Bea-Day

My birthday is in mid-April and for many years coincides with Easter. This year was one of those. The past few years have been emotional and full of change. Why is it that years that end in 9 are the hardest? This year I turned 59, and it was a tough transition. It’s just a number, right?

For many years, we lived close enough to my parents to spend my birthday with them. Over the past 3-4 years, so many things happened personally that it wasn’t feasible to meet. However, this year was an exception, and we made plans to spend my birthday/Easter weekend with my parents.

We met halfway between FL and AL in Valdosta, GA in a pet-friendly hotel. My parents traveled with Princess, and we had Frankie. Conveniently we had adjoining rooms which turned out to be a blessing. Princess has serious separation anxiety, so Frankie was the perfect companion to keep her quiet and settled so we could enjoy dinner together.

The restaurant we chose was a short walk across the parking lot. We had a very pleasant waiter who looked like Wesley Snipes! He was so nice and took pictures of mama, daddy, me and Roger for special photo memories of our time together. We “messaged” the pictures to my sister, Beth. Her response was hilarious – “you must be at Olive Garden because the breadsticks gave it away!”

As we ordered our entrees, my father told “Wesley” that it was my birthday. After we finished our dinner, “Wesley” and two other waiters showed up at our table with two ice cream desserts. Well, to my embarrassment, they couldn’t just set the desserts on the table, they sang Happy Birthday to me!

We spent one more day together enjoying lunch and dinner as a family. On Tuesday morning we departed and went to our respective homes. Reflecting on the time we spent together, I realized how fortunate I was to spend my birthday once again with my parents and with my new husband. We all know we have fewer years ahead of us than behind us. Bea Positive that when you have the opportunity to spend time with your family – don’t let it slip away.

“That’s Why They Call It Fishin’ and not Catchin’”

Finally, we had time to take a much needed honeymoon/vacation. It was Valentine’s Day week and our first together. We headed south to Ft. Pierce and the Atlantic Ocean for sun, waves and fishing!
On Valentine’s Day, we headed out early to the pier right outside our room. It was the first time Roger had been fishing in almost 7 years – something that he loves to do. He had his Shakespeare fishing pole that I gave to him for Christmas. I had my bright Jewel pink, LED blinking girlie fishing pole. We stopped at Capt. Joe’s bait and tackle shop and got shrimp bait. We also got a couple of ball caps to shade our faces from the sun!
So, I had practiced casting in our backyard, so I felt ready. The only problem – I was not touching a live shrimp to place on my hook! Roger helped me out, and we casted out waiting with baited breath for the big catch!
For those of you who know me, you know I’m not a patient person. I didn’t expect to cast my hook and bait to just sit there and bob with the waves while I stared at the pole to see if it was moving. It didn’t take long for me to get bored. Roger was a bit perturbed and told me to pick up my camera and he would man my pole. So I did . . . .
I managed to bring in probably a pound of seaweed, two pieces of coral reef and I was done. Roger kept casting all the while feeding the savvy fish in the ocean with our live shrimp. And then it happened . . . Roger saw a major tug on his pole. He said, “baby, I’ve got a fish!”. I had my camera and phone ready for the big catch. About 20 feet from the pier, we saw the prize – but it wasn’t a fish but an octopus! (see photo)
The following day was almost a repeat of the first. However, I have to admit that I managed to catch something. Roger had gone back to the room for sweatshirts. I decided to surprise him and cast out and try my luck. As I flung the pole back to cast, it stopped short. I turned around only to find my hook caught on the pier rail. I frantically tried to remove the hook all the while looking around hoping no one saw me. And just as I got the hook free, Roger said, “honey, it looks like you caught a really nice rail fish”. Ha! Ha! Ha! I was mortified, but he got the biggest laugh of the day!
Well, I sent photos back and forth to my sister, mom and dad and facebook friends. In response to my coral and seaweed “catches”, my witty sister exclaimed, “well, that’s why they call it fishin’ and not catchin’”.
It was our first fishing excursion together. Afterwards, Roger threatened to never take me fishing again. We’ll see. . . I can be very relentless and persistent. The best part of the whole experience is that I was able to spend quality time with my new husband with his life-long passion – fishing!

The Name Game

Why do women change their names when they marry? It’s not that a husband has power over his new wife but on the unity of marriage. In the words of English jurist Henry de Bracton, a man and woman become “a single person, because they are one flesh and one blood.” By early 17th century, William Camden, an Englishman wrote, “women with us, at their marriage, pass into their husbands surnames and justly. For they are no longer twain (two) but one flesh.”
I recently remarried a wonderful man. It gives him great pleasure and pride to call me his wife, Mrs. Davis and vice versa For you ladies who have recently married, you will appreciate the red tape and hoops that need to be hurdled in order to change your name!
My new husband and I decided to make a day out of it. Once we had the certified license, off to the Social Security Administration! The clerk at the courthouse suggested the Winterhaven office, so that was our first stop. The line of people was out the door, probably 15 people deep. Inside every chair was occupied with more people.
As we approached the security guard, he looked at both of us and said, “get in line outside, and I’ll call you in when it’s your turn.” I tried to ask a question to which he replied, “I said get in line and I’ll call you.” I was incensed, and Roger wasn’t happy with his response either.
We stood outside for less than five minutes. No offense intended, but there was only one other person in line outside that spoke English. Roger couldn’t stand it any more and went back inside to talk to the less-than-friendly security guard. After a few minutes, he came back out with an application and said, “let’s go. It will be at least 3 hours before we can get in.” So we left and enjoyed the rest of our day.
I overheard several people say that they had made reservations, so I called the local SSA office to make an appointment. Unfortunately, name changes don’t warrant an appointment! Roger had the bright idea of getting to the SSA office 20 minutes early to get a better spot in line. I arrived on Thursday morning at 8:40, and I was number 51 in line!!
The security guard in Lakeland was just as pleasant as the one in Winterhaven. Since the office only seats 40 people, only the first 40 were allowed in the building. I struck up a conversation with a few people in line who told me to be prepared to wait at least 3 hours. I explained that I only wanted a name change so that I could get my driver’s license. Two ladies in line said I could get my driver’s license without a SSN name change, so off I went to the DMV.
It was about a 20 minute drive to the DMV. I walked in and spoke to a very pleasant young lady and explained what I wanted to do. Well, don’t you know the laws changed in 2010, and you must have your name changed on your SSN card! So another wasted trip, and I drove home. Oh, and you have to bring 5 documents along with the SSN card in order to get a new driver’s license.
On Friday, I decided to try again. This time, Roger dropped me off at the SSA office at 8:30 a.m. I managed to be in the top 40 in line! On this morning, we had a new “Barney Fife” in charge of security who only let 10 people in at a time. I was the cut-off point – aaarrrggghh!
Once inside, I had to sign in at a kiosk. I had to guess at answering the questions, and thankfully guessed right. “Barney Fife” walked around the office twirling his keys around his finger and feeling so powerful. I managed to stay calm and collected for the next 15 minutes. Finally, my number was called. Thankfully, I had a nice young man who processed my paperwork. He took my old SS card, gave me a receipt and said I should receive my new card in 10-14 business days. In the time it took me to process, Roger had just returned home and now had to come back and pick me up. I sat in the bus stop by myself waiting. I at least had the first step accomplished.
About a week later, I received my new SS card! Hallelujah! Now I have to endure the DMV, with my five documents, hope I have a good hair day and get my new driver’s license. Once that is completed, I will begin the process of changing the bank accounts, vehicle registration, utility bills, credit cards, insurance policies and anything else that my name is attached to! Wow . . . the list is exhausting when I think about it.
Why do I do it? Call me old-fashioned, traditional. I do it out of respect for my new husband. I do it because we are now one flesh, heart and soul. I do it out of complete love for my husband, my partner, my best friend, my life.

For RPD

For 7 long, lonely months my only solace was writing.  In that time, I wrote a book about love and loss.  My purpose and message was to inspire others to chase dreams, pursue meaningful relationships and love fearlessly – with heart and soul.  It wasn’t until I met you that I realized that the message was for me.

On March 8, I met you and you provided a little spark that was so desperately needed, a start to a new chapter in my life.  Your eyes, smile and strong, rugged hands mesmerized me as you built my log cabin.  I hid behind my sunglasses all the while watching you.  Ani-Tsalagi broke the ice between us.  In April, we started seeing each other.  On May 4, you walked into my house and never left.  You have been by my side, supporting me and loving me with your heart and soul ever since.  You’ve put a smile on my face, brought laughter to my days and a reason to love life again.

We’ve been through a lot in just 10 months – building a relationship, building a log cabin, selling a house in Riverview, packing and moving and living in temporary housing and now a marriage – our love and our “peas and carrots” relationship kept us together.

You’ve made me the happiest woman in the world, and I am so grateful that you came into my life.  Our rings were selected with purpose.  My engagement ring has two diamonds — “one for your best friend, one for your true love”.  My wedding band has three rubies — your birthstone — and another two diamonds — my birthstone.  Your wedding band has three diamonds — my birthstone.  I proudly and happily take you to be my life-long partner, my best friend, my true love, my husband. 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning says it best:

            “How do I love thee?

            I love thee to the depths, breadth and height my soul can reach.

            I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life.

            And if God choose, I shall love thee better after death.”

RPD, I love you with all my heart and soul, ‘til death do us part.

“We Love You Guys” But . . .

My husband, John, was a master with people. His philosophy about people was “it doesn’t matter if they drive the truck or pick up the cans.” He motivated others by making them feel extraordinary thereby bringing out their best. He sincerely cared for others and had a giving spirit.

I especially enjoyed watching him “work his magic” with service people, people who would fill a need we had, people we would only meet one or two times. One important lesson that I learned from John is that “people love to hear their name.” No matter who crossed our path, he greeted each person asking their names. Whether it was a crew to help us move, paint our house, pave our patio, maintain our yard, he knew them by name. He always provided a cooler of water and Gatorade for the workers. For the guys who moved us to FL, we bought lunchmeat, bread and chips for a “take-out lunch” before they left. He never failed to thank them by name when they were done.

Two weeks ago, construction started on our dream home with an opportunity for me to put John’s lessons into action. On the first day, I drove out to meet the crew and watch the process of building a log cabin. I met Glen, the crew chief and head carpenter. When they took a much-needed break, I met the other three: Charlie, Ray and Roger. They are definitely a “motley crew”, and my initial thoughts were “I hope they don’t cut off an arm or leg or get stuck under a pile of logs!”

Throughout the afternoon, I sat on their trailer and observed. I couldn’t tell if they were amused or intimidated with my presence. They took breaks for Mountain Dew and water, but they never ate a bite. Around 4:00 p.m., they started cleaning up and packing their tools for the 2-hr drive home. Before they left, I asked, “don’t you guys eat lunch?” Glen said, “we grab breakfast at McDonald’s; we don’t have time for lunch.” Charlie could see the surprise on my face and said, “she doesn’t believe him!” Ray and Roger just smiled and kept packing up.

I walked to the car and grabbed some cash. I handed it to Glen and said “have breakfast tomorrow on me.” He shook his head and said, “no ma’am, that’s ok”, but I was insistent. All of them thanked me, and they drove off.

The next day, I grabbed four Cuban sandwiches from the Publix deli. When I got to the property, Charlie, Ray and a new guy were taking a break. I handed them the bag and said, “I brought you lunch.” They looked surprised but gladly ate the sandwiches. I watched the slow manual progress of stacking logs for the detached garage. When the new guy walked to the trailer, I introduced myself. He shook my hand and said, “I’m Jason, Glen’s son-in-law.”

Again, around 4:00 p.m., they packed up and headed home. I told Glen that I wouldn’t make it Thursday but would be back on Friday. Charlie thanked me again for lunch, and said “you’re the best.” It felt good to hear “thank you”, like I was appreciated. I drove home fighting back tears.

On Friday, I grabbed chicken tenders and a 12-pk of Mountain Dew. Luckily, I arrived before 2:00 p.m. because I learned something new. On Fridays, they leave earlier to give them time to stop by the shop office. The blue-collar construction world is new to me. It’s very humbling to watch these guys work in the hot sun, hauling logs with sweaty hands for an hourly wage. They left early so they could get paid.

Week two, a rainy Monday postponed construction. On Tuesday afternoon, I showed up with Mountain Dew and water. Now, there were six guys on the crew to build the house: Glen, Charlie, Ray, Roger, Jason and Glen’s son, Kyle. I was glad I didn’t bring food because I would have been two short!

But over the weekend, I had a brainstorm. I could achieve two important needs: clean out the freezer and pantry and provide lunch a couple of days a week. On Wednesday, I showed up with BBQ crockpot pork sandwiches. When they took a break, they couldn’t help but peek into the bag. They eagerly grabbed a sandwich as I walked around taking pictures of the work-in-progress. When I returned, one of the guys called out, “hey, you can cook for me any time you want!” I said, “I want to make sure our cabin is built right.” They were all smiling and said the sandwiches were fantastic. They went back to work, and I sat on the trailer fighting back more tears.

By Thursday, they had grown accustomed to my daily visits. They also know I’m the General Contractor and have figured out I ask a lot of questions. (John’s nickname for me was “Perry Mason” because of my never-ending barrage of questions.) And, they reluctantly try my suggestions for process improvement. Glen found out quickly that I can read a house-plan and will point out anything that doesn’t look right.

Snack crackers on Thursday and more sandwiches on Friday. Charlie, Jason, Ray and Kyle were taking a break together. Jason, was the first to peek into the bag, and say “what do we have today?” Charlie said, “you’re the best; you know how to motivate us through our stomachs.” After a couple of bites, Ray asked, “are these home-made?” to which I replied, “yes”. He smiled and said, “I can tell because they are made with love.” And then Jason said the most profound thing: “You know, the lady from the last job told us every day ‘we love you guys’.” And then came the BUT . . . “But she never once gave us something to drink let alone feed us. You bring us drinks and feed us. You wouldn’t believe how most people treat us.”

The guys worked until around 2:30 p.m. and packed up. I turned away to take more photos, and I heard Charlie say, “see you Monday.” I waved as they drove off wiping away tears.

They say “actions speak louder than words”. Greeting the crew by their names . . . providing water, Mountain Dew, and homemade sandwiches don’t seem like big “actions”. But to these guys, who typically aren’t recognized, let alone appreciated, they bring a smile to their faces and maybe a small bright spot for the day. For me, they give me a feeling of purpose, if only for a day.

I’m honored to share a couple of John’s simple but positively impactful life-lessons. I hope you will do the same . . . take a moment to speak someone’s name, share a drink or meal, put a smile on someone’s face.

Greatest Valentine’s Day Gift

Valentine’s Day was always our favorite holiday of the year. My husband loved pampering me with gifts, flowers, romantic candle-lit dinners and always – cards. Some of my most cherished poems are written inside my Valentine’s Day cards. In one of our more penny-wise years, he hand-made a card out of a brown lunch bag – “love in a plain brown wrapper”.

I still have the first Valentine’s Day gifts and card he gave me – a coffee mug adorned with red hearts and “I Love You Today, Tomorrow, Forever” and a little cow that plays a lullaby. Some years he gave me tulips which we planted in our garden to enjoy each following spring. Some years I received roses or chocolates, and one year he surprised me with diamond earrings! But for every Valentine’s Day, he put so much thought into the cards, poems and gifts because he wanted to absolutely delight me.

Last March as we sat on our patio enjoying time together, he looked at me dismayed and very apologetically he said, “I’m sorry we didn’t have a romantic Valentine’s Day.” I told him it was the best ever, and I proceeded with the story.

I said, “I wore red, your favorite color for me, and the Three-Hearts brooch you gave me years ago. I sat at your bedside clinging to your hand and kept talking to let you know I was there. Around 11:00 a.m., Jeri stepped into the room, and your face lit up. At noon, two more visitors arrived. Despite the two-visitor limit for ICU, the nurses were compassionate and let all four of us stay in the room.”

I continued, “The other visitors were Pastor Dan and Elder Bob. Pastor Dan pastor pulled out a bottle of Zephyrhills pure spring water and proceeded to baptize you. Bob anointed you with frankincense oil, and we all joined hands and prayed for God’s merciful healing.”

At that point, tears were streaming down John’s face. He looked at me with his hands raised towards heaven and said, “Finally, I am a Child of the Most-high God!” You see, in all our years together, he had expressed his desire to be baptized. But like so many of us busy with life, we didn’t make it a priority.

Finally, last year on Valentine’s Day, John received the baptism he had always wanted. And even after our many romantic dinners, kisses, thoughtful presents, and cards, this turned  out to be the greatest gift either of us could have asked for – a gift that joined our souls even more completely than before.

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This Gift I Give To You From Me

In this season where many spend countless hours trying to find that “perfect gift” for friends and loved ones, I want to share a beautiful gift that my dear husband shared with me. It wasn’t wrapped in pretty paper or a beautiful gift bag, but it was written from his heart and soul. It’s the reason for the season, love . . . true love. It’s the greatest gift you can give.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you share.

The presents are all opened from under the tree,

But there is still one more to you from me.

It can’t be wrapped with paper and bow

To hide its beauty so it won’t show.

For it shines brightly for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

I guess I should tell you in case you don’t know

That this gift is forever and each day it grows.

It grows bigger and stronger for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It’s like the bright sun at the breaking of day.

It guides my path as I search my way.

The direction it shows is plain to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It guides me to happiness, to love I’d never known.

It takes me to worlds I’d never before been shown.

What is this gift? I know you easily see,

This gift I give to you from me.

This gift is my LOVE, every ounce I have to give.

I pray that you will take it so that I may live.

My most precious possession, I hope you can see

Is this gift I give to you from me.

Please take my heart, my soul and my love.

Wrap them in your arms as gently as a dove.

Merry Christmas, my LADY, with true love from me.

This is the gift I give to you from me.

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