In my mind I have a to-do list that is longer than Santa’s: thank yous, budgets to balance, insurance to buy, and more to-do lists to make. Last Thursday, I felt its weight. I had to do something to feel again. I had to self talk myself to get up, stay awake, listen, participate, and try to get my Thursday to some kind of normalcy. I have an online Bible study each Thursday. Our online class was there in cyberspace waiting to meet. Guess what students? I did it and I was so grateful, relieved, and reassured by these faithful friends. They are in their “ Brady Bunch'' zoom boxes. Just like the One with us, never wavering, and always there for us. I could feel my spirits lift.
Change. My life is so different, but I realized I am wasting days. I am fighting to leave as much love as possible to my family, friends, and everyone I meet. I don’t need to waste a second. Remember my to do lists? I am making lists of love. Watch out! I may show up to bring you some Holiday cheer! I have been giddy today finding my groove. Remembering the magic of Christmas, my daughter's voice and the Holy Spirit at her last collegiate Christmas Choir Concert. Warning! Get your kleenex. I promise good and bad tears, cross my heart! I felt my husband more than usual.
Choir was and is our youngest child’s gift from God. We have traveled as far as New York City to see her perform. We gave her tools, opportunities, and support to help her excel. She blossomed into an amazing classical musician, pianist, songwriter, and Operatic singer. Her Choir scholarships help make it possible for her to get four years of college for the price of one year. Thanks to our Mr. Bart, Mr. Davis, and her hard work.
Ken NEVER missed one activity our children had. Never. Did I? Yes. My husband was a Saint. I called him and still say he’s my St. Joseph. On the drive down to Memphis for her last Christmas Concert, as we rolled down Highway 51 I was remembering all of those trips that we had together either chasing a concert, a child's performance, or vacations. He wanted so badly to make it until our girl graduated from college. The tears rolled with the miles. Sure some were sad tears because I miss him, but they were also because I was so grateful for our life together. He left us a million memories, a million playlist to listen to, a million bad dad jokes, a million good night sleep tight I love yous, a million songs that remind us of what is important, and a billion smiles to remember. I thank God everyday all I have to do is close my eyes and I can find something beautiful from my time on Earth in my mind. If you can't do that, students, you need to work on it. God gives us this life as well as the next. Here it is at Christmas and I really need you to be in the moments with your people. These memories are part of your treasure chest. Hold it tight. Yes it is homework!
We arrived and I immediately had PTSD from the last few years of coming to the concert. It literally took God and all the gumption we had just to get there, especially last year. It was blustery and rainy and I had to roll down the streets of Memphis in my wheelchair to get a police officer to help get him to the venue. His anxiety was off the charts, and I had no clue how I was going to talk him down. This was her junior year and the music department was privy to whom these two disabled parents belonged. We had to get the front handicap entrance open because the back one didn’t accommodate a wheelchair. So as Ken and I limped in, we were spotted. The crowd parted like the Red Sea. We were led to front and center. We both cried last year. Cried because she did an excellent job, and we soaked it all in to our treasure chest of moments. I was shaken out of my reverie when my son said, “The wheelchair lift won’t work.” Murphy's Law! We pulled out front, five minutes till showtime, and this my students is when the wailing and anxiety take over me. He said, “ I’ve got it mom.” Thank you Ken and Granddaddy Wayne for passing those mechanical genes to our three sons. He had to hand crank me in and out of the van but thanks be to God we did not miss her singing. So after all of that and getting two 83 year old Grams to the restroom, I think we're on angel wings, along with the Holy Spirit and using God’s speed. We arrived at the beautiful Saint Mary's Episcopal Church, one of the oldest churches in Memphis,Tennessee. We got a good seat, not as good as last year’s event. I don't think I opened my eyes very much at all. I felt his arm over my shoulder and his voice whispering periodically, "Do you hear Abbey?" I did. Her voice is so bold, and full bodied, and angelic. Between songs he would take pictures and ALWAYS video her solos, not this year. Every girl should get a Dad like Ken. Hey, I should write the book for Dad’s expecting a daughter. Ha! Here’s the title: Secret Club! I called it their S.C. aka Secret Club. His Board of Directors Monthly meetings alway gave them an excuse for a S.C. meeting. They were so close and my heart breaks for her and other girls who were given too little time with their fathers. Remember what I said about treasure chests? Open them, revisit them, and most definitely make more for your journey. Yes, it’s your holiday homework! I hear that unfriendly "Ho, Ho, Ho" back row! Be good for goodness sake.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Treasure Chest Gal