Laughter is the best medicine…

Mark’s laughing at me today, I just know it.  You see, I don’t think heaven would truly be heaven for Mark Howell unless he could see his sons growing and prospering, and well, he sees me, too, I’m sure of it.  I’ve felt his presence several times since his untimely death, especially at night, as I have our two sons snuggled in on either side of me, in our big king-sized bed. 

He’s probably shook his head a few times at me, but today, I truly think I almost heard him laughing.  You see, we have a garden spot out in our front courtyard.  He made it his mission to work that ground each spring.  He would plant flowers, tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables.  He threatened to plant sweet corn and okra…but I convinced him that his wife, a Kentucky native, would never hear the end of it if there was 6 foot tall sweet corn growing in the front of her house.

The garden spot was his baby.  Oh, he tried to get me involved.  I would occasionally weed it, or pick the produce that was growing in it, but 90% of the time, it was his baby.  Last year, he said, for the umpteenth year in a row, “Sugar, do you think that next year you could help out with the garden?  It would really be nice..” and I nodded in agreement, mainly to get him off of my back.  I had enough to do around here, without adding that to my list.

Fast forward to this year.  I don’t have him anymore.  Every responsibility that he had is now mine.  My list has grown exponentially.  And so have the weeds in our courtyard.  So, today, I got on my gardening clothes and gloves, found the garden hoe, and began work.  That’s when I could’ve sworn I heard him chuckling.  Yes, dear, I am helping with the garden this year.  I probably won’t do it as well as you did, but it will just have to be good enough.  I’ve pruned the rose bushes, gotten rid of the dandelions, and I’m on my hands and knees, pulling weeds by hand amongst the prize perennial butterfly plants that his master naturalist friends gave us.  It will get done, but it’s slow going for now. 

On another front, I’ve got a new slab of concrete in my front yard.  It was poured earlier in the week, and will allow me to pull his truck over to the side, out of the way of our double car garage.  For in the garage is a shiny new red Jeep Wrangler. 

Before his death, we talked at length about purchasing a 4wd vehicle, a Jeep, one that we could use on our Kansas land.  A four door one, with room for two boys who are going to be tall.  They have just about outgrown the back seat of his truck already.  We talked of going camping with it, off-roading in it, going to friends in Colorado with it.  All part of our intricate plan.  Until he died, and left us trying to piece together our lives without him. 

The thought of that 4wd Jeep would just not go away.  I tried to put it out of my mind, really, I did.  I made a “pro” and “con” list, hoping to talk myself out of getting one.  I solicited opinions from three close friends. And when push came to shove, I decided to start looking for a Jeep.  I looked at used ones.  I drove a Toyota FJ Cruiser, but it didn’t have enough room in the back seat for my growing sons.  I couldn’t afford the Jeeps in Wichita Falls, but found a pretty red one (my favorite color) in nearby Henrietta.  The boys and I travelled on President’s Day to take a look at it & drive it.  Long story short, I used my savvy car-dealing skills learned at the feet of the master (Mark), and got a heck of a deal.  I drove it home last Tuesday. 

In my quest to become an outdoors woman, to be the best kind of mom I can be for my sons, I now have a Jeep to help in that journey.  It’s so funny, whenever we drive it, none of us can wipe the smiles off of our faces.  The hard tops come off, and with this lovely 80 plus degree weather, we’ve enjoyed the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces.  Coming back from the gun club Thursday, Andrew, laughing, with his blonde hair blowing around, exclaimed, “Mom, this is the best!” 

I see his dad, nodding in agreement, flashing that million-dollar grin. So I have a truck to haul my bird dog and firewood in, a hybrid car for long trips, and a Jeep for nothing but fun.  My boys and I are going off-roading tomorrow, I have room for two more people.  If you’re in the Wichita Falls area & interested, give me a call. 

Life is short, friends.  I don’t have Andrew and Ben’s daddy around anymore.  He put off so many fun things, just because he thought he had all the time in the world.  He didn’t.  None of us knows how much time we’ll be given.  So, for the time I have left, I’m going to embrace the good, shake off the bad, and make the most of every day.  I’m making memories with my boys…good memories to go along with the great ones they have of the four of us. 

And….I really look good in red.

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