Posts tagged Red Writing Hood

Fresh Flowers on the Grave



Image courtesy of Unsplash.


I walked up the hill as I so often did. My 15-year-old son rested there with a black obsidian stone that we had ordered from Africa standing guard. Many people had left mementos over the 7 ½ years since that night of hell when we lost him. There were tiny figurines, glass etchings, a link of chains with the number of people who were supposed to be in our family, notes, items from his favorite ball teams. Then, along with Christmas ornaments and coins, we kept a vase of artificial flowers.

Ironically, I often found black widow spiders on the flowers or near the stone. Since I study arachnids, it was like a special message from me-one that spoke of the anger we both felt from the loss of his life through mistakes and excuses. When I looked at other graves in the large cemetery, I found only one other place with a black widow spider-my mother’s grave.

As I walked up the hill on this early summer day, I noticed a new container of flowers sitting in front of the stone. They were light orange with delicate leaves dancing in the breeze. As I reached the grave, I realized that the flowers were fresh. It was unusual to find fresh flowers on a grave that was not a new grave because they do not last long in the heat and wind.

I knelt down to look at a small note attached to the vase that held the flowers. On the front , I could see a set of fading initials-it had rained the night before and I couldn’t read them. As I turned the little note over, I saw a delicate pink heart. I smiled. He never got the chance to experience true love, but after all these years, someone still loved him, thought of him. Without coming to a conclusion about who the flowers were from, I smiled, ran my fingers across his name as I always did and knelt down by the stone, whispering, “I love you.”

I was reminded of something my grandfather used to tell me. “As long as someone loves you, and remembers what you loved and dreamed, you will never be forgotten.” The scent of fresh flowers wafted in the air. For just a moment, I was with him and this time, we were not alone.








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Memories of a Night’s Dim Light

creative writing prompt, fiction writing prompt, memoir writing prompt

The light flickered dimly on the dark, round table. She noticed the curve of the three legs, all sprouting from the tables underside. “What hand had carved these legs, “ she thought.  “What purposed did he have for the table when he carved it.”

She sat in the lone chair pushed up to the table and cupped her cold hands around the warmth of the flame.  It flickered, as if in protest, ands she moved her hands away just a bit, as the flame regained its strength.

Outside, the wind whistled in the night.  The quarter moon shone dimly in the window. There were no curtains to block the view of  the moon, a flash of stars, the outline of the Big Dipper.

For a moment, she sat quietly, contemplating her next move.  She had walked up the hill to the house her grandmother had been born in, searching for a place where her thoughts could flow freely and help her decided what to do.

She remembered the old radio she had brought here months before and walked to the shelf and turned it on. The radio hummed to life, a static in the background reminded her of the battery-powered radio she had listened to in bed at night as a child.

“The Geminid meteors will be visible tonight.” The radio announcer boldly spoke into the semi-darkness of the room.  She left the radio on, but returned to the table, remembering a long ago night when her father had come to her room, awakening her at 2 am.

“Come here, honey, I want to show you something.” he had whispered as he stroked her hair.  She had mumbled about being cold and sleepy as she slipped on her   and house coat and followed him outside.” Shivering, as he held her, she waited and waiting until she say a meteor streak by and then another.  That memory crept back into her mind as she lifted the candle and walked toward the door.

She sat the candle on the porch rail and walked into the field of dead December grass. Suddenly a brilliant streak of light flashed across the sky as a whip of wind made the candle’s flame shudder.

A smile crossed her face as another meteor appeared in the western sky. Her answer seemed so clear now, so obvious.  She shivered again, wrapping her arms around her to hold her sweater shut, reached over, gently picked up the candle and walked back inside.

The radio announcer was still humming out the news, but she wasn’t listening. She turned it off, blew out the candle and walked quietly out the door. As she walked back to the home she had lived in her whole life, she could see herself in that little house, reborn, renewed, refreshed. The light from the candle, the light in the sky , it was a sign. Yes, this would be her home.

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The Healing Wind-beginning of Part one

When I was eight years old, my family lived in a railroad  flat in Philadelphia.  It was a second floor walk up in an old, working class neighborhood.  Sometimes, things got rough between my parents. Many of my nights had been filled with the terrifying sounds of their fights.  I knew he hit her, but I had never actually seen him do it. I was afraid of him and I often hated him.  He would leave for a few days, while Momma tried to explain away the bruises. Then, he’d be back and things would go all right for a while .  Then one night, when my brother and I were supposed to be asleep,  I saw him hit her , over and over again.  Then next ten years of my life were spent trying to stop that slow-playing memory from moving through my head.  All I could think of was trying to leave that place and those memories behind me; to find a way  and a place  where I could heal.
Momma was standing in the kitchen in her old pastel nightgown.  She was pleading with  Daddy .
“We don’t have any food in this house. The bills haven’t been paid.”
I saw the anguish in her brown eyes.  She wiped a tear on the sleeve of her nightgown.  Her head was bowed as she continued.
“They are cutting the lights out tomorrow, we won’t electricity.”
“Shut up, woman!”  Daddy shouted, slamming a newspaper onto the table.  He was angry.  I could tell he had been drinking, that always made the anger flare in him.
Momma saw me at the corner and seemed to regain her strength.  “What did you do with the money? Drink it up?  Gamble?  Our kids have to eat!”
His face was red and he was yelling at Momma.

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A Child no More

Suddenly, I must look at this person I gave birth to, love,  nurtured in a completely different perspective.

One day, my child is playing in the sand, rolling cars or dressing baby dolls. Without realizing how time has rushed by, I realize I am now looking at a person that I may have given birth to, but has become a unique person of their own making

You, wrapped in a soft blanket,
tiny, tight fist, ready to fight this evil world.
I hold you to my waiting breast
as you unfurl your fist and
hungrily taste life for the first time.

My whispered words to you
as I gazed onto your face
for the very first time-
Hello, little lady, or
There’s my young man.

Now, racing through my mind
come priceless memories,
first smile, first words, first step.
So many new pages
fill your book each day,

Always hoping the story never ends.
I see you growing,
Instars in a journey
that will take you to places
I have never been.

You dance and change
so quickly I can’t keep up,
More amazing with every step.
I see you as a chrysalis,
wanting to soar.

I close my eyes tightly,
Life’s pages ripple by.
I’m afraid to let you go,
Will you stay near,
Will you be here at all?

I watch silently, in awe
with aging, tight fist
as each of you ascends
into your own unique
and always perfect butterfly.

A tear rolls down my cheek,
soft blanket in my arms.
I can no longer hold you,
in those arms, but always
in my heart, my soul, my dreams.

Whether you fly
off into the heavens
or stay near  me
on this earth,
You are, and always will be

The best of me that I could give.

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Resilience or Persistence?


Day 4 after I cut down the morning Glories and piled the, by the road.


Day 6 after I cut down the Morning Glories and plied them by the road

The definition of resilience is the ability to recover or adjust easily. This is the first word that came to mind when I saw morning glories blooming hopefully in purples and magentas on vines I had pulled from my sons bank a week ago. I admit, I felt a bit guilty  about having to pull them, they were pretty, but they were winding around the other flowers and turning the yard into a jungle. I did leave the ones that weren’t in the way.

The days have been cool here in the mountains and the infamous August dew and fog had given the vines moisture even as they were piled on the ground, with their stems no longer rooted. I have watched the flower vines everyday as I waited on my son’s bus.  They were piled by the curb, several feet high, and blooming desperately as if determined to make next years seeds in spite of my interference.

When I looked up the definition of resilience, I felt it was more applicable to some of the people I have known who have so valiantly fought disease or disability, than to the flowers, because they could not recover or adjust in any long-term way. They were simply doing what nature programmed them to do-reproduce, so that next year, there would again, be banks overgrown with tangled vines of beautiful wild flowers.

I then thought of the word, perseverance, and in my dictionary , it was simply defined as “to persist”. Somehow, that word seemed more applicable to the struggle of the flowers to make seeds before the sun and lack of moisture did them in. As a person who both loves and respects nature and its ways. I felt rather small in my tendency to let life’s, struggles defeat me when a wildflower, plucked from the ground could continue to nourish its blooms in spite of all odds.

I believe that the memory of the perseverance of the morning glories will stick with me the next time one of life’s little obstacles gets in my way.

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Home Alone (or so they thought)


Those of you who follow my blog have learned about black widows, Copperhead, butterflies, and mushrooms. You have stuck with me through despair, loss, memories, and simple joys. I feel that now, is the time to add a little humor to my blog, and so, I relate this narrative of an evening with my 32-year-old daughter as we laugh our way through a little exercise in cooperation with two teens and three preschoolers.

I was taking a late night walk with my son and his friend when we came upon my daughter with a car full of little ones as they pulled into my son’s driveway. She had traded babysitting duties with her sister-in-law and it was her turn to take care of his two boys, ages 5 and 2 ½, along with her own 4-year-old daughter.

Tired, but armed with a bag of Mc Donald’s goodies, she begged us to say and keep them company for a while. As the food disappeared, and they night wore on, my daughter and I noticed that the teens and preschoolers had retreated to the older boys bedroom and were watching cartoons, oblivious to the world.

Our evil minds started working. “They don’t know we’re on the planet.” I lamented.

“Wonder how long it would take them to notice if we left?” my daughter laughed.

My eyebrows shot up as I smiled. “Let’s find out!”

She looked at me quizzically as I continued. “ Let’s go sit on the porch and we can hear them if they come looking for us. We could just sit and enjoy the quiet night air and see how long it takes.”

She, being my daughter, was intrigued. “The older ones are teenagers, they aren’t going to leave the little ones unattended.”

“And we can hear them if anything is going on.” I added.

We giggled in unison and headed for the front door, where we discovered two school-type chairs amidst the toy disaster area, and began to relax. We talked about our aching backs, and the exhaustion of dealing with a house full of little ones. She complimented me on  having done “the 24/7 mom duty” for so long with six kids of various ages. I laughed as I told her that “she was getting what she deserved” from her intuitive, intelligent four-year old girl, so much like her mother had been as a child.

Time went on, as we began to notice how the teens had done exactly what we expected. They had  taken over and watched the little ones in our absence. To be honest, we were feeling a bit unneeded, when we finally heard the teens in the living room, wondering where we had gone.

I heard my son tell his friend that, “They  probably just went on a walk and will be back soon.” at which time, they returned the  boys bedroom where the little ones were still watching TV.

The little ones, were well aware that it was way past bedtime and that their chances of staying up depended solely on it being the wide-wake teens, rather than the worn out mom and grandma, who were watching them. Thus, they were stoically unconcerned about our ‘disappearance’.

Finally, when my daughter and I decided we had proved our hypothesis, (that the teens would take over, and dutifully watch out over the little ones), we went to the door and turned the handle.

“Crap,” I fumed, “We’re locked out.”

“Oh, yeah,” my daughter remembered, “if you don’t set that door knob just right, you can’t get back in without the key!”

We stood, giggling in the moonlight as we began knocking loudly on the door, calling for the teens to come let us in.

I think the teens had figured out our game by then and had decided to make us pay.  We heard them laughing together about how long they should make us wait before they pretended to finally hear us and let us in.

My daughter was slamming her hand against the wooden door, yelling, “Hey, let us in, we’re locked out!” when they finally came and opened the door.

“Something wrong? My son grinned as he stood in the doorway.

“You know….” I started, as he began to laugh and stepped aside.

Everything was quiet and in order, little ones still staring at the tube. We felt totally unnecessary.  The teens got a kick out of our trick backfiring on us and we got a little well deserved privacy at their expense.

My grown children  have made it a primary goal in their lives to get me to laugh, play jokes, be silly, like I used to be before I lost their brother, (my son), my health and so much more.  I am sure that my daughter was thinking, “Score one for the team.” as we left to allow her to finally get on with her bedtime routine.

Once again the teens showed me that they were capable, responsible and mature. They are also a lot easier to “take care of”, as my daughter reminded me as I left her with three screaming little ones who didn’t want to go to bed.

After a morning when I had practically “kissed” a Copperhead,  and an evening filled with memories, joys and laughs like I hadn’t experience in years, I slept through the night for the first time since I can remember.

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The Lost Art of Longhand

The Lost Art of Longhand

I have always admired people who had a beautiful  and consistent longhand script. I considered the ability to have that lovely artistic flow to one’s handwriting as a talent, a peek insider one’s innermost self.  I always blamed my fourth grade teacher for robbing me of this talent. She didn’t approve of the way I held my new ink pen, complete with light blue ink cartridges that had to be changed at regular intervals.  It was such an exciting new skill for me.  I loved the way the ink flowed onto the paper, how the heaviness of my hand on the pen would change the amount of ink in my writing, and thus the depth of each letter with every stoke of the pen..  It carried such emotion, such feeling.  

Several of my cousins had developed this lovely, passionate longhand.  I admired it and found myself rather jealous of their skill, for it seemed that no matter how much I practiced, my “cursive” had a sloppy, uneven texture to it that made it seem insincere and unprofessional.

I have loved exploring  my family’s past from the time I was a teenager. Among the treasures that my grandmother kept in a quaint old wardrobe were copies of letters and photographs dating back to the Civil War. My favorite letters were those written by my great-great-grandfather when he was a prisoner in a Yankee prison camp in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. It was surprising to me that even many educated men in this era had developed a lovely script and flow to their writing.  Somehow, the beauty of the longhand, itself, seemed to fill his thoughts  with a sort of prose. There would be hopeful letters reporting that “no one else had died” in the camp, or emotional letters of how he longed to meet his son, born while he was a prisoner of war.  Later, when he worked as a surveyor and traveled, he had written this same son, now grown, a letter of advise on what to do to insure the success of his upcoming marriage. His dark, elaborate script brought his words to life.

My aunt had inherited a collection of another relative’s Victorian-era Post Cards. Many of them had photographs of loved ones on the front of the card, as was the style during that time.  Each card would draw out to the reader details surrounding current events in the life of the person or persons pictured. I remember my aunt using her finger to trace the delicately slanted script that filled the back of each card.  The beauty of the handwriting served to enhance the details of her captions.

Remembering my struggles to develop the artful script of longhand writing, I encouraged my daughters to work on the quality of their “cursive”, as it was called, when they were around nine or ten years old. This “coming of  age” event, when we were  allowed to write in cursive was a big deal when I was in school. Even fifteen years ago, when most school papers were written by hand, the art of using “cursive” instead of print was becoming less important.  Sadly, the older daughter never really learned to write in a traditional cursive script, and the younger one rarely used the nicely flowing script she developed when word processors became the way to write papers and e-mail and face book took the place of writing letters.
Perhaps, now that we have realized that using longhand to communicate is becoming a lost art, we will seek to teach its beauty and heritage much as we have begun to revere the customs and languages of our forbearers.  There is something about seeing a letter written in someone’s own hand, that makes it more personal, gives it life and personality.  Indeed, longhand is much like any craft we might learn, it serves to remind us of a more simple time, when people took pleasure in communicating their feelings and didn’t mind investing the time required to do it.

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