Once in a Blue Moon My Daddy Soars

(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…

Copyright © 2012, AlexSandra Lett

Lovin’ Labor: Work is how we give to the World

As a child I did not understand the passion in my Daddy’s face as he walked the fields, bragged about crop yields, and took the tobacco to market. I could not comprehend the pride in my Mama’s smile when she showed off a cake straight from the oven or displayed jars of freshly canned green beans.

Back then I did not share the excitement Grandpa felt when crates of “dranks,” cartons of cigarettes, and boxes of staples arrived regularly at his country store across the road. I took for granted the sparkle in Aunt Gladys’ eyes as she pointed out the many fabrics in her various quilt designs.

During my childhood I did not know that I was surrounded by artists who naturally created masterpieces and by entrepreneurs who constantly celebrated their wares. I wanted to write, sing, dance, dramatize, and take my talents a long way from the family farm. I yearned to create and perform as far away as possible from Buckhorn community near Sanford in rural North Carolina.

I left home seeking fame and fortune, pursued academic achievement, chased financial triumphs, and longed for worldly success.

For almost three decades I gained communications expertise through newspapers, magazines, television, public relations, marketing, and speaking. I liked being in the limelight and found pleasure in the “citified” lifestyle. Eventually I realized that creativity does not require glamorous settings or demand big bucks to thrive. An aching in my soul drew me back to the country where I focused on creating columns, articles, and books and finding a unique voice as a writer.

Ultimately I discovered that expressing oneself authentically is a spiritual high. Creative self-expression is a pleasurable prize. Joyful work is the richest reward. In “The Prophet,” Kahlil Gibran states: “To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.”

My Daddy, my Mama, my Grandpa, and Aunt Gladys did not care about such fancy phrases but their lives demonstrated that they understood this secret. These four role models, who were very different in talent and temperament, had one thing in common: each chose the work best suited for their skills and dispositions and performed their tasks with love.

In honor of Labor Day I started a blog about our Work in the world on the internet, filed under www.inside919.com, later to be linked with my websitewww.AlexSandraLett. com.

Work is spelled with a capital W because our Work is how we give to the World, whether as a parent, a homemaker, an entrepreneur, a farmer, a carpenter, or a company executive.

When we focus on loving labor, labor loves us and brings us bliss. Through writing I am feeling in tune with life’s innermost secret.

What about you?

Copyright © 2012, AlexSandra Lett

Mama and Daddy worked with passion

Growing up on the Lett family farm near Sanford I learned from Mama and Daddy (Ruby and Bud Lett) that work was considered a top priority. I was prone to day-dreaming so I resisted the daily chores and hard labor required to raise animals, grow produce, and harvest crops.

When I took breaks during tasks like planting tobacco, pulling weeds, pickin’ peas, or gathering corn I learned to banter with the folks who taunted me about being lazy. As a teenager I’d quip: “I ain’t lazy…I just ain’t found a suitable occupation yet.”

While enticed with the idea that if we could get the tobacco out of the field and in the barn by noon, we could gorge on a big meal, take a nap, and watch “The Guiding Light,” I would work my fingers to the bone. Musings of such rewards inspired me to help accomplish the family’s morning goals on the farm.

As the summer heat lost its fire in late afternoon Mama, Daddy, and we “young’uns” headed for the garden or fields to continue our chores. Before dark sometimes we moved cured tobacco out of the barn to the pack house for later grading, tying and preparing for market.

Daddy especially enjoyed raising tobacco, nurturing it from the seeds he placed in the plant bed in January to the golden leaves he took to market in late summer and early fall. When Daddy dug his fingers deep into the soil he seemed to gather energy and power from Mother Earth. Like a prince on the palace grounds Daddy admired the fields plush with rows of green. Daddy’s love of the land nourished his soul. On the Lett farm Bud Lett found his kingdom.


The fruits of Daddy’s labor provided blessings for many people. His watermelon crop was a spiritual ministry…nothing delighted him more than filling my car with red and yellow varieties for me to distribute to friends. Daddy planted apple, peach, pear, and pecan trees and blueberry bushes so he could relish their growth and yield and have more treasures to share with others. He found pleasure in growing vegetables and fruits, treating each bean from the garden, fruit from a tree, or berry from a bush like a gem from a mine.

Meanwhile, Mama perfected her culinary concoctions by standing over a hot stove daily so that Daddy, family, and friends could relish the many delicious delights from her kitchen. Just as the tobacco crop peaked so did the garden, and the whole family pitched in to pick tomatoes, shell peas, snap beans, shuck corn, and help Mama with canning and freezing fruits and vegetables.

When Mama cooked in the kitchen she reigned like a queen of dining. In what everyone called Ruby’s Restaurant, she was the chef, the hostess, and the waitress. She excitedly fed her guests joy and contentment as well as favorite foods, and they constantly praised her cookin’.   In her kitchen Mama felt passion and pride.

Mama’s food fixin’s and Daddy’s garden pickin’s were always greeted with appreciation because they featured a flavor and an aroma that went beyond all expectations. Through their love of labor Mama and Daddy experienced life’s most powerful secret. I feel fortunate from being around them, each working to his or her heart’s content.

Like Daddy, like Mama I am honoring my heart and feel fervor for my work. To love labor is life’s greatest blessing.

Copyright © 2012, AlexSandra Lett