Uncategorized

I Don’t Need You

Image result for LOVE public domain

“How do you do it?” her new friend gasped incredulously. My kid sister Jackie was at a children’s birthday party and had just shared that she was a single mum.

She got this reaction almost every time.

This time an extraordinary sense of ownership welled inside her. “I do it just fine with the Lord.” She knew this wasn’t a fashionable statement but it slipped right out of her mouth before she could stop it. She felt strangely galvanized inside and her chest puffed out slightly.

Kayla was seven now. She was the hardest yet the best thing that had ever happened to Jackie. Kayla’s dad walked out on them when she was about two. To be honest, Jackie can’t imagine what life would be like with him around. My heart warms every time I observe these two for any length of time and I marvel at what a fool he was to have walked out on this.

I love the amazing and simple life they’ve created for themselves. Jackie works a few days a week as a therapist. She walks Kayla to school in the mornings and they chat about wanting a cat, the naughty boys at school, anxiety about going to the doctor for shots, and everything in between.

Especially earlier on, Jackie’s life was peppered with regrets wishing life had played out differently. She’d known all along he wasn’t great marriage material but had mercurial hopes of some future together. News of Kayla’s very presence in the universe had rocked Jackie’s world and filled her with dread. This was not her plan. She could terminate the pregnancy and continue her life like nothing had ever happened. No one would ever need to know.

I distinctly remember her phone call to me shortly after she found out. I was crestfallen and lost for words to respond to her announcement. We had an unspoken pact that we’d save ourselves for marriage. I couldn’t imagine the angst this was causing her. She was the youngest of  seven siblings and with humility, boldness, and dignity, she called every member of our family to tell them. She called her pastor and told him. She went before her church and told them. She was embraced with the associated grief and swallowed up with love and acceptance. She was overwhelmed with the love of God’s family. I couldn’t have been more proud of her, worlds away. It tore me up that I couldn’t even hug her or hold her beautiful face.

I ate up pictures she sent of herself as her bump progressed. She was gorgeous. And afraid. And sad. And excited. And oh, so remorseful. This was not what she wanted…

The first year was a blur. She had a horrendous birthing experience. Then Kayla had to go to her dad’s house for visits every other weekend. How Jackie dreaded that. She sent her off with instructions to him. And clothes. And food. “Here’s some pain medicine, she’s teething so she needs it every 3 hours. And don’t forget to use the barrier cream. She had a terrible rash last time.”

He was a man of very few words but was he even listening? She paced her house the whole time her baby was gone. She cried herself to sleep and awoke ten times before morning dawned. Why wasn’t he answering his phone? Was he with his drinking buddies again? She was ready to pull her hair.

Jackie would sob with relief when they finally got back. She kissed her chubby cheeks with a million teary kisses and held her close, thinking her heart would burst. She hated that, subconsciously, she would start the dreaded countdown till Kayla would leave again. Within a few months Kayla would actually cry for him when he dropped her off. Jackie didn’t know what to do with that. Fortunately, she was easy to redirect. Still, with consternation, she would open the diaper bag and find that things she’d carefully packed away and given instructions on, were untouched. It made her want to shake him.

And then one day he fell off the face of the earth. No call, no words, no goodbye. She heard that he had left the country and wasn’t coming back. She wanted to dance with glee. Then a new grief hit her: the loss of a dream. That can strangle one as mercilessly as the death of a loved one.

She ploughed through the banal experience of child-raising. It was peppered with constant reminders that she was alone. There were more blatant aspects like buying a piece of property and building a home: every signing appointment, every minute detail regarding the home – from qualifying for a loan to choosing counter tops, roofing, doorknobs, lighting, flooring. It would have been so helpful to have someone to run decisions by.

They talked about him now and again. Kayla asked where he was and when he’d be coming back. She asked if it was anything she had done. She wondered if he thought of them. “Will I be the only girl in the world without a daddy?” She would sob and disconsolately throw herself on her bed. Jackie answered her questions gently, thoughtfully, honestly.

She perpetually found herself having to explain, in one circle or another, that he wasn’t in the picture. Always, an awkward silence ensued along with an attempt on her part or the other person’s to recover some semblance of dignity.

Jackie snapped back to attention as the herd of screaming party goers stampeded into the room to open presents and sing Happy Birthday. She smiled through the whole affair as, almost beholding on a screen, she reviewed how good God had been to her despite immense hardships. He had seen her through. And that beautifully!

He HAD met her every need. He had helped her overcome the poignancy of her wants that He didn’t fulfill. He had housed them, healed them, provided for them. He had protected them, comforted them, delighted them. God had done more than Kayla’s dad could ever have done had he stayed in the picture. Of course she longed for a physical consort, a life partner. Someone to laugh with and encourage her. Someone to help her discipline and train this handful of a child.

But she solidly learned that she had all that and more. All her fountains were in Him, Psalm 87:7. He was a fountain of constant cleansing; a fountain of refreshment that slaked her every thirst; He astounded her when He thundered like the Niagara with power in her life; He delighted her when He filled her and her daughter with levity and delight in life.

She determined that she would raise her daughter to know that she had a Father who loved her more than anything. She had an identity and a family. She was whole and lovable, incredibly made, wanted and chosen before she was delicately knit together in her mother’s womb. She was pursued and desired, cared for, and delighted in just as she is.

Always. Tenaciously. Unconditionally. Loyally.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/loyal/

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Uncategorized

Giving My Money to the Rich

piggybank

I don’t like to give my money to the rich.

Sitting at a mall, I watch people with their pretty shopping bags and hundreds of dollars worth of purchases and I cringe. I am certain that ultimately, those dollars are going to people that live in very big houses and drive pretty fancy cars on extravagant vacations. It’s akin to taking my wallet out of my back pocket, taking money out, flagging down one of those wealthy people, and saying, “Here, please take this!”

And I have a problem with that. That’s why I haven’t been to a mall in years.

I understand the mechanics of capitalism, kinda, so save me the lecture. I just don’t take it upon myself to single-handedly stimulate or grow the economy, which is what our consumer culture seems to be challenging us to do. I understand that those wealthy people are ultimately creating employment for the common citizen from production to sales.

What I like is to walk into Aimee’s or Tory’s shop and support their businesses. Or to shop at my local Bi-Mart and know that that means that Robin, and Sean, and Stacy, and Jennifer and the rest of the crew are getting a decent paycheck to pay off their home or their vehicles. I’ll pay extra, within reason, if I know that my money is staying in my community. Furthermore, I love that they remember my name when I walk into the store. They remember and inquire after what’s going on in my life. They’ve watched my boys grow up.

It means that I LOVE going junking and scoring on fabulous buys without the smell and burden of plastic packaging. I love giving gently loved things a second lease on life. I have a million dollar closet at the fraction of the price. The price to pay is sitting across friends at party and one of them saying, “Hey, I had a pair of pants just like those and I just donated them to the thrift store!” I sport embarrassment for a split second and then ask, “And why on earth didn’t you hand them down to me instead of me having to pay $5.99 for them?!”

It means I love Vivi’s Vietnamese food cart where I can text Finn my order in and have him text me back that it’ll be ready in ten minutes. I can’t drive fast enough for that banh mi addiction!

So I’m teaching my boys that we shouldn’t buy things that we can make ourselves – within reason. We certainly don’t have to buy everything we want or see (hear the “No Gimmies” lecture in the van before we enter a store.)  And that $8.00 that you’re about to spend on a fidget spinner to play with for a month (if that), I bet you can make it. I’m even willing to pay more for materials for you to make it.

So let’s go crazy creating, crafting, re-purposing, gardening, cooking, inventing, saving money. Let’s think about what we’re putting into and on our bodies and how we can simplify our lives. Let’s help out the billions of hurting people in the world. It sure is gratifying to give to someone less fortunate than I am. A lot more so than supporting the affluent.

That is food for thought…

(image from publicdomainpictures.com retrieved 10/6/17 5.40pm)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/genius/

 

Brothers · Family · Humor · mothers · Relationships · sons · Teasing · Uncategorized

Orange Flying, in Slow Motion

It all happened so fast, so I’m not quite sure why I recall it in slow motion. My boys were fooling around and laughing. They rarely play together so I relish these times. I was standing by the kitchen about to open the fridge.  James, moving at his usual 300mph dashed by the kitchen counter and grabbed an orange then flew the next few feet into the living room. Paul had just hopped over the arm of the red recliner  and was bouncing on it, looking out the nearby window into the yard and telling a funny story.

This is where things slowed way down: out of the corner of my eye, I vividly saw James in his blue and white striped shirt and grey camo shorts. He took on very impressive form, swinging his right arm with the orange in it while he stepped off his left foot, rotated his shoulders so the left one synchronized forward to power the left one which was lunging back as it propelled the orange at an astonishing speed  straight towards the back of his unwitting brothers head, just as James’ right foot planted onto the carpet. Wow!

Dictionary.com describes a symphony as “an elaborate musical composition in three or more movements, similar in form to a sonata but written for an orchestra and usually of far grander proportions and more varied elements.”

What I was witnessing, my friends, was a mesmerizing movement symphony of grand proportions!

In no time, Paul, with a discordant whelp, raised both hands to the back of his whip-lashed head and tumbled off the chair and onto the floor like a stuntman.

“What was that for?” was his loud, prolonged, barely articulate lament. Babe Ruth’s eyes grew to the size of a large orange and he jumped up and down like a yoyo, “I’m sorry Paul, are you okay? I’m so sorry, are you okay?” He repeated this about 8 times without taking a breath, bouncing in place the whole time and becoming more frantic.

Our stuntman rolled back and forth, clearly in the throes of death, moaning his final words, “Whhyyyy?” and never letting go of his fatal wound.

I snapped out my daze and yelled, “that is the most unintelligent thing you have done all day!”

He answered with the most unintelligent thing he had said all day, “I didn’t mean to hit him!”

I chimed, “What, where you planning to hit the window a foot away from his face?”

“No, I didn’t mean to hit him.” He said that 8 times, still bouncing up and down, but now big tears falling straight from his eyes onto the floor.

“He does it to me all the time and he never gets in trouble.”

“What, he kills you with an orange all the time?” I stuck a pointing finger at Paul in his pitiful predicament, and glared at James, “Is this the time to bring that up?

“I didn’t mean to,” he wailed woefully.

Paul’s howling reached a deafening crescendo and James cried all the harder. What a cacophony!

I leaned down and touched Paul for many reasons. The first was the principle. If he didn’t die, and I didn’t think he would, he would in years to come be sitting at a counselor’s couch recounting this trauma, and she would ask him, “And what did your mother do?”

It would be terrible to have to answer, “She laughed so hard she fell on me and smacked my forehead with hers.”

Secondly, I needed to embrace the victim and distance from the perpetrator. That would not be the time to say, “James, that was amazing! I wish you could have seen it.” No. That would have to wait ten minutes.

I finally pried a gasping Paul’s fingers from the gaping wound so I could inspect it and he was disappointed and shocked to learn there wasn’t as much as a mark. And I looked really close, for a really long time, the whole time repeating, “Wow!” in monotone.

So the melodrama died down eventually. We hugged as Paul reiterated that he didn’t trust his brother to be in the same county, for obvious reasons. I slapped my hand across his brothers mouth as he dried his tears and started to say, “He does it all the…”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/symphony/

Aging · culture · Daughters · Family · Fathers · Grandchildren · Grandparents · Joy · Teasing · Uncategorized

Daddy Blue

My friend Faith sent me an email with a sweet story about a man who returned home for a neighbors funeral. The neighbor had greatly influenced the young man’s life in the absence of his father. Towards the end of the story was the statement: “every night someone thinks of you before they go so sleep.”

That brought immediate tears to my eyes and made me think of my dad. I call him Daddy Blue.

It all started with him calling my son James “Soldier Blue” based on a costume he was wearing. So James turned around and called him “Guka Blue, boooya!” (Guka is Kikuyu for grandpa.)

“James!” I chided him sharply for his disrespect.

Guka grabbed James by the wrists, turned around and said to me, “Mummy Blue arrest Soldier Blue.”

I said to him, “Daddy Blue, you started it.” James had the last laugh.

_______________

That was 5 years ago. We call each other across the world every couple of weeks.  As soon as he answers the phone, I say, in a singsong tone, “Daddy Blue.” He chuckles and says, “Aaaaaw, Mummy Blue.”

We chat about events and his health. “Have you been to therapy Dad?” I ask, knowing the answer.

“Not yet, Mummy Blue. I will.” It’s his lame attempt to placate me. I call him a naughty amputee and he says it’s no wonder Soldier Blue is so naughty. “His mother has no respect.”

He asks after my family and tells me how he thinks of me every day. How proud of and happy he is for me. We have a twelve hour time zone difference so when I’m getting up, he’s heading to bed and vice versa. He says, “Well, I’m getting off the day bus and getting on the night bus now. You enjoy the day bus. I’ll sleep happy because you called.”

_SJD1041 We sign off. “I love you Daddy Blue, over.”

“I love you Mummy Blue, over and out.”

Happy Father’s Day dad.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-little-things/

Humor · Poetry · Uncategorized · We've All Done It

Ten Second Lag

Careful now!

I cautiously stick my big toe into the shower

to test the temperature.

Too cold.

I jerk my faithful harbinger out and

turn the knob counterclockwise

ever so slightly.

The second testing proves only tepid.

I turn it up again and inch my way into the stall,

I unwittingly touch the cold wall

and breathe in sharply.

How long is the lag

between adjusting and results?

The seconds, how they drag

in this temperature precipice.

One would think that

One wrong move will be the death of me.

I step in confidently to embrace the warmth,

“Aaaaarrgghh, turn it down! Turn it down!”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/precipice/

culture · Humor · language · Uncategorized

Clazy Making

I belong to the Kikuyu tribe which is notorious for many things. Among it’s highlights is what Kenyans used to call shrubbing. Shrubbing is taking English words and Kikuyunizing them (or converting them so they contain distinct traits of a tribal language.) It is no fault of mine that I frequently say “clazy”. It’s one of my favolite shrubs.

Kikuyus swap most of their “r’s” for “l’s” and vice versa, hence, “the rion is at the liver,” doesn’t mean that the king of the jungle is now eating the organ but that he’s slaking his thirst.  The trouble for outsiders trying to decipher our speech is that some Kikuyus swap the  letters 100% of the time while others are part-timers. There are also words or parts of words that remain unchanged, for example, “I leally enjoy brogging.” It’s always “leally”. Never “learry.” That would be lidicurous.

Of course one can never tell exactly what the admonition “Ret us play” is. If the minister says “Prease play,” you watch to see if he brings his hands together before you jump up, whooping and horrering; whereas if the teacher says, “Ret us take a blake and pray,” she’ll probabry open the door and ret the students out for lecess.

The most faburous thing, of course, is that we are notolious for doing this with full confidence and autholity. We are tluly an amazing tlibe. We lerish the aduration and adolation of the world and they are tickled pink at our verbal plowess.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pink/

 

 

Family · mothers · sad · sons · Uncategorized

Even Ever!

My sweet Paul was very articulate at a young age. When he was three, Nana took him to her house for a weekend. He loved her cabin in the woods and came home full of stories of his imaginary friend, Ima McGack. He also had frequent encounters with his pet zebra and the zebra’s dolphin friend who lived in the woods by Nana’s house.

He was smitten with Thomas the Tank Engine and we had inherited a fabulous wooden set with many of the trains. Every day, he spent hours with Thomas and friends in our sun-room constructing intricate railroad designs. He chatted happily with the various engines and laughed at their funny responses; he’d raise his pitch when he talked to Emily and growl deeply at Diesel #10. His tracks went up and over, in and under, round and round. He had been working on the current elaborate design for several days before he left for Nana’s.

Dust bunnies had accumulated around the set and I took the opportunity to clean up while he was away. As I tore up the set and put it in the clear plastic bin, I felt a tinge of guilt knowing how much time he’d spend putting it together. I justified it with the fact that we had agreed he would clean up all the tracks and trains every night before he went to bed.

First forward to Sunday afternoon. He came home and gave me a cursory halo.  I was standing at the kitchen counter prepping dinner. My eyes widened and I bit my lip nervously anticipating his reaction as he walked past me and bee-lined for the sun-room. He walked into the room and I peeked around the corner. He’d stopped short in his tracks and was inspecting the room, aghast. He turned around and marched back towards the kitchen, huge-eyed. I jerked my head back and pretended to keep chopping vegetables.

“Mum,” he swallowed hard and gasped, “Did you put Thomas away?”

“I did,” I said nonchalantly, staring wide-eyed at the cabbage.

“Mum.” He was quiet. His little heart was breaking.

“Don’t-ever-do-dat-again.” His bottom lip was quivering as he thrust his chubby index finger at the floor, accentuating each word. His little chest was rising and falling pathetically.

He turned on his heels and approached the sun-room as a lone survivor approaches a killing field. Shaking his head like his father, he threw his hands up in the air in frustration and defeat. The tears wouldn’t come.

I was devastated and my heart sank. I heard his little feet heading back for the kitchen and hastened back to my vehement chopping.

“Never ever!” He stated as he strode towards the TV room, the tears finally coming. “Even ever!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fast-forward/

Photography · Poetry · Uncategorized

Look Again

So yellow the yellowness

So black the polka dots

So green the  mowed lawn

One beetle per blossom

Each six bright spots.

I was struck by the sunny dandelions in the lawn and stooped to admire their  delicate unfurling petals. Nestled in the first one was a pretty ladybug. I looked at another, and another, and each one had a pretty beetle in it. I looked up the unusual form for the ladybug and learned that it’s actually a cucumber beetle, and unlike a ladybug, it’s a pest. It’s still marvelous…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/measure/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/surprise-2/butterbug

Family · Humor · mothers · Uncategorized

The Unravelling

My mother raised five girls, God love her.

Towards the end of her life, all five of us snollygosters were regularly cracking up at her fashion sense. An ounce of wisdom shared among us would have warned that things were falling apart and that our lives were about to unravel with the ending of hers. But no, there wasn’t an ounce of wisdom to be found among us, we were too busy trying to catch our collective breath and recover from a new round of side-splitting laughter. Sometimes we laughed till we cried.

I could count on the others to burst at the seams, convulsing on the floor when I wore her clothes, in mockery, in the most clashing combinations possible and imitated her walk and mannerisms.  It was all I could do to remain upright. Ours was uncontrolled buffoonery beyond compare. Did she dress in the dark or was she just feeding this foolishness frenzy?

She’d chuckle quietly and call us idiots. She’d shake her head and watch us carry on, incredulous that she had allowed any of us to live to adulthood instead of eating us as babies, like many other species do. She’d look down at her attire and smile. We knew what was coming next: she’d pat and straighten the outfit  with her pretty hands. This was a gesture of approval and a sure statement that she had no inclination to go back upstairs to change. This led to a fresh wave of howling and hawing among the idiots, slapping at the table in disbelief.

It was only made worse by the fact that she was extremely fashion-forward in her hey-day. She was famous for stunning outfits worn with grace and elegance. So really, she brought this upon herself. Sure we felt sorry, but for crying out loud, where on earth does one go to buy a skirt like that? Har, har, har! Oh, that was good.

I am filled with guilt and a desire to make atonement as I write this. To mock one’s own mother, God rest her soul, is truly unforgivable. My eyes start to tear and I feel a surging deep within me. I bite my trembling lip, and shake my head pensively as I try to compose myself. But this heaving is not remorse! It’s a memory of the time she wore the black and yellow striped sweater with the…

Here we go.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unravel/

Uncategorized

Santiam Plash

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Let’s cut the scut,

Say goodbye hoi polloi

And head for a favorite spot out south

Where I gambol on weekends

With some folks I love.

 

It is quite a schlep but it’s worth every mile.

And the sight of the Santiam makes my soul smile.

There we doss, and we nosh,

And we prate funny tosh.

Building cairns between naps

taken floating downstream.

 

It’s a crack of a time

On this river sublime,

Stoking wet wood and ash

Tending poison oak rash

At my favorite, irenic

Santiam plash!

 

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I took these photos of amazing cairns that my husband stacked on the Santiam River. I was certain the second one could NOT be done and was transfixed and in awe of His Royal Highness when he did it!