My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Furaha Ya Kuzaliwa Bubba

Today is my big brother, Jim's birthday. He is celebrating number 47 in deepest, darkest Africa on a mission trip. He has spent many, many birthdays there over the past decade or so and I miss him terribly (as do his girls and his lovely wife) but we are all so proud of his dedication to the people there. Furaha Ya Kuzaliwa means happy birthday in Swahili.

Jim was born approximately 22 1/2 months before me, the first child to teenage parents. We lived the first part of our lives in an apartment attached to my great-grandmother, Sarah Bulloch Ward's home in Atlanta. We were born into a home with lots of relatives and lots of love. When our little family moved to our first couple of apartment homes as toddlers and preschoolers, Jimmy and I  often shared bedrooms. He was my constant companion and continued to be, even after we got separate bedrooms, until he left for college in 1985 and broke. my. heart. I was absolutely devastated when he left. I loved my Bubba. I still do.

I always wished for a sister but honestly, we couldn't have been closer even if we were sisters. We had the same group of friends, we went the same places and did things together. He took care of me and I took care of him. He was always taller but I was always meaner so if people picked on him, I stood up for him. As we got older if guys tried to pick me up, they had to go through Bubba. He was never pushy- he isn't that way. He just quietly offers an astute perception of things... and he is almost always right.

Jim and Angie - 12/24/12
When my last marriage was falling apart, he was the one who said to me, "you will not survive this marriage" and I knew then, for him to say that as a pastor and counselor that it was time for me to move on with my life. He has been there for me through every trial and heartache and emotional breakdown. He was the first one on the scene when my house was struck by lightning and he is the one I always call when my car won't start or my kid won't behave. When something happens, I call Bubba. And when I call, he always has a solution. He handles the practical logistics and his beautiful wife, Angie, the sister I always wanted, handles the emotional part.

Angie, Jim, Sarabeth, Mom, Jamie - Christmas 2012
People who knew us growing up will confirm that Bubba and I never fought. We were a team. By the time Bubba was 16 and I was 14 we had three little brothers who were 7, 4 and an infant. My parents had a little 2 door Escort that was full with carseats and little kids so Jim and I rode separately everywhere we went. We were a mini-family within our large family. I could always count on him. As the years have gone by and two of our brothers have done their own thing on holidays and special occasions (one doesn't participate due to religious reasons, one just doesn't participate.) our other brother, Bryan, has joined me and Jim on our "team" and we have welcomed him with open arms. It isn't a holiday unless me and Jim are together. We also seem to be the ones who show up at funerals, although he goes to a lot more than I do. He's just the guy that always does the right thing.

One of my sisters-in-law once said of Jim that no matter what kind of nonsense we have going on, when Jim walks into the room, the grown ups put away their toys. That's not to say that we don't play Wii... that just means that we put away any petty jealousy or arguments or bitterness or unpleasantness. He lives his life in such a way that he doesn't tolerate such stuff and as a family we respect him so much that we wouldn't drag out that junk in front of him. He is our voice of reason. While I'll chatter constantly analyzing and poking around a subject... Jim walks in... quietly observes... and drops one zinger summing up the whole situation and... it's done.

Jim is a Pastor and psychologist. He does counseling and is an adjunct professor at a local college. He sings on our church praise team. He is a fantastic father - so involved, in fact, that whenever my sister-in-law has to be out of town things go just as well as they do with her around. His girls play soccer and basketball and cheer and do gymnastics... not all of this at the same time or in the same season usually but they are definitely involved in a lot of activities and Bubba is able to keep it all straight. He is a wonderful husband, no doubt because he had lots of practice dealing with female drama when we were growing up. I trained him well. He's a great son to my parents. Any time they need something done around the mountain house, Jim is able to fit in it his busy schedule. He is crazy busy but never complains.

He also has a sharp wit... comes up with the best puns... preaches perfectly timed sermons (and by perfectly timed I mean that it is right on spiritually and right on in length!) and we are just so blessed to have him and pray that he comes back home safe and sound from Africa.

Mom and Dad and the doggies have gone back to Riverdale so it's just me, Austin and the kitties in the mountain house for the next week or so. I miss them already but it's nice to be able to stay here. It's just so perfectly serene and scenic and there is absolutely nothing on my agenda until my doctor's appointment on June 17th. It's surreal... I  always feel like I should either be going to work or looking for work or caring for kids or SOMETHING. Other than shopping for food, preparing meals, eating and cleaning up, there's not really anything I have to do. Snuggle a kitty here and there, maybe.

I have brief flashes of anxiety about when/if my disability will be approved and if I will have enough money to take care of my expenses until that happens... but ultimately I know that all I can do is trust it to God and do whatever it takes on my end to make sure I respond to any questions or requirements. My Office Manager from my most recent job called yesterday for us to go over the form she got from social security. She was so kind in wanting to make sure she didn't say anything that was going to contradict anything I had said or anything that would cause any problems. The truth is that working was painful. We all did everything we could to mitigate the pain, scheduling me only a few hours at a time with days in between, etc, but ultimately, the damage to my spine is too extensive for me to do much of anything. She was so supportive in appreciating what I was able to do and wishing that they could have had me when I was healthy. It was a good talk and reminded me of how blessed I was to have been able to work there, even though it was only for a short time. I have never felt as loved and appreciated as I did there... and I love them all right back.

So ultimately, I can sum this blog entry up by saying that I have been so incredibly blessed beyond measure. I have this great big brother... I have incredibly supportive parents who generously allow me to live in their dream home... I was able to finish up my career in a place where I was appreciated... and I have the sweetest little kitty cat snuggled up beside me in my cozy little nest. Life is beautiful.

Love and hugs, y'all!