It’s All In The Shoes

Shoes two

We were standing in the sun, a light rain — a beautiful day for all practical purposes.

In that moment, riveted, I knew I was watching someone with the heart of a servant.

Parilee Croft was cleaning my muddy shoes. Please indulge me to tell you about this person, a friend I know and love. One of the Angels in my life.

On the surface we could not be more different. Parilee is Artist-in-Residence for Art on the Green.  After painting at the Gallery all day,  Parilee takes her beloved dog, Kep, to herd sheep after she leaves the Gallery. You heard correctly, herd sheep.  She herds sheep while I rush home to watch Dr. Phil! (scary, I know.)

IMG_3592Parilee and Kep, her Border Collie.

on the River

Parilee and friend on the River.

Parilee’s vacations are fishing, mine are going to the Capital Hotel for a few nights. (Those Frette sheets get me every time.)


Parilee in Woodworking class at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Parilee is in woodworking class, refinishing her grandparents antique bed, while I’m just beginning to make mine!

Yet, at our core, we are very much alike. WE OWN OUR OWN VOICES. Novel? Yes, and    she is beautifully unique. We don’t always agree, but we talk it out. Like grownups should. We have become a ‘team’ in the Gallery, and I value her advise – I know I will get her truth. Truth is a beautiful thing to me; just imagine receiving that truth, from a real, true Servant of God.


There is not a more lovely person in this world. We will always get ‘her truth’ and we have become great friends in a short period of time, because we are truth lovers.

Woodworker, Sheep herder, Artist, Teacher, Dog lover, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. Parilee Croft is extraordinary. Come visit Art on the Green; have a Starbucks with Parilee. Who knows? She might even take you fishing!






Lou Lawyer’s Legacy of Love


“Lift Up Your Head” painted by Nina Ruth Baker

I say I love you a lot. I remember the first time I actually said “I Love You.”  To my Mother.  In the carport of my parents then-home. Still have no idea why it was so hard, just know It was a profound moment for me, because I loved her endlessly.  I wanted to say it, to tell her how much she meant to me.Obviously it was hard, and yes, I still remember every little detail. It was an important moment in my life.

I’ve never told anyone the reason I made myself be brave that day — until now.

It was because of Lou Lawyer.  All the memories came flooding back today, when I learned of her death.

Lauren Lawyer and I were Harding students at the same time, meeting when she moved to Little Rock. Traveling with Lauren to Searcy, it was during this time I met her parents, Lou and Virgil, along with Lauren’s sisters, Andee and Jan.

Lou Lawyer was the epitome of grace and love. She was wise. Beautiful, with a great smile and laugh. I remember just watching her prepare lunch for Lauren and me — standing in her kitchen, what she served, even the plates she used.

Mostly, I remember Lou Lawyer told her family she loved them constantly. Her voice still resonates with me.  Her legacy is everlasting.

Lou Lawyer probably never knew or would even assume how vast her influence permeates those who’ve been in her sphere.  We are a lucky and blessed group. She is an angel among angels, now with her husband, Virgil.

Lou Lawyer’s legacy makes me even more thankful for my own Mother, who told literally everyone — just like Lou — that she LOVED them. And did she ever. She and Lou never met, but I’d like to imagine they will meet in Heaven.

Thankful Lou Lawyer was in my life, albeit for those brief moments.  My life was forever changed by her example.

Let’s all be brave today — say I LOVE YOU as much as possible.  I think Lou will be proud of us and it makes me so happy to believe she will be watching.

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My Heart

Josie Dee Reynolds McClain and Brenda at wedding in Iowa.

I’m sharing something really personal today, part of my AUTHENTIC GRACE  quest.  I wrote this in my Mother’s last days.

As I move forward I do not want to forget this experience.  It has been life-changing.

My days are good, I’m doing work I love and planning a trip to Italy.  Yet I don’t want to ever forget this time I had, so intimate with my beloved Mother.  I know others are going through much of the same thing and I want them to know I UNDERSTAND.  Only those caregivers/family who have actually been through this can know these feelings so well.

My posts WILL for the most part be positive — but I want you to know My heart.  It is my AUTHENTIC GRACE.  It is the Heart of the MATTER.

Close to the End:

“My arms are not cold,” she says as I rub her ice cold arms, she says my hands are cold and do I need a blanket?

Still worried about me, even tho she is bed ridden, sleeps most of the day and stays disoriented much of the time.  Today she had me get her wallet because she thought my Dad might need some money.  He died in 1994.

She still wonders if she is home.  I tell her, as do my sisters and our loving caregivers that she is home, home, home.  We say it endlessly, we want her to know that yes, she is home and we are all doing well and we just want her to be okay.  When we say our prayers at night she asks me if I’ve included our caregivers, I tell her of course I have.

I hold back tears, because she will worry if she sees me crying.  She knows I love her and she’s told me over and over I’ve done a wonderful job taking care of her.  That’s been my goal.  No, it’s not been easy.

I am scared the journey is ending and I’m scared it’s not.  The Mother I’ve known is only here in moments now, she still has her sense of humor, and she still has that sincerity when she tells our neighbor, Paris to be safe and take care of her children on their upcoming trip to California.  Her manners are intact, and she worries if I don’t offer guests a beverage.  But mostly she is already someplace else.

So now, for the last weeks I sleep beside her.  She asked last week if I could just get in bed with her – so I now have two twin beds side-by-side so that when she needs to or I need to we hold hands.   My sisters come and take my place from time-to-time and I am grateful.

I NEVER expected to be in this situation.  I’ve never married, single and living with my Mother. Really?  REALLY.  In fact, I was the one who pshawed (sp) those who DID live with their Mothers.  Why?  Why? Yet, here I am and so, so grateful that I have been privileged to care for her.

I used to stay I would be ‘fine’ when she passed, but I didn’t expect to be so in love with this person, who has also become my best friend.

Now, I wonder how my heart will ever recover, sleeping beside someone, waking up to see if they’ve quit breathing.  Night after night after night for the last year and 1/2 now, it’s my hourly ritual. I can’t sleep even tho’ she does, because I worry if she’s okay.

Yesterday I took a quick trip to Kroger and I was crying by the time I left, thinking of what I would not be buying (for her) anymore.  Of course it didn’t’ help that the Prince Street Kroger bag-boy left in the middle of sacking my groceries and didn’t come back.  So, as I continued to complete bagging my groceries, I cried. “Doesn’t he know my Mother is dying?” I wanted to scream. LOUD.

I feel like everyone needs to know this really terrific woman is almost gone from my site, never my heart and mind.  I also wonder how those who have lost their spouse do it?    I don’t know if my heart could take that kind of death.

I will soon find out.  And I will go on.  I know it, I feel it, but I am at my core devastated.
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