ABCs of ME

I’ve really been at a loss on the blog for almost a week (I know). After the marathon of getting my life and memories down on paper, I was all written out. Here’s a fun thing I found on somebody else’s blog (I think it was TeaMouse).

Age:  67

Bed:  King

Chore that you hate:  Folding clothes (Thanks, Big Al!)

Dogs:  None.

Essential to start my day:  TEA!!!

Favorite color:  Teal or Paprika

Gold or silver:  Gold

Height:  5’3″

Instruments that you play: piano (badly), ukulele (worse), violin (as a very young child)

Job Title:  Retired CPA

Kids:  Two

Live:  Huh? I guess I’m still alive…

Mom’s name:  Elizabeth Anne

Nickname: Abbie

Overnight hospital stays:  4

Pet Peeves:  Drivers who pass on the right

Quote from a movie:  “You can’t HANDLE the truth.”

Right or left:  Right

Siblings: Two sisters, one brother

Take-Out-Food: Pizza

Underwear:  Usually

Veggies:  Pretty much all except beets. Love fresh asparagus!

What makes you run late:  Computers and printers that stick their tongues out at me.

X-rays:  Regular mammograms, no broken bones

Yummy food:  Fried Chicken!

Zoo Animals:  Otters and penguins

Messages to the Progeny

If you could write a message to each of your children and grandchildren and put it in a time capsule for them to read 20 years from now, what would you write to each?


You should be just about ready to start receiving Medicare benefits, with only a couple of years to go before you get Social Security. I sincerely hope, and pray, that those benefits are there for you – or at least some sort of retirement package. I know you’ve had a hard time saving, since you’ve spent your best younger years bouncing around from job to job through no fault of your own. I hope you’ve developed a community of friends with similar interests. After worrying about you monetarily, I worry about you socially. I’m usually content with lots of “ME” time, but I don’t know what I’d do without Dad to eat with, and share TV time with. When it comes to making friends and saving money, remember “You gotta do it before you HAVE to do it.” I hope you’re happy and healthy. I know you can entertain yourself pretty well, so I’m not too worried about you being bored. Keep exploring new things, and learning new stuff. I pray you’ve been able to reconnect with your faith in God. It’s essential for me, and I grieve because you seem to have lost it. I love you, MOM


The kids are grown and moved out of the house, and you and Erika have been in an empty nest for almost 10 years now. I hope you have grandchildren. I know you will love them and enjoy them as much as I have loved and enjoyed mine. Be sure to keep in touch with Ray. He’s probably lonely. Make sure he has enough money to live on (I don’t know where you’ll find it – I’m sorry we were unable to leave anything for y’all – but be sure he’s fed and clothed and housed, please). I know you and Erika will be just fine. You are both so well suited for each other. Remember how much in love you have always been. I hope you’ve been able to do some travelling now that the kids are out and you’re on your own. Try to weed out the clutter and the “stuff” regularly – it’s much easier to do it every 3-5 years than it is to do it all when you’re ready to make your final move. Buy Long-term Health Care insurance when you turn 55. It’s cheaper then, and you’ll have it when you need it. Decide early where you want to retire, and focus on it. I know Erika hates to “plan”, so it will be up to you to get her moving in the right direction. Enjoy yourselves, and take care of my grandchildren for me! Love, MOM


Oh, my! You must be in your mid-30s now. You had a tough time as a kid, but I hope and pray you’ve been able to live comfortably with your problems. I know you’ve learned many great coping skills to deal with your Asberger’s, and as long as you remember that we’re all cheering for you, you’ll be fine. I imagine you’ve got a job and, maybe, you’ve got a wife and kids. I hope your job lets you use your unique talents in a way that is satisfying for you. If you have kids, I’m sure you are as good a father to them as your father was to you. Be sure to let the grandkids go visit the grandparents as often as you can. They will love to see them, but don’t just dump them and leave. Your folks would love to see you and visit with you, too. I imagine you’ve got a great set of friends. I hope you’ve found a church that speaks to you. Remember that Granddad and I love you very, very much! Love, G’mom


My sweet Katie! You’re almost 30 years old now, and I’ll bet you’ve already taken the world by storm. You’ve probably graduated summa cum laude from college with your Bachelor’s degree, and maybe, you even have a Master’s degree. If you want to go on and get your PhD, I know you’ll do great with that, too. I imagine you have a husband, or at least a steady boyfriend. I hope he loves you as much as your parents and I do. You tell him he’d better treat you really, really well, or he’ll have me to answer to (if not in this life, then, for sure, in the next one.) Enjoy yourself – travel, go to nice restaurants, see sights, meet all kinds of special people – then settle down and raise wonderful grandchildren for your Mom and Dad to love and spoil. Find your way back to the church. I know God has been calling you since you were a very small child, and She must have great plans for you. No matter what, know you can do anything you want to do – don’t ever let anybody tell you “Girls don’t do that.” Stay sweet, and loving, and happy, and caring. Love, G’mom


Memories of Me

What do you see as your place or purpose in life? How did you come to that conclusion? – I see me as the repository of corporate knowledge. Because I have a “fly paper” memory, I seem to remember “stuff” that other people don’t. As I’ve gotten older, it sometimes takes some prompting for me to dredge the stories and scenes out of my brain, but writing this blog, I’ve realized I often remember when and what others don’t. Siblings, cousins, and even children have remarked to me that the episodes and people I’ve recounted here had disappeared from their memories until I reminded them. That’s probably because I preferred being an observer of the family instead of a participant in it. I preferred sitting quietly and listening to adults talk, rather than playing with my cousins, siblings, and others of my own age. I’m encouraging Al to do his own set of questions because he often will say, “You forgot to mention so-and-so.” I respond “Hey, these are my memories, you need to write your own.” It isn’t that I don’t remember most of the things he reminds me of, it’s that those episodes weren’t important to me, while they may have been important to him.

What would you like your children and grandchildren to remember about you? – I would like them to remember that I loved them, and that I did the very best I could for them. I’d like them to remember the way I took care of my own parents, so they will treat me with the same love and respect that I had for Mama and Papa. I’d like them to remember my passion for social justice, and my love of God and the church. I’d like them to remember that family is one of the most important things, and that even if you don’t agree with your sisters, brothers, cousins, and parents, you still need to love and respect them.

Problems and Setbacks

Do you think a person needs to first overcome serious setbacks or challenges to be truly successful? – I don’t think it’s necessary, but it certainly does help in the maturation process. It’s probably better if someone has practice in overcoming small disappointments early (like when she is a child). Understanding that things aren’t always fair, and also that you can still be happy even if you don’t get everything you want as soon as you want it is the result of long practice in not having things always go your way. One of the worse things a parent can do for a child is not let them fail occasionally. When they are allowed to fail in small things they learn how to overcome challenges.

In what way is it important to know your limitations in your life or career? – Again, understanding that you can’t do something and either figuring out a different way to accomplish your goals, or readjusting your goals, is very important to your mental well-being and happiness. Accepting your limitations frees you up to explore different avenues and paths.

If you had the power to solve one and only one problem in the world, what would it be and why? – I would ensure that no one – man, woman or child – had to go to bed hungry. We have enough wealth in the world to solve this problem – if only we quit hoarding what we have, and shared it with folks who don’t have enough.


Do you have a philosophy of life? – only to try to leave the world a better place than I found it.

What’s your best piece of advice for living? – appreciate what you have and try not to wear yourself out yearning for something that’s impossible. It it is possible, and you want it, do whatever it takes to change yourself to get it.

If a young person came to you asking what’s the most important thing for living a good life, what would you say? –  “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

How do you define a “good life” or a “successful life”? – Leaving the world a little better than I found it – raising happy, content children – being true to myself.


Change and Advice

Over time, how have you changed the way you look at life/people? – I’ve become more and more realistic (some would say cynical) in the way I look at people as I’ve aged. I’m pretty intuitive about people’s motives and future actions, and I’ve come to realize more and more that “People are no damned good.” All else being equal and without some external stimulus to the contrary, people will try to get away with anything and everything with very little remorse. That’s one of the reasons I believe we need moral government regulations, because people will lie, cheat, steal, and harm others if they think they have a chance. That’s also the main reason I think we need a strong, progressive tax code, because without it, most people will NOT help those who are less fortunate than themselves. I also believe that I’m the only one who is or can be responsible for my actions. I try not to blame other folks or circumstances for problems in my life, and, if I don’t like something in my life, I believe it’s up to me to change it.

What advice did your grandparents or parents give you that you remember best? – I’ve already said that Nannie taught me “You can’t raise children and flowers, too.” They also taught me to keep my nose out of other people’s business. I’m the one who is responsible to end disagreements by apologizing (even if I don’t think I did anything wrong) and moving on. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”

“Regrets, I’ve Had a Few…”

“…but then, again, too few to mention.”

What, if anything, would you have done differently in your life? – For what I knew at the time and the opportunities that were open to me, I think I made really good choices. I don’t know that I would change any choice that I’ve made. Sometimes it took a while for me to realized that the outcome was what I really wanted, and what was my destiny, but generally, I’m pleased.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were young? – I wish I hadn’t been so brain-washed by my high school’s emphasis on “College Prep” as opposed to “Business” courses. Of course, in those days, “business” courses for girls were typing and bookkeeping, and, if you were really determined and dedicated, shorthand.

My life would have been VERY, VERY different if I had realized early that I love to type, and I love bookkeeping, and I love organization, and I love business. Instead, I spent 30 years trying to be a teacher and a professional Girl Scout and a Director of Christian Education. I finally learned that PEOPLE are not my thing – facts and figures and charts and lists are my thing.

What have you thrown away in your life that you wish you hadn’t? – About the only thing that’s gone that I wish I still had wasn’t thrown away – it was lost. I had a silver dollar from 1888 that was Gankie’s good luck coin. He carried it in his pocket all his life and it was worn almost completely smooth. It was even noticeably thinner than a mint condition silver dollar because so much of the silver had worn away from rubbing against the other coins in his pocket. I had a silver ring that held it, and I wore it on a silver chain as a pendant.

During the summer of 2006, Al and I went to a conference in New Orleans. He was being presented with an award at a luncheon the last day of the conference. We had already checked out of our hotel room, and after lunch we changed clothes in the restroom for the ride home. Apparently, I didn’t pick up the necklace after I changed my blouse. About 50 miles and an hour later I realized I didn’t have it with me and we turned around and went back to the hotel. We searched all over the restroom, in the trash, under the sinks, and everywhere. I questioned the staff. No one remembered seeing it, and I never found it. A couple of months later Katrina inundated New Orleans, and the Civic Center, and the hotel where we had stayed. My keepsake is probably at the bottom of the Mississippi River now, but I still grieve over losing it.

What have you held on to that’s important and why is it important? – Because we’ve moved so often, and cut down our possessions so many time in anticipation of moving , I don’t have much except an old shoe box of mementos from our honeymoon, some old photographs from Al’s family (most have been scanned, digitized, and the originals disposed of), a few old papers and diplomas from Mama and Papa and Al’s family that I keep for genealogical purposes, and some jewelry.

I have an antique starburst pin in old gold with seed pearls and a tiny diamond that Mama gave me on my wedding day. It came to her from her mother and grandmother.

I also have an ancient cameo set in gold filigree that Miss Robbie gave me that had been in her family for ages.

What “junk” have you held on to and why? – As I said, I haven’t held on to much. I supposed the keepsakes from our honeymoon would qualify as junk (I don’t think even Al would remember much about them).

Our Christmas tree ornaments and some of our decorations would probably qualify as junk, but I keep them for memories of good family times in the past.

There’s one thing to be said for moving every 3 or 4 years – you learn to let go of “stuff” before you get too attached to it.

The Story of My Life

If you were writing the story of your life, how would you divide it into chapters? – I would definitely divide it as we moved around the country and the world. Maybe I’m more affected by my surroundings than most people, but it seems to me that my life changed as we moved, beginning in my childhood – right up until today. That also makes nice, neat divisions in the story.

Chapter 1:  Texarkana – I am born and live with Mama and Nannie and Gankie while Papa is overseas in the army.

Chapter 2 – California, after Papa came home

Chapter 3 – Houston, TX – Dunlevy Street and Myrtle Street

Chapter 4 – Pasadena, TX

Chapter 5 – Concord, California

Chapter 6 – Westfield, NJ

Chapter 7 – Junior College – Texarkana, AR

Chapter 8 – Stephen F. Austin State College – Nacogdoches, TX

Chapter 9 – Denver, CO

Chapter 9 – Ramstein AB, Germany

Chapter 10 – Westfield, NJ, and Nacogdoches, TX, while Al was in Southeast Asia

Chapter 11 – England AFB, Alexandria, LA

Chapter 12 – Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, NE

Chapter 13 – RAF Upper Heyford, England

Chapter 14 – RAF Fairford, England

Chapter 15 – Texarkana, AR

Chapter 16 – Dyess AFB, Abilene, TX

Chapter 17 – The apartment in Dallas

Chapter 18 – The house in Dallas

Chapter 19 – Looking forward to Franke Tobey Jones

The End!


Are there times of your life that you remember more vividly than others? Why? – I suppose there are incidents that I remember if I think about it. I do remember trips that we’ve taken, and people we’ve visited. Having pictures really helps, although I’m the world’s worst about remembering to take photos (or in the old days, get them developed.)

What have been the most influential experiences in your life? – I suppose having Harriet give me the Myers-Briggs(R) test,

and realizing that my MBTI of ISTJ meant I should be an accountant is the MOST influential experience. That test was very important to me because it helped me realize that many of the things that I liked to do were what I was MEANT to do, even though they weren’t considered culturally acceptable for women/girls. The other test that was influential was the TDf inventory,

and realizing that people thought of me as a big F – little D, when in reality I was a big T – little F. Understanding the reason was that my mother valued F, and devalued T, and in an effort to be liked and loved, I had “put on” traits that didn’t fit me.

Describe a person or situation from your childhood that had a profound effect on the way you look at life.  – My maternal grandmother was probably the most influential person.


She was sweet and kind, and always made the people she was with feel like the most important people in her world. She always thought the best of everyone, and, while she always had nice things and a comfortable life, the people she was around were more important than the things. I remember one of her favorite sayings was “You can’t raise children and flowers, too.” Although she had a beautiful garden that she worked hard on and in, we never got in trouble if we stepped on a flower or dug under the bushes. And that is just symptomatic of her attitude towards other people. I don’t always succeed, but I try to also model that.