Summer Vacation, Remembering my Dad and running out of gas

I use to hate the roosters that would wake me up every morning. They were annoying, embarrassing, and straight up mean! I was born in Lufkin, Texas, population about 35,000, known for piney woods and lying just west of the largest man made lake in Texas. My husband was also born and raised in Lufkin. Now that we are residents of Houston, we find ourselves retreating back to my hometown as much as possible. We love to visit our family and friends that still live there and reminisce on our childhood. What I love even more is coming back to a place that held so many great memories and reliving them through my children. I took for granted that small town and I long for our kids to enjoy the same simple life my husband and I had. I even miss those dumb roosters. It has been a very busy week. I feel like I have been cramming a  summer full of vacation into one week! I should have made time sooner, but since I didn' we are. On Tuesday we drove 2 1/2 to grandma's house. We actually have three grandmas that live in our hometown of Lufkin. It is nice visiting one town to see most of our loved ones. The drive was great even with all the hot summer pit stops. They swam, they ate-they were spoiled. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="852"] My mom and Her granddaughters.[/caption] My mom has met a wonderful man and this is their home. His property has a baseball diamond, batting cages as well as room for their summer garden. Roy has a passion and he lives it everyday. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2448"] maddy is a thrill-seeker and she will cause 90% of my future grey hairs[/caption] This is picture is pretty amazing because my dad bought this four-wheeler for his girls one Christmas when we were kids. Roy fixed it up for my girls to ride. Saturday was the anniversary of my dad's death. He has been gone seven years. ~08.08.08~ [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="852"] my dad with his girls[/caption] This year was the first anniversary that I did not count down the days. I always remember the date but I did not anticipate it with anguish and a heavy heart. My heart will always be heavy not having him around. I just have been so focused on being happy and living each moment for my daughters that I look at his death not as a tragedy but a legacy. Mac Arthur Miller, aka "John, Johnny or Bushhog" to the truck driving folks was born and raised in Greenup, Kentucky in 1943. Son of a tobacco farmer,  he quit school when he was 16 to help with work at home. There is a lot I know about my dad and a lot more that I do not. He was a mechanic, a plumber, a welder, a farmer, a dad, a husband, a step-dad and a great cook. He was a comedian, smooth talker and story-teller. He loved to make people laugh and have them hang on his every word. I use to be envious of quick witted tongue because I still find it hard to find the right words. He use to tell the story of a little boy being punished by his teacher at the age of 8, or 10, or 11 (it changed every time) for smoking cigarettes. He told us that the teacher made him smoke the whole pack  while sitting on her desk in front of the class. He said that he sat there with a grin on his face puffing a way with pride at having the teachers plan backfire. He told this story several times and thinking about him telling it now, I can see the big, goofy smile on his face recounting the events of that day. He also use to tell the story of his "Thunder Road" days running moonshine in the hills of Kentucky. He talked about high speed chases and running the cops off the side of a hill with his driving maneuvers and illegal spot lights. I have never been clear on details of this career path. He also told us he was a boxer, I can remember watching boxing matches with him on television. I wish I had listened better, asked more questions and spent a little more time getting to know my dad. He became my dad when I was four. I am grateful for the memories and the imprint he left on me. He is the reason I love to mow, I love to fish, I love to camp, the reason I act tough and cuss. He is the man that I molded my opinion of what a husband and father should look like. He is the reason I have a country twang and hillbilly sense of humor. I have not always appreciated my unconventional upbringing, but I do now. My daughters will hear his same old stories, I am sure I will fudge the details, but I hope I can give it the same delivery. He loved to be the center of attention. At my dad's funeral I couldn't stop making his visitors laugh. They came to console me and I ended up consoling them. My dad was there for me when I needed him the most. He gave me his gift of gab so I could be strong for my mom and my sisters. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640"] the girls visiting the horses next door 8-12-15[/caption] Life goes on and it's pretty beautiful. I am trying to absorb every precious second I have with everyone I love. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Taking time to swing with bunny.[/caption] Porch swings remind me of our old house on Andrsen Road. My mom use to swing us outside and whistle to call the wind. It kept us cool on hot summer days. We stayed outside all day to save money on electricity. This is probably why I love to be outside everyday I can. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="3000"] the property's baseball field[/caption] We all should race across a field every now and then.   Roy, my moms boyfriend has an amazing place that allows him to do what he loves. Baseball is his passion and I hope he passes it on to one of our girls. I am truly thankful to God for placing him in my mothers life. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="3000"]Mar Teres Tea Room Lufkin Texas Lunch and another porch swing with "Bebe" (my mother-in-law) Mar Teres Tea Room, Lufkin, Texas|Click picture for link to their Facebook page[/caption] This is my favorite lunch spot because I am usually with some very special people. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2250"] my niece, Analeigh[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960"] sipping tea (water) with our favorite Bebe[/caption] Being in my hometown was amazing. My girls and my niece were spending their summer with grandparents which is what every kid should be doing in the summer. More importantly I was making time to see the grandparents and even catch up with friends. It is such a struggle to maintain friendship once children enter the picture. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Restoration Wine Bar Lufkin, Texas friends and wine- Restoration Wine Bar, Lufkin, Texas|Click picture for Link to their website[/caption] I even followed this night up with 5 am Zumba with Rudy! I wanted to see a friend that attended St. Patricks Catholic School with me! I have known this master of education, since kindergarten. I am so proud to know the principal of Lufkin's Burley Primary! I am also very proud that she has decided to pursue her doctorate in education! She is a great example what it means to never stop learning and to always challenge  yourself in every part of your life! "Betsy Mijares, please do not expect me to ever wake up that early again...... Especially when I have babysitters that make 'sleeping in' a possibility!" The theme of the summer has been "Make Time." I want to make time to see the people who matter most to me. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] a bouquet for sherry[/caption] I made time to see an old friend's parents. Gary and Sherry are always emotional to see. Their son Jay's birthday was July 28. This December will make two years since he passed. Friday the girls and I headed back to Houston, just to pick up Daddy before we headed to Waco, Texas.  The picture below was taken at a park on the Brazos River. This is a great city with small town charm and Baylor pride. This growing town was pretty perfect for our weekend getaway. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="3000"] ryan's step-brother Mitch with his daughter Paisley (left)[/caption] Without grief, we would not know joy. Without a divorce, these guys may not have been in each others lives. Everything happens for a reason. Our daughters will both be four years old soon.   [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="2250"]Magnolia Market kristi and I at the magnolia market|Click picture for Link- waiting in line for a Pokeys ice cream sandwhich[/caption] Kristi, my sister-in-law, is pretty amazing. She instantly became a mom of two when she fell in love with Mitch. She has a heart of gold and the patience of a saint. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960"] my nephew, Joshua, getting ready for deer season[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="3000"] park time=family time[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2250"] mitch, joshua, brayden and ryan[/caption] These fellas moved from Lufkin last year and getting together has been challenging! But we are committed to seeing these faces more! Our hearts are fuller when we are with you! [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1657"] the girls : mia, maddy and paisley (left to right)[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2250"] hands on learning mayborn museum, waco, texas[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] humpback whale skull[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1280"] some of the best people i know[/caption] The weekend was amazing, spectacular and great for my soul!! We were sad to leave Waco too soon. All good things must come to an end. Without all the bad stuff, we cannot fully appreciate the good stuff. I should have known we were due for some bad luck, since the rest of our trip went off without a hitch. I have recently become better about turning a negative into a positive. Running out of gas, for instance, does not seem likely to trigger feelings of appreciation a inspiration. However my change in perspective turned the fiasco into a lesson on the value of time. Then I met Wes and Mary Jane..... [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2250"] yup that is my husband, hitchhiking[/caption] This was taken maybe 5 seconds after the truck died. My husband jumps into protector- survival mode and hauls ass to the nearest gas station 5 miles down the road. Who in their right mind doesn't check the gas tank before going on a three-hour road trip?!?!!!? It was HOT, it was 5:30 in the afternoon and the girls had just woken up from napping after the museum. They would be hungry! They would be HOT!  It took him about 5 more seconds to realize that it would be quicker to just flag someone down to give us a ride to the gas station. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="3000"] not a bite[/caption] So after watching his pitiful attempt at flagging down motorists while I quickly unbuckle the kids and get them Freebirds. I proceed to get out, wearing my bright pink fishing shirt and flag down the sweetest elderly couple. My husband decided that it was best that he stay with the girls and I ride with the couple to the gas station. As I got in the back of their loaded down midsize car, I introduced myself and thanked them for stopping for my knucklehead husband. I noticed a cylinder of oxygen in the back seat and no one wearing it. "It just so happens that you picked up a respiratory therapist." I said in a joking tone. Mary Jane admitted it was hers, "I'm suppose to be wearing it, don't tell!" She chuckles. Five miles were just a short distance, but I managed to find out that Wes was a cook in the army for 22 years and quite the comedian. He retired from the army and worked in the prison teaching convicts how to cook. Mary Jane herself was no stranger to the kitchen and they have been married for 42 years. They were back in Texas after a trip to Nebraska visiting friends and family. They have 11 great-grandkids and are expecting their first great, great-grand this summer. They were stopping off in college station to visit some of their grands before heading off to Louisiana next week to visit a brother-in-law. They love traveling and know the value of time, they spend it visiting their loved ones near and far. At the gas station, the clerk happened to have a small gas can with about 1/2 a gallon already in it. I filled up the rest and promised to return to the Exxon in Calvert, Texas. Wes pulled around and waved goodbye, pretending that he was leaving me while I finished filling the can. They were both laughing hysterically at his joke and I couldn't help but laugh too! "So of all the people that could have picked me up, I get the comedian!?" They drove me back to my family and in that short blink that I spent with them, I learned quite a few things. I learned a little about the life of Wes and Mary Jane but also words to live by: "So yall just drive around the country picking up stranded motorist and visit family?" I asked as we were pulling up behind my truck. "We just keep going until we can't go no more!" Mary Jane said as she noticed my kids and husband walking back towards the road from the shade of a nearby tree. "Thank God for yall and for helping us today, it was wonderful to have met ya!" I smiled. We cranked up the truck and returned a full gas can to the Exxon clerk. It is funny how things happen. My old self would have beaten my husband with my verbal whip. I would have made him feel the sting of his stupidity the whole trip home with my smart comments or deafening silence. I was silent for a little while reflecting on my encounter. I heard his heart felt apology and saw how he flinched waiting for my lashing. I just smiled and explained that there was nothing to be sorry about. I met the sweetest couple and purposefully tried to learn as much as I could from someone who has "been there".  That short ride taught me a valuable lesson. I will remember to make time for people and keep going until I cannot go anymore.  Thank you Wes and Mary Jane! Have fun in Louisiana!

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