This morning, Robin and I were able to watch the full memorial service for Senator John McCain in Washington, D.C.  I hope many of you were able to watch it too. If so, you may feel as I do now—extremely thankful that John planned a service to remind us once again of the ideals and virtues that have made this country great.

Exerting power at the expense of others is never a path to greatness. Likewise, dividing one group against another ruptures our brotherhood.

Striving to understand and respect others, regardless of race, religion, gender, or political persuasion; being honest in one’s speech and dealings; asking for or extending forgiveness whenever one hurts another or is hurt—these are the virtues we honored this morning.

John was a courageous war hero, but he was also a courageous senator and statesman. Many times, he placed our country over political party and worked across the aisle to solve our nation’s problems. John never feared to speak truth to power.

Let us now honor John McCain’s great legacy by electing representatives who will exemplify these same virtues. The time for vitriol is over. The time for healing is at hand.


Last Sunday, we celebrated our 6Oth wedding anniversary. Our true anniversary was on Wednesday this week, but we planned our party for a Sunday afternoon upstairs in The Fountains’ dining room. Eighty-one guests attended, including all our children and grandchildren and many more family members from North Carolina and Mississippi. Here is a photo of Robin and me surrounded by our children, Steve, Marty, and Sharon.

I was surprised and thrilled when my long-time friend, Laura Riser, entered the room. Laura lives in Long Beach, Mississippi, and she had written me a note, explaining that she wouldn’t be able to make it. However, her son, Doug, had been down on the coast recently, and he brought her back to Huntsville, Alabama, so he, his two sisters and their spouses, and Laura all traveled up to Franklin to come to our party. It was so much fun to have them here!

During the introductions, Emily Roumen, our second granddaughter, modeled my wedding dress. She looked so beautiful in it!


Several weeks ago, she tried on the dress, and it fit her well, but she didn’t have any shoes she could wear with it. We asked around, but still no shoes, so I went to Good Will. When I walked into the thrift store and approached the women’s shoe rack, there sat a little pair of ivory-colored pumps, right up front. I checked inside the shoes—size 7, just her size! I took them to the check-out counter, and guess what I paid? Would you believe they cost me only a dollar?  Our daughter-in-law, Anna, says that finding those shoes must have been “a God wink.”

Actually, I believe our entire married life has been a blessing. Robin and I are both still healthy with a loving family and many friends, and we are so thankful for all the years we have had together.

Puppy Love

Yesterday, we returned from a “puppy love fest” at the home of our son Marty.

Back in April, our kind-hearted hero returned to his home in Maryville with a stray dog who had been scavenging for scraps while he, his brother, brother-in-law, and cousins camped in northeast Mississippi.

Marty and his wife, Anna, named her Misti—a clever combo of “Mississippi” and “Tishomingo State Park.”  Then they took her to the local vet for a check-up, and you guessed it—Misti was pregnant!

Before her due date, Marty prepared a nice “birthing suite” with old towels in a plastic baby pool on their screened-in back porch, but she must have wanted more privacy. Little mama delivered her puppies under the porch on Sunday evening, June 3. When Marty was finally able to count them, he discovered nine healthy pups happily nursing!

It’s been quite a summer for Marty, Anna, and Audrey, our 20-year-old granddaughter. After a week or so, they moved Misti and her pups to a “kennel” they created on one end of their porch. A 12-to-14-inch-high “fence” separates the kennel from the rest of the porch. Plastic sheeting covers the carpeted floor, and brown butcher paper tops the plastic. Marty replaces the paper each morning. Misti and her pups also have access to the back yard by scooting down a ramp from the porch to the ground.

When Misti developed mastitis during her third week of nursing, Marty and his crew began preparing puppy formula and feeding three puppies at a time, four times a day. Fortunately, the puppies were old enough to lap from saucers. Several weeks later, the pups graduated to soaked dry puppy food, and lately, they’re beginning to eat the crunchy stuff following their soft-food meals.

Now, these precious puppies are seven weeks old. Three are male, and six are female. Interestingly, the males are the more docile ones. But they all love to romp and play together, and then they all konk out at the same time, sprawled on their sides and tummies.  Five are now spoken for, but I’m sure it won’t be long until they are all adopted.


June is traditionally noted as the month for weddings, although Robin and I were married in August on the same date as my parents’ 23rd anniversary, and our second son, Marty, and his wife, Anna, were also married in August. Today, I’m thinking about June weddings, though.

Our daughter, Sharon, and her husband, Mike, are heading to Mississippi this morning to attend the wedding of Mike’s aunt. She’s in her early 70’s now and has been single for a while, so this is exciting. : ) Next Saturday, Robin and I will be traveling back to Mississippi with Sharon and Mike for another wedding—our great niece, Jessica Davidson, a recent college graduate, will marry Luke Dowdy in Oxford. Jessica is the oldest granddaughter of Robin’s youngest sister, Carolyn, and this will be a happy time for all of us.

Here at The Fountains, our activities director has planned a “wedding party” for next Thursday afternoon. Part of the festivities is a guessing game where copies of bridal portraits and wedding photos of many of the residents are posted now, and we must identify who is in each photo. Most of the pictures were taken back in the 40’s and 50’s, and it’s fun to see our new friends posing many years ago in their beautiful wedding gowns and suits.

Robin and I are planning another wedding party this summer too. We will celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary in The Fountains dining room on Sunday afternoon, August 5. We’re inviting all the Fountains residents as well as our extended family and friends to join us. I still have my wedding gown, a simple homemade dress with a scalloped neckline, short sleeves, and a three-quarter-length A-line skirt made from a lacy fabric with a satin under slip. I’m hoping one of our granddaughters will be able to wear it to the party. If so, we can take even more pretty photos. : )

Today is that special day when our attention turns toward mothers—young mothers, elderly mothers, and mothers in those in-between years, still shepherding their teens and young adults at home, often helping with young grandchildren, and also worrying about their aging parents. I saw all those kinds of mothers yesterday at a special Mother’s Day Tea at The Fountains.

I was thrilled to have my daughter, Sharon, and her daughters, Emily, Libbey, and Caroline as my guests. Unfortunately, my daughter-in-law, Tonya, discovered she had pneumonia the day before, so she was home in bed, but her daughter, Lily Grace, came with us, too, and we all had a wonderful afternoon together.


Festive spring flowers adorned The Fountains’ dining room, and family groups gathered around each table with their “matriarch.” This proud matriarch took a photo of the young women and girls at my table, and I was happy to introduce them to all who came by.


Beautiful piano and harp music filled the room as we poured our teas and sampled the tasty treats on our plates: Roasted Artichoke and Spring Asparagus on Wheat Bread; Curry Chicken Salad on Pumpernickel Bread; Smoked Salmon Mouse Canape with Dill; Raspberry Almond Tart; Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Mousse Cup; and Lemon Blueberry Shortbread Cookie.

The owner and community relations director at The Fountains, Ricki Keckley, had recently returned from a visit with her own daughter, and she related how that had given her a new appreciation for mothers. Ricki’s daughter is now recovering from spinal surgery, and for six weeks, the young woman will not be allowed to bend over more than 30 degrees or lift anything heavier than ten pounds. However, her children are only two and four years old, and while caring for them there, Ricki and her husband had their hands full! They enjoyed their lively grandchildren, but they understood once again how busy a young mother’s life must be.

I hope all of you mothers out there are having a happy Mother’s Day today.  I’m thankful to be a mother!

Yesterday, May 3, I hosted what we dubbed as a “villa open house” for many of my new friends here at The Fountains. I’ve been attending a weekly Sisterhood Fellowship for a while now, and these women have been amazing role models for me. They are wonderful conversationalists in spite of their various physical limitations, and their wit and positive outlooks have inspired me.

Robin played golf again yesterday, so it was a good day to have a ladies-only get-together here in our home. We set the open house from 2 to 4 p.m., and I spent the morning getting everything ready. I thawed a loaf of zucchini bread I had bought and frozen after attending an earlier outing to the Puffy Muffin, a great bakery and restaurant up in Brentwood. Then I baked brownies and prepared a few more goodies to serve with wine and soft drinks. I also moved a couple of our dining room chairs into the living room area and set up TV trays to serve as extra tables.

At noon, I received a call from our neighbor. He and his wife live in a villa similar to ours, but they both need more assistance than we do. Their niece had been helping them until she broke her leg, so now the couple was using Home Instead, an agency that provides home care.

I had invited his wife to my party, but my neighbor said he had a doctor appointment and the aide had told him she couldn’t take him to the doctor and leave his wife by herself. His appointment was at 1 p.m., so I suggested that the aide bring Nancy over here for the party a little early. She could visit with me while I did a few last-minute things, and the aide could go ahead and take him for his appointment.

About ten till one, I noticed that Walter had not yet left for the doctor, so I called, and he apologized. “I discovered that my appointment isn’t until tomorrow,” he said. “I’m sorry. I should have called you back.”

“That’s fine. I’m glad you won’t have a conflict now. Please tell Nancy I’ll look forward to seeing her at the party.”

About 1:30, a knock at our back door caught my attention. There stood the aide with Nancy in her wheelchair. I greeted them, and the aide wheeled her inside. However, the aide seemed reluctant to leave. “I need to stay with you,” she told Nancy.

“No, you don’t need to stay,” she said. “I’ll be with my friends now, and I’ll be fine.”

“But I’m not supposed to leave you,” the aide insisted.

“No, you don’t need to stay. I will be fine. You can leave now.” Nancy’s voice sounded firm.

The aide’s eyes darted from Nancy to me, back and forth. I assured her it would be fine for Nancy to stay here with me.

The young woman left, and Nancy smiled. “Whew! I hope you don’t mind my coming a little early. I just had to get away for a while. She’s a smoker, and she doesn’t smoke inside the house, but her clothes just reek with the odor. It’s really bothering me!”

I felt sorry for her, trapped in her own house!  “You and Walter might want to call the agency and ask them not to send any more aides who smoke. I bet the home-care people receive that request quite often.”  She agreed that was a good idea. In the meantime, she settled onto our little sofa, and we enjoyed visiting until the other guests began to arrive.

Fourteen people attended the party, and I truly appreciated the extra effort many of them made in order to come. Several rode their motorized wheelchairs across the street, up our driveway, and around to the back screen porch door. Then, using their canes, they entered the villa. One resident brought her portable oxygen tank with her. One climbed our front porch stairs with assistance from a Fountains’ staff member.

I served their refreshments, and we all had a wonderful time together. They were very complimentary of the food and our villa’s décor. A few took a look around at the other rooms, and they remarked at the spacious, open floor plan. Several even brought little gifts to me, which I didn’t expect at all.

I had been worried that I might not have enough chairs for everyone, but people came and went, and we were able to visit in the living room area the whole time.

Robin returned from golf before the last group left, and he enjoyed meeting some of the ladies too—a delightful day for both of us!


Yesterday, April 20, marked a special day for us. We moved from Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, to Franklin, Tennessee, exactly six months ago on October 20. I’ll have to say this half-year in our lives has been quite a ride. We’ve been up and down, excited and fearful. However, moving here to The Fountains has given us new insights into our strengths and weaknesses.

Lesson #1. Change is hard. At this time in life, it is much more difficult to adapt to new surroundings than we thought. When we moved from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Hot Springs Village almost 15 years ago, change seemed easier. We were still physically and mentally active. We found new activities quickly—Robin with his golf and me with the writing club. Although the Village roads were winding and hilly, the traffic was light, and we drove around easily. Franklin, with its busy streets and heavy traffic, has been much harder for us to deal with. But we are adjusting.

Lesson #2. Our grown children are experts we can rely on. Without special helpers like adult children or younger friends, finding new doctors, getting new drivers’ licenses, etc. can be much more difficult for us older folks in a new place. We have a new appreciation for the expertise of those who can steer us in the right direction without taking over completely.

Lesson #3. Creating a new home is still fun. Moving into a smaller space requires getting rid of many possessions. However, it does feel good to clean out closets and cabinets and donate items in good condition to friends or to worthwhile organizations like Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army. After moving into our new home, we’ve had fun, shopping and finding a few new things to enhance the space where we now reside.

Lesson #4. Making new friends is essential. We moved at the beginning of winter, and that was a mistake. The cold, rainy weather discouraged us from venturing out, and we felt lonesome and isolated. We moved to be closer to our children, but their work and families still occupied most of their time. We did enjoy a number of occasions when we would all get together, but people our age still need friends of our own. Now, I have become active in a local church, and I’m making new friends there. Recently, Robin and I invited a retired couple from the church over for supper, and we had a great time.

Lesson #5. Keeping up with old friends is essential too. We still love to get phone calls and texts from out-of-town friends and family. I continue emailing each day with a very close friend. I’m still writing a blog post at least once a month and getting feedback on that. One friend told me, “Maddie, you’re the kind of person who can blossom wherever you are planted.” That kind of encouragement can definitely keep one going.