Archive for joys

Summers Goodbye

Lightning  rolls across the darkening sky

Thunder follows, an echo in the night

The flowers are still blooming, bright and tall

Leaves begin to have touches of gold and crimson

Remember the walk wetook into the forest?

A waterfall drumming over rocky cliffs?

I think of that place as I walk and imagine-

The forest and falls in the full burst of Autumn

I watch the flowers in the lightnings flash

and listen to the wind coming from the north

How much longer till that first killing frost?

Some years it comes early and sadly wilts the leaves

Others see rhododendron blooming in November

Summers end in the mountains is always a surprise

Tomortow, I will gather the pumpkins by the creek

Collect a vase of Autumn flowers for the table

Listen to the first leaves crunch underfoot as I walk

Part of me longs for a late autumn, days of warmth and sun

Yet there is something in the breeze, welcoming cool nights

Perhaps  a fire within a circle of stones, as we sit and talk

Remembering the days we spent in the hot summer sun

Again,  tonight, lightning streaks across the darkness above us

The thunder and first spatters of rain send us running inside

I want to cling to summer just a bit longer, enjoy the rustling leaves

Watch asters bloom and bees gather nectar…Summers goodbye

Wait a while as a etch photos of your warmth and growing

Into my mind to dream of in the cooler days ahead…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mama vs. Beebee (Grandma)

Today, I walked thru the bird sanctuary at a lake near by.  I relearned a few lessons,  that to be honest, I  had sort of forgotten. It saddened me, hurt me. It made me feel like I didn’t matter anymore. I had six kids, one lost at 15, the stress almost killing me too.

I walked along. I would smile at couples walking by, see a woman apparently alone, then see her kid run up. Sadness would creep in.   I fed bread to the fish and turtles, like I used to with my children, and a few times with my grandchildren.  I felt profoundly alone as I walked along.

An hour before , I had walked around my neighborhood with three grandsons, two, age 7, one age 4, along with my youngest son who is in college. ( as of October, I will have 11 grandkids!) Though I enjoyed it, I was disappointed at the lack of discipline, especially after “7 year old no. 2” joined us and there was more ‘cutting up’ going on.  The other two were brothers. I tried to show them how to hunt snail shells. I would  tell them that they were called mollusks, I would name the flowers, if they were annuals , biannuals or perennials, that some  were irises  that grew from rootstock a hundred years old. ( I got an audible “wow” from that).We saw butterflies and I asked who knew what kind it was-  ( swallowtails, easily recognizable). We looked at the creek bank and talked about the flood that collapsed on side of it, and had to be shored-up with rocks. We talked about how the rich people scraping off the plants that held the water in the ground was responsible for the flood, but those of us down valley had to financially and physically clean up the mess the mansion makers made,and how wrong that was.

If you are thinking, “that was too advanced to be teaching seven year olds”, I beg to differ. I started having my own version of “home school” when my kids were two years old. They knew their alphabet and numbers 1-20 by the end of their 3rd year and were reading simple books by the end of their fourth year.  It is a matter of discipline on the part of parent and child, but with my kids, its just what we did.Period. When they learned one thing, we moved on to the next step. Having consistency is the key to education. That was my problem today, there is no set time or way to learn at home. All of my kids went to public school. I taught the youngest at home full time in K-1. We had an hour  to an hour and 1/2 or more of home school, depending on  if it was outdoors or such.

I had very little problems with discipline. Some of my kids wDr e not easy, (ask their public school teachers!)They knew we were  doing school on Saturday, holidays,summer, etc BEFORE anything else. It wasn’t a question or discussion. I may hear you saying “and they hated it”. No, they didn’t, they got it done early, knew more about any subject than their friends, and never complained a lot about doing it. My kids were not close in age, so I would have my 9th grader learning world capitols while the 5th grader learned state capitols,lakes and rivers, and the younger one learned to read or memorize math tables.  At some times, I had four at a time and worked with varied topics. We only spent abut 20 minutes on each subject. We did lots of art, nature walks and studies,  all seasons too. In fall we studied mushrooms and watched the mating of spiders and mantises we had followed since spring. We watch plants emerge in spring, develop color for their rest time in fall. we studied weather as it happened. These are examples.

Besides not having any grandswith me,  (especially not having my kids when they were young) it was hard. I could have probably taken one of the 7 year old, but I didn’t. I wish I could tell my kids not to delay teaching until a certain age. I do tell them about using “teaching moments”. When you went to the store, and were unpacking groceries, you could talk shapes and colors with young ones, then maybe names of vegetables or other foods for preschoolers. The story goes on, as they grow. I have worked with kindergarten children who didn’t know their colors, first graders still struggling with the sound of letters, unable to read a very simple book.

If you work outside the home, it is hard, you may have to work for shorter time periods, but it is still possible. When my grandkid complained, I asked them , do your parents go to work every day so you can eat, have a roof over your head? Of course they all nodded “yes’ , I said, ” Do you think they just woke up one morning and knew how to do their job? ”  Answer: (in unison..Noooo…) So they learned all of their lives, right? (heads shaking, “yes”) I asked the 7 year olds if they could read and they said ,”yes”. I asked the 4 year old and he smiled and said, “I’m learnin!”. I pointed out that the seven year olds had learned thing between the time the were 4 and 7. They got it.

The last thing I told them to day was an old Indian proverb: “You cannot learn with your mouth opened.” I asked  them what that meant, and after some delay , I covered my mouth and said ,”We learn by listening, not talking” I told them , “There is a time to ask questions and a time to listen, do you understand?” They all smiled and said yes. Then  I let them choose what to have for lunch. I told them I loved them and hoped that they would grow up learning everything good that they could so they could take care of them selves and their families. They smiled, ate their crazy lunch choices, had extra glasses of tea (After all, it IS grandma’s house (or as they call me ‘Beebee”. )My husband took two of them home and the other walked home, after hugs, smiles and them saying, “We love you, Beebee.”

I feel better about my walk alone now, realizing that it is simply life which has moved me from  ‘mom’ to ‘Beebee’ . Still, it hurts that I can not teach them like I did my kids because they didn’t start at two with a strict schedulde. I will continue to teach my grands as I can. I find myself learning from my own kids now. It is nice to know that they have learned that learning is a life- long adventure. I am trying to think of things that will grab their attention and to express my pride it what they have accomplished. Yesterday “7 years old #2 showed me some barrels of standing water with creatures swimming in it. He knew they weren’t tadpoles. “What is it, Beebee?” He asked.   It was mosquito larva! We poured the water out and I told him how proud of him I was and that he had saved us from a lot of mosquito bites. Today, he got to brag to his cousins bout what he did.

Just thinking of that lesson- one that my grandchild learned long ago, had been used to help his family, cheered me up. Being a mom and making my own rules my suit mr better, but there is a lot to be said for capturing those moments with my grandkids. They have learned from me! And, I also learn from them. Maybe it isn’t so different after all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For Everything, there is a Season

DSCN3825When I was born, my parents lived in a little four-room house that my grandfather had built in the 1930’s  when someone offered to sell him a thousand board feet of wood for a thousand dollars.  With that as an inventive, grandpa built this small house, much like many others he had built around our community. His uncles were carpenters, he was an electrician.

For many years, this little house was the ‘first home’ to many young married couples. It was in a neighborhood surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles. A little stream ran behind the house. It was a safe and loving neighborhood. My grandparents ran a little country store right across the creek, which, at that time could be crossed on a board from one side to another.

If I were to write a book that told the story of everyone who had made their start, or lived in that house when thy were young, it would be a long and interesting book.  I could name many families whose first and often second child was born while thy lived there. It wasn’t big, but it was not just a house, it was truly a home.

I think of all the babies who cried softly for attention in that house, the many sets of used furniture, cleaned up and decorated into a sweet and satisfying place to live. Anything from Model A’s to modern trucks have parked in that driveway. Black Heart Cherries served as delicious snacks on early summer afternoons.

My uncle next door often shared a portion of his garden to the families who lived there.  He would share his knowledge of gardening and even his water from the pump he put in the creek with his neighbors.We are fresh green beans in summer and carved pumpkins at Halloween.

I moved there here when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. To come there from a lonely apartment seemed like heaven. After a short,  rough marriage, I spent many lonely days and even some happy times while I lived there as a single parent of two.

I finished a 4- year University degree  in three years while I worked and raised two kids as a single parent. My two cousins across the creek spend many hours at my house during the eight years that I lived there. We played loud music, card games, laughed and passed the time. My best friend and her sisters would sit on my back steps and we would teach each other songs on out guitars.

There were days in the 1970’s that I spent my time with doors jingling colored beads that  hung from the doorways. Psychedelic  posters, Mother Earth Magazines and children’s books shared my walls and book shelves. I proudly called myself a ‘hippie ‘. Without the details, I will soon move on.  I had wicker furniture, pretty rocks, in a stack in a corner, a small black and white TV, no dryer, a hand- me- down washer and a clothes line beside the cherry tree snd flower garden. There were no extra ended or excesses.

i loved plants and one could be found in any feasible location, the floor, tables, or cabinet tops. The rooms were small, full yet cozy. I loved the claw legged bathtub and those relaxing bubble baths after an exhausting  day. After I graduated from college I moved  to my families” big house” which sat rather ‘ kitty corner’ from this little one. I had lived there for 8 years and for 32 more years, the story went on.

Young couples, single people, elderly widows, many more, lived in that house. A man and his mother were the last to live there. My aunt had promised her friend that she would continue to let her son, who never married, lived there after she died and both my aunts son, who inherited the house, and I, who bought a lot with both this  little house and my aunt and uncles house on it, kept our word.

By the time the elderly gentleman passed away while living in the house, it had seen its better days. In fact, it had seen them long before. The floors were warped, the doors no longer shut well, all the new siding  and Windows  and boards on the porches did not make the house truly livable by my standards after nearly 90 years.

With  a heavy heart, I decided last fall that I would have to tear the house down, it would have cost more to fix the little house than it was worth.  It wasn’t easy to watch the house be demolished, but the ease with which it went down,  showed me that I had made the right decision.  I planted flowers and vegetables in a box garden there this spring.

There are so many memories in that little house, I remember bringing my babies home to it, the soft strum of my guitar on the porch- and the loud Lynyrd Skynyrd on the stereo. I fondly recall the meals I prepared, the friends I entertained, the tears when life was rough and the smiles when life was good.

Even  though the house is no longer there, it will always be there in my mind. So many “firsts” to remember, the first steps of my oldest son and daughter, the first furniture that I bought on my own. Painting the walls, the relaxing warm baths, the  poems I wrote in that bedroom and the pictures I painted in the kitchen.

It is almost always hard when a page turns in our lives. Even if what lies ahead is a bit exciting, it is a challenge to move on. I can close my eyes and see the white picket fence, the rose bush I planted when my first child was born, building snowmen with my kids,  or looking out the window and seeing the first car that I bought myself.

Life goes on, through good times and bad. The ages creep in that little house just as they did with me. There is something about a place that holds so many ” firsts” that keeps it written permanently in my mind. So, it is with the little house at # 10. It is a part of my parents first years, of my own first house, and that of my first two babies.

I can close my eyes and see the basket where kittens were born, where I held my newborns, where I dreamed dreams that actually came true once in a while. Little White House, you now live only in my mind  but you are part of me and I love you. I will never forget the night skies or sunrises I saw there. You will always live in my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Chance to Remember

 

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This week, I celebrated two events that I wasn’t, sure I would see.  My granddaughter turned two a few days ago. That seems like such a simple statement. I have quite a group of grandkids, but enjoying them has not always been easy. My youngest son graduated from high school, and it was as sweet and crazy as the other childrens were.

Why then were these events so memorable?  First, let me tell you about them.  After the ice cream and presents, I saw my older grandkids splashing in the creek trying to catch minnows, crayfish and salamanders. I didn’t give it a thought before I had grabbed two cups and headed for the creek. Because. Of my disabilities, I had to find an easy way in. My grandkids all know that I’m the nature lady- nothing makes me smile quicker than a chance to teach them a nature lesson, whether it is ” how to catch creek creatures”or “what are the different kinds of life cycles among insects?” Today, it was time for creek creature catching!   My oldest daughter loves these nature studies as much as I do and was already at the creek when I arrived. Among the happy shouts of ” I got one!” One of my grands would quietly ask me to catch one for them and let them have the cup to show off their prize.  I was in grandkids heaven as we lifted rocks and I tried o teach children the importance of patience and still waters if you want to catch your prize creatures. I am not sure a tassel of kids between 6 and nine really gets the meaning of patience.  Oh, well, having had six kids of my own, I could work around it. Soon, I was sharing cups with several little salamanders with them, the giggled and splashed and ‘dirtied’ the water as they ran to show them off to the others.

After a lot of hunting, we finally began to find some medium sized crayfish and put them in a bucket. My daughter and I explained how happy we were to see them because the ‘ nutrient rich’ water had killed off a lot of the creek life.  Yes, we had to explain that the ‘nutrients’ were fertilizers that he big houses that had been built used to make their perfect lawns , thus polluting the creeks and killing the creatures that lived there.)

As we worked to collect the creatures, I told my daughter and grands about the days when my mom took me and my friends to my grandpa’s pasture to catch creek creatures, much larger than these because the big houses had yet to overtake the farms. They were sweet memories. My mom, like me was a lover if nature. Rather than having instilled a fear of wildlife in me, she taught me to respect them.  From Black Widows to Black Snakes to water creatures and wild plants, my mom taught me to love them, catch and observe them, then let then go, so we could catch and observe them again. The memories of my mom and I, along with the privilege of sharing such a day with my daughters, sons and grandkids formed a mist in my eyes. You see, I never thought I would be able to do those things again.

Nearly ten years ago, as my 15 year old son was playing baseball, an unbelievable tragedy took him and “life” would never be the same. After a great double and a steal to third base, my lungs were sore from screaming my praises to him. The next kid struck out and soon the teams were practicing for the last half of the last inning. Suddenly someone called out, “What’s wrong with Andrew? ” I looked up to where he was practicing in the outfield and saw he begin to ru towRds me. Instinctively, I began to run to him, meeting close to the pitchers mound as he started to fall, hitting the ground in a swirl of dust. I was in shock. He had not even been sick, to my knowledge. I started screaming, ” Call 911, Call 911, and saw that the father of one of my sons team mates was calling. There was a fire station at the top of the hill and I expected an immediate response, but none came. After coaches and parents rushed up, one person ran up, said they were a nurse and looked at my unconscious son as he asked me questions. My heart, my mind was in a blur- why were there no sirens? Where were the EMT’s who could have walked there by now. Someone asked me his name and gently shook his shoulders, calling his name. No response- no siren or ambulance. I was screaming for the nurse to ‘ do something’ as the clock moved on and my son’s breathing became raspy. Between ten and twelve minutes passed before an ambulance finally came in a back gate- the opposite of the way an ambulance from the close-by fire Department would have come. The EMT’s first words were, ” bag him” ( give him oxygen).

I rode in the front of the ambulance to the hospital. I saw the attendants using a defibrillator on him. My mind was screaming, ” No, no!” I was met by a hospital cleric who lead me away as the ambulance attendants rushed my son in. After working on him for an hour a doctor came out and called our family in to a private room to tell us, ” They did everything they could.”

“You mean he’s dead?” I cried as we all sat in silent stares- our world crashing around us. I walked out the door with an apparently healthy 15 year old son and would walk, completely stunned back in that door without him.

Within a few months, I was having symptoms of what was later to be found to be a pituitary tumor, caused, mostly likely by the stress from loosening my son. This story is not about me, so I will suffice to say that neglect  nearly cost me my life just as someone giving the 911 operator the wrong directions to the ball park had cost my son his life.  By the time I had surgery to remove the tumor, I was told  that without the surgery, I would have had about three weeks to live.

Now, we come to the second part of this week just passed.  I saw my youngest child graduate from high school. He had been barely eight when his brother had died. Graduation is a crowded, long, yet joyous occasion. When the ceremony was over, my son’s girlfriend and I caught up with him and he gave me a ride back to my car when I would meet my husband and two other sons.  I was tired, in pain, yet thrilled for my son.   One more ordinary occasion that I got to witness.

It wasn’t until my son came home late that night that we talked about his graduation that he told me something that I guess I had never realized.  ” Mom, he said, as we sat on his bed, “years ago when you were so sick after we lost Andrew, I had the thought that you would not live to see me graduate. It has haunted me ever since.”

“But I did it.” I smiled as I hugged him. ” Yeah,  you did.” He smiled, holding my hand.

Tonight, as I sat in my room thinking, both of these simple events that I had enjoyed this weekend suddenly hit me. No one, most of all me, ever thought I would play in the creek with my grandkids and even my son had not believed that I would live to see him graduate.  I have suffered so much, so long, it just seemed endless. I still suffer everyday.  Somehow, this past year, I have found a way to bring joy back into my life, if even for a short time.  I told my son that it was his holding me close, willing me to live that had helped me  ” make it” this far. I thought of the song that I had heard on my Facebook page that some kids sang to their teacher who had cancer. it was called, “I’m Gonna Love you Throught It”.

That is just what my son, my kids and grandkids and my family had done for me. Through all the loss I had endured, the disability, the never- ending pain, I would feel their love and know that somehow, they still needed me.

As I found myself scratching the poision ivy on my arm tonight, I thought that even being able to work in my garden again was a blessing.  Maybe, I was still here ‘ for a reason’. The sweat running down my itchy face felt amazingly good somehow. I new life would never hold the same joy that it had when my son was alive and I was well, but I was still here, and I was determined, at last to be thankful for that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Past

DSCN2231I remember those magical days-

children running in from the bus

to see what new presents

had suddenly appeared under the tree.

I remember the magic of lights-

the “oohs and ahhhs” as the switch came on.

The weeks of “what I want for Christmas”

coming from innocent souls.

Then the chorus of “and that’s all…”

followed by several more favorites.

Yesterday, my babies, my life-

The Joy on their faces, on my face as well.

Today, I lay here alone, a tree with no presents.

Sits in a “living room” no one plays in.

I pick up a sick grandchild from school,

Drive by a graveyard-when one of them lies.

I wonder, today, with life having little meaning,

how those days, when we were so poor,

when those “wants” really did magicially appear.

If it is worth it now, the memories, all I have.

My sick heart pounds, the hot tears roll,

down lonely cheeks as teens tell me

“I won’t be home after school, I have to hurry.”

There are dinner and parties, friends, life.

Please remember, children of today,

that life goes by so fast, that todays’ kids

are tomorrows adults, with kids of their own.

And we, who once were so needed and loved.

Have grown old as my babies grew up.

I put up a tree, as my youngest insisted.

But no joy of a new present  hiding  there today.

Just memories, the awareness of time rushing by…

Like the old Scrooge Tale, it is-

Christmas Past, Present, Future.

I must remember that life moves on, even if

it drags me kicking and screaming.

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