My birthday was a few days ago. When I was a kid, I thought a 70-year old was about five minutes away from pushing up the proverbial daisy. Even though daisies are my favorite flower, the thought of being that old wasn’t appealing. And now…here I am. I really wish I could figure out where the time went. I swear it was just a few months ago I turned 40.
Passage of time happening in warp speed aside, last week’s post got me thinking about contentment. I’m very happy with my life. I have a husband, family and friends who love me, kitty babies who snuggle on demand, and a garden with black-eyed peas. Granted, I’d have to plant a few more acres to get a big pot of peas, and I got sidetracked and made charcoal out of what few I cooked the other day, but they’re there and delicious when I don’t have my head up my butt.
Like most people, my life didn’t turn out quite like I expected. I had a conversation with a friend about that. I’m fond of saying “God’s in control and he has a plan,” but sometimes His plan is a bitter pill to swallow. I know “they” say you can’t take it with you, but I really do wish I could take a list of questions with me. Most of them would begin with “Why?” I thought of having “Why?” tattooed on my wrist but nixed that idea. Not only would it not last during cremation and cost too much money, there is the pain factor. So…no. But, the single hardest life lesson to learn is that He really does know what He’s doing, even if we can’t see it at the time.
God decided he needed Bruce more than I did, so my plan of us growing old together, someplace out in the country, disappeared. We hadn’t even hit our third wedding anniversary when he died. My new plan was to never get married again. Then Ed showed up, which is a long story, and we celebrated our 25th anniversary last February. I’m not sure why Father decided I needed Ed, or he needed me, but here we are. Still happy, still in love, still laughing together, and still married to our best friend. Even on those days I want to choke the life out of him, I still want him around to carry the grocery bags or bring in a unicorn-shaped balloon the size of Omaha for my birthday, so it’s all good.
For most of my life, God’s plan conflicted with my plan. I planned to have children, but that turned into a non-option. Another long story, but not the end of the story. People who can’t have children and don’t adopt have no idea what they’re missing. We have a beautiful adopted daughter, two granddaughters, and three great grandchildren. I needed them, and they needed me. That wouldn’t have happened if I had biological children. Bruce and Ed both came into my life with children of their own, so I’ve also been blessed with a ton of step kids/step grandkids. We never realize how many until CHRISTmas time when the house is full, and our wallets are empty.
My “other” mother came with a daughter who is my sister in every sense of the word except biological. Linda is another person I can’t envision living without. She’s one of my biggest supporters, puts up with my nonsense, and would be here in a flash if I needed her. And, she knows I would be there, too. I’m especially thankful she lives in Louisiana and not New York, because we can make it over there in one day. God knew I needed/wanted a supportive, loving sister, and He sent me one.
He also sent friends who fall into the Linda category. Maggie has been there for every major event in my life, good and bad, and life would suck without her and Randy. Mary and I have also been through a lot together, and now that Danny is no longer here, part of us has died, too. I’m never without Maggie, Randy, Mary, and Danny because they’re the main characters in my novels. When I write about them, like I write about my special angel Miss Genny, it’s like they’re sitting right next to me. My publisher’s husband has a note that reads, “When you love a writer, you’ll never die.” So true, because you’ll probably end up in a novel. (Or a blog post.)
Speaking of writing, my plan was to see my name on the front cover of a book. Something I’ve wanted as long as I can remember. Did He do that? Nope. Again…His plan, not mine. He made sure my name will be on the cover of six books. And probably more. Yes, I know that’s not my “real” name on there, but I’ve always written “stuff” under the pen name Gena Webb. Well, novels anyway. EPRs…not so much. So, it counts.
Since I mentioned my publisher, let me expand on that a tad. I have a great one, along with a great editor. We’ve slipped from the publisher/editor/author category into the friend category. I can’t think of a better way to do business. If it was strictly all business, I wouldn’t know about the “love a writer” line. I also wouldn’t know the expression…You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him dog paddle. That is so funny, and full credit goes to Jennifer. Not only is she a great publisher, but she’s hilarious and comes up with good lines I can plagiarize and slip into a novel.
One more thought. Cora edited all six of my books, and will be editing future ones, unless she gets tired of me and tells me to go away. She’s a saint. Now that I somewhat know how to write, I realize how hard a job she had on my first two novels. Her job would have been much easier if I’d taken a creative writing course. Had I, I’d have known that POV stood for Point of View, and not Privately-Owned Vehicle on a TDY voucher. To her credit, not once did she bitch me out. Probably because she was too busy correcting my mistakes and adding in her own witticisms. FYI—When you see the words “confectionary carnage” in Finding Miss Write, that’s all Cora. She’s hilarious, too. And patient. Oh, so patient!
This is longer than I planned, and I don’t want you to think I’m getting all introspective because I’m at death’s door. (Ed should be so lucky.) Blame last week’s post. This week’s is intended as a reminder that all the important things in life are right there, if we just stop and think about it. I could spend the rest of the year writing about other things that make me glad to be alive, but it’s more fun to write about turkeys or complain about TV shows going away. So, yes, even though we think we’re masters at planning our own lives, we really aren’t. God steps in and it turns out better than we could ever imagine, even if it takes a while for us to realize He was right. We really should just “let go and let God.”
I do have another recommendation for you. Feeling down and too lazy to pop in Ferdinand or some other kid movie that will make you chuckle? Stop focusing on what’s wrong and focus on what’s right. Grab a piece of paper and write down all the things in your life you’re thankful for. Things that make you content. Things that make you realize exactly how blessed you are. Things that make you realize that even if you don’t always agree with God’s plan, He really does know what He’s doing, so it’ll be okay. I can almost guarantee that by the time you’re through, all the BS will have melted away and you’ll be left with nothing but gratitude and warm feelings. And buy a daisy. They’ll make you smile. Even if you do have one foot in the grave.