I know I should be saying goodbye to a year filled with chaos, dissention, and difficulty and writing about Covid, inequality, and the myriad of related tragedies. However, instead I am going to write goodbye to a year full of clarity, reflection, and hope.
The first week of 2020 started with my family becoming ill, with what we now know was Covid-19. I thought it could only be uphill from there. I hadn’t planned on my husband’s grandmother, who was such an amazing woman and a near daily part of my life for years, passing a couple of months after our illness. I also hadn’t planned on losing out on signing an author I had been pursuing for over a year, because through the anxiety of quarantine she found she no longer felt the desire to publish. I, as others, never anticipated editing and publishing screeching to a halt, or the mass shut down of businesses and loss of jobs.
However, in this past year, with so much going on, it also was the year of nothing going on.
Larry and I didn’t go to lunch twice a week together like we had before and certainly scaled back the parties and barbeques at our house, which had always been a mainstay. On one hand, there was so much stillness, but on the other, so much chaos. It was a rollercoaster of ups and downs.
I’ve had a bucket list for years. It’s not really a I-MUST-DO-ALL-THESE-THINGS-BEFORE-I-DIE list, just more of a HEY-THIS-WOULD-BE-COOL-TO-DO-BEFORE-I-DIE list. Casually, over the years, I’d tick off something and put a strikethrough on it.
My main list contains mostly silly things like, “Dance in the Rain” and is accompanied by a secondary list titled, “Things Not on Bucket List (but should’ve been)” and includes stuff such as in 2013, “Take a romantic carriage ride with Larry.”
My husband hardly ever backtracks. Left your wallet, phone, or child? He likely won’t turn around. I learned this pretty early on in our relationship, yet still a time or two I’ve left something important and he’d been reluctantly forced to go back. (Not a child, thankfully)
Mother’s Day 2020 started off wonderfully. The kids came and brought me a basket of some of my favorite things, and then we all went to Larry’s brother’s house along with other family members. We spent time outside, visiting, laughing, and having a wonderful lunch. Afterward, we started the small twenty-five minute drive to my sister’s for a Mother’s day crawfish boil.
About halfway there my husband said “Look” and pointed. I had time to catch the sight of an incredible Canadian goose family on the side of the road as we passed, with five little babies. But I wanted more. We have tons of Canadian geese that visit our pond twice a year, but never with goslings. I marveled at how incredible it was. In all of my fifty years, that was the first time I’d ever seen a Canadian goose family before.
First time in fifty years.
I asked if he would turn around so I could get a better look at them, maybe even take a few pictures. He, one, looked at me like I’d lost my mind, and two, said no, that we were already running late. I replied that it would only take a second, to which he said with humor (but also his famous sarcasm) “a second, huh? That’s all, a second?”
He didn’t turn around, and that was okay. I was sad for myself, but also sad for him, that he’d simply rather not turn around for a few minutes and enjoy that beauty for a little longer. I get it though, he’s not a backtracker.
When it comes to road trips, I’m the take-the-way-you-feel, turn-around, stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of person.
Yielding and adventurous.
Larry is more of the know-your-destination, get-to-where-you-are-going, bring-the-roses-with-you-if-you-need-to-smell-them kind of person.
Precise and adventurous.
There was one vacation where he did turn around, several times for me: California. And to me it was the best vacation!
Anyway, we went on with our day. I thought of the geese a few times, that cute little goose family with five cute, furry goslings, and decided to be thankful that Larry pointed them out to me at all and that God allowed me to see them, however briefly.
Mother’s day was awesome. All the kids, my sister and her husband, as well as a few of their neighbors, sat outdoors and enjoyed the beautiful evening with Larry and me. On the way home, I secretly kept watch over the side of the road in hopes of seeing that little family, but they were gone.
The next morning, I woke up with geese no longer on my mind. I washed a few dishes, picked up a bit, worked a while. Larry left to go to the store when my phone rang. It was him telling me to step outside. I walked out the front door and saw his car stopped down the driveway, but I didn’t see anything riveting…until I did.
That little goose family came into view. They were walking along the family property toward the pond in front of my house.
I sat, watched, cried, and thanked God for blessing me with something as small as seeing that little goose family again. I thanked God for Larry knowing what it would mean to me.
Now, I know the world narrative doesn’t revolve around me. I get it. However, I also know God cares about the things that concern me.
Of all the places in the entire area that sweet little goose family could’ve ended up on that day, they ended up here. The Momma and Daddy kept a focused eye on me as I watched and took their pictures, but they stayed for a while.
And I felt so overwhelming blessed, more so than I would’ve had Larry backtracked the day before.
Because it showed me that even in something so small, God does cares about the things that concern me and give me the desires of my heart.
And that absolutely made it onto my “Things Not on Bucket List (but should’ve been)” list.
With the world having slowed down so much this past year, I realigned my priorities. I read a book in the park, something I hadn’t done in years. Completed a few home projects with Larry, something I hadn’t had time for in a while. I also experienced quite a few moments this year that made it onto that secondary list. One of those things is “Playing Chess with Husband at Night,” which replaced our “lunch date” that we’d had to forego due to quarantine. Those nights are better than any lunch date we’ve ever had.
At the beginning of May, Larry got me ducklings. One of them went lame, and I had to care for her throughout the days. She was the sweetest duck. She was friendly and loved to cuddle. It was heartbreaking when she passed away, but I felt so blessed to have had the connection I had with her because it was incredible. “Scoot” definitely made it onto my secondary list.
Once we started getting the rest of the ducks acclimated to the pond, which would be their permanent home, it was a bit frustrating and a major learning curve for them. On August 1st, we opened the door to their home and waited. One-by-one they walked down the incline onto the grass.
By August 3rd I had to finally give them water because they’d yet to overcome their fear of the pond.
Slowly, however, they got the hang of it. I’d stand at the front door with my coffee in the mornings, beaming with pride as I watched them swim around. They would also come around the house to visit us on the back porch every day. Then on November 10th we noticed that one of the ducks was missing. A couple of days later, another was found dead. The morning after that, our niece, Jessie, called to let me know that one of the ducks was across the road. They thought she was dead, but then saw it was moving, only not a lot, and assumed it was injured. When I went across the road, I saw that she wasn’t injured, she was scared. I guess I had thought that maybe she’d been hit by a car and was afraid to come back across the road, so I helped her cross.
Wherever the other remaining ducks were, I thought, they were soon to be back.
We’d decided, since obviously something was killing them, that we’d simply put them up at night. I watched all day, but no other ducks came back and by the end of the day, the last one was gone, too. I had hoped maybe they were hiding in the woods, which other flocks had done before. A couple of days passed when my father-in-law called to let me know the duck was, in fact, in the pond, hiding on a ledge by one of the cypress trees. He fed her, but when she did come out, it was only briefly to eat, and then she returned to her safe spot.
Some people don’t know this about ducks, but they are not supposed to be in the water for extended periods of time. Also, they are very social and loving creatures. I knew if I didn’t get her, something else would or she’d die in the water.
I went out to the pond several times a day to sit and feed her in hopes she’d come close enough so I could save her. We’d tried to catch her a few times, but failed, which scared her even more. I named her Esther and worried every morning, afternoon, and evening that I’d go out there and Esther would be dead or missing. Then on the third afternoon, she finally got close enough, and I grabbed her. I wrapped her in a towel and started to walk to the house, when she snuggled up to my neck and fell asleep.
And I cried.
Larry brought the duck pin to our house and dubbed it Esther’s Quack House, mostly because every time she hears my voice, she starts quacking. She is affectionate and sweet.
Loving and Saving Esther Jester was one of the most beautiful parts of 2020 and made it onto the “Things Not on Bucket List (but should’ve been)” list.
A few other things that made the list in 2020:
Posting the Modern Grace Be You video with the models at a photoshoot, just to lighten peoples spirits,
When my sister, Wendy, coerced me to take a ride with her on her four-wheeler; first time for me as an adult. She’s the country girl and loves all things country. I am not. I like getting away to the country, but my ideal getaway doesn’t include sitting in a deer stand. As we rode that day, once I actually relaxed a bit, I thought it would definitely make it onto my “Things Not on Bucket List (but should’ve been)” list. We laughed and had fun. We rode around the property, where my family had moved to just before high school, and it was nostalgic and comforting. While Wendy and I talk almost every day, we don’t visit enough in person, I thought.
Binge watching Outlander, after my wrist surgery, with my sister-in-law and a friend, from start to finish until we were done. They fixed my hair because I couldn’t, and we simply enjoyed each other. That time, which started out as a difficult DO-NOTHING time for me, ended up a fun memory full of the rest that I needed.
Putting our Christmas trees up in October!
Spending my daughter-in-law’s birthday with her. We made some of her favorite things and watched movies. A few days later, we took a quick run to New Orleans while she tried beignets for the first time.
This year has been full of secondary list things and while I did tick off a few Bucket List items that are important to me like, “Pet a cow” and “Dance in the rain” (At the time I hated that Larry took these pictures without me knowing, now I treasure them!)
and “Have an all day/all night Diane Keaton movie fest with myself,”
It’s the secondary list that became more important than the main Bucket List in 2020. It’s the things which happened, unplanned, that became memories and accomplishments that are seared into my soul. It’s remembering that life doesn’t follow a list, but we can still find the best out of the unexpected!