Friday, April 26, 2013

uʍop ǝpısdn

"Mrs. Henderson, I'm so nervous."

"You know your piano piece. . .you'll play beautifully!"

"Mrs. Parker, I brought an extra person to our dinner recital."

"We'll set another place at your table then."

Last Saturday the room was abuzz with students, their family and friends. Over 100 of us anticipated a delicious potluck supper and a smorgasbord of music, ranging from Beethoven to Elton John.  Some anticipated with butterflied-stomachs, others with growling stomachs.  Both were about to find relief.

Mallorie is front row in a shrimp and gray striped dress.
Music and food flowed beautifully.  When Mallorie performed, we clapped. As she passed my table back to hers, I said, "Good job!"

Without slowing her gait, she whispered back to me, "My music was upside down!"  I never noticed.

"Then you did a REALLY good job!" I praised.

We don't require our students to memorize because it happens naturally as they practice.  Tested and proven by Mallorie, her smile never diminishing.

I've laughed several times since over this.  I've also thought about it.

Sometimes life turns upside down.  We all experience those unexpected shifts and turns.   I've noticed peoples' reactions through the years.  

Some handle it better than others.  They get back up, adjust and grow from the circumstances.  Not overnight.  Not necessarily easily.  They have the tools and use them to change their lives as needed, to move on and up.

Others seem to never quite recover. They get stuck. They rehearse and repeat the upside-down events in their minds and to others until friends and family tire of listening.  They don't seem to glean and grow from hard times. Sometimes depression wraps chains around any hope of change or progress.  Blame, anger, hopelessness capture them. They feel trapped. They are!  

What's the difference?  We teach our piano students but also learn from them.  As I pondered Mallorie's performance last week, I drew some parallel lessons.

* Hard times reveal what's there.  Only Mallorie knew her music was upside down but she had worked on it for weeks to perform and she did. Character is not created in crisis but it is revealed.

* Practice is key.  Not only in music, but in life. It's important to practice the presence of the Lord.  He's the God of the good times before you know He can handle the bad times.

* Discipline is daily.  Practicing piano or being in the Word, conversing with God prepares us for the times when the music is upside down.  

* Everyone wants to play piano and be happy.  Not everyone wants to work to play piano and find joy.  It takes time, years.  Musicians and mature Christians are never instant.  

* Years alone do not develop us to play music or mature when things go upside down.  Some kids take lessons for years but ignore the 4 things above. That hour lesson is about all they invest weekly. Some Christians go to church regularly for years but never grow. That one hour doesn't sustain either. They substitute religion, sometimes even busy church activities, good works, but neglect their actual relationship with Christ.

* Know your part intimately.  Spending time with the music or the Lord builds in the security you may need one day. He alone knows what's ahead. Knowing Him, yourself and friends intimately prevents identity crises. Nurtured relationships sustain us when. . .

. . .our life's music is upside down!  Prepare now.  Recital might be anytime.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


"Remember the fort that used to be here in the back yard?" my cousin Mike asked me.

"I thought it was a tree house," I recalled incorrectly.

"The yard was much bigger then," his younger brother, Dana, added.  

Memories last forever.

Four generations of my mother's family gathered in the brick colonial house for Uncle Duck's funeral yesterday.  Aunt Mimi, 94, still spry, articulate and sharp, continued the chain of family stories.  Doug and I ate the generous meal provided by the church.  The others ate earlier so they talked.  We ate and mostly listened.  Laughter boinged off the walls.
Libby, Mike, Uncle Duck with grands many
years ago as we gathered one Christmas.

Old stories were repeated.  New stories were delightfully shared. Now I realize telling family events is a lot like forcing friends to watch your vacation video.  Two things differ here. . .

1. You can stop reading right now.  
2. If you do, you'll miss one funny story!

Just one.  Promise.  This was one I'd never heard about Uncle Duck as a teenager.  His 2 sons, Dana and Mike, joined their mother, Aunt Mimi, recounting for me.  This one even predates their 72 year marriage!
Mama with her brother, Duck and Mimi

"Daddy loved playing anything--baseball, cards, golf.  He was a good athlete too, even though he was heavy set."

"Yeah.  His nickname came from his toddler days.  He waddled like a DUCK!"  That part I knew.

"He didn't like to work, even though he made a good living and provided well for us.  He'd work just to get play time.  It started young."

Granddaddy was a farmer and told his teen son, "Duck, go fertilize the 4 acres of tobacco."

"But, Daddy, I wanna go to the baseball game."

"Then you better hurry then.  Fertilize.  Then play ball."

Back then it was done by hand, so Duck waddled to the tobacco field and decided to get rid of all the fertilizer in the first acre.  Who'd know, he thought and figured he could get to his game in time.

No one did know.  At first.

Be sure your sins will find you out.

Some time later Granddaddy was driving past the field into town.  He noticed the front crop was tall with unusually thick tobacco leaves, eventually reaching 8 feet!  But the back 3 acres were short shoots, never even reaching knee height.  He made a screeching U turn, stormed back into the house, grabbed Duck by the collar and gave him an old fashioned whuppin'!

Next day Granddaddy rode by the tobacco field again, saw it, U-turned back home and whupped Duck again.  They say the scene repeated itself for days.  It took awhile for Granddaddy to get over the loss.  But not one acre was sellable!

Indelible marks were left in various places, mentally and physically, no doubt.

Memories last forever.

Funerals are not all about death.  Life is celebrated.  Families come together, share their history, comfort each other in the telling, laugh and cry as they hug.  It's a little like heaven on earth.  But we have to let go of each other and Uncle Duck.  He's doing the same thing but doesn't have to say goodbye.  A taste of heaven for us.

We're in the land of the dying, heading toward the land of the living, where. . .

memories last forever.

Good or bad ones live on.  Make good ones with your forever family.
Christmas card with David and Mike
Our Kent trying Duck's cigar!
Dana's hair WAS in style back then.

I promised you just one story, but you're still reading so if you're into broken promises here goes one more.  Feel free to exit. . .unless you want another good laugh.

A few days before Uncle Duck died he was taken to a hospice house and was unconscious.  Aunt Mimi phoned me, "Kathy, he hasn't spoken in days but I kissed him and told him I loved him.  He said, 'I love you too. . .sooooo much.'  Isn't that wonderful for his last words?"

Mike stood and eulogized at the funeral yesterday, sharing, "Dad was a man of few words but when he spoke, you listened and knew where he stood.  As they transferred him from the gurney to his hospice bed, they hoisted him and when he dropped to the new bed, he spoke for the first time in days, 'Damn!'   His last word was brief and direct!" 

Apparently mother and son hadn't shared their differing last-words-stories.  Sweet memories.  Funny memories.  Even to the end.

Memories last forever.                                         

Friday, April 12, 2013


Why should Noah Webster's name be the one associated with the dictionary?  If there were a Kathy Henderson version, it might read like this:

adult--a person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.

beauty parlor--a place where women curl up and dye

chickens--the only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.
committee--a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

dust--mud with the juice squeezed out.
ego--someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

handkerchief--cold storage.

inflation--cutting money in half, without damaging the paper.

mosquito--an insect that makes you like flies better.

raisin--a grape with a sunburn.

secret--something you tell one person at a time.

skeleton--a bunch of bones with the person scraped off.

toothache--the pain that drives you to extraction.

tomorrow--one of the greatest labor saving devices of today.

yawn--an honest opinion, openly expressed.

wrinkles--something other people have similar to my character lines.

Kathyisms and Webster aside, rednecks have their own daffynitions for words too.  Here's their version of medical terms.

artery--the study of paintings.

bacteria--back door to the cafeteria.

barium--what doctors so when patients die.

benign--what you be after you be eight.

Caesarean section--a neighborhood in Rome.

cat scan--searching for kitty.

cauterize--made eye contact with her.

colic--a sheep dog.

coma--a punctuation mark.

dilate--to live long.

enema--not a friend.

fester--quicker than someone else.

fibula--a small lie,

impotent--distinguished, well known.

labor pain--getting hurt at work.

medical staff--a doctor's cane.

morbid--a higher offer.

nitrates--rates of pay for working night, usually higher than day.

node--I knew it!

outpatient--a person who has fainted.

pelvis--second cousin to Elvis.

post operative--a letter carrier.

recovery room--place to do upholstery.

rectum--nearly killed him.

secretion--hiding something.

seizure--Roman emperor.

tablet--a small table.

terminal illness--getting sick at the airport.

tumor--one plus one more.

urine--opposite of you're out.

Friday, April 5, 2013


"Maaaa-maaa!  Grandma wants to know where you put her hearing egg!"  That's what one of mine called it during the toddler years.

My dear mother had severe hearing loss for many years.  It was not an old age thing but genetic.  She lost more hearing with the birth of each of her three children.  We grew up understanding her misunderstandings, often interpreting for her.

Coming home from church one Sunday I remember Dad commenting, "I need to go to the Quick Pick on the way home." Mom fluttered and sputtered, "Picnic?  Why a picnic?  We can't go on a picnic, Elbert!  I have a roast in the oven and besides we don't have any food with us!"  They both looked at each other like the other was crazy. (Quick Pick=picnic)                          
Bert, Mama and Daddy

Mama used a headset to amplify television.  She removed her hearing aid as Ricky started the movie, loudly explaining Jurassic Park to her.  She smiled and looked unusually eager.  Thirty minutes later her elation melted into a puzzled look as she loudly inquired, "Ricky!  When are we gonna see Dinah Shore?"  (dinosaur=Dinah Shore)

Recently on facebook my cousins reminisced about similar stories.  Waylan recounts a visit to our house.  Mama was his Aunt Kat:

Many years ago, Bob, Verna and clan along with mom and I stopped in to see your folks in Nashville. Aunt Kat fixed a huge dinner. My nephew Rob suddenly had to get up and leave the table to use the bathroom which prompted a story (doesn't potty humor frequently come up at your table too?) Bob said that Rob struggled at times with constipation so they told him to always eat plenty of collard greens to help him "go" like he should. So one time he was in the bathroom having his difficulties and he started calling out to his mom, "Help! Bring me the collard greens!" Everyone started laughing, except Aunt Kathryn who finally said, "I don't understand. What was he going to do with CONCRETE?"
I have lots of material! Some of it would not be suitable for a public blog, though!  You know, it's a journey we are both on going in to the "sunset of life" as Ronald Reagan once eloquently said.  Mom and I do lots of reminiscing, looking at old photographs, and sharing stories.  She loves to share her wisdom. This time of my life with her is precious to me.

My cousin, Debbie, a nurse, also recounts a funny hearing aid story:
  • Conversation started today
  • Debbie Tippett Hockaday

    I have a funny hearing aide story but it didn't happen with a family member. It was one of the first patients I ever had when I started my first job in the hospital.
    I entered a four bed men's ward when another resident complained about his room mate. I found Mr. Herman sitting on the side of his bed trying to make his big thick fingers adjust his little bitty hearing aide. The device was whistling like a loud dentist's drill but Mr. Herman didn't know it. I offered to help, but he couldn't hear me either. After an eternal 30 seconds or so of that piercing noise, Mr. Herman put the minute machine in his ear, looked up at me and shouted, "Can you hear me?"

Aunt Virginia is Waylan's mother.
My cousin shares his own mama's recent adventures on facebook. Waylan Goddin

Having breakfast at ihop with's a snippet of the conversation:
MOM: what does Anne do?
ME: She's a pastor's wife.
MOM: That's tacky for a lady to do.
ME: What? Why?
MOM: Taxi driver.  That's a tacky job for a lady.
ME: Where's your hearing aid ?
MOM: I don't need to urinate!
ME: Hearing aid!!
MOM: Hurricane? This time of year?
ME: (to waitress) CHECK, PLEASE!
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