Sounds In Night


The skies were angry last night. Winds whistled through swaying trees. In the darkness, the sound of small quakes could be heard together with the padding of drums. Slow at first then faster beating in a rhythm that nearly shook my bed. Softer then louder. A rumble that reminded me of throw rugs my mother used to jar outside a long ago back door. Dust bunnies blowing away in the breeze…..

Listening, my eyes were closed to everything. I’m in a world full of black nothingness. Suddenly, a sense of hearing bloomed as if for the first time. An awakening in a world others would consider silent at that hour.

My husband’s back lay close beside. Even breaths. First in…then out. Soothing to me. The flat of my hand felt his warmth through the cool of fresh, crisp sheets.

An electric clock atop our nightstand. A snapshot within my mind. Glowing hands in fluorescent moved with every second. More sounds to my ears. Tick, tick-tock, tick-tock. Each second turning into minutes. turning into hours. turning into middle night foreverness.

Doodle dog slept near the end of our bed. I heard him roll over. A silver metal disk on his collar made a clinking sound against a matching buckle. He sighed, breathing out through the black of his nose with the pink spot on top. He slept. Even breaths from him with a touch of snoring. Yes, from Doodle dog!

Humming…the sound of a motor, followed by gusts of swirling fresh. An air-conditioner installed on our outside wall had kicked in. From the stark cement basement below, the sound of wafting breezes could be heard. Pushing up…blowing cooler air to our floor above. Maple stained in cinnamon color through bronze, grated vents directing the flow. Summer relief was felt.

A car drove by the front of our house. Not a truck or a motorcycle, but a car. It was small and drove by very slowly. The sound of it told me so. Smooth of four tires on a frame of metal. Small of crunch on a bleached, chip-sealed street. Not long before it was gone.

In the adjoining bathroom, sounds of a dripping faucet. How long has this been going on? I never heard or noticed it before.  Small drops barely plopping to the bottom of a speckled sink the color of toast. Droplets falling in slow motion with an echo heard upon landing. So long before the next one fell, it seemed. Soon, seconds were counted together with our friendly electric nightstand clock. Anxiety began to build.

In the woods out back, sounds of the wind picked up again. A whoosh together with a dog howling. Or was it a coyote? We have them here you know. Hiding in the woods. Suddenly, the skies became angrier than earlier. Thunder rumbled, flashing with lightning in the distance. My eyes opened at the crack of it. Rain pounded into the patio and beat into flower beds with all of Heaven’s vengeance. Once my vision adjusted to surrounding shadows, no other sounds were heard again.

Sleepiness finally came.

Stormy-Night

*photo courtesy of Google Chrome

Aged Letters From The Heart


 

Recently discovered in a dark corner of my basement was a nondescript cardboard box. Inside was a stack of papers including my marriage license and birth certificate, old files and paperwork, together with early photographs of the children when they were very young. Deep down, flat and pressed nearly against the right side of the coagulated box of plain paper brown was a long ago forgotten letter saved for many, many years. A treasured gift rediscovered that I’ll pass down to my children who will hopefully pass it down to their own. Part of my legacy was folded into a wrinkled envelope of sixty-three years.

Written in a pen of turquoise ink on five pages of thick, yellowed paper was a letter scrawled from my father to his own. Moving to the windowed stairwell, I held it in my shaking hands where I could read it in better light. Staring at my father’s writing, his cursive, capital D’s curled to the left while the bottom of the letters swirled to the right. ABC’s from his heart as he bared his soul to my paternal grandfather, the man most important to him in all of his world.

Although my grandfather was a warm and loving man, he rarely expressed any emotion to his son, which made reading this letter particularly poignant. Not once was the word, “Love” ever written, yet anyone can read between the lines. I nearly cried the whole way through. My dad was in the United States Air Force and had recently learned his father had taken ill after losing his beloved brother (my father’s uncle). I’m re-writing my father’s letter word for word, exactly as he wrote it at the age of 19. A boy’s hand penning the words of a young man…..

Nov 19/53

Dear Dad,

I’m not much for soft words Dad, but I think it’s about time I told you what a great guy you really are. Ever since you took me to that fair or carnival or what ever it was; all I can remember about it is, that there were some great big trucks. I guess they looked about half as big as the world at the time. On the way back you bought me my first candy bar. And when I used to meet you coming down the street from work and you’d let me steer. Oh, yes, and when we went swimming; you’d hold me up so I could kick my feet.

When I grew up a little, we use to play ball or catch together. Remember when we use to go hunting; when that Pheasant went up, he came down soon, I hardly ever saw you miss.

Well Dad, ever since I was old enough to know anything at all, I knew you were a very wonderful Dad and I was a very lucky kid for having you for my Pop. You are the most, to say the least.

Remember all the trouble I used to get into; stealing fruit, fighting, and smoking, when I was just a kid. Maybe it is a good thing I smoked then, and I don’t have to smoke now, and I don’t.

How about that gate night, that all of us guys broke all those windows and got caught and went to court too. Boy, that was the limit. How did you ever put up with it all anyway?

Well, I have grown up a lot, and this Christmas I’ll be twenty one, and I’m supposed to be a man. Right now I think I’ll be a man by Christmas. I’m not afraid of anything or anybody.

Having wonderful parents like you and Mom are, to have raised me, I know I’ve made it. Mom certainly is a wonderful woman and Mother too. You sure picked the right woman when you married her. You two certainly are the best parents a guy could ask for.

Well Dad, how have you been feeling lately? I hear, not too good, huh. Well, you should go see the doctor right away. You know, I only have one Dad like you. I know Uncle Charlie’s death must have hit you pretty hard. He sure was a great guy, wasn’t he? But let’s not let it get the best of us Pops. Those things happen, but when they do, we just have to remember the pleasant things about them. We’re tough enough, we can take it, we have to, that’s all.

Well Dad, I made it home for your birthday when you were sixty one, and I’m trying to make it home for mine and I’ll be twenty one. Gosh I’ll be old enough to vote now, and buy beer too. When I come home, we’ll go down town and I’ll buy you one, ok?

Well Dad, I guess I’ve rattled on long enough. Take good care of yourself Pops and Mom too. Hope to see you in one short month.

Your Son,

Paul

Dad's letter

 *With LOVE to you and yours, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day!

Priceless


One by one the pins wobbled at the end of the lane except for two.  Jumping in the air, I hugged my team-mates, surprised that I would even score.  My husband rolled a blue marbled ball down a waxed wooden lane, next to me.  Ten pins fell down.  Strike!  Then my cell phone rang.  It was our son.  “She’s in labor, Mom.” Within an hour, we were picking up our grand-daughter, Gracie, together with our son’s diabetic alert dog, ‘”Nimbus.”

I remember the first morning of a May spring day when a five-week-old British Lab pup changed our lives forever.  A crawling warmness of black droopy ears, wet pink tongue, and four oversized paws was laid into our son’s waiting arms.  Standing next to him was his then, “fiancé,” brimming with love and support.  She smiled her gentleness of future hope for a married life free of blood sugar demons lurking beneath skin ready to snatch their independence away.

Now, four years old, “Nimbus” has grown to 65 pounds or more.  He bows  for ‘high’ blood sugar or raises a paw for ‘low’ blood sugar.  A member of their family, he is a life-saving tool.  Still, when it came time for baby to arrive, it had been decided that Nimbus was best left with Grandma together with his ‘sister,’ Gracie.

The next couple of days, my house turned into a sort of Fairytale Land, where I tried my best to see that Gracie got her rest.   Still, when awake, she was Number One for heaven’s sake!  On hardwood floors throughout the house, we took turns pushing naked baby dolls in pink strollers.  Faster and faster we went, like running an imaginary race with no finish line in place.  In the end, she always won with some silly prize she delighted in.

We played outdoors or walked the dogs.  Along the way we stopped to pick yellow dandelions with a toddler neighbor, blowing fluffy white ones into the wind.  Tiny pieces danced up and away into the breeze like wishes made the night before.  For supper, I cooked gooey mac & cheese.  Holding Gracie on my hip, she poured a cold mixture from a zippered bag, eyes wide with wonder watching yellow melt into white macaroni.  Afterward, we smacked on hot fudge sundaes for dessert, wiping dark brown chocolate from chins while staring at “Frozen” on the big screen TV.  Nimbus tried to sneak a bite.  Little Gracie’s voice stopped him by singing, “Let it go…Let it go.”

The last night before Gracie went home to a new baby brother, we finished with a bubble bath in Grandma’s deep jetted tub of speckled brown, like sand in sparkled sun.  Bubbles billowed while she lifted handfuls to share with me.  Before I knew it, Nimbus leaped up and over the rim.  Four strong legs stirred and splashed waves, everywhere.  A surge spilled over the side.  Froth and foam floated to the  floor.  Big black eyes peeked through soft clouds of pinkish-white.  Gracie patted more on top while squealing loud with delight.  “Oh, Nimby,” she giggled.  “Nimby’s in the tub!”

When darkness fell, Gracie didn’t want to climb into her crib.  “Grandma’s bed,” she said.  Resting her head on a feather pillow, she sucked on a pacifier while stroking her worn pink bunny between thumbs and forefingers.  “Gracie, did you have fun at Grandma’s house?”  She shook her head up and down through sleepiness.  I asked her next, “What was your favorite part of today?”  Abruptly, she sat up, cocking her head to the side with a knitted brow.  Yanking out her pacifier with one hand, it made a loud suction sound like pulling the plug from a drain.

“Oh, Grandma,” she said, dreamily.  “Your baftub.  Nimby in the tub.  Grandma washed my hair…sooo soft.”  She touched damp curls to her cheek and plopped back down to the plump of a pillow.

Then, in the dim light of my rose-colored lamp, I thanked God for that moment.  It stopped my heart with memorable love, leaving me with it until the day I die.

Priceless….

*A memory of two years ago. How fast life changes. Today, my son and daughter-in-law are expecting their third child! Gracie is now age four with her younger brother, the baby above and below over two! And, Nimby…well, he’s slowed down to working only part-time these days. During my son’s working hours at the National Weather Service, Nimbus is on full duty. At home, he takes a break by playing with the kids, chewing on bones, and taking walks in the park. You might say Nimby is spoiled most of the time, like any other pet. Either way, Nimbus has a dog-gone good life!

       

Loving Grandbabies


Anticipation was building the whole month of May. Finally, my grandbabies rolled in from South Carolina to spend a whole week at Grandma’s house last Saturday. Plans were made and parties were in place.

Grandpa and I met a mini-bus in the driveway to open sliding doors before the hum of an engine-turned off. Action heroes we were, straight from a giant movie screen except without the buttered popcorn or milk duds. “Babies of Two” tumbled out with their wee big sister of two and a half years. Yes, they were tired but thrilled to be FREE from the restraint of buckled car seats filled with crumbles of animal crackers. Grandpa lifted one grandchild while a toddler hugged his hairy, bare leg. Crying with joy, I picked up another who wrapped her arms and legs around me like a baby gorilla you’d see clinging to her mother at the zoo.

I lost my heart (times three) for all the neighbors to see. Right there and then on a driveway paved in burnt red bricks. Kissing silky hair, I soaked the warmth of soft, baby skin from tip to toe, never wanting to let them go. Soon, all drifted into a bubble bath, before being bundled in hooded towels. Then it was off to rock in a spindled chair. Little gorilla baby never left my lap, patting my back with her little hand to the rhythm of the chair. Pat…rocking back…pat…rocking forward…pat…rocking back…pat…rocking forward.

The next day it was a party at our favorite train venue where babies, toddlers, and kids played freely before eating pizza and breaking a piñata filled with unexpected treats. Later that night, the older cousins (ages 4 & 2) had a sleepover in front of our big screen where they snuggled under sheets of cotton blue to watch Barbie movies while sharing popcorn and sipping apple juice. In between, the girls of red hair and blonde curls put on a show while dancing and singing songs. I must say it was quite an impromptu production. If only I would have known in advance, surely I could have sold a few tickets within the neighborhood!

Yesterday, my younger daughter-in-law’s parents hosted a splendid BBQ with delicious food where everyone gathered from several sides of the family. Children of all ages played with toys, swam in the pool and bonded like never before.

I’ve always known how very blessed I am to have these little babies in my life. As my eyes darted around to catch sight of all five of them, I couldn’t help but ponder the beginning of their forever cousin relationships. The youngest two were dressed in twin polka dot bikinis while splish-splashing in a baby pool. Around and around, my only grandson tackled a riding toy while blowing kisses to all of the girls, and far to the right, feet of four jumped into a speckled pool so cool.

Seconds later, I glanced at my oldest son’s wife, who lightly traced her barely there belly bump. Yes, they’ve just announced a new baby-to-be expected around  Christmastime.

Another grandbaby to love for me. Oh, I can’t wait to see!

 

 

 

As Long As You Both Shall Live….


“As long as you both shall live.”

*Those are the last words I remember hearing thirty years ago today, May 19, 1984. A few seconds later, I smiled beaming with the words, “I do. Although only a step or two away from me, the minister’s gravelly voice seemed to echo from far, far away. Off in the distance….perhaps bouncing off trees in a lush forest land.

At the time, I had eyes and ears only for the husband to be. There he stood, facing me. His green eyes pierced the blue of my own while he gripped my hands, squeezing them. It was his signal before God that we would always be together. My soon-to-be husband would take care of me, protect me, love me, and be loyal and true. Thirty years later he has proven this together with much more good than I ever imagined.

On our beautiful, warm wedding day in May, the two of us had no idea where the road of life would lead. A fantasy land we did not expect. Nor, the reality we ended up living. Still, neither of us would change a thing. In the end, we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

When families raise a chronically ill child, there is a 75% or greater chance the marriage will end in divorce. My husband and I raised two children living with chronic conditions. Both were diagnosed at very young ages within six months of each other. Our odds of divorcing might have increased a bit at that point…

My husband traveled a minimum of 120 nights a year over a 20 year period as a district manager for an eye care company. He loved his job while I loved it for him. Still, it took a toll on the two of us. When the days and nights were added up, seven years of our marriage were spent apart from one another. I often resented him for being away, while he often resented me for being able to stay. Eventually, we both had breaking points.

When needed, my husband was there for me, taking a short leave of  absence from work. He jumped right in, took care of our boys, washed clothes and even learned to cook! In return, I did the same for him when the time came. Isn’t that what couples do for one another? We sought outside help to work on our marriage…more than once. No, it wasn’t always easy. I guess that’s why it’s called work. But, early on, we decided our marriage was worth it….we were worth it. For our children, for our family, for the whole of us.

There are lessons learned that I’ll pass on to others now that I have the opportunity. Take time…any time for couplehood. A walk in the park, a cup of coffee or a simple hour to hold hands and talk. No, not about the kids! Do not lay blame…ever! It’s okay to cry, go ahead and ask God, why? Find a church, ask for help, don’t be proud, seek support, tell a friend, and take a break for heaven’s sake!

Today as I celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary, I am thankful for the best husband one could ever wish for in life. I thank God for every hardship we ever endured, every lesson ever learned. How wonderful to have lived through ALL of the good times and the bad, the happy and the sad. We have such an enormous history together. Rich, full of memories and moments with more to come, God willing.

Happy Anniversary to my dear husband, with love, forever and always….

*Two years ago when I wrote this post originally, my husband and I were not able to officially celebrate our milestone anniversary. This year, we’re away for a few days, soaking up the sun and sand while celebrating 30 years + two! Blessings to all of you.

 

Universal link


https://betulaworldpress.com/2016/05/11/wordlesswednesday-preening/

A lovely share of everyday life. A bit of ‘magic,’ indeed!

Peace, Love and Patchouli

I think of this life, how we move through it, relate to it and the people we encounter, wondering sometimes why it is we connect to those who become an attachment to our lives, stuck like a happy piece of Velcro to our hearts. We find ourselves in unexpected places sometimes, and often making a connection, perhaps with a smile, a word of positivity or a hug to console.

I heard a front screen door slam this morning and children’s voices, excitedly telling their mom that there were dogs out there. We were on our morning walk with the pups and two small boys came tentatively towards us, one asking if he could pet them. I turned and smiled, told them they’d love to be petted and that they were friendly. They took turns stroking Chi as Apple stood there with her Apple smile, staring past the boys who were…

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Thoughts On Mothers


“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness, and children sleep soundly in them.”  

Victor Hugo

“There is no velvet so soft as a mother’s lap, no rose as lovely as her smile, no path so flowery as that imprinted with her footsteps.”   

Archibald Thompson

“There is nothing sweeter than the heart of a pious mother.”

 Martin Luther

“She was the best of all mothers, to whom I owe endless gratitude.”

Thomas Carlyle

“All I am I owe to my mother.  I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” 

George Washington

“No matter how old, a child is a babe who carries the heart of their mother inside of their own.

Kim Gosselin

Memories of Missing and Loving…..


The earliest memory of my mother ironically is of missing her. Like I do today. She was and is away. As a child of four, I wasn’t able to reason, or understand why. I couldn’t even try.

A tiny house of six hundred square feet in pale pink. I remember the kitchen having black speckles on the floor and there was a polished white sink. Frilly curtains of sheer at the window above. Two bedrooms, I think. My little brother and I shared a room so small our fingers touched from one bed of maple lacquer to the next.

It was Christmas morning, and Mother was not there. She was in the hospital cradling a new baby sister who was born on the Eve before. Snapshots are in my mind of sitting in warm flannel near a perfect tree decorated delightfully. Full and bright in colored lights, it brushed the whole of the room. Presents galore. A galloping black rocking horse on red springs for my brother, plus a Chatty Cathy doll dressed in a blue cotton dress for me. She was like magic! Pull a ring of plastic white and she talked to me. Yes, really talked to me! Daddy and Grandpa were there too, but no Mommy to see.

My mother was a wonderful mother. Not a perfect mother but she did her very best. She raised five children, one who nearly died at birth, and struggled thereafter. Mother coped silently with severe anxiety and depression, yet pushed through to better herself personally and professionally. In spite of only a tenth-grade education, she surpassed every goal she ever set for herself and was probably the hardest working woman I ever knew. She was beautiful and creative, kind to others and loved all people.

That was then, this is now. Mother’s Day is nearly upon us. Yet, today the same feeling of missing my mother is still deep inside of me…almost tangible. It’s as if I’m a child of four kneeling at the foot of the Christmas tree whose mother is away again. Except this time, I’m all grown up. She’s not coming back. The painful perception of abandonment. For whatever reason perhaps this feeling has never left me?

The rocking horse under the Christmas tree has jumped from his springs of red to ride out to pastures of green where my mother rests in peace today. Chatty Cathy hopped upon his saddle to perhaps watch over her. Pull a string behind her neck to hear three sweet words never to forget,“I Love You.”

Happy Mother’s Day

*Dedicated to all mothers, particularly those who suffer from depression, anxiety or any other mental disorder.mom and dad

*Mother and Father. My favorite picture of them, circa early 1970’s