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Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Lilly Effect

TexasrainlillyOriginal Story Posted on: June 19, 2008

Ever since I was old enough to appreciate good and constructive advice (I'm trying to think here how long ago that really was?....hmmmm), I've been communicating with family and friends and offering up an ear, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, a good laugh, tough love, and a bit of hard-line advice to get them back on the right track.  Not that I have an inside track to the right track mind you, but I've been kicked in the butt so many times in my own life that somewhere along the way I've managed to offer up some advice to family and friends that keep them coming back for more. 

I'm happy to be here for them.  I know how important it is in life to have someone to talk to who won't judge you for your mistakes, who will listen when all you want is someone to listen to you vent, when you need another person's opinion on matters, when you just need someone who cares.  We've all been there, I don't care who you are - we've all needed a good soul to lean on at times in our life.  I call it the "Lilly effect."  What's the "Lilly effect" you ask? Well, I'll tell ya.  That's my paternal grandmother, Lillian.  Mama Lill (as we used to call her) passed away in 1972 and was the best grandma in the whole world.  Well, at least to me she was the best grandma in the whole world and the only one I ever knew.  Although I was very young when she passed away, about 12 years old, she had an impact on me that to this day still lives in me.  She could offer up advice to make anyone stand up and take notice.  She wasn't about to let anyone in the family go gettin' stupid on her and she'd kick you in the backside if you even thought of moving one iota out of line.  Wow how I thought she was the coolest grandma on earth.  I took notice.  It was either that or get the switch, and I wasn't about to get stung across the bottom for no one.

So that is why I call listening and offering up some down-home, back-woods, kick-butt advice, the "Lilly effect" - because nothing stings the bee-hind more than some seriously good hard-line advice at times.  Notice I said "at times?"  Sometimes you just need compassion and understanding and Mama Lill offered up plenty of that too.  She always, and I mean "always," had a way of finding the balance between being hard-line and a soft-touch.  God I miss her.  In many ways, I think her spirit carries on in me.  I think she is guiding me thru daily life and giving me advice on how to best help my family and friends thru difficult times, and how to help myself too, of course.

I do know that in my heart I think she is still offering up some tough advice for me in my own life, right there alongside my dad who was pretty good at it himself when I needed it, and I'm glad for that. I often think, "I wonder how Mama Lill would handle this" and I usually get my answer.  I only wish she had been alive when I so obviously and blatantly screwed up my own life.  She must have been in Heaven's Bahamas at the time sippin' a tequila and checkin' out the honeys on Heaven's beach.  Dang.  Then again, I wasn't listening to anyone during those years, which might explain why her "Lilly effect" came full circle to slap me upside the head.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I needed more than a slap upside the head - I needed a kick in the butt, a plow on how, and a whip for a tip, and the only way I was goin' to get it was thru flubbin' up my life in a big way early on.  Fortunately for me, I learned.  At least I think I learned.  I mean, my life is pretty good and everyone is happy around here - accept my mother, but she doesn't listen to no-one accept her own bantering.  Can't help her.  Nope.  She's dishin' out her own kind of advice and unfortunately it ain't to my likin' most of the time - or anyone else's in the family for that matter.  Oh well, I love her, faces (she makes faces) and all.

Have you ever heard the saying "Everything I learned about life I learned in Kindergarten?"  Well, everything I learned in life about giving advice and hoping someone takes it I learned from Mama Lill - and my dad (her 2nd son), Harry. He offered up a good bit of the Lilly effect himself until his passing in 1980 when I was 20 years old and pregnant with my 2nd daughter, Kimberly.  That was tough. Sometimes I wish he would have taken his own advice during what was obviously a mid-life crisis, but he wasn't thinkin' if you know what I mean.  He wanted to play.  Again, Mama Lill wasn't around to chase him down with a switch or a shotgun any longer and I think he took advantage of his new-fangled freedom in the 70s.  Unfortunately, it did a number on my dad's health and he passed away at the age of 55.  Much too young for a man with so much personality and presence.

What's funny is that I think I can remember the first advice I ever gave someone.  I was 8 years old and some boy on the playground at school  was crying because some kids had tied his shoes together in a knot as a joke and he fell down and was humiliated.   Those other kids were laughing and pointing their fingers at him and it made me so mad I put my hands on my hips and told them they were nothing but a bunch of losers and to go jump off a roof somewhere and try to fly.  Then, I sashayed on over to that cute little boy, I put my arms around him, told him he was better than those losers, and I untied his knots.  He was crying because the knots were so tight he couldn't get them out.  I was great at getting out knots and i knew it, so when I got out his knot, we became fast friends.  I often wonder what happened to "Toby G."  He was the first boy who became my friend and the first one who ever got some "Lilly effect" advice.  I dished it out and he smiled.  I was hooked on helpin' for sure.  "If you're out there, Toby, I'm glad we were friends at Jackson Road Elementary school in the 60s."  We lost touch after 5th grade because I moved away.

I'm glad that in my years as a grown-up (although at times the term grown-up comes into question since I really am just a big kid.  That's what happens when you're the youngest in a family, you never really grow up and always want to be a baby)  my family and friends have trusted me with their most personal of circumstances and actually listened to what I might have to say about their matters.  Hopefully I've been helpful.

So here I am folks.  If you have a question or if life is turnin' your tail into a tail wind, I'm offering up an ear and some hard-line "Lilly effect" advice.  I'm happy to help. 

Ask on....




Note: That pretty flower above is a Texas Rain Lilly.  It only blooms when it rains and then the next day it is gone.  They are small and very fragrant.  Just as we search longingly for the first crocus in spring, I will be looking for  rain lilies in the fall.  These jewels are easy to grow and can tolerate clay, sand, or bog.  The delicate flowers of these carefree bulbs astonish and delight when they appear after rain showers. Even when neglected all summer, these tenacious bulbs come to life and produce a splendid array of colorful flowers. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, after every rain shower, rain lily bulbs produce scores of delicate, crocus-like flowers on 8" to 10" stems.

Texasrainlilly2 The cultivated varieties have been grown successfully in East Texas, but they thrive in the southeast as  well. As a rule, they are quite easy to cultivate, fast to naturalize, and drought tolerant, and will grow in any well-drained soil. Rain lilies may be grown in containers or as an edging plant in flower beds or along the garden path. Between blooming times, the grass-like foliage is pleasing in the garden. Bulbs are available in white, yellow, and various shades of pink. Different varieties come into bloom from April into November, and with a collection of spring- and fall-blooming bulbs, you can have color in your garden eight months of the year.

Happy Gardening!

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