Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Boy’s Dreams on Linen

I had such in-depth and poignant comments posted on the story about my dad, that I thought it was time to share the only little boy picture I have of him. While my mother was the true artist, and my sister has followed suit, Max had a hidden talent for drawing that showed up at a very early age. He just never had the desire to overshadow Mom's talents, so we never heard about them. I think I was in college when I came across three pieces of linen with pictures drawn in crayola. Dad told me that he had drawn them at school when he was about 11 years old.  I marveled at the detail and depth he created on those linen pieces. I think the picture of him was when he was about seven or eight, close to the time of his father's death.

The teacher tapes the flaxen linen to his desk and walks away.
Borders stretched to the edge of the school desk.
He lines up the crayons
Like waxen soldiers awaiting
The call to arms.
His head dances with his dead daddy’s dreams
Of the Copeland Street castle,
Erased by a heart’s explosion.
Fearing the stark blank linen,
He squeezes his eyes shut
Like a vice on steel, bursting
Color behind the eyelids.
Muted blues and greens
Cool the burning fires in his brain and
The wishes, dreams and delights of a faraway place appear.
Now he can see.
He picks up the patient blue
Soldier and draws.
Smooth stones line the path to a cottage in the
Linen’s left corner.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lessons in Beth’s Quilt

Last month I had the complete joy in making something for someone in my family. Although I used the excuse that it was a belated birthday present, it was really a "just because, it's completely right for her now." Beth and her mother were overjoyed that I sent it, and while their precious and heartfelt kudos were treasures, I seem to relish the joy of making something just right for a dear one. While I was  making this quilt, I kept thinking how parallel the process was to living our lives. I sent her this message along with the quilt.
    I hope you can enjoy this metaphor and maybe find something in you life that so closely resembles how you manage to make the steps in your own journey. I'd love to hear how you created such a parallel.

You do the best you can,
 even if you really don’t know
 how it’s all going to turn out.
The pieces are put together as neatly as possible, 
but sometimes not everything lines up just right.
Even with the best instructions and the best of intentions, 
mistakes are made. 
Sometimes there are errors in judgment.
There may be a few kinks,
 but you have to press on and finish the job.
It’s a labor of love worthy of tender loving care.
Try not to look at the little mistakes and
 take in the overall beauty as a whole.
We never know how long it will last,
 but it’s worth bringing joy for the time we have it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

       This is the week for gratitude and thankfulness. I have been so amazed at the wonderful contributions everyone posts on this fledgling blog. Even with this small community which I don't think has mushroomed beyond the multitude of maybe a dozen, have I felt such emotion, validation, spirit, soul, and yes even love. I sometime fear that I write about death and sadness so much more than the uplifting topics, but I do gain strength though those entries.  Then I am embraced by the insight and interpretation that you bring to the posts . It enhances, strengthens and sheds new light on perspectives I never dreamed were part of my initial post. Life is so multifaceted, yet at the same time we are finding such commonality, reading, and sharing with each other. I really do believe that we humans are programmed to make opportunities to communicate and to connect to one another. We are not a rock, not an island as the old song claims.
      You hear people damning the new technology as the bane that keeps us from connecting to other people. I agree that there have been more than a few times I have been at a table of friends each set of eyes  locked onto their smartphones instead of talking to the person across from them. It is a bit comical and when we realize what we are doing, we laugh and pick up a new new conversation with each other. Some will say that is not the case with the typical morose teenager, but hey, we were just as non-communicative at that age, too; and we didn't have the added technology. I guess I'm saying here that I have faith that they, too will discover that inward need to connect.
       I hope each of you are able to spend at least a small time with a loved one during this week, and experience a renewed connection.  I also want to encourage you to possibly pick up a tried and true habit of writing down 5 things you are grateful for every night. It doesn't have to be big stuff, and actually you may find that something as little as being grateful for a silent wink across the table is pretty precious. I know I am grateful for each of you and the wisdom you bring to me. Blessings to you all this Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Tough Guy's Christmas Promise

The scream ripped away the comfort of his blanket and his dream. Suddenly, Max was awake and aware that something was not quite right.
"Is it Christmas, already?" He questioned. Waking his thoughts by rolling through a battery of questions to himself, Max rattled off the answers,
I'm Max.
I'm seven years old.  No, just turned eight!
My big brother is still sleeping next to me.
I'm in my house in Paducah, Texas."
Well, everything seemed in order. He slowly began to lie back down, but then, as before, a scream pierced the air. It was Mama.
"Jack! Jack! Wake up!"
Max scrambled out of bed and down the stairs thinking Santa must be stuck in the chimney. Mama blurred past him on the way to the kitchen. As he stood in a sleepy freeze, he watched her run to the water pump and with one hand begin the pumping motion to bring the slow moving water to the sink spout. In one sweeping second her other hand whipped open the cabinet door and brought out a glass.
As Max watched from the doorway, he saw her grow older. Although she was already fifty-two, he never thought of her as old. Her gray hair was not in it usual bun, but instead, partially covering her face in uneven strands like an old mop. Her robe hung unevenly on her shoulders, and the belt drooped lifelessly by her side.
The breeze cause by her rushing passed him interrupted his thoughts. He finally found his feet and walked to her bedroom door. She stood by the bed. She seemed to hesitate, and then with a piston move of her arm, splashed the whole contents of the water glass on Papa's face. They both hoped . . .expected Papa to jump up spittin' and coughin' and yellin' at Mama that she must be crazy.
The bed didn't move.
Papa didn't move.
The water dripped off his face like tears in a rain shower.
Max's Papa, who could sternly lecture him, give him a fierce thrashing, but gently tousle his hair and wink an eye, would never move again.
His Papa, whose laugh could travel out the kitchen and into the street, would never laugh again.
There was a Christmas morning celebration, because lots of people came over and brought all kinds of delicious food. But instead of the expected laughter, a strange silence hovered only to be interrupted by stifled sobs.
Last Christmas, Max remembered his big brother Jackie hoisting him on his shoulders and bounding down the stairs. The bouncing came to an abrupt stop in front of the Christmas tree. Below was a shimmering pool of brilliantly wrapped packages. The storm of bows and ribbon and wrapping paper echoed in Max's ears as the memory wave brought him back to this day. Why did this Christmas have to be so different?
After getting his hand slapped reaching for an apple dumpling, Max was told to go into the parlor and sit on the piano bench. The scratchy woolen suit that Mama told him to wear gnawed at his skin. The hard leather shoes trapped and cramped his toes.
His sister Elma came in with Little John. They were supposed to be friends. John was his nephew. Little John was seated next to Max.
'You are so prissy," Max mumbled to himself. Six years old and he looked forty.  Little John sat perfectly still. His hair was plastered into place and his fingernails were trimmed and shiny.
Max glanced at his own ragged nails and scraped fingers. Mama's attempts to civilize him usually resulted in her rolling her eyes and shaking her
head in defeat.  He couldn’t help it. As he rubbed the still red bruises on his middle knuckle, he remembered how good it felt to punch Joey Thompson yesterday when he had said Max’s momma looked like an old granny. After bloodying his nose and mouth, just a little, Max made him take it back. Which he did, knowing Max had more to give.
     Little John nudged him back to the present.
“My Grandpappa’s dead!”
“GRANDpappa? That was my papa! I’m only two year older than you and that’s my daddy!”
Confusion flushed both their faces. One man, two little boys. A grandfather to one and a father to the other?
Max was just about to tell Little John that he didn’t know what he was talking about, when a familiar smell snatched his attention. His sister Rose had arrived with her boyfriend, Edgar. Nothing, not even an easy-win argument with that little priss would keep Max from his Rosie. Before she could completely get into the doorway, he had flown into her arms and buried his face into the side of her Evening in Paris neck.
Rosy always carried the aroma of flowers about her. He wondered if she would ever smell like flour or soap or bleach like Mama.  He really believed that’s why she was called Rose. For the first time today, the scenes, the scents and the feel was finally right.
“Say now, Maxy, I’ve come back home. It’s okay. Don’t you worry about a thing.”  Tears were glistening in her eyes, and Max began to feel angry and unhappy at the same time.
As Max sat and dosed on Rose’s lap that afternoon, he listened to the bits and pieces of conversation that swirled around the room like the smoke from all the men’s pipes and cigars. Harsh and pungent at first, and then dissolving into resignation.
“Why didn’t she call the doctor right away?...I hear that the store is in trouble….You and Edgar just can’t get married next week, not now…Momma and Maxy won’t be able to stay here very long…You can’t expect me to watch over them; John is too much of a handful as it is …Well, somehow, things will have to work out”…
Later that evening, Max was sent to the back bedroom to play with  Little John.  Reluctantly, he accepted the new chore. The play drifted into one of Little John’s “Know-It-All” conversations.
“My mommy says you and Grandmother have to leave here.”
“You don’t know nothin’, Johnny.”
“Uh-huh! I bet you and Grandmother won’t even live together anymore. Mommy said so.”
“Well, She don’t know nothing either! I’d never leave Mama, Jackie, or Rosy! They’re my family, and families don’t get split up.!
“My Mommy is your family and she doesn’t live here.”
Anger and fear battled inside Max’s head while John ran out of the room. He yelled back to have the last word and maybe more so to convince himself,
“Anyway, when I grow up, I’m never going to die! And even if I do, I’m not going until all my kids are grow’d up. I’m going to have a big family, but nothing is going to separate us. We’ll always be together. Just you wait and see.”

Max kept his promise, at least until November, 1980 at the too young age of 62 he let go of his four grown children to once again join the love of his life.  Although the four of us have rarely lived near each other, our closeness is one that never makes the miles separate us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


My sweet sister had to remind me that I had not posted my latest "Love Letter" to my dear husband. Here it is now. I wonder what you would consider your symbol of love with a dear one in your life.

Since that moment at your mom’s kitchen table, 
when you slipped your grandmother’s engagement ring on my finger, 
you have adorned my hands with your love.  
We have shared a band of gold that links us forever together. 
Other decorations may have been added, 
always with a deep affection and purpose; 
but, all the silver and gold pales to the real treasures --
 our hands. 
 You have wrestled pigs, water pipes, and babies with those hands;
 reaching for reassuring hugs and bonding handshakes.
 My hands have stripped wires, gears, and mud-caked children for baths; 
patched quilts, and broken hearts. 
We have had our share of
 holding on to angry cats, posthole diggers, horse-thrown toddlers, 
and each other.  
Together we have 
stroked cheeks in love, wiped away tears of grief, and patted backs with praise. 
Whether it is a gentle squeeze, entwined fingers, or linked pinkies, 
our hands will be our symbol 
 our shared life, 
our undying love
 for each other.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Another early morning rise and a chance to regroup after a full day of completely checking out yesterday.  I will not feel guilty about my few days of non-production. Sometimes we need that. I am back in the saddle and trying to flesh out some old journals to find my writing voice again. I had created a poem years ago just on the word AVOIDANCE.  Something I seem to still be very good at. So I present to you the same poem to let you think about how our words speak to us in ways we never imagined.  At least this little poem opened my eyes to what I was doing to myself by just avoiding any of the work I knew I should be doing. Share any treasures you have found in just one word. I'd love to hear them.

Curious word --- Avoidance
In the middle,
VOID bulges out –
an empty black hole, because
something is being
A gives VOID an identity –
But a painful reminder
 that it is still a

And tagging along behind is
Happy, giddy, carefree Dance;
Tormenting the Nothing it’s attached to.
Is it trying to say something?
Perk up the Void, the negative space?
What good is dancing alone with the dark?
A * Void * Dance

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Before the End of the Day, What Do You Wish Would Happen?

       Interesting question, don’t you think?   As an exercise I was supposed to watch these people in various parts of the country answer that question.   The exercise was to focus on the characteristics of the people, but I was really into their answers. It was a bit difficult to hear everything because the filmographer had music riddled through it…an aggravating practice in my opinion.
       But the answers I did hear varied tremendously on the scale from personal to altruistic; from instant gratification to long term effects. From “have more sex, money, etc…to world peace. So I just thought I would rattle on about that for a minute and then pose to you that thought.
       Since it is only what I would want to see before the end of the day, I do consider it a person question, not one posed at the world to experience, so I’ll leave World Peace for another day.  Instant gratification would be that I would like that my cold…and my dear hubby’s cold to instantly vanish. Neither of us can comfort the other because we feel so lousy ourselves. It’s when I’m down like this that I think of all the things I could be doing if I felt better. When the cold gradually disappears, I’m back to taking it for granted.  An instant release would really jump my guns, and I might begin doing all I wished to do.  I know we could face the next day brighter and sharper. On a selfish note, sure I think a Publisher’s Clearing House bus should arrive at my curb…do they still do that anyway?
        Then what comes to mind… at the end of this day, I would hope that all the decisions regarding my husband’s mother could be cleared up. She has been hospitalized for 4 months and the Medicare has run out and her mental state is deteriorating. My dear husband is having to deal with this heartache completely alone as his half-sister is incompetent and incapable of having any empathy.  His mother is 600 miles away so the distance is making it even harder. I have seen him go from a fairly jovial, carefee individual to an inward, grumpy and angry man. I hurt for him and wish by the end of the day his pain would be over. Then comes the thought…be careful what you ask for... Ever read the short story by W.W. Jacobs  “The Monkey’s Paw” when the mother wished that her dead son would be alive again? Well, it’s not a good thing.
        So the bottom line is that by the end of the day, I hope that all whom I know can have the same thing I wish for – my loved one comes home and gives me a hug and looks me in the eye and says, “Hi, Love how was your day, I want to hear all about it.”

How about you?