“Losing a Longtime Friend,” May 21, 2018

One of the best things about a long life is having friends you’ve known and loved for years. But losing a longtime friend is one of life’s hardest blows to bear.

Joyce and I met more than 25 years ago on the patio at church. She was talking with a mutual friend, and when I heard her accent, I barged right in. [Read more…]

“Back to the Future,” May 15, 2018

Sometimes life turns full circle to remind us where we’ve been and show us where we’re going. It’s midnight. I’m standing in the kitchen of an empty old house ironing curtains.

Why? The curtains need it. But I need it, too. Ironing helps me think. I ought to iron every day, if only to de-wrinkle my mind. It’s been pretty wrinkled lately. Moving will do that to you.

After 12 years in the desert, my husband and I recently sold our home in Las Vegas, and plan to move in a few weeks back here, to the coast of California, where we each raised our children years ago, and now hope to watch our grandkids grow up. Last week I packed my car to the brim with boxes, warned my husband not to hurt himself in my absence (he’s on the mend from hip surgery) and drove 500 miles from Vegas to Pacific Grove, to a house that for most of my adult life I called home. [Read more…]

“Playing Favorites for Mother’s Day,” May 7, 2018

Mother’s Day arrived a bit early for me this year. That often seems to happen as we age. Our children grow up and become more thoughtful adults. Or they look at us and think, “Gees, Mom’s lookin’ old. She might not be around next year.”

Either way, I’ll take it. When they were little (but old enough to realize that Mother’s Day was a rare occasion when they were expected to give a gift, rather than receive one) they would ask me what I wanted.

My answer was always the same: “I want to be with my favorite people — the people who made me a mom.” [Read more…]

“An Unwanted, Unexpected Love,” April 30, 2018

Nature likes to nudge us with little surprises, just when we least expect them. Or maybe when we need them most. I try to pay attention, lest I miss something I don’t want to miss. But sometimes I get a bit distracted. Lucky for me, I can always count on my husband to point things out. What else are husbands for?

One morning last week, I watched him as he ventured out on the patio and stood studying the mountains in the distance. I was sitting on the sofa drinking coffee, trying to recall what I needed to do that day and why exactly I cared.

Suddenly, I saw him whirl around and come trotting toward the door. It was by far the fastest move he had made in the entire month since he had hip replacement surgery. So I knew it had to be important. He slid open the door, stuck his head inside and whispered the magic word: “Chicks!” [Read more…]

“Joe’s Big Note from Dabo Swinney,” April 23, 2018

When I think of things that reaffirm my faith in a loving God, I think of babies. And sunsets. And the kindness of strangers. And people who are good to my brother.

Joe is blind. Has been all his life. If you’ve read this column with any regularity in the 25 years I’ve been writing it, you probably know him well. I often write about him. He’s the most courageous, most inspiring and most mule-headed human being I have ever met. [Read more…]

“Taking Turns,” April 16, 2018

I’ve been a little ditzy lately. Even ditzier than my usual.

My husband had surgery to replace his hip a few weeks ago and it’s proving to be a learning experience for us both.He is learning to walk again, God bless him, and to do things he used to do like putting on his socks and shoes and picking stuff up. But now he has to do them without bending over.

And I’ve been learning to do things he can’t do for himself, like putting on his socks and shoes and picking stuff up. I also drive him to appointments and, at times, out of his mind. [Read more…]

“Keepsakes of Life,” April 9, 2018

What are your keepsakes? Where do you keep them? Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Not that anybody’s likely to steal them. Keepsakes aren’t usually worth much to anyone, except to the one who treasures them.

Pretty soon, in a week or so, we’ll hang a “for sale” sign on a house that’s been our home for a dozen years. When it sells (we hope soon) we’ll say goodbye to Las Vegas, and move back to California, to be closer to our family and longtime friends.

I’ll be happy to be back in the same town, on the same coast, in the same house, where I raised my children and spent most of my adult life. But I won’t be happy to leave here.

It’s funny. I never wanted to live in a big city or a desert, let alone, both. I remember the day my husband told me he’d been offered a job in Las Vegas. [Read more…]

“Braille, Bingo and Razor Blades,” April 2, 2018

He’s never asked for much in life. Food on his table. A roof over head. A ride to church on Sunday mornings. And a decent radio so he can sit on his porch and listen to gospel music or Clemson Tigers football.

It doesn’t take a lot to make my brother happy. Any win by the Tigers will do it. A phone call from his sisters. Or recalling a memory, like the Christmas he got a cap pistol; the summer we went to the beach; or the day he got on a bus without telling his family what he was up to and rode for 12 hours to meet and marry the love of his life.

He’s had some interesting adventures, loves to talk about them, is thankful for what he’s got and seldom complains. But lately he’s been thinking he needs a little something … more. Something to do. Some place to go. Somebody to talk to. [Read more…]

“Showing Up,” March 27, 2018

You know that old saying, “You are what you eat”? Maybe we’re also what we watch.

I grew up watching “I Love Lucy.” I loved Lucy, but could not fathom how any grown woman could make so many harebrained decisions. Then I grew up. And some days, just like Lucy, I’ve got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. [Read more…]

“The Magic Touch,” March 20, 2018

There is magic in the touch of a hand that loves you. It brings comfort and healing and a silent promise that says, “I am here and you are not alone.”

Sometimes when we’re driving or watching a movie or having dinner somewhere, my husband will reach over for no apparent reason and take my hand in his. I like that about him a lot. It always makes me smile, even at times, through tears.  [Read more…]