One Thin Slice

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Mema and Momma cleaned the house from top to bottom. Mema dug out the Thanksgiving tablecloths and napkins and her heavy gold flatware.

We rearranged all the furniture to make room for extra tables to hold all the food.

With 22 family members coming, Thanksgiving was a special time.

A long dessert table draped with a beautiful lace tablecloth was placed along the wall in the den. Another long table went in front of the large picture window, close to all the electrical outlets so the warming plates could be plugged in.

Mema spent hours going through familiar cookbooks and scraps of yellowed clippings piled high in boxes,trying to decide what dishes to make this year.

Eggplant casserole, sweet potatoe casserole, green bean casserole-all those were on the “must have” list.

Mashed potatoes and gravy,turkey and dressing,cranberry relish and deviled eggs…the list grew longer.

Momma,on the other hand,knew all her recipes by heart- she never had to look at a recipe because her cakes and cookies were “hers.”

She had made them for every holiday for so long that they were engraved in her memory. She made chocolate fudge sheet cake,prune cake,cowboy cookies and tea cake cookies from scratch.

Momma baked the chocolate pecan pie and Mema made the “regular” pecan pie, German chocolate cake and all the “whipped topping” pies-chocolate,lemon,buttermilk custard.

Three days before Thanksgiving,with all the final choices made and list n in hand, Mema, Momma and I went to the grocery store.

My job was to hold the list and check off everything as we walked along the aisles and to make sure we didn’t leave the store without some essential ingredient.

When we all got back home,the groceries were spread out; butter and eggs,vanilla and cocoa, sugar and spices to one side.

All the canned goods were stacked together;the recipes were laid on top. The turkey was put in the garage fridge to thaw.

Finally, the day before Thanksgiving arrived.

Mema and Momma woke early and began baking all the desserts. The aroma of Brown sugar and cloves filled the house. Chocolate fudge simmered on the stove,cookies were rolled and baked and laid on wax paper, and pie after pie cooled on the table.

The cakes were frosted,the fruit salad chilled, the banana pudding cooked and placed in the fridge.

We laid all the desserts on the special table that was reserved for them; beautiful pies with golden meringue toppings, three layered German chocolate cake under a glass dome, a white coconut cake, Momma’s chocolate sheet cake in a long pan,the prune cake on n the tall platter, tins filled with cookies, pecan pies lined up side by side.

It all looked absolutely beautiful, perfectly arranged,uncut, untouched and ready for the Thanksgiving guests.

But Daddy had his own Thanksgiving tradition.

When Mema and Momma were not looking, Daddy would sneak over to the dessert table and cut the tiniest,thinnest slice out of every cake and pie. He would load up his plate and eat every last bite.

He always said he had to try them out first, to make sure they were good enough for everyone else.

Mema and Momma would get so aggravated with him and try to convince him to wait so that the dessert table would look prettier when everyone showed up on Thanksgiving day, but he never listened. He always cut that tiny slice from everything he wanted.

Daddy died 14 years ago. Ever since that last Thanksgiving with daddy, the dessert table has been perfect when all the guests arrive. All the pies and cakes are still whole and everything looks like it should be in a home cooking magazine. But for Mema, Momma and me and the rest of the family, we would rather there be a thin slice taken from every cake and pie.

💙👣 This was my first published column for the Dallas Morning News on Thanksgiving day of 2004.

Momma went to bake in heaven that year and Mema joined them in 2009.

It’s now been 25 years since my Daddy took the thinnest,tiniest slice but we remember well how that house on Sharpview Lane was filled with love and laughter on Thanksgiving day and we are grateful.

I still have the recipes and the cookbooks and my daughter carries on the traditions of baking everything from scratch just like Mema and Momma.

A Blessing and A Curse

 Friday afternoon a friend of mine stopped by my massage studio and we sat outside on the patio,drinking beer and catching up. He had been doing yard work all day and I had just finished several massage sessions. It was a rare chance just to sit down together for a little while.

 We started talking about our days and I mentioned that I had done a Thai massage on the patio early Wednesday morning and that it had been so peaceful. He grinned and said,”It’s a little loud out here right now.”

I looked at him with enough surprise in my eyes that he pointed out that he could hear someone hammering 100 yards away, cars driving by and car doors shutting and people talking in the parking lot across the street.

100 yards! I couldn’t even imagine because,since I’m hard of hearing, I think-although I KNOW better- that only what I am seeing and feeling is making noise.

For me, sound is visual and tactical. I can feel the wind blowing so I realise that it’s making a rustling sound, and I can see the wind chimes moving,so I know they are making a sound…but I’m not sure how loud it is or if it’s as soothing as i assume it is.

I had no idea that my clients would be hearing a lawn mower yards away or the chatter of people walking up the sidewalks during the Thai massage sessions that I do outside on the covered patio deck at Rockwall Body and Soul Massage.

 This space is surrounded by trees and a high privacy fence so I’ve always considered it a peaceful, sacred oasis..far removed from the sounds of everything but when Jim told me what he heard, I was, quite frankly, a little shocked and then, I was filled with gratitude..

You see, hardly anyone ever tells me what I’m missing and I’m so used to missing out that it’s an incredible act of kindness when I’m made aware of something that I didn’t know.
I told Jim that I didn’t realize how loud it was outside.

 As we sat facing each other, only inches apart, I explained that, as far as I was concerned, he was the only person in the world at this time. My eyes were watching his lips so I could read his words. I paid close attention to his eyes and his body language and I listened with every ounce of my being, concentrating so hard to avoid missing anything important and to have to ask for it to be repeated.

He nodded his head in understanding and said, “It’s a blessing and a curse.”

A blessing and a curse.

That’s exactly what it feels like. A blessing that I’m unaware of noises that I don’t see. A curse because it could affect the way others feel about the sessions they receive.

A curse because I’m so used to being left out that I just accept it. When people are talking right in front of me but don’t bother to slow down just a little so I can understand, I just pretend it doesn’t sting and walk away. 

A curse because I feel invisible- unnoticed,unnecessary, uninvited.

I’ve sat at tables,sharing meals and not sharing conversations. People glance up, catch my eye and pause, as if they just now realized I was there, and then give me the “Readers Digest” version which usually begins like this, “Oh,we were just talking about……”

But it’s a blessing,too, because I’ve learned to be alone. I’ve learned to find the beauty in solitude, to fill the voids in my heart with other things. it’s made me a very compassionate,empathic woman. I appreciate kindness so much+ the extraordinary gifts of patience and understanding. I marvel at the wonders of technology like the AVA -Audio Visual Accessibility-app I use every day and captions for lyrics through Sound Hound and MusicMatch which gives me the gift of understanding the songs I’m listening to.

It’s a blessing because I don’t take anything for granted. When someone takes the time to include me or tells me something that makes me feel connected, then I am overwhelmed with gratitude, especially when I haven’t asked.

.My Mema used to listen intentionally and purposefully wherever we were at and then, when we were alone, she would pat the seat beside her, beckon me over and give me a play-by-play of everything she had heard. 

I would look so forward to these times because I knew she would tell the stories in such a way that we would both be roaring with laughter.or bought to tears, or shaking with indignation. She made me feel as if it was the greatest adventure to be able to share the stories with me. She had a knack of making everything come alive.

It was a blessing and a curse to hear the stories second-hand, filtered through her Southern sass and sensibilities. 

It’s a blessing and a curse because I can’t choose what I hear but I can choose how I listen to others. I choose to sit closely, and to seek out places that make lip reading as easy as possible. I choose small.intimate gatherings over large,rambunctious events. I choose to be mindful and grateful, instead of bitter and spiteful. I choose to walk away and find my own peace rather than stay and feel alienated.

That’s why it was such a rare  thing when my friend came by, sat outside and talked with me.  He knows full well that it is a blessing and a curse to be friends with a deaf woman. It takes longer to visit and sometimes people get the wrong idea because I sit closely and lean forward to understand. I touch often, which is my way of feeling the vibrations. of making connection, of being centered with whoever I’m listening to.

It’s a blessing because he knows that I’m giving him my utmost attention,but it’s also a curse because I look so much deeper into the heart of a person and that can make some people feel a little vulnerable or uncomfortable.

It’s just the way things are with me and all I can hope is that I’m more of a blessing than a curse. 



Jeanna’ Mead

9 18 p.m. 6-6-18

http://www.jeannasoul.com














Flowers and Faith

Yesterday,my client was running just a few minutes late which gave me time to walk outside and look at the flowerbeds and the empty pots. I stood there in the front yard, and adjusted the single pot of pansies, and picked up the picture that had the saying, “Life is a journey..enjoy it.” engraved on it then I walked to the back patio and gazed at the yard and the bare trees and felt the familiar tinge in my heart- the call of nature, the urge to plant and be filled with the peace that comes to me every time I am doing what I love.

Since I had found out that I would need to find another place for my business, Rockwall Body and Soul Massage, soon, I had made a conscious decision to step away from my beloved patio and not to purchase the patio sectional that I had wanted or plant new flowers.  “It’s not going to be yours much longer,” I reminded myself, “Let it go, let it all go.”

When my client arrived, we chatted just a few minutes and then I started his session. moving my hards, gazing out the window, letting my mind focus on what I love to do and as I was working on him, I felt as if God was speaking to me, a whisper of assurance,
“Plant flowers, Jeanna’, plant flowers here.”  and then again, “Go ahead, buy that patio furniture you want.  Have faith.  Believe that there will be a place for you. ”

Believe. Faith. Plant.  Go  Ahead.

Tears sprung in my eyes. This is what I needed to hear, to feel– that deep, down assurance, that powerful boost of courage and conviction that didn’t always fit logic but that had always been my guide- God speaking to me.. and my intution kicking in.

I decided right then and there that I would go to Lowe’s after my last session and buy a few flowers and check out the sectionals. During my gap between clients, I jumped in my car and drive over to Greg’s office to share what I had experienced with him and he just smiled at me and told me to go ahead and do what I felt I was told to do.

My next stop was to Tuesday Morning where I went in with the intention to get a birthday gift, gift boxes and tissue paper but, like  always, I rambled over to the garden section and then to the wall decor and there was another sign, waiting for me .

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  Simple black letters on a glass pane spoke further truth to my soul.   I held those words in my hands for just a few seconds but they made their mark on my heart.

I found some small garden stones inscribed with e words that I was searching for – a blue one with “love” and two white ones, one with “faith” and one with “believe”  and I felt as if this was all coming together in ways that I had not expected.

Saturday morning of March 3, I planted lantana and placed the stone with  “BELIEVE” in the middle of the blooms and then I placed “FAITH” in a pot  filled with red dianthus  and I laid the stone of  “LOVE”  right by the front door where everyone that walks up will see it and maybe, just maybe they will feel it.

This is one of those times that I just lmow that I am doing the right thing and another thought keeps running through my head, “It is mine, until it is not.”

It is mine… until it is not.  It is until it is not.

Let this sink in for a moment. Ponder these words.  “It is mine, until it is not.”

This house where I operate my massage studio is still mine, until it is not, and I am going to leave it better than I found it, but most importantly, until the day comes that I no longer have a key, I will fill the place with my presence, with love, with faith, with attention to detail and yes, with red, yellow, pink and purple flowers.  I will choose to decorate, to create and to make memories.  It is still mine, after all and it is a reflection of who I am and what I want to be known for.but

Maybe this is something that we all need to give some real consideration to. what we have is only ours until it is not…and during that time- no matter how brief or how long- we need to make the most of it.  We aren’t guaranteed anything but yet we have enough faith to develop friendships, we have enough courage to start a business, enough love to pursue somone and we believe enough to plant flowers and create gardens.

All these words, all these thoughts, all these choices and one thing I know for sure is that whatever happens, wherever I go, whatever I do, it is my chance,  my choice,and only mine until it is not and I want to be known for love, for faith, for believing and for having the courage to listen to the whisper of God and go ahead, to chase my dreams and follow my intuition and to love who I am with and where I am, as long as I can.

It is mine,after all, until it is not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Margaritas And Music

Here I am, sitting in a chair

A woman is putting color in my hair

just like Mema always did

I’m carrying on the tradition

ain’t no gray gonna give me away

I already had my coffee

dipped a cookie in the cup
 listened this morning

to all the greats

those deep. rugged voices of the men she loved so much

Got me a little Conway, Tom T and Marty

“Elvira” by those Oak Ridge Boys

I’m going to do a little shopping

buy something bright and sparkly

I won’t know until I see it

and it calls me by my name

Then when I’m good and ready

all dolled up and looking pretty

I’m going to sit at a table

with others that knew and loved

 her just as much as me

drink a frozen cmargarita

eat a bunch of sopapillas

covered in honey

tell a few good stories

flirt up a storm with the waiter

sweet talk to everyone

just exactly like my Mema

would want me to do

celebrating her birthday

just like she would do

carrying on traditions

like I was raised to do

.
Jeanna’ Mead

12 04 p.m. 1-25-17

http://www.jeannasoul.com

Happy Birthday, Mema

I love your bones!❤❤