Monday, December 7, 2009

You Might be a Plymothian if...

I have entitled my blog "Plymothian Ponderings", but what is a Plymothian? In the very simplest of terms it refers to someone who hails from the city of Plymouth in Devon, England. Now whether or not the folks born and bred in the many other Plymouths that my hometown has spawned over the centuries, I do not know. But growing up I learned that if you were from Plymouth, you were a Plymothian.

Now people from London are not necessarily Cockneys - they may be Londoners, but a true Cockney is born within the sound of the Bow Bells. We in Plymouth are not so picky.

While I am a Plymothian by birth, if you ask me where I am from my first answer these days would be Georgia. This is where I have spent the most continuous years of my life. Most people don't believe that based on my accent, of course, but even that is a hybrid now. Folks in Plymouth think I am American, folks here know I am not.

Here in Georgia we have a famous comedian. His name is Jeff Foxworthy, and he has a whole industry built up on his catchphrase "You might be a Redneck if...". Apart from the scary reality that I identify with a decent proportion of those sayings, this has launched a genre of bad talks and articles trying to capture the same concept. My son's most recent college orientation included.

So with my many humble apologies to Mr. Foxworthy, I would like to present my offering based on the city of my birth:

If you know there is nothing green at Greenbank and no fields at Freedom Fields, you might be a Plymothian.

If you keep warm while shopping in the city centre in winter by huddling in the window of Carwardines while munching on a piping hot Ivor Dewdneys pastie, you might be a Plymothian.

If you are not surprised to find no tents, dancing sea lions, or jugglers (although Saturday sales can bring out plenty of clowns) at Drake's Circus, you might be a Plymothian.

If the word "Ballard" instantly conjurs up the smell of chlorine and the shiver of walking into the cold air with wet hair, you might be a Plymothian.

If you know that the oldest street in the city has always been called "New Street", you might be a Plymothian.

If you understand that the question "Alright my luvver?" can be aimed in concern at little old ladies hobbling onto the bus, and is not a cry of passion, you might be a Plymothian.

If you know that Royal Parade does not have marching soldiers or floats coming down it, and there are no ships on Armada Way, you might be a Plymothian.

If you know that Sir Francis Drake was a hometown hero and not a pirate, you might be a Plymothian.

And finally, if you know that The Hoe is neither a garden implement nor a woman of ill repute, you might be a Plymothian.

If you didn't understand a single thing I said since ...'the city of my birth' and yet you have read this far, you are not a Plymothian - but you are a very good friend. Thank you for indulging me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I will miss you...

Today the reality begins to hit.

A very dear friend, a brother in the Lord, a fellow writer, gifted photographer, but mostly a devoted husband and father died suddenly yesterday.

My friend is without her husband of 28 years, they were married just weeks after my husband and I. Their 21 year old son and 16 year old daughter are without their father. The son is my son's best friend. Our boys could list either family's residence as their home address and mail would find them either way.

I have never blogged before, ever. But in searching my friend's name on the internet I discovered his blog, and his publishing credits. I have been dancing around the idea of writing for so many years it is almost a joke, but he was doing it, he was writing every day. Because of this now when he is no longer here, there is a blog, a record of his thoughts. His blog is so him, I can hear him talking through he screen and it comforts me to know I can go back and look again.

My friend had a habit that caused a little dismay the first time you came across it. He had a tendency, whenever he called somebody, to talk at length and fully about whatever the call was about and then just hang up. No goodbyes. Not ever.

The first time he did it, I went to my husband and said "Oh dear, I think I may have hung up on Mark! I was talking and then just 'click' and he was gone!". My husband laughed, a veteran of many calls with Mark. "Are you sure? He always just hangs up on me when he has said all he needs to say. Listen carefully, there is an ending comment like ' That works', 'Get back to me when you know',' Let's do a.b.c. and then revisit' then he is gone."

The next week Mark called again and, sure enough, "I'm looking forward to it, it will be fun." Click, gone. Amused, I held the phone out in front of me and chuckled, "Well goodbye Mark!"

Over the years we have had many a call, and out of habit I routinely hold the phone in front of me afterwards and say "Goodbye Mark!' - even if he doesn't want to say goodbye I still need to.

In the early hours of Saturday morning Josiah, Mark and Nancy's son (and our part-time son), came home from a gig with his band in anticipation of decorating the family Christmas tree the next day. Mark had spoken to him earlier and mentioned going to bed, but the light was on in his office, so Joe checked on his dad. Mark was slumped over his computer and, despite Nancy's valiant use of her CPR instructor skills and a prompt 911 response, he was gone.

Mark was fascinated with the English Christmas traditions, born of his love of Dickens "A Christmas Carol" and we have had the joy of having their family over for Christmas dessert for several years now. The first few times Mark would actually videotape me flambeing the Christmas pudding - setting fire to warmed brandy poured over the hot pudding. The boys would hang out together, my husband and Mark would start talking and Nancy and I could chill out together after the hustle and bustle of the season. Even last year, when we were hosting the British Invasion for our daughter's wedding, they still came and we enjoyed their company so much.

As a church body we have seen members pass on to be with our Savior. Mark never failed to say how much he envied their presence in His presence, how that is our true home.

Our families have seen each other through car accidents, births, children's illnesses, graduations, a wedding, studies abroad, teenage drivers, proms and all manner of life events. We have shared meals and picnics, they have taken our son on vacation with them. We are family, in all but blood.

The Lord was merciful, the end was quick, probably even instantaneous.


Now we hold his memory in our hands and say, "Goodbye Mark."