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Back on Track. Back to France.

Dear friends, thank you for your kind notes and concern about my family. I’m so blessed to know you all.

Saturday, I’m heading back to France. After a stopover in London, I’ll arrive in Uzes on Monday, October 2. The time cannot arrive soon enough. A recharge of my body’s battery is needed badly.

The troubling part of my return to France is that the status of my daughter-in-law’s physical health is up in the air. A spinal injury is a severe business. There are no shortcuts to full recovery. Patience, determination, and a lot of playful thoughts are essential. The good news is that Rachel is fighting like a champ to regain her mobility, and the family is adjusting to the situation in the best possible way. Friends and family are stepping in. I’ll return to the US to visit in December.

No words tell you how much I’ve learned from this experience. If I was determined to make every moment of my life as full of discovery as possible before this, I’m doubling down on it now. If/when difficulties arise, you need all the reserves of “goodness” you can muster. That means I’m putting on my traveling pants over the next two months or so. There are so many places in France I really MUST go. My list includes Alsace, Normandy, and many of the “Beauchamp villages” I can fit into. Then there are the towns on the Côte d’Azur! Oh my!

The sudden change in my life from being a “carefree” runaway reminds me of another tale from the Sky Room inspired by Ms. Dottie McDaniel. I’ll share it with you and hope you find her sense of humor and timing impeccable.

back to France
The Sky Lady reigns over the Sky Room at the home of Ms. Dottie McDaniel, Beaufort, SC.


How to Test God’s Sense of Humor

More Tales from the Sky Room

I’ve been looking for Ms. Dottie all day. Our signals must be crossed. She warned me from the beginning of our time together that she might not “rememba’ to rememba’ ” that the green throw pillow on the glass top table in the Sky Room is our “visitors welcomed” sign. It’s really most unfortunate that I haven’t been able to find my muse today. She was going to tell me the answer to, unarguably, life’s most asked question: “why don’t things work out the way we want them to?”

Ms. Dottie has picked up reading again. “Sarum: The Novel of England” by Edward Rutherfurd. She says she’s had it for some time and put it aside. No wonder. A history of England since the Ice Age. When I finally saw Ms. Dottie in the Sky Room, I rushed over to join her. She had the book in her hand. 

“My de-ah friend brought it to me from the Li-brary,” she bragged, waving the “War and Peace” -sized novel at me from her wooden green Adirondack lounge chair in the Sky Room.  “I’m not sho-wa if she reserved it in my name or hers,” she pondered, almost whispering to herself. “Ei-tha way …” she stated before plopping the book into her lap. Then she started up again.

“Just when, exactly, was Jesus he-ah?” she asked. “This book starts with the early da-ays of England and they never mention ‘Christianity’,” she claimed.

I reminded her that Christ was born only 2000 years ago, or so.

“Tha’at’s right,” she said, and with a spark of remembrance, “afta the Ice Age,” she added. “It seems they got along pretty well without Chris-ti-an-ity,” she clucked. “Maybe it’s because they worshiped the Sun and the Moon.”

I sat down at my usual place at the little round table, holding my plastic wine glass tightly in my hand. It was filled to the brim with Bud Light Lime beer and ice.  Even the early evening, it’s still ungodly hot here. Beer on ice is very refreshing. I had brought another opened bottle of beer and a plastic wine glass for Ms. Dottie. I poured the beer slowly into the glass.

Ms. Dottie beamed. “Ther-ah some days when a be-ah just tastes better than a glass of wine,” she said gleefully. She got up from the Adirondack chair and moved slowly to sit beside me.

Ms. Dotty has two Charleston-style benches pulled up next to the glass top table in the Sky Room. They make fairly comfortable seats, especially if I sit on the green throw pillow that’s usually on the bench. Yes, it’s the same green pillow that we use as our “welcome” sign on the table, if Ms. Dotty “remembas” to put it there. Two bed pillows covered with faded drab green cases are thrown casually on the other bench and on the Adirondack lounge chair. 

Usually, Ms. Dottie sits across from me on “her” bench. This time, she sat on “mine.” Picking up her beer-filled wine glass for our usual toast, Ms. Dottie warned: “If I get too close to you for comfort, just let me know.” Then, hardly taking a breath between the words, she chimed, “I’ll be sure to do the same.”

She lifted the beer-filled wine glass delicately to her mouth and sipped the cold bubbles. 

“I was getting to a most interesting place in the book before you ahh-rived,” she stated, obviously anxious to get back to the subject that was most pressing on her mind. “A hun-ta in the woods is praying to the Sun and the Moon,” she said, then she stopped. “You know?” she asked, “they worshiped all sorts of things ba-ack then.”

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Yes, even animals,” I added, not realizing that I had opened a whole new train of thought for Ms. Dottie.

We’re all animals, you know,” she exclaimed. “We act like animals, too. Some of us worse than others,” she laughed, again flashing a big, wide-eyed grin.

After a few tales about “animal behavior”, which I’ll get into in another story from the Sky Room, Ms. Dottie turned her attention back to the book.

“I don’t read as much as I should,” Ms. Dottie admitted. “I have a piano and I never play it either,” she said quite impatiently, yet continued: “I pa-ti-cu-la-ly want to read the next few pages in this book,” she stated. “I was just getting to whe-ah the hun-ta in the woods asks the Sun and the Moon a question I’ve asked all my life,” she sighed, gazing at the closed book.

Wanting to hear what would keep an 89-year-old woman guessing all her life. Expecting to learn from her the answer to the mystery of all mysteries, I was surprised to hear the next words from her mouth.

Why don’t things work out the way we want them to?”

A downcast expression came over her usually cheerful face. She turned her head towards the Sky Lady, the beautiful Romanesque statue in her Sky Room garden.

She continued sadly, “I don’t expect the-ah’s an an-sa in that book.”

For a few moments we were both silent. She was deep in her thoughts. I was searching for the right words to say: “you’re 89 years old, for God’s sake. You don’t know the answer?”Before I shouted “open the damned book and find out the answer,” Ms. Dottie broke our silence.

“I suppose I know the an-sa,” she exclaimed in her most Southern way, leaning way back from me so that she could see me more clearly. Then she chirped loudly, jokingly, “‘if you want ta test God’s sense of hume-ah, just tell him yo-ah plans.'” 

That’s Miss Dottie’s answer to why things often go awry?  

If you want to test God’s sense of humor, just tell him your plans?

Amen, Miss Dottie. Amen.


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