is also now a key
term found in the world of business, retail and even social media.

Having recently returned from spending a bit of emergency time with the Mayor,
I have come to the conclusion, along with her parents, that she has reached critical mass…

That being the state in which the chain reactions, under stated conditions, are self-sustaining.

In laymen’s terms, we call this phenomenon the ‘terrible twos.’
A tantrum of the utmost extreme as demonstrated by the only age that can do justice
to such…that being the toddler.

We have all decided that the Mayor is obviously highly gifted as she is demonstrating this
most profound attribute actually 4 months before officially turning 2.

Meaning, given just the right conditions…such as a heightened sense of anxiety,
extreme irritability, cutting teeth, being under the weather, overt frustration and the
lack of not getting one’s way…all creates the perfect storm of emotions.

A complete meltdown ensues.

Wailing, flailing, streaming tears, screaming, snot, drool, kicking, hitting, slapping…
and what we have my friends is not a pretty picture but rather the example of critical
mass as demonstrated by one of the most powerful forces on the planet…
that of an angry toddler.

So opting rather not to capture those red alert critical mass moments from this
recent visit of caregiving, I chose instead to focus on those calmer
and happier moments as they just seem so much more fun…and so less stressful
for this said caregiver / grandmother.

The Sherrif is channeling his inner “Pops” aka my dad by donning his driving cap…