Memorial Day 2021

“But freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream.
The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if
we fight for it, protect it,
defend it and then hand it to them with the well-thought
lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same.
And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend
our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

Ronald Reagan


(the mayor enjoying a face painting / 2021)

This new community that we now call home hosted a Memorial Day family
community pool party and cookout bash.

And so naturally we had our son and daughter-n-law bring up the Mayor
the Sheriff for the festivities.

There was great food, good music, face painting, balloons along with a much
cooler day than desired in order to spend one’s time in the pool
with the grandkids.
But we do what we must right?!

Last night I noted out loud how much I had enjoyed this year’s Memorial Day…
the other most memorable Memorial Day was the time when we went to Savannah
to scope out our son and at the time, future, daughter in law’s wedding.

This weekend was actually what I would call normal.
Meaning, I readily and unconsciously fell into a sense of what we call
normalcy…life as we once knew it to be.
There were no masks, no social distancing…no limitations…
only kids and parents enjoying a kick-off day to summer.
There were real visible smiles.

Kids lined up to get their faces painted.
Adults stood in line to ‘build’ their burgers and hotdogs.
Balloons were shaped into animals.
Ice cream was plentiful.
The sun peeked in and out from behind the clouds.

And whereas our family celebrated like many American families celebrated
this opening weekend of a new summer…celebrating with cookouts and dips
in the pool…the real meaning of this day has not been lost on my heart.

Years ago when I was teaching, our high school usually had graduation on
the Friday night of the Memorial day weekend.
We’d then start our post-planning on Monday…the official day for Memorial Day.
The nation was observing Memorial Day while our faculty was busy closing
out the school year.

We had a football coach, a man who I still consider myself very fortunate
for having had the opportunity of calling colleague, who was a former
Army officer.

I can remember this ball coach standing up to address the entire staff
on that somewhat fateful Monday morning following graduation…
that Memorial Day morning that we, as a school system, was gathered
together working verses celebrating.

He offered a blistering admonishment.

Many of us had groused at not being able to spend the day
being with our families to help usher in summer…
however this football coach, this former Army Officer and West Point
graduate, took his colleagues and administration to task.

He reminded us why we really should not be at work this particular day.

That our being at work was rather a slap in the face of every armed
service member who had ever served our Nation.

What was wrong that we could not pause for a single day
in order to simply say thank you….

Suddenly it seemed as if the air left the room.
It was a struggle to breath the heaviness that hung in the room.

There was a sense of guilt racing through the room.

Whereas the teachers felt badly for simply wanting to be off with their families
to enjoy a day of cookouts and swimming…I could only imagine that our
administration team was really feeling a sense of oppressive guilt.

Needless to say, for as long as I continued working at the school, we
never worked another Memorial Day.

My daughter in law sent me this lovely reminder of where our thoughts
should actually be on Memorial Day….

John Guy writes:
“What God did at Pearl Harbor that day is interesting and I never knew
this little bit of history.

Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii
every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes.
I went into a small gift shop to kill time.

In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled,
“Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941— Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a
concert in Washington, DC. He was paged and told there was a
phone call for him. When he answered the phone,
it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone.

He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the
Commander of the Pacific Fleet.
Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.
He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941.
There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–
you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.

On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of
the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.
Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters
everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock,
the young helmsman of the boat asked,
“Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”

Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.
Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes
an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America.
Which do you think it was?”

Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked,
“What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes
an attack force ever made?

Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one:

The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning.
Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave.
If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–
we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two:

When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row,
they got so carried away sinking those battleships,
they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships.
If they had destroyed our dry docks,
we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired.
As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised.
One tug can pull them over to the dry docks,
and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have
towed them to America.
And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater
of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill.
One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply.

That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest
mistakes an attack force could make or, God was taking care of America.

I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book.
It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it.
In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan,
born and raised in Fredericksburg, Texas — he was a born optimist.

But any way you look at it —
Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation
and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.

President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job.
We desperately needed a leader that could see silver lining
in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.

There is a reason that our national motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.

Why have we forgotten? PRAY FOR OUR COUNTRY! IN GOD WE TRUST.”

her name was Eunice Dunn

I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

Lyrics by
Ron Lane / Ronald David Wood
Sung by Rod Stewart


(Eunice and mom / June 16th, 1953)

Throughout my entire life, I only knew her by her first name…Eunice.

Eunice passed from this life shortly after I arrived into this world–
into this family…

I was born in 1959 and eventually adopted in early 1960— Eunice,
on the other hand, had already long since “retired” from the years she spent
with my grandmother, mother, and aunt.

I imagine that our family’s circle was somewhat complete when Eunice finally
met me when mom and dad had brought me home from the adoption agency in 1960.
They were so proud to show off their new baby to this very special part of my
mom’s story.

I had always heard about Eunice but really knew very little about her.
As long as they had lived, both my mom and aunt spoke of Eunice with
only adoration and abiding love.

For you see, Eunice was more the mother to these two girls rather than their
own mother.

Eunice was a black woman, only a year older than my grandmother.
A black woman who raised two white little girls.

I found her listed on the Atlanta 1940 census records.
She was listed as a part of the household of my grandfather…listed as a servant.
And it was in that census record that I first learned of Eunice’s last name…Dunn.
And that she was but a year older than my grandmother…
My grandmother was 36, Eunice was 37.

This, however, is not a tale about the well-to-do verses something akin to “The Help.”

This is a story about a young working widow and the other woman who helped her
raise her daughters.

Two women working to make ends meet during a precarious time in our Nation’s history.

The part of the story that I always knew was that my grandmother was widowed in 1940,
at the ripe young age of 36.
She had two young daughters–one who was 6 and the youngest who was 1.
My grandmother’s husband, my grandfather, died of alcohol-induced TB while
spending his final days in a TB sanatorium–dying at the age of 40.

My grandfather had squandered their entire life’s savings during the great depression.
My grandmother, as long as I had known her, had a deep wariness of men and
never trusted a man who drank…despite her affinity for Vodka later in life.
Over the years, she liked my dad yet despised my uncle, my aunt’s husband.
Probably with good reason but that’s a story for another day.

Growing up, I can never ever recall my grandmother ever speaking of her husband…
my grandfather.
A man who died nearly 20 years before I was born.

This man–his name, his memory was deemed persona non gratis within this small family.
No pictures.
No stories.
No recognition.

But Eunice…Eunice, she was special.

My grandmother, at 36 years old, while during a depression and world war,
had two little girls who she needed to provide for.

Eunice at 37 also had a family she needed to provide for.

My grandmother went to work and even took in borders during the War.

Yet despite these precarious times, I always knew that my mom,
aunt and grandmother had Eunice.

Eunice was a black woman who worked as a housekeeper for my grandmother.
Later, in order to make ends meet, my grandmother actually took in her older unmarried sister.
The two opened a beauty salon for the upper crust women of Atlanta.

While they spent their days cutting, perming, and dying the hair of Atlanta’s upper crust,
Eunice tended to my mother and aunt.
She cooked, cleaned, and fed the family.
She bought groceries, got my mom and aunt ready for school each morning
and met them each afternoon following school.
She always had supper ready and waiting for my grandmother and her sister after they’d
take the bus home late each evening.

Eunice would arrive each Monday morning and would stay until Saturday morning.
She had her own room and basically kept the house running.
She would go home to her own family on Saturday afternoon, only to return to my grandmother
every Monday morning.
This routine ran for 20 plus years.

Years later my aunt and I would both lament about the sacrifices Eunice had made
for both her own family and my grandmother’s family.
It was a difficult time as the world suffered through both the Great Depression and a world war.
This was a generation that was more familiar with the idea of sacrifice over protests
and demonstrations.

I remember my aunt telling me about how, as a little girl, she would have to ride
in the back of the bus with Eunice.
This being life in the South during segregation.

However to my mother, aunt, and grandmother…there were never any color barriers…
no segregation…all they knew was what made a family, family…
and Eunice was very much a part of that family.

The only pictures I’ve ever seen of Eunice were found in a musty old envelope of photos
that had been stored away in our attic…in a box of things that had been dads following
mother’s death in 1986.

I’ve looked and looked over the internet for any little nugget I could find regarding
Eunice—but the only thing I found was the 1940 census record which listed her
as a part of the Watson’s family.

I wanted to write something that would provide Eunice with the place of honor
that she so rightly deserved and held in the hearts of both my mom and aunt…
but with so little to go on, that has proved difficult.
With the loss of my grandmother in 1989, mother in 1986, and Martha in 2017—
those who knew best are now long gone.

I wanted people to know that despite what our current culture screams about racism,
there has been love that remained colorblind long before the radicalism
of movements such as the Black Panthers or today’s Black Lives Matter.

So I want to say thank you to a woman who I never really knew but who had met me
a very long time ago.

I want to thank her for making both my mom and aunt into the women they become,
in turn, making me the woman who I have become.

Love and family are strong bonds.
Bonds that have each helped to make me the person I am today.

Thank you, Eunice.


(Mother and Eunice, 1953)


(Mother on her big day / 1953)


(Mother with her mother, Mimi / 1953)


(mother with her father in law, my beloved Pop / 1953)


(Mother and dad off to a honeymoon / 1953)

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

topsy turvy while sleeping at the office

When life is uncertain and the world seems topsy-turvy, consider Jesus’s words:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Tim Challies


(The Mayor walking and working / Julie Cook / 2019)

So here I am in Woobooville, complete with the Mayor, working out of the Atlanta office this week.

It seems that one of The Mayor’s main assistants has Jury Duty while the other
main assistant, who lest we forget is pregnant with the Mayor’s soon to be new sheriff in town…
a new sheriff who is expected to arrive at the end of April,
is feeling quite puny and under the weather…

Enter the chief aide…
Moi.
Chief assistant and caregiver.

And so since the house that houses Woobooville has but three small circa 1950 bedrooms—that being
the main assistant’s bedroom, The Mayor’s bedroom and then the guest bedroom
(aka the chief aide’s bedroom)— the anticipation of the new sheriff’s arrival has
now turned things upside down and the entire house topsy turvy.

The guest bedroom has been emptied of what makes a guest bedroom a bedroom…
all of which has now been replaced by brand new baby boy furniture… continuing its transformation…
Thus, there is no longer a guest bedroom that has a big people bed.

Sooooo…what was the formal living room has now been turned into a complete Woobooville office…
Meaning, it is the holding place for all things Mayorial.
The Woobooville office, the walking zebra, the fox stroller, Pepa the Pig scooter and my new
bed…aka sleeper sofa along with all the old “stuff” that came out of the New Sheriff’s new nursery.


(I now sleep in the office)

The den has also been gutted of the old worn out broken furniture as it awaits a few new pieces…

So needless to say, we are upside down in Woobooville…but rest assured, the Mayor has not missed
a beat of her responsibilities…


(the Mayor hard at work in Woobooville / Julie Cook / 2019

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him
who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Ephesians 1:11

Making

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable,
but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

George Bernard Shaw

DSCN1325
(Bunratty Folk Museum, demo of making an apple pie / Bunratty Castle, Co Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“What are we going to make of Christ?
There is not question of what we can make of him,
it is entirely a question of what he intends to make of us.”

C.S. Lewis except The Strangest Story of All

Too much energy and time is often spent in the lofty theological defense and discussions of the conundrum of Christ and His place within the sphere of humankind.
Did He?
Didn’t He?
He said…
No, rather He meant….
He is…
He is not…

He desires not our time spent in the endless arguing, fussing and cussing…
with both believers and non believers over those issues He finds both tiny and small…
But rather and more importantly…
He desires much much more…
He desires, longs for and most certainly prefers…
our becoming,
our doing,
our living…
our allowing…
Allowing Him to work through our hands, our heads and our heart…

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for human masters…

Colossians 3:23

Time for a little reflection

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

DSC01492
(luscious raspberry / Julie Cook / 2015)

When I was in college, I worked at a girls summer camp in Black Mt, North Carolina.
There are many posts yet to be written, with some already published, regarding those summers long ago.

The camp counselors were afforded one full day off and one half day off each week.
I would find myself conflicted each time my off day rolled around.
Maybe it’s the built in work ethic I’ve been graced with or maybe my ego was too loud and proud, but whatever the reason, I would always have to force myself to take the time off.

Years later when I was a teacher, I often found myself in a similar situation. Whereas schools don’t afford their teachers time off other than scheduled holidays, I would work even if I was deathly sick–loathing to have to take a sick day. Good teachers you know, never take sick days.
They work through the pain.
And that in turn may actually equate to good teachers actually being stupid. . .but that’s another conversation for another day. . .
But like my principal always said (I had 9 in 31 years so I don’t remember which one)
“a sick teacher is better on any given day than a well substitute.”

I’ve learned over the years that a little time off, a little time for rest, a little time for reflection, a little R & R is often just what the doctor ordered. . .

When I started this little blog 2 and a half years ago, my work ethic carried over from the classroom. I transitioned into retirement from teaching with the help of the blog. I’ve posted something everyday since the inception of this little blog of mine.
In my early days of zealous posting, it was upwards to 3 posts a day.
Luckily for all of us I have mellowed.
I’ve posted sick, tired and even during major events such as my son’s wedding.
As I’m constantly thinking, observing and composing a new post throughout each and every day it’s usually God who has the last word. My original intentions usually take 180 degree turn once His hand is involved. . .

Yet as of late, my life with Dad and Gloria is taking its toll.
I’m finding myself very weary of body, mind and heart.
Each of their respective healths are declining.
Dad has been horrendously sick for the past week.
The doctor keeps throwing out the notion of colon cancer.
Which it very well may be—but I like to think not.
I’ll be taking him next week, despite the initial decision we wouldn’t go, to the gastroenterologist.
He’s sick, looking pale, losing weight and can’t eat a thing but a little bland rice, toast, and applesauce. . .
Gloria has developed Parkinson’s and the dementia is taking a toll—yet she’s fighting it and us with every breath of gusto she retains—she is like a little whirling dervish.

I love the community I have developed here.
You are my dear friends and my life-line
Some of us text, chat and e-mail–sharing our own personal ups and downs.
I don’t know what I’d do without knowing I had your prayers and support–especially on those hard days of driving and doing.

I think I may take a day or two off.
Not stop writing—for Heavens sake no—this is my catharsis. . .
But I’m thinking I may rest over the weekend.
It’s Brenton and Abby’s first year anniversary this weekend and we told them
we’d do something special for them.

So I think I will just kind of “rest” over the weekend
Rest my thoughts, mind and body.
Seek some small diversion to help clear my head and heart.

But as I say that, I probably won’t listen to my own advice and will press on like the good teacher I am 😉
At any rate, we’ll be chatting soon. . .
my love and hugs friends. . . .