Me! I am a retired teacher. I taught 20 years. I retired because of my weakened condition but my mind is afire. I read, write, reflect, and write every day. My POV is usually as a teacher but not always. I have a bucket list and on it is to be a published author. I have many books to write. I want a cure for ALS. I want to spread LOVE. I want my maker to use me until I'm completely exhausted. Life is for living. "Enjoy every sandwich" Warren Zevon
In my mind today I am thinking about our local nonprofit, Matthew 25 : 40. This past Saturday night it was selected as nonprofit of the year. At the last board meeting, we were thrilled for the nomination. Of course, we were not expecting to win. The last decade M2540 and volunteers fought with blood, sweat, and tears to keep this little ministry going. Just recently we have been blessed by God for answering prayers for this nonprofit to thrive. All in God’s time. We all past and present board members, Executive directors, and volunteers, have kept to our motto :Serving the Least. Look at how God works through us mere humans. Today just like every fourth Thursday of the month, we gave groceries to 700 families. Last month we gave $7000 in utility bill assistance to local citizens. Keeping the electricity and water going for children and elderly and everyone in between. We have a thrift store. It’s better than the Dollar Tree, everything is free! The only overhead expenses are for our director and assistant. All donations of money or items donated are funneled back to the Least. The amazing leadership in our past and current directors, Missy Brubaker and Misty Hutchinson, have helped shape the heart of M2540. That heart has God vision. It doesn’t see an addicted person, a battered uneducated young single mom, or people who are undesirable. At M2540,we see Children of God. May this never change. The man power comes from various types of local Christians from Catholic churches to Assembly of God churches and all of those in between. We also thank the local factories and Kroger. DOT Foods is so very generous. I thank all of you for this honor. Let God receive the glory.
In my mind today, I am grateful for another spring. It brings so much beauty. I try to enjoy all of the rebirth. New nests being built by my window, perennial flowers peeking up through the ground, and buds on trees bursting to attract the bees. It is such a celebration of life. I have been spending a lot of time studying and attending church. I love my church family. It was something I had always wanted as a child. So many of my friends had church functions and support that I never had. To be able to see my children raised in church has been one of the best blessings of this life. We are truly family:sisters and brothers in Christ.
This past year has been a tough one. My body is changing again with ALS. New normals are happening or new weaknesses that I have to learn to adapt to. One is that my phone is turning into a brick because my hands are saying, “I’m done.” I am not able to answer every call, text, or notification. I will try. Please be patient with me. My eye gaze devices are my communication life lines. Besides that, the grief has not released me from Ken breaking into the veil of heaven.
One of the best parts of Easter is bringing new members into the church. It is the RICA or Rites of Christian Initiation program. People tend to think of Catholics as being a secret club, especially where I live in West Tennessee. We are a minority. We have the RCIA program each year for those interested in the faith. If you need a church home, I will sponsor you and teach you. It is this program that saved me through a grief-stricken Lent. The first Easter without my beloved husband. God took me into His heart. He gave me a job. Not long before Ken flew free, a former student had contacted me about being a Catholic. I would usually see her working in restaurants on Sundays. As a family, this is our Sunday treat after church. I had her in fifth grade and eighth grade. I always kept up with her. Once you are one of my students you are always a part of my life. She’s a single mom and has to fight for everything she has. She knew when she had her son it was a life changing experience. She worked and went back to school. She promised me when she could she would come to church with me. Right as we were losing Ken physically, she started showing up to attend church with me. God sent this precious young lady, her amazing fiancé, and son to mentor through the RCIA program. This class was a great group. It helped me and grew my spiritual maturity. It helped me to understand more about the heavenly life my husband had entered. All while gaining new people to help me forge forward to complete my earthly race.
One of the most beautiful scenes this Easter was witnessing one of our first communion students celebrate Holy Thursday. This young lady used to weep and cry every Sunday to come to the Lord’s Table. This has been since she was a baby. During Lent I could hear her sweet voice singing the Psalms, the hallelujahs, and reciting prayers. Talk about a reverence for God. This young lady is special. I am so thankful that I was present. Just a little funny. Her little brother had a stomach bug. When he saw her he burst into tears. He cried, “Why is she dressed like a princess? I want to go as Spider-Man.“They had to talk him down and assure him she was not coming home with a bag of candy.
Easter was full of adventure for my son and I as we followed Christ into the desert for forty days of Lent. As I said it was our first without Ken, and we were solo. We visited the cathedral, we went to parish fish frys, we made even more friends, we fasted, we cried out in prayer for God to help our grief, and sometimes we just cried. Something beautiful grew between my middle child and me: patience, kindness, understanding, love for each other but also a reckoning. The reckoning is that all we really have in this life is each other and more importantly God because this life is just a breath compared to the entirety of Creation. We will one day face the veil. Students, if you need a church home like I did, just contact me through our parish. Come find the fount of life that fills voids in this race we call life. My husband and I called these voids God-holes instead of potholes. He is Risen!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Easter Loving Gal
Quotes for the Day:
Do not abandon yourself to despair. After all we are The Easter People and hallelujah is our song.
Pope John Paul II
God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.
A rebirth out of spiritual adversity causes us to become new creatures.
In my mind today, I have a case of March sadness. The sweet sixteen are going to be battling it out to see if they make it to the next level. After the loss of my favorite team, I unplugged. I was downright angry. I wanted to see them get some recognition for the gut wrenching season and prove that they were worthy of being in the tournament. I even wore my tall, blue lucky socks! I absolutely love the college game of basketball. After losing, I finally decided to cheer for a friend who absolutely loves sports. I believe she’s the biggest Duke fan ever. I decided not to be a sour puss and put my lucky blue socks on for Duke. The socks failed once again. The socks will probably be retired to the first fire pit clean up. I then looked at my battered bracket. I told my son that I was pulling for Saint Mary’s. I love the underdogs. Guess what? They lost. This is not my year. My son’s suggestion was for me to not curse another team. I’m hard headed so I choose Gonzaga, the Zags! So watch out Zags, I am rooting for you to win it all. Come on and help relieve the March sadness. One of the hardest lessons in life is learning to be a gracious loser. This year it has been a tough pill to swallow. I will always be a Memphis Tiger fan whether we win or lose. That is just what a true fan does. Here is a nugget of wisdom. If you never fail, you never learn anything. This is true in life. My failures have made me a much better person. Of course it hurts but failing forward you earn knowledge and grace. Don’t give up Tigers. I will get my lucky socks out of the trash and my bottom lip up off of the floor!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Competition Gal
Quote of the Day
One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
In my mind today I am thinking about March Madness. Oh, I absolutely love this time of year. My sweet husband and I were so ready for November but March is when it gets heated. Waiting to see if our favorite team made it into the big tournament is so stressful! Believe it or not, the Memphis Tigers was our first date. He asked me to come over and watch the game with him and his children. We watched and went to games throughout our marriage. From Coach Finch to Coach Hardaway and all those in between, I have so many wonderful memories.
This year it was so hard to watch without him but Ben and I watched almost every game or at least a part of them. They did not disappoint. As we watched this year, amazing memories washed over us. The Tigers are forever an underdog. That’s okay because the victories are so much sweeter. Being a True Blue Tiger fan is not for the fair weather fan, especially if you are faint of heart. Ken and I were true to our Tigers and my sweet husband is in the spiritual world pulling strings for them, I just feel it. He has to be because we were IN without being on the bubble before our conference tournament! Then, we WON the conference tournament! We are dancing with the big boys and it feels so good.
It’s going to be different from now on without my husband. I am trying to continue to look for the sun even on cloudy days. The team this year is a special group. Ken always kept the family up on the latest Tiger news. Watching them win the AAC tournament gave me so much joy and inspiration. Every win this year was a battle. Every loss was an affirmation for the critics to leave us out of the NCAA tournament. These players have so much heart and grit. Many have a father figure for the first time in their lives. Finally a positive person to guide them and want the absolute best for them, not just something from them. I was in tears watching them enjoy the spotlight. Then when Coach Penny Hardaway said, “It’s a God thing.” I cried. Then he looked into the camera and told Memphis, “I love you.“ The tears were flowing. Penny was one of the greatest to come out of Memphis and he was coached by Larry Finch. The wheel has turned and Penny is giving back to His city. He humbly and quietly leads this vivacious motley crew of survivors and is teaching them much more than they even know. He identifies with them. He was there once not long ago. Thank God for his leadership and heart for a city that has more bad said about it than good. I still believe in Memphis, the city, school and teams. Thank you Coach Hardaway and Congratulations Memphis Tigers!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Tiger Loving Gal
Quotes for the Day
Self praise is for losers.. Be a winner. Stand for something. Always have class, and be humble.
Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as a Punishment. And see that’s the difference. Lou Holtz
With few exceptions, it is always the underdog who wins through sheer willpower.
In my mind, I have been thinking about regrets. We all have them. I regret that I didn’t work hard in school. I regret that I wasted time on silly, meaningless activities instead of building my character. I regret wasting time and energy being negative because owning my problems seems too hard. Face it. We all fall short sometimes. How can we defeat the regrettable times in our lives?
There is time to turn it around as long as you have breath in your body. At Fifty-three years old I can’t go back to school and be the valedictorian, but I can educate myself by reading. So many people without degrees have been writers, musicians, and positive influences for mankind. Einstein hated school. God had a totally different plan for his life’s work that didn’t make him have to have a 30+ on the ACT. Be positive because God has a beautiful plan for your life, too. Believe it!
As any human, there has been wasting of time. We’ve wasted money and resources, too! Maybe this could have been used in a better way. Instead of beating myself up for it, I should move through it while owning my ignorance and do it differently next time. It’s only in failure that we truly learn. Different actions will give different results. Spend your time building up those around you. It is never a waste, but an investment.
Being negative. Have you ever been negative? Close-minded and full of anger, I have been there before and I never want to go there again. I wasted too much time and energy to be healthy. When I owned my part, I figured out that I was part of the problem. Jealousy and condemnation for past hurts made me see red if I even thought about these people. I finally was able to break free. How? First I asked God to forgive me and help me feel better. I was so tired of carrying this in my heart. God answered me. “Forgive them. Pray for them.”It was not immediate. It took time. Each time I thought of the person I would say a prayer for them. I would ask God to bless them at that moment. I was finding inner peace. The peace that only God can give. People hurt and disappoint us on our Earthly journey. It could be our children, spouse, or long time friend but the fact that if you can own the part of the problem, tell the person you love them, and pray for them shows spiritual and emotional growth. This is how to make it positive. It’s a win-win situation. You free your heart of hate and you become stronger than ever before to build up others, even those who love you the least. The people who carry hate in their hearts are people who have probably had the roughest road to travel on the human highway. One of the last little nuggets of faith my late husband and I shared was about this statement he read in one of his daily devotions:You only love Jesus as much as the person you like the least. Profound. I know so many people hurt. If you want to be free of it, trust God and pray for those who persecute you and free your heart from pain. Only God can heal your broken heart, but you have to open your heart to Him.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Heal your Heart Gal
Quotes for the Day
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the Light.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
It is not an easy journey , to get to a place where you forgive people, but it is a good powerful place , because it frees you.
The weak can never forgive. It is an attribute of the strong.
Scripture Colossians 3:12-15
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.
In my mind today, I am thinking about Valentine’s Day. This last one was so hard because it was the first one without my sweetheart. The morning of Valentine’s Day I had ALS issues. I had slept in because I had my days and nights mixed up which probably caused the ALS issues. I didn’t even realize that it was Valentine’s Day. When I was in my wheelchair and ready to roll, I went to the kitchen and there was a beautiful vase of beautiful, mixed flowers. They were just like the kind he bought me and from the same local shop. My son said, “I bet Ms. Sandy sent them.” She is one of my best and most thoughtful friends. Ben started opening the card. I couldn’t wait to see who sent them. I didn’t have a clue.
Before I tell you who sent them, let me share a MSH moment. Quit mumbling back row. This is where you understand what a cliffhanger is. The reason that you complain is because of the cliffhanger. Now back to my sweet husband’s memory. As a married couple, he never forgot any occasion, especially one to show me his love. I remember my first Valentine’s Day as a teacher, he sent me a dozen roses. I was gushing when I had to send a student to the office to get the flowers. This was the M. O. for about two decades. One economically tough year, I told him no huge florist bill. He said, “I am getting you flowers. I put back money. All of this was unbeknownst to me. Do you see what a wonderful person he was? Still worried about the bills I asked him if he could get mixed wildflowers which are my favorite. And yes front row students, less expensive. He came through and from that point forward it was wildflowers.
Back to the mystery wildflower bouquet. Sorry, another aside. In the beginning, he had the florist sign the card. Then, I commented about it not being in his handwriting. From that day forward, he always signed the card, I love you, Ken. He did and still does. The mystery card was hand written. It said, “I love you Big Bug. I remember how Dad would always get us flowers, and I wanted to do it for him. Love Baby Bug. I cried but realized that our family had the amazing love that we have. The flowers were from my youngest from college. My son hugged me tight until the tears subsidized.
Students, I pray that you can find this kind of love in your lifetime. It truly is a Biblical kind of love. It’s patient and kind. It doesn’t boast or brag and is humble. It is self sacrificing. It bears all things, good and bad. I am blessed and I want you to have this. It is one of our greatest gifts from God.
Happy belated Valentine’s Day!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Wildflowers Gal
Quote for the Day:
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
In my mind today, I am thinking about the human highway. It is true that we are all on our journey. Students, have you paid much attention to the conditions of the human highway lately? There are lots of roadblocks and warning signs. Frankly speaking, I see a lot of lost traffic. Why are we born? Why are we even created? Has anyone ever told you? No one told me. I have lived and searched for the reason for my existence. Take heart. I found it!
What’s my purpose? Teaching for twenty years I saw it. The lack of purpose and drive was prevalent. Loss of morals. Apathetic. It was a challenge that I loved. Students, a lot of the teaching today is driven by unfair competition against unbearable odds. Teaching is a craft. Each year is a different challenge. Your teaching is driven by the students’ needs; therefore; the teaching methods need to match the Learners’ Learning preferences and abilities. This is why teaching is a craft. You are a motivator. You are a light to your students. Maybe the only one that they will ever see. Teaching is such an important role. I am ever so proud of my former students who have become teachers. I am praying for our public school system. I pray for solid and sound teaching that our children are literate, strong, and able to discern good from evil.
What if every day of your life you started knowing your purpose in life? This would help tremendously. The human highway has lots of traffic jams. I see so many people that are lost or stuck in the new fast lane, unable to find a purpose for the trouble of this chaos. Let’s do a literature chart discovering the 4 W’s and an H. Who are you? You were created in the image of your creator. What are you? You are part spirit and part animal/human.Your soul is the eternal part that is of God. Where are you? You are on earth. It was created by God. Why are you here? We are here to love God and each other. This is our purpose. Somewhere down the human highway, we forgot to teach our children this first. They are children of God. They should guard their souls: the eternal part that is destined for eternity. How? Simply living a life consecrated to God.
Everyone is unique in the place they are born down the human highway. I know students are born in very hard, destitute situations while some are born very blessed with parents to guide them. Remember that first and foremost you are a child of God. Some have to work harder than others, but we all have a job in God’s Kingdom. The human highway can be cruel. Remember that this life on earth is fleeting. Our goal and purpose are to be the best child of God that we can be. Think if we all understood that we are made to love and to be loved. We are made to love each other and out of the love between a man and a woman a child of God is created. Oh, sweet daughters, please fall back in love with motherhood. Blessed sons, fall in love with your family and bear up for them and provide as the Holy Father does. Children of God, love, honor, and obey your parents. We have lost our way.
I know this sounds otherworldly or mystical, because God is just that: a mystery. We came to be because of the mystery of God. We are all playing a part or riding down the human highway. The race is not an easy one regardless of the station of life you are born into, but remember you are a child of God. Today, we want to identify with our sexual preference, our gender or lack of gender, political affiliation, or one of the many different genres society has invented. The simple fact is you are a child of God which is a human being. The next time you are thinking who am I, what’s my purpose, and why am I here, remember that God created you as His own. The purpose of human beings is to love and care for His children and creation whatever your vocation, or job. You are here on a mission. Do good in all your ways. Use this life for God.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Child of God Gal
Quotes for the Day:
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others . And if you can’t help them at least don’t hurt them.
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” – Margaret Mead
“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
In my mind today, I have been feeding my brain with literature. I am studying again! Don’t moan back row, students. Be joyful that I am looking for God. It has been a while since I have had the strength to read and focus. What threw me out of my stagnating reverie was YouTube. Yes, even dinosaurs like me look at it. I usually look for gardening videos and Christian talks about the Faith. I’m a “ real gone cat.” That’s an idiom, students. I digress but I was scrolling the YT and saw 26 books every Christian should read by Peter Kreeft. I watched it about three weeks ago and just finished the first book : an autobiography called A Severe Mercy. Of the 26 books, only two were autobiographies. I decided to start with the autobiographies. It was this one or Confessions by St. Augustine. The latter seemed too heavy for my fragile mind.
After I got the title downloaded to my kindle, I discovered it was written by a man from 100 years ago about losing the love of his life. When I watched the YT video I just got the book titles and hurried to my list to read before my flesh became weak again. Finding out it was about grief and losing the love of his life, I was all in. I knew in my heart that the book was no accident. I do believe that God wanted me to read it ; it was divinely inspired.
My mind as well as my heart have been muddled wading through my husband’s death into eternal life. The nuggets of gold I mined from this autobiography reinforced my mind, soul, and spirit giving peace to my battered, grief stricken heart. Good News indeed! The first nugget of truth about true love: it is more than physical attraction. In the beginning of my relationship with Ken, we wanted to be together all of the time. We couldn’t get enough of one another. In the book the author describes this time as their Pagan love. I believe that many relationships begin in this whirlwind of romance and freedom. It’s often referred to as the honeymoon stage. Often weeks into the relationship this fades and the rose colored glasses are too smeared and dirty to see through. What then fosters a good, healthy relationship or marriage? Commonality. Do you share common interests, goals, and morals? If not, I bet the relationship failed. Remember the song lyrics : don’t go changing to try to please me, I want you just the way you are? Did you really want your person just the way they are? Was it reciprocated, did they feel the same way? If you honestly answered yes, congrats! To move forward to a deeper love it is imperative. The reality of real love is possible. I live in a little southern town and I look out at the world and hope desperately that people, men and women, have not given up on the sanctity of marriage. The plan for us to be one and that love being a treasure trove that grows stronger throughout eternity. Ken and I have it ( present tense.) I feel it.
Nugget number two was: there is no other joy in the world better than Christian Joy. I hear the back row grumble. What other joy is there that has no baggage, consequences, or price? Love, real love, is free. It is not self serving. It does not constantly think about “me.” We all as humans yearn for eternity. We have been trying to figure out a way to live forever since the dawn of mankind. Christian Joy is walking your earthy life to God’s beat. There’s nothing you can do to buy or win it. It is staying in the Light of Christ. The plan for us is to be happy. How in this upside down society that you and I live in could this be possible? Is there any chance of getting true love and Christian Joy? I pray that there is. I have children and grandchildren ( my posterity) that I want to have these treasures. Walking a righteous path is so hard, but so rewarding ; remember eternity students? Students, when you have true love do you want to be with them forever? Absolutely! This brings me to my last nugget of truth, my Epiphany for all of us grieving people whom I know. Just like the author in A Severe Mercy, I still “ feel” my beloved ‘s presence. Some days are so heavy with the weight of him I have crying days. These were so many before my Epiphany nugget. I felt that I was crazy and losing my mind and my love forever. Not so! Listen up my widow and widower friends. The last nugget will bring you hope. I pray that it does.
The big epiphany nugget from the book gave me something to ensure that Ken is somewhere waiting for me out there in eternity. Remember the marriage covenant? Remember Saint Paul and stating that when a man and woman become one then their souls are united as one. This, to me, gives hope and evidence to being together again. When our souls depart from earth they leave intimeness ( no clocks or time keeping in eternity) and have all the time in eternity. Ken and your love are free from earthly chains. If your heart shattered when they departed, good. Hold on front row students, I am making a point. If your heart shattered, it was a true love. It was real. It had and still has life. True love is eternal. Just like Saint Paul stated two souls become one so the other half fledged before the other, so our loves are still there waiting for our day to soar. The hardest part is our waiting. Not for our beloved who are out of time. Remember when sharing your lives there was never enough time. I yearned for our Saturdays of time shared with each other. There could have never been enough Saturdays to satisfy our love. I believe a part of my soul left when his took flight. A death of a part of me that resurrected with him lives on in eternity where every day is a Saturday.
Does everyone get this “true” love? Sadly, I don’t think so. It’s hard to live a covenant. Do more people want “ true” love.? I think that our society and culture in America need it more than ever. I remember a woman who was considering divorce told me that the infidelity of her husband was too much. She said that she wanted a man who only saw her in the room even if Halle Berry was in the same room. Ladies and gentlemen, do you feel the same? I know I did, but I was blessed to have it for 33 years. He always told me that he had the most beautiful woman in the church every Sunday, ALS and all of the trappings included. I know back row, you think he was blowing smoke but he would say he still saw the girl he married. The sacrament of marriage is real. The covenant is sealed with love. I thank God for it. I think that those who achieve it have lots to look forward to even in death. This covenant has been flipped in our culture. Students, take heart. Surely there are many other people seeking it too. Remember all of the feelings that I have of Ken being so close in songs, places, and the space surrounding us? The signs the kids and I have? They are real. They have meaning. How can I be so confident? Everything is created by God. Everything God creates has meaning. I will soldier on until my eternity journey begins. Then I will be with him in a time free zone ready to share eternal Saturdays again.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the True Love Gal
Quote of the Day :
“But love is the final reality ; and anyone who doesn’t understand this, be he a writer or a sage,, is a man flawed in wisdom. “
In my mind today of course I am thinking about Christmas. Looking at Christmases past on social media, remembering how much I put into Christmas before ALS. Each year I was so jolly and even enjoyed the elves’ shenanigans! I have always been a NUT for Christmas to the point that I drove my family nuts. Here is an example of my overzealous behavior: 19 elves. I heard that gasp, students. What a NUT, right?
This year was the year of “The Grief that Stole Christmas” since my sweet husband is celebrating a Celestial Christmas. Some of his best, worn out dad jokes were about canceling Christmas. The closer Christmas came, the more frequent the cancellation threats.This year is a new season, a new normal. I know that I don’t have the corner market for grief, but it really hurts. Writing is therapy, and I am so thankful for all of you, students.
First new normal was no big gathering at our house on Christmas Eve. We always hosted every side of the family and would have sometimes over 50 people, relatives and friends. Then the old Griefy Claus caused a collapse in our world. No gathering. I then had an idea, a wonderful idea! An awesome, wonderful idea! Intimate Christmas Eve with our kids and grandchildren. I was not the most chipper and we were missing two Grands. Guess what happened? We had a fabulous time! We could feel the love. We shared wonderful memories of their Dad, brother, and all of our crazy Christmas past. The new normal will be Christmas Eve with Gram at noon, KFC, and shared time. Enjoying watching the kids play. So Bah Humbug Griefy Claus! The kids were gone and that left the three amigos. Ben, Abbey, and I watched SpongeBob Christmas and so many others. We laughed until we cried. Last but not least, a good, hot shower, tucked tight in bed, It’s A Wonderful Life in color on the bedroom tv, and the sweetest daughter beside me made for the best Christmas Eve ever. Ben was busy with the elf work that robbed my Christmas Eve sleep all those years before as a healthy mom staying up til the wee hours of the morning. I slept like Patrick Star under his rock. (SpongeBob reference, parents!)
Before I knew it, the alarm clock was going off. Ben said, “Mom, we have church.” We had the perfect excuse to stay home. There had been a winter storm with dangerous low temperatures. Don’t forget Griefy Claus! The one thing that Ken never canceled was church on Sunday, especially the high holy days. That was a rule of our Home: God first. It has been our trusted compass. Ben got me up and ready. We gathered the food items for my mother-in-law’s gathering to drop off, then grabbed her for church. Here comes Griefy Claus! She had burst pipes and no electricity. We ended up with a lot of good ham and another gathering collapse. New season. Ben learned to make pecan pie from one of our good friends. We wanted to give something special for people that doesn’t come from a store and means a bit more. I was ever so glad to be in church. I cried but it was tears of joy. My joy meter was 100% before we were to the Gospel. Our daughter leading music and pies for the church family made my heart swell three sizes. Although the other traditional gathering collapsed, a new one was born. We had Ab’s boyfriend pop in and my other son, too. It was like a trip back in time. They were laughing and playing video games. It was the BEST. Just our little brood. I felt Ken and Nick were right there with us. My husband was a father first and foremost. He worked so so hard his entire life for us. The children we shared came through, heavenly and earthly. Grief didn’t stop Christmas. Somehow it came just the same. The love never left us. This morning Ben and I talked about dying young and the old saying only the good die young. This life is so full of grief, the earthly one. It makes a Celestial Christmas sound even better. Not the Monty Python heaven, back row. Stay with me! That is why we believe that there is so much more on the other side. No GRIEF! Let’s not forget that mortality issue. Remember the first time you realized that you were destined to be dust? Eye opener! The whole world does fall in love this time of year. It is the most wonderful time of the year. Why? That’s right front row, light entered the darkness and Jesus Christ entered our earthly drama. He brought the best Christmas gift of all.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Griefy Claus Gal
Quote for the Day:
“Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” -Emily Dickinson
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.” -Helen Keller
“Say not in grief that they are gone, but give thanks that they were yours.” -Hebrew proverb
Things Griefy Claus taught me:
Don’t think that my children will love the same tic-tacky Christmas trappings (decorations) putting them up and down! No decorations next year just a tree, the memory one, and one nativity. Peace is better than the grief!
I get that a new chapter has begun and I have to be a BLT: BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER. There is a purpose for me on this side of heaven.
In my mind I have a to-do list that is longer than Santa’s: thank yous, budgets to balance, insurance to buy, and more to-do lists to make. Last Thursday, I felt its weight. I had to do something to feel again. I had to self talk myself to get up, stay awake, listen, participate, and try to get my Thursday to some kind of normalcy. I have an online Bible study each Thursday. Our online class was there in cyberspace waiting to meet. Guess what students? I did it and I was so grateful, relieved, and reassured by these faithful friends. They are in their “ Brady Bunch” zoom boxes. Just like the One with us, never wavering, and always there for us. I could feel my spirits lift.
Change. My life is so different, but I realized I am wasting days. I am fighting to leave as much love as possible to my family, friends, and everyone I meet. I don’t need to waste a second. Remember my to do lists? I am making lists of love. Watch out! I may show up to bring you some Holiday cheer! I have been giddy today finding my groove. Remembering the magic of Christmas, my daughter’s voice and the Holy Spirit at her last collegiate Christmas Choir Concert. Warning! Get your kleenex. I promise good and bad tears, cross my heart! I felt my husband more than usual.
Choir was and is our youngest child’s gift from God. We have traveled as far as New York City to see her perform. We gave her tools, opportunities, and support to help her excel. She blossomed into an amazing classical musician, pianist, songwriter, and Operatic singer. Her Choir scholarships help make it possible for her to get four years of college for one year. Thanks to our Mr. Bart, Mr. Davis, and her hard work.
Ken NEVER missed one activity our children had. Never. Did I? Yes. My husband was a Saint. I called him and still say he’s my St. Joseph. On the drive down to Memphis for her last Christmas Concert, as we rolled down Highway 51 I was remembering all of those trips that we had together either chasing a concert, a child’s performance, or vacations. He wanted so badly to make it until our girl graduated from college. The tears rolled with the miles. Sure some were sad tears because I miss him, but they were also because I was so grateful for our life together. He left us a million memories, a million playlist to listen to, a million bad dad jokes, a million good night sleep tight I love yous, a million songs that remind us of what is important, and a billion smiles to remember. I thank God everyday all I have to do is close my eyes and I can find something beautiful from my time on Earth in my mind. If you can’t do that, students, you need to work on it. God gives us this life as well as the next. Here it is at Christmas and I really need you to be in the moments with your people. These memories are part of your treasure chest. Hold it tight. Yes it is homework!
We arrived and I immediately had PTSD from the last few years of coming to the concert. It literally took God and all the gumption we had just to get there, especially last year. It was blustery and rainy and I had to roll down the streets of Memphis in my wheelchair to get a police officer to help get him to the venue. His anxiety was off the charts, and I had no clue how I was going to talk him down. This was her junior year and the music department was privy to whom these two disabled parents belonged. We had to get the front handicap entrance open because the back one didn’t accommodate a wheelchair. So as Ken and I limped in, we were spotted. The crowd parted like the Red Sea. We were led to front and center. We both cried last year. Cried because she did an excellent job, and we soaked it all in to our treasure chest of moments. I was shaken out of my reverie when my son said, “The wheelchair lift won’t work.” Murphy’s Law! We pulled out front, five minutes till showtime, and this my students is when the wailing and anxiety take over me. He said, “ I’ve got it mom.” Thank you Ken and Granddaddy Wayne for passing those mechanical genes to our three sons. He had to hand crank me in and out of the van but thanks be to God we did not miss her singing. So after all of that and getting two 83 year old Grams to the restroom, I think we’re on angel wings, along with the Holy Spirit and using God’s speed. We arrived at the beautiful Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church, one of the oldest churches in Memphis,Tennessee. We got a good seat, not as good as last year’s event. I don’t think I opened my eyes very much at all. I felt his arm over my shoulder and his voice whispering periodically, “Do you hear Abbey?” I did. Her voice is so bold, and full bodied, and angelic. Between songs he would take pictures and ALWAYS video her solos, not this year. Every girl should get a Dad like Ken. Hey, I should write the book for Dad’s expecting a daughter. Ha! Here’s the title: Secret Club! I called it their S.C. aka Secret Club. His Board of Directors Monthly meetings alway gave them a S.C. meeting. They were so close and my heart breaks for her and other girls who were given too little time with their fathers. Remember what I said about treasure chests? Open them, revisit them, and most definitely make more for your journey. Yes, it’s your holiday homework! I hear that unfriendly “Ho, Ho, Ho” back row! Be good for goodness sake.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Treasure Chest Gal
Workin’ hard every day
Never notice how the time slips away
People come, seasons go
We got something that’ll never grow old.
I don’t care if the sun don’t shine
And the rain keeps pouring down on me and mine ‘Cause our kind of love never seems to get old It’s better than silver and gold.