I’ll never forget one of the first times Tim called me. No cell phones back in the dark ages, so he called the home phone. I heard the phone ring, then Mom called me to the phone and I said, “Hello?”… “Um, can I speak to Wendy?”… “This is Wendy.”… “OH!! Well who in the world is LOU?? I heard your mom call her to the phone and almost hung up!!” Tim said.
I don’t remember when it started because I am certain I was less than six months old, but my family nicknamed me Lou. Rumor has it, my great grandfather on my Dad’s side, Pap Paw, thought I looked like Lu Lu on Hee Haw. You see I was a very healthy baby and Lu Lu was a healthy woman, therefore since I was not quite a “big” as her I only needed one Lou. It’s funny, my family never called me Wendy Lou but I have a sweet friend who I worked with, Terri, who started calling me Wendy Lou from the get go not having any idea that Lou was my family nickname. So obviously, I look like a “Lou”…. who knew?!?!?
To this day, my family will call me Lou in person, on the phone, in emails, in texts… whenever and where ever. And I automatically answer because it’s always been that way. Now my CRAZY Uncle Tony tried to give me new nickname when I was ten but thankfully “Smelly Booger” only stuck with Tony and my brother Todd. Yep, you can call me Lou… but don’t even think about Smelly Booger.
There is nothing worse than uncertainty… the phone call that says there may be a problem with your mom but they won’t know until they run a test in the morning. What to do? Drive across the state to sit and wait just in case? Or stay home in hopes that it is nothing. It’s especially troubling when you’re also packing your son to leave in two days for a semester abroad and you are torn. Go be with your mom or stay and get your son off? It’s not a fun or easy decision…it’s one that no one wants to make.
I’ve always been close to my mom, especially since we share a lot of similarities not the least of which is a tremendous love for reading and the beach (and yes, reading at the beach is HEAVEN to both of us!!) My boys will tell you that she is the best cook in the world and that her hoe cakes are the greatest food known to man. My mom never meets a stranger and shares Tim’s love of talking to people. I cannot even begin to count the number of times we’ve been in line at a store and my mom will start a conversation with a total stranger… yes a TOTAL STRANGER people!!
Mom also possesses great genetics. She looks way younger than she is and always has. It was at my very first wedding shower in 1989 in a receiving line at the front door with my mom and Tim’s mom that I learned firsthand what it’s like to have a beautiful, young looking mom. I was talking with a friend during a lull when a woman walked up to my mom and said, “You MUST be the bride!” I spun around so fast my shoulder pads almost flew out my sleeves! My first instinct was to march over there and firmly say that I was the bride but then I noticed my mom. She’d never looked younger or more beautiful as she was laughing and correcting the kind lady. For many years people asked if my mom was my sister and truth be told, I was flattered for her (and I like to think it bodes well for me too…good genes are hereditary, right?!?!)
So in the midst of all this swirling in my mind about should I stay or should I go (name that band….The Clash), I did what I always do in these situations. I called my mom. I knew I’d be able to tell from her voice how she really was and if I needed to go be with her (which I didn’t and she is totally fine!) Yes, I’m thankful for many things this holiday season but at the very top of my list is that I can still pick up the phone and talk with my mom. So if you’re ever in line at a store and a beautiful brunette old enough to be my mom starts talking to you, say hi to my mom for me!!
Google taught me to cook. You see, I didn’t take Home Economics in high school. Nope, I thought it way more prudent to take PE and weight lifting… in the same semester. Hello, there were far more guys in those classes and at the time that held more importance than cooking. (Apparently I was pretty good at figuring out the least useful skills in life and pursuing them.) Plus when you were the only girl in the class, the coach said you didn’t have to work out if you’d keep his grade book. Ummm, OK!! Therefore, I’m certain it will come as no surprise to anyone that I was never known for my cooking ability.
Now my lack of cooking skills became apparent quite early in my life. There was the great pudding debacle when I was 10. Who doesn’t love some pistachio instant pudding? I clearly followed the directions putting in two cups of milk and stirring until mixed. Eight hours later when it was still soupy as all get out, I calmly showed my mom the measuring cup I had filled twice and dumped into the powered pudding. She just as calmly pointed out that it was a 2 cup measure i had used and not a 1 cup measure… thereby doubling the milk. Ooops!!
Not long after, I decided to prove I really could cook this time making cherry Jell-O (yes I realize pudding nor Jell-O is cooking but you tell my 10 year old self that.) Who can mess up Jell-O right?!?! I mean it’s water and powder people, surely any idiot can make Jell-O. It was like a chemistry experiment in my kitchen that day with all my planning and preparation. I was certain it would be the best Jell-O ever and was patting myself on the back when after only 30 minutes, my Jell-O was set. Man I was good! I proudly showed mom my success and we tasted it… ummmm, it was not very good. Again mom began to walk through the steps with me when I realized it didn’t say “add 1 cup hot water OR 1 cup cold water” no it clearly said “add 1 cup hot water AND 1 cup cold water”… it was at this point I realized paying attention to detail might not be my strong suit.
It’s here that I tell you once I was married and began cooking on a regular basis, I really got my game on and could whip up a healthy, delightful meal in no time… except that didn’t happen. No, I’ve been cooking for 24 years and until I retired almost 2 years ago, it was just so-so on the food front. I could whip up a mean Hamburger Helper meal or stick a frozen lasagna in the oven with the best of ‘em but not even close to gourmet. (The good news is that I served a salad with every meal so my sons grew up healthy albeit with vary untested palettes.) But now that I have retired, I have to say I’ve gotten quite good in the kitchen. I dare say, I even found that I really love cooking. Maybe it has something to do with me pretending I’m on a cooking show whenever I make anything or it could just be that I have plenty of time for it now but it is probably the fact that one can Google any food and get detailed directions that even I can follow. Whatever the reason, I just want all to know that I’ve finally begun to conquer the kitchen and now make a pretty mean risotto. Yes, I said risotto… bring it on Chef Ramsey!
What do you do all day? I get asked that question more than you would think (ok, maybe you think it would be a question often asked, so I should say more than I would think.) It’s funny because when I worked no one ever asked me what I did all day. I guess because I had a boss, so they felt like if someone was telling me what to do, I was busy. I find it an interesting question and one that is hard to answer. You see I actually have a life. (SHOCKING huh?!?!) Just because my boys are in college (in three different states!) and my husband works full time there is still stuff to do.
I belong to two Bible study groups as a participant, one Bible study as a teacher and one prayer group. They are varied groups to be sure!! One is couples, one is older women, one is teen age girls and the other is peers. The most interesting part to me is the commonality across the groups. We are all at different stages in our lives yet we all have similar struggles. It is never dull y’all!
Also, my husband still likes to eat (WHAT?!?!) plus our clothes and house still need to be cleaned. Yes there is less laundry and mess but they both still have to be done. What you don’t realize too, is that once you are in your home all day you begin to notice all that has been left undone over the years. OOPS! I daily find rooms that need painting, furniture that needs sprucing up and closets that need cleaning out. Be honest, who doesn’t keep a running list of things that have to be done around the house??? Some days I wear myself out cleaning out a cabinet that no one will ever notice simply because it needs to be done.
So just to answer your question people, I have plenty to do all day every day. That doesn’t mean I do it… but it’s there waiting on me. And as soon as I finish this book I’m gonna go get started.