Finishing up The Present

(“The Present” was a short section. I wonder what that means?)

What things are most important to you now? – God, my family, and my health.

Why? – You could probably say God is very important to me now because I’m afraid of death (since its inevitability is growing closer all the time), but I really don’t think that’s so. I don’t think I’ve ever feared death – I’ve feared leaving my family to fend for themselves without having me here to help them – I’ve feared death for other people from the selfish perspective of no longer having them here for my sake. But the pragmatist in me says “It is what it is, and it will be what it will be.” Likewise, the Presbyterian in me says “I was predestined from before the world began to take my place in God’s presence for all eternity.” So there it is – my philosophy in a nutshell.

How have your dreams and goals changed through you life? – It’s funny, I don’t think they have changed all that much. I have wished for wealth, etc., but great wealth, and great power have never been a dream and certainly not a goal. As I said, I’m a pragmatist – I do the best I can in whatever circumstance I find myself, and if I don’t like it, I either change the circumstance, or change my attitude toward it. I may never “get very far,” but likewise, I’m pretty content with my life as I’m living it.

(If you are ready to quit reading this because you can’t stand Pollyanna, feel free. Sorry, but the above is true as I understand myself.)

More about The Present

Is the present better or worse than when you were younger? – This is really hard to answer. Sometimes I long for the simpler, easier life I lived as a child, but then I remember that it was only simpler and easier because I was one of the privileged class, with loving parents and grandparents.

I didn’t even know there were other kids who didn’t always have enough to eat, or decent clothes to wear. I didn’t know anyone other than people just like me. My life now is less simple and less easy, but at least it’s not because I have my head stuck in the sand. In the great scheme of things, I am so much better off than most of the people in the world. I still have a loving family and I still have plenty (too much) to eat, and decent clothes to wear. Is the world a better place now than then – probably not, but by the same token, it’s not much worse either.

What do you do for fun? – I read, I play bridge, I play games on the computer, I knit. We take a trip to the commissary in Bossier City about once every six weeks or so,

and I get to go to the casino and feed the one-armed bandits for an evening. I am easily amused!

Who do you trust and depend on? – I trust and depend on Al. I also trust Bill and Ray. I trust God will see to the best possible outcome for me, if not in this life, at least in the next.

But after saying that, I realize I don’t trust many other people. Call me a cynic, but I have been disappointed in too many ministers, and politicians to ever trust them completely.

The Present

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? – As I said last time, I love reading, and web-cruising. I think I may have already mentioned, too, that I love knitting. I’ve discovered yarn that makes striped socks, and I always have a pair on the needles.

That’s what I do to occupy my hands while I watch TV in the evenings and so I don’t snack.

          I always use the same basic pattern that I have memorized, so I don’t even have to count stitches any more except when I’m turning the heel. I’ve done these since mid-winter, and I’ve already given away 4 or 5 pairs through PW at the church. I figure there’s always some teenage girl who would like a pair of funky socks.

Do you enjoy any particular sports? – I love to watch football – my favorite teams are the Oregon Ducks, TCU Horned Frogs, the Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New Orleans Saints, and I root for anybody who plays against the University of Texas, Oklahoma University, Ohio State University, any of the southeast conference except University of Arkansas and Louisiana State University, the Minnesota Vikings, the Indianapolis Colts, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, or the Washington Redskins. I like going to live baseball and live soccer games, but televised games don’t hold much interest to me. I DESPISE!!! basketball! I love to watch diving, track and field, ice skating, and gymnastics on TV. I never was much of an athlete myself. Taking a walk for exercise is about as much as I care to do, myself (mostly because I HATE to be hot and sweaty!)

What’s your typical day like now? – I get up between 6:30 and 7:30 in the morning and fix myself a cup of tea (Bill has gotten me hooked on Teavana), I take my pills for the day, and have a breakfast granola bar with my tea. Then I read my e-mail, check in on Twitter, check in on Facebook, and by that time it’s usually 10:00 or 10:30. I take my shower and get dressed. If I need to go to the bank or the grocery store, I do that before lunch. Big Al and I have lunch between 12:30 and 1:30. Then I spend the afternoon reading, messing around on the computer, etc. I have a game going on Facebook, I’m one of the organizers of Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook, I’m doing some genealogical research on, and I write my blog for the day. Al goes out to watch the news at 5:30 and I usually join him when I finish my blog. If we went out for lunch we each fend for ourselves for supper, or if we ate in I usually fix something. We eat supper between 7:30 and 8:30 while watching TV. I almost always go to bed between 11:00 and 11:30 after checking my e-mail one last time. About the only variation to this schedule is Wednesdays, when we play bridge in the afternoon – I play in a foursome that meets at Barnes and Nobles, and Al plays with a group of four or five men who play at the church. The other variation is Sunday when we spend the morning going to church and then go out to dinner and get home about 1:00 or 1:30. I used to go to Toastmasters every Friday morning at 6:45, but I’ve recently dropped out. It’s too hard to get up that early since I’m not used to it any more. We’ve got doctor and dentist appointments fairly regularly, so that also breaks up the boredom of the weeks.

How is it different from your daily routines in the past? – Since we moved to Dallas, I usually worked – 7:30 to 4:30 or 8:00 to 5:00. After I started my own practice I had clients that I visited several days a week. I also attended lots of networking meetings – breakfasts, lunches or happy hours – to try to get additional clients. Being a CPA meant I had to keep up with a lot of professional reading and training, and when I had an IT employee, I had to keep up with his training. For the last couple of years though, I’ve been gradually decreasing my book of business in anticipation of retirement.


Finishing up “Identity”

What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now? – Reading, web-surfing, (unfortunately) eating, knitting, train travel, cruising, watching grandchildren play.

When you were a younger adult? – Reading, (still) eating, sightseeing, travel, watching the world go by.

When you were a child? – Reading, (again) eating, listening to adult conversations.

What things frighten you now? – Traffic, losing myself to Alzheimer’s, having something happen to Al, one of the children, or one of the grandchildren.

What frightened you when you were a younger adult? – The threat of nuclear war, loss of Al or one of the children.

When you were a child? – Loss of my parents, the “unnamed stranger”, things that go bump in the night.

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have? – A full-time maid and cook, and enough money to pay them.

Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger? – A little. How? I’m much more confident now. I used to want approval from Mama and Papa for everything I did. Mama and Papa are both gone now, and I find I don’t need the cheering section any more. I’m capable of living my life alone, if I have to.

What do you think has stayed the same about you throughout life? – My intelligence is still here and my quick intuition (or maybe that’s the same thing). I’ve always relied on “knowing”, and maybe that’s why Alzheimer’s scares me so.

What do you think has changed? – I know this sounds like a broken record, but my self- confidence. I’m much surer of myself – but isn’t that a big part of being an adult?

Silly Stuff

If you could travel into the future, would you rather see something that specifically relates to you, or something that relates to the future of the country in general? Why? – I really don’t want to know the future. I’d rather take each day as it comes. I am enough of a realist to know that I can’t change what will be, so why worry about it. All I can do is live my life as best I can, and trust in God to make everything come out all right in the end.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be? – First, I’d wish for happiness for my children. Second, I’d wish for contentment for Al and me in the rest of our lives. Third, I’d wish that all the wishes I wish after that would come true. (so I guess I really didn’t need but one!)

If you won $1,000,000 tomorrow, what would you do with the money? – I would give $100,000 to the church. I would set up trusts for each of the children and grandchildren so they could live comfortably in their old age, in case the government goes completely crazy and stops Medicare and Social Security. I would pay off the house and whatever was left on the car and the credit cards. I would pre-pay for ten years for Al and me at Franke Tobey Jones. And with whatever was left, I would buy as much of a round-the-world cruise as I could afford.

What’s the highest honor or award you’ve ever received? – I guess it’s being elected an elder at the church – validation of my work, and prayers.

What’s the most memorable phone call you’ve ever received? – When Papa called to tell me Mama had been definitely diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We had suspected it, but the confirmation was a shock, both to me and to him.

What’s the best compliment you ever received? – Being told by my kids that they appreciated me and the way I raised them.



In the News

Who are three people in history you admire most and why? (When I was making my list, I realized that the people I really admire are people who have touched me personally and currently. Historical figures don’t really impress me.)

  • Juliette Gordon Low – the founder of the Girl Scouts.

I was a Girl Scout for most of the first 35 years of my life, and I really appreciate the skills and responsibility I learned. That’s where I learned it was okay to fail, and that’s where I learned I was capable of functioning alone – without my family if I had to (not that I wanted to).

  • Ree Drummond – the Pioneer Woman.

She lives on a ranch, loves her family, cooks, blogs, home schools, gardens, and “works cattle.” She does it all! And she never takes herself too seriously.

  • Margaret Aymer Oget – Presbyterian minister and professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.

She is a Greek and Latin scholar, a New Testament professor, an immigrant from the West Indies, and one of the most articulate, loving, and right-headed women I know. She is the author of the current Horizon‘s Bible Study for Presbyterian Women.

What have been the three biggest news events during your lifetime and why?

  • Man’s landing on the moon.

Because we reached for the stars, and got most of the way there. It gave me hope.

  • Watergate.

Because it marked my loss of innocence, and the beginning of my distrust of public figures.

  • 9/11.

Because it changed the country from an open and accepting society to something closed and selfish.


All about ME!

(Those of you wanting pictures and warm fuzzies can quit reading right now. I didn’t make up these questions…)

What do you think are your three best qualities?

  1. Intelligence
  2. Forthrightness
  3. Honesty

What do you think are your three worst qualities?

  1. Pride
  2. Aggressiveness
  3. Bluntness

And when you think about it, it just depends on whether you like what I’m saying or dislike what I’m saying whether you think the same thing is Best or Worst!

What do you think you have the most of: talent, intelligence, education, or persistence? I have the most intelligence.

How has it helped you in your life? – From the exalted age of 67 years, I’m not sure my intelligence has really helped me all that much. I never HAD to work at grades so I didn’t study. I know a lot of people think I’m a “know-it-all” because I usually DO know the answer to most questions, but that doesn’t necessarily endear me to others.

Do you have any special sayings or expressions? – Probably too many to list.

  1. When I agree with someone hoping for something, I say “From your mouth to God’s ears.”
  2. “Oh, please,” when I disagree or think someone is being overly sure of themselves.
  3. “Quack” when the Oregon Ducks score in football.

What’s your favorite book and why? – I’ve got so many favorites it’s hard to pick just one. I love “Gone with the Wind”  probably because it was the first “adult” novel I ever read. I also adore “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy  , partly because it’s a great story dealing with wonderful, eternal themes of courage, and perseverance, and friendship, and honor, and partly because Tolkien drew from the countryside around Oxford and it makes me homesick for the Cotswolds whenever I read it (how’s THAT for a sentence – parse THAT if you will). I also love the novels by Elizabeth Goudge, most of which are out of print now.  She treats her characters, with all their flaws, with love and compassion. And for light reading I love the mysteries of Tony Hillerman, and the novels and mysteries of Father Greeley. I always feel like I accidentally learn something from them in and around the edges of a great story.

What’s your favorite movie and why? – I love “Gone with the Wind”  (see above), and “The Lord of the Rings”   (again, see above). In a more current vein, I liked “The Help”  – I thought it was true to the book. The book made me uncomfortable – convicted me – but I appreciated the look at history. I know there are some people who disliked both the movie and the book because they felt like a white woman couldn’t tell the story of the black women in the 1960s, but I thought it rang true to what I knew in Arkansas during that time. I also love “The Blind Side”.  Probably the same people who disliked “The Help” disliked “The Blind Side” for the same reasons, but I appreciated the story of hope and redemption told there.

Grandparents and Children

Do you feel you’re like any of your grandparents? In what ways? – I’m a lot like both of my grandmothers. “They” say I look very much like Papa’s mother, and I love to cook and sew like Mama’s mother.

That’s me in the middle with Papa’s mother on my right, and Mama’s mother on my left.

I’m also like Mama’s father, in that he was a banker and I’m an accountant.

Doesn’t he look like a banker/accountant?

How are your children like you? Unlike you? – Ray and Bill are both like me with their memory. They can remember as much as I can – and that’s a lot. Ray also has a tendency to overweight like I do, and Bill is slim and svelte.

They’re both good boys, and always helpful and kind. Whether that’s like me or not, I don’t like to say, but I appreciate the way they’ve grown up.

More about Parents

How are you like your mother? Unlike her? – Physically, Mama and I are very much alike. She was overweight all her life until her late 60s. I’m getting to that age and I THINK I’ve finally begun to get serious about losing weight. Mama lost over 80 pounds when she finally got serious, and I’d like to lose at least that much.

Mama, in 1980, before she lost the weight.

Mama, in 1992, after she lost all that weight.

Mama was always content to stay at home and be a nice mommy, while I was never really happy staying at home. I worked partially because we liked having the extra income, but mostly because I was happy to be doing something other than cleaning house and watching kids. We both enjoyed volunteer work, though. Mama was always doing something at the church, and I volunteered with many of the programs available in the Air Force. We both loved to read, and Mama was a tireless reader-out-loud. When I was sewing or something, if she was around, she would read a book to me – usually whatever I was reading. I learned the art from her, and I still love to read out loud, as well as to listen to books on tape. Mama loved to sing and could remember many, many songs. I also loved to sing and even took a Bachelor’s degree in Music, but I never used it, except for my own enjoyment. I still can remember the words to many songs, and where some people have a “photographic” memory, I have a “phonographic” memory. In college, I never took notes in class because I found I could remember what the professor said in his lectures better if I wasn’t concentrating on writing it down.

How are you like your father? Unlike him? – Papa was an engineer, and I have the same kind of organized, technical brain. By the time women could enter the field of engineering, I was too old to deal with all the higher level math, but I became a CPA and did accounting. Also, Papa loved to fish, and so did I.

Abbie and the fish!

Papa, Billy and the Fish.

What was most important to your parents? – The most important thing to them was their love for each other (although they were never demonstrative), and their love for their family. The second most important thing to them was their church and their relationship with God. They passed their love of God and the church on to me, and I thank them for it.

Names, Names, Names…

Do you know the meaning of your family name? – Not really. I do know that my father’s ancestors came to this country in the 1840s or 1850s from Germany (we think somewhere in Bavaria). Four brothers came over together and settled in central Illinois. The family name was originally Griesser, but my father’s father changed it to Greisser. Papa had first cousins who were named Griesser.

Are there stories about the origins of your family name? – Not that I ever heard.

Have you ever had any nicknames as a child or as an adult? Where did they come from?

My name is Annabel, but everyone calls me Abbie.

I’m named for my maternal grandmother. Her birth name was Anna Bell Eakin. Bell was a family name, and Anna was one of her aunts. When she was a little girl one of her teachers used to call her “Anna” just to tease her.

She would puff up and say, “My name is NOT Anna.”

He would reply, “Well, there must be a Bell to it, by the ring of your voice.”

As soon as she was old enough she changed it to Annabel.

* * *

When I was two years old, just learning to talk, my mother and grandmother were trying to teach me to say Annabel.

“Say ‘Anna’,” they would say.

“Anna,” I would answer.

“Say ‘Bell’,” they would say.

“Bell,” I would answer.

“Say ‘Annabel’,” they would repeat.

“Abbie,” I said!

And Abbie I am to this day.