One of my favorite things to do this time of year is gather pecans. We have two pecan trees across from our house that have been faithful to produce abundantly year after year.
Pecans are my favorite nut. I use them in all kinds of recipes, roast them for my oatmeal and salads, and eat them raw. At almost $9 a pound for shelled ones, I’m thankful I’ve not had to buy them the last 13 years.
Many nut gatherers will take their bounty of pecans to the local co-op to have the nuts cracked and take them home to shell. But Daddy taught me how to crack them to get the whole halves like you buy at the store so I do it myself. The secret is how you crack the pecan. I line the widest top part of the pecan up with the handles of my basic silver nutcracker and CRACK. When shelling the pecans I use the pick to dislodge the meat from the shell and clear out any of the bitters. That’s what we’ve always called the dark brown debris inside of the pecan shell. If you eat a pecan with the bitters still lodged in the nut, you will know why.
A bag of shelled pecans is a much-loved Christmas gift around these parts. In fact, I’m working on shelling the two bags I will give away tomorrow.
Now my youngest daughter loves to gather, shell, and eat pecans as much as I do. And because of her grandpa’s secret, she cracks and shells them perfectly.
In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge Gathering.
Four weekends ago my sisters and I sorted through, looked at, and wondered at the amount of stuff in my parent’s home.
The kitchen cabinets held more than we could have imagined. And so did the hutch in the dining room. Mom collected pretty tea cups, candle holders, various colors of taper candles, vases, figurines and other unique glass items. My dad’s office held the pencils, pens and highlighters that sat on his drafting table. An assortment of matchbooks, business cards, rubber bands, old stamps, pocket knives, his ledgers, old to-do lists and all kinds of items filled the drawers of his desks.
The closets were full, too. Mom’s clothes were sorted by color. Dad’s for convenience. Her favorite blouse hung in hers, his old work shirt in his. Dad’s old puffy Alabama jacket that Mom hated hung in the foyer closet. The card tables and chairs we used on holidays leaned against the wall and the bucket of toys that all the grandkids played with were there.
There were stacks and stacks of books, old records, and photographs. Collections of CDs, and piles of tables cloths, blankets, and bed sheets. Dishes, cups, pots & pans. Silverware and cast iron skillets.
Old metal Folgers coffee cans filled with nuts and bolts and screws. Some with hinges, or wire, or batteries.
Piles and piles and stacks and boxes of stuff filled the house.
Our hearts are full of cherished memories, some painful ones too. But more than anything our hearts are piled high with love. Lots of love.
Because our parents loved us and did a good job. They weren’t perfect and didn’t parent perfectly……who does? But they prayed for us and we always knew they were there for us. Always.
Now everything is boxed up……the house is almost empty.
We had several pine trees around my childhood home that we called “The Pines”. When we were girls my sisters and I had to pick up the pine cones and sticks and any other foreign objects out of the yard so Daddy could mow.
The pine trees are gone now. Daddy had them all cut down because they were infested with beetles. We still call that section of the yard “The Pines” though.
This could be one of many pine cones I gathered for decorating once I was older and had my own family. I have a glass hurricane lamp filled with them sitting in my living room.
This is a follow up to a photo I posted previously called Barn Door. I grew up there. Going in and out of that barn, up the stairs and into the loft with my sisters. We posed for Mom’s camera the same way my kids did for mine. But Daddy didn’t like us playing in the loft. He thought it was too dangerous.
This was not a typical barn. It wasn’t filled with horses or cows or any other animals except for the occasional stray cat that made its home there.
The barn housed all of Daddy’s tools. The chainsaw, drills, handsaws, the sling blade, hoes and rakes. His dad’s tools were there, too. In an old wooden tool box. Ladders and paint and his saw horses and old coffee cans filled to the brim with nuts and bolts and nails. Everything and anything he didn’t want in the house.
I followed him as he worked around the yard one Saturday afternoon but he stopped me before he opened the barn door.
“Do not come in the barn. There are wasps’ nests and I may stir them up. Stay outside.” Daddy said.
I waited a minute but I went in anyway. He didn’t realize I was right behind him when he moved an old fold-up bed out of his way. Within seconds, I had yellow jackets swarming around me. He picked me up and rushed me outside. He swiped several yellow jackets off my back and arms and carried me inside the house. I was stung seven times. I’m sure Daddy was angry with me but I don’t remember it. All I remember is him taking tobacco out of his cigarettes, balling it up, pressing it onto each sting, and covering my stings with bandages. It was supposed to take the pain of the sting away.
But nothing could take the sting of my embarrassment away. I was ashamed I hadn’t listened and sad I’d disappointed him.
From that day forward, I listened to Daddy because I knew he meant good for me. I listened. But I didn’t always obey. I wanted more than anything to please my parents but missed the mark a lot of times. I lied and sneaked out of the house. I smoked and drank and had guys over when I wasn’t supposed to. I went places I shouldn’t have gone and did things I shouldn’t have done. When I was caught my parents would sit us down and talk with us because there was usually an “us” when I got into trouble. Mostly the “us” was me and my little sister. Sometimes they talked angrily at us. Daddy raised his voice wondering why we would put ourselves in these foolish and sometimes dangerous predicaments. But even so, it was always done in love.
I never doubted that. Ever.
I realized pretty early into my troubled days that the fun of it wasn’t worth the hurt and disappointment I caused my parents. Because I loved them and I wanted to make them proud.
How did they do that? How did they make me care about honoring them and making them proud? I’m not sure.
But I remember the day I was stung by seven yellow jackets.
And I remember I could have avoided it if only I had listened to Daddy.
1-2 Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live. I’m giving you good counsel; don’t let it go in one ear and out the other. Proverbs 4:1-2 (MSG)
I originally posted this last Father’s Day. I wanted to honor the man I called Daddy. Last year was my first Father’s Day without my daddy. He died June 3rd, 2014 and some days I still can’t believe it. Everyday I’m more and more thankful for him.
I re-post this to honor him again. I miss him very much and feel abundantly blessed to have had him as my father.
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
Daddy struggled with an addiction to alcohol most of his life. Twenty four years ago he refused to let alcohol beat him so he beat it. With God’s help, he never took another drink. Daddy talked often of God’s grace because he lived God’s grace. He knew that apart from God he was nothing. God took a rough, stubborn, broken man struggling to make anything of his life and changed him into a man living the promised new life. Daddy was thankful that God saved him and lived his life showing it. Daddy was becoming what God had already made him. Whole and holy. Learning how to love and live. He continually asked God to reveal the deep things of his heart. If he realized there was unforgiveness in his heart, Daddy forgave. If an unkind word was spoken, Daddy apologized.
Daddy wasn’t perfect, he was saved.
The last two years are a beautiful picture of Daddy’s life. He tenderly cared for Mom while working his full-time job from home. And he loved it! It was his joy to care for her. God made the rough tender. God made the stubborn teachable. God made the broken whole and healed. And I got to watch!
I wish I could sit with him one more time on the front porch and have one more conversation. One more “hey darling”. One more hug. One more “I love you.” One more story. One more bit of advice. I miss Daddy. But I rejoice knowing he is with his Father – the One who reached down and loved him, saved him, and healed him. I rejoice because I am blessed to call him Daddy.
Thank you Father for loving Daddy, for letting me be his daughter and allowing me to watch grace in action.
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Colossians 3:10 (NLT)
We tried to get comfortable in the cold, dark room. But a hard, white hospital floor isn’t made for sleeping even with extra blankets and pillows. Neither is the small chair in the corner of the room. The racket of the machines wouldn’t have let us rest anyway.
Not that we were very concerned about resting. Our main concern was that the transition home went well for Daddy. After the doctors told him there was nothing more they could do, he decided to go home. We were waiting with him at the hospital to help with the move. To do whatever we could. To be with him.
We don’t know why Dad took off the BIPAP mask.
He had tried to communicate with us several times earlier and was aggravated that we couldn’t understand him. Everything he said was distorted by the air being forced into his lungs by the mask. He was already struggling and even more so when he had to repeat himself. We were heartbroken to the point of tears watching him struggle, still failing to understand his words.
Maybe he was tired of the mask and the straps pressing into his face. Maybe he took it off because he wanted to tell us something and he needed us to understand him. Or maybe he knew he couldn’t handle the trip home.
We will never know.
The alarm shrilled as soon as the mask came off. We rushed to him, panicked. Desperately and clumsily trying to put the mask back on. Calling for the nurses. Yelling, “Daddy, Daddy!”
Daddy looked beyond us, holding the tube of the BIPAP machine tight in his hand. We couldn’t get the mask back up to his face. When we realized he was taking his last breaths, we rubbed his arms and face, held his hands, reassured him we were there, told him we loved him. My older sister sang a hymn.
We burst into tears when we realized he was gone. A nurse came in and verified he had no pulse. She told us to take as much time as we needed.
We kept looking at him. Crying. Wondering.
We called Mom first. Then our youngest sister. Then our families.
I walked into the hall then back into his room. Unsettled. Restless.
Some other family members came to comfort us. We cried together. Lingered there beside his bed.
It felt strange to leave him. We stalled. Kissed him on the cheek. Held his hands again. Told him we loved him.
This is a moment captured long ago…..of youth…….. filled with hope and anticipation.
I wish I’d been there when Mom was getting ready for her prom that night in 1960. I’m sure she spent hours getting her hair just right, taking extra time on her make up, and getting dressed in her beautiful gown and fancy gloves. She’s lovely.
I wonder if her sisters helped her get ready. What did Grandpa and Grandma Sharrott think of their youngest daughter going to prom with that boy?
I wish I could have watched as Dad walked up to the door, knocked and nervously waited until someone opened it. Look at him! His excitement is evident by the big grin on his face. His hair looks newly trimmed and I’m sure he took his time getting his tie straight.
Did his older brothers give him advice? Who helped him pick out Mom’s corsage? Was he brave enough to pin it on her gown or did someone else?
Did they go out to eat before prom? If so, where? How did he ask her to prom?
I know Mom loved to dance. Did Dad dance with her all night? What was her favorite song of the night? What was the name of the perfume she wore? Did he forget to put on cologne? What was her curfew? His curfew?
Daddy could fix anything. A lawn mower, refrigerator, a sagging floor and a leaky roof. His fixing wasn’t limited to appliances or motors. He fixed earrings and could unravel a tangled delicate bracelet. He had whatever he needed to fix it because he kept every tool he ever owned and every nail, nut and bolt he ever came across.
I’m sure there were plenty of things he couldn’t fix but I didn’t know about it. As he aged Daddy invested less and less time fixing things, like appliances, and would make a call to a repairman.
Older or wiser. Or just tired. He knew when he needed to call someone else who knew more about what needed fixing.
Sometimes like Daddy, I realize there’s nothing more I can do. I have to let go and let someone else who knows better give it a try. Or maybe it’s just time to move out of the way. It may be that I played my part and now someone else has to play a part to finish it.
And there are things I have no business trying to fix in the first place. Like people. God asks that I love people. Not fix them.
God is the ultimate Fixer. He heals broken hearts and mends fractured lives. He restores hope and is the most tender Comforter you’ll ever know. God fixes things. And His specialty is people. Because He touches hearts.
We all have broken parts of our lives. Give it to the One who has everything needed to fix it.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed. People who do what is right may have many problems, but the Lord will solve them all. He will protect their very bones; not one of them will be broken.