(NOTE: In honor of the upcoming Blue Moon on Friday, August 31, 2012,at 9:58 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, AlexSandra is sharing this excerpt from her book “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections about Work, Family, Health, and Spirit.”)
Folks used to say that once in a blue moon Daddy (Bud Lett) would stand at the stove and cook. Mama (Ruby) would ask Daddy when was he going to fix some meals like he did while serving in the U.S. Army, and Daddy would respond, “the next blue moon.”
The blue moon is the second full moon in a month, which rarely happens.The Farmer’s Almanac states that the blue moon occurs an average of every 33 months. When a month had two full moons country folks surely noticed.
When growing up I heard kinfolks use various phrases related to the moon. Daddy loved to “shoot the moon” while playing cards and liked saying a similar phrase, to “shoot for the moon,” which meant going for the goal or being very ambitious. Often I would ask Daddy about some subject he didn’t know much about and he would respond: “I know as much about it as the man in the moon” instead of just saying “I don’t know.”
While writing my book, Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart, I included ideas about sayings related to the moon. I noticed that the next blue moon was on Saturday, July 31, 2004 so I decided to host a launch party and community gathering at my house on that date. I asked various restaurants and companies to donate enough food and beverages for about 300 people. A banker agreed to pay for ads in The Sanford Herald, and I sent out news releases to various publications.
Before “once in a blue moon” was just a popular phrase indicating a rare occurrence. Now it holds a new meaning for me. Once in a blue moon a daughter was in the middle of preparing for a big celebration at her house when her father drew his last breath in her nearby childhood home. Once in a blue moon a funeral home director was driving out of the yard after donating a tent and chairs for a party when the phone rang with the message for the hostess: “Your Daddy just died.”
Minutes later the daughter called the owner of the funeral home to say his services were needed again: to pick up a cold body lying lifeless in her parents’ farmhouse.
Ironically, the same tent that was set up for the party would be used two days later to cover Bud Lett’s grave.
At the farmhouse this “baby girl” hugged Daddy for the last time and wept like a tiny child. As I touched his familiar face I remembered his dramatic expressions, his captivating smile, and most of all, his twinkling eyes. Someone remarked “I was with him when he drew his last breath.” I knew that Daddy had left us days ago.
The week before he had lost his voice but I knew the words he was saying were simply “I love you.” I told him over and over again how much I loved him…that I valued the lessons he had taught me…and urged him to let go of his worn-out body.
What are the chances of Daddy releasing his body on the same day as my annual community gathering? Some may say it was coincidental but God is greater than that: He orchestrated the timing so that I would have the opportunity to honor my family’s heritage rather than grieve my Daddy’s death. I showcased my new book, Timeless Moons, featuring my Daddy on the cover, surrounded by watermelons under the old pecan tree, and shared emotional stories about him.
Now, knowing the wisdom of God and the will of my human father, I could believe that only through Daddy’s soaring into spirit could he pass by and laugh at my Blue Moon celebration…