Posts tagged family

The Last, Sweet Taste of “Mine”

DSCN2143My youngest son, I have endured so much,

loosing your brother, my parents, my health…

And all of that time, you have been here,

to give me the will to live, against all odds.

Now you are driving, dating,  and someone else

is the love of your life.  It hurts, but it is “life”.

The moments you come in and lay beside me,

let me rub your back or hair, whisper to me,

“I love you, mama.” and mean it, are so precious.

You envite me to go out with you and your friends,

You laugh with me, talk with me, tell me secrets.

I find myself wiping tears every day at loosing you-

as MY BABY, “MINE”. me-being number one in your life.

I’ve known in my heart that it would happen,

but not so soon, not so fast. My heart is broken,

yet I have to  try and savor those days we had-

Those last sweet tastes of “Mine”, that I cherish.

I can only hope you will always find room

in your life for me-stay close, share those hugs.

I have your siblings and they love me,

but you are my baby and have breathed

life into a mom who was dying of grief.

Those Last Sweet Taste of “Mine” will never leave me.

Enjoy every second of any child you may have,

because while growing goes slowly for them,

it races by for you.  You will always love them

in a way that is different from how they love you.

You would give them your life without thought,

Your last crumb of food or drink of water.

I love you my son, all of my children, with all I have.

My teen in heaven, you will always live in my heart.

My teen that is still here with me, messes and all-

To see you walk in the door, lay down your coat down

and crawl up to me with a hug and “How are you?”

Is still, will always be life its self to me, my child.

I dream of you, perhaps sometime, you might let me

sneak quietly into your dreams or even reality

and plant a flower or walk around the lake.with me.

We can never have too much love, and I will never

forget the love you gave that kept me alive.

My youngest son, I have endured so much,

loosing your brother, my parents, my health…

And all of that time, you have been here,

to give me the will to live, against all odds.

Now you are driving, dating,  and someone else

is the love of your life.  It hurts, but it is “life”.

The moments you come in and lay beside me,

let me rub your back or hair, whisper to me,

“I love you, mama.” and mean it, are so precious.

You envite me to go out with you and your friends,

You laugh with me, talk with me, tell me secrets.

I find myself wiping tears every day at loosing you-

as MY BABY, “MINE”. me-being number one in your life.

I’ve known in my heart that it would happen,

but not so soon, not so fast. My heart is broken,

yet I have to  try and savor those days we had-

Those last sweet tastes of “Mine”, that I cherish.

I can only hope you will always find room

in your life for me-stay close, share those hugs.

I have your siblings and they love me,

but you are my baby and have breathed

life into a mom who was dying of grief.

Those Last Sweet Taste of “Mine” will never leave me.

Enjoy every second of any child you may have,

because while growing goes slowly for them,

it races by for you.  You will always love them

in a way that is different from how they love you.

You would give them your life without though,

Your last crumb of food or drink of water.

I love you my son, all of my children, with all I have.

My teen in heaven, you will always live in my heart.

My teen that is still here with me, messes and all-

To see you walk in the door, lay down your coat down

and crawl up to me with a hug and “How are you?”

Is still, will always be life its self to me, my child.

I dream of you, perhaps sometime, you might let me

sneak quietly into your dreams or even reality

and plant a flower or walk around the lake with me.

We can never have too much love, and I will never

forget the love you gave that kept me alive.

My youngest son,I have endured so much,

loosing your brother, my parents, my health…

And all of that time, you have been here,

to give me the will to live, against all odds.

Now you are driving, dating, someone else

is the love of your life.  It hurts, but it is “life”.

The moments you come in and lay beside me,

let me ruvb your back or hair, whisper to me,

“I love you, mama.” and mean it, are so precious.

You envite me to go out with you and your friends,

you laugh with me, talk with me, tell me secrets.

I find myself wiping tears every day at loosing you-

as MY BABY, MINE. me being number one in your life.

I’ve known in my heart that it would happen,

but not so soon,not so fast. My heart is broken,

yet I have to  try and savor those days we had-

Those last sweet tastes of “Mine”, that I had.

I can only hope you will always find room

in your life for me-stay close,share those hugs.

I have your siblings and they love me,

but you are my babby and have breathed

life into a mom who was dying of grief.

Those Last Sweet Taste of “Mine” will never leave me.

Enjoy every second of any child you may have,

because while growing goes slowly for them,

it races by for you.  You will always love them

in a way that is different from how they love you.

You would give them your life without though,

‘Your last crumb of food or drink of water.

I love you my son, all of my children with all I have.

My teen in heaven, you will always live in my heart.

To see you walk in the door, lay down your coat don

and crawl up to me with a hug and “How are you?”

Is still, will always be life itsself to me, my child

I dream of you, perhaps sometime, you might let me

sneak quietly into your dreams or even reality

and plant a flower or walk around the lake with me.

We can never have too much love, and I will never

forget the love you gave that kept me alive.

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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 Blossom in the Wind

It wasn’t difficult to remember the first time I had been to that old house.

My curly hair was drooping in pigtails, golden brown from the summer sun.

 My Aunt Lilly had whispered to me as we dried the dishes, “I have something I want to show you!”

 “Okay.” I smiled as we continued to work.

 Soon, we climbed into her 1966 white Ford and bumped our way a few miles down the dirt road to a drive way that looked as if had not been used in years. It seemed like the bumping and grinding of the gravel went on forever. Now, I realize, it was only a half mile or so.

 My aunt grabbed my sweaty little hand as we skipped up the chipping rock steps of a wooden cabin, paint long faded to the natural gray of hardwood. She took the key, clipped to her shirt with a safety pin, and unlocked the door.

 It smelled musty inside, and I giggled, ”Yuk,” as I looked up at her.

 “Houses smell like that when no one lives there anymore, Sarah. This is the house I grew up in. I was born here.”

 “But you live on the hillside, Auntie!” I protested. “We were just there!”

 “No, honey, I mean when I was a child, like you. This is where your mother and our brother Willie grew up.”

 I glanced around he room in wonder. It was a mess. The curtains hung down limply, so dusty that the bright sunlight filtered through as if it were sunrise. There was a desk cluttered with writing materials,a yellowed tablet, the edges of the paper curled. a pencil that badly needed sharpened. I noticed that one of the drawers was partly opened and reached to see what was inside.

 My aunt stopped me. “That as mama’s drawer. We weren’t allowed to mess around in there.”“But it’s opened ,Auntie,” I said “Why can’t I look?”

 To be honest, I don’t have a reason, Sarah.” I guess it is just my remembering how we were not to mess in that drawer. Obviously, someone has!”

 “Yeah,” I whined, eyes cat to the floor. “I sure would like to see what’s in there.”

 “Sometimes, Sarah, it is more fun to imagine what a drawer may hold than to actually know.”

 I shrugged my ten year old shoulders and smiled. In my young mind, knowing what was in the drawer would be much more fun.

My aunt and I spent another hour or so wandering through the room. We looked at boxes of old doll, metal cases filled with uncle Willie’s cars. My aunt show me how the pedal operated sewing machine worked, the drawers where scissors and thread were kept. I remember my favorite was the button drawer. In it was an assortment of buttons removed from many different items of clothing before the cloth went into the rag-bag.

 “Why did you bring me here, Auntie?” I asked her as we started out the door.”

 I saw a tear slide down her cheek. “Oh, Sarah,’ she cried. “I was thinking of mamma. It’s been ten years today since she died. We started clean the house , your momma and I and one day, we just didn’t come back. It hurt too much. It was sort of like the drawer, we decided we would rather remember the house the way it had been when she was there, when we were children.”

 That was twenty-seven years ago. I had brought my children there a few times, my mother and I had even come here with Willie one day to get some things out of the barn. But today was different. Today, a tear slipped from my eye as we walked down the steps. We had just buried Aunt Lilly in the family cemetery on the hill. Somehow, I felt a deep, almost mysterious connection with my Aunt Lilly as I looked up at the apple tree, bursting in bloom as if nothing had happened.

 Life changes, time goes by, memories are made, but somethings never seem to change. I snapped a small branch of blossoms and twirled them in my hand. I already had a place picked out for them-the would dry and remain on the inside cover of my Aunt  Lilly’s oldest photograph album. Someday, a young girl with golden brown hair would remember the story that her mother had told her that day.

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A Tale of Two Famiies

John and Robert had gone to the same high school. They had known each other since they were in 3rd grade. Though they had not seen each other in years they enjoyed talking at their 25th year High School Reunion.

John married Sarah when they were young, they had raised three beautiful children. He was a Fireman, his wife, an office worker. Robert was a lawyer, his wife, Susan, had stayed stayed home with their three kids, the first born when she was 26.

John and Sarah lived in a modest house a few blocks from the main road that went through their end of town. They spent a lot of time together, hiking, camping, playing ball. Robert and Susan lived in a big house on the mountain. Their kids went to private school, they traveled all over the world, belonged to the country club.

As the men started to talk, John noticed that Robert was fighting tears. John whispered to him, “Are you okay?” Robert shook his head “No.” and lead John away from the crowd. Five months ago, Robert and Susan had lost their 12 year old son. He was swimming in their pool and started having trouble breathing. They had quickly called 911, but it was 10 minutes before an ambulance arrived. The 911 caller wasn’t familiar with the location of the new road way up on the mountain in the wealthy suburb. In their fear, Susan had not made directions clear. She failed to stay on the phone with the 911 operator. By the time the ambulance arrived, their son was in cardiac arrest. An hour later, the doctor at the hospital came out and told Robert and Susan that they had done all they could, but their son hadn’t made it. It took an autopsy to find out that their son had an undiagnosed heart problem.

By that time, Robert was fighting tears too. He was a Fireman, an Emergency Medical Technician. When his oldest daughter was 16, she had suffered a seizure while running and playing ball in their yard. While her brother called 911, John had given her treatment for the seizure. He was trained in what to do. It was a close call, their daughter was breathing with snore-like gasps before John got her to respond and breathing again. By the time the ambulance got there, John’s daughter was conscious, resting on a lounge chair. She survived.

It had seemed that Robert and Susan had everything, a big house, socially popular, the perfect life they had dreamed of. John and Sarah had struggled to meet the bills, they lived in a neighborhood of older homes, safe, but nothing fancy.. They didn’t have much time for social activities. They were too tired after work anyway.

This is life. No matter how we try, things don’t always work out as we have planned. Money won’t buy back your child if no one is there to help them, and struggling to pay the bills or living in a small house may make families spend more time together, perhaps become closer.

My situation wasn’t like either of these, but a mixture of both. I was a mostly stay at home mom, my husband a blue collar worker, we had six beautiful healthy kids until one night, our 15 year old collapsed at a ball game without warning. Even though a fire department was in sight of the ball park, the parent who called 911 didn’t give proper directions or stay on the phone with the 911 operator. An ambulance was sent from downtown instead. It was 10-12 minutes before the ambulance arrived because it did not have proper directions. Our son was in cardiac arrest by the time he was loaded in the ambulance. He died because no one at the park knew what to do and help was so slow in arriving. Like the fictional Robert and Susan, our lives were ruined when we lost our son.

Many years ago, when I took a First Aid Course, I was taught not to give CPR if a patient was breathing. That nigh, a person who said they were a nurse came up to help us, but did not seem to know what to do. We lost our son, I lost my health and faith for nothing. There are no words for what our family has gone through.

I have one question, to which everyone of us would give the same answer. Which family would you rather belong to?

Please, listen to me!Get out and learn to do chest compressions, how to use a portable defibrillator, take a First Aid Course. You may save your child, your grandmother, a neighbor, a stranger. Don’t wait until it is too late, thinking that it won’t be you or your family. Contact Parent’s Heart Watch (www.parentsheartwath.com)or the local Red Cross to find out about current First Aid Courses. It could be you that saves a life.

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Earth Day, 1969-2013

I remember the first Earth Day. I was in Junior High, in the downtown area of my city for the first time, my generations first step away from our neighborhood elementary schools. It was the year schools were integrated in my town. How excited we were, to be part of this first Earth Day, we were the “babies” of the “hippie” culture and were anxious to be considered part of the idea behind Earth Day-cleaning up the environment, getting back to home gardens and self-sustaining ideas. Of course at our age, our ideas were limited, as the concept of waste and growing up in a throw away society was our world.

We had just begun to think like adults, have our own ideas and concepts. This is one of the very first days I remember with my mind in an “adult” format. I will never forget it. In celebration of Earth Day, our art class went out and sat on a grassy bank in front of our school and were told to draw pictures of what downtown looked like. I am sure there were kids who were just glad to be outside, but for me, sitting on that hill drawing a picture my perception of the small city was eye-opening. I had lived there all my life, but for the first time, I REALLY looked at my city. I noticed the huge church next door with the domed roof, I looked out at the dogwood trees blooming on down the hill on our school grounds I looked back at the small chipped-rock playground where “recess” and P.E. were held.

Suddenly” my city” became more than simply “my neighborhood. There were still rows of 20’s era building lining the streets beyond the school. There were woods and grassy areas behind the area where the old brick school building set. A red brick wall divided our school grounds from the street below. s I took this all in, the world seemed like a much larger place for the first time in my 14 years of life. i noticed a possibly homeless man wandering the sidewalk beyond the school. His clothes were old and tattered and he appeared to be rather unaware of where he was or in what direction he was going. Having grown up a protected only child who spent her time shopping uptown with my mother, I had given little though to life outside my safe urban world. There were no real “malls” in my town, a few “shopping centers”. No drunks staggered down the streets where I lived. Being “Homeless” was something that happened “somewhere else”, not in my town.

We had a speaker on that first “Earth Day” that introduced us to the concepts of taking care of the world we lived in. In 1969, the world was beginning to seem much smaller and it was happening very quickly. I could not imagine, at that time, how quickly those changes would take place. There were three black and white channels on TV, huge, unsightly receptor antennas stood on top of our homes to bring them to us. Telephones had dials and curly cords. No one that I knew had a microwave, although, I imagine some of the “rich” kids” did. Most moms didn’t work unless they “had to” or at least until their kids were old enough to get off the bus and stay home alone until she got there. Now, letting even a 14 year-old come home to an empty house gives moms an uneasy feeling. I lived in a very innocent world.

There were many more Earth day celebrations in my future, all in an increasingly frightening, yet more aware world. We planted trees, cleaned up river banks, volunteered in homeless shelters. We became aware of the world around us. Sadly, the opening of the door to the fact that we MUST start taking care of our world, was the beginning of the end of the innocent world I grew up in. The old brick Junior High was torn down the next year. The hill was leveled, along with the woods and playground. An interstate now “by-passes” the tunnel through the mountain, which long separated my side of town just as the high bridge across the river separated us from the other side of town.

Integration was the rule and we were at its inception. The concept of Middle School replaced Junior High. There were several big race” riots in the remaining years old my secondary education. Surprisingly, I don’t remember having problems with people with different colored skin. I do, however, remember that though we went to “same” schools, we rarely did things with children who were of a different color form u, or from a different part of town. Earth Day songs played by John Denver Appeared. The whole concept of saving our world from pollution and saving our poor from deprivation became a project for various civic groups.

Earth Day, in 2013 is very different from the first Earth Day. The focus, has ironically returned to its roots, but it is now organized, with special events, a more modern focus. As I talk to my grandchildren, who are still young, and to my teen, who is the age I was at earth Days inception, their world is already a much bigger place. News spreads fast, violence is everywhere, most moms have to work, cable TV, cell phones, technology in general are a part of their world from the time of their birth.

Still, I feel something very important is missing from their more protected, more violent, more technological world. There is an expectation of “things”, there are less moms fixing dinner for the family as they talk about how their day went. The is a lack of innocence, a lack of closeness and dependence among each other in families that to me is simply sad. Everyone is in their room playing with their ipods, ipads, computer games or watching recorded programs from Cable TV. They are not together, not reading books to the little ones at bedtime, not growing up appreciating the bonds of family or the importance of relationships with real people.

I would like to see Earth Day become part of a new trend towards family, community, doing things because they are right or good, rather that to get extra credit in school or bragging rights at the office. I would love to spend a day, heck a lifetime with my children and grandchildren able to savor the simple things in life, like sitting on a hillside drawing pictures with a pencil and table. My daughter, now the mother of two, won a regional prize or a report with the topic, “We must learn to ‘baby’ “Mother Earth”.

Today, I feel a good topic would be, “We must learn that ‘family life’ exists beyond electronics”.

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The Grinch Who (almost) Stole Thanksgiving

12  The Grinch who Stole Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving day-again. I have come to hate the holidays (hell-a-days) as I have often been caught calling them.  I cook till my back is throbbing, my grown kids do too. We  rush in, eat an early lunch because, invariably, someone has to go to work, or there are other families that want to share the day with them.  Sometimes, married kids who have out of state in-laws will have” their turn” this year. My dad, widower, had another invitation, and I encouraged him to go.

The Grinch in me creeps in. My best friend of 35 years died of cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2004,  I lost my healthy teenaged son six years ago, I lost my health from the stress of his sudden loss, and still struggle with those limitations.  I lost my mom nearly two years ago. I have lost two cousins to cancer since late August. I have a long list of reasons to be the Thanksgiving Grinch.

Still, as everyone reminds me, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have five other children, four grandchildren and two on the way. They all live nearby and I see them often. Despite my health problems and family issues, I am still able to cook, to keep up the family business, and to baby-sit my grandkids now and then. I am often caught  having  fun with my teenaged son and his friends. I am even caught laughing or smiling now and then.

As we rushed through the Thanksgiving meal today, and I was putting away food, my husband came in. He asked me if our next door neighbor, a widow, had gone to her daughters home for the day. As I filled smaller dishes with leftovers, I admitted that I didn’t know.  We take our neighbor her mail and paper every day and take her trash cans up and down on trash day. I rejuvenated the overgrown flower garden her husband used to care for so deeply, back in the summer.  We often sit and visit with her, just as our families have done for generations. She is like a second mother to me. We have been neighbors, more like family, for our whole lives.

As my husband and I talked, I quickly, I got on the phone and called her. After several rings, I imagined she was with her family. Then, she breathlessly answered the phone. I could imagine her struggling to the phone on her walker.

“Hi!” I greeted her.

She returned the greeting with a cheerful voice that made me smile.

“We were wondering if you had already had some Thanksgiving Dinner?” I asked.

“”No, I was just sitting here,” she replied sadly. “I’m alright, I have food.”

“ No Thanksgiving meal? Well, don’t eat anything!” I fussed, “We will be right over with a plate for you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that…” She started.  But I stopped her and said, “We will be right over.” and hung up the phone.

Her house is right next door to our house and I mean a matter of yards, not blocks.  Within five minutes, my daughter and I arrived at her door with four plates of food.,  ham, turkey, dressing gravy, rolls, vegetables, cranberry sauce and desserts. She was sitting on her walker-chair at her back door when we got there.

My daughter turned and grinned at me as we opened her screen door.

“Happy Thanksgiving”, my daughter said, as our neighbors eyes filled up with tears. (My eyes fighting tears as well.

She invited us in and we unloaded the plates of food on her counter.  She told us how her daughter was sick and they had made no plans for the day. We stayed and talked a few minutes, all of us fighting tears. Suddenly, I realized, we were laughing and smiling, telling each other what a blessing it was to have people who loved you.

After a few minutes, we left her to enjoy her food and returned to my house next door. When my husband, son and grandson found out she was spending the day alone, they too, went over and spent a little time with her.

I don’t think there was a dry eye in my house when they returned.  I looked around at the crowd of people, the driveway full of cars and realized something that I had never really thought about before.  Being thankful isn’t about what we have-it is about what we have that we can give to others.

I watched as my children packed up their kids and cars and half empty bowls of food and I thought of all the other people like my neighbor, who would, indeed, spend the holiday alone.  It is easy to bury ourselves in our own grief and stress. Within the sorrow, loneliness, anger and pain of the past few years of my life, I had forgotten how to appreciate what I still had.

The Grinch’s heart (my own) grew two sizes today. Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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The Meaning of a Legacy

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Legacy is a profound word. It tells us that what we are getting ready to read or hear will be known for generations to come.  I like to think of myself as the keeper of a legacy.  Each of us has a legacy, whether we want to or not, whether we share it or not.  I take pride in every one who came before me, for their struggles, their triumphs and yes, even their failures.  That is who I am, who we are as a nation, as a people. I encourage each of you to take the time to preserve the story of who you are, your family’s story,  and to fill up that now-empty page with what the future holds.

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