Category Archives: Writing

1:14 or 15 AM, one year later

The ringing phone woke me, but my B, my wife, answered it. It was Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

It was the phone call every parent fears and it was 1:15 AM.

I climbed out of bed and started getting dressed listening carefully as my wife listened and responded. She was serious locked in and her look and tone gave it away. The phone call was short, but it seemed like an eternity.

She hung up and shared details of the call. It was William our son, he’d been in an accident and it was serious.

We dressed and left for the hospital.

A lot of things went William’s and our way that night and in the days since. That was a year ago tonight. William’s accident happened around 11:09 to before 11:17. The accident report has the emergency crew arriving on scene at 11:17 PM.

We called William’s girlfriend on our way to the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital the fire chief for the fire department William had begun working for was waiting to greet us and share details of William’s accident. He asked us if there was anything, he, or the fire department, could do for us before the doctor came in to talk with us. It was a single vehicle crash William and the motorcycle had left the roadway and struck two mailboxes before coming to a stop.

When the doctor came into talk to us, the fire chief gave us his card and left.

It was serious, but William was stable. He had sustained a serious head injury even with wearing a helmet. He had a serious scrape on his left knee but no broken bones. Beth asked a few questions and the doctor shared it was early and William was being transferred to a Level 1 trauma hospital in Chicago.

We were able to see William briefly before he was transported. He was sedated and it was severely injured, but he was stable. Some things in life can never be unseen. At some point William’s girlfriend arrived and she was able to see him with us.

A lot of things went William’s way that night and, in the days, weeks, and months since.

William and I on a walk- September 2019

His accident was a year ago this evening and he is doing well and continuing his healing.

William spent a month in the hospital and a rehabilitation hospital. He relearned how to walk and talk and lot of other things we take for granted. After his release from the hospital, he then spent another three months in extensive out-patient rehabilitation.

William worked hard. We prayed and cried. He grumbled, he wanted to be exited early, but he stayed the course. In late December he was exited from out-patient rehabilitation services and cleared to return to normal activities.

A lot of things went William’s way that night and, in the days, weeks, and months since. Continue reading 1:14 or 15 AM, one year later

Day 42: bears and puzzles

Actually, it’s only one bear and one puzzle. I’ve been toying with a puzzle for a while and I finally mastered it. It’s two bent nails seemingly locked together. But the two nails do come apart.

it’s been cloudy most of the day, threatening rain

The twisted nail puzzle is one puzzle in a boxed set of puzzles I received as a Christmas gift from my daughter a few years ago. I decided to leave them here, at the lake, with her permission. This past week I re-discovered the twisted nails and I have been playing with them as a diversion – off and on. Twisting the two nails back and forth was a wonderful way to pass time and focus on something besides the future – COVID19 and the approaching school year.

Continue reading Day 42: bears and puzzles

Father’s Day – 2020

It’s Father’s Day and I am in northern Mississippi visiting with my stepmother. Last year on Father’s Day, I was on my way home from visiting her.

My father died 11 years ago this summer after a fall and a brief illness, and I began writing a year later.

My stepmother had been living independently in Mississippi since he died. Neither my father nor my stepmother is native to Mississippi, but they decided to relocate here after my father retired in 1998. It’s a beautiful town and they have a lovely home.

However, this past winter that independence came to an end after a fall and brief hospitalization. I am grateful that my brothers and I were successful in moving her into an assisted living facility before the COVID19 lockdown shutdown the country.

But life is full of next steps, our next step is convincing her that living in northern Mississippi 621 miles from me in Illinois, 621 miles from one of my Texas brothers, and 630 miles from my other Texas brother is no longer sustainable, especially in the time of COVID19.

visiting on her porch – social distancing and being safe.

Tough conversations. Much like the conversations my dad and I had years ago.

Life is full of twists and turns; it’s full of beginnings and endings where one ending is a new beginning. Continue reading Father’s Day – 2020

hidden

It is a glorious day. The sun is brightly shining through a cloudless sky.

I’ve been up since six this morning. I have been awake since before five this morning when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I gave up trying to sleep after almost an hour of tossing and turning in bed.

Through my bedroom window I could see the faint outline of the trees as earth came back to life early this morning. I remembered reading that three planets: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were aligned and visible in the early morning. So, I climbed out of bed, dressed, and started the coffee.

deep blue lake, predawn

The lake was still, and the lake was shrouded in a deep blue hue in the pre-dawn light. Along the southeastern I could see one planet with the naked eye and could faintly make out the other two. I quickly snapped a shot and then used an iPhone app – Skyview Light – to visualize the early morning sky.  What my eye could see, my phone could not – not enough light.

But the three planets were there – hidden in the light.

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Henri Bergson

Continue reading hidden

Asynchronous

I love complex words. I am teacher and a learner or a learner and a teacher. The two go hand in hand. Learning never ends.

I began blogging at MakingtheDaysCount dot org almost ten years ago when I was teaching 7th grade English Language Arts. Really 7th grade ELA was my teaching assignment and I was really teaching kids. Teaching 7th grade ELA sharpened my curiosity and honed my knowledge of words and word parts……

chron means time, -ous means full of, syn- means with or together, a means without or not

asynchronous – without any particular time or timing or as Merriam and Webster defines it, not simultaneous or concurrent in time

A few years after my first blog post, I was reassigned and moved to science and a new grade level. I embraced the change because that’s who I am – curious, positive, passionate, resilient, flexible, and determined.

 

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Yesterday’s walk in the woods – fresh air and sunshine – good for the heart and mind #makeitaGREATday

A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount) on

Last week I learned I was moving again, this time to 6th grade. I’ll will be teaching science (and social studies) but most importantly I’ll be teaching kids. Continue reading Asynchronous

light

It’s Easter Sunday and there is light. Let’s set aside dark and heavy for a day, and focus on light instead.

Last night, O called attention to the lake shore and the evening’s sunset. B and I walked to the shoreline to watch the sun set over the lake together with O.

light1
Saturday evening’s sunset. A sunset on the lake is never the same, Never.

I have been taking sunset pictures for longer than I can remember. Continue reading light

Tuesday’s Tune – Everything’s not lost

It’s the third week of self-quarantine and I am as hopeful as I was when I penned my last post, Abundance.

Yes, I AM hopeful. Positive. Confident. Certain.

When I started writing and blogging at Making the days Count almost ten years ago, it was a choice.  It was a choice to make my day better every day, even when I failed or fell, or came up short. I chose to look at the ways I could do better. I am still learning.

After I clicked PUBLISH on Abundance, I called upstairs to my wife, B,

“Church at 11,” I made another cup of coffee and went upstairs showered and dressed for church.

It was a bright sunny day. It was a big blue cloudless sky. When I started the car, Coldplay’s song “Everything’s not lost” began to play.

My car’s radio and my iPhone connect and sometimes a song from iTunes begins to play when the car starts. iTunes selects a random song, most of the time I stop the music, that morning I let the song play.

….If you ever feel neglected
If you think all is lost
I’ll be counting up my demons yeah
Hoping everything’s not lost

The church we attend is a short drive and the song, “Everything’s not lost,” was almost over when I parked the car. Chris Martin crooned,

I don’t let it stand in our way
‘Cause my head just hates when I think of
The things that I shouldn’t have done
But life is for living, we all know
And I don’t wanna live it alone

That Sunday’s church service was uplifting, and I left church knowing that everything’s not lost

Since that service on the Ides of March, we’ve been to e-church and we will continue to do so until the COVID19 crisis is over.

my favorite stained glass window – there is light and everything’s not lost

In full disclosure, I started writing this post yesterday, and I am finishing it today on Wednesday. I am not playing an April Fool joke on you by posting a Tuesday’s Tune on Wednesday. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – Everything’s not lost

Abundance

It has been a strange week, rather it’s been a challenging year or so.

A week ago, I was in Mississippi helping my elderly stepmother transition from her home to an assisted living facility. I spent almost half of February in Mississippi. My last two posts were from or about my trips to encourage and assist my stepmother.

Even further back, one year ago I was mourning my mother who passed away after a brief illness on March 2, 2019. I wrote about it last year in my post, Where do I start?

However, my church or rather my faith has inspired this morning’s post. My mother was a woman of faith – she had to be. Raising three boys single-handedly – all born within three years of each other and getting all three of to adulthood could be considered a miracle. But she had help, her faith. For the past several years, my church has asked parishioners to write a Lenten reflection to be shared daily. This past Tuesday morning, this year’s post landed in my In box and I re-read my Lenten reflection. It is my second piece of published writing. My first piece was published in 2017 – you can read (or re-read) it here.

I wrote the reflection while sitting in my stepmother’s hospital room glancing out the window at the vase of yellow daffodils. It seems as if the theme of yellow has been in my life subtly for several years. Below is my Lenten Refection.

God will provide

Last spring when our mom passed away, my brothers and I gathered to plan our mom’s memorial service. The church provided a funeral service planning document with the order of the service with suggested Bible passages and hymns. We had so many questions, what would mom want? What were her favorite hymns and Bible passages? What was mom’s favorite color? What kind of flowers would she want? And so on. We had no idea. It was overwhelming. Continue reading Abundance

Home

I took the photograph below somewhere between Memphis, Tennessee and Chicago, Illinois. It’ was Saturday evening’s sunset from a little more than 30,000 ft or 10,000 meters above Earth.

sunset – Saturday, 2/22/2020. 30,000 feet above Earth

I was on my way home Saturday afternoon from a week in northern Mississippi helping my stepmother who had been living by herself since my father passed away in July 2009. It was my second trip and there are likely to be more trips in the future for my brothers and me.

Our flight attendant interrupted the quietness of the cabin to call attention to the evening’s sunset. I was seated in the middle seat and my seatmate to the left had to pull up the window shade to reveal the setting sun. I was struck by the beauty of the colors along the horizon.

The weather had been delightful on the last few days of my trip to Oxford. We had an early morning frost on Friday and Saturday morning, but the sun shined brightly and warmed to the upper 40s (about 10C) at the height of the day. Skies were cloudless Friday and early Saturday allowing a brilliant night sky I am unable to appreciate at home in Chicago.

I’ve been home for a more than a full day now and I am back to school this morning. I have missed working with my students and I am looking forward to a fresh new week full of excitement and learning. I know it’s gonna be a great day – full of curiosity and wonder, and a little catching up, too. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one day at a time.

What is going to make your day count today?

W^2 – Yellow, again

Yellow is all about me and it seems to be a recurring theme.

These daffodils were picked by a friend of my step-mom’s – they are as a fragrant as they are beautiful. They bring brightness to her room…… and courage, hope, happiness, optimism, and warmth.

It is going to be a great day, I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count one day at a time, especially one day at a time.

What brightens you day today?