Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thoughts From The Brighter Side

Sitting in the waiting room of that foreign but familiar place; I wondered what would happen next. I was anxious and nervous; and if they would just hurry up and call my name, I could hear what they had to say and go home. The door that had already swung open three times before, did so once again; this time I was the recipient of the name caller. I stood up the best I could, and put one foot in front of the other; which was much more difficult than I ever remembered it being.

I followed the young man wearing loose, linen clothing and tennis shoes through the open door; passing many people along the way in varied states of discomfort and struggle. Finally, he came to a stop, turned and led me into a huge open room lined with ten beds covered in paper, plastic-lined pillows, and a huge wide screen television on one wall; I’m supposing for our comfort and viewing, and a visitor’s stool sitting next to each bed.

Only one bed was occupied when I went in, by a young boy and what appeared to be his father. I was told to sit on the bed next to him and wait; someone would be with me in a few minutes. The young man as it turned out was being released. He was an 8th grade football player who had hurt his arm. He would have 4 more weeks of no contact sports; then he was clear to go.

Within ten minutes, the beds on either side of me were filled. One with a grown man whose cast would be coming off. He wasn't talking, but his companion sure was; as she lectured on the perils of drinking, the choices we make and where those choices lead us. I could only surmise that maybe his accident had been alcohol related and this was probably just one of many discussions he would endure.

But on the other side of me, be-bopping around without a care in the world, was a little girl with strawberry-blonde hair, a face full of freckles, and probably about 8 years old; who was on her 3rd ankle boot, and had broken each of her arms once each. She was a live-wire, as her mother spoke about how that boot had not slowed her down one bit, she could still climb trees, ride her scooter, and anything else she wanted to do!

I mis-stepped off of my front porch and sprained both of my ankles the Friday before Mother’s Day; I too, am now wearing a boot on one foot while the other is wrapped.  And I can guarantee you one thing; I won’t be telling any tales about climbing trees when this is all over.  But the memory of that little girl and her extra sparkle has made me smile several more times since my accident; so I’m pretty much figuring, that’s how she came to have the bed next to me in the first place. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

High Flying Circus Act

I woke up to the sun blasting through our windows, and the first thing I thought of, was not breakfast or the day that lay ahead; but instead my absolute FAVORITE thing to do on a spring or summer morning. I love sitting out on my front porch glider, with a cup of coffee and a BB Gun; shooting squirrels like Annie Oakley, modern day style.

Now just to clear the air of any crazy thoughts about squirrel stew or squirrel and gravy; these squirrels will not be shot for Sunday dinner. There will be NO squirrel stew cooked in my house; not by me anyway. I shoot them because they swarm my bird feeders; I cannot keep them filled with food, because of those crazy, circus flying squirrels. My poor birds are so intimidated, not to mention starving to death!

I will never forget the first time I "tagged" one; I went crazy! He was cocked mid- air, head first, into my feeder. Literally hanging upside down, his claws hooked into the top of the feeder as he ate, face first at the bottom. I popped that varmint right on the back of his head; his tail still wrapped around the limb. That son of a gun froze, his tail let loose; and he dropped, slap to the ground! I jumped up off that glider, whooping and dancing around, like I had killed a prize buck! It was on then, one down and about a million to go. 

Last year this got to be my weekend ritual; I’ll admit, I was addicted. I am no longer sure if it was killing the pesky squirrels or just the thrill of the "tag", which sounds just awful doesn't it? I can remember thinking to myself, this is why people like to hunt so much. Heck, it's gotta help work out some of your aggression's . The jolt of energy and adrenalin it gives you when contact is made is unreal. And these are just tiny, nasty squirrels I'm talking about. Can you imagine the victory of tagging a full grown deer???

Of course, I think my kills are more victorious. What? Are you laughing? Perhaps scoffing? You don't think so? Well of course they are, anybody should be able to tag a full grown deer; A BIG FULL GROWN DEER; just standing there out in the wide blue open. What a target! Try shooting a little squirrel who's flying from one limb to the next, jitterbugging all through the tree; now that ain't easy to do my friend. Talk about needing sharp shooting abilities! 

As I stepped out on my porch this morning, there they were, but I had a lot to get done, the dang squirrel’s would have a reprieve; for now.  But they had better get their climbing gear rolled up a notch or two. `Cause I'm ready, and I'm coming; coffee cup and BB Gun in hand.  As my oldest son loves to say: LOCK AND LOAD SON, LOCK AND LOAD. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

That Woman Is Pretty Special; They Call Her Mom

I don’t know that I ever thought much about it before it actually happened. Even as a girl in my late teens, it just wasn't a thought process. I mean I thought about my own, and when life didn't go my way, I would think briefly about how I was going to do it differently when it was my turn.  How my thoughts of alternate ways would be better and more appropriate. But I think we all do that; don’t we? We all have our heads full of different words, the way we would approach things, and the limits of our tolerances; until it’s really our turn.

Between the time of what we think we would do or say, and when the real time arrives; we have changed, life has changed, and all those plans go out the window.
My plan changed the minute I had my first son. Oh the calls that would travel through the phone lines with questions: why doesn't he seem full enough, why isn't he sleeping longer, or is he sleeping too much? All the calls about ear ache cures, tummy ache solutions; chicken pox antidotes and pink eye scares.

In my memory, I think that I did a pretty good job after the infancy stage had passed. But during the early and late teens, well I needed some ears, some conversations, and advice.  I was a single parent for quite a few years and it’s hard trying to decide all the big things by yourself. There’s a lot of self-inquisitions, examinations, and incrimination's.  I judged myself and my decisions far harsher than anyone else would have in that time; which brings me to my point today.

A real mother is selfless, unwavering, a child’s biggest fan, and loudest cheerleader as well as their toughest opponent. It’s our job to teach our children everything they need to know; i.e.; proper manners, humility, honesty, respect, honor, fairness, integrity, forgiveness and compassion. 

I have two wonderful sons and I had a lot of help getting them where they are now. But my raising's, my on-the-job training I was receiving when I didn't even realize it; is what helped me the most. And the rest, well I think it just comes naturally. The breaks in the voice that only you can hear on the phone 500 miles away, the expressions that will bring us joy and break our hearts, the laughter that we’ll hold as memories for tougher days, and the tears that will leave us wishing we could erase the pain and heal all the hurt.

Any woman, whether she is a foster, bonus, adoptive or birthing woman, who laughs as much as she secretly cries and loves unconditionally, no matter what, until the last breath she takes; is a Mother. I have one of those women in my life; she is my example and my wildest dream still to be accomplished; she is my Mother.  Happy Mother’s Day to my Mama and all the wonderful women that someone calls Mom. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Brother, Can You Spare Some Peace

I might have made my last trip to Birmingham, Alabama this past weekend. My oldest son lives there, but he’s getting ready to move on; to continue his life journey in Seattle, Washington. His partner has an opportunity to continue Graduate school there so they will both be moving this August; and as all you mama’s out there know, Seattle is a long, long way from home.

I traveled with my youngest son and his girlfriend for the trip so I was not alone, nor was I allowed to drive. I asked my son at several different points, coming and going, would he like a rest, for me to take over and drive. At all times, his answer was “I would rather drive while sleeping than let you at the wheel”. I have no idea why he says such things, I've gotten him everywhere he ever needed to be all of his life without any accidents occurring; it must be a man thing.

This weekend I took the opportunity to see exactly what Birmingham had to offer. We saw and did a lot, but the one thing that stayed with me the most was when we toured the Civil Rights Institute Museum which was both amazing and sad. There were films that gave very vivid descriptions of life in that time and none of the words made me very proud. We were the only Caucasians taking that tour, and I have to say in all honesty; I felt very out of place. It was one of the first times in my memory, other than large social events which always make me feel out of place, that I could remember feeling that way; which of course set my mind to thinking about those feelings and why.

Not being admitted to restaurants, public restrooms, drinking out of different water fountains and sitting in the back of buses, all in the name of “you don’t belong here”.  Being called names that are not your own as identification, looked down upon, and treated with cruelty and hatred are not anything I have ever had to endure or experience.  But in that moment of time, sitting in that museum, I imagined how humiliated, degraded, and inhuman African Americans must have felt. I felt ashamed and heartbroken just sitting there watching the films then touring the museum.

The experience for me was about acceptance of all mankind. Not necessarily who or what you believe in, but acceptance that all living men and women have a right to be here and experience life in their own way. To live with and love whom they choose, not who we think they should, to dress differently than our minds may say, and adorn their bodies with the symbols that they believe most represent their hearts and thoughts, no matter that you or I would not.  It is not, nor has it ever been, our place to judge. The sooner we all come to that realization, the more peace we will all find.