Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Additions to the List of Difference-Makers

A year and a half ago, I wrote this post entitled A List of Difference-Makers. This post continues to be one of my favorites I have written because it is a credit to the love, support, advice, knowledge, and encouragement that have been bestowed upon me by individuals throughout my life, whether or not they knew how profoundly they impacted me. Based on an idea of Mr. Derek Sivers, I spent a great deal of time reflecting upon both the wonderful and challenging times of my life and the amazing people who were there to make a difference for me along the way. I compiled and published a list of these difference-makers in my life, which can be seen within that post.

Eighteen months of beautiful life have passed me by since that post was written. In those 18 months I have known both joy and heartache that have stripped me to my core and caused me to re-evaluate my priorities. I have laughed and cried with gusto, and I have done it alongside individuals whose worth could never be estimated. Thirteen more people have put fingerprints on my soul. It reminds me of the line from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: "Grandfather's been dead for all these years, but if you lifted my skull, the convolutions of my brain you'd find the big ridges of his thumbprint. He touched me."

A special thank-you to my list additions. My life could never have been the same without these people to mark me in some way:
George Potter
Owen Marshall
Kristen Smith
Keri Kelley
Jenny Koehnen
Nicole Beal
Rachel Knudsen
Natalie Dickey
Angie Haubrich
Jeremy Lamb
Elizabeth Waterman
Heather Wilson
Karla Wasielewski

So here is my list in its entirety, with the new additions at the bottom as the list goes chronologically throughout my life:

Bill and Cindy Hughes
Bill “Papa” and Jenny “Grandma” Hughes
Christa Hughes
Billy Hughes
Sara Dilks
Lois Sturch
Jerry and Dixie Cason
"Uncle" Kevin Wigginton
Candace Shephard
Kristal Lounge
Carolyn Snavely
Linda Warford
David Daniel
Kyla Coker
Dr. Roy Stevens, Dr. Raymond Krob, and Dr. Robert Markowitz (my TMJ medical dream team)
Holly Wallace
Tammy Patton
Jana Robins
Linzy Lawson
Coach Ken Hogan
Bam Goodnight
Mike Goodnight
Lori White
Kolby White
Liz Butcher
Sharada Price
Dalia and Artie Catalano
Angela Wheeler
Andi Gossett
Jennifer Seeley
Renee Callies
Brianne Genow
Amber Turley
Christi Flagg
Mary Metzger
Diana Jarrett
Renee and Andy Rhodes
Dr. Ed Lawry
Gary Moore
Amy Kramer
Autumn Weant
Kasey Perry
BJ Potter
Robin Hugle
Dr. James Grice
Dr. Nancy Wilkinson
Julie O'Dom
Kent and Konya Martin
Terry and Susan Potter
Brooke Luthye
Matthew Potter
Laurie Lamb
Paul and Karla Wasielewski
Heidi and Billy Weber
Dr. Skye Payne
Dr. Phyllis Solon
Kristin Nelson
Lisa Nippoldt-Baca
Dr. Marcia Bennett
Jenn Schwartz
Sebbie Alderman
Mike Sutton
Jonna Board
Amy Mohney
Lynn Bensinger
Pam Vestal
Trisha Bley
Sommer Marshall
Jenny Woody Hughes
Emily Hooge
Jerry and Pat Bley
Amber and Erik Terrell
Janie Bates
Chanda Kersey
Heidi Holeman
Cyndi Repanshek
Laura Wasielewski
Dr. Donald Brown
Melissa Fixico
Silas Potter
Amanda Kelly
Vicky Hampton
Jeannie Milan
Heidi Bratcher
George Potter
Owen Marshall
Kristen Smith
Keri Kelley
Jenny Koehnen
Nicole Beal
Rachel Knudsen
Natalie Dickey
Angie Haubrich
Jeremy Lamb
Elizabeth Waterman
Heather Wilson
Karla Wasielewski

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gratefulness for Years of Fun

BJ has recently set up a neat screensaver slideshow on our TV that we and our boys have had a great time watching on lazy mornings lately. After breakfast on a weekend morning we often convene in the living room as a family and play with toys; in the background we play an album of our choosing and across the TV scrolls eleven years' worth of our photos on a random basis. The boys love it and often scream in delight when they see family members, Tex, and friends. Silas sometimes looks at pictures from early in our marriage and sagely states, "Mommy, you were young then," and "Daddy, you had hair on your head then."

This morning we were all playing while listening to Of Monsters and Men, and I just couldn't help but feel my heart swell with emotion when looking at some of these pictures as they came upon the screen. What an overwhelming sense of gratitude I felt for all of the years I have been blessed to live, all of the lovely people who support me in my life and endeavors, and all of the places I have seen and things I have done. I occasionally grinned ear-to-ear at the images coupled with the beautiful lyrics, "Hold your horses now/Through the woods we ran..." I saw pictures of our second apartment, the U of Minnesota campus, Gallagher-Iba timeouts with Eddie Sutton at the helm, Tex as a puppy, my children being born, blinding snowfalls, North Carolina beaches, Christmas gift-unwrapping, hot afternoons at the lake, Korean Buddhist temples, campsite scenes, fish caught, miserable post-surgery moments, morning coffee on a Beavers' Bend deck, fly fishing in Colorado, turquoise lakes in Banff, and swollen pregnancy feet. How did I ever get so lucky to have had all of these moments? Thank you, BJ, for setting up frequent trips down memory lane! Here are some pictures that I saw just this morning:

Can't get over how young we both look!

Terry (BJ's dad) and Silas at Beavers' Bend, Oklahoma

BJ in front of a palace in Seoul


Susan (BJ's mom) and Silas

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Potty break in those early training days!

Bill and Cindy (my mom and dad) with George in Rocky Mountain National Park

Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota

Aunt Jenny and George on his birth day

 Uncle Matthew sketching on the University of Virginia campus

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Boys, Boys, Boys!

Things are going well for our family! BJ and I had hoped that we would be able to have three children and that we could have them close together, and we have been extremely lucky. About a month ago we learned that we will thrice be blessed with boys, which is a destiny I have secretly long assumed for myself and with which I am overjoyed. BJ and I have decided to name Boy #3 Van, which shouldn't surprise anyone that knows us well since the average age of male boasting the name "Van" in the United States is a ripe 56 years old, according to the Social Security website. Only one or two people have flipped their lids loving our name choice, but everyone else has been gracious if not confused ("Did you say ZAN?" and "As in the vehicle Van?" have not been singular responses). Yes, we admit it: we love old man names. Plus, I have a particular affinity for the name Van because my favorite author is kick-ass Maine-native Van Reid. Nearly everyone questioned the name George as well, I might add, but anyone who knows our Georgie knows that the name was aptly chosen and deliciously matches his hilarious and spunky personality. Not many youngsters can pull it off as well as he, I'm sure! So, with the youngest, Van Owen it is.

Not to be outperformed, Silas has been quite the unintentional comedian himself this past week. My favorite quote from him in a very long time, perhaps ever, was uttered just two days ago as we exited the house through the garage door to meet Christa and her family at a restaurant. Tex was excited about all of the coming-and-going commotion, and as Silas sailed past him out the door he nonchalantly said to Tex,
"Tex, you're not coming. You're not allowed to go places except Bark in the Park, you sly devil you!"
What?! I laughed so hard before I could finally ask,
"Did you just say 'you sly devil you?'"
To which he replied, "I did." Well, his DVD of choice lately has been Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (we know no seasonal limitations around here, apparently), and there is indeed a scene that he reminded me of where Peppermint Patty says to Charlie something along the lines of "You're holding my hand, aren't you Chuck? You sly devil you." Reciting quotations by the awesome Peppermint Patty is every feminist mother's dream. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Peppermint Patty's character development:
"Schulz said that he had developed the Peppermint Patty persona in response to the burgeoning Women's Liberation Movement that was sparked in the latter half of the 1960s, and that he desired to create a character that defied gender stereotypes and embraced social norms that had yet to become fashionable. Peppermint Patty was the first female character outfitted with shorts and sandals, rather than dresses, and her personality was easygoing and tomboyish. She was also the first character to be the product of a single-parent household."
Oh yeah. My boy knows the good ones.

 In news that blissfully does not pertain to our children, BJ and I are celebrating our ten-year anniversary next month and our parents have graciously agreed to keep our boys for four days while we take our first child-free trip since Silas was born. We're headed to New York City to meet Sommer and Pete for a long weekend, and we are elbows deep in planning what we believe will be a lovely trip! If you have any pointers, must-see's, or can't-miss restaurants, please advise. We have our tapas restaurant and dessert places picked out, but are open to all kinds of suggestions!

Here is to hoping that your summer is going well, friends!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

May 20: A Million Things

 I think this will be my last 'May 20' post. I think. While the process of debris removal and cleanup continues in Moore and the process of rebuilding is just beginning, the people of Moore have proven again that they are a lovely people who work, fight, and play together. BJ and I have been so pleased to see our community come together in a voting contest to help rebuild Veterans Park, which is our neighborhood park that was destroyed in the storm. At this point, the southern end of the park is now open again for walkers, joggers, and families; the northern end, which took the most direct hit, still looks like a wasteland, and sadly that is where the park's main attractions were. As of now, the playground, picnic pavilion, covered bridge, and veterans memorial are gone or damaged, but we are eager about the rebuilding process, and this contest could help a lot! If you haven't signed up yet to vote, please do by clicking here! Voting ends on July 14 I believe, and the votes count for double on those last couple of days! Currently Veterans Park holds a lead, which would be a prize of $100K.

Last week I also received in the mail my Oklahoma heart necklace from a local jewelry-maker called Vintage Pearl. Half of the proceeds went to Oklahoma disaster relief, and this necklace helped by raising $180,000 worth of funds! Now I can carry on me always my love for my community and a reminder of its strength. Hooray!

On a more serious note, I don't think I can do justice by trying to describe the emotions that most people in Moore continue to feel on a very frequent basis. Heartache and grief are not over, and not only for those who lost a loved one or their home. Even for BJ and me, whose material losses were unspeakably small, a feeling of grief and sadness pervades our beings at times as we reflect on the storm or drive about town through the remnants of what is left. The area of 4th and Telephone is particularly upsetting for me, and it was the intersection in town that I avoided the longest because I knew it would be hard for me to face. BJ and I drove through this intersection daily before the tornado; the 7-Eleven where Megan and Case Futrell and Terri Long were killed was our primary gas-up spot. Donuts are across the street, the recycling center was a few blocks north, the Moore Medical Center which is home to our amazing pediatrician Dr. Harmon is right at the intersection, and just behind it was Plaza Towers Elementary (where seven children were killed), businesses, and hundreds of homes. Now, it is a vast expanse of nothing. It truly looks like a war zone, and I kid you not when I tell you that it cripples our hearts to drive through. Crosses stand at the 7-Eleven, toothpick trees remain at the nearby Little River Park, and barren concrete pads where there used to be buildings greet the eye as one looks into a half-mile wide expanse of nothing remaining, smack dab in the middle of the city. We drove through the intersection three evenings ago and I was flooded with the familiar heartache; I asked BJ,
"How long do you think it will be before we can drive through here without feeling so awful?"
His slow response: "Oh... Probably never."
He's right. I know he's right but I didn't want to hear it. Of course this will never really leave us because it has become a part of just sucks because it's a part of us that hurts. And then the light turned green and we drove through, the hundredth time I have driven through sobbing.

Megan and Case Futrell. My story on Megan and Case is not done here; I actually have the opportunity to share with the world an amazing contribution that Megan and Case both made to the Oklahoma Mother's Milk Bank following their passing, but details must follow later. May their sweet souls rest in peace.

Dr. Harmon, on the right, pictured outside the Moore Medical Center on the first day of demolition. Goodness, how we love Dr. Harmon!

As BJ and I got out about a month ago and surveyed the damage to our familiar haunts on the west side of Moore (we live on the east side and had mostly limited our travels to there), we saw firsthand the devastation that was done to my uncle's home and Wallace Horse Park, which is located right next door to the famous Orr Family Farm. Ten years ago next month, BJ and I were married in the backyard of my uncle's beautiful home; it had been the dream home that I had eyed since childhood, and when my aunt and uncle purchased it I couldn't have been more thrilled. They graciously allowed us to invite our friends and family to celebrate our vows in August 2003 in their beautiful backyard, and our memories are untarnished although the house was devastated. Next door is the horse park where my family lived for a year while I was in college. My parents were in the process of building their current home, so we rented the ranch house there on the park and lived next door to my aunt and uncle. I can't describe to you how much fun it was to live there! The horse park was home to about 200 horses, stables, an arena, and pastures for the horses to graze upon. Some of the horses were my regular friends and I visited them daily in the pasture right outside my bedroom window; I even named a few of the horses, although I know these sweet girls belonged to someone else and already had names, I didn't know what they were so I created names like Kissing Annette and Golden Glory. My mom would even wake in the middle of the night to help the ranch hands, who also lived on houses on the horse park property, deliver horse babies when the time had come. When it was time for us to move to my parents' new house, my mom was given one of the horses that she helped to birth in exchange for her promise that she would not race him. She named him Baron and he is a giant turkey. I smile just thinking about these times.

On the afternoon of May 20, the horse park took a direct hit. Three-quarters of the horses were killed, and all of the buildings on the horse park property, including the ranch house where we made our memories, were completely annihilated. Not a wall was left standing on that entire farm. My brother told me the story of a ranch hand who didn't even take cover; up until the time the tornado actually hit, he was running frantically from stall to stall, opening gates as quickly as possible, giving each horse a chance to escape doom. As the winds bore down, the giant stable collapsed. The ranch hand, whose name I don't know, amazingly survived with injury as he was buried in the rubble.

A few weeks after the tornado hit, I was relaying these tales to my best friend via text.  I told her about our wedding, the ranch house, our fun times, the devastation from the storm, the dead horses, and the story of the ranch hand. She asked me incredulously,
"How have you not told me about this part before now?"
I read her question aloud to BJ and we both vocalized roughly the exact same thought:
" was just one of a million things. We lost so much that day. It was only one of so many pieces lost, and where do you even start or finish?"

Thousands upon thousands of people in Moore, southwest Oklahoma City, and Newcastle have "pieces" from May 20. For them, it probably isn't the site where they got married, but it was something else plus something else plus something else, all adding up to one giant swirling loss that continues to be dealt with today. I daresay we'll carry these pieces forever, just as BJ suspected when I asked him how long it's going to hurt to drive through 4th and Telephone. We can't exactly forget a million things.