Monday, August 30, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

Just when you think life is clicking along just fine, something or someone can change everything, in just the blink of an eye.

That something for me was a phone call received on August 30, 2008. It was the call every parent dreads.

A detective with the New York City Police Department was on the other end of the line, telling me our precious daughter's body had been found on the ground outside her apartment building. The way he said it, I had no clue whether she was dead or alive. I had to ask.

Most of you reading this know the story. If you don't, check it out at

So today is the second anniversary of Nicole's accident. Someone asked me just this morning if we ever thought she would have come this far in two years.

The truth of the matter is that I didn't think about that. I learned very early on, sitting in the neuro-ICU at New York Presbyterian Hosptial, not to project into the future. We had to accept what was happening right here, right now. I learned to live in the moment, because that's all we had. Her condition was changing so rapidly...she'd do great for awhile, then some horrible thing would go wrong in her broken body. We all became pros are reading monitors. We understood oxygen levels and all kinds of things I never thought I'd have a need to know.

And I learned to compartmentalize. In other words, mundane things like bills, the dog, the yard, etc. never entered my mind. I was focused on one thing and one thing only. Thank God we had such good friends and family who took care of those things and so many others so that we could just be, with all our focus on Nicole.

And here we are, two years later. And yes, looking back, I'm absolutely in awe of what Nicole has accomplished after injuring her body so badly.

A journey begins with one step, and we have truley taken this journey one step at a time, one day at a time. And because of that, the journey hasn't been too hard. And because the journey has been a slow, but steady one, we've all had time to see, hear, smell, taste and feel things we may never have experienced before, when we were all rushing and swirling through life.

We've made wonderful new friends, reconnected with old ones, and our life has been blessed many times over. Priorites have shifted, with a focus now on more important things in life. We've seen the affect Nicole's accident has had on Joe, who is now very focused in school, studying to be an occupational therapist.

If I could, I'd take it back in a heartbeat. Who would want this to happen to their child? Yet, it happened, and we can't take it back, so we all chose to accept what is, and to push on. Nicole, as it turns out, is a master at that. We have simply followed her lead.

And we are all the better for it.

Thank you doesn't begin to express our appreciation for the many prayers, financial gifts, support and love so many people have given us. We are forever grateful, and have dedicated our lives to paying it forward.

Just remember, one day, you can be on top of the world...
(This is Nicole on the same roof from which she fell, two days before her accident. The grayish building in the background is Harlem Hospital, her first stop on the road to recovery.)

And the next day, you can have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
(Nicole, a few days after her accident, in New York Presbyterian Hospital.)

It's up to you to decide if you want to get back up to the top of the world again, and how. The next time life throws you a curveball, just remember Nicole...if she can do it, you can too!
(Nicole and Joe, close to one year after her accident.)

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

She's Rising!

When you dream of a dream, know it won't be easy
Taking plenty of chances, fortify what you believe
Keep moving in the right direction
Finding the ultimate connection
Asking and receiving, what you are ready for

You'll be rising!
For more!

When you wish with all your might
Let your imagination take its flight
When you hear the voice my child
Increase your stride
Let go of intimidation
Trust and inspire
Then you will see the light

You'll be rising!
For more!

Hold it down my people
Don't give up
Letting go
Keep moving forward
Andi if you fall
Know that you can rise again
Rise again, keep your understanding
Oh, learn from your mistakes
Oh, it will come, it will come
It will come and you'll see
You'll be rising!!!

Those are the lyrics of the cover song of the wonderful new CD by Eclectik Soul called "Rising." They previewed the CD Friday night at the historic Alamo Theatre on Farrish Street in downtown Jackson.

Funny how life brings things full circle. When Nicole returned to Jackson following he accident, she was in Select Specialty Hospital for almost a month. Her occupational therapist there was an angel named Tarah Stewart. Tarah noticed Nicole either had music playing in her room, or that Nicole was singing almost every time she came to work with her. One day, she brought in a CD and said that her husband, Greg, was the drummer in a group called Eclectik Soul. We popped it in the laptop and we all instantly loved it!

Fast forward to Friday night. Greg wanted something BIG for the finale of the concert. That is when they were going to play "Rising." Well, every time Tarah heard the song, she thought of Nicole and her miraculous recovery, and she suggested that they ask Nicole to dance to the song. guessed it! Friday night, nearly two years after her accident, Nicole was rising back up again on the stage of the Alamo!

It was a fun night, with some great music! By the end of the evening, Nicole had Jello legs she was so tired. Before coming to the Alamo, Nicole had a gig as a 'Celebrity' judge for the Mississippi Opera Association's 'Dance with the Stars' event at the Old Capitol Inn along with Kathy Thibodeaux of Ballet Magnificat and David Keary of Ballet Mississippi. It was a long evening, but she did it. I think the song fit Nicole perfectly...she is certainly rising!

My son, Joe, is rising too...he's back in school and preparing to go to occupational therapy school soon. People like Tarah and Stephanie and Ashley, who are some of Nicole's outstanding therapists, have inspired Joe. I think he'll do well in that field. He's grown into such a sensitive and caring young man, and he's witnessed the importance of people in that line of work and what a difference it can make in people's lives. Nicole is independent again thanks to the therapy she's received. I believe Joe will make that same difference in the lives of his patients one day. And his girlfriend, Emily, is going into nursing, so how perfect is that??

As he pursues his career, Nicole is pursuing her career in motivational speaking. As a matter of fact, she'll be heading to Silver Star in Philadelphia tomorrow to speak at the Rehabilitation Association of Mississippi conference. She'll do a keynote address tomorrow and conduct a breakout session on Thursday.

Forgive me this proud mama moment, but for now, I'm just as pleased as I can be with both of my children!

Blessings to all who read this,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary Baby!!!

I feel like I'm the luckiest person on Earth today! I am still coming down from the high of Saturday night, when our amazing daughter Nicole surprised Larry and I with an anniversary party at Hal & Mal's. And I mean SUR-PRIIIIIIZE!!!!

We were clueless. And it's hard to pull one over on me, because I'm a detail person. It's a curse sometimes, but it allows me to anticipate, prepare and deal with just about anything that arises. Except, maybe, for a room full of people all facing the door when we walked in, many with cameras (which lets me know what it's like, if only for a brief moment, what Paris Hilton may feel like).

There were lots of special people there, friends old and new, from all phases of our 30-year marriage, including a few who were at--or in--our wedding. Like Carol, who drove down from Nashville for the night. And Sara Smith and Aline Germany, who were like my other mothers growing up, and of course, my own mother and father. We danced the night away to the tunes of Los Papis, which was a super special treat. And when Raphael Semmes and Lisa Palmer joined them, the evening was just perfect!

The best part of the evening was the pure love we felt in the room...the love Larry and I have for each other, and the love we have for our friends, and them for us.

I have to say that 30 years of marriage doesn't seem like that big a deal. It's been so easy, because lucky for me, this high-strung crazy white woman had sense enough to marry the most easy-going, laid-back, happy and nicest man in the entire world! It takes alot to rattle Larry's chain, and Lord knows, I've managed to do some rattling. But in the end, his calm demeanor and positive outlook has always helped me to be the best I can be. I know that I am blessed, and I am forever grateful.

We both come by our long marriages naturally. Larry's parents were married over 50 years, as have my own. We both had such good role models, and that's made a huge difference in our lives. I only pray that the same carries over to our children when the time comes for them to get married.

Joey Joe missed the party...he had a long-standing plan to visit Emily's dad in Atlanta. But we had a wonderful time this afternoon. He came over and cut the grass, then we went to eat lunch. We had a great visit. He starts school again tomorrow, so I'm praying he has another successful semester.

Ok, let's review:

--Marry the nicest guy on the planet, and hang in with him 30 years.

--Have a beautiful daughter, who can bounce back from anything to plan a faboo soire.
--Have a handsome son who gives me great joy as I watch him mature into a fine young man.

--Collect the best friends anyone can have.

Thank you to all who came to our celebration, and for those who couldn't, thanks for your well-wishes. Thanks for the food, the gifts, the fun and the love.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hot, but quiet...

Baby, it's hot outside! I can't hardly think for trying to stay cool. I will consider selling plasma in order to keep the thermostat turned waaaaay down low! I have decided in my now-one-year-older age and new-found fluffiness that I do not like being hot. I'm just sayin'...

There's been alot going on in our wacky world! We moved Nicole out of the house last week, and into a house in Belhaven where she will live with three roommates. Everyone's been asking me if I'm sad, but I can't say that I am. I see this as a triumph! It's just not normal for a 27-year-old woman to live at home in the room she grew up in. Not for us, anyway.

While we've loved having Nicole at home, getting to know her on a different level, there's still that part of me that sees the tiny, petite girl instead of the strong-willed woman. She is, after all, the same size she was in the ninth grade, so subconsciously, I tend to treat her as if she's that age. We've gone through the trials of "pulling away" once already when she was a senior in high school, ready to spread her wings and go to college. The past few months were like living that all over again, ten years later. Emotionally, and thankfully, physically, Nicole was ready to move on.

So we moved all her worldly possesions on some of the hottest days in recorded history. Of course.

And as if moving wasn't enough to prove her ability to live independently, Nicole took a trip to Seattle for a wedding last weekend--by herself. Talk about letting go...

It was a giant step for someone who couldn't even walk less than two years ago, and she managed just fine, thank you very much. At this point, there's not much she can't do, and I have a feeling she's going to make up for lost time! I'm so incredibly thankful!

And now, my house is quiet and more conducive to my work...I can begin writing early in the morning without hearing loud music, or having to stop to fix breakfast. It's beginning to come back to me how much I enjoyed that when Nic was living in New York and Joe was away at school. As much as I love my little birds, I have to admit that an empty nest rocks!

I usually get up an hour or so before Larry, and I tend to hit the computer right away. Then Larry gets up and we have breakfast together, play with Roxie, and make witty comments on whatever stories are on the early shows, then he goes to get ready for work and I get back to my writing. It's a nice little routine.

Nicole will begin training her new personal care assistant today, and continue on with her extensive physical and occupational therapy, along with working out with Eclecius five days a week, plus a yoga class here and there. She's also working hard on her motivational speaking career, which is how she'll pay her rent. Just yesterday, she spoke to a group of about 40 United Methodist Women from Galloway Church at a luncheon at the Methodist Rehab Center. I was invited as well, and enjoyed seeing how poised and polished she's gotten. That was her 28th talk since her accident. But she's got to book some paying gigs soon! She's got a few people working on her behalf, mainly Brenda Judin, who will be helping to book speaking engagements for Nicole. Also, she's signed on with Premier Speakers in Nashville, so she can be booked that way as well.

I can't wrap up this blog post without mentioning the Beebe Family Reunion, which I attended with my parents, Joe and his girlfriend, Emily, last Saturday in Monroe, Louisiana. It's always fun to be around family, and there's just nothing quite like a covered-dish lunch! The star of the show was the halibut that the Birmingham family caught on their trip to visit cousin Larry in Alaska. They were so sweet to share it with us!
On the way home, we got my dad to stop at Daquiri World so we could buy lottery tickets. $10 later, we scratched off all the numbers to learn we won...another lottery ticket! But it was fun.

After a trip to Atlanta this weekend, Joe and Emily will start school on Monday...Emily in nursing and Joe in occupational therapy. I'm praying for a safe trip for them.

Everything and everyone seems to be settling into their rightful place. Now, if the weather would just cool off 20 degrees or so, I'd say life would be just about perfect!

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Group Photos

If pictures say a thousand words, then what do the upteen photos on my facebook page say about me? People tag me in photos all the time, and there they are, for the world to see. Me, living my life, captured by someone's camera. Or phone.

I started going through the photos (I'm restless tonight..can't sleep...more on that later). I realized there are alot of group photos of me. Which made me realize how many groups I'm in, and how very different they all are. Ahhhh...diversity is the spice of life!

I've always loved group photos. What kind of groups people are in say alot about the individual. My earliest group photo was probably this one, which was back in the second grade:

Now, can you imagine how difficult it was to get 17 7-year-olds to sit on their sides long enough to take this photo? (How I wish I could figure out how to rotate this, but I can't, so just tilt your head to the left and you'll see me, the third from the left on the bottom row.) This could also be called the Tooth Fairy club, as all of us probably had some shiny quarters in our pocket from all the teeth we were missing at the time this photo was taken!

Just recently, I became a member of a new group. Honorary Chicks. And we were celebrated at the annual JFP Chick Ball. There was Beth Poff, director of the Jackson Zoo, and Julie Skipper, the guru of all things downtown Jackson, state representatives, attorneys, reporters, sales reps, CEO's, store owners, art museum directors, physical therapists and other community leaders. To be included in this group of women is a big honor indeed, but I was most honored to be celebrated alongside my daughter as lifetime "Chicks We Love." That made it all the more special!

Something I noticed when going through all the photos is that when chicks get together to celebrate just about anything, the main fashion accessories are boas and tiaras.
Here I am (in the green fur trimmed cowboy hat) posing with some Sweet Potato Queen Wannabees from Indonesia at the annual Mal's St. Paddy's Day parade. My posse is wearing the hot pink shirts...we are the Queen Wranglers, and it's our job to keep those Wannabee's moving at the right pace. You try it...
See, more boas! This is what happens when a group of women are set free on a weekend in Texas. It's the bookclub babes at the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend. Don't ask...
On a more "sane" night, at our regular monthly bookclub meeting, there may be a boa here or there, but check out that corsage on Johnnie, the lady in white on the far left. That's her NAME TAG! Hard to tell in this photo, but there are a few tiaras being sported as well. And no, I'm not in the picture--I took it.

And when we get together for a cookout...we travel in style!

I have pals who will wear tiaras while out on a junkin' are a few of them!
Here's a fun high school graduation class at our 25-year reunion. I'm front and the black ourfit. I know....I was sooooo skinny (everyone skinnys up for their 25-year reunion. But I saw the photos from the 35th...and no one is that concerned any more!)
See, me in 2000...wearing a big shirt because I felt too fat...
And me in 2010...hiding behind a chair because I know I'm too fat. (But don't Nicole and Megan look cute? be young again!!!)

Another group I'm a part of harkens back to my college years...

It's the Central Mississippi Chapter of the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Board. I'm president-elect, and part of what I do is attend the annual banquet and visit with some of our distinquished alumni.
At our annual board Christmas party, we collected things for Toys for Tots.

But my favorite group to be a part of is one of my own making. It's the group I'm most proud and most grateful to be a part of.

I'll be in another group photo next weekend when we gather in Monroe, LA for the Beebe Family Reunion.

Oh, and the reason I'm restless? Nicole is moving out tomorrow. We moved alot of her stuff today, and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I should be dead on my feet, but instead, my mind is going 90-to-nothing. I'm so excited about her big move to Belhaven. It's a triumph after all she's been through the past two years, living in hospitals for six months and then in the room she grew up in for another year and a half. I know she's ready, but the mama in me can't help but be a bit concerned. Will she get along with her roommates? Will she be safe? Can she manage on her own? I've let go of her before, and her wings got clipped. But she's two years older, alot wiser, and stronger than ever. She'll be fine.

Empty nest...get ready!

Blessings to all who read this!