Iced Tea Chat: Summer Is (Nearly) Here


Hello, dears.  Do come in and let's have a nice iced drink.  You'll find it refreshing on a day like today.  It's just a little warm out. We're sticking close to 90F this week but it was 97F on Saturday and in our area that's considered a 'mild' day this time of year.  But then, it is Spring until Wednesday.  

Would you like some Lemonade?  I've really enjoyed making 'Shakers' which is sooo simple to make and uses little sugar.  1 large lemon cut into pieces, 3 tablespoons of sugar shaken with the lemon, then mash the lemon pieces, add 1.5 cups of water and the same amount of ice, and shake shake shake.  It's so good.  John has asked me to make it several times each week and even without his request, I'm making two or three jars.  I also have plenty of cold water, tea, and mint.  Tell me what you'd like and then let's settle to chat.

I've read loads lately.  I read The Scent of Water last month with the Elizabeth Goudge book club group and finished the first week of June.  Then I took the kids to the library and chose three books for myself.  Deanne Gist's A Bride in the Bargain, Sophie Kinsella's Surprise Me, and Debbie Macomber's Between Friends were the titles I chose.  

Gist is new to me.  I've never heard of her nor read any of her books, but I liked the title and cover of the book  I'm hooked.  I got another of her books Friday when I returned to the library.   Clean, some slight attraction tensions, but no bad language, no nudity, no s--.    The story caught and held my interest and I couldn't tear myself away from the book.  

The next book was Surprise Me.  I laughed and giggled through the Shopaholic books and picked up this book simply based on liking that series.  I found the first half of this book hard-going.  The narrator was irritating.  I was so close to putting the book down and quitting.  I picked it up and said "One more try..." and that's when the story really took off and got interesting.  What I found irritating (the narrator's shallowness) was all part and parcel of the plot.  The book did surprise me indeed.  It ended up having depth and being a darned good story.

I read Debbie Macomber's Between Friends.  I used to read most of Macomber's books for 15 years, but I stopped at some point.  I really enjoy the way she writes and how she develops her stories.  I mistakenly thought the book would be like another (not hers) and was wrong.  I had difficulty putting this one down.

And finally, I read Kristin Hannah's book, The Nightingale.  I've heard Hannah's name mentioned among the younger vloggers I watch.  I'm trying new authors, more current ones.  I picked the right book for a good read!  This was another book I could hardly put down, but it was so intense that I had to take a break about every third chapter.  The storyline was interesting, the characters were well-written and the book made me think.    

I love an absorbing book but when a book starts making me think about the human experience overall...well, then I'm in.  I'll definitely be reading more of Gist and Hannah.   

Summer screams 'VACATION!' though it's been years since we had a summer vacation.  When I was growing up our only vacation was to Granny's.  My family took trips to the mountains in the spring and fall seasons, not in the summer.  Daddy was afraid of drowning and never voluntarily went near a body of water other than a shallow mountain creek.   So it was the mountains for us and no water vacations except when it was cold and we weren't inclined to plop into the icy water.

Granny took all seven of us grandchildren at once and would make it fun.  If we couldn't get to a local pool she'd occasionally break out the house and sprinkler and in a wet year she'd send us out to the fields to play in the creek that used to run across the property.  

When my two oldest were little, we spent most summer days at a pool in a tiny little town.  The pool was fed by an artesian spring, which was a common thing in that area and that water was never above 59F.  On a day that was scorching hot, a mere dip into the water would reset your body temperature to below average.  Many an evening we went home to a stuffy hot house but our core temperature was lowered enough that we didn't start to feel warm until the wee hours of the morning when it was cooling down anyway.

When Katie came along those days were long gone.  We fashioned a slip-n-slide from an old plastic shower curtain, got her a sprinkler and encouraged her to get out there and play.  Often enough the water was so cold from our well that she couldn't take more than 20 minutes of play.  I used to drag a chair near enough that I could at least get a slight spray from the water.  

But vacations?  No.  Those were rare. When she was 10, Sam went off to the Navy, and we went to St. Augustine for the first time.  We tried to make it back at least once every 18 months.  

Josh told me on the way home the other day they had no plans for summer.   Isaac kept saying, "I want to go to the beach!"  So do I, Isaac!  So do I!  They are not accustomed to vacations either...but it doesn't stop you wanting to take one.

They are traveling a little this summer and will have their horizons broadened quite a bit.  The boys will have summer camp with their church group, too.  So summer will not be the wasteland they think it is, at the moment.  

I love doing the library programs with the kids because it breaks up their week and gives Sam a needed break for a few hours.  It gives me one-on-one time with the three.  They are well-behaved and polite and it's no hardship to take them places at their current ages.  We all enjoy these outings.  

The libraries don't have programs as interesting as they had two years ago.  There is no apparent 'theme' they are working with and Reynolds only has one or two of the programs that Butler offers.  I'm picking and choosing what the kids will go to based on their interests and ages.  They'll miss a whole two or three week period due to their own plans and travel. 

Lily, my second grandchild, has been planning her summer for over a year.  She's been working for several years already even though she is just 18 and she's paying her own way to Florida. Reality bit when she realized that she could buy the ticket and get to Florida but once there she can do nothing.  She can't rent a hotel room, or a car.  She wanted to see Florida and specifically to see the ocean but she's not going to get to do either.  Her flight arrives at near midnight and Sam will pick them up and drive them here in the dark. 

Of course, she has a sister near here and there's her great-grandmother (Mama) and us to see and Aunt Katie and Uncle Sam.  She won't be able to see her Uncle JD or meet all of her cousins.  She asked if I could take her to the beach but accepted my negative reply graciously. I would love to take her but this time of year it's far too expensive for my budget and a day trip would mean 11 hours of driving.  I don't think that would be much fun for anyone.   But I have planned to take her to a few places. 

I'd like to take her to a peach packing shed and have peach ice cream.   We live near enough Andersonville Prisoner of War museum and Confederate Prison so we might visit there.  There's a local burger place that Lily might not appreciate but if she tells Amie she had lunch there Amie will be super pleased to hear it.  There's the Mennonite restaurant and gift shop in that same general area.  

If we have time another day I'd like to take her to Warm Springs to visit that area.  There's the Little White House and Dowdell's knob and we might drive over to Callaway Gardens, but I'm not sure about that.  We might picnic that day.  On the way home, we could swing 20 miles to the east and visit a beautiful state park, Sprewell Bluff.  

Between visiting and going around within an hour or so of my home, I think she'll get a small glimpse of Georgia.  There are so many other places we might go that it's really hard to choose!  Time is the limiting factor.  

I was thinking of the years since I've seen Lily.  She wasn't a year old when Amie and Ben packed up to move to North Dakota.  His family is from there and that was why they landed there.  I remember at the time the peach trees were blooming.  I wondered if Amie was aware as the bus traveled north that it would be the last time she saw peach orchards in blossom.

The amount of grief I had during that season of life was heavy and harsh.  Some of you have said you didn't realize I had another daughter.  There were many reasons for this.  One of them was the huge amount of grieving I was doing.  I had to steel myself to not even think of them.  The moment I did, I'd start to cry and struggle to stop.   There were many reasons for my tears, more than just missing them, more than feeling I was being cheated of my daughter and those two little girls.  

I knew Amie well.  She was not in a good place mentally or emotionally and due to outside interferences blamed me for a series of things that I had no idea had even occurred.  My mother fostered some of those ideas.  Amie was her golden girl, the only grandchild she acknowledged until my niece was born several years later.  But it wasn't all Mama's doing.  As I said, there were things I knew nothing about until about two years ago, things I wish to heaven I had known because I could have done something.  I might have changed the outcome of all our lives...but then would there have been a Josie, Lily, Ross, or Rosa?    Would Amie have become the woman she is if she hadn't had those experiences?  Who can say?  I am not God.  I do not know.  

I know only that the day I said "Goodbye" I knew that years would be lost.  I'd not see the girls grow up and as it happens I've never met their brother and baby sister.  Amie was never one to call or correspond when she lived nearby.  There were very few pictures forwarded to me.  Amie doesn't use social media the way most of her generation does.  And there was a barrier I couldn't breach with her, though I stormed the walls occasionally.  I always seemed to call at the wrong time.  They were about to eat or she was just in from work, or was still at work.  Because of my own emotional wounds, I didn't batter at her walls hard enough.  I was too afraid of 'intruding' and of losing what little I had with her.  

It felt like loss plagued me during those years.  They moved far away.  Granny, Mama, and Daddy were all sick or injured and needed care.  Grandmother and Daddy died, then Katie moved from home and Granny died.  I had that serious health issue, Sam and Bess moved to the end of Florida,  and then Jd and his wife had a nightmare of a situation that tore the family in two. My relationship with Mama became more and more unbearable. We were asked to remove ourselves from the synagogue.   Money was always tight, John was preoccupied with the emotional burdens of his work, his depression over the situation with one of our children, his spiritual betrayal.  Then Sam and Bess moved here and withdrew from us, not wanting to visit or be visited.  Katie was going through a hell I didn't understand at all...I kept trying to pick up pieces and stick them back in place but all I did was make myself more and more anxious.  Amie had her share of horrors to deal with and mostly it was a relief that she lived so far away that I could be distant from her troubles.  I failed to keep in touch.  I failed to reach out to Amie.

And honestly, without Granny as a sounding board, I was lost myself.  I handled too many things on my own and was constantly told how poorly I was handling them but no one else was even trying.  Someone had to try, didn't they?  Didn't I?  

I missed so many areas.  

 I crept more and more into myself, staying alone more and more, because I was overwhelmed with all the turmoil and emotions. I did too much for one and not enough for others. I fell apart.   Quietly, to be sure.  Not chaoticly and madly.  I fell quietly, hoping no one would notice I was in crisis.  And no one did.  I resented it but I set the stage.  I wrote the play.  I couldn't argue if someone failed to play a part I hadn't scripted for them to play. 

One day I realized, "I can't take care of all of this." I felt desperate.  I despaired.  I struggled to find my footing.  I couldn't fix the past.  I couldn't predict the future.  I could only do what I could do in the present season and hope I did the right thing.  I had to accept that doing all you can is never enough.  That I wouldn't do the right thing at the right time.  But I'd try. I knew that I'd fail again and again.  Because try as we might, we cannot do all the things. 

I remember when Katie went through her trial by fire a few years ago and she was trying hard to balance her emotional and mental health with the stresses and strains of people pulling her in a dozen directions at one time, she came in one evening after a long long week and wept in my arms, "I can't do everything."   "No, you can't.  You're not meant to."  She looked startled.  As though she'd expected me to say, "You have to try harder..." or "Sure you can!  Chin up!"  I knew, I know that we cannot do it all.  We can only take so much and then we have to start making choices.  Hard choices about what and who we can let fall through the cracks and what has to be held back from slipping away.  How much we can afford to give emotionally, and financially.  Choices about who is really important...In her case, it proved to be a little boy who desperately needed his mommy, and her job to support the two of them.  

And for me, it became about a little boy who desperately needed someone besides just his mommy to be in his corner.  That took a toll on my marriage, on other relationships, on me.  But I kept repeating the same thing over and over again.  "I do what I have to do."  And now, I try to do what I can for three other children who need me.  Not as much as I did for Caleb, no.  They are older.  They walk and talk and feed themselves.  But I want them to know I'm here if they need me.  It's all I can do.

Well, here we are.  17 years and three months after leaving, Lily is coming back.  I honestly never believed I'd see her again.  I do not know her, or who she is.  But I'll get a glimpse of her.  I'll hold her in my arms once again and tell her how much I love her.   For half a moment, I'll pretend I'm holding Amie and hugging her.  I can't cram 17 years into 3 days.  I can't make up for missed moments.  But I can take these hours I'll have and try my best to pour all of my love into them.

 Because that is all I can do.

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Anne said...

Oh sweetie, I understand completely. I raised two sons and so wished for granddaughters. My son married and had two girls and I was thrilled, but his wife made it clear she didn't want me around. I was crushed. That was 12 years ago and we have no relationship with them and probably never will. I feel robbed of those years when I would have taken those girls everywhere.

I sobbed for years. Now, I keep reminding myself that most people had c*** in their lives, usually there is nothing to be done.

Casey said...

Hi Terri, I’m praying you and Lily have a wonderful visit. It will definitely be a start. Your story of you and Aimee often reminds me of what families must have endured/felt when someone left their home for a new life in America. Hugs!

Jeanette said...

I have to come out and post for the first time in the 3+ years I have been reading your blog as your post today has really struck a chord with me. I am 59 years old, married for 35 years (today is my anniversary!), and the mother of two girls and a boy, all grown up now, and am the grandmother of three boys and two girls. I felt your pain as I read along. My two oldest children, A (female) and R (male) had an argument over politics about 4 years ago and after harsh words, have not spoken to each other again. I fear they never will speak to each other again in my lifetime. My youngest (female) married a man with three children with emotional issues (son-in-law has full custody because of mental health and drug abuse issues of their mother), then they had two children of their own. My daughters live nearby and my son lives 2 hours away. I see my daughters regularly and my son maybe three times a year, if my husband and I drive to see him. He doesn’t make any time to come our way and we have to phone first, usually weeks in advance, to see if he and his spouse are available for us to visit. Many times I have been in tears trying to help my children and have been accused of favoritism, told that I failed one of my children when they spoke out about some issues they had, etc, etc. Sometimes I just want to crawl into a fetal position and just give up. I love them the best way I know how and help in whatever way they need. I always say that our children can inflict pain and hurt like no other human being can. Big hugs to you, Terri.

My name is Jeanette and I live in the Midwest.

Karla said...

It's amazing how long it takes us to realize we can't do it all and yet the freedom of realizing that is also bittersweet.

Peggy Savelsberg said...

Thank you for sharing your heart, Terri! I pray you and your granddaughter have a wonderful visit. You’ve touched many hearts today, as so many of us have faced similar struggles. Thanks for reminding us that we can’t do it all, we can only do our best, with love.

meme said...

Hi Terry, I am.thinking about you and sending gentle hugs. I hope Lily's visit opens a door where you two will be close. Even if it is thru video chats. I am looking forward to hearing about the visit . My best to your family