Tuesday, June 21, 2016

They were playing with some plastic Army guys, when I overheard Emily tell baby sister Kathryn, "Bang! Your guy is dead! I shot him!"
"No, he's not dead," Kathryn told her....."His Dad was with him."
And that was when I realized what an impact you had on their lives.
Nothing bad can happen when Dad is with you. Nothing. You are protected from all evil and all pain. Dad takes out splinters without even a pinch. He gives you his time and understanding and listens without judgement. Winds can blow and rivers may flood, but as long as Dad is with you, nothing bad can happen.
You came into this job with no real background or training. First you loved. Loved tenderly and sweetly. And then you discovered these children were intriguing and funny. So much like you in their kindness and patience. So much like me in their ability to wind you around their tiny fingers. So very unique in sharing their talents and gifts with the planet.
I can recount several really Good Parenting moments where you are concerned. With each daughter, you remained calm and allowed them to take responsibility for their lives. With each of them, you offered wise advice and a chance for God to work within. And you laughed. You took such great joy in seeing their sense of humor develop and widen. You never failed to make them laugh.
As grown women, they still laugh with you. They still Flirt with you! They still want to coddle you and take care of you. They want to show you off to their friends and brag about your musical ability and the miles you have ridden on your bicycle. They beam with pride when they see your influence in their hearts.
Our daughters chose men of integrity to marry. Men who love passionately and love kindness.
I always knew they would.
They had a wonderful Dad to set the bar high. You cannot settle for just anybody when you have lived all your life with a man who loves you beyond measure and beyond limits.
Thanks for showing us ALL how to be a Dad. Your methods are the best.
And.....you make us laugh.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What I Expected

Forty-five years ago, I expected a lot.  

I expected that my body and my charms would make you stay home from work.

I expected that I would be able to cook anything, since I already knew how to make biscuits and chocolate cake.

I expected that you would agree with me.  On everything.

I expected that our disagreements would always progress to loving forgiveness.

I expected that you would be very famous one day.

I knew that we would always have plenty of money.

I expected that I would be able to drive a stick shift after only one lesson.

I knew that you would never be ashamed of me…..Or cringe in embarrassment…..

I expected you to be romantic, and to be able to ride a white horse and sweep me off my feet.

I expected you to always be healthy and never wind up in hospital.

I expected you to get over an argument in an hour…..a head cold in a day….

I expected to never have to mow the lawn.  Or clean the roof gutters.  Or paint the up-high part of the house.

I expected you to always know how to fix anything. And never call the repairman. Or even Want to call the repairman….

I expected that you would agree with me.  On everything.

I expected you would like the same tv shows as I do.

I knew that you would always love me.  I knew that you could hate me, too.  

I expected that we would always look and feel young and beautiful.

I expected that our children would grow up without issues.

I knew that we would never change, and that our goals in Life would never change.

That was 45 years ago.  That was when I knew everything and had the world under control.  That was when I did not take blood pressure medicine or megadoses of ibuprofen when I “did too much in the yard.”  That was when I weighed 20 pounds less and my hair was 10 inches longer….and actually blonde…..That was when my arms didn’t sag and my bosoms were taut.
And, even though it would be wonderful to revisit those people from 1971 again who so confidently walked down the aisle with daisy bouquets and daisy boutonnieres, well, I do believe that I like these two people much, Much more.  I Like you.  I Really do Like you.  And I understand a lot more about you now. Even with your silver hair and those lines around your big blue eyes.  

I actually enjoy your company and your endless talk and your need to discuss politics and allthingsserious…..I actually enjoy our pillow talk at night and our attempts at solving the world’s problems at 2 am.  I actually enjoy fried mush. I love the coffee you bring me with just the right amount of cream. I actually love the fact that you are too lenient with the children…..and the dogs….and the cats…..

I hate your tv shows (seriously, I cannot Take one more episode of How It’s Made or that Saturday morning painting guy or Lawrence Welk).  I still hate getting up early in the morning, I still hate it when you insist I come inside before dark after a day working in the yard.  I hate it when you insist I stop and takeabreak.  I hate it that you pick up after me (though I DID teach you to be neat and tidy).  I hate it that you can be more logical and even social than me.

But what I hate most is that we have less years ahead of us than we have behind us……It has taken us a long time to realize what a blessing we have in this marriage.  And I realize that no good relationship comes without work and effort and just plain letting go.  But I would really like to have 45 more years with you.

I suppose that is something that can only be evaluated in Heaven.  Right now, just for the record, let it be known that I morethanloveyou.  And it truly has been a fun ride.  

Happy Anniversary.

Toni Bailey

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Robert Bailey Junior

Toni Jasper Bailey
 added a new photo.
2 minsOS X
Yesterday we said goodbye to Junior….aka Robert Bailey Junior…..He would have been 16 this summer….The summer that our first grandbaby was born.
Junior is the first and Only kitten we have ever kept from the hundreds of neonate kitties that have been raised in our home. I never name them. Never get attached. They are all destined for other loving homes. Naming them makes them Ours….
After Bailey Rose was born, and about 8 weeks old, her mother had to have surgery. I left for the weekend to go check on how this new family was faring on their own.
Earlier, we had 13 kittens in our kitchen….3 different boxes, 3 different litters, mostly the same age. They had all gone to their forever homes….except one….a fuzzy peach-colored boy. He was going to his new home the following week, all grown up, doing all the “cat things” required for him to graduate to adoption.
However, he wasn’t to be picked up until after I returned from Kansas and the new baby….So I asked Bikeman if he would please watch the kitty while I was gone. Of Course he would. This baby was no problem at this point, and just at that point of getting very cute (a dangerous situation, if you have ever fostered….).
I returned home on Sunday, and Bikeman was referring to this kitty as “Daddy’s liddle man…..Daddy’s liddle soldier…..”
“uh….hmmmmm…..What’s going ON, here,” I asked him….
“Well,” he told me “……. we’ve really bonded this weekend. “
Uh…..This baby is scheduled to go to his home this week…..
“He’s too little to leave just yet, “ I was told…..
WHAT did he Mean?! All his other siblings and friends had been gone for several days! Are we Keeping this baby?
“Well, we’ve really Bonded this weekend.”
The cat was staying. Of Course he was staying…We Love those whom we serve…..
So, we sat down with the Baby Name Book. Bikeman liked “Max”; I like “Maurice.”
We got to the “R’s,” and I said, “you know….I’ve always Liked this name….Never got to name anybody that….”
So the fuzzy baby with the lion face became Robert Bailey, Jr.
They were quite the pair, these two….Jr would sit in Bikeman’s shorts when he was on the pot. When he went to practice his trumpet behind closed doors, Jr. would run his paw under the door….Whenever he sat in the recliner, Jr. would Always be cuddled way up high on Bikeman’s shoulder.
Jr.’s purr was the loudest we have ever heard. We laughingly said he was going to strip a gear, purring so loudly….Jr. always put his front paw in the water dish when he drank……Children could pick him up and pack him around…..He was always quite tolerant of dogs, any dogs…..He never scratched…..He was always glad to have company visit…..He was Always hungry…..He was always laid back and calm…..He was very like his master…

And today, his master had one less food bowl to fill for the morning ritual of “wet cat food.” We have wept and laughed and laughed again at what this fool meant to us….This sturdy, Beautiful, sweet spirit was laid to rest in our garden, very near where this picture was taken.

Jr……Prolly the nicest cat you will ever meet. Rest with no pain, June-Bug……JR…..BabyBabyBaby….Purrbox…. Rob Junior….

Friday, February 26, 2016


He was 18 when his baby sister died.  Cancer.  Debilitating, agonizing, excruciating.  When you are 18 and male, all you want to do is escape.  Run. As fast as you can run. Cleave yourself from these people and these hospital beds in the middle of your living room.  Seek solace and answers on another plane.  Another source of being.  Away from this pain and the agony of your silly baby sister.  This baby who should be tottering in high heels and weeping over Lost Loves instead of lost hair.....

So he moved out. Away from the sterile syringes the nurses brought and the grim faces his parents displayed.

One semester in college was all that he was willing to spend of his parents' money.

He quickly learned the value of an earned dollar and pursued his love of learning within the daily work in electronics and installation and repair.  Life got better, and the dollars increased.  He married a woman several years older with children who were teenagers.  Perhaps this could be a way to "right" his "abandonment" to that silly, sweet sister.

His father died soon after in a violent car crash.  Fifteen months later his mother succumbed to grief-induced asthma.  He was left with plenty of money inside a loveless marriage.

When the currency ran out, so did she, and he found himself alone, in his parents' expansive home. His business partner locked the doors to their company. His friends disappeared.  His grandparents, all of them, died for various reasons.

He found another job, using his talents for detail and precision, kept learning (he was always learning, that is his way), paid his bills, rattled around in the huge manor, letting the weeds take over the acreage.

He ate when he was hungry. Went to bed when he was tired. Emptied the trash and recycled his beer bottles.  Not the Life he'd envisioned for himself.  But, unlike the rest of his family, he was alive.   He was  breathing. He continued to seek the solace of the Earth and its gifts. And he learned.  He always learned.

I really have no details of how this dear spirit came into his home.  I only know that, by a series of miracles, a gangly, smiling, affable Golden Retriever strolled into his home and ensconced himself upon his couch.  Their eyes met.  Their hearts intertwined, and their souls were knit together.  Neither were really aware of what was happening.....except that, suddenly, they were skyrocketed into indescribable joy and unexpected gladness.

It was as if the dog had waked him from an endless sleep.  The dormancy and  the lethargy of a quiet life had lost their footing, and paw prints roused his heart.

The overgrown manor harbored wood ticks that greedily launched themselves onto the Golden.  Days were spent bringing the lawn back to its glory. He restored the breaches in the neglected fence.  Clutter inside the house disappeared.  His neighborhood has expanded within the realm of daily walks and trips to dog-friendly establishments.

What mysteries compile our days to change us and transform us into humans. The conundrums we view as unalterable change in the soft whisper of dark brown eyes and a moist nose.  He has quit his dying.  He has moved back in.