AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: August 20, 2012 | COMMENTS: 12 Comments
Saturday night I had a very special evening.
We attended a fundraiser in honor of an extraordinary person, and the company and the ambiance created an atmosphere of perfection. The dinner was hosted to help grow a fund in honor of a cherished woman, who I had the good fortune to know. I first met Missy when I was the principal in her boys’ school. Soon after I hired her to teach the children I was entrusted to educate. Technically I was her boss and she was supposed to learn from me but I learned quickly after starting that job, that great leaders learn from the people they lead.
When I reflect on my relationship with Missy, I consider her a mentor. She knew more about the benefits of kindness and the gifts of gratitude than anyone I’ve ever met. When she died suddenly last year, the world lost a bright light, but even after months of being gone, she continues to positively impact my life.
It is Missy that inspires me to savor the smiles.
These weekly posts are inspired by her.
First Smile..Teens and Toddlers!
This scene played out one evening last week. It’s a teenage Fantasy Football draft, and it’s become an annual event for our boys and their friends. I’ll go to my grave not understanding the appeal of Fantasy Football, but it’s not the mystery of the phenomenon that caused me to laugh. Instead it was the fact that these seven young men, settled into their very grown-up activity amidst what we refer to as our toddler playground. I’m guessing it’s a scene that doesn’t play out in very many homes.
I’m often asked what it’s like to mother children at such vastly different stages of life. I don’t mince words–it’s tough. I remember one evening going from two cranky, teething eight month olds, to proof-reading a five page paper about the Life of Bilbo Baggins (from The Hobbit…for ninth grade honors English). To say I was spent by the time my head hit my pillow, would be an understatement of colossal proportions. But when I find Ryan playing with Isabella and giggles are coming from both…
I smile because I know I am lucky!
Second Smile…A Visit from The Discovery Channel
In addition to hosting a fantasy football draft, our family room played stage for the Discovery Channel this week. Drew was up first and he knocked it out of the park! By the time he gets to journalism school, he’ll be a seasoned professional at the art of an interview. The job appeals to him, because as you can see, the formalities of shoes and ties are optional in the field of producing!
The production crew was wonderful and made the interviews as painless as possible. They spent two days with our family and learned a lot about our journey. We were sorry to see them go, but the producer had a girlfriend to get back to…oh wait, pardon me, a Rockette to get back to!
The fact that his girlfriend was a Rockette bought him major props in the eyes of my guys!
The Third Smile…A Great Friend!
My friend Tracy participated in the Discovery Channel interview. Her role, “Carolyn’s friend” and I couldn’t have cast a more perfect person for the role!
Every time we agree to do one of these shows, the producers ask if they can inteview a friend who stood by my side. I’m always hesitant to ask someone to give that much time in front of a camera. It’s not fun and it’s nerve racking so I’m always nervous to ask! My sister-in-law, Jo Ann, has already participated in a show, so I asked Tracy if she’d mind, and was thrilled when she agreed. She texted me five times the night before, obsessing about her wardrobe.
“Black pants? White pants? Blue top? Should I wear a skirt?”
I told her not to worry because she could have appeared in a paper bag and looked great. You see, she’s as beautiful on the outside as she is in her heart!
I’m lucky to have such a great friend!
The Fourth Smile…The First Race!
The boys’ are varsity runners for their high school’s cross country team. It’s a sport that conjurs deep passions in all of my men. Their first race was Saturday and Ryan ran a PR! (personal record). When the boys passed through the second mile mark, they were running together and it melted my heart. They are truly inseperable. They have been since Ryan’s birth. I love that they are such good friends!
The Fifth Smile…A Reunion!
I retired from my principalship in July 2005, and when I left–I left. As much as I adored all the people I worked with, I knew all too well that I had to stay away. It’s a “boundary thing” that happens when an administrator leaves a school. My replacement needed to establish herself, which required me to disappear.
But out of sight doesn’t translate to out of mind with my coworkers!
One of the women that I have missed was the keeper of my sanity. Vicki was my school secretary, and when we first met, I knew we’d make a great team. I can’t tell you how many times we ran around the office trying to make the impossible happen, and the occasions where we shut the door and laughed until we cried, were too countless to mention! She made my job easier, and that’s a lot considering the job, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful!
When I saw her at Missy’s dinner, I almost burst into tears. I haven’t spoken with her since Logan was born, but I could feel all of her prayers. So we huddled in a corner, wine glasses in hand, catching up with lots of laughs and even a few tears. I’ve missed her. I’ve missed everyone and I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect.
My Biggest Smile…A Lesson In Gratitude
Missy taught me the value of a smile. It was her greatest accessory, and it was truly the best bling any girl could wear. I remember one afternoon checking in on her classroom and marveling at her energy and enthusiam for life. She died the day after Christmas, from an embolism after surgery. It was a blindside that I still haven’t come to grips with–and I’m not the only one.
As I’ve learned from my own journey, grief is a part of our time here on Earth and suffering is something nobody escapes. It’s up to us how we channel it and that’s where the challenge lies. It can eat us alive, driving a mom– like me–to the edges of darkness, but it can also force a choice that can change our lives for the better.
Missy’s death has been a a catalyst for me this year. It’s one of three early winter events that forced me to change the focus of my writing. I still can’t completely articulate how I feel about her loss, but I’m working on it by allowing her memory to inspire me. Her joyful attitude was contagious, and it’s because of her that I’m forever savoring my smiles.
Her smile is her legacy, and I’m grateful for that!
Give Away Winner
I’m pleased to announce that Marion is the winner of the Hobby Lobby gift card. All of the comments were so funny that I couldn’t choose, so MK drew Marion’s name out of a hat! Her comment was…
Marion | August 15th, 2012 10:47 pm edit
Craziest craft experience = me learning to knit just so I could make our kids mittens which didn’t fit and had holes in them where I had dropped stitches. I was driven to this knitting insanity out of guilty while watching my niece wearing the jumpers her mother had knit for her (so I thought I would be a “good mother” and have a go). In the end I didn’t tell anyone I made the mittens because they looked like something I found in a dumpster. Our daughter loved using one of hers as a sleeping bag for her barbie though. In my ‘knitting box’ I have multiple colours of wool which have been in there for over 5yrs because I got so excited during my “good mother” fantasy that I bought them all.
Marion, email me your address and I’ll get the gift card to you in the mail so you can let the “crafting begin”! (Are you still knitting?)
Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post about our next give away!
And remember to smile! I am!