Loganberry Jam.

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Logan 8/97 on the lid
In my mother’s distinctive hand.
I hesitate –
It’s the last one.

On my pantry shelf for fifteen years
Because every time I picked it up, I put it back:
It’s the very last one.

My childhood
My memories
My mother –
Preserved.

Today, Logan 8/97 is ripe for picking.

With a little pop,
The lid comes off,
Revealing brownberry jam:
The essence of a summer so long past.

Here’s to you, Momma:
Here’s to the countless berries
Picked,
Washed,
Mashed,
Sugared,
Thickened,
Jarred,
Sealed,
And shared.
Here’s to berry-stained fingers
And wooden spoons
And paraffin in a little pan.

Here’s to sweet, sweet memories airtight in half-pint jars.

Here’s to Logan 8/97
The very last one.

 

RLP 10/2014

My Alphabet of Songs: N

Been lazy lately and the stuff in my head doesn’t seem like anything anyone else would want to read.  So I’ve just stared at the keyboard and come up with nothing.

But I do love the music, and I hope you do, too.  Here is my “N” list.  Want to catch up?  See the rest of the alphabet here.

  1. New Attitude by Patti LaBelle – This is one of my feel-good, crank-it-up songs that I like to sing at the top of my lungs!
  2. Nick of Time by Bonnie Raitt – A friend of mine used to sing this in her local band; it always gave me a lump in my throat when she sang this part:
    I see my folks, they’re getting old, I watch their bodies change
    I know they see the same in me, And it makes us both feel strange
    No matter how you tell yourself, It’s what we all go through
    Those eyes are pretty hard to take when they’re staring’ back at you
    Scared you’ll run out of time
  3. No Scrubs by TLC – This is a fun song with attitude, and I think a lot of us ladies have known a few of these guys… Hangin’ out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, tryin’ to holla at me.
  4. Night Fever by The Bee Gees – I always want to do the Hustle when this one comes on.
  5. Nasty by Janet Jackson – Nasty boys don’t mean a thing.  This song was a favorite when my sister and I went out dancing.  All the girls wanted to look and dance like Janet, with the big shoulder pads, big earrings, and big hair.  Yep, I did it, too.  But I never liked boys in belly shirts. 😉  Notice Paula Abdul as one of Janet’s girlfriends?  
  6. Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues – one of those songs that stands the test of time.  This one is nearly as old as I am (released 1967), but I still love to hear it. And who doesn’t love the poetry at the end:
    Breathe deep the gathering gloom
    Watch lights fade from every room
    Bedsitter people look back and lament
    Another day’s useless energy spent
    Impassioned lovers wrestle as one
    Lonely man cries for love, and has none
    New mother picks up and suckles her son
    Senior citizens wish they were young
    Cold-hearted orb that rules the night
    Removes the colors from our sight
    Red is grey, and yellow, white
    But we decide which is right
    And which is an illusion.
  7. Norwegian Wood by the Beatles – So many of the Beatles’ songs are stories, and this is one.  Typical tongue-in-cheek Lennon lyrics.  Plus, I like the sitar.
  8. No Time by the Guess Who – this was a radio staple when I was growing up in the 70’s.  I always liked it.
  9. No Matter What by Badfinger – Another fun 70’s tune from the radio.  This band had some big hits, but sadly, lost two of their members to suicide.
  10. New Kid in Town by The Eagles – The Eagles are a great group with terrific arrangements and harmony.  They have a lot more in their repertoire than Hotel California.  This reminds me of Tequila Sunrise.
  11. New York’s Not My Home by Jim Croce – I wish we hadn’t lost him so young.  Croce’s music is timeless.
  12. Nowhere Man by the Beatles – Doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to, isn’t he a bit like you and me?
  13. Nothing From Nothing by Billy Preston – a great, feel-good, top-down, sunny-day song!

My Alphabet of Songs: L

Lookie here — we’re at L now!  This is a longer list because there are an awful lot of L songs on my iPod.  I hope you like them!

1. Little Sister by Elvis Presley – when my sister Missy and I used to go dancing, I always requested this song, and it reminds me of the fun times we had. Little Sister, don’t you do what your Big Sister done.
2. The Lumberjack by Hal Willis – Pa had a 45 of this and we played it a lot when I was a kid.  Well, I’m a-sittin’ on a tree stump, eatin’ Johnny cake/ I heard the whistle blow, I had to take a break/ I’m a-boilin’ up my tea in an old tin can/ For that is the life of a Lumberjack man.
3. The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens – A wimoweh a wimoweh a wimoweh a wimoweh a wimoweh a wimoweh a wimoweh a wimoweh…fun karaoke song!
4. Layla by Derek & the DominoesEric Clapton, the master.  I actually prefer the ‘Unplugged’ version he did in the 90’s to the original, but I do love the piano in the original.
5. Little Deuce Coupe by the Beach Boys – I used to play Endless Summer in the car while taking my sons to daycare when they were small; Number One Son, who was probably 4 or so, sang it, “Little Bit Scoop.”
6. The Lady is a Tramp by Frank Sinatra – Great song.  I think he sang it differently, even with altered lyrics, each time.  Doesn’t matter — it’s that VOICE.
7. Love Shack by the B-52’s – what a fun song to dance to!  When Mr. Stuck and I were dating, we used to go see a hot, local band called Combo Plate, and they did a great version of this song.
8. Living in the Past by Jethro TullDigging the jazzy rock flute!  Once I used to join in/Every boy and girl was my friend/Now there’s revolution, but they don’t know/What they’re fighting.
9. Let’s Stay Together by Al Green – The Reverend Al Green and his silky, seductive voice…what a classic.
10. Landslide by Fleetwood Mac – Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?  Can I handle the seasons of my life?
11. Losing My Religion by REM – Liked this song from the first time I heard it…it might be the mandolin.  It most certainly isn’t Michael Stipes’ dance moves.  He said it was a song about obsession, about unrequited love.
12. Loves Me Like a Rock by Paul Simon – because we Mamas do love our boys like a rock.
13.  Livin’ Thing by ELO – Again, I love the strings at play in this band.  Had to share this video — it has Jeff Lynne without his trademark sunglasses, a blue violin, and all that colorful satin.  Groovin’ in 1977!
14.  Long Distance Runaround by Yes – I saw this live; in fact, it was the setting for one of my most embarrassing moments.  It really is a cool piece of music.  Listen to the drums and keyboards in 5/4 time against the guitars in 4/4.
15. The Logical Song by Supertramp – These guys were terrific in concert.  I like the wry humor of this song.

Check out the rest of the Alphabet!

photo credit Beverly & Pack

A Remembrance or Two.

photo credit: The National Guard

 

I remember April 19, 1995.  I remember where I was when I heard that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, had been bombed, resulting in the deaths of 168 innocent people and injuries to nearly 700 more.  I was stunned.  Finding out that it was a domestic terrorist act was even more of a shock.

I remember so many thoughts and emotions during those initial days; one morning about a week later, words came and I wrote them down.  I never gave it a title, just the date:

4/28/95.

From the soil of hate and vengeance
sprang an evil unforgiving,
Which sowed acts of pure maleficence
And death among the living.

It was in the hearts of cowards
that this wicked plan was hatched;
The result of their conspiracy
was tragedy, unmatched.

Broken lives and broken bodies,
broken spirits there abound
And for those who lost their loved ones,
broken hearts are all they’ve found.

In the midst of this disaster
stand the hearts and hands that mend:
Easing pain, allaying suffering,
bringing comfort and a friend.

It is through the tears of empathy
that we see beyond despair
And stand resolute and strengthened
by the faith that bonds us there.

If we think there’s more to living
than this brief time here on Earth –
If we look on death as not as much an end
as a rebirth,

Then the hope that’s deep within us
gives us peace and springs anew –
And we’re blessed with understanding
what it is we’re here to do.

Fast forward six years, to the horror of four coordinated attacks on September 11, 2001, claiming 2,977 victims and injuring several thousands more  Everyone knows what happened that day and how our country changed as a result of it. 

photo credit: PeterJBellis

Again, I was stirred by words that came to mind, and I revisited the 1995 piece. 

9-11-2001

From the soil of hate and vengeance spawned an evil unforgiving
Deep within the hearts of cowards it was hatched,
Manifest in purest malice, sowing death among the living –
A conspiracy of tragedy unmatched.

Broken hearts and broken bodies, broken spirits, broken lives
Heroes fallen, image burned into our minds –
Though grief and sorrow haunt us, human dignity survives,
What was rubble now becomes the act that binds.

In the middle of disaster, dust and ashes, twisted steel
We have empathy to see beyond despair,
Forgetting for a moment how detached we used to feel —
Standing strengthened by the faith that joins us there.

If we know there’s more to living than this brief time here on Earth
Then within us hope and peace will spring anew
If we look on death as not as much an end as a rebirth –
Then we’ll understand what we are here to do.

I remember trying to explain to my young sons about what happened; of course, there was no way to explain ‘why.’  I’m sure most, if not all, parents found it difficult.  You want to comfort your children and make them know they’re safe.  You want to keep the bogeyman and nightmares away — but sometimes, you can’t.

Number Young Son, six at the time, was frightened when he’d hear an airplane near our home.  There is a small private airstrip nearby, and we see and hear small planes on a regular basis.  It took a long time to convince him that planes weren’t going to crash into our house.  I remember Number One Son being very angry about it and wanting to hurt the bad men who hurt the people in those airplanes and buildings.

Time has eased the memory, as it is wont to do, but the utter shock of that day still rings in my ears.  Personally, it brings back memories I don’t want to entertain.  I pray we never experience that kind of a day again.

photo credits: The National Guard and PeterJBellis

Remembering June.

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Been in rather a blue funk for a few days.  In addition to the letdown after the hyperventilation surrounding high school graduation for my youngest; the impending 6-week hiatus from our dear friends; and the sick week I just had, it’s June.  June is Father’s Day and graduation, or, for those with younger kids, the month when school lets out and kids are underfoot.  Roses fill the air with their perfume; gardens explode in green; we celebrate the summer solstice; and Sir Paul McCartney and my friend Chris blow out birthday candles in June.

And it is also my sister Missy’s birthday.  Next week she would have been 52.

Two years ago, two of my sisters and I flew down to Georgia to visit Missy and join the sister who was already there.  It was the occasion of Missy’s 50th birthday, and she was in the hospital.  We wanted to make sure to give her a 50th birthday none of us would forget.  We brought along goodies she loved but couldn’t get in Georgia and took decorations and funny things to make her laugh.  Once there, we went shopping for more.  We got her a cake and even a little contraband — small ‘splits’ of wine we thought she might like to try.

None of us could voice what was aching in our hearts.  We were there because we feared that this birthday would be her last.  She needed us, and we needed her.  So we went down to spend time with her, all of us, together.  We would bring some fun to her for awhile and show her some sister love. Our eldest sister was already there helping to care for her, which was a blessing.  We came to see her husband and children and give them some support, as well.

When we first surprised her in her room, on our arrival, it was wonderful.  She hadn’t known we all were coming, and it was a joyous occasion.  Missy perked up, and we set about fussing over her, laughing and joking like old times.

A couple of nights later, in the darkened and vacant hotel lobby, with poster board, markers, and stickers, the four of us made signs to brighten her room.  We laid the paper on the floor and drew around our feet; we traced our hands and thought of silly slogans to write.  We talked and sang and danced and laughed until we nearly wet our pants.  I haven’t felt so close to my sisters in a long while.

The day of her birthday, we arranged for her to be taken out of her room for a few minutes while we set up her party decorations.  We had hoped to put a sign on the outside of her door, as well, but the staff wouldn’t allow it.  No matter — we had streamers and hats and noisy things and cards and little fun gifts for her.  We had cake and shrimp and the contraband wine.  We had to stall the nurse a bit, but when it was all ready, we gave the high sign for her to come in.

She was happily surprised at the party; in addition to her husband and sons and us girls, she had other visitors and well-wishers.  We sang and chatted and she opened her gifts; we had silly hats and glasses for her, as well as a big round ‘button’ made of a paper plate pinned to her gown that said, “Ask Me about AARP!” (American Association of Retired Persons)  We all had fun.  Afterward, she was tired, so we toned it all down and left her to rest.

I will always remember that visit more for the bonding we shared during those days than for what specific things we did or talked about.  We all carry the scar of losing the sister who died with our parents fourteen years ago; that is a sad, but strong, bond we already share.  Even as different as we all are, our love for each other is steadfast.

I wish I could better describe that feeling of oneness with my sisters; it is rather new, as we are not all close in age, and therefore didn’t all grow up together.  We are of three different groups within the family: the two eldest sisters and my brother, who is firstborn, are the first group; after a five-year gap, there are two more girls; after another five years, Missy and me.  We have always been a close family overall, but after we lost our parents and sister in 1999, we realized how short life is and we drew tightly to one another.  We are not often all together physically, either, since one lives in Georgia, one spends half the year in Arizona, and the rest of us live in Washington.  For those few days, we were all together, with no agenda but to be grateful for them and enjoy ourselves.

There is a lot more to this story, but there will be time for that.  Let’s just say that she left us at the age of 50, which was far too young.  Life is so damned short.

So I’m blue.  My heart aches with the weight of memory and loss.  Junes will come and go, but they will always be Missy’s month: not only was it her birthday, but her husband’s birthday is the week before, and their wedding anniversary falls in between.

Dads and grads may take the spotlight, but June belongs to her.

Of Tonsils, Adenoids, and a Pouty Little Girl.

When I was a kid, having your tonsils out was both the norm and the cool thing to do.  I mean, come on — back then, going to the HOSPITAL and having an OPERATION was pretty danged cool.  A lot of my friends had had theirs out.  I was so jealous!  They had something they could brag about.  Kinda like the rich kids who skied — the ones who broke their arms or legs had the best bragging rights.  Wow…you broke your leg skiing?  WOW!  Can I sign your cast?

Me, I had a pretty normal, boring life.  I didn’t have any operations.  I didn’t ski.  I didn’t fly somewhere to visit my grandparents during spring break.  I didn’t go to Dad’s one weekend and Mom’s the next.  I didn’t have a cast that everyone could sign.  So when I was a kid, I just knew that my life was nowhere near as exciting as the other kids’.  They got Christmas presents at TWO households.  They got to go skating and skiing and swimming and all of that.  And they had their tonsils out.

For me, the closest I got was when I smashed my finger in the front door and the nail turned purple and it hurt a lot.  Dad took me to Dr. Graisy, who heated a needle with a match and pierced my fingernail so the spurting blood would relieve the pressure.  I hated that doctor.  I hollered and cried and fought him, and he tried to smack me, and my Dad told him to leave me alone.  Dad bought me a 7-up on the way home for being brave when the needle pierced my nail.

An older girl in my neighborhood — Kathy was her name — told me she’d had to get her ‘adenoids’ out.  I didn’t even know what an adenoid was, but I could tell it had to be cool.  Kathy was way cooler than the tonsillectomy veterans, because what she had removed was a mystery to everyone, not just me.  I assumed that’s why she had such a nasal voice — even the word ‘adenoid’ itself sounds nasal when you say it.  I never really liked Kathy because she wielded her adenoidectomy (is that even a word?) like a Coach bag — look, everyone, I have this and you don’t!  So we neighborhood kids plugged our noses to imitate how she talked, saying, “My name is Kathy, and I had my A-DEN-OIDS out!”

My next-older sister had her tonsils out.  She had been sick for awhile, and the doctor said it was tonsillitis and it was bad.  I remember Mom and Dad getting a flashlight and looking down her throat.  She spent the night at the hospital.  I was so jealous…you have no idea how far my nose was out of joint.  She got all the attention, and she got milkshakes.

When we came to take her home, she played it up pretty well…at least, that’s how I saw it.  Dad even stopped for ice cream and 7-up for her on the way home.  Back then, those were pretty special treats.  I recall that Dad let me have a bottle of pop, too, even though my tonsils were intact.  When we got home, I was still pretty pouty watching my sister get fussed over.  (I was a champion pouter in those days, being the baby of the family and all.)

A little while later, Dad called me over to where he sat in his big chair and had me climb up on his lap.  I always liked sitting with him, because he always seemed to have some kind of treat hidden in his shirt.  I patted his pockets, feeling for a butterscotch candy or a piece of “lickernish.”  I felt something in his shirt, but it wasn’t in his pocket.  I patted around the lump above his belly, trying to figure it out.

I gave him a sideways look.  “What’s in your shirt, Daddy?”  as he pretended not to know what I was talking about.  He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out one of his ever-present mechanical pencils, offering it up.  “No, not the pencil!  What’s in here?”  I said, grabbing hold of the lumpy thing under the buttons of his shirt.

“Oh, for the love of Pete!” he said, acting surprised.  “I don’t know!  You’d better take a look, hadn’t you?”  So I fumbled with the middle buttons; when I got them undone, I spied a paper sack, a bit bigger than the penny-candy sacks we used to get at Esser’s, the little corner store.  “I wonder what’s in there?” Daddy said.  “Can I open it?” I asked eagerly.  “If you think you can,” he smiled.

Inside that paper sack was a puppet — a marionette, to be exact.  For me!  She was a simple wooden doll in a pink skirt with painted-on yellow shoes and black hair; strings joined her moveable head, hands and feet to the handle.  The handle was simply two pieces of wood that crossed at right angles, and you held it horizontally above the puppet.  I was so excited!!  I had never had a marionette, so Daddy showed me how to do it.  It was really fun!  I forgot all about being jealous and pouty.

My sister got a marionette, too; hers was a man dressed in black.  After she felt better from her operation, we played puppet show a lot.  My sister always had new storylines for our dolls to act out.

I still have my tonsils, and I still have my marionette.  Resplendent yet In her (dirty) pink skirt and (scuffed) yellow shoes, she now rests in a box in the garage.  Even though the strings have long since rotted and she’s a little worse for wear, I can’t bear to get rid of her.  In my litlte-girl memory, it was my Daddy’s way of comforting me when I felt very left out.  It made me feel special, and it still does.

A Patchwork of Memories.

quilt
Memory quilt

5/21 Daily Post: Bittersweet Memories.
You receive a gift that is bittersweet and makes you nostalgic. What is it?

The monumental task of clearing out my parents’ home after their deaths was made even more difficult by the tragic circumstances under which we’d lost them.  Nothing was normal about it, and every little normal thing in the house just reinforced that.  What to do with the contents of a house that grew from small to huge as the family itself grew large?  Where do you start, in a house where most of their 55-year marriage was nurtured and against which all of our childhoods were staged?  We did our best to evenly distribute the “things,” the mementoes of youth, the heirlooms, the books, the spoons.

When it came to their bedroom, it was another matter.  Here was the heart of the house.  Here is where the window stayed open, even on the coldest nights; here is where the ‘workin’ things’ that resided in my Pa’s pockets would tumble onto the nightstand: washers; marbles; screws and nuts of various sizes; a bit of string or wire; a fuse; a flashlight bulb; a butterscotch candy; a hose clamp; a wire nut; some coins (he always jingled the coins in his pocket); and maybe a broken piece of something he intended to repair.  Here were Mother’s ubiquitous safety pins and headscarves and the jewelry she seldom wore.

My parents’ bedroom was normally off-limits when I was a child; without express permission from one or the other, I had no business in there.  I am glad that my parents taught us to respect their privacy; we kids always knew that while we were loved and important to them, they put one another first.  A happy marriage makes for a happy family.

It was difficult to dismantle that room, probably more so than any other part of the house.  Aside from the closets and dressers filled with clothing they no longer wore, there were memories stashed everywhere — everywhere: Birthday cards.  Letters.  Dad’s WWII memorabilia.  Photographs.  Reminders of the early days of their marriage and family, when money was tight and they scraped to get by.  Gifts that we kids had proudly made for them; baby clothes; items that they had kept from when their own parents passed away.  Each drawer, box, and bag spilled more memories.

When we got to the clothing, we knew that most of it would be donated to charity; however, there were a few things we wanted to keep that were meaningful to us.  Those of us who could wear Mother’s lovely wool coat or her favorite blouse were able to choose those things.  There were plenty of Dad’s heavy, plaid flannel shirts to go around.  The clothing with tears or stains that was not going to be given away we set aside for the rag bag.

One of our cousins, who was very close to our family and our parents, is a very talented seamstress.  With great love for our family, she offered us a priceless gift: she would make each of us a quilt from our parents’ and sister’s clothing.  If we would select the items and cut the squares, she would help us lay out the pattern and she would do the piecework, with custom embroidery.  We would select the fabrics for the backing and the binding; a friend of hers would do the quilting.

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windmill pattern

Each quilt (she made SIX of them!) was crafted with loving care.  We chose our preferred fabrics and colors and cut the pieces.  She helped us lay them out, and she pieced them together.  There were scraps of Dad’s work jeans; mom’s aprons; the daisy-printed sheets we all remembered; my sister’s blouses; a red handkerchief here; and a tee-shirt there; all affectionately combined to make a quilt that would warm our bones and our hearts.

The relationships we had with our family reflected in the items we selected to use.  Each quilt is an original; none looks like any other.  Each quilt mirrors its owner and honors its subjects.  Each is embroidered with a brief note of provenance: my cousin’s name, the date, why it was made, and for whom.  She made us promise to use the quilts, not box them up and leave them in a closet.

I have kept my promise.  Mine is no longer stiff and new; it is soft and shows wear on some of the seams.  Some of the squares were made with fabric that was thin to begin with, and those have now worn through, showing the backing behind.  I sometimes look at each square and sigh as I remember Dad in his flannel shirt or Mom in her headscarf; I finger the fabrics deliberately as my mind wanders down that path.

This gift was truly the most heartfelt and bittersweet of anything I have ever been given.  At once it represents sorrow and joy; fun and work; and family and love.

A Damned Stupid, Blubbering Mess.

open journal

Excerpts from the first year.

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19 Oct 8:45pm. 
Saw the therapist today.  I hope this is all normal.  Sometimes I feel I’m going crazy.  She tells me I’m not.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’ll ever get through this.

20 Oct 9:30pm.
I wonder what my husband thinks?  I don’t want to bore him – if he asks me how I am, I guess I’m just the same.  Every day.  Nothing changes.  Will my marriage survive?  Will I?  He’s got to be tired of this.  I am.  And my kids probably wonder who I am anymore –  certainly not the Mommy they used to know.

22 Oct 10:10pm.
I always seem to do this before bed, don’t I?  What a nice way to go to sleep.  But it’s the only time I have to myself – and since I’m always thinking of it anyhow, I guess bedtime’s as good as any.  Any quiet time for me is painful.  Sometimes noise is easier – but I frustrate so easily now – I’m a real shrew.

25 Oct 9:15pm.
Going to bed early tonight.  Hope it helps.  I’m always so tired.  The therapist says grieving is hard work and wears you out.  I agree.  I could stay in bed all day most of the time if I had the chance.
Mom, I can hardly stand it without you.
Dad, I miss you so much — I try to hear your voice in my head so I don’t forget what it sounds like.  I am so terrified that I will.
Wendy, it feels so awful to lose you — you were so young and full of life — I wanted you to grow old with me and still be shuffling in the kitchen and ‘popping’ your cheek.

27 Oct Weds pm.
I didn’t work today.  Guess I tripped and fell.  I’m a mess.  A damned stupid, blubbering mess.  I’m so tired.  Maybe I’m coming down with something.  Isn’t it funny that my pen from the funeral chapel fits so nicely in my journal?  Why is that funny? Boy, if someone reads this someday they’ll probably have me committed.

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It feels strange reading these pages again.  Almost voyeuristic.  Can I be a voyeur of myself?

Happy Mother’s Day, Momma.

Back in the day. That’s me in the front.

5/12 Daily Prompt: Hi, Mom!
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Wherever in the world you are, write your mother a letter.

Hi, Mom.
It’s been a long while since I’ve heard from you: 14 years and a couple months.  I can actually remember the very day, because it was my birthday.

Things are pretty good here.  I”ll try to catch you up.
Daughter Dearest is a good mother with two lovely little girls of her own; they always put a smile on my face.  The boys are fine young men; I’m sure you’d be proud of them.  One’s in college and the other graduates high school next month.  They all have the world at their feet.  I love that they have the same sense of humor you have — silly and smart.  They sing songs and change the words for fun.  They make up words and aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves.  And they have good hearts, all of them.  They have compassion and kindness and respect for other people.

I wonder how you managed with all of us, your ‘passel of kids.’  Sure, the older ones helped a lot with the younger ones, but you still had to supervise and make sure the household ran as smoothly as possible.  You cooked our hot breakfasts, the wonderful homemade soups, the freshly-baked breads and pies, and my personal favorite: the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  What I wouldn’t give for a nice Sunday dinner at Mom’s.

Now that I’m older, I can appreciate your sacrifices so much more.  Some of them I never knew, but that was your way.  You always worked behind the scenes, talking to Dad on our behalf, fixing things, and helping us along.  Your own dreams were replaced by the dreams of your children; you wanted nothing more than for us to be healthy, happy, and kind.  You taught us to be thankful for the life we have, to work hard, and to keep a song in our hearts.

My mother on my wedding day.
My mother on my wedding day.

We all come to the point in our lives where we look or sound like our parents.  I remember you talking about that.  I laugh when it happens to me, when I cry out in frustration, “Oh, peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack!”  Or when I hear a song on the radio and sing your lyrics instead.  Or when I stand at the stove with my hand on my hip and realize that I must look exactly like you from behind.

Oh, and I have a confession: yes, it was I who dug down into the chest freezer for those tubs of frozen berries.  I would only take a few at a time, so nobody would notice, and I’d replace the tub where I had found it.  They were so good, I couldn’t help myself.  Yes, it was I who found those large packs of Wrigley gum that Dad had confiscated from my sisters and stole one piece at a time — again, so nobody would notice.  Yes, I smoked cigarettes out my bedroom window.  I thought I was getting away with it until my sister found the butts and turned me in.  Well, that and the small burn in the window sheers.

I know I was a mouthy brat as a kid.  That hasn’t changed much.
What also hasn’t changed, and never will, is my love and respect for you.

Happy Mother’s Day.

wreath 3-15-00 cropped
Rest in peace, Momma.

 

Help! Help!

help me

Having dinner last night with friends, and Mr. Stuck declares that on Saturday night, I must have been having a bad dream, because I was yelling, “Help! Help!” in my sleep.  I don’t remember doing it, and I don’t remember the dream, thankfully.  When I yell like that, I’m normally struggling or fighting against the dream, and the yell comes out despite the strangling paralysis of sleep.

Mr. Stuck says, “It’s not a good way to wake up, let me tell you.”

I was afraid of this.  Opening that journal opened up the corresponding emotions that had settled like silt on the floor of my heart.  Now they are stirred up, and God only knows what will come of that.

photo credit UmmZ