We're probably on the Mississippi Most Wanted list by now...

Sort of like a debriefing after a dangerous and harrowing mission - which these past couple of weeks have totally been.... um, here's the news.  And you may need a snack to get through it.  Y'all, would anyone like to dress up as me for Halloween and take my place for just a day?  I'll pay you a million dollars.  In Monopoly money.  

First, my benefits battle update, as many of you have already heard, ... I lost this round with the City of Dallas, and tried to handle it as gracefully and graciously as possible given my super sized level of discomfort and disagreement with the outcome.  But I am nothing if not a lady, so I expressed myself through letter writing to every City Council person, may or may not have called them all big babies, and invited them for another round of back and forth for the next budget year.  It's already on my calendar.  

And seriously, Fox 4 news was outside my door before I even got home from work last Friday - which isn't my best look if you know what I'm talking about - but when opportunity knocks for publicity of a cause, Girl's gotta act fast.  So I invited them in, asked them not to film my pile of trash and recycling by the back door - or my awful burn that won't heal on my left hand and looks like a disease, took the sweaty pony tail holder outta the hair... and prayed to Jesus that his words would win over my own.  And a big thank you God for good editing, as I heard it turned out sounding not totally bitter and angry.   But next time I want to change clothes first.  

But the reporter's question that I keep going over again and again in my mind is this one..... If the City Manager has already made it clear that no change, if any, will be retroactive - meaning, even if I were to ever affect a change in any form ...  and that there's a good chance I'll still be sitting in the sad chair with no promise of ever getting up  - then why do I care?  And God help us all as we, on so many levels every. dang. day. have to answer that question in this selfish culture we now call our own.  If it won't help us, then why should we care?  Because y'all, it's just the right thing to do.  Simple as that.  And as I told the reporter, even if it never helps me - which please please please -  I'm begging for it to help me - this pathetic issue will most certainly affect another unsuspecting widow at some point and if I can do anything to stop that from happening, sign me up.  

And on the home front.... Rita the Dog is still old.  And her arthritis looks a whole lot like my Zumba hip after a long day's work - but I am proud to announce that, unlike Rita, I can absolutely potty all by myself and do not require any assistance with form or function.  She does, however, and in the middle of a very arthritic night  - recently sat in her own poop.  This blog has now reached an all time low with this story and I am sorry.  And Kid 2, trying to save us all from what he knows would make the situation even worse should he wake me to help - cleaned her up outside the best he could, cleaned the floors as best he could, and then tried to mask the smell with coffee grounds.  But not the open the coffee and sit it nearby in the stinky room sort of air freshener, but the how about I pour the grounds all over the hard wood floors method.  

And I woke up the next morning wondering if he took the coffee pot into his room and left it on all night.... but sadly, no.  But I applaud him for his 2am creativity, questionable as it may have been.  And I continue to tell each of the boys to prepare for the day when I will not be here to handle, help or fix life for them... and this was a small step in that direction - if you turn your head just a little to the left, squint your eyes, and look at it with a hopeful eye.  

Y'all, true story:  I've only dreamed of Fireman Dave twice in all these months.  The first time was nice.  Till it wasn't.  But it felt so real.   And last week I dreamed that I called what I am thinking may or may not have been Heaven?  And Fireman Dave was working the switchboard and answered.  And I swear it was his real voice that I haven't been able to conjure up no matter how hard I've tried in all this time... and know what he said?  ...

He told me I had the wrong time for the party.  Seriously, hold my purse, y'all.  I'm goin' in.  

And I told him he was completely wrong about that - mostly about the party part ... as this life here?  It aint no party, my friend, and you better quit while you're ahead.  He heeded my dream advice, knowing me well enough to trust my words as full truth..... and he was gone.  Again.  

I moved a few things into his closet this weekend.  Left all of his stuff right where it is, so my dresses are gonna totally smell like fire station, but that's not a terrible thing.  Reminds me of love, and home and all the good stuff.   I doubt he'll mind.  

And then I took these new pics for the blog.. which I will only show here because this page is mine and I want the world to know that I really do have good hair.  

I took my hair down at the gym the other day, actually brushed it, and a lady just about exclaimed full joy about it.  I was perplexed, but remembered that most people just see me sweaty and never have any clue that I don't always look like the bride of Frankenstein. Maybe that's not the best way to catch a new man, but  .... it worked the first time.  

And then we went to Mississippi.... Oh, Jackson, Mississippi, how I am learning to love you... and I look at real estate listings on every visit - thinking maybe a big ol' move will just remove all the mess here in Dallas.  But then I wake up and remember that I still have some stuff to wrap up here.... and hopefully time will help me figure out the next step.    Or someone smarter, wiser and more level headed than I please just tell me what to do.  I'm listening. 

And I shared a picture or two on Facebook because everyone always likes to see the Walters not looking sad.  But you know and I know that every single picture tells another story... and I'm just the girl to share it.  It was a short, fast trip, telling everyone that I think we spent more time driving than we did awake in Mississippi.  We just went for the football game and for me to get a little hug from Kid 1, maybe the cute coach while I'm at it, and then back early the next morning.  It almost killed me. 

I actually think it fun when my car gives me messages and tells me to keep my hands on the wheel.  And sometimes it even invites me out for a mid-drive coffee break.  But trust that I needed a whole lot more than caffeine by the time that trip finally ended.  Ask the boys.  Ask the friend who witnessed my mom meltdown moment.  By the time we arrived in Jackson, after 6+ hours of listening to Kids 2 & 3 randomly break into British accents, call each other fat, and talk about how one or the other always dresses like an old man, well, Mama had just about had it.  Add some enclosed car boy smells, jumping on hotel beds and driver's exhastion and it was what it was.    And when each boy wore the opposing team's colors - on purpose - I walked to the stadium and imposed a mom restraining order against them until further notice.  Do not look at me, Do not talk to me.  Do not make a sound if you are within 50 feet of me.  Do not act like you know me or that I know you.   Caring and loving mother stuff like that.  They disappeared for a bit, showed up again later  - both wearing newly purchased and proper team colors from the campus bookstore.  They chose the most expensive ones.  

Kid 2 acted like an arse for about 80% of the game.  Kid 3 equalled that amount if not exceeding it.  And I almost lost my mind at the man sitting behind me in the stands who had the whistle of death at a constant 2 minute interval.  Worse than labor - and I've labored and birthed 3 times so definitely an expert.  It was pretty much a weapon of war -  and by that point I had consumed diet coke and pseudoephedrine in unrecommended doses for a headache that could've made me violent had there not been witnesses.  And then I cried, considered alcohol and gave up on motherhood for the 1000th time.  And I thought how dysfunctional this family has become minus our center.  Minus our person that could calm the beast and bring out the best in us all.  Y'all, that's what's really happening in these pictures.  Yes.  I love them.  I loved being there.  I loved hugging my kid for the first time in weeks.  But I feel the difference.  And that... I'm not sure will ever be the way it was.  

But always, ... if I just give it enough time,  finally eat something to go along with my headache remedy overdose, and watch  my boys in action.... I'll remember why I love them enough to try one more time.  The following story is for your eyes only... please do not report the Walters to the police or the credit card company.  Thank you and God bless.

We stayed in a local Jackson hotel - let's go with classic -  possibly,  legendary.  Think back to the old family vacations of your youth when you'd pull the station wagon up the Holiday Inn, get out, wonder if the pool would be clean or green, go into your floral bedspread/ generic over the bed landscape painting room, and fight over who gets to use the bathroom first.  Yep.  That was our hotel.  It practically sits on campus and so easily walkable to the stadium so we chose adventure and convenience over the Hilton.  Dear Hilton, I still love you.  

 The old wall unit air conditioner wasn't quite winning against the Mississippi heat that night, so we called the desk and asked for a different room.   However, not knowing our innate and oh-so-natural sneaky streak, they gave us new keys to the room across the hall - but didn't take the old ones.  So when deciding the sleeping arrangements between 3 giant boys plus one very agitated mom and only  two double beds as resources, Kids 1 and 2 decided to go for the hot room and hope no one noticed.  Y'all, someone noticed - when at approximately 7AM the housekeeper went into the reportedly empty room to find one totally naked football player and a shocked accomplice in his boxers.  And within seconds as my and Kid 3's door sounded like it was being broken into by the Jackson Strangler, I wandered to the door in the dark to find my angels running from the law and trying to pull up their pants.  I now know that the Walters boys can get out of a burning building or any other host of  unpleasant situations without stress or warning.  I am very proud.  

And when the front desk called to investigate, Kid 3 took charge of that one and may or may not have caused even more suspicion over our family's character.  End of story?  We went down to the basement, exited the back door into the parking lot and made our great escape without being spotted by the front desk.  

We're probably on the Mississippi Most Wanted list by now... but only if the housekeeper can identify a naked 19 year old and his boxer shorted brother.  

post script: Y'all, this week I am asking for your prayers and encouragement.  I don't do that a lot, but this time, yes.  Please.  I've had a few dark days of late.  None blog worthy, as there's not much more to it than that.  But I'm stepping out on courage to ask, and faith that it will be delivered.  

Love to you,  Kristi

it's raining men. seriously, not really.

A random continuation....  

Today my back is hurting so I sit here with an ice pack down my pants hoping the old Zumba hip heals up in time for work tomorrow.  And I continue to pray that God has a better plan for me than to be the oldest living aerobics instructor on the planet.  Though I continue to ask for a heads up, He's good at keeping secrets.  

This past couple of weeks I got a new roof on the house.  Did I need it?  Again, God only knows  - and yet another of life's mysteries... but the contractor said I did,  so I did.  Someone will probably come by and try to sell me a horse soon, too.  Or something.   

I also sat at the Social Security Office - again - this time dealing with paperwork for Kid 2 because nothing is ever easy.  So I sat in the same chair that I sat in weeks after Fireman Dave left this crazy world, and people watched.  I also randomly texted a few people for entertainment and tried not to break any Social Security Office rules because the lady security guard there is mean.  I also went to Probate Court - again, because, once more and feel free to sing along, nothing is ever easy.  And I hope this time we got the job done.  Y'all, I pay my lawyer in baked goods, and she is the world's best friend for accepting my sweet appreciation as her fee paid in full. 

I also had a friend come by and re-attach my dryer to the outside vent so that the house won't catch on fire, install a new light, and unstick the doors to Kid 2's converted living room/bedroom so that he could get out if ever his life depended on it.  

And I had a lady at work tell me simply that "life goes on."  Which isn't always true - especially for dead people who didn't expect to be dead, and the ones they left behind.  I think she told me that when I shared with her that the boys and I were invited to attend the Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event and greet the hundreds of climbers giving of their time that day to keep the sacrifice of so many alive in us.  Sometimes I seriously wonder how I've made it in a public service field for so long.  

And I think it self explanatory that at least one day a week - maybe more, depends on certain factors - I feel the need to wear my "Not Today Satan" shirt or my "Tough as a Mother" tank.  I have yet to pull out the old "Best Day Ever" sweatshirt but maybe one day it'll show up again.   Dear Jesus, please let me wear the happy shirt again someday.  Love, your favorite sad person, Kristi.  

But for fun today, and I'm sure on so many more occasions to come... I wanted to address the men.  Not just my men readers -  I know you're out there - and honestly I can't believe you read this stuff and crazy love you for it - but the men of the world that cross my path.  Let's call this Chapter 1 of the Kristi Meets a Man book.  

First I'm going to say this:  Fireman Dave was well aware of my appreciation of the male species - from a very early age.  Aware, partly afraid, but I like to think, mostly in awe.  He also knew that I would've dropped him like a hot potato had George Strait knocked on my door with a proposal of marriage.  Only partly kidding there.  But y'all, he also knew that he wanted me to not be alone should something happen to him.  And I've shared that detail with very few people until now, as it hurts my very heart to even think he had to discuss that prospect in his own mind should it ever become a reality.  But turns out he did, and just a couple of weeks before we parted ways, and of course on our regularly scheduled Date Day Wednesday - the words came out.  I was, as always, sassing about this or that - him too - I of course, one upped him, me being the Queen of the Comeback  - and it went something like this...

me:  if anything ever happens to you, I'm puttin on my best dress and finding me a new husband.  

him:  I want you to.  

And I'm just gonna sit that right there for a minute.   As I never really thought all the million times I told him before every shift to please come home and not make me raise these 3 monsters on my own, that it would ever be so.  

And I still find myself thinking it's all just a big ol' messed up mistake.  One that never seems to get worked out and keeps making me do ridiculous things like go to the Social Security Office and Court.  But y'all!  I wore the cutest little black, knit blazer there last week and looked even somewhat professional/ please don't confuse me with the lawyer-ish.  

So on my mind a lot is the request of Fireman Dave that someday, one day,  I find my next Mr. Wonderful.  And it's gonna be a tough race, as the first one really held his Title so well.   And I honestly think that most men who talk to me don't quite know what to think about what appears to be at first, such a sweet, quiet lady  - but then surprises them with a bawdy sense of humor and my straight outta Pleasant Grove approach to life.  Like the Zumba class man who thought my praise of his merengue meant that I wanted to marry him right there on the gym floor.  Call the preacher, wipe off the stretch mats, y'all...  there's gonna be a wedding here today.  That one was weird - but you know and I know how I love a good story starter.

So here's a quick overview of my male to female interactions as of late:  Please note here, especially, that I am neither easy - that was just in college -  nor easily available for rent or purchase by anyone - especially someone online.  And that all candidates must apply and be considered for true quality - as I have been so very loved, and know what that looks and feels like.  

But I took a few notes for fun as I took a quick look on one of those frightening dating sites to see what the world on the outside looked like.  I then quickly  went right back into my sheltered hole and turned on Netflix.  Oh, and please note that Kid 2 has kindly asked that I not get murdered.  I am totally taking that to heart.   

Y'all, my first post death crush was on Kid 1's college football coach.  The single one, not the married one.  Because I've never been desperate before, and it ain't about to start now.  But he only knew how to talk football -  and though I can nod my head with the best of 'em, once my contact lenses start to dry out, I'm just done.  I still find him charming, but in a let's bring along some pre-printed conversation starter cards and go from there sort of way - just as an easy, remedial course for him to not feel any pressure.  

And there appear to be so many men out there who suddenly woke up past the age of 40 and became outdoorsmen, semi-pro athletes and world travelers.  I heard from one who is Buddhist AND great with a rifle.  His words not mine -  and the exact two things not at the top of my want list in a man.  My best clue is that these confused fellas became all of this and that while their wives sat at home folding laundry and raising kids, then promptly threw them out of the house. 

My all time fave so far is this one, and I took it word for word, as even I couldn't do this one justice:  

"Adrenaline junkie and adventurous.  Army Captain and Paratropper in my 20's. Now CEO. Graduate degree.  Love jetskiing, racing cars. Private pilot for weekend getaways. Love to travel - So far have gone on Safari in Africa, Bora Bora, Europe. Enjoy college football and hockey. Have homes in both Blank and Blank....."   -

 Y'all seriously, I was like, Can you take my kids for a weekend?  They love to travel and mama needs a break.  

A lot of them also like to take bathroom selfies.  And they're most often in a public bathroom mirror somewhere, as I doubt the guy has that many urinals in his home bath.  Or for real in his at home bath where I can totally see all. the.  truth all over the place.  Including a direct shot of the piled up towels on the floor and the toilet brush by the potty.  God bless them every one.  

And in my short time with a disguised online name - as to prevent stalkers - I received some messages worth a full chapter in my heart healing book, or even my next live storytelling event.  Stand up comedy, anyone?  I'm in.  

There are those who will chat, chat, chat but won't tell you a last name - or probably even a real name... because their real name is probably something like, Mr. Ive Got Something to Hide, III.  

And oh the sweet words - like this one which I plan to use as a teaching tool for my boys  - as an example of words never to say to a woman.  "May I take your picture so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?"  He didn't fancy my reply. 

But the ones that get to me the most are the ones that seem so genuine, but then leave me genuinely confused. The ones who are really nice and then even more nice, but then just disappear.  I think I'll never figure that one out - maybe it's because I held life, love and death in my hands all at the same time last November, and I learned real quick that there's just no time in this world for nonsense.  If nothing else, THAT is what I am most sure of.  

But my prayer for me and my boys on this subject is this:  that God continue to provide for our family, that mysteries be solved and hidden answers revealed, and that he work behind the scenes in this world in ways that I can't even begin to imagine.  Including, but not limited to,  finding me a quality person to talk to, be nice to, and share some of this overflowing love that didn't quite get used up with my first mate.  

I think Fireman Dave would agree with my high standards. 

go big or go home, y'all

Y'all, this past weekend I decided to keep the hands and mind busy by painting my 3 section hallway.  And it was basically a long, drawn out torture-fest and I listened to lots of country music and played a game of Would you Rather all by myself.  ....  Would you rather be a professional house painter or a prostitute?  I actually had no quick answer for that one, and had to dig a little deeper with follow up scenarios  - would I be the kind of prositute that works off a street corner or the kind that works the daytime shift at the Hilton?  

And as far as painting goes, I'm pretty much of the school that prep work is for sissies.  And if Fireman Dave were here to see how much paint got on the hardwood floors, I feel confident that he would try to murder me in my sleep.  I'm feeling pretty good about my decision, however, and rest easy especially after inhaling 2 days worth of paint fumes.  

Y'all, my recent pattern has been to wake about 4:30 am to 5-ish, say a little whisper of a prayer that it not be so, and then get busy looking over the social media posts of the pretend happy people.  And I guess by that I mean, the people who are mostly oblivious to the real aches and pains of this life because they just haven't been put to the test yet.  Or maybe they think they have and totally need to be looking over a shoulder for what may or may not be lurking about wearing a t-shirt with their name on it.  ....  

These are the same people who tend to ask me regularly how I'm doing - most without really wanting an honest answer.  And I would dare to say, greater than 95% of them not having a clue of what my brain is really answering on the inside while I politely tell them that I'm ok.  Y'all, being ok is relative, I've come to learn... and the true answer, I suppose, would be that I'm okay for now.  Maybe for that moment in time that we spoke and I tried not to make full eye contact because it triggers  my cry reflex.  Along with lots of other stuff.    I told someone this week that we Walters are safe.  For today.  But I honestly can't commit to any further updates at this time. 

And as much as I hate to admit it, I carry a whole lot of anger toward the happy people right now.  Not exactly toward the actual people  -  because I crazy love y'all and wouldn't invite you into the dark depths of places I've been hangin' round recently for even a million dollars because it could very possibly kill you.  And y'all, I want for you, so much better.  I think I'm most angry at the actual happiness, and wonder why I didn't get the invitation to the Happy Store Grand Opening that obviously the entire world attended  - except for me. 

And I've also been asked twice in the last week, something that goes a little something like this:  What's next for Kristi?  ....

My patented response is a non-surprising, Help me Jesus, because I just don't have a clue.  As is fairly normal for me as there is, indeed, so much that Kristi Walters still to this day has to figure out -  and with multiple decades of questions and mysteries all piling up on top of it.  For fun I like to compare my current position in life to that episode of I Love Lucy - where Lucy and Ethel get jobs at the candy factory and can't keep up with the wrapping assembly line and end up just stuffing unwrapped candy into their shirts and mouths just to hide it from the mean supervisor lady.  I totally get that. Make mine dark chocolate please.  

And I have no idea if all the fight I've put into all my fights of late mean a darn thing or not.  Or if I'll end up any better than I was when the life tornado hit.  Or if I'll end up financially more stable and maybe only half as neurotic - but with the battle scars of stress and age stamped across my face like little squinty, stare marks that I've practiced and perfected into an art form with every City Council meet and greet.  


and in this portion of the blog was originally a long, drawn out explanation of what going it alone in a world full of togetherness really feels like - and it was basically a 3 page essay about sticking your favorite person in a closet and how life can be generally sucky.   And serious entertainment was to be had in the reading of my dead husband/closet hostage situation - but y'all, today turned out to be not so pretty and I decided that some things just don't need to be spoken out loud. *

But a lesson that stands out to me so clearly right now on a regular ol' Wednesday is how old friendships don't always stay the same after such a loss, because neither did I.  And I've learned that inviting new friendships also comes with some pretty dangerous waters - as a whole lot of people don't quite know what to do with a person who's already a whole lot all on her very own.  I was one lucky gal that Fireman Dave did, and that he rejoiced in my over the top meanderings and dealings with the outside world.  And that even when I was just a not quite blossomed 13 year old kid with some hit or miss qualities on the outside  - think, fairly large framed glasses and a possibly failed attempt at Charlie's Angels winged hair - that he recognized in me some untapped beauty ready to be grown into her own.  

And I guess that the most important thing that I've learned - mostly about myself  - is that my heart has hurt for about as long as I can remember - on and off over the decades.  Oh the stories I could tell and the names I could name.    But that it's been those hurts that have taught me to love on others maybe even to excess and extremes.  And as weird as that may sound, I'm thankful I came out of what I did with the ability to love at all.  So seriously, go big or go home, y'all.  

And as my faith continues to travel up and down the scale, I remind myself of the simple promise that God does indeed inhabit the praises of His people.  And on days like today when I couldn't come up with a praise or a thanks even if I tried - I have to hit it from another angle.  And that is with service.  Service of being present in the hotter than hell tennis matches and football games and late night parking lot sit and waits. And it comes with offers of help.  True, real, followed up and followed through offers of help - because somedays I can't seem to help myself, but I can bring you soup.  And I can pray for you - which I really do if I told you that I will - because even if God and I are having some broken communications these days, if I can talk to him about you, at least I'm talking to him.  

So I'm spending a lot of time of late trying to be to other people what I just can't seem to be for myself right now.  And if, while being the hands and feet of Jesus here on Earth, I happen to get his attention and the chance to discuss a few items of my own, I can work with that.  

*post script - seriously.  I was about to hit publish with the descriptive, tell all that is my trademark and I stopped and read my Bible verse for today.  1 Corinthians 4:5, Judge nothing before the appointed time, wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts.  

It made me think.  It made me wait.  It made me discuss in private, only, some of the more detailed concerns of my heart and hoping someone Biblical is telling the darn truth about God doing the lighting and exposing.....    

feel free to add music and sing along

I have to admit that I have better days than others.  And sometimes I handle it well enough.  But sometimes I don't think what I do would even come close to handling it, or anything.   And yesterday was one of those "seen better days" sort of days where I decided to help the mood with a little personal pampering/beauty treatment.  Which sounds greatly relaxing... until you move on to paragraph #2....

I chose the DIY at home bikini wax kit at Target.  Because, of course.  And basically it turned out to be a most frightful disaster.  Things that I don't even remember touching are sticky, and the waxing instructions lied about every. single. thing.  And truth be told, my right inner thigh looks like it's been in a horrifiic, one thigh accident.  I only share this with you, because you, dear readers,  are my people, and this blog is built on tragedy, truth and the Walters' uncanny ability to get into all sorts of trouble.

And since I was asked recently to quit being so depressed and get back to the business of some good Kristi style story telling, .... what better tale to tell than a true life, one woman show set in my bathroom .....

Because I am nothing if not a lady, I will spare you the exacts, but imagine if you will that you left a big package of bubble gum out in your car in the 105 degree heat of our recent days.  Now go sit on it.  Then try to figure out how to remove the gum from your undercarriage without any help.  Please know that I have never in my life used the word undercarriage until today.  

And I think that had I still been able to use my free 911 hook up and call upon Fireman Dave to assist in said situation, he would've had, very possibly the best laugh I ever gave him in his too short a life.  Though I feel all romance from that point on would've come to a screeching halt and he would've never been able to look me in the eyes ever again.  We shall never know. 

Y'all, how hot wax ended up between my toes is the mystery of the whole thing.  And add in the cost of the destroyed bath mat, two towels, and my dignity  - and lesson learned about budget cuts and beauty.  The end.  And please let's never speak of this aloud.

I also this week made my second trip to the Waxahachie, Texas DMV to return Kid 3 for a second try at passing the eye portion of his learner's permit.  And praise Jesus, he did.  Now if he could just learn to drive.

Y'all, I just finished Season 2 of the Netflix original series, Ozark - short version:  money laundering family for a drug cartel meets backwoods ne'er do well clan in Missouri.  The back woods family has a kid named Three.  Y'all, his name is Three.  And I felt an immediate bond with them as I also have a Kid 3 as well as a 1 and a 2.  Yes, I number my kids, but mostly for the blog and to shield them from the public scrutiny of having a tell-all blogger as a mom. 

And earlier in the week the Walters went on a road trip to Jackson, Mississippi and it went a little something like this:  Feel free to add music and sing along.

We took 2 vehicles - my car and Kid 1's truck  There had been some debate of late about whether to let the kid take the truck to school -  and my executive decision went with yes.  Refer back to a prior post when I mentioned one kid acting the fool.  Now look at Kid 1 and do the math.  But y'all, despite the caring input and advice I receive from various sources, it all comes down to how life changed for us 9 months ago and the fact that I no longer have go-to reinforcements at the ready.  So when a two parent, two kid family handles something one way, it's not really the same as a one woman show vs 3 kids.  I would describe my mothering of late as sort of a Man vs Wild situation on many an occasion, and when that happens, I have learned to just let nature take its course and trust that what Fireman Dave and I already invested in these kids had already crossed them over the line from primitive animals to good humans.  Is it the correct mom move?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But we'll only actually know if and when we all make it out alive.

But anyway,  word on the Interstate is that Mom is pretty much a bad-ass Nascar driver and when Kid 3 and I were taking this fun picture in front of the Mississippi River, Kids 1 and 2 were still at a Cracker Barrel pit stop somewhere in Louisiana.  Why am I wearing camo in every picture when I'm not even a hunter?  There appears to be a consistent fashion theme.  

We all met up at the hotel where I totally budgeted the situation and only reserved one room so then all three boys fought over who had to share a bed with their mom.  It made me feel very loved and wanted rejected in a mom of three teen boys sort of way.  They also entertained me with stories of a fat, barefoot kid sitting on the toilet at a Wendy's.  Their words, not mine.  I would totally be more politically correct and refer to the child as unfortunately heavy set and then spend a lot of time wondering why he was barefoot and where was his mother. And I laughed like I haven't in a long time.  God bless them, every one.  

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that all 3 kids were sickly the entire trip and whoever stays in room 408 of the downtown Jackson Hilton better hope that the housekeepers actually disinfect.  I did get Kid 1 into an urgent care appointment the morning of dorm move in, as I could see his first week of football camp going up in flames with a feverish sinus infection.  Another crisis averted.

Football report time was 3-5 pm Monday at exactly at 2:45 pm when the truck was all loaded and headed toward campus, this happened:  

So we parked under the carport of a hotel till safe passage was available.  But it messed up my well planned hair that I had fully considered in the event I bumped into that charming, yet distant football coach.  Best laid plans and all.  Anyway, we got the kid all moved in.  The work on my part was to carry a few lighter things in from the car and then step out into the dorm hallway to watch my son take his first steps toward some real growth.  My theory being that I'm not the one living in that room, so I shouldn't be the one setting it up.  

Enter roommate and his parents - who told me how difficult it was to decide what to bring from their 5600 square foot home.  Y'all I held back my commentary on that one - as we all know that one Walters sleeps in the living room and another in the dining room of this old house.  We're not a proud people.  Just functional and hopefully on most occasions, nice.   Roomie's family chose a 50 inch TV, a fridge of his very own, an ergonomically correct desk chair, blender, Keurig coffee maker, XBox gaming system and enough food and supplies for him to live off the grid for 6 months.  Me?  I was totally like, Here's a 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo, dish soap combo.  Make it last, buddy.  

And see his desk chair that came with the room?  I'm really holding out hope that all of that is coffee stains.  But we covered it in a quilt attached with chip bag clips and made ourselves walk away.  

Kid 1 called that night about 10pm to tell me that his roommate's parents were still in the room and that he just wanted to take a shower and get settled.  My advice?  Do what you need to do, sweet angel,  then drop that towel. That'll make 'em leave.  Follow up:  the towel worked, visiting parents gone.  

And I think it all comes down to how we choose to parent our own kids.  I refuse to send a young adult  off to become a better adult then stand there and unpack his clothes for him.  I stopped changing his sheets at the beginning of the summer to get him ready for his own share of dorm chores.  He chose to sleep on the mattress pad the entire summer.  His choice and less laundry for me.  Win. Win.  

And I will share the actual words of wisdom that I gave to Kid 1 when he was crazy nervous on move in day and even before - but another time.  I think the biggest deal of it all was my other 2 boys when we got home.  I'll respect the privacy of  my conversations with those 2 darlings, but know that it is a continual healing process around here.  There is still an open wound that just seems to ache more on some days than others but God gives us the blessing of us not all losing our stuff at the same time.  

Y'all, loss tends to compound loss.  But we did it.  And we're looking forward to our next trip to see brother play football. 

It's definitely been a week.  

see if you can keep up

I actually thought about making this post into a big ol' game of Three Truths and a Lie... but sadly, none of these events are a lie... though I still lie in wait for that day. And time pretty much runs together for me anymore, so my timeline may or may not be 100% correct, but in the past days, week, weeks.... pick your favorite, the following things have occurred:

See if you can keep up:

1. One Kid acted the fool, tried his hand at dishonesty with this Mom and lost his form of transportation for approximately ever.  Plain English?  He messed up and crossed the wrong gal.  

2. My computer broke - though it likes to work fine for the computer repair place as well as the entire Geek Squad at Best Buy.  Hello new computer someday soon for me?  I say this as I sit at Kid 2's desk, using his gaming laptop and staring at a big poster of Spider Man.  

3. My dryer went crazy and may or may not have been a tremendous fire hazard for longer than it should've been.  

4. Got fired and re-hired as contract labor in the name of budget cuts.  Stupid budget cuts.  

5. Drove to an out of town DMV with Kid 3 to save time instead of waiting for 6 hours at the big city office like I did, me myself and I,  in March - only to have him fail the eye exam portion of the Learners Permit Test and now I get to get him to an eye doctor and return him to the DMV on another, hopefully better attitude day.  

6. And hooray!! I am getting a new roof.  My excitement in the prior sentence is totally fake as I actually had no idea that I even needed a new roof. Kind of like earlier in the year when I had to get an entirely new shower to keep me from falling through the decomposing floor of the existing one and into the underbelly of an old 1956 ranch style house.  I would totally rather have a vacation or a year's worth of beautiful hair highlights. 

And basically the last 8 months have shown me that not only can I not take care of the yard, the housekeeping, the laundry folding plus hold down a job and try to keep 3 teen boys fed and out of jail, I really need a person to just pop over on occasion and do a random safety check on the Walters.  I have a friend that believes that Fireman Dave can and will show himself to me in interesting ways - the smell of his cologne?  His flip flops appearing out of nowhere next to our bed this morning?  Yep - Weird.  But to that I simply say, if that man decides to make a surprise visit, he needs to stay long enough to mow the yard and fix the hot water heater that sounds like a bowling team in my hallway.

But for the Walters, this weekend is bringing a mix of emotions yet again as we take off to move Kid 1 into his college dorm in Mississippi.  And the way things have been going for said kid and I of late, I know and understand that it is truly God's plan that children grow up and fly away - so that the mom doesn't have to kill them.  But when that day comes, especially when it comes to a family that still feels the sting of loss and change, the going off to college experience gets mixed reviews.

We've done all the shopping, gotten the bedding and storage and all the things - thanks to a wonderful friend who contributed greatly to his dorm needs - you know who you are and it is not said enough how special you are to the Walters.  But what I've learned so far - as of this writing underneath my motivational Spider Man poster - y'all, I think we could prepare all the live long day, and still not be fully prepared for the the missing piece of Fireman Dave in this experience.  

I go back again and again to something a lady said to me shortly after we lost him - when she said she had no idea how I was even putting one foot in front of the other.  And I think at the time, and maybe even on occasion now, that I'm not 100% sure of that either.  But my answer to her was this - because I have 3 boys watching to see if their mom can put one foot in front of the other.  And more than anything - more than dorm supplies and any and all best laid plans that we try to make for ourselves - it all comes down to a giant leap of faith.  And today seeing that I am a bit on the tearful side of life, I am resting in what is left of mine.

And I am trusting that David and I poured into these kids enough of us to keep them within our gentle reach and out of the million other possibilities waiting for them out in the world.  And yet again, as my email sent me more years gone by Shutterfly photo memories this week, I found a few that made me remember exactly when and why I knew Fireman Dave would be the one I would spend my life with.  Take that, college boyfriend who probably became rich.  And it's old news that I already loved him - we were childhood friends, proverbial partners in crime from early on.... but I knew I loved the man he had become the day I saw him with his young niece who had gotten a little scrape, bump or bruise while playing outside.  And as I watched him kneel down to her eye level, kiss her little invisible to the eye wound, and wipe away a tear - my heart and mind knew right then what love looked like.  If you remember, I didn't have the best example of any of that set for me growing up, so when I went looking for love - and too many times to count -  and in all the wrong places ..... I didn't even understand what it was that I was looking for.  But suddenly I did.  And this week I saw some old pictures of the father that my husband was to our boys.

About a month ago at college orientation, I struggled a bit with watching the 2 parent families handling all the things together.  So I skipped out on a few of the meetings and sat in a rocking chair under a giant tree on a college campus in Mississippi and tried to pray my way out of ruining my mascara with an ugly cry.  And as I try to get through the next few days of another change, I just may need that chair and shade tree again.  And I just may need some reminders that I am strong enough to put one foot in front of the other.  I feel sure that God will provide some lessons for me on that subject.

2 deaths and an Abduction - a year of being a Walters

Obviously my last post set off some alarms around town.... causing worry, fear and texts to my children to hide the knives and/or any other sharp objects as their mom is on the brink of disaster.  To which I say, um, ... that is so yesterday's news.  I've been on the brink of lots of things these last months, and when I sit at my computer and use my dear, departed husband's death certificate as a mouse pad for all the crap I have to do each and every day,... the brink is pretty much the X on the map of my life about now. 

But I am here to state publicly, that though we Walters are typically a hot mess - and I mean that in every sense, as they boys will tell you that we now set the thermostat to a balmy 80 degrees in this here hot summer - not just so I can hear them yell, It's SOOOOOOOOO hot in here!!!!!!! - but so I can not worry about $400 electric bills till said time that I am able to stop worrying about $400 electric bills - that I have no intention of quitting this mom job before it is complete.  And an aside,... thank you God for the inventor of the ceiling fan, long, long ago who thought ahead to our sweaty summer and got right down to business. 

So on a more upbeat note than my last post discussing all things life and death and their ultimate value in the big scheme of Kristi Walters, I was asked to please share a few true to life tales, but for the love of God, lighten them up a bit.  And so I promised one particular reader that I would tell the tale of how I had to use the mens' room in a Taco Bell in tiny town Louisiana because whoever was in the one holer women's establishment had obviously moved in.  I could hear noises, and I knocked  - like a lot  - for whatever was going on in there to wrap it up on the double - but I finally had to give up and trust the cleanliness report of Kid 1 as he had already come and gone out of the men's and suggested I do the same and get on with life.  And y'all, that's pretty much the whole story of it - but if you know me, the emphasis is totally on the words Mens room and Taco Bell - which brings me full circle back to the major point in my lead up to it all.... that life has me constantly teetering on the brink of either disaster or adventure anymore.  Please someone tell me why. 

And this week I got a big ol' V shaped cleavage tattoo - where otherwise I actually have little to no cleavage - in my attempt to squeeze all the mom and kid fun out of every available day.  And sadly I feel women readers everywhere are now all a buzz about where they, too, can get a big V shaped cleavage tattoo like mine.  But y'all, it's really just a sunburn in the worst of places, along with a weird, boy short bikini line only on my left hip.  But fun is fun and it was one of my special days with my kiddos this week.  I think Kid 3 only went to the pool with us because he wanted to even out what he refers to as his farmer's tan that has him all stressed - but I'll take the love and attention in whatever form or for whatever reason. 

And one day we all went back out to Ham's Orchard and sat in some rocking chairs and did not much of anything else.  Was it forced fun week?  Very possibly.  And we tried to look cute doing it.  

Now on the more dramatic side, one day last week I got reports of Kid 2 being missing from work which in my mind meant nothing short of a mid-day kidnapping.  And the weird thing is that my mind was already blogging about our newest adventure and titling it something along the lines of "2 deaths and an Abduction - a year of being a Walters."  

Anyway, it started with Kid 1 getting an alarming text from a concerned, yet confused friend about Kid 2 not showing up for his job, and would he know where his brother may or may not be?  So after sleeping another hour or two, Kid 1 decided to become caring and alarmed and went searching for Kid 2 - whereupon he found brother's truck at his swimming pool of employment, but still a worried text from the friend saying he was missing.  Then Kid 1 called me and we collectively panicked, but chose to, one last time before alerting the authorities, check the lifeguard stand where Kid 2 was supposed to be yet reported to not be.... and yep.  There he was.  So we all breathed a sign of relief and then went to see the new Lion King movie.  I actually think Kid 3 slept through all of the drama and I feel lucky that it was not my life in danger and me dependent upon these children to save me.  

And y'all, Kid 1 is currently hitting the panic button about moving away to school in 2 weeks, and there's that.  And Kid 3 wants a tattoo to memorialize Fireman Dave, to which I can just feel David shaking the entire earth in a giant, resistent, please God NO... but yet, I am considering it.  Especially since Kid 3 has been the hardest to grieve our loss, and he feels that this will be something about his daddy that he can always have with him.  And the fact that I just this week got sort of a giant V shaped cleavage tattoo of my very own, who am I to say no?  So we are currently researching the possibilities and if it rains on the day we choose to do it, it may indeed by Fireman Dave crying about my parenting choices.  

And finally, I went on a non-date sort of date.  A really, really, really non-date sort of event as the gentleman in question is a retired fireman who will always see me as the wife of his dear friend, and who made sure to announce his non-agenda right in the middle of his invitation.  Yes, he used the words, no agenda.  To which I told him to get down on his knees that very minute and pray that someday, someone will actually have a Kristi agenda before I get too old to know what to do with it.  (A good and honorable one, of course.)  And I may or may not have told him my big fear of being the old widow lady who goes to the grocery store every.dang.day to buy a single can of soup - half to eat now, half for later.  Dear matchmaking Jesus, please take the wheel of love and someday find me the second best man in the world to love.  

Anyway, I made sure to tell him that I was gonna pretend that we were on a for real date so I could practice for the someday that I decide to do just such, and he pretty much said, Okay, Kristi, whatever, and we ate and talked and had a nice time. 

Maybe I'm hideous.  Or borderline offensive.  Or just married forever in the minds of people who saw our sweet family and made note that we were one of the unique ones.  But the hamburger was good, and the company even better.  And another week went by with 4 Walters still standing.

post script for those confused among us... the 2nd death in my proposed title belongs to my mom who died 4 months prior to Fireman Dave.  And I hope she is in Heaven fixing him that lemon pie that he likes and that I never figured out how to do.  

Don't make me come over there

This week after work and other tiring behaviors and after meeting with the Worker's Comp attorney and another DFD widow for mid-week lunch and supportive, yet depressing talk, I basically went the route of two steps forward, three steps back in my grief.  And y'all, a friend wrote a church blog post about his grief recovery and I managed to drag myself out of my crying heap to comment on it, as someone might who is traveling the same road -  though a few years later.  .... but the Gods of Facebook edited my comment.  Technically they hid my comment.... which to me is even worse because seriously, I could still see my lovely profile pic and my awesome distressed jeans, bad-ass boots combo outfit... but with the words, "this comment has been hidden" all the heck over it.  And yes, it may or may not have been a borderline sad/end of times comment about me waiting for my first class trip to Heaven once my kids are raised to responsible adulthood .... but when something like that is hidden, but something akin to hate speech but disguised as a political insult is allowed, I have to question even more than I already do - if some people got dropped on their heads as babies.      

And seeing that I need a new job anyway, I've decided to apply to Facebook  - to be the person who drives to the public offender's house and slaps them every time they say something stupid.  A forever career dream of mine, actually. 

And I actually think I long for the days when those of us going through tragedy did so in the privacy of no social media - not that I post pictures of myself being miserable, as I think that would discredit the image of poise and grace I have worked so hard to create..... says the delusional Kristi who tends to  forget that she's a messy eater and is more often than not, sweaty.  But on that note, allow me a few minutes to share with you some of the things that grieving people actually do not enjoy seeing, reading, hearing.....

1.  Pictures of dead people to prove your point - whether that be a scary point, a sad point, or just for shock value, moms who have lost children do not want to see a picture of a dead child to feel your passion for crazily not vaccinating your child.

2.  Meme after meme after meme of someone else's words trying to explain what the grief of losing a spouse feels like when you actually have your own spouse sitting next to you right now.  For the love of God.... Don't make me come over there.  Just stop it.

3.  Messages of encouragement that tell the desperate person to hang in there.  Especially with an exclamation point.  Because the reader of that message will then want to kill you.

4.  And finally, comparing your grief to mine - like they're both on sale at the store  - and thinking that telling me you understand how I feel because you were sad after your divorce.  Or, y'all, hold my purse, because this one's gonna make me dive right in - that you understand my grief because your dog died.  And don't get me wrong.  I adore my dog.  She's sweet and adorable and a good friend who acts like she's listening but is really thinking about the next time she can go outside and eat poop.  They are not the same. 

And might I suggest  - rather than trying to put into words something you don't, thank the Lord, quite yet understand - just send the grieving family a pizza.  Or offer your yard service for a weekend visit.  Something that seems so normal and insignificant to you just might be huge to the ones dealing with the weight of the world.  

And though I totally understand the idea that life goes on.  Though it feels for the widow that the rest of the world is on one of those fast moving conveyor belts at the airport on their way back to normal, and I'm the one walking alongside, slowly carrying about 10 tons of luggage and wishing for a ride to the other side.  Literally and otherwise.  One time I saw Oprah's boyfriend, Steadman, and his elderly mother on one of those airport carts and I wondered how he got to ride it since he's really only famous for being Oprah's fella.  One of life's questions to be pondered. Along with this one.... 

I spend a lot of time these days considering death.  And how that truly is the other side of the rainbow for us all, and how I think I've never been more comfortable with the idea than I am now.  

And considering so much about death makes me flip that same coin and question all that I thought I knew about living.  And though I had previously been convinced of my grand creation for the glory and good of my maker, I find myself now wondering - not so much if that little beginning detail is so much true, as it is useful.  Because knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of my God makes me wonder if God's microwave oven just broke last night, too.  Plus another old car that he owns and hopes will last for 4 years of college.  And I find that when people tell me that little bumps in the road are just part of life - it's not so much that I disagree with them - as I have an ongoing list of life's little bumps of varying sizes that I have had to hurdle or dig under or through all by myself in the last 8 months.  It's that I now want to know why.  

I was, at one point, content with the general answer of glorifying God.  I'm sure you've heard the confident Kristi say it on the blog at one point or another.... But the Kristi of today, now sees that reasoning looking a whole lot like God having playtime at the Toys R Us. And y'all, we're the toys.  I want to be Barbie, if I get to choose, please.  Townhouse Barbie with the circular fireplace and modern lifestyle and well dressed Ken at her service.  

And I sit here today and question what it's all about.  A deeper answer than glory, please if you have one.  I thought after several decades I had finally understood my purpose here on Earth, that being to have and raise  a family altogether different than the one that raised me - where we all smelled like cigarettes and Budweiser and didn't really know it till all of a sudden we didn't anymore.  So I'm sort of stuck in the middle of thinking I knew a thing or two, understanding a middle aged person's age worth of life -   and not having a $#$% clue.  I'm also putting into practice some, but not all, of the profanity that was born in me as a child of crazy people.  But mostly silently, yet I worry that one day if my mind goes, that  I will spew ugliness, hate and racial slurs with the best of my ancestors.   

Which brings me to my final point today.  And I am firm in this belief, though I know it will make a few people uncomfortable.  I have always known that I did not want to live a tremendously long life.  I only wanted to live a life of fullness -  and once that quality was lacking, I have forever been positive of my decision to move it onward and upward.  Think Barbie Townhouse in the sky..... 

And because we shared that same philosophy, Fireman Dave and I drafted our Living Wills way back in our 20's - both of us confident that we had bigger and better plans than a low quality existence here.  But yet, knowing that about myself, and him, the first words out of my mouth on the evening of November 23, 2018 were, "Call 911."   But now I know that even something as widely accepted as CPR is simply a life prolonging measure that I'm just not sure I believe in.  And all the heavens are applauding as Fireman Dave just led a giant cheer that I finally recognized the error of my ways. 

Deep thoughts this weekend, yes.  Maybe it's because I had plenty o' time alone in the car, listening to some country legends and thinking entirely too much on my drive back from Mississippi this week.  But I got Kid 1 all registered for school and we toured the dorm he'll be moving into in exactly one month.  And ... little trivia fact...  if you were to visit Kid 1 at Millsaps College in Jackson, and take a left immediately outside the main entrance gate, walk half a mile to the adorably preserved Fondren neighborhood, you would find the setting of the book and movie, The Help.  I loved the book and thought it tons better than the movie, because turns out my imagination is always better than film.  

And here we are: me and my date for the evening.  I think he's sort of cute.   

One day I'll take a picture that doesn't look like I cut my hair off into a man do.  

How many lawyers does it take?

Sometimes lately when I sit down to write, I start out with high hopes of all the latest news and normal, but maybe not so fun things the Walters are up to.... but I end up depressing myself and everyone else in the world about subjects like death and loneliness and fear of being alone for the rest of my life.  Which I believe probably has a diagnosed syndrome name and I just don't know it... and has been a part of me as long as I can remember.  And since Fireman Dave isn't around to confirm or deny, you'll have to take my word for it that I put off and put off again and again the actual part of saying I do... for years.  Years.  Years that we lived together, laughed together, built a life together, but many without a silly piece of paper naming us husband and wife.  Because I was so afraid that if I said yes, and announced to the world that Kristi had something good happening, that something bad would happen.  That right there is a book in its entirety dealing with dysfunctional and abusive childhoods and the marks that we as parents leave on our kids - good and bad.  

But the end of the story is that I finally signed on the dotted line and we lived happily ever after, until we didn't.  38 years of friendship, 26 years of love, 19 years of a signed contract saying we were official in the eyes of the law.  And the Baptists.  

And the fact that my wonderful husband stuck by me and my baggage for so long without a written contract saying he had to, speaks volumes about the man I loved.  Note the past tense.  Today is one of those days that I can reference the past to describe my present.  There are other days that I just don't have words of any sort to say much of anything.  Thus the silence so much now on the blog.  

And I know that this isn't the happy, beach reading, fashion filled blog post that summer people look for and can read in a 2 minute sitting, but it is a post full of lessons being lived and learned every day as I try to make a path for myself all over again.

From the time I was old enough to have reasonably mature adult thoughts.... one of my constant companions was the idea of everything I ever enjoyed, loved, or needed going away from me.  And I think, looking back decades from where it started, all of it tells a pretty good story of a young person living out of a smallish space, with a smallish bag of life's emotional necessities, always ready to run to the nearest safe place.  And for me, that safe place was more often than not, Fireman Dave - from a very early age - who saw who and where I came from, and decided to buy into the  deal anyway.  

And for that I am forever thankful.  And forever mad at him for leaving me 7 months ago today on a perfectly good Friday night.  Sort of like that time I thought he ditched me on an anniversary trip out of town and at, of all things, a bluegrass festival - and I got desperate enough to make eyes at the banjo player in the event I needed a ride home.  Turns out Fireman Dave was one step ahead of me and making his way back to my assumed point of desertion -  with the car  - so I wouldn't have to walk all the way back to the hotel in the dark.  See why I loved him?  See why I'm so mad that he isn't doing all the nice things for me anymore?  I think I'm generally mad at life on that point - and I just fill in the blanks with my sweet husband's name - for emphasis and all.

And I think it's not so much that I'm a giant scaredy cat/crybaby - just that I'm about 30 years out of practice on most of the practicalities of life.  I'll admit that I'm sort of a scaredy cat and a giant baby when it comes to certain things - but on the other hand, take me back to my emotional and physical roots, meet me in a dark alley and provoke fear, and I have full confidence that I will take you out before you get the chance to explain that you only need to borrow a quarter for a cart at Aldi, please.

Anyway, as some of you may have noted on my public parent poll about driving Kid 1 to college, far, far away - I'm hoping for a clear sinuses day, blue skies, and no major events as we make that trek.  Because I have enough experience with both planned and unplanned Walters' events to know that .... most times we break things, sometimes we desperately need a tow truck, and sometimes one of us ends up dead.  And I think that it's not the actual driving portion of the upcoming college weekend that has me all worried - it's the fact that I. AM. IT.  in the parent department now.  And should something happen to me, well, that's more than I can stand the thought of right now for my kids.

But good things are happening because of lots of hard work, persistence and a promise that I have made to myself and my loves that Fireman Dave's sacrifice and commitment to his job, this family and this community will be recognized and honored for all that it was.  And we have been invited to be special guests at the upcoming Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on September 7, to recognize him, along with others who have given their lives in service.  So with that, a riddle:   How many lawyers does it take to get the Walters back up and running in a timely and satisfactory fashion?  Right now the answer is 2.  Soon the answer may change to 3, depending on my progress with the benefit issues with this lovely City we call home.  And I'm just gonna go ahead and plead with all I have left in me for you and all the people I love to get both your living and dead acts together - for the love of all things holy, please.  Save your surviving spouse the need for regular anti-aging treatments and a new found love of coupon shopping by just taking care of your business.  I know a few great lawyers who can get you up to speed in no time. 

And on that note.... should you need to know anything or everything about firefighter lung conditions and how those ugly words can turn into something even uglier, trust that I am your resident expert.  If you are a current medical or law student and need to miss an exam on any of these topics, I'm your gal.  You can thank me for my careful research and expertise with a gift of hair highlights to keep me as dazzling as my small talk at parties.   

And finally.... a few updates on this and that:

Y'all, this happened:

And I was totally good till Engine 55 pulled up and surprised us - in an amazing, thank you for being there for us, now I'm gonna have to go look in the mirror and check some stuff out sort of way. 

And here is a great day hanging out with Kid 3 a couple of weeks ago on a trip to Ham's Orchard and a little antique shopping on the way.  And no, I didn't cut my hair off.  This was about the time I decided to pull it all back since I kept getting barbeque sauce all up in it and mere seconds before my sandwich blew away.  Oh, the memories. 

And Kid 2 is on his magnificent journey to Europe for 10 days.  Y'all, as we speak - and I am proud of how hard he worked and saved to make this trip happen.  He, his daddy, and a little help from some friends sent this Kid on a growing up adventure of a lifetime. I wish I had a picture to show you, but turns out our phone plan is anti-Europe and I've had only sporadic contact with him these last days.  Imagine a cute blonde kid in front of a castle or two.  

And of course, for those of you who keep up with my darling friend, Loyce, yes, the answer is, I still love that girl and love on that girl.  She turned 14 in March and I loved being able to send her swimming for her very first time for her party.  She chose a green 2 piece swimming costume and had a day she will always remember.  And if you are reading this, my sweet yet secret friend who contributed to Loyce's fun - thank you for loving the Walters - the American ones and the African one.  Can't y'all see the resemblence?    

And I guess I will leave this today with a continued thank you for those of you who are still hanging with us on this new road.  When I look back over the last year and count the obstacles that life has thrown in my way, I have to question what it's all about.  And by it, I mean, IT.  Life.  In the last year I was reintroduced to my mom - with her mind totally gone and her body almost, I was given the opportunity to say some much needed things and hold her hand for the first time that I ever remember in my life.  Weeks after, I lost her again.  4 months later I lost the love of my life on what started out to be a really, really good day - and then turned into something I can't even yet accurately describe.  And in the last week I've sent a kid to Europe  - parentless, no less, and I understand he is having some digestive issues that he could use some help with from a mom stand in, please.  And hopefully the final life changing event, but I realize with no guarantees, I'm sending a kid off to college in about 6 weeks. 
So when a person asks me if I'm okay, I tell them that it really does depend on the day.  Then I think to myself how I actually prefer to spread out my tragedies a little more than what actually happened, and then move on to spend some time wondering the whole, Why me? thing.  And if you comment that it is because God has a plan and purpose for all of this, I will drive to your house and ....  Or maybe just forgive and ignore your ignorance and stay away from you and most other people even more than I normally do.  I'm as of yet undecided.  

And that's sort of where I am today.  Good, bad or in between.  Powerful, confused, weak and desperate.  Determined, discouraged, encouraged, exhausted.  But I remember on one of our first days home after Thanksgiving, telling the boys that we just have to find the tiniest little pieces of joy for now.  Tiny pieces to encourage to look for more later.  But it's in the realization that life as it is now won't change in any way other than the way I try to shape it, that gives me reason to keep up the battles that I have taken on for me and my kids.  I keep telling myself, in particular last week when the Dallas City Manager gave me the evil eye at a meeting, that for whatever reason, I got a fire lit in me for the purpose of change.  And not only for the Walters, but for that young Dallas Police officer's widow that I took with me to a recent City Council meeting.  And for all the other spouses that may not have the strength to stand up for what's right in the middle of her grief.  I'm doing it for her, too.  For now, anyway, until I find out that I'm no longer the person for the job.  But that's not today. 
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