Fixer.

My dad was a humble man.

A man of little words.

When he spoke, you wanted to listen. IF he was ever funny, he was really funny.

He was a mechanic most all of his life. No scholar by the books standards, but he could build anything and repair whatever was broken.

Except his body.

But because his body was broken, he made the choice to give his body to science to, even in his death, fix other bodies riddled with Parkinson's Disease.

Today, mom got his ashes. Which made me so sad and so proud of him. He was a good man, a kind man, a fixer.

I'd like to think his last act of himself was his finest.

I'm proud to be his daughter.

XO


jessica dukes
[photography]
-jessicadukes.com-

I'm so happy to be stuck with you. || three.

Yes, it's true.  I'm so happy to be stuck with you.

I heard that song on the radio the other day and thought about you.

Happy to be stuck with you.
Happy to get to do this life with you.

Every day I'm thankful for you.  I tell you that a lot, but I hope you know it's true and feel my love for you grow stronger every day.  We are a good team.

SO here's to 1,095 days of marital bliss TOGETHER add a Peggy in the mix and it's one good life.

Yes, it's true.  I'm so happy to be stuck with you.


Awkward Family Photos

It's only April and I have learned a ton this year.

One thing I have learned is there is no such thing as a bad picture.

I took some pictures at Thanksgiving of our entire family, at moms prodding.  They were terrible deemed by me, and probably to anyone else.  But since dad's death, I decided to revisit those things and actually found some gems.  All of them.

And even though we are misplaced, I look like I am married to my nephew Seth in most of the pictures, my nephew Bens eye only is showing, we look kinda like the Herdman family, I am sweating because I have a heavy sweater on AND because I was back and forth between the 10 second and go timer while the camera sat on a rickety table with 15 books under it...until my sister-in-law's sister took over...you get it.  Bad photos.

But then when you know you can never get this picture back again, it becomes golden.

join me for comedy hour.

ready?

Nice socks mom while striking your model pose.  Lookin' good gurl.
Dad - I'm here, but I don't wanna be.
He always was the favorite child.  That's by brother, Trampas. And look, we are centered.  It's a GO.  Everyone, timers on!  Hurry!!!
You can't make this stuff up, y'all.  
Brad's taken over the model pose. Seth (red sweater) is like "dude, how you do that? like, this?" Ethan (random arm) who is hiding behind my brother (purple) clearly is about to put earrings on his mom.  Atticus (baby) says, "How did I end up in this family?"
Mom and Dad are like "ALL OF YOU! Out of our picture!"
and then, obviously, I need to work on my sprint.  
 Mom and Dad have settled into their family.  "Oh look, Roy, we might as well smile, they ain't going anywhere."  Everyone and GO.  Jessica?  Jessica?  Jess....
 Something is really funny.  Let's be honest, they're just laughing from cheering for me because I made it in the picture.  Go me.  
 Atticus is getting an ear infection from all the chatter.  And look, everyone is smiling and accounted for.  The picture is crooked but faces, faces are accounted for.  BOOM.
And then when you make it black and white and remember, we are all there, together.  
It's okay that I look like I am married to Seth.  
It's okay that Bens eye is only showing.
We are happy and we are together.  And this would be the last picture we ever took together.  
So, it's the best picture.  


And because he's cute, here's a closer look at my great nephew Atticus.  
Take pictures people.
On your phone.
bad pictures, good pictures, lots of pictures,
just take them.
you won't regret it.

And that is no April Fools. 
Happy Day, friends.


Paleo for Dummies.

I will be the first to admit I like a good project.  The weirder, often times, the better.  Late last year, I began researching The Paleo Diet, the more I read and became familiar with the paleo lifestyle (let me also mentioned that i am reallllllly good at hyper focusing on something.  some may call it obsessing), I decided the health benefits alone was a reason to try it.  Brad jumped on board and we both decided to try it for one month.  

Simply put:  NO grains, gluten, dairy, peanuts, legumes
ALL THE meat, nuts, seeds, veggies and fruits you can bear.
(fruit has a ton of natural sugar, so limit your intake)

It's a little more refined than that, but that is the general idea.

We started in January, and have allowed ourselves one cheat (cupcakes from whole foods on my birthday) in February and then last sunday we allowed ourselves another cheat.  

I am a convert to the paleo lifestyle.  As I learn and find out more information it makes me excited about the good things that are going on inside of my body.  And that is nothing but a good good thing.

As an added bonus, I have lost twenty pounds, like it literally just fell off me.  So, that alone, is awesome.  I am excited to see what this next year brings as I embark on my first year as a newbe paleo-ite.  

Wanna try it?  Shoot me an email, I will tell you all I know.

I WILL tell you this, thepaleomom.com is my very favorite resource.  If you are interested in paleo, I would start with her website.

P.S. My very thing to do is google something I am craving,or a request from Brad but with 'paleo' in front of it --- example:  paleo pizza --- and then search for the best, but simplest recipe and create it for dinner.  Promise, we have yet to have a bad meal.  

Mom.

On Saturday, we had dad's memorial service.

On Wednesday, we celebrated the day I was born.

On Wednesday, I received my first birthday card signed 'I love you, Mama."

That's the first card I have received in my thirty-eight years of life that excluded my father. It made my gut hurt and made my throat immediately burn. The note from my mom said 'I'm making you a quilt out of all your daddy's flannel shirts.' I can think of nothing in this world I want more.

Let's go back to Wednesday, when I checked the mail on my birthday and there was a happy card in the mail from my mom. Three days previous we had said good-bye to my dad. And yes, he was my nearly perfect dad but before that he was my moms best friend, love, and partner for 52 years. For 52 years, they were inseparable even until the very end. Literally. And if any year there was a year she got a pass in mailing me a card to receive on my actual birthday, this was the year.

My mom is amazing. She has always been but still, she continues to blow me away. She got up Sunday, went to church alone and then has continued to be upbeat and positive. She's alone now in a house that my dad built so long ago.

When dad started getting "bad" meaning his legs starting to fail him more and his mind worse and worse she remained by his side. As a man that stood over 6 foot tall who was all legs, it's hard. He should have been in a wheelchair long ago, but he walked until the very end because of my mom. She got him out and about, even though getting him to, and then into the car was a days work, she still took him places. His mind stayed sharp as long as it did because of my mom. His body stayed healthy as long as it did because of my mom. He was clean and well taken care of because...of my mom.

Often during the course of the last few weeks, I'm asked "how's your mom?" And the person asking looks as though they are prepared for a story of sadness but 9 times out of 10 I have found myself saying. "You know, my dad gave her a gift. A gift of life. Because of his passing, she is going to be able to live again."

Sure, we're going to miss him like crazy. Fathers Day, Christmas, and all the holidays that your dad should be there will take a different tone this year. But his legacy will forever live on.

Through me, through my children, through my brother, my nephews, all who knew him and loved him.

Mom though. She's amazing. She's tough. She's...the strongest woman I know.

Dad.

Christmas Eve, I had my camera in my hand and I noticed that Dad was doing what had become a habit since I was a wee-little girl.  He was reading his bible.  Complete with his glasses lowered so low on his nose that they continually fell off, even though they were just right and his hands turning every page, often times tearing out page after page of his worn bible.  I stopped what I was doing and just watched him and something told me I would want that picture.  The picture of his hands, rough and calloused from always working with his hands, building, inventing, gardening and turning pages of the bible that he had memorized.

When I visited with him a few weeks ago, he asked me to get his bible, so I did, and then got his glasses adjusted just so, and sat the bible in his lap.  Southern gospel music blaring in the background and often a "that's a good one, Jessica, turn it up."  "Dad, it's pretty loud."  "Turn it up, Jessica."  "Yes, sir." "you know this one? he'd say.  it's a good one." patting his foot to the perfect rhythm all the while.  "Will you find Romans 5 for me?" So, I found Romans 5 for him, and said, "here dad, you want me to read it to you" and he said gently "no" and then began to quote:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into his grace which we now stand,  And we boast in the hope and the glory of God...
That was the last time I saw my sweet daddy alive.  That was the last day I conversed with him and talked to him.  We talked about where I could get some old barn wood.  He asked me why I wanted some and I told him that I wanted to make a headboard.  "In a little while we will go out there and look in the barn, I can make you a headboard."  His nature was a servant.  Even when his legs were failing him, and his memory was almost gone, it was natural for him to say, "I can make you that headboard..."  and it was in my nature to say, "okay, daddy"

You are never old enough to loose a parent, one of my friends said this week and that is so true.  Today as I sat and ate lunch, and while I was waiting for it to cook I grabbed a pickle and I thought about how dad loved anything that was pickled, eggs, beets, cucumbers, if it was sour, he liked it.  And then as i ate my turkey burger that had more cayenne pepper on it than should be aloud I thought about him again, he liked it spicy and his food hot. I am my fathers daughter.

I have told several friends this week it is such an odd feeling, I know God has always heard my prayers but now I feel like he is really tuned in, like when I pray dad nudges Jesus and says, "that's my girl, you listening?" 

I'm so proud that he was my dad.  I am so proud that his blood runs through my veins and that his legacy is the one that I get to live out.

That last day I sat with dad and saw him, he gave me this gem that I will have for as long as I live.  His gospel music channel blaring and in the midst of that four part harmony that he loved so much a gentle el shaddai by Amy Grant came on and my dad started lifting his hands and saying every word.  And with tears falling fast as they have ever fallen onto my lap, with my hand as steady as I could keep it, I recorded dad being dad, worshipping the Lord.

I don't have to tell you to rest in peace, daddy...because you are dancing, you are walking, you are talking loudly and your body is finally whole.

Dance, Walk and Talk in peace, Daddy.  I love you.
video

WOMEN: find the doctor that's right for YOU.

I had an extremely long and wordy post almost finished then my hand started hurting so I quit writing. Also, I was kinda bored with the entire thing so here's where we start over.

Women. Take charge of your health.

I am a healthy thirty seven year old who wants to have a baby more than anything. The last two years I have had two miscarriages and four OBGYNs.

The later of the two losses occurred just a few weeks ago and is still occurring actually as I watch my hcg levels fluctuate from low to high back down to low.

Thursday, I ended the week with a bang. Bang. Like hospital bang. After a ER visit I landed in the hospital for two days with an ectopic pregnancy rupture possibly OR cyst rupture possibly. All I know is it was a ton of pain and scary.

And it was sad, sure. But we had already found out I had miscarried a few weeks ago so it was more a mission of figuring out the problem and getting to the solution.

Four OBs in two years. One after another, all three until my latest did not take an interest in me or my specific case or concerns. All of these doctors were highly recommended to me, but we didn't click for some reason.

I'm pretty passive by nature. So switching doctors until I found the right one was out of my comfort zone. But miscarrying everytime I find out I'm pregnant is also out of my comfort zone.

Finding a doctor that cared about my specific case has been challenging and frustrating. Because should all doctors be proactive and care the same?

Women: I urge you. Go to the doctor. And if your reasoning for avoiding the doctor is because you don't like your current doctor, find another. Just because the doctor is "the best" doesn't mean she's "the best" for you.

Me: Pressing on.
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