Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This is What Love Looks Like

Jerry and I have been driving our Toyota Avalon for a few years.  While it is still a great car, the mileage is adding up . . . so when we had opportunity to purchase a "new-to-us" Impala recently, we made the unplanned plunge.

Our Avalon had a story of its own when we bought it.   My mother's cousin and her husband were selling it because he wanted to purchase a new vehicle for his wife.  Donnie knew that he did not have a long-life prognosis if the doctors were correct (and they were), and he wanted to handle the purchase of a new vehicle for Jane.  They were such an inspiration to Jerry and me when we test drove the car -- Donnie wanted to leave his wife in good shape with no worries for many years.  And he did - this is what love looks like.
(Jerry with our Avalon during a recent vacation trip)
My parent's neighbor contacted us to see if we were interested in her vehicle.  She remembered we teased with her and her husband in 2008 to "keep us in mind" when they got ready to sell their new white Chevy.  Joe had declining health in the years between, and he ended up in a nursing home facility when his care became too much for Faye to handle at home.   Before that sad day (and 'till his death), they were always so attentive to each other.  Joe was blind, and Faye is legally blind - but that never stopped either of them from always looking for ways to show their love to each other.
On one of Joe's birthdays, Faye had some extra emblems added to their Chevy -- Joe loved to "look" at a vehicle by touch,  and these emblems gave him more things to feel.   This is what love looks like.

When Mr. Joe moved to the nursing home, Faye found a way to visit him most every day....neighbors, church family, relatives, friends -- she always found a ride to get there and back.  Mr. Joe had a fun wit, and they were always so cute together.  When it drew near to their anniversary date, Joe and his rehab nurse made a plan for a gift.  He drew a bouquet of flowers on paper and signed his name.  He could hardly wait for Faye's next visit to give it to her.  It was his last gift.  She had it beautifully framed, and it hangs in a place of honor in their home.  This is what love looks like.
(Joe's picture is framed behind me and Mrs. Faye)
Jerry and I were pleased, but not surprised, that Faye remembered her promise to let us have a chance at her car - Joe and Faye always kept their word.  It truthfully is like a new vehicle and it drives wonderfully - garage kept, impeccable service record, low mileage.  Of course Jerry bought it for me.
This is what love looks like :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Five Senses

Sight, Smelling, Taste, Touch, Hearing -- these are the five senses that God has blessed the human body with.  I remember lessons in school about these senses. We were usually asked which of the senses we would be willing to give up if pressed to make a choice.  They are all so important!   I do know a blind person, a deaf person, one that has never been able to smell, folks that loose their sense of taste due to cancer treatments, amputees, etc . . . . but as of now, I am still blessed with all my senses (no wise cracks Jerry).

But the really incredible phenomenon is how theses senses are combined in our inner most being with our memory bank.  Thus a smell, like freshly baked peanut butter cookies, can take you back to the fun of baking cookies with a favorite aunt.  Or the sound of thunder can take you back to a recliner in your parent’s den snuggling with your younger brother and laughing at the storm so that he would never be afraid of thunder.  Or the taste of a lemon pie can make you remember a great-aunt who would deliver a pie to you when you were ill and how that delicious pie would make you feel much better.  The touch of a little baby’s finger around yours reminds you of when your own where so tiny . . . and can it really be that many years ago?   The sight of my husband’s eyes when he is happy reminds me of a teacher’s nickname for him in school . . . “there’s ole smiley eyes”    J  

Today Jerry and I went to an estate sale.   I heard Jerry making an offer on a purchase while I was browsing around.   That was the only item we bought, and I didn’t look at what was in his bag until we got back home.  I knew he was buying it for camping – he likes to buy cheap pots and such to use over the campfire.  But when we got home, this is what he had bought . . .

And immediately ALL my five senses rushed to collide with my memory bank, and I had a sudden rush of emotion.  It was an old style coffee pot – JUST like the one my Grandmother Branyon used every morning at her house when I was growing up.  I could see the farm kitchen with the coffee pot on the stove while I sat at the large kitchen table that was in the middle of the room.  I could smell all the foods that she had cooking –normally I would spend Saturday nights at her house, and she always got up really early to cook a big Sunday meal for all the family to share after the church services.  I remember it was my “job” to watch the coffee pot and let her know when the water turned brown through the little glass knob on the top of the perking pot.  

I remember the taste of the coffee – she always gave me more cream and sugar than coffee, and would pour the steaming mixture into a cup with a saucer – and then she’d pour some from the cup into the saucer so it would cool faster and I could sip it without burning my tongue.

I could hear her cheerful voice as she labored over the meal . . . and still she managed to get us all to Sunday School early – my papa, myself, usually my sister, and my two uncles that still lived at home -- and we never missed a service.  Grandmother Branyon always supported her church and was one of those quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of laborer.  She never spoke ill of anyone – ever.  Did I also mention that my Grandmother worked full-time in the cotton mill?   Anyone want to talk about a true Proverbs 31 woman? 

I loved her very much, and one of the greatest compliments I have ever received was written in a sympathy card that was mailed to me after she passed away.   This person kindly wrote that I remind her of my grandmother.   Oh, that those words would be true.   I hope I “finish well” as she did….. “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Rev 2:10  

That would fill all my senses J

Friday, April 8, 2011

SanShots: Hanami Party

SanShots: Hanami Party

Hanami Party

"May you live all the days of your life."  ~Jonathan Swift 

 There is a Yoshino Cherry tree in our yard.  We planted it there.  Actually we have planted several there – in that same spot – but this one decided to spread some roots and stay awhile.
 "Live every day as if it were your last and then some day you'll be right."
  ~H.H. Morant

The Yoshino is a fairly fast growing tree.  It should reach about 30 feet tall and wide at its maturity.  Alas, in about 15 years it will have reached it peak in size
and beauty and will not live much past that length of time.

“Don't be fooled by the calendar.  There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.”  ~Charles Richards  

It is most beautiful for about one week in the year – appearing as a cloud of pink blooms in March.   The tree is also pretty other times in the year, but never as much as that brief week of glory in the early spring.
“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
  It's the life in your years.”  ~Abraham Lincoln 

I read the Japanese have a tradition of hosting a Hanami Party to celebrate cherry blossom season.   “Hanami” means “cherry blossom viewing”.   Since the peak bloom viewing is so brief, I think that tradition is akin to a Latin saying, “Carpe Diem,” that is popularly translated as “seize the day”. 
 How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."  ~Annie Dillard  

 I took the wise advice of the Japanese and Latin sayings and spent a little time under my Yoshino Cherry tree while it was at its peak this year.  It was a very enjoyable time and very well spent – even though I admit that I don’t spend enough moments in such pleasurable indulgences…and it is even less seldom that I do so without feeling guilty regarding all the other things I “should” be doing.
“Every man dies.  Not every man really lives.”  ~Braveheart 

I will leave you with a few last quotes to ponder.
Then maybe you will be inspired to have your own personal Hanami Party.
"Life is not a race. Do take it slower. Hear the music Before the song is over." 
Author Unknown

 Feel free to share with me the “seize the day” moments
that make your life a pleasure.  :)
“When you run so fast to get somewhere you miss half the fun of getting there.”
  Author Unknown

Which brings me to a final aphorism which is one
my children have heard from me more than they care to:

 “Enjoy the journey…”

All Photos by SanShots Photography

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves regarding the importance of taking pictures of your children

--the earlier pictures of Jessica were made when she was 4 years old, the present ones are of her at age 9. 

These photo shoots were only 5 years apart, and look at the changes! 

  She is still a beautiful model.

Email me if you'd like my portrait "photo shoot" package price!! --- smedens@juno.com
I've got my eye on a new camera lens $$$ . . .   :)

Time Passes . . .

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Grands and Greats

Grandparents are a priceless treasure in a child's life, but their huge value is not often recognized until they are departed from this life.   Then you look back and reflect on all the times they poured themselves into your lives and you get teary-eyed with the longing to sit and talk to them again.  You wish you could hear more stories about their lives and the lives of your parents as they grew up.  You wish you had sat and recorded every family member's name your grandparent's could recollect for a family tree record.  You wish for some favorite food that your grandmother always prepared just for you -- no matter how simple the dish, no one else can fix it like she could.
I was fortunate to be the "first" grandchild on both my parent's sides . . . so I received an immeasurable amount of love and attention . . .but I also know my grandparents had a way of making each and every one of the grands feel like the "most" special.

The TIME spent with my grandparents is by far my most fondest memory . . . no one can invest time in your life better than a grandparent.  I loved to sit at the kitchen table at Grandmother Branyon's and watch for the coffee to percolate on the stove -- that was my official Sunday morning job.  My Papa Branyon would give me a quarter to comb his hair.  I'd sit in the den and listen to them study over their Sunday School lesson every Saturday evening that I spent the night.  I loved sleeping on the feather mattress at their house -- it was so comfy.

My Grandmother Mauldin loved flowers, and we would work in the flower beds together at her house. I remember sitting in my Papa Mauldin's lap and playing with his pocket watch at a very young age.  I loved to look at the photo albums and hear the stories of all the adventures their family of six kids had together -- they had some hard times, but it made them a close knit family.

Now that many of my friends are becoming grandparents, I am hearing stories of the intense love that comes from having the gift of a grandchild. In due time, this special privilege will become mine -- and I want to be the most "time" lavishing grandmother ever!  I think the main difference in being a grandmother instead of a mother is the wisdom you have gained.  As a new mother, you don't have the blessing of experience -- so a lot of what you do is trial and error.   But a grandmother can look back at how fast their own children grew up, and be wise enough to treasure every moment of that grandbaby's existence ! (plus you know better in hindsight what things are really priority).  I've already "warned" all my friends that they better tell me lots of stories and show me lots of pictures, because that's what I'm gonna be doing when it's my turn.  :)

Some grandparents worry that they won't be the favorite grandparent .  . but I think that is a useless worry.  Grandchildren are like endless sponges that will soak up all the time that grandparents lavish on them.  I had no problem loving each and every one of my grandparents.  My life was uniquely enriched in different ways by each grand and great that I was blessed with.  My children were also blessed by having the love of grandparents AND great-grandparents for many years (see all the attached pictures of some of their first moments together).

I could write a book of blogs on all that my grandparents meant in my life and not begin to tell the story -- but one of the best practices as a Memory Keeper (photographer) is to take many, many pictures of your children with their grandparents.   These pictures are guaranteed to only go up in value with each passing year.

(Pops died suddenly when Rebekah was 8 weeks old -- not very long after this photo was taken)