I Will Always Love You….

My girls (my great nieces) are growing up so very fast, the oldest one just turned 13 in May. An actual teenager in Earth years but she has one of those old souls.

She is so wise for her age, wiser than me some days, as she proved to me today as we had a conversation driving up the road.

We were doing a photo shoot for her new CD. Everybody’s first response is that she is beautiful. She is, no doubt about it; she is gorgeous. She is also, smart, talented, funny, goofy, wise beyond her years, a loving person who wants to see good in everyone. She is strong in her faith. She will not do anything she finds distasteful. She is focused. She is driven. She will not put her name on something she is not proud of. She is so much more than what people see.

They simply do not know her like I do. She always tells her other sisters that I love her more because I have loved her longer. I love them all, in different ways. They are all so very unique. They all have their strengths and very singular personalities. I give them the attention each needs. It’s just that right now the focus is on the older one getting her CD done.

We were alone on one of my favorite crooked country roads. It is the second round of photos for the project.  Her parents leaving her in my care,  had left us  to do what we do because they had to take care of some other things. We were fighting for time, there was a thunderstorm not so far away.

We did the shots and as always, I had music playing from an old cell phone. The song “Forever Country”, which is a mashup of some classic country songs sang by some of the greatest voices from the past and the present,  came on. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9gAXwYZtfk

We were looking at the shots we had just taken, she has to proof each of them. As we stood there flipping through pictures, we began singing along with the song. At the end of the song the last song they blend in is “I Will Always Love You” came on. As they began to sing that part, she laid her head over on my shoulder and sang to me.

Of course, I cried. In that moment, I knew that I was loved as deeply and as innocently as anyone could ever be. She wanted nothing but to in her way tell me she loves me. She does all the time but that time was a little more special than all the times before. No one saw it, no one was supposed. It was a moment but one that I will hold in my heart forever.

Humbled….

When I came into work, I was kind of down. That is okay it happens. It was one of those really busy nights. That too is okay. Made the night go by faster.

Always when I am down, something happens to allow me to see the greater good in life. Tonight was no exception.

There was a man under a bridge at an odd time of night. When someone stopped and spoke to him he said he had left a certain city  and was going to a certain city. I don’t want to pinpoint so I won’t name the cities.

He said that his girlfriend was sick. He was trying to get to her. The only mode of transport he had was a bicycle and he had spent all his money to buy an inner tube for his bicycle.

His total trip is going to be 161 miles. He has ridden 75 of those miles, partway was mountainous terrain. He was give a ride to our office. He was given food and slept in our lobby.

I thought about what I had seen this night.

A man who loves a woman so much he will ride 161 miles to be with her when she needs him. Real love does still exist.

Another man who went out of his way to make sure the first man was not cold and hungry. Charity does still exist.

I sat here and I prayed for this man as he continues his journey. The woman he is trying to get to as she lays sick, I don’t know who she is but I prayed for her as well. Faith does still exist.

When you think about, the little things we worry about are just that, little things. It’s those big things that this man is facing that are the big things and after speaking with him, he is determined to reach this woman he loves.

That is a big thing, in and of itself.

And Then Came The Crash….

It has been a hard couple of weeks. Worked an extra shift, switched my schedule to photograph a wedding that cancelled my services 12 hours before I was supposed to be there, had a big to do at work, followed by working 3 straight 12 hour shifts when I should have worked two.

I am not whining (okay maybe a little) but that is much better than I felt earlier today.

Let’s go back to yesterday….. Zigzag lines inserted here.

We were honored publicly at work by our community, which is cool, unless you are introverted and the low chick on the totem pole.

We were standing inside and everyone was talking about this person being there for them and that person being there for them. I kept silent. I was asked if anyone was going to be there for me. Nope. Nobody. Nada. Zipola.

Not that I didn’t know pretty much everyone there. Some I was glad to see, some I could have done without; but none of them were there for me.

We were in the middle of a large group of people, with our backs to them. You wondered what was going on behind you. My guys all had to leave because the job still goes on no matter what.

When it was over, I wandered around alone killing a couple hours before going on shift. This is when I felt the crash coming on. I knew it was coming. I was exhausted. Hell, if everything goes well, I will be 49 in two days. I have to work but hopefully I will be around to do so.

 I thought about a couple of guys that I went to school with that had passed away in two weeks. I cried for their families.

One had been sick for a while. The other was sudden. They will not see another birthday.

I have not seen my people in a week. Well, my best friend I saw on Tuesday but to have contact with my person, my folks, my girls, it has been a week.

Although I test an introvert, I am more of an ambivert so I need that social interaction with those I love. I hinted a couple times that I wanted to spend time, only to be shot down.

To quote Kid Rock, I ain’t seen the sunshine in three damn days.

I have not been taking care of myself physically, I have been sleeping but not resting. I have been eating one meal in 24 hours. I have been having kidney issues from a trip I had to take for work and couldn’t use the bathroom for 6 hours. Not good for someone with kidney stones.

My job is both mentally and emotionally draining so some calls you sleep with, even though you don’t want to. I went to sleep today with my door unlocked and the keys hanging in the door. That is exhausted.

Today when I woke up, I cried til I thought there was nothing left. My sister texted me and wanted to know if I wanted to come to her house and pick up my birthday present since they were going to be out of town on Monday.

I didn’t answer immediately. So she sent me a facebook message. Okay, drag yourself out of bed. Make your body move whether you want to or not. You need food it has been 15 hours since you ate. So I go over, I walked into her house, listen to her talk to someone on the phone for 15 minutes while it sit there with my arms crossed across my body telling her I am practicing for my funeral.

Then the six year old showed up. We listened to music, we swung on the swing set, we took a walk and picked wild strawberries.

We had food, we played frisbee and of course it landed on the roof. With some help, she climbed the ladder and got it, proclaiming as she worked her way down the ladder that she wasn’t afraid of heights.

I  asked her at one point to tell me the secret of life, somewhere along the way, I have lost it, if I ever knew it, so she told me a story about nice people who live in the woods.

When I got ready to leave, I told them to have fun at the beach. She told me she would bring me back a seashell for my birthday but she WOULD NOT tell me what color.

I came back home and went back to bed. I slept another 6 hours. In less that 20 hours, I have slept 16. I know a change is going to have to happen.

I feel like I am letting everyone down. I feel alone and isolated. This is not good for my mental health.

For now, night shift brain has kick in. It is the middle of the night. I am wide awake and the person I love is sleeping (I guess) so I sit here and I cry.

The crash finally came.

I’ll Always Be That Girl….

I’ll always be that girl that when she flirts, she does it awkwardly.

I will always be the girl with the loud laugh.

I will always be the girl who will say she is sorry when she feels uncomfortable. Until tonight I tried to flirt, I botched it up, I said I’m sorry then I said No I’m not. I’m not sorry.

I will always be that girl who has dreams big as the sky.

I will always be that girl and who will work tirelessly to meet those dreams. She will never give up on them.

I will always be that girl who is in competition with herself and the reflection in the mirror. So busy with being better than she was yesterday to worry about if someone is doing it better.

I am that girl full of fire, passion and curiosity who will never let anyone see that part of her.

I am that girl who loves deeply and beyond measure and is not ashamed of that fact. If you are my person, my family or my friend, I will love you with everything I have.

I will always be that girl who wonders if she measures up  in his eyes. He sees much more beautiful women than she (she feels like she is just vanilla, average).

I will always be that girl who know  her fears, her dreams, her hopes, her passions. I will always be that girl that never stops trying.

A True Love Story…

He was born in a blizzard. They had to plow in to get his mother to the hospital. His father drove the truck that cleared the path to the place where his son would be born.

That son would only have his father for nine years. Then death would rob this child of that same father.

He would grow up an only child, who lived with his mother and his elderly grandparents. His mother had to survive on the slightest of funds because she was legally blind. He never had the finest of luxury as a child. He did however have the most important things; love and support.

As a child, he was sickly. He would play radio station on his front porch and as an adult, he made his living in radio and in emergency communications. People who did not know his face, knew him by his voice.  He was THE voice of the area.

As a teen, he was lonely and unsure as most of us were at that age. He worked and he went home. He never dated.

He was quiet and shy. He said what he meant and he meant what he said.

Then one day in a local grocery store, he met a young woman. She had just left church. She was wearing a pink floral jacket, a pink skirt, a white blouse, white shoes and starfish earrings; at least he told her that later, and in that moment, he knew that was the woman he was going to marry.

He never said anything to her that day. She would meet him in passing on a regular basis. They would talk but she never thought anything of it. He never let on that there was any interest on his part.

She didn’t realize at the time but he was courting her, pursuing her, waiting for the right time to make his move. She was dating someone who was treating her, well not the best. She was being cheated on, lied to and mistreated. She knew that there had to be someone better out there but because she was made to feel ugly, she stayed.

When she finally had enough and overcame those thoughts being planted in her head, she broke up with the person who called her fat all the time.

The funny thing is she got flowers from both of them the same day. One she was leaving and the other was waiting to sweep her up and begin to try to heal those wounds.

For a year, on every special occasion, she got flowers. If she was sick, flowers were sent to the place where her mother worked. Her mother called the florist and asked about it and she was told not to worry, that it was someone who would love this girl and would never hurt her.

He would show up at her church and her brother in law would poke her in the back and say “there’s your boyfriend”. She would just blow it off. She figured if he was interested in her, he would just say it.

Finally one day, she got brave and sent him a balloon, just on the hunch from a friend.

She waited after she sent the balloon and with in hours, she got 3 red roses with a note that said “Have to be out of town, will be in touch when I return”.

Three days later, he called and asked her out for the next weekend. She said yes.

On their first date, they shook hands.

On their third date, he kissed her.

On the side of a mountain, he told her he was in love with her.

On her birthday, her presented her a heart shaped diamond served on her favorite dessert. In front of the entire serving crew, he asked her to be his. She of course said Yes.

In that same little white church, they said I do. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health, til death do they part. He was 32, she 24.

They settled into a very ordinary life. It wasn’t one of great adventure. It was more of comfort. They worked hard and honestly, loved harder.

They never were given the gift of being parents.

They never really got out of the honeymoon phase because they only had each other.

For eight years, things sailed along smoothly, then sickness crept in. First his back, then his heart, a diabetic ulcer and finally cancer.

Over ten years, she slipped from his wife to his caregiver. She never once regretted it. She never once gave a second thought to being his voice, his feet, his hands, whatever he needed. She was there to supply it.

Many times, he apologized to her for being sick. Knowing that their relationship had changed. He once told her that if she needed her womanly needs met in a way he couldn’t meet, she could go and have those needs met with his blessing. She told him that she loved him and that was not how things were done when you truly, madly, deeply loved someone.

She was by his side when they told him that the cancer was there. She was by his side when they told him that it had spread. She was there when they said there was nothing more they could do. She made the doctor tell him as she explained that their time together would be short.

She was there when he couldn’t feed himself anymore. She was there when hospice came in and asked her to let them stay with him and she left only 30 minutes per day. She was there when that next breath never came.

She was there when the filled church paid respect to the man she loved. She walked from that church numb. She couldn’t let anyone see her cry. She cried a plenty but not in front of anyone. Her heart had been ripped out and thrown into a six foot hole.

She was there for that first night alone, when she prayed for the sun to shine, she knew she would be fine if she just made it through that night.

That was almost 6 years ago.

She was there today at the cemetery. Today would be his 57th birthday. She took him flowers this time. It was all she could do.

She has learned to live again. She has a new normal. She is learning who she is. She has learned to love again.

She knows that she was loved, completely, once in her life and honestly, some people never get that, they look for love everywhere and they never get to experience what they knew.

You see, I know their story very well, for that she is me.

That Voice On The Other End Of the Line…

I haven’t ever told you what I do for a living. I am the calm voice on the other end of the line when tragedy meets the lives of those in my community. I am that person you call when you need a policeman, a fire truck or an ambulance.

I am invisible most of the time. I am a voice, not a face.

When you are losing your mind I am there to get you help.

I am a people mover, I find out where the problem is and I get help there as fast as humanly possible.

I know how to talk to people who can’t contain their grief or fear simply because I have been where they have been. Not exactly because all our stories are different. I know what it feels when you have the rug pulled out from under you when you hear the words that “It is Cancer and we have to start treatment today”. I know what it is like to walk around a shopping center parking lot trying to digest those words. Making those phone calls screaming on the inside.  That the person you love has cancer. You lose you shit. I also remember the very words he said to me that day. “God has not brought us this far to leave us, now get hold of yourself and go get me something to eat, then we will go back to the hospital.”

I know what it is like to sit beside someone you love as they take that last breath and the next one doesn’t come. That panic that you feel in that moment because half your heart was just ripped out.

I know what it feels like to be alone, lonely and scared. Laying in the bed at night, just praying to die simply because you see no reason to go on.

I know what it feels like when someone strolls into your life and stays no matter how bad it gets from time to time and suddenly you find a reason to get up in the morning and that loving for a second time is perfectly wonderful.

I know what it is like when your mother is having a seizure and you call an ambulance and it feels like it is taking forever for it to get there.

I know what it is like for the same thing to happen a second time and the paramedics are there and they talk you through that oh so scary moment.

So, when I answer that call, I try to meet people where they are, for I, myself have been in so many different situations.

So when you are scared, lonely, lost, grief stricken, be patient with the person on the other end of the phone. If they have to ask you questions, try to listen and answer honestly, for they are trying to get you help.

If I Could Photography Anyone In The World….

This is a list of people I would like to visually tell their story and why…..

There will be men, women, living people and those who have transitioned, there will be couples. The list will mostly be people you will know, if you follow country music and Hollywood stars. The person I would love to photograph most though, you may not know his name yet, but I sure do.

So let us get started…

Men:

Albert Einstein: One of the smartest men who have ever lived. I would like to photograph him as he sits and contemplates the universe and all that is in it.

Benjamin Franklin: Inventor and statesman, if not for Franklin, there would not be some of our modern conveniences. He invented bifocals, discovered electricity, day light savings time was his idea. I would like to see him taking time to create something never created before.

James Dean: That laid back sexy style he had.

 Josh Lucas and Blake Shelton: For their dimples. I would like to get them to smile and take photos of their dimples.

Kevin Costner and George Clooney: Their style and class.

Luke Bryan and Jake Owens: Their smiles. They have great smiles.

Trace Adkins: His mellow voice, his ponytail and his beard and he is quite funny in interviews.

Matthew Mcconaughy and Robert Downey Jr. : Their attitude that they are going to be who they are and screw what everyone thinks of it.

Sung Kang: The clean cut, quite guy off the Fast and Furious movies. He doesn’t say a lot but you know there is something deeper inside.

Johnny Depp: The introverted thinking type. He has that brooding look that women find appealing.

Now for the females:

Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock: Just down home country girls that made good. I would like to get them back to their roots and see if we could just hang out.

Reba McIntire: Her strength. Many years ago, all the members of her band were killed in a plane crash. She lost some of herself during that time but she came back even stronger.

Dolly Parton: Came from very humble beginnings and did exceptionally well. She never forgot where she came from and made a way for people in Eastern Tennessee to be able to make an honest living.

Shania Twain: Simply because the music she has recorded has spoken to me on so many levels. She is my shehero.

Audrey Hepburn: Quiet Introvert, yet from photos you see of her, she has a playful side.

Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett: Their comedy. I love their faces when they perform. They are comedic geniuses.

Grace Kelly: Simply put, for her Grace.

Couples:

Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman: Because they have FUN!!! They don’t take the fact that they are both famous bog them down.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill: For their loyalty. You can tell the way that they look at each other that they truly love and are utterly devoted to each other.

Now having said all that…..

Looking back at this list in the males, I see my person. He is smart, funny (oh how he can make me laugh),  he has a great smile, dimples (although he denies that), great eyes, a ponytail, a beard, has style and he is so gentle with me (now that is class),  he has that attitude of I am going to do me, he is a thinker, and an inventor/designer. He is that quiet, thinking person who sees far more than he ever says.  And his voice, we won’t talk about what happens to me physically when he says my name .

Looking at the list of females: I somewhat see myself. I am a country girl who would like to go places, yet my roots run deep. I have had to conjure up more strength than I ever thought I could. I can be quiet,  funny, playful, graceful or tough.

So maybe the person I would like to photograph most would be him because if you take all the reasons why I want to photograph all the others, well they all tie back into what fascinates me about my person. Those things I find so wonderful about him, those things that make him sexy as hell.

The couples listed…. well that is what I want in life. Fun and loyalty.

I didn’t really think about it until I was typing this blog. I looked at images of these folks last night and I made a list (yes, I am a list maker) of why. As I was typing it, I saw the similarities between what I  was seeing and who I see it in. Kind of funny where your heart goes when your mind wanders. That is HOME!!!