My Mother’s House


Thinking of my mother…a post written long ago in 2013

Yesterday, I said, “Good-Bye,” to my mother’s house. The one she and my father shared for over twenty years. Made of white stucco with a red tile roof, and a lovely front portico hovering over the dual wooden door. To all others, it’s a typical ‘Arizona’ house, but to me, it will forever remain my mother’s house.

My parents moved to this home sometime in 1989. I was a proud realtor back then and sold it to them. It wasn’t far from where I lived, just around the corner. My little family of three lived close enough to see. My parents followed us from their home in Michigan to escape the cold and the poor economy at the time. There were other reasons too. They had relatives who lived there, my mother’s sisters and an aunt, and my younger brother too.

I knew this day would come, and it’s time for it now. My mother’s been gone over three years. My father didn’t rush, he grieved as he should. Sand passed through the hour-glass, and things settled down as I knew they would. This is the last step in the order of things. My dad is ready now. He has moved on with his life and has a new place to go. I am happy for him. My siblings are too. He is 81 years old. What a treat it is to see him laugh and play, to sing and dance his early night away!

There is a sign in my mother’s front yard that says, “For Sale.” An offer to buy is being negotiated today. I may never step inside my mother’s house again on any given day. I knew it yesterday. I walked slowly through each and every room, soaking up memories of the past. Glancing up and down, brushing floors with fingers, tenderly touching walls with warm cheeks, and gazing at mirrors with pictures only I can see.  Memories everywhere….  The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, our children who slept on the floor in front of the fireplace. Oh, the fun we had!  The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, the wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere.  They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. She’s bending down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful looking this way.  Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

Memories everywhere….Sights and scents. The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, my children together with cousins who slept on the floor in front of a roaring holiday fireplace. Oh, the fun we had! The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere. They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. Mother is kneeling down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful. Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

The big front door is closing now. As the old bronze lock clicks tight, I  shall forever be at my mother’s house, surrounded by yellow roses, soaking up the smile on her beautiful porcelain face…………

The Perfect Rose

Thankful


An unconventional Thanksgiving holiday for me. My husband and I are here in Arizona, spending it with my father in his new home. The one he barely had time to share with his bride Eileen, who succumbed to cancer a few months after they were married. I planned to cook my father an old-fashioned turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. To gather at his table of round with my husband and brother, where together, we would share a prayer of Thanksgiving.

When my husband and I arrived late last night, my father hugged me tight. His home was neat and tidy. A silver tray of grapes and crackers of wheat plus  yellow cheeses sat on top of a swirling black and gray granite counter.

“No cooking for you,” my father stated,” surprising me with a slight smile. “We’ve been invited to Troy and Ellen’s for Thanksgiving dinner.” I was taken aback at this news. Troy and Ellen was part of Eileen’s immediate family. I had been looking forward to spending a quiet holiday with my father, having flown all the way from St. Louis to Arizona. Still, Dad was part of Eileen’s family too, and I was selfish not to share him.

“That will be nice, Dad, I mumbled,” munching on a cracker while pulling a stool up to the kitchen counter.

After tumbling into bed last night, I pondered over the coming Thanksgiving Day.

I realized how lucky my father was to have Eileen’s family embrace him as part of their own. Her grandchildren often stopped to visit after school, where they shared stories of love that brought smiles to his face. Eileen’s daughter occasionally dropped off a casserole covered in silver foil before going to work, or one of her sons-in-law repaired something for him in his home. Sometimes, Eileen’s family members took my dad out for an evening of karaoke, where he sang his troubles away until another day.

In a few hours my Thanksgiving dinner will be shared with Eileen’s family. It is an unexpected blessing that my father has remained part of her extended family. For that I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours,

Kim

*in memory of Eileen 1939-2016

Both families

 

 

 

 

“Grandma Joan”


She was an English war bride, named Joan. Losing her first love shortly after throwing her bouquet, she left her homeland and all that she knew to live in America with her second husband while still grieving her first. It wasn’t long after the war, and she had dreams of the new world awaiting her.

Joan was a kind and gentle soul who had a soft lilting voice, the tone of which reminded me of a string of tinkling brass bells moved by mellow winds during the warmth of a late spring day. While I worked outside the home, Joan sat for my eldest son who was just a baby at the time. It didn’t take long before our family more or less adopted her, calling her, “Grandma Joan.” She touched my baby as though he was her own, rocked him gently and bundled him close. Joan took him for rides in a stroller where he dangled a pudgy fist, hoping her black poodle, Pepper, would tickle it with his pink tongue. She taught him to feed fuzzy, quacking ducks in the lime green pond of the park and read him fairy tales before tucking him in for naps before toppling A.B.C. blocks.  And, when my second son was born she joyously added him to the fold, kissing him from head to toe.

Before long, “Grandma Joan,” spent almost every holiday with us including Christmas and birthdays. I remember whipping up her favorite German chocolate cake for a milestone birthday one year, while my toddlers surprised her with presents she didn’t need but loved to receive. One Christmas day, she delighted me with the gift of an angel soft afghan colored in cream. Surely it took many hours of love and toil to make such a dream. Today, nearly thirty years later, I still wrap up in the warmth of it while dozing in her scent. Joan taught my children manners and messages that can never be replaced while giving me memories of proper grace.

Occasionally, I sensed a chasm of pain behind Joan’s golden rims of wire. Reflecting pools of blue never to surface. A life of  youth and love sunken by war and loss.  As close as we were, some things were better left unspoken. People come in and out of each other’s lives at just the right time as part of fate or from a plan high above in Heaven. During the time we spent with Joan, her husband was dying in a nursing home from Alzheimer’s disease. And, before meeting Joan, my own little family had just moved from afghanout-of-state. We craved the love and touch of maternal wisdom. Suddenly, out of nowhere hearts and homes collided providing both with an extension of a family. Kindness, trust, and love.

This morning a chill is in the air. Doodle dog is by my side as I sit by the fire wrapped in an afghan of cream where I am forever thankful for “Grandma Joan.”

 

 

 

What Will It Take?


What will it take to bring a smile to your trembling lips? Place peace inside your tender soul, and quiet your troubled mind? 

Clasp your weathered hands around the two of my own. Hold them close. Sand to silk. One by one count to ten. Barely there, skin to skin. Linger now. Close your eyes of blue to know that I am true. Here for you.

What will it take to bring a smile to your trembling lips? Look at me, see beyond the glass. Believe the dream to grasp the great of vision. Rest your beloved head upon my lap. Take a break until you wake. Push beyond the pain. Feel the burn, soon to gain.

What will it take to bring a smile to your trembling lips? Live your truths, take a step, climb a stair, stand your ground and walk the line. I am yours and you are mine.

We’ll be fine….

*photographs courtesy of Google Chrome

Costumed Charm


The other day we enjoyed Trick-or-Treating with two of our grandchildren in my favorite Missouri city, St. Charles. It is the third oldest city in the state. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Charles,_Missouri Founded in the mid-1700’s by a French-Canadian fur trader, St. Charles looks much like it did hundreds of years ago. The city has been preserved, making visitors feel like they’re stepping back into time. Quaint shops line the original cobblestone streets with a beautiful backdrop of the great Missouri river behind them. Rich in charm, original gingerbread architecture, and filled with history, St. Charles is the last known stop of the Lewis and Clark expedition way back in 1804. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_and_Clark_Expedition

Monday was such a perfect day for Halloween with temperatures rising into the mid-70’s. Surprisingly warm, it might have felt even hot to some of the costumed creatures covered in hair from head to toe. A few were sweating with chocolates melting. Still, others didn’t mind, so thrilled they were to soak up the sun. Charming shops shared treats with characters, big and small until our own little Super Heroes stopped to say, “I don’t want any more candy.” The kids were tired. Little legs had walked a long way. Grandpa carried our grandson on his shoulders while I pushed a stroller. Buckets were heavy, make-up dripped on the monster’s face next to me while a hot pink wig suddenly fell upon a bale of hay.

Afterward, dinner was enjoyed at my son and daughter-in-law’s house while a menagerie of children rang the bell. Ghosts and goblins came to the door, witches of black dusted off brooms and cheerleaders shook pom-poms before cheering for more. Our grand-kids donned satin capes, sure to save a mission or two before calling it a night.

Not long before the children’s bedtime, we gathered ’round the television to watch the movie, Room on the Broom adapted from the children’s book by Julia Donaldson, published in the spring of 2014. No tricks here, just one giant TREAT to end a terrific afternoon and evening of delight.

Below are links to a reading of the book as well as the movie. Please enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWB0goTWZic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuIZThG1APA

 

 

Happy Halloween! Flash Fiction: The Ghostly Jacket of Discovery


A delightful Halloween flash-fiction story from Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx’s Blog. Excellent writing that had me on my seat right from the beginning and left my heart warm and inspired at the end. Please tune in!

M J Mallon Author

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Happy Halloween everyone!!!

I’ve written a Halloween themed piece of flash fiction for Esther Newton’s flash fiction competition. Here is the link if you’d like to find out more. Esther Newton Blog: Last Call for Flash Fiction Entries. But today is the last day for entries so get on your witch’s broom and hurry up. The prompt is discovery, so doesn’t have to be Halloween related!

The Ghostly Jacket of Discovery

Last night the sliding wardrobe had been closed but this morning it lay open.  All of Ed’s shirts were freshly laundered and ironed. His ties neatly arranged in perfect rows, his shoes polished and shiny. Iris pulled his biker jacket off the hanger. It was his one aberration, the one piece of clothing that was different. He had loved that jacket, had said that it carried special memories of freedom, laughter, and happiness. He had refused to throw…

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Sweet Love


O lady, there be many things

  That seem right fair, below, above; 

But sure not one among them all

  Is half so sweet as love. 

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Wendell_Holmes_Sr.

lady-antique-in-love      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*photo of painting courtesy of Google Chrome

 

 

 

 

Penny For Your Thoughts?


Long before I knew what growing up ever meant, I had two maternal aunts who were never far from my side, always ready to show me the way. My mother was one of four sisters, one slightly older followed by two younger half-sisters, several years younger. There was never any deviation between the four girls. They loved and fought with the gusto of any sisters, full blood or not.

Upon my birth, my mother’s little sisters, suddenly aunts of mine were only five and seven years of age. Throughout the years, we more or less grew up together, and I often thought of them as big sisters, more friends than relatives. We had a bond, often whispering to each other our innermost secrets and dreams, or wishes for the future which of course changed as the years went by.

When my little brother was three, he needed open heart surgery, one of the first to be performed at U of M Children’s Hospital https://kimgosselinblog.com/2013/10/30/loving-mother-infant-heart-surgery/. I went to stay with my grandparents during this precarious time, including several visits afterward whenever extended follow-up was needed. My aunts made my life magical during a stage in my life that could have easily turned traumatic. They took me under their wings, played with me like a baby doll, and made me feel safe and secure. I remember sharing a room with them, where we slept together in bunks of two while listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks, on their phonograph over and over again. One of my aunts had to climb down the ladder to move the needle over every time the 45 record ended. Up and down, down and up. And, every afternoon, as soon as the two stepped off a giant yellow school bus, another of them would scoop me up before plopping me inside the front of rattan bicycle basket where the three of us rode off into the woods. There, we often sat on the rough of a fallen log where they made up stories while braiding my hair. Sometimes a snack or two was shared while we hunted for woodland treasures, caught frogs or waded in the clear of a bright blue stream among slippery silver minnows. 

The Chipmunks, as seen in the live-action/CGI ...

My aunts, of course, grew older before I did until one day, both of them had boyfriends. By then, I was simply a pest they wanted to swat away. Their sweethearts used to pay me to run across the street where an old neighborhood store sat on the corner. “Buy yourself anything you want,” they said. Suddenly, a shiny silver quarter was stuffed into my pocket, allowing me to purchase handfuls of penny candy. “Take your time.” Far too soon, I was back in front of them carrying a little white paper bag. Bazooka bubbles of gum smiled and popped directly in front of their boyfriend’s faces!

Bins of candy on display at Murphy's Candy and...

When my parents traveled for work, one or the other aunt would often babysit, staying for a weekend or more to wrangle me and my four younger siblings. They attended high school by this time, and I thought they were so cool. One day, I wanted to be just like them! We often shared my mom and dad’s king-sized bed, where I listened to whispered worries in the light of the moon. Treasured secrets never to tell….

Years later, when I married, one aunt was a bridesmaid, while the daughter of the other was my flower girl. Tragedy struck on one of the happiest days of my life. The aunt of my little flower girl had a seizure at the reception and was quickly taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. She adored children, especially babies, and rooted me on during my monthly struggle with infertility. Nearing her end, she said, “Come’on, Kimmy. Hurry up and get pregnant! I want to hear the good news before anyone else. Promise me!!”

My aunt passed away in February of 1986 at the age of 34. Three months later, when my EPT tested positive, I dried my tears, hopped into my coveted canary yellow Chevette and drove to the cemetery. There at her gravesite, I bawled my eyes out while sharing my blessing. Yes, she was the first one to hear.

Penny for your thoughts?

A Few of My Favorite Things


There’s something to be said about downsizing. Purging through all worldly goods in order to make room for a smaller space. Not long ago, I went through it, and although not easy, it actually felt good in the end. If I didn’t absolutely love something or need it, PLOP, it was dropped into one of three boxes: selldonate or garbage.

This morning, I sipped a warm café latte from a painted cup of cream decorated in dusty roses woven in stems with muted green leaves. A matching bread plate sat in front of me holding a freshly toasted English muffin that called my name. “Come closer…nibble away….” Nearby, a shiny teaspoon of silver rested upon the cup’s saucer, while a butter knife in a flowered pattern of the same shined in rays of early morning sun.

The dishes were my mother’s, passed down to me after she died nearly six years ago. Afterward, I proudly displayed them in a packed china cabinet where they were used only once or twice a year during the holiday seasons. The silver was a wedding gift, over thirty years ago. I’ve used it perhaps twice a year, again, during the holidays.

In sorting through my life, I found a few of my favorite things simply put away, or saved… having chosen other items to use in their place. Why? What was I saving them for? When was the right time, if not now? Prior to my move, an estate sale was held where everything imaginable was sold, except a few of my favorite things…those that I had been saving. Downsizing opened my eyes to using and enjoying my favorite things. No longer do I save them for someday in the future that may never come to be.

Now in my smaller home, I use my mother’s dishes each and every day, including my wedding gift of good silverware. I’m creating new memories while bringing back some of the old. My mother’s dishes will forever trigger warm and loving thoughts of food and family around her Arizona table of solid oak. One day, my grand-babies will learn about their great-grandmother, of how much she would have loved them, and about the dishes they are spooning from. And too, about the very spoons themselves, those that are now clutched in chubby hands while dropping green peas or dribbling applesauce down wee chins.

Yes, there’s something to be said about downsizing. Use and enjoy your favorite things today, don’t save them for tomorrow.

 

moms-dishes

More to The Eye Than Black and White…..


She waddled a bit, her growing tummy leading the way. A black and white striped shirt stretched snug across the whole of her belly. Two rambunctious little ones, one with curls flailing to her shoulders, the other a tow-headed toddler of two leading the way to our finished lower level. There, near a fireplace waiting for short winter days, a tea party danced amid pink plastic china with baskets of assorted delights.

Raggedy Ann sat at the head of the scuffed green table where paint had peeled long ago, revealing a thick strong base of walnut brown. Mismatched chairs parked around the sides. Raggedy Andy sat in one, I in another and Toe Head to my right. Grandpa was finishing final computer work at a long table nearby while the belly rested in a plump corduroy sofa.

Soon, the doorbell sounded. Doodle dog barked while all chaos rang out. My son bounced down the stairway with his usual happy face, tossing kids in the air before kissing the belly of stretched stripes. Just then a wave of motion began with movements to the left, slightly up before swinging down. We could all see it.

Yes, there was a baby under the black and white stripes. Deep within my daughter-in-law’s tummy, not far under her heart of beating pink, she carried a mother’s love who had already become part of a family. A great big family…..

A few minutes later my younger daughter-in-law drove up with “Babies of Two” plus their older sister of three. Together, we all went out for an early dinner in a restaurant very much prepared for children of all ages. We needed three high chairs and a booster seat. To my left, a little lady of four-years-old, shared baskets of chicken strips, sides of mixed fruit or small bowls of macaroni & cheese.

Looking around the table, I caught sight of my husband, who sat at the opposite end.  I smiled, grasping the fact that WE began this great big family. For years and years, we were a small family of four, having only two sons. Eventually, they grew up and married, giving us the gift of daughters-in-law. Four became six. And, before I could blink an eye, grandbabies arrived, growing our family to eleven. Yes, you read that right…ELEVEN!!! This year, before the end of it, our family will have grown yet again with the arrival of tiny angel wings swaddled under blankets of flannel for me to rock around the Christmas tree.

By then my husband and I will have six grandchildren. All little ones, ages, 4, 3, 2, plus twins who turn 2 years old in December, and the new baby who will arrive about the same time.

Heaven sent from under stripes of black and white.

 

*striped shirt picture courtesy of Google Chrome