Dance among nature my children to create stories of your imagination.”
*photo copyright Kim Gosselin
Dance among nature my children to create stories of your imagination.”
*photo copyright Kim Gosselin
Before the ringer on the avocado wall phone rang, I felt my father’s presence. On the other end, his shaky voice crackled and choked with words, rehearsed. Finally, he simply said, “Grandma’s, gone.”
What could I say to lessen his pain? “I’m so sorry, Dad.” My father was my Grandmother’s only son, the sixth of seven children. Although I did not say it then, I remember thinking she chose that particular day to meet God in heaven. It happened to be Good Friday of that year, the perfect time for her to go. I believe she knew it so.
My earliest memories of Grandma are visiting her in a spotless abode. It was a considered a ‘salt-box’ house https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltbox, set in a quiet neighborhood on a clean and cozy city block. I remember the bedroom of Grandma’s house as being kind of sanctuary where fancy bottles of rose-water sat on a mirrored tray atop her vanity table. It was to be respected, and never entered without permission. An unspoken rule. My father was born in that very room on Christmas Day in 1933.
Clean and smooth cement sidewalks ran in front of a shiny black railing at Grandma’s house. Like monkeys, I remember my brother and I dangling from it to get a better view of the neighbors next door. Children rode fancy bicycles or skipped hand-in-hand on those sidewalks. Early on, I remember Grandma’s beloved house being covered in old black and gray speckles all the way around. Soon the sides were replaced with asphalt shingles, the color of mint-chocolate-chip ice-cream. It stayed that way for years and years….long after she was gone.
My grandmother was a proud Swedish, Lutheran. She went to church every Sunday in a crisp cotton dress and wore a hat to match upon her gray curled head. In the winter, she wore a long felt coat of camel or royal blue with a mesmerizing pin made of fancy colored stones glued into birds on branches. Now and then, she wore a double heart or a half-moon over the sun.
When I was a little girl wearing ruffled dresses with hair to my waist, Grandma dabbed a tiny dip of fluffy Avon cream to each of my wrists. Soon, I smelled like the flowers that grew in her kaleidoscope garden. Sometimes, I’d pest her until she let me try on her shiny black shoes, the ones with tiny heels and long laces… just for fun. On Sundays, if I sat quietly next to her in church she taught me to sing, “Lu-Lu” when the music played. I was still too young to read the words.
My Grandmother never learned to drive a car. My father drove her to church each and every Sunday, usually scooping her up from the curb a bit late. Our phone rang three or four times before my father together with five children rushed through our waiting back door. Racing to pick her up, Grandma will forever be in my mind, standing at the curb in front of her saltbox home. Even now, I see her there in later years, looking tiny, rocking impatiently to and fro. She’s holding a smooth black pocketbook. She closes the shiny golden clasp, making a clicking sound. Barely stopping by the curb, my dad swings open the door, as if we are driving a getaway car. There’s not a second to spare before my Grandma’s beloved church sermon begins.
Afterward, we’d take Grandma home, where the tradition was to go inside for a dollop of chunky applesauce served in dainty china bowls. On the side were freshly baked molasses cookies set on matching flowered plates. She’d wait on us hand and foot, only sitting to rest after pouring a few cold glasses of milk. Then, she’d excitedly tell us of her daily plans. Gardening, baking or writing personal letters on perfumed stationery, perhaps?
After I grew up and went to college, my grandmother began to forget things. Her old-fashioned stove of white was left burning too long or important house keys became lost in a sugar bowl without the lid. Soon, it was too dangerous to let Grandma live alone. Doctors didn’t have an exact diagnosis many years ago, but today I have no doubt that Grandma lived with Alzheimer’s disease, a Chronic Condition stealing the brain of memory and more. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disease. There is no cure, but today help is available that wasn’t an option for my grandmother. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp
Two weeks after I gave birth to my first son, I took him to meet his great-grandmother in the sparkling snow of Michigan. For a moment, Grandma had a bit of recognition. Cradling my newborn, I knelt to introduce her to my child. “Would you like to hold him?” Her dull, blue eyes suddenly lit with excitement. Placing him carefully in her arms, she stared at him with love renewed. “Oooohhh, look at his beautiful eyes,” she said, over and over and over again. I snapped a few pictures then. They are the only photographs that I have of my son with his great-grandmother. She was happy in those brief moments, and I’ll cherish them forever. Two weeks later she passed away.
On her chosen day….
I want to run and skip and play and jump and feel alive in the world.”
*painting courtesy of Google Chrome
Raindrops are clinging to the outside window screens of my turret office space. Looking like itty-bitty bubbles, whatever is left drips to nowhere land. Falling between white window panes behind my writing desk, I wonder what happens when they plop to the ground. Do they make silent sounds that only God can hear?
A loud thunderstorm crashed over and above my house last night. The dog shook to wake me up. He hid under the safety of bed covers, fearing what might come next. Getting up to glance between wooden blinds, ancient mottled trees swayed through nature’s bit of forest land. Their long limbs bent far to the left, then further to the right. Swooning so, they nearly touched the budding ground.
That’s when I heard it. An eerie whistling sound swishing through branches on the hill. Raindrops fell fast and hard, like cold tears from heaven. I felt shaken then, much like my dog hiding under blankets. The noise reminded me of the first time I heard ‘whistling’ from my toddler’s accordion chest. Much harder for my little one to breathe out than it was for him to breathe in. A term called wheezing.
Within minutes, a rushing box of red metal on four rubber tires raced my tender treasure to the hospital where he was put in an oxygen tent. Dressed in a small cotton gown printed in teddy bears of green, he was afraid and nearly blue. Finally, he began to breathe freely. The simple act of taking a breath. Not only breathing in but breathing out. In…and…out. “A.S.T.H.M.A,” the doctor with authority, pronounced.
After a few hours in the emergency room, my baby could go home. There, I cradled him in my arms. Not wanting to let go, I delicately brushed wisps of damp curls to the side of his forehead with the tips of grateful fingers. Thanks to God, he slept peacefully then.
Breathing freely…OUT as well as IN.
I’ve covered my eyes
Just like you said
We’re counting together
One, two, three,
So excited to see
What is waiting for me…
It’s a B.I.G. surprise!
Now, deep inside my belly so small
Are butterflies that tingle
With a dragonfly here
And, a bumblebee there
Goosebumps prickle my arm
Do you see little bumps popping up?
No, I can’t stand still
I’m wiggling ’round
Gritting my teeth, and holding my breath
Time’s running out, I’m growing up
I’ve got to know
Oh, please let me see
What is waiting for me?
If to die tomorrow or in a short while from today, allow me to smell ink from paper pages while sensing a child’s imagination drifting words magically away.”
A heart warming post of a mother on a mission to help stop Human Sex Trafficking. I was appalled to learn my home of, St. Louis is ranked in the top 20 USA cities for this ugliness. Please join in helping to save innocent children who have no voices when stolen off the streets. Thank you.
If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may have read how I have been walking alongside a team of wonderful people on team Love Wins, and we have been walking 146 miles in 46 days to help the efforts of Love 146 to end child trafficking. We have 5 days left and I was able to finish my 146 miles in 36 days! I am still walking, and am at 154 miles as of today. This issue of child trafficking weighs so heavy on my heart. It hurts to know that these innocent kids don’t have a choice, and I am so honored that I have resources and abilities to spread the word that this needs to stop. I am blessed that I have an amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing husband who supports my efforts, and amazing friends who have joined in to walk with me and pray…
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Soon after my six-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes, I joined a support group for other moms, like me. New to St. Louis, I needed to meet mothers who lived the normal life that was now my own. Not my life of yesterday, when freedom and good health was taken for granted. Instead, I yearned to soak in a tub of others who understood what it was like to have children’s lives changed forever. Forever may only take the time of a second-hand to move upon a clock…tick-tock…tick-tock.
For a while, I met friends who shared a bond with me. After our precious cargo of kids went off to school, we took turns meeting at each other’s homes. Huddled around polished timbered tables, we shared stories from the week before. Our younger toddler’s bounced in La-Z-Boy rocking chairs, scribbled with colored crayons or sang Sesame Street songs in next door rooms. Drinking coffee from molded mugs, a new group of girlfriends passed the cream while nibbling on St. Louis’s own, Gooey Butter Cake. We laughed together, cried together, and became members of a club we never planned on joining.
Eventually, the word got out, and our support meetings began to grow. One morning, my front doorbell rang. A new mom stopped by asking if she could visit. On my white spindled porch she held the small fingers of a squirming young boy staring into space. In the other, she balanced a batch of marbled brownies. Quickly, I ushered her into my kitchen where she poured her heart out there and then. In front of everyone.
The new woman was anxious while keeping a nervous eye on her child who ran about the room. He had angelic features, with blonde curly hair, and green eyes the color of the sea. Nervously and with tears welling up, she began to tell us of his diagnosis of autism. Then, there was more. Recently, her son was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes too. She didn’t know what to do.
Of course, no two children are alike whether they live with chronic conditions or not. The woman’s son who came to my door that day had difficulty making eye contact together with a fear of being touched. This made it very challenging for his mother to check his blood sugar or give him daily injections of insulin. Even a four-year-old without autism has good reason to be afraid of this kind of ‘touch!’ His mother looked for help, support and any answers we could provide.
Ironically, the new mother who held the batch of marbled brownies left my home gifting me much more than I could have ever given her that day. Lessons of life. Within a few hours, I absorbed a lifetime of wisdom through her spirit of courage. God always has a reason for bringing people into each other’s lives. He chooses the time, the where and the when. It is not for us to question the why? We’ll figure it out…..
*April is National Autism Awareness Month, with today, April 2, being World Autism Awareness Day. According to the CDC as of 2014, approximately one of 68 children were diagnosed with some form of autism spectrum disorder: one in 42 boys, and one in 189 girls. No one knows why, and I dare to say the numbers are continuing to increase every year. Please help raise awareness for a better world for all families whose lives are touched by this condition.
Thank you for reading.
Bunny of brown hopping through grasses of tall and green
Darting about stopping to munch his lunch.
Children at play point fingers his way
“Look,” they say!
Bunny of brown is fearful now hiding behind bushes near.
Toes of ten stuck on little feet skip loose around each bend
Hoping to catch a closer look of fur so soft with tail of white.
“If only to touch for one second in life, feelings of soft dreamy delight!”
Bunny of brown hiding under tree of pine where needles have fallen to the ground
With eyes of coffee watching carefully while ears twitch ever so slight.
Vibrations felt, grasses bend, toddlers and tots inch far too close
Bunny of brown jumping up and down hopping closer to its home.
Free at last hiding in his mother’s nest
Taking time to finally rest.
Yes, my sweet Bunny of Brown.
*photos courtesy of Google Chrome