That's how Kelly always greets us, and I have developed a surprising fondness for the warm southern saying. All part of what I call "The Kelly Effect."
I've composed this post a few different times, and have always failed to do justice to Kelly or what I really want to say about her. So I'm going to just do my best and keep it short.
Kelly is an enthusiastic soul from a small town in Florida. Her life story is astounding, due in part to her adventurous nature. In June Kelly felt the call of the road and decided to give D.C. a whirl. We didn't know her beforehand, but through a church email I felt a prompting to offer her short-term lodging while she looked for a place to live. A part of me hesitated to let a stranger in, but a larger part knew something good would come of it.
Kelly arrived in her black Buick on July 3 and quickly set herself up neatly in a corner of our office. An air mattress, some clothes, and a generous warmth that quickly filled our whole house. Kelly loves to wash dishes. She admittedly loves fast food but is also a vegetarian ("I'll have a Big Mac but sub tomatoes for the meat.") She loves jewelry and can fix her own car. The girls swarmed to her like bees to honey, and so did I. She has a laid-back way that made her willing, no, happy, to play games with them, watch them do tricks, make art.
Between work and church responsibilities, Ed was gone most of July, so Kelly was like a roommate to me, too. After the girls went to bed, Kelly and I would wash dishes, talk, eat ice cream, and watch chick flicks. Early on we discovered a shared crush on Scott McGillivray, and a Twilight rivalry (she's Team Jacob but she has only seen the movies, not read the books, so she doesn't have the whole picture.) She regaled me with stories of her twin sister Kerry, who went and got married in Vegas during Kelly's time with us. And her "Daddy", who's never been farther than Alabama in his whole life. And her brother "Bubba" who turned 22 during July, and how she wishes he would do something with his life. I learned quickly her signature phrases - "Hey y'all", "What's going on?" and "I'm only a text away!"
And the babysitting! One night I went out to the movies with a friend! On a weeknight! And then we went out for a cupcake after! One Sunday morning I was stricken hard and fast with strep throat. Ed was at a meeting so Kelly stayed with the girls while I went to Urgent Care. One time when Ed was in town we had a date - a DATE! -, and Kelly babysat. Sure, she put on Poppy's diaper backwards but no harm done and we all had a good laugh on it. Several times I ran some night errands, which I never could have done otherwise.
Kelly was with us for five weeks, then she moved into an apartment nearby so we still see each other. But it was terribly sad to let her go. She is like a sister, a friend, an aunt. What I really want to say, and give ode to, is that her month with us was like a balm. I was sick for most of it, and tired the rest of the time. I was lonely without Ed, and her cheery companionship provided distraction and comfort when I would otherwise be spending my time self-medicating with bad TV and cheap chocolate. She helped with the kids when I was stressed out and worn down. And, a few times when I felt so overwhelmed by inadequacy, discouragement and near self-loathing, she kindly piped up with a compliment that there's no way she could have known I needed.
Here's a picture of Kelly with the girls. You can just see how much they love her. I still didn't do it, or her, justice, but I needed to try. Because of Kelly, it was a great summer.