Babe's View

Hello. My name is Babe. I'm the newest member of the McCombs family and I've got some things to say.

Thought you might be interested in what really goes on around here. They're pretty decent humans on most accounts. The food's pretty good and there's plenty of birds to chase. Cats, too--when they let me.

But I had no idea who really ran things when I agreed to move here. At first I thought it was the little boy who loves me, but we rode all the way home in the very back seat with not a single sniff stop and I started getting the picture.

Then, I thought it might be the lady who feeds me. She seems to be in charge of everything. She makes me take medicine I do not like. I clench my teeth and send her strong eye messages, but she acts like she doesn't understand and down it goes anyway. Then she took me to a place with wild smells that made me nervous and the next thing I know, I'm waking up with a slit in my belly and everybody's petting my head and saying, "Now you won't have to worry about puppies."

Well, I wasn't worried to start with, but what can you do? I'm still a bit miffed over that, but I'm licking their hands anyway to show I'm a good sport.

I never even suspected the man of being in charge. He's pretty much on my level: sleeping all the time, eating messy, getting yelled at. He's one of my kind, I'm pretty sure. But he leaves my food alone, so we get along fine.

No, the truth was made clear to me right off the bat. This whole house and big running yard are clearly controlled by one furry contraption they call Yankee. Now, I admit, we Irish Setters are not well known for our high intellect, but I know when I'm not in charge.
I'm not sure what this thing is that hovers over our mutual food dish and makes growly noises in her throat when I walk into the room. She's started taking her naps right beside the food dish so she can catch me if I so much as ask for a drink.
I could eat her in one bite, but being a gentle lady, I refrain. Besides, she's so hairy I can't imagine getting all that out of my teeth. She controls when I can eat or get a drink until the lady catches her and scoops her up and talks babytalk to her while I grab a bite or two.

Now I don't want to come across as jealous or bitter. I'm just not that kindof gal. But what I would like to know is: How Do You Get That Job?

Approaching Fall

Here we are nearing the end of July. The later it gets, the more I start to feel regret. It's not conscious and there's no reason for it that I know of, but August and September are not the beginning of fall to me. They mark the end of summer. The end of green and growing and a whole mindset of vacation, happiness, taking time out to relax.

I've always hated fall--and yes, I know I'm a minority. You LOVE fall! Love the crunch of flaming colors under your feet. Love the smell of smoke in the air, the approaching holidays. See, I've heard it all. My dad loved fall. My daughter loves fall. I get it, okay?

Maybe something tragic happened to me in the fall that I don't remember, but most likely, it's temperament.

I live for spring. All year long, the knowledge that spring will come again keeps me going. After another long, drudgerous winter, I literally count off the days until the first green shoots peek from the hard ground. Until I can stab my shovel in the earth and turn over my garden. Until the first rosebud appears on my bushes. When I can walk outside barefoot for the first time and not freeze my toes off, I feel like I'm waking up. As though the past six months was just a bad dream and now life can start.

I start to feel a little depressed this time of year, just knowing it's about over. School will start, everyone's nose gets back to the grindstone, the leaves wither and die and I feel like I wither and die.

So what's the solution? I could move (theoretically) to a sunny location like Hawaii. I'm ready, but there's this little thing about a job. And I"m not sure that would solve it either. If there was no clear cut changing of the seasons, would I remain upbeat all the time or would I have the same psychological reaction regardless of the temperature outside? I like the fact that the seasons change. It's a way of marking time, keeping track, but I wish I liked them all.

What do you think? What's your favorite season and why? Does fall make anyone else sad?

Goodbye, Grandma

Thursday evening, my last grandma passed away. She would have been 101 next month.

I thought of that verse in the Bible that says "God knows the number of our days." He knew when he created her in 1908, that she would live through the Great Depression, several world wars, the deaths of most of her family, including a son, and the mind-numbing whirl of technology that leaves many older folks behind.

Grandma Davis, my father's mother, was a lovely, thin, delicate-looking lady who abhorred the sun and never left the house without fixing up. Even when declining health forced her into assisted living, and then a nursing home, she carried the same air of dignity and beauty that had characterized her whole life.

Those same slender hands that were protected in white gloves from the sun and newsprint had also scrubbed bare floorboards, wrung chicken necks, used a washboard, and hauled water to a house with no plumbing. But in every action she took, she was always a lady.

She raised two fine sons, sent one off to fight in a war where no one was declared a hero. In turn, they were devoted to her. She kept her home clean and inviting, but never off limits to the explorations of her grandchildren.

She kept old perfume and makeup bottles for her granddaughters to play with and we would spend hours opening and exploring the contents of her old purses filled with heady-smelling lotions and intriguing containers like they were the newest toys. It was she who taught me to always dab a bit of perfume or lotion behind my ears before bed so you always smelled good at night. I still do that. Now, so do my daughters.

When I think of the word "lady," I picture my grandma. Outwardly delicate, but inside she had the strength of an army. Devoted to family with undisputed moral character, she was feminine even when scrubbing, cooking, gardening, or relaxing.

I'm glad I'll forever have that image in mind of what it means to be a lady. I only hope I can pass that on to my own daughters and grandchildren some day. The world needs more ladies.

What's One Week?

"I miss my little kids so bad," were Susie's words a year ago when she returned from her first mission trip. They'd gone to a poverty-stricken area in Arkansas and came back with a new perspective.

When American middle class meets poverty right in its own backyard, the result is usually life-altering. That's our goal in sending our kids out of their comfort zones and into the darkness where the overwhelming majority of the world lives. We can preach and teach and show movies and pictures, but nothing touches the heart of a child who's known nothing but love and wealth like meeting another child who's known none.

"She didn't want to go home, Mom," Susie cried as she tried to describe the precious little ones who'd wrapped themselves around her heart and changed her forever. "She said her daddy beats her. She clung to me and asked if she could live with me, Mom. And she was only four years old."

They'd gone to minister, to serve, to help and teach, but that one week of sweltering heat, sleeping on the floor, head lice, and filth taught them more than a thousand teachers with charts and videos. They poured out the love that's been showered on them from conception and found it wasn't enough to make much difference and the sorrow ate at their heart the rest of the year.

So, they've gone back. Another long road trip, sweltering heat, discomfort, other people's filth to try once more to bring God's love to people starving for it. And once more, they'll feel they didn't make much difference. What's one week out of 52?

One week is enough. They are forever changed.

Susie's Going to College!

My little handicapped child is enrolled in college this fall! Thank you, God!

With Susie's brain injury (see came not only physical challenges, but some learning difficulties as well. Since the seventh grade, her ability to comprehend new material in certain areas was nearly nonexistent. Imagine trying to teach this child Algebra! We were both in tears most of the time.

Her educational testing showed massive areas of difficulty and by tenth grade, we knew she had conquered all the academic fields she could conquer. Reading concentration was very hard, trauma-induced ADHD inside her head made her unable to concentrate on abstracts, and the medicine was worse than the disability. Her memory short-circuits, making memorization impossible.

We began to pray earnestly: What do we do with Susie?

Miraculously, last year the Lord opened the doors at Tulsa Technology Center. We could only enroll in whatever classes they had left, since we weren't Tulsa County residents, but it turned out that she took the two classes that were perfect for her. She excelled artistically in Web Design and Digital Media, unable to master some of the more complicated technical areas, but loving every minute of it.

Then her senior year loomed. What do we do with Susie? Claremore opened a brand new technology center and there was one class perfect for her, which she is enrolled in. But it's over at 11 a.m. What else?

She wanted to take an art class at Rogers State University, so we checked into that, but without an ACT score and good grades, she couldn't enroll as a concurrent student. The very idea of taking the ACT leaves her with cold shivers and it would be a pointless waste of time, money, and effort. The child cannot take tests.

Wayne and I breached the fortress again, appealing to the president, Dr. Larry Rice, who graciously agreed to open the doors at the university for non-degree-seeking high school students to audit classes!

So yesterday, Susie and I went to the college and enrolled her in two classes for fall: Art Foundations and Digital Foundations, two classes that I'm sure she will do well in. She nearly floated home, anxious to inform her college brother that she would be going to his school!

"I'm going to college! I'm really going to college! I can't wait for school to start!"

Everything with a handicapped child is a mountain to climb. Normal life events that fall naturally into place with the other children often present a formidable wall when Susie gets there. We never know what to do next, but just when we are about to panic, the doors open and the Lord shines a bright light in that direction, sometimes giving us a little shove. Just as the Lord led the Israelites through the desert, he goes before us, guiding our path as we carry this precious child he gave us.

So for a few days, we can inhale and exhale with relief. Senior year is covered.

Now, Lord...about this driving thing...And she needs a job...