It’s always been you…

 

I’m still perplexed,
in awe, really,
that you would long for me so.
That after all my failings,
you would still wish,
more than anything,
for my time and attention to be yours.
All yours.

Now, as my smooth places are not as sleek,
and my buttery, soft skin, not as supple…
Now, when pretty flirtations don’t light up my dark brown eyes,
How is it that that you still pursue me with such desire?

How is it that I can often be satisfied to find your naked toes in the sheets,
but that you always burn to find every inch of me.
You.
You prefer our place under the covers to any high place on earth.
You would clear away any obstacle just to whisper to me quietly.

You.
How you work tirelessly to meet my every need.
How, for all these years, you will deny yourself anything,
to be sure that I have everything.
How you sweat, and fix, and conquer, for the small favor of my high regard.

How can the world send young women to chase after sleek imitations,
with hair and whiskers disarranged just sexily so,
When there’s you?
Girls chasing dreams of fictitious enigmas, which they compare to the bleak, unfulfilling every day.
The bleak, wondrous love I enjoy
every day.

You.
Are there more like you?

You, in the end,
When all the rugged chase is over.
You are my dream come true.
With all your faults and shortcomings, pressed closely against all my finally revealed self…

You.
The faithful warmer in my bed.
You.
The one who has never left my side.
You.
The one who knows just how to lay, so I can wrap my arm around to tuck my hand just so.

You, my dream come true.
The one who loves me,
one step down from God.

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Photo credit: Days Gone By

 

Your life, your signature…

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“Despite overall similarities, each nest identifies it’s maker as surely as an artist’s signature”
Maryjo Koch

 Mommy… Did you know that your nest bears your signature?
When you stand back, what do you see?
I remember the days when my children were small.
My girlfriend would come over with her little battalion of boys
and I would make a pile of french toast.

The children would dress up and run barefoot in the grass.
They would make mud balls in the puddles.
There was laughter.
It wasn’t always neat, but it was always pretty.
It wasn’t expensive, but it was enough.
My nest was full of life.

What does your nest say about your life?
Is there music?
Does a candle flicker, adding a glow to your kitchen?
Have you taken your little one out to plant a seed?
Is there laughter?
Do you have time to drink it in?
Do you find yourself crying tears that flow from a pool of gratitude and love?

Who cares if it gets a little messy, just make sure it’s pretty.
Blanket forts are pretty.
Children in footy pajamas, surrounded by piles of books —
That’s pretty.
The mess of life —
That’s neat.

Or is the place in front of the television,
or the iPad in the lap,
or the phone in the hand — is that stuff of your day?
They will remember
and may become too dull to care.
Don’t allow entertainment to smother the life and creativity out of your children.

Take your little one out to watch the hopping robins tug worms out of the soft ground.
Take them out to pick daffodils and teach them to rub the soft petals on their cheeks.
Help them find the tiny buds that line the branches of spring.
Light a candle and use the fancy tea cups.
Write your signature with flare.
Today won’t come again.

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Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest,
via Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan
Photo credit: Julie Falk 

He wished me Spring

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Spring is the time of year when new life vibrates just beneath the surface of the ground.  The earth is warming and pulsing with life. Seeds are germinating and shafts of green are pushing up through the soil — stretching to receive light. The air is cool, dry and crisp. Birds flit about stealing dried bits to stuff into the small places where they will hide their young. Creatures emerge from their slumber to make the sounds that will build to create the symphony of summer.

Spring is also the time when my mother died. With the cool breeze comes the faint memory of the car ride to the memorial service. The sky was a crisp Colorado blue — the day was cruel in it’s beauty. With her, died everything I ever believed about the world. My personal world construct was shattered.  She was brutalized, her blood was spilled, and her heart stopped beating.
Her life was no more.

I think, if she could have voiced her last wish for me, it would be that I would have a chance — a chance to live a rich and abundant life, a life full of love, a life teeming with relationships.
She would have wished me Spring.

And Spring is when my stepmother died. With the sunshine that calls forth the buds on the trees, comes the memories of our drive to the funeral home and the flurry of decisions. We surrounded her bed as a family on the night she died, unaware that as we prayed to say goodbye, that she would really go. I awoke to the alarm, in the dark of the morning, and crept down the quiet hall to her room- it was time to slip the tiny white pill beneath her tongue to quell the anxiety. But when I got there, the weak heaving of her chest had stopped. But I couldn’t be sure — was she breathing? Her skin was cool — or was it? Should I wake my sleeping father to his dread? Could this be?
It was over.

I think, if she could have voiced her last wish for me, it would be that I would have a chance — a chance to live a rich and abundant life, a life full of love, a life teeming with relationships.
She would have wished me Spring.

And Spring is the time when we celebrate Easter. With the dyed eggs, and the grassy baskets, and the pretty dresses, come the memories of the cross and the horror of His passing. With the opening of the daffodils, I remember the day His life-giving blood was spilled in hatred. And with the rising of the sun, three days later, I remember that the stone was rolled away, and He rose.
But was He really alive? It made no sense.
Did they really see Him?
For Him, it wasn’t over.

He did voice His last wish- a wish that has been carried through the generations. He wished that I would have a chance — a chance to live a rich and abundant life, a life full of love, a life teeming with relationships.
Because of Him, I have access to it all.
He wished me Spring.

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Photo Credit:  Caroline Paulus
A late Easter post dedicated to a blogger in England who, tragically, just lost her son, and is suffering through unspeakable grief.
See her story at The Journey of My Left Foot (whilst remembering my son)
My Friend, He wishes you Spring…

Growing Season

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There are four cars in the driveway now — if I get too close to the edge as I pull in, my tires inevitably slip off and sink deeply into the mud. The slimy ruts fill with water.
Action item:
• Haul in stone to extend driveway.

The grass is greening and the birds have grown loud, as they always do in the Spring.
As I look out the window of the hearth room, I catch a glimpse of a bluebird darting in to build it’s nest in the box on the back porch.

I scan the changing landscape and wonder when it will be dry enough to till.
Never it seems.
Spring always comes in with a soaking that lasts for weeks.
We’ll have to watch for the one weekend that comes — there’s only one.
On that weekend, the ground will be dry enough to till.
Miss it and lose.
Of course, last year, and the year before, and the one before that, and so on,
we were watching soccer games on that one dry weekend.
Hm. Not this year.
No spring soccer for the boy.

I dig into the cold dirt in one of my garden boxes- it’s full of worms, and I smile.
There is a constant rhythm — I believe I hear the beat.
It’s time for another growing season.

Time for my son to graduate.

One day soon, he will leave and take his contagious laughter with him.
He will pack up his crazy shrieks and silly songs and the kisses he plants on the top of my head.
Gone will be the thud of his giant, plodding feet.
My cupboards will no longer suffer the wrath of his vacuum powered appetite.

The halls will grow quiet and hollow with the lack of him.

It’s Saturday and he’s in Nicaragua. He will return and bring with him the final countdown.
And while he’s not leaving immediately, it seems the whole world is about to change.

But for today, it’s time to plant seeds,
for in spite of the mud and the muck, and the fact that I can’t till —
the ground is warming and it’s time for another growing season.
The grass is greening and the birds are growing louder,
and the ruts along my driveway are full of water.

City Spring ~ Country Spring

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I like to read the words of my friends who walk over grates on city streets. I hear the flack-flack-flacking of the train and the whirring of the subway. I smell the city and open my eyes into another world. There is a mass of passing faces and resign as I enter the wave. Vendors are busy and the streets are alive. The concrete is warming and I take my lunch outside. It is Spring in the city.

My friends like to read my words, as I drive the country roads with all my windows down. Old barns dot the landscape and there isn’t a face in sight. Six doe leap across the road ahead of me and I slow to watch them take long, graceful strides before ducking into the woods. The air is soft and cool and the fields hint green. The peepers have emerged from their winter hiding places and their song is the signal — it is Spring in the country.

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Subway photo: James Adamson 

Mud Balls in the Basement

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I can’t seem to let go. It’s not so much the practical things. It’s the words scrawled on little slips of paper. It’s the cement-hard mud balls that were rolled up by tiny hands. It’s the heartfelt message on a Christmas tag. It’s the smooth rock from a happy shore.

Bereft of so many of my own childhood memories, I have always clung to little things. I’m so obsessed with not losing something meaningful that I have been known to dig through my children’s trash as they purge their bedrooms. “WHAT!! You can’t throw that away,” I gasp, as I snatch it and add it to my pile.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not real big on ticket stubs or figurines.
It’s the more important things — like the little construction paper leaves we cut out at Thanksgiving time. Each of us would take one out of the basket, which sat in the center of the table, and write on it what we were thankful for. When the kids were little, they were always thankful for daddy and the dog.

Or it’s the notes — things that indicate who we have been in the world.
It’s the cards and drawings and well-used trinkets.

IMG_9839As a little girl, we moved across country and practically severed all family ties. Because the tiny fragments of family history that I could remember, were not underscored by tradition or cemented by rehearsal- they began to fade away and get buried in the intensity of the painful every day. While my propensity to collect things that bore meaning began long before I lost my mother, her sudden, violent death caused my inadvertent quest to preserve precious memories to grow more intense.

By the time we unlocked the door to Mom’s condominium, the crime had been solved and there was no one around. The bright yellow police tape, which barred the door, was the only obvious sign that anything had taken place at all. Mom had been brutally murdered and her body had been hidden in a closet in the spare bedroom. Ironically, the house was spotless. There was no sign of the argument that had led to her death. The broken statue that had crushed her skull was nowhere to be found and there was no sign of the gun. The bed was made, the cat was fed, and the dishes were done. It took us awhile to find the shadow in the chocolate brown carpet. It was just about the only clue left. Her blood.

As we began to open drawers and dig through closets, we searched desperately for something we could take away that embodied her essence — something that would allow us to keep her. Perhaps some private note that would unravel the mystery — something that was attached to her plaguing sadness. But there was nothing. No diaries. No special jewelry. No treasured trinkets. Only her smell, which was growing faint in the robe which hung on the back of the bedroom door. I tied the robe up tight in a plastic grocery bag with the hope that I could capture her fragrance there. She was a lonely woman. She had no friends that could tell the story of her heart.

Now, some 30 years later, I am thinking through a recent visit to my mother-in-law’s home. In her prime, Joyce was a proud and lovely woman — the consummate hostess, accomplished homemaker, and a keeper of treasured things. She is spending her final days waiting for heaven in the memory ward of a nursing home, unable to speak. Dad is still walking the halls of the house, but nothing is the same without her. As I ran my fingers over the things that used to mean something to her, which are still neatly arranged in her home, I realize her essence is fading. One day soon, all of the treasures that fill Joyce and Stew’s home will be disassembled and divided. If the stories aren’t told that are attached to the objects held dear, they will one day become items to be taken away in a box.

3229343087_c485ed07cf_bThen, as I sat in the middle of a heap in my own father’s basement, wading through the items he and my stepmother collected over the years, I contemplated what it all means. Sally died of breast cancer a few years ago and it’s hard for my dad to figure out what matters. What if he gives away something that could be meaningful to someone? How can he possibly muster the energy to sort through all the things that have no meaning to him without her? Cookbooks and sewing stuff, and bathroom junk, and pretty pictures, and little statues, and extra shoes, and bags, and jackets? There seems to be nothing that truly bears her essence.

In the end, we all lay in our beds and face the end of opportunity. Our piles of stuff, no matter how well pared down, gather dust and go out of style. Much of what we hold dear will be loaded into boxes and hauled to Goodwill. So how do we capture the essence of what has been? It’s not the things we keep that bear meaning. It’s not the bed or the sheets, but it’s the warm place left by the breathing person who slept there. It’s not the after-shave my husband wears, but the way the room smells after he’s gone. It’s not the swing set, but the bare spots left in the grass from all the days little feet wore away patches. It’s not the field, but the path that runs through it.

So, through the connection of many dots, I have arrived at today. I’m going to approach the pile in the basement, and write down the stories that are associated with my little things. Then, maybe, I can let them go and my children won’t have quite so many boxes to take to Goodwill. They won’t have to wonder why I saved a little wooden box full of mud balls.

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Photo Credit: Locket photo by Paula Bailey

The nose pickers

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By the time fourth period rolls around, it’s going on 2:00 and the 4-6 year old children are tired. When I come in, I know I have about 15 minutes to teach the most important parts of my lesson before I start losing them to the play things that surround us in the room. Fortunately, my theatrics are good and the children are enthusiastic. We learn about birds, their homes and their habits. The children sit up on their feet, in tiny blue chairs, and prop their elbows up on the octagonal table that they surround. They are fabulous. At this point in the day, all the hair is marvelously messy — bows are askew and many shoes are untied. They stare at me, wide eyed, as I talk about the size of a hummingbird egg or where an eagle makes it’s nest. The children gasp audibly as they imagine that the woodpecker can actually eat a frog and the red tailed hawk can swoop down and pick up a field mouse with it’s strong talons.

It’s a sweet time… well… except for one thing — and can I just be up front here?
They pick their noses.
They pick. their. noses.
And when I ask them if they need a tissue, they sweetly look up at me and say no.
When I suggestively hand them a tissue- they daintily hold it in one hand, while they pick with the other.
When I whisper to them discreetly, “Please use your tissue — don’t pick your nose,” then, one little darling in particular, will turn her head and bend down a bit in order that she may pick in private.

This drives me to distraction and it’s terribly hard to continue with my lesson whilst suffering through the inner squirm. Since I only have a very short time, for the sake of whatever children are not picking, I have to continue teaching, in spite of whoever is picking.

We always listen to the sound of the bird and then we scroll through bird pictures on my iPad.

Then comes the question — and it always comes.

“Can I swipe it?” And a little finger comes for my iPad.