Happy New Year, my friends!
Welcome to the tenth installment of my favorite posts to write this year! This is #1 of Top 10 2019!
I’ve really poured my heart out in this list of my favorite experiences of the past year, and while I’m a little sad that this is it until next year, I’m also having some other pretty good “feels.”
Do you journal? Well, the experts say there are lots of benefits in writing stuff down. From better mental health to unlocking right brain creativity, they say it’s good for us to journal.
Interestingly, those who study this kind of thing say that journaling also helps the brain to regulate emotions, and I believe that is one true statement. Do you want to regulate your emotions, my friends? Just start looking back over the last year of your life and write stories about the top 10 that affected all the other 364 days. That’ll sure ’nuff do you some good regulating.
What an adventurous year it’s been here at Texas Over Fifty. If you’ve spent much time here at Texas Over Fifty, you know it’s all about intentional adventure, because I believe it’s those everyday adventures that keep us thinking about ourselves a little and thinking about every other good thing in life a lot.
But … what you’ll find in my list of Top 10 2019 is not so much what I saw as what I saw in someone. These ten experiences have not been the big occasions of the year, but more the sidenotes, if you will. These are the deeper thoughts, the analytics of the moment, the ponderings of a mother’s heart, and the most precious of memories.
Thank you so much for reading along as I’ve shared these stories with you. You are all so supportive and encouraging! I’ve enjoyed this list so much, and I’m grateful for all your kind comments.
In case you’re here for the first time or just need a refresher, here’s a recap of my Top 10 2019 list so far:
Number 10 highlighted something that I saw in myself when starting over at Job #14 (or 15). That started my year off in a monumental way, but Number 9 gave me even more to think about.
Number 8 is the story of relaxing at a birthday sleepover with my granddaughter and remembering many sleeping-bag occasions of my own. Goodness, I loved my yellow daisy sleeping bag!
Number 7 had me marveling at an old boyfriend from the past. I loved writing that post.
Number 6 is where you can read about my crushing a big fat Goodreads reading goal, and the reasons why I thought it deserved a spot in the Top 10 2019.
Number 5 involved three of my all-time favorite things: mountains, musings and my man.
By the time I started writing about Number 4, the thread that appeared to have woven itself through my last year of adventurous life was as thick as that yarn craftsters wrap around their elbows to knit fluffy blankets. #journalingemotions
Number 3 had me grabbing for the tissues. As the words poured forth, so did the happy tears. If you’re in a tough spot with one of your children, know that I’ve been there, I love you, and there’s always hope.
And then came #2 of Top 10 2019. It was so hard, but there was a silver lining.
Here we are at the last on the list. #1 of Top 10 2019.
This experience affected me like none other. If you are a son or the mom of one, I’m sorry. This story might tug hard at those heartstrings.
However, don’t worry.
If you cry, it’ll be cleansing. If you smile, it’ll be satisfying.
And if you do both, I feel as though I just might have fulfilled my calling.
Here’s #1 of Top 10 2019.
Looked Into the Future
It was a rainy day when our son came by to pick up his parentals for the special Saturday experience he had planned. Just for the three of us.
First, food. He was a college student after all.
So, as the wipers swept side to side on the windshield of his old Jeep, we made our way to a beautiful neighborhood in Dallas, he and his dad in the front seat, I in the back, memorizing the view.
The identical cut of their shoulders, my son’s capable hands at 10 and 2. The sounds of their voices, discussing the future.
A Big Surprise
Can you come home from work a little early? I asked of my hubby. It was 4:15 p.m. and I needed him to get right on home. Something was desperately wrong.
We lived in Muleshoe at the time. It’s a dinky town on the South Plains with a lot going on. Mike was President of the Rotary Club, and I was doing all kinds of things to help out at church and school. Life was exciting for us in that small community. Cotton grew just down the road, our preacher was our best friend, and Friday night football was the highlight of it all.
Until we helped with the annual Rotary Roping fundraiser. I wore my boots and donned my jeans to help in the concession stand and run errands for Mike. It was fun, but when it was over, I was pooped. Like soooooo tired out.
The girls were 8 and 5, and I was really looking forward to a touch of freedom in the coming year when they would both be in school. Maybe I would get a part-time job? If not, I had great visions of spending the days cleaning, cooking and getting caught up on my scrapbooks. Having a few uninterrupted hours to do all that just sounded heavenly.
My life for the next several years was pretty much planned out.
But the Rotary Roping changed everything.
Well, that and a faint pink line across the end of an EPT stick.
To Think I Didn’t Even Want Him
Are you happy about this? I all but snarled at my man when I heard him whistling in the shower. Poor guy. He never, never, never whistles in the shower. So I flung that glass door open and scared the waddin’ out of him, and I just couldn’t believe he wasn’t feeling like I was.
“Well,” … said the man with the Y chromosome. “It’s a boy!”
Oh, like that’s supposed to make it all okay??
To think I didn’t want him, and now everyone knows he’s my favorite.
I’m just kidding. All my kids are my favorite. But his sisters accuse me of it all the time, and I hardly ever argue. I mean, that’s just the way it happens, isn’t it?
The one I didn’t plan, the one I couldn’t envision, the one I didn’t even want, for crying out loud, became the one who taught me to love like I never dreamed I would.
First, Mike had already had a vasectomy! Who gets pregnant after a vasectomy? One in a thousand, said Dr. Williams. One in 1000? Well, I don’t get that at all. I know at least 1000 people, and I’ve never known a single one of them to be pregnant after a vasectomy. No, sirree, bub. I wanted two dadgum kids and I already had ’em. So what in the world was I going to do with a third?
Second, a boy? Really? I had two nephews who wrestled and hollered and wouldn’t sit still, and their mama was just the one God gave them, but I wasn’t cut out for being the mother of a boy. If we were going to have another baby after a vasectomy, at least God could have made it a girl.
Third, Mike must have really done a whopper of a comedic President’s speech at the next Rotary meeting, because people snickered when they saw me for months afterward. I, however, saw absolutely nothing funny about this at all.
Fourth, remember? I was going to have a little something called f-r-e-e-d-o-m come end-of-August. If one of my friends wanted to drive to Clovis or Lubbock for lunch, I would have been free to go. But now, I would be nursing and changing diapers and reading books about raising boys.
What in the world?
I Was So Dumb
Goodness. I was dumb, y’all. So dumb.
I’d like to chalk it up to hormones, but there’s no way around the real truth. I felt awful and I acted worse. The preacher who was our best friend? He literally came over with his wife and offered to adopt our baby. They already had two boys and could easily handle one more, they said. Besides, they had been thinking about saving up for a reversal of his vasectomy!
Well, of course, we weren’t gonna let nobody adopt our baby, even the preacher. And if people were seriously that worried about this baby’s mama, I better start at least acting like it wasn’t the end of the world.
But I reminded Mike almost daily. Just because the urologist said he had a rare sperm, I didn’t consider that anything to brag about. Seriously. Have you ever heard of anyone who had a rare sperm? Well, there’s one in 1000, my friends, so maybe you know another one.
Tuesday, May 7, 1996
I had a long delivery and an epidural with my oldest, opted for no epidural with daughter number two, and figured I was still pioneer woman enough to birth the third without that shot in the spine.
Besides, if I wasn’t hurting, it wouldn’t make any sense to squeeze bruises into Mike’s left arm as it hung over the bed railing.
For the last time at the last push, I furiously whispered to Mike, I don’t want to do this! To which he gently cajoled in my right ear, Honey, you don’t have a choice.
In just another minute or two, the nurse or someone, maybe an angel from heaven, placed a little boy bundle at my breast, and I saw him. Those eyelids fluttered open and I could have sworn we were the only two in the room.
I instantly loved my newborn son with every ounce of my being.
From the get-go, Keagon Michael McDearmon seemed different. He was decisive and mature, funny and smart. He was fun, but boyhood shenanigans were never his jam. He spent hours building big cities and airports and pirate ships out of his Playmobile pieces and parts.
He played basketball just to say he’d tried it, played golf because he enjoyed it, asked us in the 4th grade if we could move to the country. We did. He showed pigs for the next six years.
Geography was by far his favorite subject, and there’s no place Keagon doesn’t want to go. He negotiated every which-a-way to get his high school counselor to figure out how he could take Chinese for his foreign language credits instead of the two that were offered – Spanish and sign language. She did. He learned Mandarin with a classroom in Baltimore while a football coach sat with him in the computer lab at Bushland, Texas.
My Nightly Prayer
In one way, Keagon was what seems like a typical boy. He didn’t rattle on about his day at the dinner table like the girls did. Our best conversations always occurred in the car. But when I tucked him in every night, I got on my knees beside his bed and looked into his blue eyes like I did the day he was born.
After we talked a minute or two, I would hold his hand and pray the same words every single time. “Lord, thank you so much for my son, and I pray that all the days of his life, he will serve You and You alone.” Amen.
I knew not what the future held, but I knew who held the future.
An Interesting Comment Charts a Course
Because Keagon doesn’t expound on everything he thinks like his sisters, when he talks, it seems like we all really perk up to listen.
One day when he was in middle school, he said out of the blue that a fellow student had made an interesting comment about him. Keagon, you should be an ambassador.
And that was it.
That comment charted his course. He set his sights on Washington, D.C. and never looked back.
So Many Open Doors
He wanted to go to college in D.C., and he got accepted where he wanted to go, but it was outrageously expensive and didn’t seem like the thing to do. But it kept him wanting to be there, so he enrolled in the International Political Economy degree program at UTDallas and continued working his plan.
Doors opened in ways we couldn’t have anticipated, and by the time he graduated from college, he had spent two summers working for a Texas Representative on The Hill.
A Huge Honor
Mike and I ushered at the Tri-State Fair when we were newlyweds. We acted as bodyguards for some famous performers like Barbarea Mandrell and Conway Twitty. Then we got to meet Rick Perry and Ann Richards when we were in Muleshoe. (I told you there was a lot going on in that small town!)
But that’s the extent of it. We don’t have famous relatives or well-known friends. We are from Borger and Amarillo. I can’t say we’re just normal, but it’s safe to say we’re regular. Just regular people. No big accomplishments or accolades.
So, this son of ours gets an email that he’s been accepted to work as an intern for President George W. Bush at his Dallas office, and we look across at each other like, what?
The Future is Now
On that rainy afternoon when Keagon drove the three of us to coffee, I knew. I knew that he would be gone soon. The boy I never wanted was now the boy I didn’t feel I could live without. It was apparent that, though his dad and I had raised him, we could take no credit for who he had become.
But when I looked into the future, I knew it would be so good.
I just didn’t expect it to get here so soon.
Boys and Their Mommas
Keagon knows his story. He is well-aware that his Mom was a walleyed nincompoop. I have enough class not to say that out loud if he ever takes me to a State dinner, but there really are no other words for it. I was foolish, faithless and frenzied, and he likes to kid around with me about it. If I brag on him or tell him how much I love him, he says: Remember, Merm? You didn’t even want me!
On the same day that I wrote about in #2 of Top 10 2019, we took Keagon to the airport. His old Jeep was staying here in Dallas, but the rest of his worldly goods were packed in two big suitcases and a duffel bag on their way to the Capital of the United States of America. He had found an apartment, two roommates and had a week to get settled before starting his job.
Mike and Keagon said their goodbyes before we got in the car, and we intended to drop him off at cubside check-in. But when we pulled up, Mike said: Why don’t you go in with him? I’ll circle back and pick you up in a few minutes.
So, in we went, together. My boy and I. We got his bags checked and headed to the line for security. And then we hugged. Hard.
I was trying to be so strong. But we both got lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes and neither one of us could talk or hold back the tears. He stifled the cry and so did I, shaking in our embrace.
But I had to tell him goodbye. It was time for my boy to go.
I’m looking forward to 2020, aren’t you?
There will be new blessings, exciting opportunities and a few struggles we didn’t see coming. I also can’t wait to see what happens in the life of our D.C. boy.
May you be blessed in the months to come, my friends. I pray we will all look into the future with joy, anticipation, faith and plenty of purpose.
Encouraging a lifetime, and a whole new year, filled with everyday intentional adventure,