Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #312
Nancy White Kelly

I didn’t know the deceased. She was the mother-in-law of one co-worker and the grandmother of another. My decision to attend the funeral service was mostly to show my care for the grieving family. Losing a loved one is never easy. I am an adult orphan to death myself.

For whatever reason, the hearse would be late to the church. For nearly thirty minutes I occupied the waiting time by gazing at the menagerie of folks. They whispered quietly among themselves, often shifting uncomfortably in the hard wood pews.

As if in another decade, the majority of men were nicely dressed in suits or at least shirts with ties. Only a few women wore pants which made me glad I had worn my navy and white dress. The attention to attire was a testimony to the respect the gatherers had for the departed lady.
Finally the hearse arrived. The congregation stood as the large extended family solemnly filed into the narrow rows, filling one and then another until the center section was nearly full.

Until her stroke some months ago, the eighty-two- year-old woman had helped wear those church pews thin. How many hymns had she sung in praise of her Lord? How many prayers had she lifted up to the throne of heaven on behalf of others? God has the answers. He even knows the number of hairs on our head.

On this sad day, the lady’s granddaughter and other loved ones sang songs on her behalf that paid tribute to her great faith. Two preachers, most likely a father and son, shared the eulogy and sermon interspersed with a medley of funeral music. Though slightly out of tune due to age and use, the up-right piano seemed the perfect accompaniment to the life of the lady in the casket. Tears and tissues were the norm for the best part of two hours.

For me, the stranger in the midst, the hustle and bustle from my daily routine at school and the coin shop was temporarily suspended. The importance of family, the reality of death, and the blessed hope of a new day in a new place caught my full attention. The preacher closed with reminder that each of us will have a turn.

I am ready for the journey, but prefer that my ticket not be punched today. As Robert Frost once wrote, “I have miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep.”

I think I have so much to do first. But by what right does the watch have to tell the watchmaker when to pull the stem? Or the clay to tell the potter when to take his hands away from the watery wheel? As the book of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time to live and a time to die.” We are molded for a purpose and when our usefulness is done, God calls for the death angel.
Roses are for the living. Funerals are for those left behind to mourn. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Due to computer glitches, this column is TEMPORARILY on hold. Please check back in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #311

Nancy White Kelly

Our son Charlie related recently that his two-year-old son feared a big, mean elephant that supposedly hid in his closet. After bedtime, Micah would hurry down to his parent’s bedroom and, with wide open eyes, describe the monster. With his limited vocabulary, Micah demonstrated this terrorizing menace by making a huge bellowing sound and thrusting his arm away from his chin to imitate the elephant’s trunk.

Like a dutiful dad, Charlie walked Micah back to his room, examined the closet with all the seriousness of a monster detective and declared that the elephant had gone back to the wilds. Micah was satisfied and obediently went back to bed for some restful sleep.

This parental anecdote led to a conversation among Charlie’s friends about the monsters they feared when growing up. Charlie confessed that he feared the Hulk, a green giant that was popular in the early eighties. He also admitted to other fears, like being afraid of putting his feet on the floor after bedtime. He imagined that some creature far uglier than an elephant would snatch his toes for a tasty nighttime snack.

I would laugh except that it reminded me of my own childhood fears. Probably a few of you older readers remember the movie, “The Thing.” The original version was scary. I spent many nights wondering if the strange noises I heard in our old house were that post-frozen creature about to bust through my bedroom door. I also imagined that Frankenstein was in the woods, awaiting the opportunity to take my body for needed spare parts.

Like his grandmother and daddy, Micah will eventually grow out of his fears of imaginary monsters. There are too many real things for adults to concern themselves with like the drought and war.

Let us hasten to our Heavenly Father. Dear God, please bring rain and peace soon.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #310
Nancy White Kelly

Have we all gone insane?

A few days ago I dashed into a nearby variety store for a few household necessities. Regardless of how busy our lives are, there are some times you just have to stop and shop. Buddy doesn’t like to run out of toilet paper. I reminded him that the pilgrims managed without it. He wasn’t amused.

On that late October day, the temperature outside was unusually toasty. As the double glass doors of the store sprung open, I was greeted by loud Christmas music and a swaying Santa Claus.

What happened to Thanksgiving? Oh, I remember. Only the grocery stores commercialize Turkey Day. There is little economic motive for other establishments to promote a national day of giving thanks. But Christmas hoop-la already? To quote the famous commentator, Charlie Brown, “Good grief.”

I love the real Christmas season. My mother did too. She even birthed me on Christmas Eve. Those nostalgic memories of childhood Christmases are probably an exaggerated figment of my imagination. They were good, but never perfect. The anticipation was always greater than the day of the tree.

As a parent, I tried to create that same utopian experience for my children. Some Christmases were better than others. Each year, as I put away the decorations, I promised that next year would be different. Simpler.

Buddy and I have even considered going away in early December, maybe even out of the country, until after January 1. So much work, anxiety and expense could be avoided that way.

Of course, the real meaning of Christmas is important to Buddy and me. Yet, historians tell us that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th. Reality is that the birth of Christ should be celebrated all year long, not just on some man-made calendar date.

Will Christmas find us on some deserted island, far from the hustle and bustle that has already begun? That is doubtful. There is always next year or the hope of it.

In the meanwhile, the guest closet is full of items I have picked up all during the year. Nothing expensive, but quite a pile all the same. Toys, shirts, gimmicky things. Same-O. Same-O.

All I really want for Christmas is my family together. A good meal. A little laughter. Unhurried time. Fond reminiscing. If Christmas is the only time to conveniently do that, then bring it on. It is coming anyway.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #308
Nancy White Kelly

Every day I realize more and more that I am past my prime. While arthritis screams rather loudly to my joints, it is my mind that I mourn the most. We older folks know more than young people. We just can’t remember it.

Removing my rings is a daily ritual. I don’t like to wear them when attending to mundane household tasks like washing dishes. Chemicals and soapy residue aren’t good for jewelry.

Early last Tuesday morning, while a rooster crowed in the dawning light, I discovered that my wedding rings were missing. Where could they be?

Time was fleeting and I needed to leave for work. I checked in all the jewelry boxes given me by relatives and friends through the years. No rings. I looked in the bathroom soap dishes. Still no rings.

With the pathetic, non-agility of an aging lady, I slowly lowered my body to the floor. My fingers combed through the bedroom carpet. My eyes caught the clutter of papers and books scattered under the bed. The clutter would have to wait.

I grabbed hold of the bedspread. My elementary students would have considered it a humorous version of “ tug-of-war.” With all the strength and courage I could muster, I finally pulled myself to a standing position. My sophisticated high school students would have described the scene in more scientific lingo: applied physics. Whatever. I was vertical.

Where could those rings be? I have misplaced them before, but never for so long and never when in such a hurry to leave. I am a known advocate of punctuality. It would be amusing to the staff, but embarrassing to me, to be late to our morning faculty meeting.

I asked Buddy if he had seen the rings.

“Nope,” he replied casually. He never even looked up from his newspaper while taking an unhurried sip of coffee. Apparently the headlines were more compelling than my need for wedding rings at 6:00 in the morning.

I did a final walk-around of the entire house, looking high and looking low for the missing rings. I resigned myself to being ringless that day, but not late.
I made a hasty stop in the bathroom to spray my hair for an anticipated long day. It was then that I saw the shiny reflection of a diamond in the medicine cabinet mirror.

Yep. My wedding rings were right where you might expect them…on my left ring finger.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #308

Nancy White Kelly

Today is Saturday. It is coin shop day. I must change hats from being a school administrator to being a proprietor. It is quite a challenge to be responsible for a business with only one day a week to tend to it. And, to top it off, Buddy says jokingly that he needs to find me a third job. In almost the same breath, he tells me he is hungry.

Reluctantly I ask him to take charge of the coin shop. I amble across the drive-way to the house. In the kitchen I prepare soup and sandwiches. My mind tells me that there is something wrong with this scenario. I don’t complain. Buddy is a good man and his type is increasingly hard to find in this modern day.

Buddy is not a lazy man. He is always busy, but it is chosen business. He can go back to bed in the morning, or noon, or even afternoon if he wants. He has no time clock. He cuts grass, piddles in the shop or visits with friends while I work. Occasionally he will drop by the school and put up a bulletin board or two. I am envious.

My day starts early and never ends. His day is just so flexible. Mine is full of meetings and more meetings. Parents, students, board members, and community activists flood my life with visits, phone calls, and emails. Then there are the students who want me to watch every volleyball spike or quarterback sneak. There is never a day anymore that I feel caught up. My method in this madness is to assign priorities to my tasks. I do it by numbers: 1,2,3,4. Most days I am fortunate to get past the 1’s. Nobody is at fault. It is called the tyranny of the urgent.

The staff at Mountain Area Christian Academy is wonderful. They are professionals and don’t require micromanaging. In fact, they inspire me. Schools can survive for a while without an administrator, but would not last long without passionate, dedicated teachers and employees.

When the younger students, in their neat little uniforms, pass by me in the hall, someone will almost always say, “Good morning, Dr. Kelly.” That cheers me. The high school students stand in respect when a visitor comes into the classroom.

As I encounter courteous young people, it gives me hope for the next generation. Leaders of the past are almost gone. Like the Bible says, life appeareth for a while, like a vapor, and then vanishes away. We all are terminal.

Thankfully my six-month cancer scans came back “stable.” That is a good word when you are in the fourth stage of this awful disease. Though the cancer still shows in my bones, it isn’t spreading and hasn’t for over a year now. That is good news. The bad news is that cancer in the bones is painful. Nothing I do or take seems to stop the gnawing, aggravating drilling that penetrates my spine. Yet I am grateful for each day is a new day and for the opportunity to make a difference.

The Living Lady is still alive and productive. When my oncologist sees me, he points upward and says, “Miracle. Miracle.” I respond with a vigorous nod and point upward myself. I know a miracle when I am one.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #307

Nancy White Kelly

It was nice being a grandmother again. Charlie, Tori and our two grandsons, Micah, age two, and Noah, age five-months, came for a week-end visit.

Because all three of us adults are heavily involved in the educational field, trying to create meaningful time with our growing family is becoming increasingly difficult.

I am a school administrator. Charlie is a science teacher. Tori is a preschool director. All of us work in different schools. Add Buddy to the list. He is constantly on-call at MACA to do handy-man jobs. All the teachers know him. When they see Mr. Buddy come down the halls on his motorized three-wheel trike, they come flocking.

On Labor Day week-end, both the boys were sick with nasty colds. We vetoed the visit because that is the last thing Buddy or I need. Then Tori got their colds. Finally, this past week-end looked like a possible go. The launch of a space shuttle couldn’t have involved as much anticipation on my part.

Regretfully, it was still necessary to open the coin shop on Saturday from 10:00-4:00. Our growing base of customers depend on Ye Old Coin Shop to be open that one day a week. During customer lulls, Charlie came in and helped sort buffalo nickels. I instructed him to look carefully for a 1937 buffalo nickel with a missing half leg. That one is worth at least $800 in fine condition. He also looked through some mercury dimes hoping to find the elusive 1916 one with a D mint mark. It is worth about $2000 in uncirculated condition. His happy hunting turned up nothing spectacular, but it was nice having his company.

On Sunday, we all went to church. Micah was the only one in the nursery with whiskers. He found a permanent green marker on my desk and decorated his arms, legs, and face. Buddy and Tori tried everything to remove the indelible ink: vinegar, WD-40, and even a touch of gasoline. Nothing worked so Micah went to church in his Sunday clothes with weird, swirly green lines sprouting beneath his impish nose.

Grandchildren are priceless. If we had known that they were so much fun, we would have had them first.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #306

Nancy White Kelly

My life could not be any busier. Being out of the work force for so many years and then being thrust back into it big time has been challenging. Gone are the days of casual lunches with friends or quietly reading the newspaper while enjoying my morning cup of coffee. Buddy has been a good sport about his missing wife though I think he remembers the good ole days with a bit of sadness. My day starts at five in the morning and often ends late at night.

Funny things continue to happen. For instance, our school has mail boxes for each employee. I was using a plastic tray for my notes until the secretary found time to label me a slot. Since there were no more slots available, I designated my plastic tray for the new custodian.

One day I had an unsigned note in my box requesting that the water fountains in the gymnasium be cleaned. Obediently I headed for the rags and was on a hunt for cleaner when a staff member noted my unusual assignment. She quickly identified two problems: lack of communication and failure to read the new mailbox labels. All was well until the custodian began receiving the teacher lesson plans meant for my approval. I think everybody knows now where the mail should be delivered. I just hope I don’t get asked to wax the floors. I can barely walk those long school halls.

On Saturday our school played its first football game ever. We were the traveling team and had to go to a new field in a little town north of Marietta, Georgia. Buddy and I got lost and arrived several minutes after the kick-off. Being that I am a stickler for punctuality, it was a bit embarrassing crossing the field on the goal post end to get to our team’s side. Nobody kidded me and I was glad.

We won 35-44 which was a good ending to a very long week.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #305

Nancy White Kelly

Handwriting can be a bit mystic when written hurriedly. Being a school principal again has had its funny moments. During orientation recently, I asked the teachers to give me a list of their current extra-curricular school responsibilities. One teacher’s handwritten response was puzzling. She wrote that she was in charge of fire ants.

During a brief lull in the team meeting, I asked the English teacher to explain. She didn’t remember that she had written such a response and came up to the podium where I was standing. Upon glancing at my list, she burst out laughing. Instead of being in charge of fire ants, she acknowledged that she was instead responsible for Fine Arts. Big difference.

Four weeks have passed since becoming the newest administrator of Mountain Area Christian Academy which is south of Blairsville. It is a fine school with a fine staff as well as a progressing Fine Arts program.

Personally I am drawn to music and art of all types. You will find classical, southern Gospel and patriotic bands in my CD collection. Buddy and I both enjoy folk art, but I have some signed lithographic masterpieces as well. Eclectic is the fancy word for such diversity. Good friends support my pleasures.

One friend made me a half-dozen corsages, some of which are extraordinarily big and fanciful. While unintentional, those big flowers have become my signature of identity at school.

When someone asks who the principal is, quite often an elementary child will say I am the lady with the big flower. I prefer to be known as the lady with the big heart. But, as surely as can be imagined, some middle school cutie will simply shorten my identity to “the big lady.”

And, as conversation often gets heard in bits and pieces, a kindergartener will probably describe me as the big lady with the big flower who sits in the big office in the big building directing big people in charge of big fire ants.

Life is short. Laugh a little.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #304

Nancy White Kelly

This will be the shortest newspaper column I have ever written. The tyranny of the urgent constrains me from giving a long discourse.

If this column were a book, I would entitle a chapter, “The Week that Was.” In a single week I have gone from enjoying leisurely retirement to being the last-minute administrator/principal of a state of the art school which includes day care through grade twelve. Besides that little monumental task, Buddy and I hosted the grand opening for our new numismatics store which will now be open only on Saturdays and by appointment.

No doubt you will hear more about Mountain Area Christian Academy
and Ye Old Coin Shop in the future. That is, if I can get Buddy to bring me a high-octane cup of coffee.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #303

Nancy White Kelly

Sometimes it is good that we don’t know what our children are experiencing until after the fact. Last week was like that for Buddy and me.

Our son Charlie, the science teacher, is serving as an interim youth minister between school terms. He and some friends recently chaperoned a group of high-school students who were attending a spiritual retreat in Daytona. They domiciled in a sixty-five year old condominium.

Following a morning Bible study time held on the ground floor, Charlie was the first to get on the elevator for the next scheduled session. A couple of young men got on after him. Then two more followed. Just as the door was beginning to shut, a large group of boys jovially leaped inside. Charlie was crowded to the back corner.

The young man closest to the door pressed the elevator button for the second floor. Charlie, the only adult in the group, said he thought he felt a little movement. Slightly claustrophobic, he waited and waited…and waited. A momentary flash of anxiety flowed over him as he and everyone else realized they were stuck. The elevator was not moving and the door would not open. This, he said, was not a happy time. Thankfully, his faith and adrenaline kicked in.

Ironically the emphasis for the week was on trusting God moment by moment. Charlie recognized this as an opportunity to demonstrate God’s grace for the present situation. He related that it wasn’t easy being stuffed like a tuna in a small elevator.

Taking charge of the fourteen young men, Charlie moved to the front of the elevator. His concern was that just a slight whiff of air was coming from a tiny fan near the top of the elevator. The electrical power fluctuated. Sometimes the inner door would open, but the outer door would not.

Charlie said the boys did all that he asked, but a couple of them started to panic as time went by. One young man in particular was struggling. Charlie knew that he had to get in more air. Hoisted by the boys, he removed the plastic paneling from the ceiling of the elevator which revealed florescent bulbs and a wood ceiling. He had to make the decision to puncture the roof even though it would destroy the elevator. It was the only choice if they were to survive for a long duration.

God came through with grace and manpower. The fire department arrived just before Charlie got in the first blow. He and the boys survived with a good story to tell their children and grandchildren…AND parents.

We asked Charlie what he learned from the experience. He grinned. “That the little sign giving weight limits for elevators is there for a purpose.”

Buddy and I don’t take God’s protection of Charlie and the high school boys for granted. We asked for safety before he left on the trip and we are grateful for answered prayer.

So life goes on. We senior Kellys are busy making preparation for the grand opening of the Ye Old Coin shop on August 4th. That is a Saturday and the time is from 10:00 until 4:00. We are looking forward to meeting and greeting readers, friends, and new acquaintances from the numismatic community. There will be punch and cake for all who drop by to wish us well. You are coming, aren’t you?

If you are a robber, you can stop reading now. Ye Old Coin Shop is located exactly one mile from Young Harris College. To get there, turn at the traffic light, go Highway 66 to Byers Creek Road. Turn left on Byers creek and go four-tenths of a mile to 6156 Southern Road. Look for the bright yellow building and flags. That’s us, right there in the curve. If you get lost, call us…706-994-7622/379-1488.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #302

Nancy White Kelly

Just when I thought life could not get more complicated for Buddy and me, it has. Add the position of chairman of the board to a new grandbaby, on-going cancer appointments, and the grand opening of Ye Old Coin Shop on August 4th.

I was elected Chairman of the Mountain Area Christian Academy which is located north of Blue Ridge and south of Blairsville, Ga. MACA has a beautiful new building complete with gym and cafeteria. The school is expecting 250 students next month in daycare through grade 12. Students travel from North Carolina and Tennessee as well. The website is mountainareachristianacademy.org.

I previously served as MACA’S chair for a few months in the early days before the revenges of cancer treatment canceled most of my life. Vice-Chairman, Mike Kiernan, co-owner of PanelBuilt in Blairsville, has served two terms but must now step down according to the school by-laws. My cancer is currently stable and the board again elected me.

I could have said, “no,” due to my hectic schedule, but I believe in Christian education. This doesn’t mean I oppose public education. My son, and several good friends, teach in governmental schools. I did too until the early 70’s.

When the wife of the superintendent of education told me I could not teach the biblical view of creation along-side evolutionary theory in the textbooks, I knew I needed a different setting. I finished my public school contract and never looked back. Eventually I became principal of three Christian schools. The second one became a nationally recognized “Model School.” The last one, Mt. Zion Christian Academy, was the largest Christian school in Georgia at that time. I am proud of those schools and the staff that contributed to their success. I cannot think of a better legacy.

Did you know that Frank Sinatra, one of the great entertainers of the 20th century, was often referred to as Chairman of the Board? I never knew why and researched it. It seems Sinatra, also called Ol’ Blue Eyes, acquired the chairman moniker after buying Reprise Records in 1961. Quite a crooner, he left his mark as a showbiz icon.

John Smoltz, a Cy Young Winner in 1996, is also a Chairman of the Board. While better known for his legendary pitching for the Atlanta Braves, few people know that he began North Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Georgia. It wasn’t an easy task. He is quoted as saying, “Building a school takes an incredible amount of time. In one sense, I'd rather have another surgery on my arm than go through all this again." But, as a father of four, he believes the investment was worth the effort.

I can’t sing like Frank, but, like John, I can pitch… quality academics in a Christian environment.

It’s a wonderful life!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #301

Nancy White Kelly

The tiny pink and blue shopping cart sits idle. I am observing it from the den recliner where I am pasted with inertia. My weary eyes catch a green triangular blob wedged under the settee in the corner. It belongs in the yellow tub for teaching shapes. Somehow it escaped clean up time.

The house is so quiet I hear the murmur of lawn mowers in the distance. This is a far cry from the last two days.

Charlie and Tori left to go back home after church yesterday. Following lunch at a nearby restaurant, I couldn’t help but smile. A very few years ago they were starry-eyed college students. This day Charlie was standing outside the family van, hunched over the seat of the driver’s side. He was struggling to put a fresh diaper on Micah, our two-year-old grandson. Tori was standing on the passenger side attempting to diaper two-month old Noah. What a difference five-years of marriage makes.

The little family came Friday afternoon and the whirl-wind began. It was as if our old house groaned.

“Again!” said the screen door. “They were just here Christmas. Guess I am going to be swinging big time. Hinges, get ready.”

The guest bath tub chimed in: “It is out of retirement for me. Here comes the yellow duckies and maybe even bubbles.

The waste cans became diaper disposals. The kitchen counter burgeoned with infant bottles, formula, fever drops, and other myriad items necessary to keep little children fed and comfortable. The den couch runneth over with diaper bags, child seats and enough toys for an army of little boys. It turned out that Micah much preferred the outdoors. Our big green yard, with its flowers, rocks and flitting honey bees, fascinated him. And so it was. For about 72 hours Buddy and I participated in parenting again.

Teas from the Heart ministries invited Tori to a special tea for new mothers. It was a treat and welcome respite from her non-stop days. She connected with other young women losing sleep and juggling household tasks between baby naps.

On the way back from the tea, Tori and I stopped by the home of the Browns who are dear friends. They presented our grateful daughter-in-law with a hand-made ABC book, originally intended for grandchildren that they themselves never had. Little Noah was born on April 9th, the exact birthday of Mrs. Brown. This petite, white haired lady beamed with joy at finally finding a home that she considered worthy of the hand-stitched booklet.

It is Monday. I must resume life now. My usual Sunday nap turned into a nine-hour coma. I feel like I have been on a Saturday night binge. Actually, I’ve never been on a binge on any night, but it must feel something like this.

For those who responded to my survey in the last column, the volume of calls, emails, and cards were heart-warming. Votes to continue Journal of a Living Lady came from as far as Canada and even South Africa. Apparently I have reader friends that I never knew existed. The rewards of writing are often not measured in money.

And, the Ye Old Coin Shop? It is coming along. Hopefully we will have our grand opening on August 4th.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #300

Nancy White Kelly

Count to three-hundred. That is the number of this Journal of a Living Lady. That doesn’t include the fifty or more computer-related columns written in the mid- nineties.

Journal of a Living Lady started out as Journal of a Dying Lady. I was in the terminal stages of cancer. The Sentinel publisher, who was and is a personal friend, discussed over lunch the intriguing idea of playing out this cancer journey publicly. No whining, just realistic dialogue about what it is like to finish life from a first-hand perspective. Though there have been a few touch and go episodes that brought in the family, obviously I didn’t die as expected. Miracles happen.

This column was published weekly for several years. Then it became bi-weekly as the events of my life seemed, at least to me, rather mundane. You have read about weddings, babies, random encounters, as well as the on-going battle with cancer.
An unexpected notoriety occurred, especially after appearing on the Oprah show and being photographed with Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer.

Then there was the book containing early columns compiled from this Journal of a Living Lady. Most often it is given as a gift to someone needing a spiritual lift or a bit of humor while battling serious disease themselves. (The book is available at most Sentinel offices, on-line at Amazon.com, at Ingles in Blairsville, and several bookstores.)

It has been my long-time plan to stop writing this column after number 300. Buddy and I are in the process of remodeling a cabin beside our home in Young Harris. We will be opening the Ye Old Coin Shop in a few weeks. I will be buying and selling old coins, paper money, silver and gold bullion as well as numismatic supplies. Buddy, no doubt, will be entertaining, and distracting, customers with hangar flying and chicken stories.

For those who have no interest in coin collecting, we will carry a few interesting odds and ends, including glass paperweights and war memorabilia. After the coin shop is well established, we may expand to include an eBay consignment shop.

Why would a 75-year-old man and a stage-four cancer patient start a new business at this point in our life? We are frequently asked this. Let me explain. This is more information that you probably need to know, but it relates to whether I should continue Journal of a Living Lady. To write or not to write. That is the final question.

Buddy worked for Eastern Airlines which is now defunct. When he began retirement in 1994, we no longer had company-subsidized health insurance. Those unplanned high insurance premiums made a huge dent in our finances.

Years ago we made a commitment to Charlie to pay his way through college if he did his part by being a good student. He was. We never borrowed a dime and Charlie began his career of teaching without any odious student loans.

A steady check, which has been a major source of our modest income, is ending soon. Our plan A is to off-set that income with the coin shop. Though I have the numismatic knowledge and credentials, Buddy is the necessary brawn. He has contributed many hours of sweat equity to make Plan A happen. Believe me, he has high hopes. Plan B is for him to stand on the corner with a “Will work for food” sign.

This is a personal fleece to the readers of this column. Will you care to read about our new adventure? If so, please email or call. (706-379-1488). I am not looking for a pat on the back, just affirmation that this column has continual hopes of being worthwhile to you. Regardless of the answer, it has been a wonderful journey.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #299

Nancy White Kelly

Those of us who have five good friends, I mean really good friends, are blessed. One of mine died yesterday. Her name was Ramie. She shared the same birthday with my father, including not only the day, March 31, but the year, 1920.

There was not another woman like Ramie, not one. When God made the mold for that gal, he destroyed the mold. She was a jewel in every sense…not perfect, but a classy old lady who loved her Lord, dressed to the nines and spoke her mind. I can just imagine her remodeling her mansion just now and attempting to choreograph heaven.

When our son, Charlie, was married, Ramie rode with us to the wedding. She had directed many weddings in her lifetime and took it upon herself to give Tori’s wedding director a few pointers. She rearranged the flowers and later attempted to sit in my deceased mother’s place. That was the only time I resisted Ramie’s amusing, yet annoying persistence.

My mother adored Charlie and would have been at that wedding if she had lived. I just could now allow anybody to sit in my mother’s spot, not even my dear friend, Ramie.

Not to be dismissed so easily, Ramie squeezed into the pew just behind me, right between two of my three brothers. When I crooked my neck to check out the commotion, there she was, smirking, but beaming like a proud grandmother. And that she was, a mother a grandmother or best friend to all she knew and liked.

For thirteen years, Ramie and I laughed, cried, and prayed together. When her husband, Guy, died, she became an inspiring widow. Guy and Ramie were close, very close, but she never allowed self-pity. Within a week she was carrying food to the sick. Just a few weeks before her death from cancer she was teaching Sunday school to young couples.

Teaching Bible was her passion. Living it was her legacy.

I will miss my dear friend. This time last year, Ramie had picked out a dress to wear to my obviously imminent funeral. I have had a wild ride with cancer. Then kidney failure morphed into a coffin nail. Ramie really thought I would beat her to heaven and told me she was jealous. Heaven was as real to her as anything tangible.

She is there now and I am almost jealous. The good news is that someday I will see Ramie again. You can’t lose somebody when you know where they are. Deceased Christian friends are like stars on a hazy night. While you can’t see them, you know they are there.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #298

Nancy White Kelly

Now that the weather is pretty, we are getting our annual influx of visitors, mostly old friends and family. Unless I am sick or extremely busy, I enjoy company. My only request is that I have enough time between guests to wash the sheets. Clean linens are still in style, at least in the Kelly household.

Buddy enjoys having company because it means a wider variety of food on the table. I have my staple meals for large gatherings, Barbeque and Brunswick stew, Lo-Country Boil, Chicken and Dumplings. I keep a tray of sandwich fixings in the refrigerator for lunch or in-between meals.

You know the old saying, “after three days, fish and company begin to stink.” Not always, but frequently so. If the company stays beyond an etiquettely-correct length of stay, I start announcing future meals of chitlins and stewed possum. Nobody has ever stayed long enough for me to actually follow-through with such thinly-veiled threats. That’s a good thing as I was a city girl and know little about cooking such victuals.

I do recognize a possum when I see one. The first thing I learned when I moved to Georgia was that they sleep in the middle of the road with four feet in the air.

Chitlins. I have never seen one of those critters, but I got the displeasure of smelling some once. When I was a primary-age child, my Sunday school teacher took me along to visit her former maid who was very sick. My prim and proper teacher bent double in laughter when she determined that I thought the old woman said chill’en were cooking on the stove. I think she wet her pants.

The smell of those stinking chitlins wafting from that wood stove is something I never forgot. When the frail little woman died a few days later, my childish mind wondered if those smelly critters didn’t poison her insides.

Now I am adult with lots of memories and a bit of senile humor. Come to the mountains. I promise not to threaten possum or chitlins. Just don’t over-stay your welcome. I might serve you a scrumptious pseudo-blackberry cobbler… if I can find that can of caviar.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #297

Nancy White Kelly

Poor Midget! She came of age this month to have that little operation. We knew that when we bought her. In fact, the breeder would not even consider selling her unless we signed papers that we would have her spayed. Don’t know how legally binding that contract was, but we honor our word. Besides, the senior Kelly family doesn’t need a litter of tiny Chihuahuas. For that matter, neither does the junior Kelly family. They also have a Chihuahua, as well as two-year-old Micah, and that precious newborn, Noah.

We have always been satisfied with our veterinarians. Our primary residential vet was booked up for over three weeks. The second one we called didn’t bother to return our call. I couldn’t remember the traveling vet’s name though I used him once before and liked him. I called a newer vet in the area. I had been to that office once before when we had a tape worm scare with Midget. Turned out to be false alarm. The breeder graciously warned us two weeks after the adoption that another pup in the litter had them.

The receptionist told me the price for neutering was $97 and, almost as an afterthought, said, “That includes anesthesia.” My mind reflected on the oddity of that statement, but I said nothing. Who would ever consider an operation without anesthesia? Sedation was just understood.

On the morning of the surgery, I arrived at 7:30 a.m. with Midget in tow. She had no idea what was ahead. Neither did I. The receptionist asked if I wanted a battery of blood tests for $72.60. I said no. Did I want an x-ray for $57.50? Again I said no. EKG, $47? No.

This was getting ridiculous. But the real kicker was when she asked me if I wanted Midget to have a pain shot after the surgery? Well, of course. Then that would be an “extra $18.00.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was this an option or extortion? It wasn’t so much the money as it was the principle of it. How absurd to put a pet owner in that position. Pay or your puppy suffers unnecessary pain. I gave in and agreed, but not before letting my position be known.

That afternoon I picked up Midget. Was she ever glad to see me. I paid the bill, including $5.20 for clipping the nails while asleep.

Other than getting her stitches out, I seriously doubt that this vet will ever get another dollar out of us. I don’t begrudge the man making an honest living. I just begrudge what I perceive as the gouging of the unexpecting.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Journal of the Living Lady #296

Nancy White Kelly

We have been waiting almost nine months for the phone call. When it came, wouldn’t you know that Buddy would be no where to be found.

“We are on the way to the hospital,” Tori said excitedly. “The doctors are going to try to hold off until 2:00 to give grandparents time to arrive.”

I looked at my watch. It was 11:30. Where was Buddy?

I called his cell phone. Some strange lady answered. I apologized for the wrong number and punched the tiny buttons again. The same young lady answered. I am not the jealous type. Yet, the thought of another woman brought a brief laugh. Then I spotted Buddy’s cell phone on the kitchen counter. It was recharging. So much for cell phones.

Buddy had a standing appointment for a routine blood test so I guessed that he might be at the hospital. I picked up the land phone and dialed. The operator quickly transferred me to lab registration.

“Is Buddy Kelly there?” I asked. This is an emergency…sort of.” Because of the new Hippa regulations, I was pleasantly surprised that she offered to check. Nice lady.

“We had a Hiram Kelly” here at 11:30,” she offered.

Doggone. I had just missed him. Where else might he go?

Since I was still in my pajamas, I took a break from my search for Buddy. Baby or not, I had to dress. My birthing clothes were in a special section of our closet waiting patiently for this occasion.

In the midst of dressing, I called a friend who was in a near-by hospital recuperating from knee surgery. Yes, Buddy had been there earlier, but hadn’t said where he was going next.

I tied my shoes, applied some make-up, threw my night bag on the couch and headed outside. Dixie was grazing in the backyard. Baby or not, the horse had to be put up.

Dixie is easily lured with a little sweet feed. She followed me back to the pasture. I hooked the gate and tied it with a rope to be certain it was as secure as Buddy would want. Next I put out a large bowl of water and food for Midget, our Chihuahua.

I tried to think of all the places Buddy might go. The drugstore. A friend’s house. The hardware store. Buddy is well-known for his non-stop gabbing. He could be holding a listening stranger hostage… anywhere.

Trying to make good use of fleeting time, I gathered Buddy’s medicines and razor. He wouldn’t leave home without those. An extra pair of jeans and a shirt went into the backseat of the white car. I was hoping that this was the car Buddy would choose to use. He is the family “safeologist” and is adamant about having good tires. Would he want the white Mazda or the red Kia? We didn’t have time to measure tire tread today. Eeney, meaney, miney, mo. In the Mazda we will go.

The clock seemed to be ticking at double speed. It was 12:15 already and Buddy still wasn’t home. It was a decision I had to make. Do I leave without him and possibly prevent him from participating in one of the more memorable moments of our married lives? Or do I wait a little longer and take a chance of missing the event myself?

Midget sensed my unusual, anxious mood. She continually ran around the house in circles. She stopped so quickly that I could hear her little feet skid. Midget turned and ran to the back door, barking hysterically. What a relief. That usually meant somebody was in the driveway. Sure enough. It was Buddy, the soon-to-be paternal grandfather, who had no idea that he was so desired.

In less than ten minutes we were on the road. We arrived only five minutes before the maternal grandparents. They came from Warner Robins which is much further from the hospital. All our hurriedness was for naught.

Tori had a C-section at 6:50 p.m. Noah Samuel Kelly entered his bright new world unaware of the life-time of love awaiting him from his family. Tired, but elated, we all celebrated as the bell rung in the nursery signifying a new arrival.

All is well. We are home again. Buddy is taking a needed nap and I am about to join him. Slumber and birth are always best when shared with the ones you love.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #295

Nancy White Kelly

Today would not be a good day for me to step on the scale. My mind is heavy.

One biggie is waiting on Charlie and Tori to call saying they are on the way to the hospital to deliver little Noah. The time is getting close.

The birth of a child seems so natural for this season of the year. While the weather in January and February was mild, most days were dismally dreary. March was only a little better. Several cold mornings I decided not to waste make-up. Spring has finally sprung and nobody is more excited about that than I am.

Life goes on and apparently I am going with the flow. For the first time since my breast cancer returned in the late 90’s, my oncologist has spaced my visits to every ninety days instead of thirty. The recent CAT and bone scans showed no new activity. I am stable and that is a very good word. But, all is not well in the family. I got some somber news last week.

My niece, who is only 33 years old, learned that she has cancer, not just one type but two. Such a combination is rare. She is beginning her journey through chemotherapy and radiation. I pray for her just as others have prayed for me.

I wrote my niece a note of encouragement. She responded that for the last five years she had lost her spiritual focus. Now, she related, God was high on her list of priorities. Good. At least something positive has come from her experience.

So, just as the seasons come and go, life dances from one extreme to another. Sometimes we hear joyous songs. Other times a solemn dirge. What a deficient world it would be if we kept our music inside.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #294

Nancy White Kelly

My laptop is out of town and I am with it. It isn’t easy writing a column on the road, but it is against my nature to miss deadlines. The last time my column was lost in cyberspace, two faithful readers called my oncologist to see if I was still living. She was good natured about it. Citing the new HIPAA regulations, she told those two people to “call Mrs. Kelly and ask her if she’s alive or dead.”

Just a few months ago I was in total kidney failure and flirting with the death angel. Today I am not only alive, but thriving.

Buddy and I are in Missouri. We are with several friends who are volunteering for a week with an international, faith-based organization called CEF. To discourage distractions, there are no televisions or telephones in our modest dorm rooms. We are up by 6:00 a.m. and hit the bed dog-tired by early evening. While there aren’t any children or inmates at the campus headquarters, we are greatly involved with those who work with them day-to-day. Likewise, we have supportive friends like Larry and Carol Chandler who volunteered to care for our dog and horse while we are away.

Today Carla Bowen and I have typed hundreds of names and addresses into a database. Mailing labels will expedite the sending of requested study materials. Carla’s husband, Ted, and my Buddy have been assembling desks for the administrative staff. During lulls in the building and maintenance schedule, Buddy helps others grade the Bible-study worksheets submitted by children from around the world. Hand-written, encouraging notes are added to the tests along with smiley-face stickers. Nancy Gadsby, a Hiawassee resident, uses her bi-lingual ability to write to Spanish-speaking correspondents.

Other Georgia and North Carolina locals, Walter, Ann, Betty, Howard, Rosemary, Peggy, Elisabeth, Oskar, Gunter, Helga, Erika, and Dale cheerfully contribute their labor and skills to various tasks. Many of these have been to the CEF headquarters before and plan to return.

Buddy and I are happy for the opportunity to participate, yet we are weary. Neither of us has put in a full days work in years. We miss our naps. We miss watching O’Reilly. We miss home-cooking.

While we have a renewed appreciation of retirement, Buddy and I don’t regret volunteering at CEF. Not at all. It is a small sacrifice, knowing that one week of our lives could make a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of spiritually-thirsty inmates and children. If you’d like a similar opportunity, write and I’ll put you in touch with Child Evangelism Fellowship.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #293

Nancy White Kelly

It has been a long, long time since I listened to a teacher explaining the first of Newton’s Laws. You remember, don’t you? Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

If I remember correctly, Newton, Aristotle, and Galileo had a difference of academic opinion on the topic. But, as the young folks say, “Whatever.”

Newton and his theories aren’t particularly relevant to my everyday activities today except perhaps to scientifically explain my struggle, especially on Sundays. It takes a lot of strength to keep panty hose from retreating south.

Another Newton gets the blame for that game. Who could forget the taste of those square cookies with a smidgeon of grainy, figish filling? When I was in grammar school, those crumbly bars went so well with a glass of milk. If only I had quit my affair with Fig Newtons back then and there.

But, no, those little Newtons launched my life-long longing for bigger and sweeter treats. And we all know the end result of unrestrained indulgence. Actually I am not as big as I used to be. Cancer and its effect on appetite and a little old age took care of that problem. I never want to be a skinny ninny anyway.

A few of the fat jokes I have read lately remind me that I don’t want to reacquaint myself with fig newtons. It is time to stop when the scale says, “One at a time, please.” I don’t want to get so big I have to iron my pants in the driveway or be mistaken for a taxi when I wear my yellow raincoat.

Now, back to those Sunday pantyhose. Have you ever seen the laughable size of those nylons? I have seen cow fingers bigger than those things. And, I’ve never figured out why they package pantyhose in plastic chicken eggs.

It’s time. On with the panty hose. Sir Isaac Newton knew what he was talking about. The resistance begins just as I cross the bulge and finally get the toes started.

The Lord must know I love him very much.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #292

Nancy White Kelly

Some of my brightest thinking occurs at night. The number of businesses I have organized from scratch would rival Donald Trump. In two lifetimes, Mother Teresa could not have made as many mission trips as I have vicariously taken to exotic places.

Ideas for non-profit organizations that would solve many problems of the world freely dance on the synapses of my brain. Often, at some unseemly hour, I rise from my bed fumbling for pen and paper. I cannot allow myself to lose brilliant thoughts that evaporate at daybreak. Eventually, in the clarity of the day, I collect my random notes and type the words which were scribbled in near darkness. They are conveniently filed on the hard drive of my computer under the title, “Nancy’s Nocturnal Notes.”

The funny thing is that every thought originating in that narrow time frame between midnight and dawn seems so clever and original. Cerebral adrenaline flows without restraint. No challenge seems beyond me. My mind roams freely without regard to my age, health, or finances.

However, after sleep overtakes my cerebral hemispheres, nothing seems quite as exciting in the morning as it was just hours before.

I would still like to open a brick and mortar numismatics shop with on-line capability. Only time will tell if that becomes a reality along with an eBay Selling Station. But it is doubtful that I will ever travel to Monsubaswie or start a food-bank with connections to major food and trucking companies.

Buddy is a fine fellow, but no longer is a cheer-leader or ditch-digger for my impulsive passions. He has had nearly forty-two years of supporting me through multitudinous short-term interests, including worm-farming and Charley McCarthy-style ventriloquism gigs.

His response to my grandiose ideas is now nothing more than a smirky grin. While his short-term memory is failing, his long-term memory is still great. He remembers the thousands of red-wiggler worms that crawled off on a rainy night and the paper-mache dummy he painstakingly crafted that crumbled in the middle of a performance. That seems like a life time ago. The years have flown by and neither he nor I are what we used to be.

Yet, I refuse to be a matronly mannequin consigned to a boring life. My nightly escapades continue to entertain me. No harm done. Who knows when one inspirational spark might light an enduring fire for Mrs. Methuselah?


Friday, February 02, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #291

Nancy White Kelly

The snow is gently falling as I write. What a beautiful transformation has taken place over the night. A powdery white veil coats the landscape. The surrounding mountains are as scenic as any New Hampshire postcard.

A distinctive neigh from our horse, Dixie, attracts my attention. She is undoubtedly cold and is announcing to her new owners that she wants some sweet feed.

It didn’t take long for Dixie to train us. How funny it is to watch Buddy sneak out the front door to get the morning paper. If he goes out the back, Dixie whinnies incessantly until Buddy gives in and tromps out to the barn with the feed bucket. Not that she is starving. She has a constant supply of good hay.

For a horse though, Dixie is clever. After a couple of mornings of delayed feedings, she approached the setback from a new angle. Literally.

Now, when Dixie hears the paper lady circle the drive, she goes to the highest hill in the pasture. From this vantage point, Dixie can see Buddy no matter which door he exits. If he doesn’t come when she neighs, Dixie throws the equine equivalent of a toddler tantrum. She snorts and runs wide-open across the pasture. It works. Buddy’s coffee and my reading of the paper wait until Dixie gets what Dixie wants.

We ought to know better. We’ve raised enough children and dogs to know that we are supposed to be in charge. Giving in just reinforces bad behavior.

Perhaps Buddy and I are getting soft in our old age. Yet, is a charming creature creatively calling for crunch chow so crazy?

Neigh. Not is this neighborhood.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #290

Nancy White Kelly

"The time has come," the Walrus said,"To talk of many things:Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings."

These lines are from Lewis Carroll’s, Through the Looking-Glass, published in 1872. The strange combination of words has remained glued to my brain since fourth grade. They served me well many times during high school and college when I needed an introductory paragraph for an essay.

While I know little about ships and even less about sealing wax, I do know about shoes. Most women do. I have a closet full of them, so many that Buddy jokes about my being kin to Imelda Marcos. She was the former First Lady of the Philippines who was renowned for her extensive shoe collection.

Yet, the poem that comes to mind today is more sentimental. Written in the same century by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, it begins, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

Shoes and love. An odd combination of the tangible and intangible, but pertinent to my week.

My favorite shoes are leather boots. They are short, black and have side zippers. They weren’t expensive, but fit well.

This winter I could not find them. I searched the house, every room, every closet, every corner. The boots were nowhere to be found.

I gave up. Buddy didn’t. For hours he went through every black plastic bag and box in the shop attic, not once but several times.

When I emerged from the office where I write and conduct my numismatic business, I was delighted to see one of the boots on the dining table. I clapped in glee and held out my hand for the other one. Buddy is such a tease. Unfortunately, there wasn’t another one.

How that lone boot got in the garage loft is an enigma to us both. I haven’t climbed the ladder to that attic in years. My arthritic knees hardly allow me to climb two steps. Other than returning the Christmas decorations, Buddy couldn’t recall any recent trips up there either.

Still one boot was of little good and I was disappointed. Buddy wouldn’t give up. He went through every closet in the house. On the third round, he found the match for the singular boot.

I was elated. I almost had my boots again. He wouldn’t let me have them back until he had polished them to a shine only found in the military. He proudly presented them to me, his queen, like a knight in shining armor which he is.

Those boots are symbolic of our relationship. How much does Buddy love me? Two boots worth and then some. How much do I love him? A kiss and a peck and a hug around the neck? Somehow that doesn’t cut it. Words can’t describe love. It just is.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #289

Nancy White Kelly

How can it be 2007 already? Just yesterday we were preparing for a new millennium. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in seven years.

In the last month of 2006, three notable people were buried. I have a personal note from one of them. No, it wasn’t from Saddam Hussein or James Brown. However, President Ford wrote me once. He was aware of my then precarious health and wished me well.

Maybe I should be sorry that he is dead. Honestly, I am not. He lived to be 93. That is a ripe ole age in my book. President Ford regularly attended church and spoke often of a relationship with God. His health had declined and it was time to cross the great divide. That time comes to all of us. The Bible says so plainly.

In high school, I memorized a portion of a poem written by William Cullen Bryan. It was entitled Thanatopolis. This is the last part.

“So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain’d and soothed by an unfaltering trust…”

I liked that poem so well that I penned it in my then new Bible. Now the loose leather covers, with its dilapidated pages, reside in a sealed plastic bag among other memorabilia. My name that had been printed in gold is barely visible. Maybe one of my sons or grandsons will someday read the margin markings and notes in the back and be inspired.

This brings me to our best news of the New Year. We are going to be grandparents again. Charlie and Tori are expecting their second son in April. Micah will be two in February. Despite a tenuous start, he is doing fine and is an adorable specimen of the Kelly family. If I sound like a doting grandma, I am.

Lives end. New lives begin. It is the circle of life.