The Phone Call

“Calling to check on you, Mom,” the adult child said when the woman answered the phone.

DSC_9560

DSC_9561

The mother smiled. Ordinary conversation ensued–the mundane, the heat, how are the dogs, slim talk of daily activities, progress, and regression. Then the child said the other  words.

A tense sliver of silence. “That hurt me. You should have told me about that.”

“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I apologize.” The child told explanatory  words that went to the heart of the matter for the child had tried to spare the  mother the sorrow of the untold fact.

Again. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“I know you are. I forgive you.”

“I know you do. I would never hurt you on purpose.”

“I know you wouldn’t.”

______________

Hours later, I think on this scene. It makes me happy. Happy? you ask. Yes, for by now you must know that life is imperfect. People are. People who love each other, with no intent for hurt, do just that thing they would never intend to do. DSC_9550

At  that moment, each person has a litany of choices. We can continue with the hurt, or not. We can apologize or refuse to do so. We can gather in the sorrowful words, or reject the apology, We can dredge up prior hurts, or not. We can sulk, feel old, not needed,  rejected

Or not.

My child and I chose the high, logical road. No hurt was intended, indeed quite the opposite, no hurt would be nursed.

Such is the good life. How blessed, truly blessed I am

DSC_9499

And Now I am 80

Today I am 80. Eighty and one day to be exact, for yesterday was my official birthday, and although I have been pulled kicking and snorting into the century with old people, here I stand. I am 80!

_DSC9913

Even though my birthday was not until the 24th, the festivities began on Saturday the 14th with my four children and their spouses working together to execute a family party with the number 80 connected to it. My eldest son opened their beautiful property for the event which was a dynamic success. Grand kids bounced about, along with four dogs, all Shih Tzus.

My brother was there: my brother who lives in Pennsylvania, and who a few days before had been in Australia! He strolled from the house to meet me on the patio when Jerry and I arrived, grinning. “You rascal,” I said, “surprising me like this.” I thumped him on the chest. What a guy he is. You will never meet a finer man on this earth.

_DSC9963

They brought presents, food, five or six cakes, fried chicken, couches for pictures, funny items for photographs, a clothesline with my childhood pictures on it, old-fashioned candies, including a moon pie tree. The grandkids told funny stories–one is so great_DSC0126that afterward I went to Chris, and said, “I want you to tell that story at my funeral.” (Stay tuned!) Won’t bore you with all the details. Trust me. It was magnificent. Perfectly done.

DSC_0406

DSC_0397IMG_0004.jpg

_DSC9982

That’s me in the middle in case you didn’t recognize me.

My favorite picture follows here. I was sitting on one of the couches with Steve and Rebecca beside me when my Michael leaped and spread himself across us. Andrew handed his camera to someone else, and joined his siblings. My four exceptional children. Aren’t they gorgeous! Not a picture of my dear hubby in sight, but he was there in fine form.

_DSC0017

_DSC0030My favorite part of the weekend festivities? On Sunday morning we all went to church together. Yep, that was my absolute favorite part. I have a great video I want to post here that would help you understand how special that was, but I’m not sure I know how to get it to this page. I’ll keep trying.

After church we went to a great Italian restaurant in Chula Vista where they serve outstanding food, one of them being an asparagus dish with a delicate cheese sauce. The first time I ate that lusciousness I threatened to lick the plate. Well, now that I’m 80, and not quite responsible for my actions, I . . .you guessed it . . . licked the plate! The owner came to our table for a hug and a picture. The chef emerged from the kitchen and with a great baritone voice, in Italian, belted out Happy Birthday.

IMG_8921

On Sunday, the 22nd, as Jerry and I worshipped with the wonderful people of The Lighthouse Church in Yucaipa, I was called to the front and presented with a huge basket of presents in celebration of my impending birthday. I was stunned, having absolutely no idea they would be making such a presentation. So sweet, so very sweet.

DSC_0430

Yesterday. The day. My 80th. One of the first messages I received was from my greats, Franky and Gabby, who by way of video sang Happy Birthday. I cried, it was so dear to me.

Jerry planned a dinner down the hill at The Claim Jumper, where I thought we would be eating only with Rebecca. When we arrived, though, there were our very special friends, the Garretts, and Kate, one of my Crestline friends. We ate delicious food, they gave me presents, we took pictures and ate cake, then Jerry gave me his gift. A banjo! Yep, a banjo. When several weeks ago he asked what I wanted I told him about my wanting a banjo. I took it out of the box, and played it! (I’m quite sure all the Claim Jumper guests enjoyed such rare dinner music!)  Before I went to bed I watched a YouTube video to help me learn to play it. Have to get me some picks first, I believe.

DSC_0438

DSC_0464So there you have it. I’m 80. Hard to comprehend, can hardly believe it is me. It’s old, I know that. I am now an old lady–no denying the fact. But I’m thankful for life, glad God chose me to be born, grateful for my wonderful husband Jerry, for all my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other relatives, and my multitude of friends. God has been good to me–so very good.

Of Roses and Potting Sheds. Of Death?

DSC_0343

The glass had aged, its frame of flaking paint angled in deviation from straight, for who would anticipate ordinary here–a cavern of musk and chemical, of fertilizer and rakes, of rust and twisted wire. Bulbs and seed, trowels and mud shoes and kneeling cushions. The glass, though marred of dirt and of defect, set truthfully its calling, and gave way to the buds, to the roses. Here they are. See them now.

I had placed them there. I knew their story.

They were fresh when given, dewy, tied with ribbon. Of tucked card, they were of occasion, for a delivery person had come and handed them to me.  Winston barked, and I shushed him.

One day they were finished, and I took away the vase and poured out the water, for no longer could they take nourishment. I recall that I laid them for awhile atop a book shelf, stretched out, a funeral of sorts.

Strong south winds rush across the room where lay the roses, and then began stray dried-up petals to be scattered about, and one day I took them up, retied their ribbon and carried them down the stairs off the back deck to the “potting shed” below. With little thought to exhibit, I stuffed them onto a shelf, a vague thought of using them again sometime . . . for something.

A couple of days ago as I was watering the now dying peonies, I glanced through that window and saw those ancient, dried flowers. I had not arranged them so, or at least consciously I had not. I lifted my hose and sprayed away the dust from the sagging window through which they showed. I stared at them. . .

In a few days I will be 80.

 

Cinnamon Roll Saga

How is it that sugary goo tangled arm-in-arm with sunshiny-yellow butter morphs into a creation that snaps our tastebuds into smiling salute, but at the same moment prompts our doctors to caution, “Watch it now, Easy does it.”? Ah, life. Incredibly wonderful, yet patently unfair as regards the consumption of such things that at their origin told of golden-grain fields, herds of glossy girl cows, cackling hens, and not to forget the standing forest of trees whose bark yields the aromatic twirled spice that is basic to a notable cinnamon roll.

DSC_0347For some time now I have observed the practice of foregoing the creation of these and similarly cautionary delectables until Jerry and I have company . . .or some analogous festive occasion that might beg for such formation. Through the years I have tweaked recipes until I have settled on a basic yeast roll, and in so doing, have wondered if said dough could serve as foundation for a master cinnamon roll. The problem lay in the fact that while reserving such for guests, I also have an aversion to test-driving on company. (What’s a girl to do?) So, a couple of days before Independence Day I announced to a few persons of interest that on that day–this special holiday–I would conduct a cinnamon roll test-run. Perfect!

DSC_0352DSC_0353About mid-morning Rebecca called saying her earlier plans had dissolved, and she’d be up for a visit. I smiled, told her of the cinnamon roll experiment, and what time we would be eating.

“I’ll be up to help you judge, Mom.”

I had told Jerry we would have one for breakfast, but although I was up at 5:30 to get them started, things happened, and we wound up eating a regular breakfast, holding the thought that the rolls would be great for a coffee break. Or dessert for our big meal if worse came to worse.

DSC_0355We would eat at 3:00. Jerry grilled brats. I fried potatoes, made a salad, and Rebecca put together a green bean casserole, using Mozzarella I had in the fridge instead of the Swiss she needed. Saved a market run.

We dined on the back deck, and well before we had cleared the table after eating the tasty food, I announced there would be no interval between dinner and dessert. Too eager. We made coffee, I plated the huge rolls, and carried them out. They were soft and gooey. . . And! perfect.

DSC_0358DSC_0359DSC_0364Rebecca decided against taking any home with her. I wrapped two, placed them in the freezer, and placed one on a dish, covered it with a glass dome and placed it inside the oven.  Should stay fresh like that and Jerry would have it the next day for a snack, I was sure.

DSC_0371I believe it was around  8:00  in the evening when I detected movement in the kitchen, and as I watched a gentleman moved from said area, a well-filled plate in his hand. Jerry grinned.

“Where did you get that cinnamon roll?” I asked.

“In the freezer.”

Well, here we are on July 5th, and this nice cinnamon roll  I saved for Jerry is still available. I suspect in a couple of hours, though, that it will not remain in such fine form; rather it will have become a sweet, gooey memory, and its origin of flora and fauna will be a forgotten speck of the ages.

Trip to Lake Havasu

“We’ll be there between 5 and 6,” I had told Michael earlier in the day.

“So you’ll be here for dinner. Good.”

Jerry had a late-morning eye exam in Redlands; just before noon he was finished and we pulled onto the 10 freeway heading to Arizona. A heatwave had clamped down around us, so we knew it would be hot in Lake Havasu. It was. When we drove into the city limits, our sleek new car registered the outside temperature as 118. At Mike and Melina’s home we greeted each other, finding it impossible to avoid the usual jokes about the heat, including the line, “See we don’t need our jackets today.”

What a great time we had those days last week visiting with our son and his dear wife. We ate at home. We ate in restaurants. We talked. We played. We went to church. We discussed serious matters. We laughed. We discussed death, and  we talked of Kelly’s baby who will be born in December. Once when we were looking at something he owned, I said to Michael, “You’re a blessed man.”

“Yes, I am, Mom. Far more than I ever expected.”

DSC_9944

Melina’s dad Ralph lives across the street, and he and Michael recently flew to Colorado where he bought a red hot rod. We all tootled around in his garages admiring his toys.

DSC_9955

He’s working on that old Winnie which Mike says he probably will never take out of the driveway.

DSC_9972.jpg

We indulged in a fair amount of this.

DSC_0005On Saturday evening Mike helped us onto his beautiful vessel, and we boated 30 miles or so down the Colorado river to Havasu Springs where we had dinner. It was truly a delightful time. The burning heat yielded to the cool of the water as we roared over its surface. The sky lay clear against the mountains that rose in the distance.

“About 35 miles an hour,” Michael answered when someone asked how fast we were going.

DSC_0035Mike and Melina.

DSC_9986Gorgeous loves being on the boat. She is a rescue dog that could not be more lovable.DSC_0054Arizona boasts magnificent sunsets. Added to the beauty of the evening as we headed back to Lake Havasu was this giant orange ball, that as we watched, sank behind the Whipple Mountain Range. Amazing. Truly.

DSC_0072.jpgMichael was up and out of the house by 5:30 on Monday morning. The plan was that at 9:00 we would meet him at Rusty’s Cafe for a final meal before we headed home. I saw Melina scurrying around in the kitchen, and when we prepared to tell her good-bye, she handed over this bag loaded with food. “Don’t want you to get hungry on the way home”

It was filled with fruit, cheese, pecans, fried chicken, fat cookies, and icy drinks. Ate some of the snacks on the way home, and saved the fried chicken for dinner that night. What a family God has blessed us with. What a life.

DSC_0073.jpg

The Surprise Anniversary Dinner

“Don’t plan anything tomorrow,” Jerry had said to me the day before our anniversary. And yesterday, the big day, he told me his plans for us to go to a very fine restaurant in Lake Arrowhead. Our daughter Rebecca would be coming up around 2:30 and would join us for an early dinner.

So, a rather routine day found us eating bacon and eggs for breakfast, no lunch, just snacks here and there, and around noon I tackled a yard job of raking up pesky leaves from our multiple oak trees. I filled a large, heavy duty black bag, swept the stepping stones, hosed everything down, and watered all the plants in the back yard.

A bit after 2:00 Jerry and I were relaxing in the living room when Rebecca drove up and came in with her charming dog, Paisley, and a beautiful basket of strawberries, chocolate candy, and green beans she had picked up at a farmers market. We kissed and hugged and I read aloud the sweet card she had brought.

DSC_0098

“Well, I suppose I’d better get dressed, ” I said some time later. I paused, then added, “I feel like ordering in McDonald’s.”  I grinned.

“Or pizza,” Jerry said.

We  looked at each other, snickered a bit, then I said, “Why don’t we do that! Nothing says we have to go out anywhere.” We had nothing to prove, no one to impress, and besides I could stay in my less than spectacular clothes, and my dusty feet would be just fine for a few more hours.DSC_0082

Rebecca looked up the number to the local pizza joint, Jerry pulled out a credit card, and over the phone we ordered our 62nd anniversary dinner. Rebecca and I made a salad, we grabbed drinks from the fridge, and carried our dishes and pizza carton to the back deck. We dined!

DSC_0085And kissed.

DSC_0092Rebecca smiled.

We watched as our finches joined in the celebration by chowing down on the seeds  they pull from the sock that swings from the deck rails. Nearby, hummingbirds swigged their sweet nectar. A beautiful, balmy summer day in the San Bernardino Mountains. Perfect setting for a significant meal.

DSC_0091The air grew chilly, a bit of wind picked up, so we moved inside. I took a carton of fine vanilla ice cream from the downstairs freezer. Rebecca poked about in the cabinets, found three decent cookies, cleaned the strawberries, then piled them on the ice cream I had plunked into three glass dishes. The Keurig gurgled, and whiffs of fresh, strong coffee swirled among the items of celebration.

“I’d better go,” Rebecca said. “Want to get down the mountain before dark.”

Thanks, hugs, kisses, good-byes to people and to dogs concluded the Buxton family celebration. How sweet it is.

 

My Jerry of 62 Years

DSC_0081.jpg

credit for photo to Buxton Photography

Vividly I recall the moment. Tulsa was the place where my eyes first swept across  his image.  A chapel service. Apostolic College. Both of us students. A number of days (maybe weeks) later, I looked across a room and had this “knowing.” I would marry him.

And I did. Sixty-two years ago. At Swan Lake he had asked the question, and on June 27th in Marshfield, Mo. a pastor said his words, we told our vows, and we became a couple.

Doubtless God ordained this coupling, for our lives together have been unusually happy, and I like to think we have made positive contributions to God’s work, and to our society in general. I know he has. He has taught in both public and private schools, pastored two churches, founded a still-thriving Christian school in Rialto, CA., then when he was 75 years old, well after he had officially retired, we went to Lake Havasu City, AZ. and there he planted a church. When we left 3 and 1/2 years later the group averaged 40 to 50 people, and our top attendance had been 92. Statistically, this represented a remarkable accomplishment.

Husband. He was–and is– my husband. I was young, so very young, lacking a few days being 18 years old, naive, not worldly-wise at all; I could have been utterly fooled. That June night as I changed into a lovely negligee in the small bathroom of the Circle C motel we had selected at random as we traveled on our three-day honeymoon toward Kentucky where we had our first revival scheduled, I recall a panicky moment. For a sudden understanding had come to me. I really did not know this man with whom I was about to share a bed.  (No one knows. Ever. For scarcely do we know ourselves.) But God had directed both of us. We had listened, and today find ourselves elderly, showing a few physical imperfections, happy, still full of faith in each other, and in God, who throughout all these years as been the center, the core of our home.

We started with little. Everything we owned was in that car of Jerry’s –well, it was sort of his, his and the finance company’s. One suitcase held all my clothes, Jerry’s outfits were meager, and his wallet was far from bulging. My dad had cast a doubtful eye on the car tires, and before the wedding had seen to a new set being mounted. We climbed, stared-down challenges, were faithful, kept our vows, and that wonderful husband God gave me has carved out for us a beautiful home. Our four children are of the highest calibre, all God-fearing, upright peoples of this earth. Our grandchildren are beautiful and smart. They leave notes around when they visit and occasionally they call us. Our little greats show promise, no doubt on their way to being exceptional!

No better husband could ever be than my Jerry. He is kind, thoughtful, giving, handsome, consistent, romantic, grateful, and humble. He is a man of God. How blessed, unusually blessed I am.

And so at this moment, in this way among others, I will say I love you to my charming, unusual man, My Jerry. My lover. My husband. Happy anniversary!

Birthday Number 86

Occasionally the celebration of a significant event aligns so well with the vision in my head that its conclusion brings about glowing chatter, face-stretching smiles, and a sated sense of perfection. Such were the days surrounding Jerry’s 86th birthday.

It began with The Nieces.

DSC_9361

Three of them live in Louisiana, the other two in Texas. “We’d like to come out and visit Uncle Jerry for his birthday. Would that be a convenient time?”

Of course it would, so although I hadn’t planned to throw a party, that these dear ones would make that long trek to California certainly called for a major celebration. I told Jerry I had decided on a birthday party, but I told him nothing of the trip his nieces would be making. Debbie flew to San Antonio, Nita and Pam drove to the area in Texas of Linda and Sharon’s homes, where, with their mounds of luggage, they all piled into Linda’s van and headed west.

DSC_9296

Rebecca and Holly beautifully decorated the room we reserved at The Claim Jumper in San Bernardino. The party was scheduled for 2:00 on Saturday and all the guests had arrived when I drove Jerry into the parking lot. My children knew of the secret guests, passed the word to the others as they arrived so that the only ones seated at the table when Jerry walked into the room were his dear nieces. He was stunned.

The party was perfect in every way. The food was delicious, pristinely presented, and served without a flaw. The guests consisted of a sweet mix of family, ministers, neighbors, and other friends from Crestline. During the meal various persons stood and in moving ways–sometimes humorous–spoke accolades to Jerry. It was a glowing, memorable afternoon.

Although we would be a bit cramped, the nieces and Michael and his wife went home with us, filling up all the guest rooms, and throwing down mats and blankets for sleeping. We had a blast.

Jerry opened his gifts.

DSC_9313We ate breakfast . . .and more meals. We went to Stater’s, bought a whole brisket, and Jerry cooked it all Sunday night. On Monday we feasted.

DSC_9315Some had to leave. Others came.

DSC_9343We did lots of this.

DSC_9348

DSC_9346

On Tuesday morning, these precious women headed home, to their families, to their jobs. They left behind magnificent memories of hugs and kisses, of deep and meaningful conversations, of  tender tears and of uproarious laughter. Jerry has said more than once, “I just can’t believe they drove all the way out here to celebrate my birthday.”

There are some really fine people in this world. Several of them belong to the Buxton family.

 

Youthquake

Oxford Dictionaries, a part of Oxford University, has selected youthquake to be the top word of the year 2017The abundant use of the word came about because of the unexpectedly strong turnout of younger voters in the 2017 snap election in the United Kingdom. My reading of this information, and my observations of several young people over the last few days prompted this piece, which although has some negative parts, comes to a positive and hopeful conclusion.

DSC_9202

Youthquake. I like the sound. My initial thoughts on hearing the word, which is not a familiar one to me, was of the positive, enthusiastic, energetic qualities of young people, and of the dynamic influence they can have on this world. I considered our society, which in many ways spirals ever-downward, the needs of our churches, wide-spread famine and other challenges across the globe–and was sure young people can truly cause a quake–an aggressive, beneficial shake-up of the ground on which we stand that could contribute to the solution of many of these problems.

DSC_9200DSC_9186Then I chanced to be near an adult child who spoke in an arrogant, disrespectful way to his/her father. My insides shook.

DSC_9193

I eyed the father. I willed him to be strong, for it was his right–indeed his obligation–to quiz and to direct the young person who, although grown, yet lived at home and indulged in its benefits. A good kid, probably, just a bit too frisky for the moment, a tad too full of itself.

DSC_9199DSC_9197

Because it is my way, I thought of an account in the Bible where children were disrespectful to a man and came to an unfortunate end. As I contemplated  this piece of writing I reckoned with the thought that many people would think this reference too harsh, and the subject too edgy, and after all kids will be kids . . .and they must “sow their wild oats,” and this is a new generation, things are different . . .True, perhaps. Yet I persist in thinking that we who are in charge, whether parents, grandparents,  senators, teachers, or whomever must defend the mores of a God-fearing, decent, cultured, polite society. A bit of quaking in our spirits and in our consciences is likely a good idea.

DSC_8995But I liked my first response to Oxford Dictionaries youthquake and I thought of several young persons who I believe I can count on to shake up this world for the better.

The two guys with red apparel above are my nephews, both in their twenties, both in college. After a meal in our home a few days ago, their parents directed them to clear the table and wash the dishes. I was astonished. But cheerfully they rose from the table, and did the deed, even  as they embellished it with frivolous entertainment. David, the one you see in the midst of an aria there, grabbed a broom and swept the floor.

My granddaughter Chloe initiated a student Bible study in the college she attends.

My grandson Nathaniel is the youth leader at Hilltop Tabernacle in Chula Vista.

By live streaming tonight I watched my young friend Julio lead before service prayer at The Anchor Church in San Diego.

Gentry works like a man. Brady has the sweetest of spirits. Cole is artistic and is kind to me.

I hope you’ll make the effort to add names in the area set aside for comments. The ones you know. They’re out there. Young people. Good ones. God-fearing, upright people who truly can bring about an earth-shattering youthquake.

Stephen Forrest Buxton

Sixty.

Sixty years ago in the delivery room of St. Luke’s Hospital in Pasadena, Ca. Stephen Forrest Buxton yelped his way into the world, and into the hearts of his mom and dad. Jerry and I became parents that December evening, we knew that. What we did not know was the depth of the  treasure that had been lent to us by God.

IMG_0923

From the beginning Steve loved people, and people loved him.

On his report cards, his teachers noted his considerable intelligence and his propensity to chatter. He was a communicator. He communicated with his dad and with me. After a date, or a youth activity, he often would come to our bedroom and talk with us before going to bed. As do many teenagers, he struggled. As do a few, he persevered. He listened to the voice of God. He became a preacher.

And now he’s sixty.

His love for people, his generosity, and his caring ways extend to Jerry and to me. A few months ago to commemorate our 60th anniversary, which we did not celebrate at the time, because of health issues, he financed a trip for us to Africa, Florence, Italy, and to Rome.

DSC_6495

He is a skillful, passionate preacher. Proof that this is not just a mama’s biased observation is that he has preached virtually all over the world.

DSC_6976I bless that long ago day when you were born, Steve. I am vastly thankful to be your mother.

Happy Birthday!