Friday, June 27, 2014


Your skin begins to dry out like leather; ashy even.  It takes a bottle of lotion a week to keep it from looking like alligator hide. And I don't mean that sweet-smelling girly lotion either. I'm talking about the thick, greasy kind that you keep in the medicine cabinet that smells like your Grandma. Well, now it kinda smells like me.

I cannot see two feet in front of me. And read? FORGET IT. I left out for the grocery store, got half-way up the road, was squinting at the road signs and realized; no glasses. I thought to myself, I can do this, the grocery store is nothing. I buy the same things every week; well yeah, I do, like milk and bread, which I have to read the expiration dates on. I left the buggy right where it stood, on the bread aisle; that was as far as I got.

I used to work with a lady that had a pair of those “store boughts” for every outfit. I remember thinking how cool they were; strapped on a decorative string around her neck. Now I know why they were on a string. Ladies just keep them on your face, admit it, you need them; you’re wearing everybody out creating a search party to help look for them every five minutes. 

I cannot remember much from one minute to the next. I make everybody write everything down. I have a purse full of sticky notes. I have no idea who some of them came from now, but I have them. So if you give me a note, you’d better write your wishes and your name on it, or else you might get a bottle of Maalox instead of the chocolate covered cherries you requested.

I leave myself “reminder” messages on my work phone and house phone. You should see my face at 9am Monday morning when I am listening to the messages I left on my work phone for myself the prior Friday night. As it begins to play I am wondering, whose bossy but familiar voice is that, telling me what to do? Because not only do I not realize I am listening to myself, I no longer remember what the heck I was originally talking about.

I’m headed there and was given another sign of my impending doom the other day; a friend was relaying a story to me about her mother and how seemingly senile she had become. The gist of it was, they were in public and her mother did the most awful, unimaginable thing.  My friend was declaring her embarrassment and shame when I reminded her that we had seen that plenty of times when we worked at a local grocery store a million years ago. The other end of the phone line got quiet and in-between snickers on my end I said; “Don’t worry, as long as we can keep our hands out of our bosoms, digging for money and change, we’re not there; yet.

Friday, June 20, 2014

As The Crow Flies

I wish I could go back. I wish I still had control. I wish I was still in charge. I wish I was still needed. I wish my opinion still mattered, or at the very least, they acted like it still did. These are the chants of all parents I suppose. Or maybe just the mantras of lonesome mothers who have lived vicariously through the lives of their children for as long as they can remember. Circled the bases, played the drums in his first school concert, busted into the end zone, hit the ball off of the tee, wrote his first book, gave his Valedictorian speech, and had his first heartbreak.

My children, my boys, my men; are twenty-eight and nineteen years old. I wasn't ready when the oldest one told me he no longer needed me, and I’m sure not ready now to hear it from the youngest.   It doesn't make sense that he should already be making all of his own decisions and planning his own life without me giving instructions or directions about the best way to do it.  It seems unreal that he could care less if I would do something this way or that, and quite frankly it stuns me that he believes I still know nothing.

It was so much easier when I picked out their clothes, their shoes; aka their little boy sandals because they weren't old enough to know they were supposed to hate them. Took them where they needed to be, on my schedule, not theirs. Cooked and fed them their meals at regular eating times, not like an all-night diner; or sending text messages having to ask are they eating at home tonight, or more accurately, will we even see you tonight before we go to bed. Told them what I expected from them, not wondering what, if anything, they still needed or expected from me.

I can no longer remember the age that I had to reach to realize that my parents were not idiots; that they were not born in a time that had issues so different from my own, and that yes; about so many things, they had been right all along.   I can tell you right now, with the resistance that I seem to be encountering these days, it will be many a more day that will pass before I hear the words; “Mom, you were right, I wish I had listened”.

And that’s okay, I don’t need to be right, I just want to be needed. I want my words to count for something, not be dismissed with the roll of an eye or the swiftness it takes to swat an annoying fly. I want to be respected for if nothing else, that by golly, I got them this far! I brought them all the way to this point, don’t I get any credit for at least that?

It won’t be much longer before my last one is gone. Maybe this is just empty nest syndrome creeping in early; maybe not. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Strong Love, Soft Heart

I grew up with the teachings of a very wise, gentle, soft spoken woman, and a very wise, and sometimes strong-spoken man. If there really is such a plan that I've heard about all of my life, in that your time here on earth is already decided / scheduled from the day you gasp your first breath of air; then I believe that I was raised with the perfect combination of people. But this is what I know for sure, if I hadn't been blessed with the man who was to be my father; the struggles I've faced in my life would have been far harder, more unmanageable, and the losses larger than the wins.

For many years now, I think that you have carried the burden that you were too tough, maybe too rough and blunt with your words and lessons; and I grant you, that maybe for the average person you might have been. But this is a hard old head you had to work with, with thoughts of its own, sometimes making decisions that were not wise, even reckless, often careening headlong into what might have been disaster. 

I know now as a seasoned parent, that the anger, the fight, and seemingly unreasonable behavior you may have displayed; was fear. Plain and simple, it was fear. Fear for what mistakes I might make that would bring life-long changes that I couldn't see leering in the dark, fear for the paths that were filled with landmines and bottomless pits that I clearly could not / would not see.  Fear that I would not have the life that you had already dreamed / imagined for me; but instead a life of pain, regret, and possible loss of self-respect. You were fighting; literally fighting for my life. As a parent now, I know about that fear; because it too, has been mine.

Every conversation, every open floor debate that I've had in my home; your lessons were there. Every hard decision I ever had to make alone, you were there, telling my heart, this will hurt but it has to be done. Every time I was shocked and dismayed by the actions of my children, you were there whispering, they are your children, but they are human’s first, and they will make mistakes. And any time I felt like I could not do it alone, you were just a phone call away.

I imagine it must be tough on a man raising daughters; just as I know it can be tough being a woman raising sons.  I would not be the person I am today without you. I wouldn't have been strong enough, fearless enough, compassionate enough, or as adept in the understanding of unconditional love. There has never been a man who was more suitable for the job of raising me.

Happy Father’s Day to my Daddy, to my husband who is hands down the best bonus Dad in the world; and to everyone that someone calls Father, Daddy, or Pops.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Third Cousin From The Right

Several months ago, a friend of mine posted on Face Book about a family reunion he had just attended that prior weekend. Ironically enough, some of the people he had listed as family members had the same last name of some of my own extended family; which was an unusual last name in my mind. I spent several hours trying to make a connection, via phone calls exchanging information with my mother, then back again, to that post on FB. As it turned out, there was no blood connection, but it sent my mind to wondering how much we really are not in touch any better than we could be. 

At times like these I am reminded that my family tree, both branches from which my particular limb stems, are not the most connected that they could be; as the roots have spread throughout different states on the map and those branches have created limbs of their own. But in reality, none of that is intentional; families are just busy building their foundations. Raising their children, being present for everything in life they will love and want to participate in, helping them to follow their beliefs and form their own opinions; because that’s how we were raised, weren't we?  

Several weeks ago my cousin who was within months of being the same age as myself; passed away after six years of fighting one form of cancer or another. I spent a night in her grandmother’s home probably 40 years ago now, but I’m not sure if she was there or not. I have no memory of her and have only recently seen some pictures.

These are the things I wished I had known about her and what she liked: did she laugh loud and with her whole body, her favorite author, country music or rock and roll, the smell of a saltwater ocean or fish-filled lakes, comedies or romantic movies, and what were her biggest passions. From the pictures that I saw, I feel sure her children were her life and that she fought until the end like a champ; determined to leave on her own terms. She was a strikingly beautiful woman with a smile that lit up the world, radiating all that was within.  

Family's and the people in them are all characters in a book. Whether they are the foundations, the wallflowers or the color. We should embrace all the branches, limbs and leaves that make up who we are as people. Character runs just as deep as blood, facial recognition and flaws. I wish I had decided this before now; before I had lived a half century myself. I wish I had slowed down long enough to take the time to ask questions before, more and often, and of more people. It makes me sad to think of all the memories that are lost, whether in the minds that can't remember or in the minds of those gone before us. They called her Leandra, her memory will live on.