Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Cadbury Eggs


My Column in the 03.29.19 issue of The Grove Sun. 


I ate a bag of Cadbury Eggs.

Normally, I try not to indulge and devour a whole bag of "eggs," but something was off Tuesday, when I made a quick trip to the store.

In fact, this whole week has been a bit "off kilter" for me. 

At first, I thought it was the weather change, or maybe because I hugged a kidlet who since developed a stomach bug.

It might have been because Monday and Tuesday seemed like "hang-over" days for most of us after last week's Spring Break.

So on Tuesday, I found myself buying the eggs for no real reason. I mean, Cadbury Eggs are not my "favorite go-to" candy when I'm seeking comfort.

Yet for some reason, the chocolate bites with a candy shell seemed to be calling my name.

Then suddenly, it dawned on me. Almost like a lightning bolt shock followed by a big thunderclap. This week is the two-year anniversary of Tanna's death. 

Tanna was one of my first children's ministry "kidlets" in Siloam Springs. I watched her grow in faith, through a myriad of activities. 

I was privileged to take her on her first mission trip - to Joplin - where we worked at the Salvation Army thrift store, cooked a meal for the Ronald McDonald House, and helped at Watered Gardens.

The effort was designed to teach third, fourth and fifth graders they could roll up their sleeves and help others, no matter their age.

We'd laughed as she tried (along with her sister and other cohorts) to call China on my mobile. For the record, they got close, but never figured out the country codes.

We also laughed as the girls' small group I led would hijack my phone to call my mom -- to ask her all kinds of questions about me. Really, ALL kinds of questions.

Later I cheered as she graduated high school and started at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville with a goal to become a librarian. 

I cried with her, as she - along with her sister - gave an amazing eulogy at her grandfather's service. The kidlet who made my hair turn grey on trips, became an amazing, well spoken young woman.

She even took part in my wedding. She was my college-aged ring bearer (who said I had a normal service.)

Two years ago, I got the call. One that still brings me to tears as I remember the day. She had gotten sick on spring break - in of all places, one of my favorite spots in the world Navarre Beach/Ft. Walton, Florida.

An unbeknownst brain aneurism snuffed out her light, just as it was beginning to shine in all of its adulthood glory.  

I grieved, along with her family and other friends. Later, I moved on to a point where memories brought smiles, rather than tears.

Then this week happened. While my brain "forgot" the day, my body did not.

No one ever told me your body can develop a muscle memory for pain. I didn't know grief could sneak up on you, out of no where and literally suck the wind out of your sails. 

Monday was the anniversary of the call telling me she was dying. Tuesday was the anniversary of her death.

As I sat at home, eating the Cadbury Eggs, I realized why I purchased them. 

Tanna loved those bits of chocolaty goodness. People always tried to find bags of them for her, so she could "stock up" for the year. 

So, I ate a bag of Cadbury Eggs and remembered my sweet friend, her face and everyone who loved her.

I prayed the grief which enveloped me, like a python snake squeezing its prey, would eventually fade and take the tears away.

So I ate a bag of Cadbury Eggs and remembered the good. 

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019

My goal for 2019 is to restart / refresh my blog. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bits & Pieces: The time is now

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller
khutson@grovesun.com

The time is now.

I've heard those words multiple times in the past three days, as community, business and city leaders gathered to ponder the future of downtown Grove.

Hiring Ron Drake as a consultant, to come into Grove to assess downtown vacant buildings, was good. What happens next will determine if the city's downtown becomes great.

From conversations swirling around about the visit, it appears that it did what Chuck Perry and others hoped.

In Perry's own words, Drake's visit lit a fire - a desire if you will - for many to see something major happen to revitalize and rebuild downtown Grove.

In fact Perry hopes in 10 years, Grove residents will look back and say, it all started in January 2016.

Nothing happens though, in a vacuum.

It's going to take the entire community - young and old - to bring change to Grove.

Change is hard, it's messy, and at times, frustrating. It's hard, especially for those, like Dr. Larry Stout and members of the Grove Chamber and Grove Area Merchants, who have worked tirelessly for years to make things happen.

Let's face it, many in Grove are exhausted. If we let it, this visit will become just another consultant, providing ideas that sit on a shelf, growing dust.

Ultimately, Drake's visit has provided some inspiration. It appears the ideas have given people of all ages hope for things to come.

What happens next will take perspiration, money and time. It will also take the entire community, pulling together, to make a difference.

It's time for others to stand beside Sam Williams and his iconic Sports Center, Jim Serage and the newly established Second Kick Cycle Works motorcycle museum, and other downtown businesses owners.

It's time for people of all ages to say "you've gotten us this far, let us work beside you to take our town to the next level."

So what will this mean? It means buyers and sellers must find a way to work together; it means we must embrace new ideas which breathe life and creativity into our historic buildings.

It means Grove residents must embrace, and support, local businesses - new and established by shopping local, without automatically choosing to leave town or order online.

It means all of us, young and old, look for ways we can help with the process.

The spark of excitement is there. What we do next determines if it erupts into a raging fire of opportunity.

Former President Ronald Reagan may have summed up the thoughts best, in his acceptance speech on July 17, 1980 at the Republican National Convention.

"The time is now, my fellow Americans to recapture our destiny, to take it into our own hands."

To this I would say, the time is now, my fellow Grove residents. Our destiny, our future is in our hands. What will you, what will I, do about it?

This column was previously published in the Friday, Jan. 22 issue of The Grove Sun.

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at khutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bits & Pieces: Hello 2016

A new year, new start.

As I type this, the new year is almost here. We are just days away from ringing in 2016.

Once again, standing on the cusp of a new year brings on the discussion regarding setting resolutions and goals.

For me, the days following Christmas becomes a time to pick a new a word (or two) that will represent the upcoming year.

In a way, the word becomes a verbal roadmap to what's ahead. It becomes my word to focus on, to ponder and well, to use as it presents itself as life happens.

I started this practice in 2007, with the adoption of wonder as my very first word. During the year, seek emerged as a guiding word, because of a job change and new life opportunities.

Other words followed including simplicity and joy (2008), dream and hope (2009), half-full and see (2010), new and renew (2011), rest and sabbath (2012), imagine and rejoice (2013) and laugh and love (2014).

Obviously, most years, I've had two words. It seems as if something presents itself mid-year, as a guiding word of importance.

My only defense is, well, I like words.

Usually, I pick the word at the beginning of the year. However in 2015, my "one little word" did not present itself to me until early July. I found them as I tried to deal with a life that included a plethora of crazy wedding preparations and the unexpected death of the Lawman's daughter.

Those two words - grace and dignity - have become almost a mantra as I closed out the year, as I've tried to extend the meaning of the words throughout my life regardless of the situation. 

As this year ends, life is different. Let's face it. I'm different. 

This is the first year - in my 43 years of existence - I'm facing Jan. 1 married. My world, and perception of it, has changed. I'm no longer a "me" but instead a "we."

Even after five months, I'm still learning to grasp that new reality. I have to remind myself that I'm not walking through life alone. I have someone I can rely on and trust. Someone who is with me for better and for worse. Someone who is part of my life in a rich way.

I've thought a lot about what word will become my road map in 2016. I know I want this year to become one where I intentionally focus on things outside of the newsroom. 

I want to create a life, together with the Lawman, which is full and rich.

A life that includes more than just eating, sleeping and working. A life that is full of meaning, creates memories and is filled with a plethora of emotions.

So with that in mind, my word for 2016 is "be."

I want to be in love, be fulfilled, be happy, be alive. I simply want to be.

I want to find out what it means to be present in life, rather than simply existing.

The question, to mangle Shakespeare, is not IF I want "to be or not to be." The answer is, instead is, simply I want to "be."

I want to live a life that no longer just occupies space and takes up air.

I want to find ways I can be available to friends and family - even if it means I turn off my phone. 

I want to be connected with The Lawman, because I'm learning that my presence, means more than presents in the long run.

I want to be a person of faith. I want my faith, and ultimately my relationship with God, to be stronger on Dec. 31, 2016. 

So, for 2016, I want to "be."

It's kind of fun to stand on the edge of a new year and see it as a blank canvas waiting to be filled. It's exciting, scary and well, an amazing opportunity, all wrapped up in 365 days.

Here's to 2016. May it bring joy, happiness, peace and all that you desire to you and yours. 

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at khutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228.



Friday, December 11, 2015

Bits & Pieces: Presence or Presents?

Is there anyway you can come?

With those words, life changed for me last weekend.

On Friday morning, I received the call that my good friend Kim's grandmother died.

Its been a long process, but Nana, as she was known, was able to die at home in her own space, thanks to the efforts of Kim and her mother.

On Friday evening, as the events of the day began to settle, Kim called.

Her simple question put things into perspective.

Trying desperately to hold things together for her family, her voice cracked as she asked, "I know it's a deadline day, but is there anyway you can come Monday for the funeral?"

Kim and I have been friends since 1998. She taught me to quilt (first by hand, then by machine). We were in the same book club.

I've watched her son, who was just an elementary student at the time, grow up to become a married father of three.

It's a friendship that has spanned both the years and miles. We talk on Facebook and when she "pocket dials" me, or when something significant happens in our lives.

She, along with her husband, drove three hours to be at the epic proposal when the Lawman decided to surprise me.

In July, they returned so Kim could serve as the "Girl Friday" at my wedding, helping me with a variety of tasks and basically keeping me calm before I walked down the aisle.

(She likes to regale people about how she had to "help" me get into those dreaded things known as spanxs. Let's just say, it took a village and leave it at that.)

Kim's only asked me to come like this once before. When Kaleb was a teenager, he was involved in a dreadful wreck. With things touch and go, Kim asked me to come - and I did. I sat with her at the hospital, and helped her stay sane.

It was like that on Monday. Thanks to a variety of people, some on staff and others in the community, the contents of Tuesday's issue of The Grove Sun were completed by the time I rolled out of town.

I drove those three hours, expecting to take my turn as Kim's "Girl Friday," or in today's terms, be her Minion.

But instead of doing things, I found myself simply being present.

We laughed, we cried, we hugged. I held her hand (boy does she have a tight grip) through the visitation and funeral.

I'm a do-er by nature. I want to fix things.

In this instant, there was nothing to do or fix. Instead, my gift to her on this day was simple.

I was present.

I didn't give her anything or do anything. My presence at the funeral was what she needed.

Oh I did get to hold all of Kaleb's children - one of which is just a couple years shy of Kaleb's age when I first met him - and I did help a bit at the post-funeral dinner.

But primarily, my gift was that of presence instead of presents.

It's something to think about as you worry about what will go under the Christmas tree. Maybe what your friend or family member needs most isn't another thing, but rather, time with you.

I learned Monday, that my presence alone was truly the best gift I could give my friend.

This originally appeared in the Dec. 11, 2015 issue of The Grove Sun.

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at khutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228.
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