Thursday, September 24, 2015

My Sister's Phone Call

Sister calls me late when things are funny
we've worked hard, dealt with issues and we laugh
at everything that won't make sense to others
because we're strong and made of salty earth
raised by heart committed  parents, tinged in shades of blue
coated with Catholic beliefs that tightly grip our new thoughts
So we laugh at being closet red necks,  teaching her children
how to be a good Jew because their father is a Jewish man
but her son hates the fellowship and has no interest in Israel
and we laugh again about the price of trees in that country that cost
ten grand and he'll be the coolest kid on college campus
if one is purchased but she won't listen to my words of comfort
reminding her that religion is man made and God is Love
God is also laughter and sister, you've made my day
yes, I'll jump on a plane and see you as soon as work is clear
because it'll be October and that's our birthday month
I eat two stale marshmallows and say my good byes over
I love you, no I love you more and cry because
she lives so far but our laughter echoes into my head
and gently rocks me into peace.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Song

     It was a tight squeeze between the taco shells and salted or unsalted butter on sale for all the December cookie bakers but the large and handsomely dressed young man maneuvered his grocery cart without noticing how dangerously close he had come to my left foot. His voice was louder than the store's speakers and in a childish voice he sang, "all I want for Christmas are my two front teeth, my two front teeth." I chuckled that I should be singing all I want for Christmas is my big fat toe, my big fat toe and mentally classified him as someone who was mentally slow. No sooner than the thought came to me, remorse  weighed my heart down with such a force.

    "Minister to  him," I heard. Oh no, not here at the grocery store! "Yes, do it, you must speak with him, he needs a smile." It's a Friday afternoon and the place is crowded I told this voice that overcame my body. "There is an understanding you will gain from him, here's your chance."
I turned around and noticed he had also turned his cart around. In perfect synchronicity, we both went into the same aisle. He was startled when I leaned into him and whispered, "I bet there's more that you want for Christmas besides your two front teeth." I prayed he didn't think I was flirting.

     The blue in his eyes were such a pretty contrast to his long black coat. I always find it interesting how preconceived perceptions change when I'm face to face with another person, fully engaged. He felt broken and told me about a near fatal car wreck when he was sixteen. It damaged  his knees and the surgeon who replaced them didn't do the surgery correctly because of outdated materials. There were two metal rods in both of his hips and the cold weather made them ache more. He wasn't having much luck finding a doctor who could help him and he didn't have health insurance. The pain was unbearable but he didn't want his wife and kids to know or worry so he said he sings.

     "I'm not young anymore, I'm thirty four!" he said. Oh how I thanked my pain free body and wished him good luck on his journey.

     "Thank you for talking with me. Now you know why I always sing that song. Two front teeth for Christmas! Dang, that's nothing."

    On that last sentence, we both sang the song and he went one direction, I went the other. There wasn't any music playing and it didn't bother me when a customer looked at me oddly. I now had a song in my heart and it was contagious!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Sex Talk at the End of Summer

     I recognized a name from my past today on a for sale sign near my home that opened up a whole can of worms. He was the older brother of my brother's best friend and lived in a house across the street from the swimming pool. G.W., my brother's friend. came to our house often and I'm not sure why he was my choice for a practical joke the end of ninth grade after I had perfected typing. He had a nice Catholic family whose mom did volunteer work at the school where we attended. In those days, school started after Labor Day when summer felt officially over, not like my grand children's school that started today, in the middle of August. I was glad they had new clothes, shoes and supplies along with an eager spirit of new beginnings but feeling edgy wondering if sixth grader Dylan was ready for the much dreaded 'sex talk.' The clue came in the awkward moment yesterday when his mom had to turn off the t.v. seconds before John Travolta had a make out scene with a woman in the kitchen and Dylan's eyes were big as saucers.

     My parents didn't talk sex, they preferred that we learn it through our friends. Maybe it was their way of keeping us young. It was in the eighth grade after lunch and during noon recess. The girls were huddled together in a corner in the church parking lot and while standing on the metal grid, Rosemary K proceeded to inform us in detail what our parents did before we were born. Debbie said she made it up and not to pay attention because Rosemary was being mean but the thought of my parents doing that five times was sickening. I felt sorry for my mom and her sacrifice to have us children.

     The following year I woke with horrible stomach cramps and blamed it on the hot milk I drank before bedtime. During gym class after a game of dodge ball, my friend Pat said I had started my period and helped me put a coin in the machine for a pad. I wouldn't have told my mom if it wasn't for the new gym uniform that was ruined. She told me in a stoic expression that I was a woman now and my body could make babies. "Now go and wash your hands so you can set the table for dinner." It was that blunt. There was truth in Rosemary K's story. For the next couple of months while the boys were busy ignoring us, my friends exchanged information about sex. We could 'do it' but not on the 12th, 13th or 14th day after of our period if we wanted to remain childless. Confusion grew and we stopped talking about sex partly because homework and newly found typing skills were a priority but secretly nobody wanted to admit they didn't know much about sex.

    Click, click click were sounds you would hear at the local library in those days of typewriters going off together. The older kids always had the tables so I practiced on the typewriter at home in my spare time. I must have had sex on the brain because I typed a letter to my brother's friend, G.W. and addressed it to his mother. It was a notice from the library telling her G.W. owed huge fines for not returning the book, "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask." It was a clever prank but before the stamp was licked, my mom walked in my room and found it.

    Back to school today. Do your kids know the sex talk and how old is too young? Will boys be told differently than girls? My husband had a way with words when our boys were curious. He told them sex was made to be pleasurable or nobody would have kids. When they asked questions he calmly told them that God had a plan for it to be that way. "What if your mate wanted a baby and the way to do it was to put your penis on the workbench and hit it with a hammer? Well, nobody would want kids. Ok, that's all, go outside and play." Laughing out loud on that advice I have to thank technology. Nowadays they can google any fact.

    Glad to be the grandma now! I don't have to explain anything. Think I'll order a pizza this weekend and rent that John Travolta movie with my husband. Happy new school year, I hope you all get A's.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fred Phelps On A Saturday Night

     Fred Phelps is in his end days, preparing to be taken into the arms of angels while people here are clapping and booing him off the stage and I feel the sadness of it all. Who forgot to hug him when he had a bad day in school? Who bullied Fred when he was so small? As I lay my head on the pillow, I pray his soul to keep and thank the lucky stars I have smaller problems, while drifting off to sleep.

     Unexpectedly, Aunt Irene is here for a night time visit, interrupting the casting crew and pulling me off the set because there is a spot on my face. They're annoyed and it's only a dream but it costs money to get the photographers and music in alignment on a Saturday night and she's pulling my arms and asking me to go bar hopping in her fast white car. Stubborn woman, I'm dragged inside and walls are black, the people have no color, shadows draped in smoke lead our way. Bits of confetti float in the air, mostly reds and yellows. Why are we here? My son, we need to find my son! Shall I apologize to the television crew and their photographers first?

     The images are lucid as hard rain on glass, disappearing with every swipe of a windshield wiper and fear is thick but there is no fog. Aunt Irene has left, leaving me alone with the thing. The thing that exists and is now an enemy. It's coming to hurt me and I swear if it jumps like that jack in the box at the thrift store today, I will kill it!

     "No," the angel comforts. "You are to love this enemy or else it will kill you," she says and pulls the shades so Sunday morning light can penetrate my bedroom.

     Whew, that's the last time I'll pray for Fred Phelps before bedtime and a phone text tells me to call my son because he may be in physical trouble. The thing has found a way out of the dream and into my house.The drumming in my heart is getting louder and louder and I feel my tribal roots grow with every beat. I wish I could call Aunt Irene, but she's been dead for years.

     Two days pass before I hear my son's voice but I've been told he's fine. My calls go unanswered but I know the thing has me in its grip and I slow my breath and try to remain neutral.
    "Mom? I'm coming over," he decides after his space of solitude. "I'm sore and my face is bad."
    His eye is swollen and he walks like our old cat. "What happened to you!" I ask and the story unfolds.

     He had smiled and opened the door for the wrong woman who took a punch at his face, knocking him to the floor and then kicked him in the face with her boots. While trying to stand, she kicked him in the stomach, breaking his glasses. It was a random act of violence and the people who saw the moment when he was standing thought he had provoked it. One man furthered the insult by pushing him to the wall. In one small moment, many could have stepped forward but chose to walk away, diverting their eyes, leaving him feeling like a stain on the carpet.

     Every mother knows the pain of a bullied child and every cop knows the rage of vengeful mother. The thing I so feared had now entered my body, never mind that it may be karma balancing a past life action, he was my son and nobody would hurt him for no reason. An intense anger filled my body and I thought of ways to find this person. It took two days to rid myself of these thoughts, leaving me with the same kind of poison the woman must have felt when she hit my son. How did I become like her? The thing was snug inside of me and the only way out was for me to project a love ball of light into her from me. The energy slowly shifted and I began to cry. Who had forgotten to notice her when she was small? Where were her words that told stories of her dreams and why she is important? Slowly, there was release, my joints felt flexible and my breath became deeper with every inhalation.

     Aunt Irene was right, I had a dirty spot on my face. The only way we will ever be able to truly take our bow on the stage in front of cameras and lights will be to love our enemies with understanding and compassion. As long as we fear or hate the Fred Phelps and other bullies in the world, we are the same. As the angel in the dream said, "learn to love the enemy or it will kill us."


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mommy Dearest

     I knew she was mad when I called because her coldness hit me in the stomach only this time I wasn't going on another one of her guilt trips. Yes, it had been over a week since I had called but their phone was out of order and it slipped my mind to mention that fact. Life's been busy, I'm a grandma now, the freelance business I've dreamed of is taking off and my husband is turning into an old man faster than expected. She didn't hear me, I sensed daydreaming on the other end of the phone. Of all the women I have known in my life, she is the only one who can slice my heart in half with her lack of words and then piece it together with a homemade pie and a great story, often ending with, if you love Jesus, you'll call your old mother once in awhile. No, I'm not going on another guilt trip! This time she didn't say it, instead I heard her say, I love you.

     "I love you too, mom." We come in all shapes and sizes with different perspectives, feeling tossed together like a jigsaw puzzle, and I just wanted my piece to fit snugly next to her piece without feeling lost in a box where all the pieces are black, the hardest kinds of puzzles to finish! The phone call lasted thirty minutes and left us both equally frustrated for words not spoken but cordial out of respect for each other.

     Hanging up, the kitchen light reflected on the portrait my oldest son had drawn and colored for me when he was in first grade. My smile was huge and he colored me with green eyes, greener than my real ones. He had drawn a baby in my arms, him as a newborn. How I've treasured this picture for so many years that gives me such joy. Still feeling flattened, the phone rang again but this time it was my son, the artist of the picture I was viewing! He was on his way over to see me after working a long ten hours on the dock at his job. No wonder he drew a big smile on that face, he knows how much I love him!

     Thirty minutes later, enough time to gloat and feel pumped up again, he arrived looking somewhat flattened himself. Red eyed and in need of a shower, I offered him cooked scrabbled eggs, broccoli and couscous without the coffee since our breakfast would be his dinner hour.

     "Mom, you don't have to feed me," he said. "I'm here to get my invitation. Man, why don't people remember my address?" he moaned and I knew he had been awake far too long.

    "It's not personal, sometimes it's easier to send all the invitations to one house," I counseled.
     "Well, it makes me feel like a little kid," he added. "Oh! My picture! That's funny, you still have it, I like the frame, yeah, I will have some of that food." Thank God the conversation had changed to something less stressful.

     "I remember how hard I worked on that in school, it took a long time and I was so proud." he remembered. "I wanted to get your happy face and accidentally made the teeth bigger than your real ones."

     "It's perfect, I will always love it the way it is, " I sighed.
     "NO! That's not what you said mom. I was so proud of it and you laughed and told me I made you look fat and ugly," he said. "I thought I was a terrible artist or you would have liked it."

     "I'm sorry, is that why you stopped drawing? I dream about you all the time and you're painting pictures of Indians, everyone loves them, I feel sick, I'm so sorry!" I cried.

     "It's ok mom, I'm over it, I need to go home and get to sleep. Thanks for finding a nice frame for it."
     "Promise me you'll get back to sketching again," I moaned. "Your sister dreams about your paintings too."

     "Yeya! I had one last night, they're huge canvases and I'm jealous because I want some of those, "she yelled from upstairs.

     "Heh, maybe I'll start drawing again for fun and be in galleries," he laughed while we hugged and walked to the door.

     Paul, my first born child, great teacher to his mother, helping to solve life's riddles for thirty six years together looked ten feet tall in that moment with the bluest eyes and huge white teeth, and that's how I would have drawn him. Suddenly, his short visit had warped time. My deadlines didn't exist, there was no competition and plenty of time to phone my mom again. She didn't come to the phone, she was in the shower but it's ok, I'll call again tomorrow. For now I'll  be grateful for unsaid words and a more colorful puzzle picture. Heh, looks like another artist got added to the box!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Little French Bra

little bras and nighties that hang from wooden hangers
in the chic French lingerie shop with etched birds and leaves
on the windows peeked my curiosity
enough to cross the empty street in neighborhoods where
artists pray their work is sold in galleries that have a ghostly feel
because it's February and nothing seems to sell...

...tiny lady with feathered eyelashes and red stained lips
that protect long teeth with a slight lisp to her words
who says she knows my boobs by my hand to wrist ratio
"try it on, try it on! it's French" she commands
and there I stand in front of mirrored walls with four of me's
dark green velvet curtains to my back with red fringe
and a gap that's painfully uncomfortable

"how's it fit? come out, let me take a look! ah, perfect
distorted and blushed in front of windows, my thoughts
are on a walking plan to melt these winter curves
that come with yearly snow and then the lady whistles words
with a smile, "sweetie, you're not fat, your jeans are too tight."

oh how I wish this neighborhood had an open coffee bar
with scones and chocolates, far cheaper than french bras....

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Vision Board Tale

     Have you made a vision board? It's where you cut out pictures of things you like from magazines such as a big house, new car or maybe a handsome mate and you glue it all on a piece of poster board. Some people add words for affirmations and then you put it someplace in your house, forget about it and things you desire will start to take shape into your life. Well, that's what I did on Saturday with a group of friends and a potluck. At first I didn't want to go, I've made them before, I teach workshops on how to make them and it just didn't interest me but I missed this group of people so I went.

     Everyone went around the room to give general thoughts of what they wanted in their lives but when it came to my turn, I told about wanting a stronger future generation. My dirty blue Malibu parked in the street ran fine, my house is cozy, the yard is hand planted, moving or buying new things would be a pain. I told how important it was for me to clean up my attitude and be a way shower for the grand kids. You see, I've read where our DNA can be changed by our thoughts (you tube Bruce Lipton) and how a mother daughter team teach Bible classes world wide because of their great grandma. Apparently, the great grandma took a huge interest in reading the book when she was sixteen years old, then out of the blue, her daughter took on the habit at the same age and her daughter as well until it also hit the fourth generation.

       I had done an experiment to only water my plants on Monday. When I went to my son's apartment, I noticed the plant I had given him was unusually large and lush to my surprise. He told me he had to cut it back three times and he only waters his plants on Monday's. Yes, DNA can change I thought.
     We had a short meditation to get into our space. I'm envisioning strong future children and a blue chord reaching to the sky with Stevie Wonder singing 'there's a ribbon in the sky' when out of the blue, my grandson texts me a short "hi". Connection, it was working and I hadn't even glued one thing on my paper!

     Ever been in that blissed out state but there's a nag in your gut that some thing's brewing? Could have been the excited text from my grandson that he was having a sleep over with two friends and dad said it was ok! Yes, mom was working the night shift again. On a Saturday night, after dad had worked all week?
     To make a long story short, it wasn't such a good idea after all and Sunday was all messed up with a house full of grumps who were all mad at each other. I decided to pick the grand kids up after school on Monday to give dad a break and Kaitlyn wasn't going to forgive that 'meanie' dad, ever! Mom's going to nursing school and wouldn't be home until after 5.

     The school bell rings at 3:10 but the kindergartners get out five minutes earlier. Be there on time! Not today kids, grandma had a detour going to the school because of the water main break and the parking lot near the swimming pool where she parks wasn't plowed which made the lady in front of the line stuck in a snow drift and grandma couldn't park. She ran up the hill, dodging snow mounds and speed running children who thought she was a bowling pin until she reached the top of the hill to see her love bugs! 

     "Grandma! We're saved! We're saved!" Dylan shouted as he fell face forward into the snow. Of course Kaitlyn did the same. They would need a change of clothes. "Where were you!" Kaitlyn cried. "We almost died so we were going to walk home!" 
     "It's ok Kaitlyn, let's go home and get some dry clothes and then we'll go to my house." 
     "Dad! Dad!", she sang. "I'm staying home with you! I love you so so so much." she said.

     The plan stayed the same for Dylan, he came home with me and Kaitlyn made up with meanie dad. Isn't it funny how plans go awry but it's in our best interest when we remain calm and let the Universe do its work?

     End of story....the last text of the day... "Mom, thanks for watching Dylan. Kaitlyn says to tell you that...YOU'RE FIRED!" 
  "It's ok, I'll see her early the next time."
   "Mom, thanks for taking a hit for the team."

Do vision boards work? Yes, with detours and twists. Might as well make one, they're fun.