Running on Love......and coffee...

Monday, March 23, 2009

January 25th

a house in covington just recently burned down. i'm sure all of you have heard about it. that house burning down reminded me of the tragedy and great loss my family suffered because of a house fire.  i know my blog has not turned out like most everyone else's, with the typical day-to-day play-by-plays, but that's just not my style and i enjoy sharing through writing. i just don't always want to write about the things i do or my children do all the time. knowing something about someone's past really tells you so much more than a daily journal. i hope you're not all disappointed, but this is me and this is my life and some things that i may be going through right at this very moment are not things i'm comfortable sharing yet. this is my story. it is true, but it is also the memory of the 6-year-old little girl that i was at the time. i actually wrote this for one of my english-lit classes. we had to write a decriptive narrative of a traumatic childhood memory.

January 25th
Experiences I had as a child taught me many things about life. Most of these experiences were wonderful, filled with smiling loved ones, scrumptious smells, and the excitement of learning new things. Everything that happened in my life molded and shaped me from a young girl, carelessly twirling in my Sunday dress, to a strong, sure, young adult, somewhat calloused and jaded by the hard-knocks of life. However, my first experience with death catapulted me into growing up more than anything. I clawed desperately at the innocence of my past as the events that took place on January 25th of 1987 ripped my world from under me.
            My dad was transferred from the military base in New Orleans, Louisiana back to our home state of Texas. We moved into my grandparent’s house while my dad did a tour on an aircraft carrier. My heart overflowed with joy as soon as I spotted the rusty, weatherworn windmill that stood watch like a tin soldier over their driveway.   The crunch of the gravel under the tires gave me such anticipation and it seemed like a life-time before the car came to a complete stop. I erupted from the backseat like a jack-in-the-box and ran across that same gravel being careful not to slip on the pine needles that blanketed the ground. As I drew closer to the house, the aroma of the cedar planks that encased every inch of it filled my nostrils. The many slopes and angles of the roof intrigued me. It was unlike any house I had seen in New Orleans, let alone the small, picturesque town of Palo Pinto, Texas. My mom, brother, sister, and I packed into the main house with Granddad, Granny Patty, Aunt Diana, Aunt Dawn, Aunt Melissa, Aunt Jenny, and Uncle Daniel, while Aunt Lilli and Aunt Fawn shared the guesthouse. I loved that place. Everything about it filled me with peace for there had been nothing but happy times in that out-of-place modern house. I never imagined the terror that I would feel in that very same sanctuary.
            We slept so soundly that night. It was the kind of sleep that I fell into effortlessly.  My dreams were jerked away from me when I heard my granddad’s yells of urgency. My head popped up and straight ahead of me I saw my grandfather surrounded by flames and smoke that danced around him, morbidly teasing all of us into action. Just as soon as my granddad had appeared, he disappeared. I thought he had been swallowed up by the blinding, orange fire. I ran toward the door, instinctively, as my primal senses took their place in my tiny body. The heat was almost too much to bear. I felt as if my eyes were melting and from the smell that surrounded my head, I knew the wisps of hair that were flowing from my head were singed. More than anything, the sting of the thick smoke that filled my lungs began suffocating me and sent me into a panic. I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how, but I ran right throw those flames and out the front door. The chill of the January night shocked my system as I tumbled onto the sharp, jagged edges of the gravel. I saw my brother come flying out of a window as if being shot out of cannon. I scrambled to him, clumsily, and dragged his trembling body as far as I could from the inferno we had just escaped. For the briefest of moments, I felt relief. Then reality jumped up and slapped me in the face. Where was everyone else?
            I tried to see through the flames and smoke and clung to the hope that my family was safe. I couldn’t see anyone. Terror draped itself around my shoulders and I shuddered at the thought of being alone. Tears spilled from my eyes and I pled with God as I stood there while the heat of the flames stung my face and the ice-cold gravel pierced my bare feet. My brother bawled uncontrollably and I wanted so much to do the same, but I knew I had to be strong for him. Suddenly, I saw figures making their way closer to us, distorted by the heat waves, smoke, and my own tears. All of our aunts rushed to us, scooped us up, and checked us for injuries. We all cried together and clung to each other with death grips. Although being surrounded by my aunts brought me some comfort, I still knew something was missing. I craved what any scared six-year-old girl does and that was my mama. I wanted my mama! As soon as I realized she still had not come out of the house, all rationality fled from me and I ran toward the house. One of my aunts grabbed me and held me while I flailed in her arms until I finally fell limp onto the ground. I no longer felt the need to be strong for I had given up on hope. I was a horrified, little girl whose world had just come crashing down.
            “Mama”, I heard my little brother say. I looked up and saw a bloody figure walking our way. Yes, it was my mama! She was bloody from head to toe from all the cuts she gotten when my granddad pulled her through the window. I wouldn’t have recognized her had I not caught glimpses of the baby blue nightgown she always wore. I ran to her, threw my arms around her waist, held on tightly, and bawled. “It’s okay, Sarah, but I’m all bloody and now you are too,” my mama said. “I don’t care, Mama. I don’t care”, I told her in a trembling voice. I didn’t care. Being in my mama’s arms gave me a rush of comfort, relief, and peace that only a mama’s touch could give. Time stood still for a moment and I had all I ever needed or wanted. Out of nowhere, an EMT pulled my mama away from me and I found myself shivering and disoriented in the back of a police car.
            All of my aunts, my brother, and I were brought to the police station. My eyes had grown so accustomed to the darkness of the night, that the fluorescent lights of the station blinded me. When my eyes finally adjusted and I saw that we were surrounded by , not only police officers, but men, modesty set in and I suddenly became very aware of the fact that I was standing there in just a T-shirt and underwear. I tugged Dawn’s hand and pointed out the fact that she was also only in a T-shirt and underwear. She asked for a blanket and as soon as they gave us one, we crammed ourselves into it, grateful for the shield it provided. The officers were asking my aunts questions about what happened that night and kept offering all of us snacks or drinks. I could see the faces of all the older people in the room scrunched with looks of concern. My thoughts kept drifting to my mama.  Where did they take her? When would I see her again? Why wasn’t I allowed to go with her? Didn’t she want me with her?
            I was so consumed with questions about my mama that I didn’t realize just how bad things really were. I instinctively hit the rewind button in my mind and tried to remember everything that happened and everyone I had seen. There was only one person I couldn’t remember seeing, my grandmother. She never came out. I never saw her in the house, outside the house, with my mama, or at the police station. She didn’t make it? I didn’t know what this meant, but I still had the tiniest drop of hope left in my aching heart. I thought maybe she had gotten out on her own and ran over to my great-grandparents house next door and maybe no one had checked there yet. I could not believe that she burned up along with everything else in the house or that she was somewhere in that pile of rubble. I just couldn’t believe that. The next day, my granddad told us all the devastating news. My grandmother’s body had been found. She was dead. Grief raged in me like a crazy person trapped in a padded cell.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the last time I saw my Granny Patty. It was just two nights before that I was in her bedroom telling her goodnight. I thought she looked so fancy and beautiful in her silky nightgown. I climbed into her massive bed and snuggled up next to her. Her familiar smell made me think of pretty things. She pulled a delicate box out of her nightstand. As she opened up the box, I gazed at the tiny, colorful dolls that were inside. These were worry dolls. I would whisper my worries or wishes to these little people and I was convinced they would take care of them all. That night, I wished that Dawn would let me ride her horse the next day. I kissed my Granny Patty and she hugged me tightly. She told me she loved me and I told her I loved her. “Goodnight.” If I had only known what was to come, I might have made a different wish.
Facing mortality was traumatic for me. I was so young and the death of my grandmother made my heart ache so deeply. I wanted to go back to before that night and be untouched by sadness once again.  I not only had to deal with the loss of someone I loved, but also the loss of my home, and my family as I knew it.  These losses forced me to grow up and realize that life would not always be happy, life certainly would not be fair, and life would sometimes hurt. However, these losses also taught me to never take anyone for granted, to make sure your loved ones know you love them, and to take advantage of the short time we have together.
I don't care what you do after you read this, but wouldn't it be nice to call someone on the phone or even someone in the very next room and tell them that you love them. You have nothing to lose if you do, but so much to lose if you don't. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jade Ashlee: The 1st Girl Born into the Mason Family in 24 Years

since i've only blogged about jude, i decided to blog about another child of mine-jade ashlee! in my human growth and development class this semester, we had to write an essay about one of our own pregnancies or someone else's pregnancy. i, of course, chose my own-i have a lot of experience to pull from! i decided to write about my pregnancy with jade because she is not only the only girl i had, but at the time, the last mason girl born into the family (as a mason) was misty mason-i'm sure some of you remember her from school. misty was 24 years old that year. it seemed that mason men only knew how to make can imagine our surprise when we found out about little jade "ashalee" (as my father likes to call her). here is my essay:

I will never forget discovering my 3rd pregnancy. In fact, I’ll never even forget the actual conception. The Summer Olympics were being held in Sydney and the Yankees and Mets faced off in the World Series. My husband and I had been married for 3 years, 7 months, and 7 days. We had a 29 month old son, Alex, and a 13 month old son, Austin. We were at the point in our marriage where I was wondering what I had been thinking when I had married my husband. It’s not that I wanted out or that I didn’t love him, but I just realized that I didn’t really know him. I was warned that this happened to everyone at the 3 year mark. 
I had just been in and sang at my best friend’s, Kristin’s, wedding on October 14th, 2000. (That same day was the funeral of the Grandmaster of my Taekwondo Association. His name was Hang Ung Lee. He was a great man.) The two songs I sang were popular for weddings that year: “Angel” by Celine Dion (I sang this one as a duet with Christopher Phillips), and “I Need You” by Leann Rimes. I remember feeling sad because I missed that feeling that Kristin and Matt seemed to share at their wedding. I wanted that feeling back so I prayed that God would help me to see my husband the way I used to see him, that he would fill my heart with passion and fire. It worked – we got back that spark and the result was me getting pregnant.
I was excited, but also scared. My second son had been born prematurely and had so many health complications. I didn’t want to see another child of mine suffer like that again. I also had become content with the idea of having two sons and not having anymore. I just knew I wouldn’t have a girl anyway; the last Mason girl born was 24 years old at the time. When we told our families, we all assumed another Mason boy was on his way.
My pregnancy was pretty uneventful. I had the typical morning sickness that started around Christmas Day. However, I’ve always been lucky in that my morning sickness didn’t last too long, nor did it hinder me in my daily routines. I still had 2 babies to take care of, so I didn’t get any extra rest, but I was 20 years old and had plenty of energy. The only complaint I have about any of my pregnancies is the heartburn that plagued me every second of everyday! I would get heartburn from water! It was terrible, but luckily, the only time I ever have had heartburn is during pregnancy.
The pregnancy continued into the New Year. 2001 was the first year of the 21st century and the 3rd millennium. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit all of El Salvador, killed at least 800 people, and left thousands homeless. George W. Bush became the 43rd president of the United States and yet another earthquake hit Gujarat, India, killing more than 12,000. That was just in January, the 3rd month of my pregnancy. We had debated whether or not we would find out the sex of our baby, but we thought we better be safe since we only had things for boys. So, we went in at the end of February to see what God had in store for us.
The tech must have thought we were nuts because both of our sons and both of our mothers came with us. All of us held our breath as she tried to get just the right angle, but our little peanut was not having it. She kept her legs crossed the whole time. My husband took the boys out for a breather while the nice lady kept trying to get a good view. Of course it was at that moment, when there were no males left in the room, that Jade Ashlee made known our future of pink, frilly things! My mom, mother-in-law, and I sat there in shock. Really? A girl? Are you sure? Well, my husband and sons came back into the room and we all just bawled. We were going to have a baby girl!
The year and my pregnancy continued on normally. Gladiator won for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Popular songs were “Hanging by a Moment”, by Lifehouse, “Fallin’”, by Alicia Keys, and “Drops of Jupiter”, by Train. We stayed busy with our boys and getting ready to bring a little girl into the house. I always would get tons of energy in my 3rd trimester so spring cleaning that year turned me into a mad woman! I love spring cleaning anyway, but I was a woman on a mission and cleaned nonstop from the month of May right up to minutes before driving to the hospital to deliver my daughter.
July 4th, 2001 was spent just like every other July 4th since we had been married. We were at my in-laws’ house swimming – oh, yes I did – cooking out, and later shooting off fireworks. I first noticed the small little squeezes in my uterus while watching my father-in-law, husband, and brother-in-law take turns lighting fuses and running away from the disappointing displays. There was one particular firework that shot off several flaming balls that landed everywhere around us. I was sitting on the tailgate of a truck when one of those mortars exploded right underneath the truck! It scared the mess out of me and my contractions suddenly got stronger. I kept silent because I knew I would rather labor there and at my own house than at the hospital.
The celebration ended and my husband and I loaded the boys up and headed home. On the way there, I informed my husband that I was in labor. He asked me if I was sure. He always asked me that because I’m always so calm and he seemed to expect the hectic rushing around and screaming that he saw in the movies. I told him I was very sure. After all, I had already been through this twice before within the past 3 years. When we got home, I gave the boys their baths and put them to bed. Then I washed the dishes, put in a load of laundry, tidied up the house, and took a shower. By then, my husband’s grandmother was there to stay with the boys and my contractions were extremely hard.
We got to the hospital around 11:30 p.m. the nurse checked to see if I had dilated at all and she informed me that I was only 3 centimeters and since it did not appear that I was in hard labor, I would probably be sent home. I told her that I knew I wasn’t going home and that my baby would be there soon. She must not have believed me because when she came back in the room at 12:30 a.m., she informed me that my contractions didn’t register strong enough to make any change and since my water wasn’t broken, I would be sent home. However, when she did a “just in case” exam, she discovered that I was at 6 centimeters. She asked if I wanted an epidural or anything for pain. I declined because I’m a follower of the Bradley Method of natural childbirth. Instead, I asked if I could walk around because my back was killing me just lying there in the bed. She said that would be fine.
My mother-in-law walked with me up the hallway and when we had turned around and started back to the room, I asked her to please get the nurse because it was time. When I got back to my room, I was at 10 centimeters and it was time to push. The nurse kept telling me not to push until the doctor got there, but I wasn’t even pushing! Jade Ashlee Mason popped right out on her own just as the doctor walked into the room. He barely even caught her! My mom and mother-in-law didn't even have time to leave and go wait with the rest of the family in the waiting room! Jade came out face up instead of face down, which is why my back had been hurting so badly. Because of that, we often call her “Sunny-side up”. 
Jade Ashlee was born at 1:11 a.m. on July 5, 2001. She was 7 lbs. 11 oz. and 19 inches long. As soon as she came out, her daddy scooped her up, kissed her cheek and danced with her right there in the delivery room. He wanted to make sure he gave her her first kiss and first dance. She had brown hair and blue eyes, which later turned green. She was the first Mason girl born into the family in 24 years. She was, and is to this day, the healthiest child - never had an ear infection or even a little cold as an infant!
Today, she is 7 years old and will be 8 in July. She’s creative, artistic, compassionate, and absolutely gorgeous. Even though, at that time, I was content with being the mom of two boys, I can’t imagine my life without my sweet baby girl. I’m so grateful that God gave her to me and humbled by the blessing of having her in my life. Mama loves you, Jade! 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

little boy clothes

so, as a blogger, i'm totally a loser! i have very good intentions and all, but no follow through! anyway, on to another funny jude story...
my ma just got back from visiting my grandparents in oklahoma. last time she was there, she got all of my children cowboy boots...which turned out to be one of the highligts of their christmas. they all love them and would wear them everyday if i allowed it or if the school allowed it. honestly, i wouldn't mind never having to tie shoes again. this last time my mom came home from OK, she brought the kids western-style shirts. of course they all run to try them on and alll agree it is what they will wear to church the next day...fastforward to today...we all get ready for church, all of the kids decked out from head to toe in western wear. jude adds a straw cowboy hat for good measure and is very much dissappointed when i tell him that he can't wear a hat in church. 
after we return home from church, jude, as he does every other day, strips down to his undies. he lives like that pretty much all the time that we are at home. when he realizes that everyone is going outside to enjoy this beautiful day, he starts telling me he needs his clothes. i ak where he put them, and he tells me that he doesn't know. i look everywhere for them until i finally find all the clothes he had on earlier stuffed in his sock drawer. i bring them to him and he looks at me like i've lost my mind. he says, "mama, i don't need my cowboy clothes. i need my little boy clothes, now! you can't play outside unless you wear little boy clothes!" how silly of me. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

all you can do is laugh

my older 3 children, while not perfect, seemed to be pretty compliant kids. they understood my rules and expectations of their behavior at an early age and i was thinking,"either i completely lucked out or this parenting thing is a breeze and all other moms are just a bunch of whiny babies." that is until jude came along.  

jude, my 3 yr old, is really a sweet boy-for the most part. he loves to snuggle and he tells me he loves me every 3 minutes (something i so desperately need at this point in my life). he has these big, beautiful, gray eyes with lashes a mile long-you look at him, then you're done for. 
for myself and my children, i try to not spank them. now, this doesn't mean that it never happens, but i really hate doing it. i was spanked as a child and i don't feel that it was detrimental to me or my development in any way, so for me, it's just a personal choice.  
having said that, you must know that jude sometimes has issues with staying in his bed. he needs a drink of water, the potty, he's scared, he doesn't like his bed, all know the drill. one night in particular, jude was really pushing it. my parents had put the children to bed while i was out. jude was having none of it-he got up over and over and over again. finally, my dad told him, "jude, if you get out of bed one more time i'm gonna take my belt off and leave it here for your mommy to use when she gets back." surprise, surprise, guess who gets out of bed again...
my dad, completely frustrated,  puts jude back in bed, takes off his belt and hangs it on jude's light switch. keep in mind that jude does not get spankings so he can't comprehend why my dad would leave his belt in his room. as my dad is walking out of the bedroom, jude states, very matter-of-factly, "your pants are gonna fall down."