Archive for history

A Gift for the Market

The sun was a ball of fire rising through the fog. Finally, the clatter of rain had turned to an autumn portrait of drying flood waters. We rode down the muddy path in our weathered farm wagon, bumping along, hooves clomping, with the wagon filled with produce for the market in town.

The chill in the air, the slush of mud, I pulled my shawl close around me. Then I saw the reflection of the wet green world upon the river. I realized that without both the sun and the rain, we would not be on our way to market.

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Not Close Enough

For 27 years I prayed when I felt God talking to me. Felt He was saying what he wanted me to do and that he would keep my kids safe and me healthy, if I obeyed. I tried, with all I had and believed, even though kt was hard because nothing ever worked out for me. On a regular day, after a year of fear and worry, feeling like things were just not right, my son ran up a baseball field, collapsed and died before a ridiculously slow ambulance came. It must have gone to the wrong ball park-there was a fire station within sight of the ball field.

He died, over the next few months I began to get sick. I got Cushings Disease, Scoliosis, heart failure, a mitral heart valve. The stress on my family made life so hard. No one understood my pain, physical or mental.

I believed, I tried, I lost. It is hard to have faith in the sun coming up now. I really felt promised, if I had patience, worked hard. Why did my son pay the price. Life has always been a struggle. No, it is a lie. All the good, my kids and grand kids are precious, but the hole in my heart, literally and physically will never heal. Wrong is wrong, no matter where is comes from.

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As Fragile as Glass

Three years ago, I lost my mom.

She had been fading for years, but we still talked,

we laughed and loved.

It seems like since then loss and loneliness

have been so much of my life.

I feel like I am drowning.

After loosing my child, hope, faith,

and that special closeness with my family,

I feel I will never capture the joy in life again.

I can only beg you, young people,

to take that joy, when you find it,

and treat it as thought it was glass, because it is.

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A Precious Soul

She is 86 years young. I grew up to this amazing person, my aunt, youngest sister of my mother.

Since I was a toddler, I would walk up the hill to her house, plant flowers with her, watch her can vegetables, help her work in the garden, and help decorate for Christmas.

When I was a young adult, trying to survive a disastrous marriage, be a single mom, work and go to school, she made sure my kids and I had clothes, food, toys. Even today at her last siblings funeral, she smiled at me and said, “Maybe someday I can make up to you all that you have done for me.”

I smiled and quietly whispered, “If I were to live a thousand years I could not begin to make u for all you have done for me.”
I think often of what the world would be like if it were full of people like my aunt. She listens, she cares, she is generous, considerate, loving beyond all reason. I envy her thoughtfulness, honesty, willingness to help, or even to be kind when she disagrees.

If ever there has been a person who is “my precious. Is is my aunt, who is like a “sister”and friend as well. I have shared my joys and sorrows with her, helped her with her ailing elders, and enjoyed visits to her house several times a week, if not more. When I thin of the word, “beautiful”, her face comes to mind. She is the kind of person that makes life worth living on my worst day, a true treasure.

Thanks for being ‘my precious’, Aunt Phib!

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A Wonderful Memory of Days Gone By

“That’s my favorite Christmas song!” I said as I looked up at my mother.

She smiled back at me, busily wrapping gifts and checking the stove.

I looked outside, and noticed the dark gray sky, hoping, that soon snow would be coming down onto the mountains around our house. Going to my grandmothers farm for Christmas would not be a problem, because it was only up the hill from my house.

“Mom,” I asked with hope in my blue eyes, “Could I PLEASE open just one of my presents tonight. My friend Sarah’s family does that. It makes Christmas last another day. . Besides, with my birthday right after Christmas, it is the only really special time I have.”

Mom sighed as she removed a pumpkin pie from the oven. “ I like for you to wake up on Christmas morning-very early- (she smiled and brushed her hand through my curly hair) and see you sneaking through the house to find the presents under the tree. “You know that I hear you!”

“But Mom,” I begged, you told me that all your family had was stocking hanging on the end of your parent’s bed, with some fruit and maybe one toy. Things don’t have to always be the same!”

“Oh, alright.” My mother said, as she rushed about. “But just ONE!” she emphasized.

I jumped up, shouting “Oh, thank you, mom, thank you!”

I remember that day-49 years ago. I remember the dress she wore, the tattered apron over it,The tired look on her face, the flour spilled on the table.

Tears fill my eyes as I wonder where time has gone. My own children are grown and have children nearly that old. I lost a child 7 ½ years ago, and I often refer to this time of year as the “Helladays” because they make me miss my young, lively healthy family so much.

I struggle to cook a few snacks for the teen I still have living at home. Where does time go? Why do we loose those people and times we treasure so much? I wiped a tear and turned on the radio as I cooked.

That same song came resounding through the speakers. I was surprised, filled with a mixture of sweet memories and loss.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the years!” the orchestra and singers sang in a rhythm that could have come from that long ago day.

I sneaked into my sons room and handed him a small wrapped gift.

“Whats this, Mom?” he smiled.

“Just a little memory,” I said. Merry Christmas!

He got up from his video game and gave me a hug. “You are the best mom in the world,” he said.

And for a moment, I saw my mom saying the same thing to her. I held back the tears, so he wouldn’t see me cry and walked slowly back to the kitchen.

Perhaps the Christmas spirit was still alive after all.

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The Pain of Progress

“Wow!” Jack gasped as he and his friend, Don, walked down the street that was sparkling with activity in the 1980’s. “It’s empty, tagged with grafitti, this was the main drag back then.!”

Don took a moment to look around at what had been a new and up-coming area of their small mid-western town. The plants thank had been placed there to beautify the cement surroundings were over-grown. The sculpted trees were tangled with vines. It was sad, heart-breaking,to be honest.

”Progess.” Don sighed. What a joke. The walked on to the “new”main drag only a few blocks away.

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The Barrister’s Ball

The house was gorgeous as the hanson pulled up into the circular drive. The horses were a bit restless in the blowing snow, the driver having to calm them so that Serafina and her soon-to be husband, Dalton emerged.

Serafina’s coats blew wildly around her dresses. Her bonnet barely holding on as Dalton held on to his new black tophat.

“I simply despise these extravagant events!” Serafina complined as the doorman bowed and let them in.

“Oh, Sera,” Dalton sighed, “It is only one night and being invited to a party at Sir Dellingam’s estate is something you simply don’t turn down if you want to be a Barrister in the town!”

Serafina sighed and handed her coat to the doorman, hanging on to her reticule as Dalton shook out his coat and handed it in as well.

They we motioned to a room glistening with the light of candles and lamps, a roaring fire warming the room a little too much. Several servants scuttled by with trays, offering drinks and cucumber sandwiches, tarts, and even a tray of chocolates.

Dalton noticed an associate from his firm across the room and lead Serafina toward him.

“Ah, Raymond!” Dalton said with a smile and slight bow, “May I present my future wife, Serafina?”

“ Very nice to meet you, my lady,” Raymond smiled and turned to his left. “This is my wife Abigail. I am sure you will become good friends in the years to come.”

After a few minutes of conversation and more that a proper amount of delicacies from the trays, Dalton whispered to Serafina, “Come, I have something to show you!”

With a look of suspense in her sparkling blue eyes, Serafina followed Dalton down a hall and through a door behind a stairwell. There they found themselves in a small library, with doors leading out outo a terrace.

Dalton, opened the door as the wind swept over them, immediately bringing her warm coat to Serafna’s mind.

“Where are we? She inquired.

With a sparkle in his eye he smiled, “A place quite alone within a crowed house.”

“How did you…” she started to say, but found her mouth sealed with those of her fiance’.

“Oh, my!” she smiled as she shivered a bit, both from the kiss and the cold of the wind.

“See, I told you such parties were not so terrible!” he laughed as he opened the door and hustled her back inside.

Sarafina shook the snow off of her hair, hoping the pins were not too far out of place from the wind and the stolen affection. She fluffed it a big and curled her arm through his as they returned down the hall to the party.

Suddenly, the fire seemed particularly attractive as they walked together and stood in front of it, their hands touching behind them as they warmed themselves.

“Maybe being the wife of a Barrister would not be so boring after all,” Serafina thought as she helped herself to another tart from the pro-offered silver platter.

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Storm of the Century

We had watched the weather channel for days, awaiting the storm that was predicted to hit on New Years Eve. I started home from the store, with the wind picking up. I knew the storm was on the way. I hurried up the steep mountain road, hoping to beat the beginning of the snow. The kids were both home, I felt tears on my cheek.

The television was still on the Weather Channel, predicting “The Storm of the Century.” The kids, 14, and 17, were excited, as they looked out side. I was not so exuberant. We we were alone and I didn’t have a four-wheel drive. I would be stuck up here for days. I knew the electricity would likely go out and we had only a fireplace and a portable radio for comfort.

 I went down into the basement to get some wood to start a fire. Gathering the wood, I raced back up thee stairs, wanting to get the fire started before the winds got too fierce and we lost power.

 “Mom,” My daughter yelled, it’s snowing like crazy!” The excitement in her voice echoed down the hall.

 Sure enough, the air as filled with huge flakes of snow, already sticking to the ground. I rushed to get newspapers for kindling, and ran to the kitchen for matches. My son lit a candle in each of the main rooms, so that we would not be left in darkness. I was proud of how prepared we were.

 Suddenly, I thought of our elderly neighbor, Mr. Carter, who lived down the hill around a steep curve. He didn’t have a generator and was not able to contend with making a fire or cooking. We had to go get him!

 I yelled at the kids that we had to go find Mr. Carter. It was already dark outside by the time we got ready to go. We loaded up a wagon, in case he couldn’t walk up the hill and started down the road, streetlights still glowing in the snow and stiff wind.

 The wind took on a loud roar as we shivered in the blowing snow. I thought I heard a faint voice in the wind. “Oh, no!” I thought. “Mr. Carter had started up to our house own his own.’

 “Mr. Carter!” I called back. “Don’t go anywhere, we are on our way!”

 I heard a weak voice near where his long driveway started. “I’ve fallen.” he cried out. I think I hurt my leg!”

 Suddenly, the lights went out. We could see nothing in the swirling snow. I shouted out, hoping to hear his voice against the power of the wind. “Mr. Carter!” I cried out. “Can you hear me?”

 Nothing. The forest was silent between whirls of snow and crackling limbs. “Mr. Cater, can you hear me?” I shouted again. The snow fell on as we wandered in the dark, now on a desperate search.

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Brave Souls

I felt my whole body shiver as the wind pushed me towards the white cliff only yards ahead.

It was early September, and unlike the beaches I was accustomed to back in South Carolina, the white emptiness seemed to swallow me up as I looked out upon the vast sea that separated me from my home.

“Why had I come here?” I asked myself as I turned quickly towards what I felt was more steady ground.

“What had drawn me from my home, still summer-like, warm and welcoming, back to this dreary place where so much had happened in the years long past?”

 I felt the wind whip my hair, just as it did on the beaches at home, and tied it in a knot, so as not to find it filled with tangles. Back home, my curls would have danced in the heat of the sun, the glimmer of sand in the early evening sparkling like diamonds amidst the scattered shells.

I wondered what they called this place where the earth dropped off so violently to the sea. I could not, for the life of me, remember. Surely, it couldn’t be called ‘a beach’, as we called it back home. There was no beach, no glistening sand, no shells or sharks teeth to pick up as souvenirs. Only a harsh, sharp shrub, blown towards the sea, like a withered old man.

I felt my scarf swirl around my neck as I headed down the winding trail to the hut made of stone and partially covered by a roof of thatched straw and branches. The memories rushed back to me as the shadow from the house made the chill of the wind even stronger.

I remembered clinging to my mother’s hand as she ran down this trail when she saw father trudging up the hillside from the pasture below. I could almost smell the pot of steaming soup on the stove and the worn table and benches where we would sit and eat, the five of us, thankful that there was anything to eat at all.

Only then, looking upon my father’s gravestone, did I realize why my mother had taken her three little girls past that grave one last night, then loaded our sparse belongings onto to wagon with the echo of the horses hooves beneath us. We traveled for hours it seemed, towards the rivers’ edge and then boarding the ship, momma holding onto us as if we were made of glass.

 It was both the loss of hope and the search for something better that drove my momma into that shipyard that cold night. It was her strength and courage that found us living in a warm cabin across the endless sea that had given us what we had now.

I was filled with admiration for her brave soul, her staunch determination, as she made her way to that new land. I looked across the sea to America, to opportunity, to home.

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One November Day

It is the first day of November, and so today, someone will die. Next year, Dia de los Muertes will become real for us. Always before we have watched, seen the costumes, smelled the food, next year our tears will be real. That day, we remember.

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