This Woman

This woman, who is my mother, was born in 1931.  She began working when she was 8 years old picking beans on a local farm.  At the age of 15, she quit school to work in the fields full time in order to support her family.  She married at the age of 17 and went on to give birth to 8 children.

This woman, my mother, along with my father raised the children in the most modest of means.  They only had one car.  To make ends meet, my father worked during the day and my mother worked as a waitress at night.  This woman didn’t sleep many hours each night because she would arrive at home around 3 am and have to be up at 6 am to prepare lunches and get children off to school.

This woman lived in a rural setting.  The food store was 4 and a half miles away.  She gathered her small children and they walked to the grocery store because she could only afford a taxi one way.  That is how the groceries made their way into our home.

This woman’s life was very hard but she was always a devoted wife and mother.  She was our plumber, painter, window washer, landscaper, fixer-upper, maid and cook all rolled into one.

This woman had to stretch the budget so she became very creative in the kitchen.  When there wasn’t enough money to buy meat she would create a fanciful dish out of mashed potatoes and vegetables.  She placed the mashed potatoes in the center of the plate.  She then placed a piece of toast cut into four triangles into the potatoes to create sections.  In each section was a different vegetable.  She dipped the tops of the toast into red beet juice to make it look pretty.  She made homemade bread, starting with the flour and water and yeast, she kneaded the dough out on our kitchen table.  She punched the dough and rolled it and got a full workout while doing so.  Then the dough would rise for about an hour and she would continue the kneading process two more times.  After the third rise of the dough, she would knead it out, form it into the baking pan and put it in the oven.  The aura of fresh bread could be detected as we rounded the corner on our way home from school.  Using the same method of rising dough, she also made homemade pizza using seven cookie sheets.  There weren’t any leftovers.

This woman continued to raise her children who were still living at home through the heartache of losing my father when he was only 48 years old.  She was 45 at the time.  Still, a young woman left on her own to continue the life that she and my father had created.

This woman is now 87 years old.  She is full of life even though her body moves just a tad bit slower.  She still creates beautiful gardens that she lovingly tends to each day.  If she is not gardening, she is inside the house crocheting beautifully handmade afghans.  Her mind is complete and sharp as a tack.  Her sense of humor and ability to not get offended makes her the best of company.

Mom's afghan

Mom the gardener

This woman, my mother, is my best friend.  I admire her strength and courage to move forward no matter how hard her life became.  She’s tiny now, white-haired and looking fragile.  But looks can be deceiving.  She’s got the spirit of a 17-year-old girl and the strength of a lion.

 

What’s Under the Cover?

Recently, I’ve been hanging around with some awesome ladies.  Some that I have known a while and some new friends.   There are the elderly ones, those of my own age and some younger.  Once again, I become an observer of people who are not what you see visually.  You can look at a person and see an old woman and leave it at that.  But, after taking the time to listen, you find that you can never judge a book by its cover.

For example, I’ve met this wonderful woman, who I have seen before and known her only as a friend’s mother.  I assumed she’s mother material just like all mothers.  Now she’s older and that’s that.  After spending an evening with her, I found her to be spunky, strong, independent and hilarious to be around.  She has lived a hard life of sorts, raising three daughters as a single mother.  She’s worked her whole life in a time when women were considered lesser than men in the workplace.  Now wait a minute, I should say in a time when it was even worse for women in the workplace than it is now.  It still isn’t equal in my opinion. She recounted stories of her working days of how men tried to undermine her because they didn’t want a woman in her particular position.  She’s a soft-spoken woman so you would never think that she would stand up for herself.  But in her soft-spoken way, she handled these men with the might of a warrior.  She put them in their place and would not accept being looked down upon because she was female.  She’s had to be the strong one her whole life and she knows that there are times when men will take advantage of the unassuming old woman who just walked in the door of a car dealership.  They are eventually sorry for their mistaken assumptions when she tells them exactly the way it’s going to be.  They never saw that coming.  The treasures that she has lived need to be shared.  Younger people need to hear her stories because they don’t have a clue about how good they have it now.  It’s so refreshing to see the elderly and realize that were young once, they have lived a life and yes, they know about all the stuff that we think we should shelter them from.

I have a friend who just became a grandmother for the first time.  Her daughter is a hard-working young woman and is just returning to work after being out on maternity leave.  My friend shares the ‘goings on’ of the new young family.  Her son-in-law is not as prepared as he thought he was to be a parent.   The baby was born premature so it has been even more difficult these first few months than with having a full term pregnancy.  With that being said, the mamma has to go back to work and schedules have to be rearranged.  The daddy will need to take a more active role with the baby.  But, as my friend relays to me:  “I think he’s got a screw loose.  He doesn’t have a clue.”  My friend is the easiest going person with a great sense of humor.  The young family is preparing to go on a ‘vacation’ to visit daddy’s family.  As they prepare and begin packing the car, the son-in-law seems not quite up to the task and states, “I am on vacation.”  I had to laugh when my friend told me this story because her eyes got so big as she was telling me this.  Both of us were shaking our heads and almost simultaneously said, “Doesn’t he know there is no vacationing from being a parent?”  Oh My, mister, mister has a rude awakening coming.

A new friend of mine who is around my age, in her fifties, has a remarkable sense of humor and a glorious soul filled with love.  She is the true example of, “When life gives you lemons…”.  When situations get difficult and stress is riding high, her mind just grabs out of thin air the funniest responses.  She told me a story of when her mother was in the hospital after an accident.  She and her sister were in the waiting area of the hospital for several hours.  They both would go in and out of her mother’s room and check on her.  As they were sitting there, someone came out to let them know how their mother was doing and out of the blue, she said, “What are you talking about, our mother is in the room down the hall.  She’s been sleeping this whole time.  We have been checking on this woman because we heard of her troubles and thought we would just wait here and keep an eye on her.”  Of course, she was joking but the attendant didn’t understand and noted how wonderful these two women were for waiting and attending to a complete stranger. This woman makes everything fun and she makes everyone that comes in contact with her feel like family.  She is the most hilarious person to be around.  When I am around her we laugh and giggle and share off-color silliness throughout the day.  This is how she is every day.  I just love being around her.  It’s funny to watch younger women around her respond to her humor.  There’s a younger woman in her 20’s that works with her.  A young person at first doesn’t know how to react to a woman in her 50’s with such a sense of humor.  The younger ones think the 50’s crowd is old and stuffy and that we don’t know what’s what in the world because they are young and they have created everything new.  Hahaha, the joke’s on them because we are the ones who really know how to have fun.  The 20-year-old is now getting used to the silliness and is enjoying every bit of it.  Hopefully, she will realize that us old folks do know a thing or two or three.

I have friends of all different ages and each age group and individual friend has so much to offer this world.  Sometimes I think we should put blinders on when we meet people so that we can’t make a judgment by what we see.  Too many people are missing out on real, meaningful relationships because their vision is so short-sighted.  There are treasures out there but I think we have to close our eyes, open our ears and our hearts so that we can feel the abundance of love that everyone has to offer.  Love comes in all different forms.  The story of a person’s life is a gift of love, knowledge and a new way of envisioning this life.  Grab the jewels and keep them with you forever.  They will enrich your life to the fullest.

 

This Morning’s Ponderings

My family woke up to a beautiful, calm and sunny morning.  We live near the bay so we decided to grab McDonald’s and go sit down at the dock and eat our breakfast. Sitting by the water can be contemplative.  We sat in silence for a bit as we ate and then we chit chatted.

Between my observations and light conversation these are the things that came to mind:

We were talking about the tide.  Today it was high but we discussed how last week when we came it was a moon tide and at high tide, the water was exceptionally high.  This took my mind to ponder the power of the moon.  I began to ramble the following; “Don’t you think it is amazing how powerful the moon is?  The moon has power over all of the water on the earth.  The moon has power over the big water that seems so uncontrollable.  You laugh at me every time I get excited about the full moon but look how cool she is?  Family looked at me and just shook their heads because I get so emphatic about such things.

There is a large diving bird with a long neck that was floating out on the water.  These birds are known as Cormorants.  They float on the water and then they dive deep into the water looking for food.  The amazing part is how long they can stay under the water.  We were watching him dive under and speculating where he would come back up at.  Once again, I rambled.  That’s what I do.  I can’t help but find wonderment in the little miracles of life.  I mean, here is a bird that flies but he can also dive deep into the bay.  I think that is really cool.

We sat and soaked up the morning sunlight and the very slight breeze.  The morning salt air was so refreshing.  I always look around and see who’s coming and going and this morning was no exception.  The first thing I noticed was all the old men lined up on the dock with their fishing poles.  I love listening to the old men discourse about using the right bait and tell silly stories back and forth.  Somehow I find it gratifying to hear them banter.  There seems to be treasure in their conversations.

Step-daughter and I walked along the dock, peeking over to look at the water.  It’s intriguing to watch the water move.  You never know what you might see swimming by.  I always try to envision what’s going on down below.  Are the crabs swimming beneath, what kind of fish are coming in with the tide?  Today it seemed that the old men were fishing for blowfish, a kind of fish that inflates it’s body when alarmed.  And of course, that leads to another mesmerizing observation for me.  I could go on all day about how fascinating nature can be.

We joined step-daughter’s father to observe and soak up some more delight on this fine morning.  A mother came walking with her three young sons, probably around the age of 8 or 9, as she pushed a stroller with a little girl of about 3 years of age.  The three little boys each had a fishing pole and a net.  They were all barefooted.  When I saw this vision of a family come to the dock, a huge smile grew across my face.  In the world we live in today, it’s an unusual sight to see children enjoying kid stuff.  The three boys immediately cast out their fishing poles into the water.  They weren’t worried about having the right bait or what kind of fish were biting this time of year.  They were simply living in their moment of glory, doing the things that memories are made of.  I watched the little girl climb out of her stroller and walk from one boy to the other while her mamma just sat back and watched.  It was truly a magnificent sight to behold.  Immediately, my rambling began;  ” I just love watching kids be kids.  I remember when I was little, I never wore shoes in the summer.  I was always barefoot.  We used to climb trees and play in the dirt with our hot wheels cars, my sister and I.  It gives me great satisfaction to know that there are still the little pleasures of life being enjoyed by these kids.”

A simple but beautiful morning at the dock digs deep into my soul and gives me the satisfaction of a spiritual revival.  I feel invigorated after our visit this morning.  My soul feels at peace and satisfied.  I love watching life being lived in the simplest ways.  My heart is so full I think it could burst.

Enjoy your day, your family, and find peace in all that you do.  It feels amazing.

Happy Mother’s Day to Me

Watching the little child play is heartwarming.  This time around, I am allowing a child to be a child for as long as he wants. That was my mindset back in those days. The first-born child wasn’t given that luxury.  I was young and rigid and only knew what I knew as a new parent.  I expected so much out of him.  I loved him more than life itself but I placed responsibility on him that far exceeded what a child should have to do.

The second-born child lived free and easy.  He still had responsibilities, but more appropriate for his age.  I was in a better place too, in my life.  Happier than I had been when the first-born came along.  A bad marriage can do that to a person.

A second marriage came along when my second-born child was three.  We had a new family and happier times.  We had more of a family atmosphere.  We did things as a family and it was so refreshing to realize a new life with new possibilities.

Along came my third child.  This child was more challenging than the first two.  Very strong-willed, smart and stubborn.  This one was also given responsibilities but she would decide, at her discretion, whether she would comply or not.  Whatever mood hit her at the time.

All three children were very different from each other.  It only makes sense.  I was a different person each time I gave birth.  There was 5 years difference between each of them.  Three children born and raised together with three very different personalities.

Today, they are all grown and each has moved in their own direction.  The first-born has a wife and four children.  He’s a very quiet and contemplative person. They live in the neighborhood that he grew up in.  It makes my heart smile to know that there was something special about his childhood that he wanted to stay in the same place and raise his children there.  The second-born has a wife and two children.  His path has been a bit more complicated.  After serving our country for many years, he now lives in the southern part of the United States.  He’s got such a great sense of humor and although he doesn’t live close by, he holds onto family traditions very dearly. He wants things to be the same for his kids as they were for him as a child. My third child is recently married and currently serving our country in the armed forces.  She is the most independent of the three.  She moved south also.  She built a life of her own, on her own terms and is set on a path of determination to reach a career goal within the time frame she planned very carefully.  As independent as she is, she likes to create traditional holidays.  She likes to make all the traditional foods that she grew up with.

I am very proud of my three children.  All so different and yet in some ways, very much the same.  All three cling to family traditions more than I thought they would.  All three are friends now that they are adults.  That is something I wasn’t sure would come to fruition but it’s true.  I love all three with every fiber of my being.

Raising children is not for the faint of heart because they don’t stay children.  They become pre-adolescent and behave in more difficult ways to handle.  Then, they become teenagers, which is not my favorite life stage at all.  Those days are stress riddled with all kinds of grown-up situations, yet still children in adult bodies.  Finally, adulthood where they strike out on their own and make their mark in the world.  Sometimes, their mark isn’t easy for a mother to watch.  They all have their own bumps and rollercoasters to deal with in their lives.  But, as a mother,  I’m still riding those rollercoasters with them even though they are not my lessons to learn.  We are tied together forever and every situation in my children’s lives will always affect me.  That’s just how mothers are.

I am thankful to have become a mother.  Throughout struggles, trials, tribulations, celebrations, graduations, grandchildren and everything in between, I have grown because of my children.  I thank each and every one of you for the gifts that you are in my life.

Kids will be Kids

 

 

 

The other day, I was sitting in my car in the driveway,  waiting for it to warm up.  As I sat there, I noticed two kids around the age of 8 years old, walking to school.  I noticed that neither one of them had their hoods on, even though it was very cold outside.  As I sat and watched them, a few things occurred to me.  It seems uncommon to watch children actually walk to school these days.  More often than not, parents are driving their kids to school if the kids aren’t taking the bus. If you live within a certain proximity to the school, your child is assigned as a ‘walker’.  Most of these ‘walkers’ get rides from their parents.  As I watched these two little ones, it felt very refreshing to watch them walk to school together, on their own, without parents hovering.  It made me smile to see something that took me back to my childhood.  How can children learn to become independent if they aren’t even allowed to walk to school alone?  It’s only a block or two away.  In my mind, I find this very sad.  I watch as parents indulge their children at every turn.  It is not abuse to expect your child to walk to school if they are assigned as ‘walkers’.  The simple act of walking to school, or to walk to their friends house seems to be disallowed.  The result of this indulgence by parents will enable a child to grow up and expect even more from those around them.

It’s a bigger issue here than just allowing children to go outside by themselves.  You rarely see children playing with neighborhood kids anymore.  The parents take the kids over to their friends house and pick them up.  God forbid, they require their children to get any physical activity whatsoever.  This is creating a self indulgent society for the future and we wonder why “kids” in their 40’s are still living at home with their parents.

Anyway, as I sat watching these two children, I mentioned that they didn’t have their hoods on even though it was very cold.  At that moment, I watched two 8 year olds actually think for themselves and lift their hoods on because they felt the cold.  Imagine that.  They were capable of making a good decision even without the parents hovering over them.

Being the observer of these kids for just a few moments, gave me great insight.  First, it warmed my heart to see them doing what all kids should be doing and that is walking to school by themselves.  In this society today, we live in fear of everything and we are passing that fear along to the children.  Living in fear will only create hardships.  I would love to see the children living in love, being open to the world around them.  Instead, they are holed up in their homes, playing video games and afraid to talk to people face to face.

The second thing that I realized was that without any prompt from a parent, they instinctively put their hoods on when they felt cold.  Children are smart.  They know when they are cold or not.  Parents have taken away these small lessons of children thinking for themselves and making their own decisions by insighting fear into everything and not allowing these children the space to evolve into full functioning adults, one step at a time.

Two small children gave me a bountiful gift that day.  They gave me great joy by watching children be children.  I smile when I see children playing ball in the street in my neighborhood.  It’s not something you see too often anymore.  It’s so sad to know that kids aren’t being kids anymore.  I’m even more sad to know that it’s happening because of parents’ inability to cope with their own fears and challenges.  It’s creating a cycle of sadness, dependance and self indulgence.  I can only pray that there are still those families that are willing to ‘live on the edge’ and allow the kids to be kids and learn the things that life can teach them in simple daily activities.

Despair: There’s a Better Way

 

 

Complacency.

Stuck.  Wandering around aimlessly.

Routine  deadens her inside.  Lack of inspiration and imagination.

Trying to shake it off. Trying to pull herself out of this hole.

What will the catalyst be? The thing that turns it all around.  Where will she look to find it?

Drowning in same old.  Where’s the spark?  The burning desire to catapult her into energy and joy.  Where does she turn, Who does she  turn to?

Sleeping doesn’t give her joy, it only numbs her for a time. She awakens, desensitized of gratefulness to be alive.

She shouts, “Somebody, please show me the way to be happy.  Where are you?”

She’s tired of feeling this way.  She is so damn tired.

She asks, “Where will I find the change that I need?  Where does it come from?  Why don’t I know the answer? ”

Her thoughts are racing . “I cannot help myself.  I need help. I need to find myself.  I need to find love.”

She  closes her eyes,  trying to imagine one thing that makes her smile.

She recalls the feeling of the moonglow on her face and the sense of peace she felt.  Could it be?  Can she bathe in the moonlight tonight?  What will stop her? She knows she can do this.  She can find the energy in herself to do this. This is the night.

Ah, there it is, in all it’s illuminating essence, the glorious moon.  She feels blanketed  in it’s brilliance. Suddenly , she feels protected and empowered.  She has found a new friend.  As she sits and deliberates, she realizes that,  it”s always been there. She acknowledges that she’s  been too locked away inside her grief and torment to notice it.  She feels  such solace from this great ball of light.

Thoughts continue to  whirl around in her mind. “Where does it get this unimaginable power from?  Why am I so effected by it?”

She now visits with the moon each night.  She basks in the serenity it endows her with.  The limited moments that they share are becoming more frequent.

She finds herself enlivened and hopeful.  As she considers their relationship, they’ve become entwined in peace and she searches for it’s source of  power.

Her questions continue:  “What makes it radiate this compelling energy? She sits in deep contemplation and ponders the answer. Her observations show her a better way. “When I sit with it I feel this astounding sense of love.  As we visit with each other more and more and the tremendous love enlightens me, I realize that we share the same source.  Love is the source in it and in me.  The power of the universe lies within all of us.  The source is unconditional love.”

 

The spark that she’s been searching for is unconditional love and it resides within her and the moon and the stars and all things that radiate energy.

She cries, ” I am alive. I am grateful.  I feel joy for the first time in so many years.  I have the source within me.  I am powerful and courageous and full of energy.  If the moon and I share the same source than who am I to question if I am worthy of love.

I am love.  I am filled with the same incandescance as it. Here I am.  Worthy, Conscious, Alive and Grateful for this air that fills my lungs and allows me to share the most precious gift that my friend from above has shared with me.  I am awake now.”