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Dorothy A Oct 2013
Everything faded to black. He had a hard time remembering just what the hell happened. He wasn't sure of downing some random pills from of the medicine cabinet-- his first attempt to end it all. Making sure he would not recover-- if the pills didn't do the job-- he had already devised the set up of the noose in his bedroom. Definitely, he didn't recall anyone cutting the rope, forcing him down to the floor.

Lacie joked with him. "Dude, you've got nine lives! You must really be a ****, fricking cat in disguise! That's why you'll eat those nasty tuna fish sandwiches they serve in the nuthouse! "

Chris grinned at her.  He had to agree. To refer to it as the psych ward at the hospital made it seem like more of a jail term, but calling it "the nuthouse" lightened up the severity of the situation. As grave and nearly tragic as everything  had become, it was kind of laughable to him.  He supposed he had more chances than a cat's fabled life. It all seemed so crazy that it must be funny.

Well, what could he say? He had flirted with death, but unwillingly managed to escape its grip. "Pathetic..."--he commented. "I don't not even know how to die well..."

Chris  eventually realized that he had been rushed to the hospital, but wished it wasn't true. Since then, everything was either a total blur or a bizarre state of mind . Even waking up in his room was like a remotely vague memory, almost like a long ago dream that might not really have happened.

Maybe, he was somewhat aware that his sister was screaming in shock and horror at the sight of him, shouting out downstairs to her boyfriend to help her. But the walls were turning red, a glowing scarlet- red, with an added fiery orange and yellowish-gold-- all joined together in pulsating embers. He was quickly losing consciousness. It was like some, bad acid trip. Not that Chris knew this firsthand, but it sure was like something he saw on TV or at the movies.

And now he was the star of the horror show.

Did he die?  Death was what he planned on, so waking up was not a relief, or a reality back into motion--just the opposite. It was as if being awake was the real nightmare, a delusional time when everything was not true, and was only an scary, offbeat version of the life of Chris Cartier.

The bad acid trip continued. He recalled hospital staff rushing about him, seeming like real people-- sort of. Then they morphed into fish in scrubs. From overhead, an IV was dripping into his arm. Tubes were shoved down his throat. His vital signs were displayed on a screen that made beeps and sounds, increasing the chaos and adding to the mayhem to his mind. Soon, the vital signs machine started talking to him that he was a "very bad boy" and other such scoldings.

He was thoroughly freaked out. If he was still alive, he'd rather be dead.

He wanted to run. One of the fish pushed him back down and muttered out undecipherable utterances-- like underwater gibberish . Then that fish used its slimy fins to inject him with a needle in his arm. The other fish circled around him like fish out of water--with opening and closing mouths-- as if gasping for air.

As they surrounded him as rubber monkeys shot out from the walls and bounced all over the room. On top of all this madness, the florescent lights above were flickering on and off, in sync to the wild music, like the drum beats of a distant jungle. It was one bizarre tangle of events, a freaky, crazy, out-of-control ride in which reality could not be distinguished from the animation and mass confusion. It was one overpowering ride that he would much rather forget.

When Chris got out of critical condition, he found out that he could still not go home. That would take a few weeks more. Dr. What-The-Hell's-His-Name assured him that he needed to start on the path to his psychological healing--just as grave as the physical--right here in a safe place.

It didn't seem so safe to him.

The enemy wasn't what was out there in the world, but the big, bad wolf was actually him. He had to be protected from the true culprit--himself-- and that was a mind-blowing concept. Just what did he get himself into?   

He never had been a patient in a hospital before. In all his twenty-six years, he didn't so much as even have his tonsils out. Feeling now like a prisoner,, he was still scared out of his mind-- as if it was day one all over again. When was he going to get out of here? Chris began to fear that they would never let him out. No professional had a definitive answer, as only time would tell of his improvement.

Man, why couldn't he just be dead?

His parents visited almost everyday, but it was of no reassurance to him. His mother always left in tears, and his father was lost for words. This was nothing new. When it concerned their troubled son, they felt inadequate to help him. The best his dad could say was, "Hey, Chris, we're pullin' for ya". That was of no comfort, whatsoever, like he was some fighter in a boxing ring that his old man had a bet placed on . His mom always clung to him as she said goodbye, like she needed the hug more than he did, saying to Chris through her sobs , "Miss you....love you". Her emotional state just unsettled him to the core, and he was worried for her more than for himself.    

At best, his outlook was grim. But then he met Lacie Weiss, and things started looking up.

Lacie was one of the quietest psych patients in the ward, always sticking to herself. But then he found himself sitting right next to her in group therapy, and they hit it off. He had no idea that she had a fun side. She usually looked apathetic and quietly defiant to society, a nonconformist in the form of a Goth, with edgy, dyed black hair, dark eye make-up and some ****** piercings of the eyebrow, tongue and nose. Her look was quite in contrast to his light blue eyes and sandy-brown hair. Chris never was into Gothic, viewing those who were as spooky creeps.  

It was obvious that Chris was scared and confused. Now although trying to seem tough and stoic, Lacie seemed so little, almost fragile, yet obviously trying to hide her broken self together. Petite and somewhat girlish in appearance, she was barely 5 feet tall. Chris was 5 feet 11 and a half inches, close enough to the six foot stature that he wanted to be. Only a half inch less really didn't cut it for him, though, even though his slim build gave the impression of a lankier guy. He would have loved to be as tall as the basketball players he so emulated. But such was life. He was never used to having the advantages.  

At first, Lacie never opened up, not to a single soul. Like Chris, she certainly acted like she didn't need this place, and nobody was going to help her--or be allowed to help her. As stony and impenetrable as she tried to be, group therapy it was hard to disappear in. Everyone was held accountable for opening up, and the leader was going to see to it.  No way, though, did Lacie want to crack or look weak in her turtle shell composure, in her self-preservation mode. So it was agony for her.

She first spoke to him, whispering loudly to him, onc,e in the group circle "This is all *******!"

Hanging with Chris was the one salvation that she had in this miserable experience. They both could relate more than he ever realized. They both really liked motorcycles and basketball. He had his own Harley, and it was something he loved to work on and go on long rides with it, his own brand of therapy.  In spite of how she looked, Lacie was also actually close to his age. He was twenty-six. and she was twenty-two.

They first broke the ice with casual introductions. "No, the name is not pronounced like Carter", he corrected her about his last name. "It is like Cart-EE-AY...... It's French".

"Yep", she replied. "Like mine is the same way, but as German as brats and sauerkraut,  Ja dummkopf?"

Chris gave her a weird look. She continued, "My mom's dad was from Germany, and I got my mom's name. Ya don't say it how it looks. You would say Weiss like Vice, but I couldn't give a **** how anybody says it. Nobody gets it right and original, anyhow." Her dark brown eyes flashed at him as she said, " But I think I like Chris Cutie, myself, better than Cartier.....cutie it is for me. Huh, cutie pie? "

Chris laughed hard. She was pretty coy for a die-hard Goth. She batted her eyes playfully at him and winked."You're worth being in here for, ya know", he told her, blushing, still laughing at her silly remarks.

She studied his face in response, all laughing aside. Suddenly, her mood turned solemn.  "I'll bet".

They began hanging out in the commons, walking down the halls for exercise, and swapping stories of their plights. Chris quickly found that she Lacie wasn't so steely and unapproachable as the day he first saw her.  And she discovered that he was more than a pretty boy.

"My parents weren't home when I tried", he told her one time after lunch was done. They were sitting in a corner, trying to be as private as possible. "Twenty-six years old...and I still live with them. Yeah, that's my life. I got a twin brother, and he's moved out and doing alright for himself. My sister's younger, is going to college. Wants to be a doctor".

Lacy didn't have any siblings to compare herself to. "Must be cool to have a twin", Lacie said. "I always wondered how that would be to have two of me running around! Scary, huh, dude?"

Chris shook his head. "No, it's nothing like that. Jake and I aren't identical. We are just a two-for-one deal...I mean  is that my parents got two babies in one, huge-*** pregnancy. Jake and me don't even act like twins. Half the time, I don't want to be around him."

No, it wasn't like his cousins, Adam and Alan, who were identical friends, mirror images, and best of friends. Chris never identified with that kind of brotherly relationship. He and Jake never dressed alike, or knew what the other one was thinking. And Chris felt that his brother always felt superior to him. He was the popular one. He was the ambitious one who landed a great job in computers, as a system analyst.  To add to Chris's feelings of inferiority, his little sister, Kate, had surpassed him, too. She was acing most of her classes, and boarding away at college. She was well on her way to becoming a doctor.    

"So if your mom and dad weren't around...who saved you?" Lacie asked. She stared into his eyes with such a probing stare that Chris almost clammed up. Just thinking about that day was overpowering.

"Uh...my sister and her boyfriend were hanging out in the basement. She was home from college, and I didn't know it. My parents were out-of-town. Our dog, Buster, was acting funny. He knew something was up..."

Chris stopped abruptly, but went on. "Kate, my sister, explained to me that she saw me in my room, getting up on a step ladder. She says she yelled at me to stop. I don't remember...but I guess..I guess I was going to do it anyway, and she wouldn't be able to stop me....stop me from...so I hurried up and jumped off before she could stop me."  

Lacie could almost picture it, as if she was there with him. She said, "But she did stop it. She saved you."

"Yeah", he agreed. "Buster started it all...barking, alerting my sister to come upstairs from the basement, and upstairs by my room...." All of a sudden, he felt so weird, like he was having an out-of-body experience.

"Hey, it's OK", Lacie reassured him. "It's over now. You aren't there anymore".

Chris started to cry, but tried not to. "If it weren't for Brian, Kate's boyfriend....she would not of had the strength to hold me up by herself, and cut the rope, too. I must have been like dead weight, and Brian grabbed a kitchen knife and told her to stay cool about it. Yeah, sure, like that could have been possible ! She was trying to keep the rope slack, while trying to save my sorry ****...and she was scared, shitless! "

Lacie opened up, too, relating her tragic past. She had an unbelievable tale, one hell of a ride herself.  It was amazing how detached she was when relating it, though. "Well" actually I got to fess up" "I'm not really an only child....I mean I am...but not really. I know that sounds weird---hey--but I am weird. Oddly unusual is the story of my life-- even before day one. "

Chris had no idea what she was talking about. "What are ya' trying to say?"

She added another surprising bombshell. "Also,  I have a two-year-old boy. His name is Danny. He don't see his dad--ever. The guy's a waste of space. Anyway, my mom has him. She can afford him more, and can do a better job raising him than me. Well, she does OK money-wise. Anyhow, my mom deserves him because she lost everything. And I mean EVERYTHING! Her whole fricking family practically wiped out!"

The shock that Chris had on his face-- his widened, blue eyes and open mouth were expected.   Most people had a hard time believing her.

She explained, calmly, "I mean she nearly died--way before I was born--in a car accident. And her two, little boys were with her in the backseat...and they died that day. "

Chris looked pale. "That is so awful!" he said, hoarsely, barely able to say it.

"Yeah", she continued. "Not a **** thing she could do about it, too. She was like in a million pieces. I know a part of her died right there and then, too. I just know it.  You know, dude, my mom was once really, really coasting along, just doing fine. A typical wife and mother-- a bit older than me now-- life was good. Her little boys were just cute, little toddlers--like Danny. I found out from my grandma that she was  pregnant, too, just a month or two. Nobody could have imagined it coming. She was just driving--doing nothing wrong-- when some idiot broadsided her.  I don't know if it was a guy or a lady, if they were jacked up on ***** or drugs, but they were speeding like a demon out of Hell. Her husband was at work and wasn't around."  

The boys were Benjamin and Gerard, but Lacie couldn't remember their names, for her mom could barely mention them without breaking down. It was an unbearable loss.

Chris was so horrified, amazed that Lacie related this like it was someone else's story. She was almost too cavalier about it.

"And they died ?!" he asked.

"Yeah....*****, don't it? Pure, pure agony. Downright Hell on earth. My mom had to learn to walk again. It took about year, I think."

"Oh, no! What about the baby she was supposed to have?"

"Miscarriage. Worse yet, the **** doctor told her she'd never be able to have kids again. She lost everything, man! Her husband couldn't handle it and left her. **** on top of ****, on top of more ****, on top of more. If it wasn't for her parents, and her sister's help, she would never have made it.

"But she had given birth to you, right? Or were you adopted?"

"Yeah, she gave birth to me. I was her miracle baby, and she didn't give a rat's rear end if my dad wanted me or not. He'd send her money, once in a while, but he wasn't really into either of us. Who cares though? She didn't give a **** what he thought. I was her baby. Truth is, before I came, she ended up slitting her wrists--just like me. What was the use? At first, there was nothing to live for. But now she has Danny.

"And you!" Chris quickly pointed out.

"Dude, are you kidding me? I have been NOTHING but grief for her, a real pain in her ***!"

Unlike her deceased, half-brothers, Lacie grew up before her mother's eyes, from a shy girl to a ******* rebel. Since the age of twelve, she would sneak drinks from her mom's liqueur cabinet. Eventually, she smoked *** and tried ******* and ******. Dropping out of the eleventh grade, she soon away from home, living with friends or boyfriends ever since.  Thankfully, she wasn't doing drugs when she conceived Danny. And her drinking wasn't as prevalent as it was in her teen years of partying and binge drinking. That didn't mean that her drinking problems magically disappeared, or that she was cured. Immediately, though, when she knew she was pregnant, she refused to touch a bottle, but it was just a white knuckle process that was effective momentarily--a band aid on a more serious wound. And going months without a drop of alcohol didn't deaden her urges--quite the opposite--as it only made her crave what she could not have. Often, her fears caught up with her--of especially becoming
Dorothy A May 2012
Chad looked over at his sleeping son sitting next to him in the passenger seat. This little journey from the airport to his home still seemed so strange and uneasy to him. It astounded him that Ian was now twelve years old, nearly a teenager. To be honest, he still did not fully feel sure about this arrangement, this set-up for him to have his son for the summer. Nevertheless, he tried to project confidence to everyone involved, to his family and to Ian's mom. He kept reminding himself that it did not matter how he felt.

He needed to step up to the plate.

No, Chad Brewster never envisioned himself as a father, never dreamed of it, and certainly never once desired it or would have chosen it as his path. Though some of his close friends wanted or had a family, it was never a part of his plans to ever be a dad. He did not dislike children, but he just never expected he would ever settle down and have them.

He especially never expected to be a father at the mere age of sixteen years old.

The suburbs of Las Vegas were worlds away from the suburbs of Milwaukee. Driving down the desert surrounded streets and highways, sometimes homesickness tugged at his consciousness. At times, Chad’s craved the surroundings of his old existence—the shady pine trees, and spending time at Lake Michigan—and he would gladly trade some palm trees for the some of the pines he was so accustomed to. But this was the life he now chose to have, and he thought he should have no reason to complain or be too sentimental. Many people were not so lucky to experience any refreshing change in their lives, and he was able to have it.

While on the road, Chad reminded himself to give Ian's mom, Becca, a quick call to let her know that they were on their way to his home. He pulled out his cell phone before he got distracted. Ian already texted her a few times to let her know he was alive and breathing along the way.

Becca had her reservations about sending her son off to be with his dad. He had his visiting rights, though, and she couldn't lawfully deny him them. It was a tough decision to send him off alone on the plane to meet up with his father, but Ian had good sense, and he was taking a direct flight to Vegas. He loved to text, and his mother made sure he had his very own cell phone to keep in constant contact with her. It was so hard to let him go like this, for Becca cherished Ian. He had a much harder start in life than some other kids, and she felt partly to blame for it.

Chad got a hold of Ian’s mom. "No way in Hell! You are calling me now?" she angrily accused him, her tongue sharp with criticism. "You know **** well this is his very first plane trip by himself, and I thought you'd have the decency to tell me once he got off that plane! Please! Don't try to convince me that this whole thing is a huge mistake, some major lapse in my judgment. Can you do that for me? You could have at least had the decency! Put him on the phone! Let me talk to him!"

"Look, Becca, he's asleep. It was a long day for him. He's exhausted". Chad was trying his best to hold back any displeasure or to raise his voice, but he expected his calm wouldn’t last. "Don't ***** me out for not calling you the very second you are demanding. You know I would have called in a heartbeat if I felt Ian was in danger. You know I would".

"Oh, I'm really not so sure", she replied, sarcastically. "I'm tempted to fly over there and come get him! I've been sick about it all day!"

"Such a **** drama queen, Becca! Like it or not, the world doesn't revolve around you! You don't have all the control! “ The anger rising was rising up in his tone. Her judgment of him of was so tiring.

"Oh, really Chad?" she replied. "I've got my act together a long time ago, but you...".

"Look, he is my son, too!" Chad shouted loudly. He was fed up of her ****** attitude, ready to hang up in her face.

"You could have fooled me!"

His eyes were glaring as he drove down the arid Nevada highway, just as if Becca stood there right before him, her finger wagging in his face, her other hand on her hip. He pictured her now as if time and everything in it had stood still, and she was before his motionless car and in his face, still in step with time and letting him have it.

This little display was so typical of her. Only Becca Morgan thought she ever had any common sense when it came to their parental abilities. Sure, she was the one who really raised their son, but she never would have pulled it off without the huge intervention of her mother.

Without a doubt, Ian had to admit to himself that he had been avoidant and immature in the past, but Becca did not have the patent on good parenting or on maturity. In her eyes, Chad was never going to be a proper father, even if he proved it.

Chad vowed that he wasn't going to pay forever for his mistakes of being an absent father, far more absent than present in his young son's life.

He looked over at his son sitting beside him. Ian was sound asleep—thank God—for he heard his parents squabble about him far more than he should have. In fact, he never saw his parents talking in a friendly manner. No matter how they began talking to each other, their conversations always ended up with angry words.

Ian must have been dead tired to sleep through it all. He hardly stirred since he fell asleep. If Chad wasn’t driving, he would be studying his slumbering son in peculiar wonder, sitting there for quite some time and thinking how on earth he ever was able to produce such a child, a seemingly healthy and well-rounded boy. It was as if his child was an UFO alien, or something—someone to be discovered for who he really was, and someone to be fathomed with fear.  He felt that uncomfortable about being placed into the role of a father.

It gave Chad's stomach a funny, odd feeling to think he wasn't too much older than Ian when Becca—his loving girlfriend at the time—came up to him and told him the shocking news. It would be the news that would forever change his life, and hers.

She was pregnant. Chad was definitely the father.

It wasn't that Becca did not know what to do about her condition, for she knew what she wanted from almost the very start, and she had settled it in her mind without much inner conflict. There was no helplessness or hopelessness in her, not like some pregnant teenage girls that found themselves in such a predicament. She wanted to have her baby and keep it to raise as her very own, and not for a future adoption—with or without Chad's approval. She did love Chad, but in the long run, she did not care what he thought if he did not agree with her.

As far as she was concerned, this baby was hers.

Chad, on the other hand, was terrified, simply terrified. He did not want to believe the news, hoping that Becca would turn around and tell him it was a huge joke. He would be quite ticked at her if she did such a thing, but also very relieved. He would gladly kiss the ground for it not to be true.

If only it was a joke. Becca was quite serious, playing  no such prank on him, Next, she planned to tell her mother next about her unborn baby. But the first person she wanted to tell was her boyfriend, and she expected that he would be on her side—or at least be won over eventually.

As a dumbfounded Chad stared at her in disbelief and shock—like the classic deer in the headlights—Becca insisted that she was telling the truth, that she was even beginning to show. She could prove it.  Her periods had stopped, and three home pregnancy tests confirmed her suspicions.  Gently, she took Chad’s hand to place over her stomach. Freaked out of his mind, he ****** his hand away as quickly as it touched her belly. His knee **** reaction would always stick in Becca's mind of how Chad really felt about her. It was almost like she had a disease.

She suddenly felt dejected. It looked like Chad would not be on her side, after all.

Maybe it wasn't his? Chad knew that Becca would hate him if he ever implied such a thing. She was crazy about him. Chad knew that. But she had an equal amount of passion to go the other way if he betrayed her. The doubt on his face, and the hesitancy in his voice, did betray him and Becca’s heart slowly sank. She wanted Chad to care, to understand, certainly not to view her as the guilty partner who was ready to ruin his life.

Instead, it looked like the beginning of the end for them.

No way was Chad willing to break the news to his parents, especially his dad, Ed Brewster. He’d rather put a gun to his head than say anything about it. Chad really never saw eye to eye with his father.  Unlike his two older brothers, Michael and David, Chad always felt like he could never please the man. His mother, Nancy, had forever seen Chad as the role that life had given him—the baby of the family. He seemed to have more leeway with her, but not so much as an inch with his father.

Ed, a veteran police officer, wanted all three of his sons to do well in life, better than he had achieved. And as Michael and David were dreaming of such careers as doctors and lawyers, all Chad ever dreamed of was to be a drummer in a rock band. Playing the drums was fine for a hobby, but Chad's father wanted his son to see the garage band he played in as something temporary, something to grow out of.  His son saw otherwise, never seeing himself ever retiring his drumsticks for some job he was bored to death with, or that he hated. He didn’t care if he would never end up earning a dime from it, not playing the drums would be like not having arms or legs. Chad would never give up on his musical aspirations.

One of the first photos that his mother took of her youngest son was him as a baby, sitting on the floor in the kitchen and banging a ladle on the bottom of a pan. At that age, he would much rather play with kitchen utensils, using them like a drum, than any shiny, fascinating toy in his possession. His mom simply thought it was adorable. His father wasn't so impressed, especially since the racket he made was only the beginning in his musical journey of too much noise surfacing from the basement.  There would be plenty of times when Ed would warn his son to give the drums a rest, or he would throw them in the garbage, for Chad could practice for hours on end.

It seemed that music flowed in Chad's blood, was natural to him, but no one in the family had any such musical talents or ambitions.  While his father just didn't get it, his mother supported him with any help she could. When he was six, he was in his glory when his she bought him a child's drum set to bang on. When he turned eleven, she bought him a real set of drums, and encouraged his participation in school band. His brothers' interests were far more typical. They were heavy into sports, and they always had their father's blessings. When Chad kept on doing what he loved, he was seen by his dad as almost a delinquent.

Now that he was an adult, his love of music was paying off. Resettling in Vegas provided many opportunities, plenty of musical venues. With all the entertainment in Sin City, Chad could find enough work playing the drums. There has been a good flow of steady work for him to work in the casinos, and he also played in a local band that did such gigs as weddings, birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. They were a group of six talented musicians that got together to form their own band, and play just about anything—rock, rap, blues, jazz, country and swing. They soon voted with each other on what to call themselves. A good name had a lot to do with if someone got hired for gigs, and nothing they could think up sounded any good.  It seemed like all the great names were already taken, nothing new under the sun. The Sonic Waves sounded the coolest, but since that name was already used, Chad played around with the idea and suggested they call themselves Sonic Stream. That had good potential, and the others agreed with it. He was glad and honored to make such a contribution to his band.        

Chad could honestly say he was happy out here in Nevada. His mother felt like he was trying his best to distance himself from the reality of his problems, especially his strained relationship with his father. Chad disagreed. He just wanted to feel like he could accomplish something in his life, not proving anything to anybody—but to himself.

Would Ian be happy out here with him? It would only be for the summer, but would Chad make a good impression on him in his life out here? Ian glanced over at his son who still slept almost like a baby, seemingly wiped out, though the day was still young.

Several minutes later, Ian called out, "What time is it?"

Somehow awakened, he was rubbing his eyes, disoriented by the fact that he was in a different time zone and in an unfamiliar place. Chad smiled at him, trying to reassure the boy that he was glad to have him here.

“Almost two thirty", Chad returned. Ian moaned and tried to sit up straight, squinting from the glare of the strong Nevada sun. Quite groggy, his internal clock was not sure what time it was.

Your mom called”, Chad told Ian. “You know your mom, bud. She does worry about you”.

“I texted Mom. I said I made it OK”, he replied.

“But did you actually talk to her?” Chad asked. “You know how she is. Unless she talked to you herself, I am sure she was convinced some madman took control of your cell phone and pretended to be you”.

Chad laughed and Ian tried not to act like what he said was that funny, but he shyly grinned and tried to cover his mouth to conceal it. He did have a special bond with his mother, but he knew his dad was right. His mom worried way too much.

“I talked to her just before the plane took off”, Ian admitted.

They drove in silence for a while. Chad had to admit to himself that Ian was looking more and more like him the more he grew up, and Chad seemed to favor his mother's looks—of which he was grateful—for he never wanted to resemble his dad.  Lots of times, Chad and Ian were mistaken for brothers, Ian a much younger brother, but surely not imagined to be his son. Chad felt that Ian was already looking like a teenager, maturing fast for his age, and Chad often was perceived as younger than his twenty-eight years. Ian was growing up so much more than his father could envision, and Chad knew why. It wasn't like he saw his son so frequently that the change was not obvious. Every time he saw him, a big gap had been gapped by growth and change, and Chad was guilty of missing much of those experiences.

Was it that Chad did not really want to grow up? Becca surely accused him of that. His father did, too. Performing gigs in a local band seemed far from a man's job to Chad's father. When he still lived in Wisconsin, he knew he had better learn to have other work to fall back on, for band work did not always pay the bills in those days. That is why he trained to be an x-ray technician. It wasn't the job of his dreams, but it helped keep him afloat when making money from music did not meet his financial requirements. Even though Chad did achieve a fairly decent and respectable job, it did not seem to matter to his critical father.

At the mere age of sixteen, Chad had nothing to back him up against the anger his father would have towards him. He knew he would be knocked down for sure when his parents found out about Becca's pregnancy.

The words his furious father told him stung pretty harshly. "You don't have the sense to be a father! You don't seem lately to have the sense to be anything! You'd ruin that kid’s life, for sure!"

His father had to always play the street-smart cop, even at home, and Chad was fed up as looking like a criminal in his eyes. He almost wanted to cry, but refused to show his father any such weakness. Instead, he gave him the best stone cold, unemotional response that he could muster up. Replying in a monotone manner, though he really feared his father's anger, was the best way to stick it back to him.

"Sure, you're right. I take after you. Bad fathering runs in the family", he said back.

Ed looked like he wanted to punch his son, though he never laid a hand on any of his sons in such a way. Trying to repress his own sense of hurt, and remain with his anger, he replied, "If you were eighteen, I'd throw your *** out right now! Don't push your luck!"

Chad always aspire
Dorothy A Apr 2012
The first time that Evan laid eyes on her, he told himself that he was going to marry her. Embarrassed by his own fantasy, he quickly dismissed that thought as fast as it came to mind, telling himself what an idiot he was. Yet, from time to time, in spite of his reasoning, the thought would invade his skull.

What a dumb idea anyhow! It was just lame, teenage fantasyland! Girls did that kind of junk all the time, saying they were going to be Mrs. So-and-so, and thank God nobody could read his mind to know what he was dreaming up! Like she would marry him! He felt like a dumb ****, great in athletics, but far out of her league. Not even having the courage yet to ask a girl out on a date, and now he was already thinking of marriage! Pathetic! Really! Only a freshman in high school, he felt he should know better, lacking the good common sense his dad always tried to drive into him and had himself.

Ginny Delgado belonged with the smart kids, the brains of the school, although she seemed to stick more by herself, away from any stereotypical clique. Evan had first seen her in his biology class, and he remembered when other students wanted to copy off of her test papers. She never allowed any of that to happen, though, even if it would gain her popularity, false popularity but attention just the same.

It was a surprise to him that Ginny seemed to have few friends. Mostly, girls who were nerdy and smart did not seem very attractive or put together. Ginny seemed to have it all. She was smart and pretty, but she never identified with any of the girls who thought they were hot—and all other girls were not—and so she stood apart as one who shrouded herself in guarded aloofness.

And now here he was at his 20th high school reunion, one he really did not want to attend, but talked himself into going anyway. Perhaps, he could shoot the breeze and run into a few old buddies, his basketball friends. He didn't think that much of Ginny since he graduated from Fillmore, much less anybody from all those years ago. There really wasn’t any reason to reminisce once high school was behind him. School was not misery for Evan Stewart, but it wasn’t a time where everything seemed magical and carefree, not like for some students who looked upon those days as some of the fondest memories of their lives.

It was the class of ’92, and a huge banner displayed across one of the walls read, “Welcome back, class of 1992! Fillmore High School rules!” There was a good turnout, and Evan recognized a lot of people, although there were fewer that he knew by name.  

Sitting under dimly light lights, around a bunch of round tables, Evan now sat with the other alumni, stuck in a crowded hall with music blaring away from the early nineties. He had his overpriced meal. He had his few beers.

But what now?

He was almost bored to death. He was beginning to watch the clock more and more, scanning the room to see if he could possibly find reason to stay longer.  But then something happened that he never expected to happen, never even would have imagined it.

And, suddenly, his heart started to pick up its pace.

Was that her?

Evan thought he had made out the vague shape of a possibly familiar figure, an amazing and sudden surprise. Was that Ginny Delgado?

He wondered if he was seeing things as he intently stared across the room at the shadowy prospective of Ginger Delgado. But with the low amount of lighting, it just might not be her but someone he never even met before. How awkward would what be?

If it was Ginny, she was sitting next to a guy who seemed obnoxious and full of himself. Even from afar, he appeared to be a guy who would be in everyone’s face, with wild hand gestures, talking away and giving nobody else a chance for a word in edgewise.  If that really was Ginny, was that her husband? What a trip that would be! All the sense he once attributed to her would have to have gone out the window, if that were the case.

Sitting at Evan’s table were several of the other guys that were also heavy into high school basketball. Most were married and came with their wives—nobody was alone as Evan was—and now they all tried to act like they were thrilled to be all gathered together to show off their accomplishments. They were all passing around stories of life after high school, after basketball—some with talk of their college days, their wives, their kids, their jobs and careers—plenty of drinks to go around, and some toasting to the good, old days and to even brighter futures ahead. Evan was never married and did not have any children, so he felt he had much less to say. Most of those guys were not even very interesting, even though they tried to make it out that they had achieved so much in their lives. They may have been out of shape and past their prime, but all of them tried to act like they were the same as they were twenty years ago. None of what they all said impressed Evan at all, even though he tried to be interested.

He kept looking at the woman across the room, and the more he looked at her, the more he was convinced he was spot on about her. She had to be Ginny! He should just get up now and have the guts to ask her! But what would she say? Yes, I am Ginny Delgado, and this pushy **** next to me is my husband?

Though he was twenty years older, Evan felt just as awkward and as scared as he did in his freshman Biology class. It was better to just let the issue be. He’d rather save face than look like a total fool.

Suddenly, the unexpected occurred, something that gave Evan’s heart even more of a stir than he initially had when he spied her presence. Was it possible? Ginny now looked like she was starring back at him, as if they had somehow miraculously locked eyes and she had an uncanny ability to notice him back, from that afar off, now being transfixed onto him!  

You’ve really lost it now. What do you think, that she really notices you and remembers you?

Ginny stopped paying attention to the obnoxious man beside her and kept looking in Evan’s direction. She even reached her hand up and gave a little wave out his way.

Timidly, Evan waved back.

Standing up, Ginny started to make her way across the room. The obnoxious guy next to her looked on after her, like he could not believe she had wanted to part company with him. Evan guessed she was not his wife—thank God for that!

No, there is just no way she is coming over to talk to you. Alright, maybe she is. Get a hold of yourself now! Stop acting like a teenager and act like you actually know something about women. Come on, Evan! Get it together! She is coming.

Evan was right. It was Ginny Delgado! But she stopped short of his table to sit a down at the table in front of him, next to another fellow classmate of theirs, a female student that he vaguely remembered, though he did not know her name.

It was almost a relief she did not come to sit with him! Yet the disappointment was equally there. Seeing her more up close, Evan knew for sure it was Ginny. She was still quite pretty, perhaps even more so now, her medium brown hair and her dark purple dress complimenting each other. Not wanting to stare, Evan couldn’t help but to shoot many glances her way, without trying to be too obvious.
          
She smiled a lot, glad to talk to another person that she knew, and probably glad to be away from the guy she was stuck with before. Her eyes sparkled, and Evan never remembered ever seeing her so unguarded. In biology class, she was quiet, like he tended to be. Now she seemed so different, seemingly freer to be herself. Evan rarely saw her smile in high school, but thought she was very serious and sophisticated.

Before long, the DJ was now playing Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven. Couples at all tables were making their way to the dance floor. Soon, Ginny was approached by some guy who asked her to join him for a dance. She shook her head, no. Nonchalantly, the man turned to the woman that Ginny knew and asked her. She gladly accepted, said something to Ginny as if to have her permission and understanding, and then took the man’s hand to go to the dance floor. Ginny remained at the table by herself, looking on at the dancers with seemingly little regret that she declined an offer.

This might be your only chance, idiot. Are you going to blow it and be a wuss? Go up to her and tell her that you remember her. Go on! It is your perfect chance. What do you have to lose? If she isn’t interested, just go then. You’ve spent enough time here anyway!

“Hi…Ginny Delgado isn’t it?”

Evan asked as he approached her from behind. He cleared his throat. His voice had sounded so gravelly, as if he hadn’t uttered a single word all night. And his heart was beating a mile a minute, and he swore it must have been pulsating through his shirt. He was glad he put his suit jacket back on, for he was probably sweating like crazy.  

Ginny looked up, seemed to look puzzled, but then smiled a little. “I remember you!” she said with growing enthusiasm on her face. “Oh, but I’m sorry. You are going to have to tell me your name again”.

“Evan Stewart”, he replied. “We were in biology class together Remember? We were sophomores.”

A succession of slow songs was now being played, and Ginny’s friend was enjoying the time with her new dance partner. She certainly was in no hurry to make her way back to the table to rejoin sitting and talking with Ginny.

“Oh, sure! I remember now!” Ginny exclaimed. “Evan Stewart. Of course! You were the tall, shy guy that everyone liked because you knew how to win one for us. You were big into baseball, weren’t you?”

“Well, basketball was my best sport. I liked baseball, too, and track”, he replied humbly. It was amazing! She actually remembered more him than he thought she would!  “

Can I sit down and join you?” he asked, his courage and confidence growing.

“Oh, do!” Ginny replied, eagerly.

He felt like he was in seventh heaven. How cool was this? Sitting with Ginny Delgado? It was a bonus to a fairly descent reunion.

“So what have you been up to for the last twenty years?” Evan asked. His face was flush with embarrassment, as if he was just a guy who happened to luck out, but had no real skill in socializing with a woman he once fantasized about.

Ginny laughed a little, putting her hand up to her mouth as if her response was inappropriate. She responded, “You want a few hours? Or should I just give you a one word response?”

Evan smiled, blushing, as he tried to appear smooth and confident. “A one word response?” he asked.

“Yes. I can say it in one word—roller coaster….oops, that is two words”.

They both just sat there as I Can’t Make You Love Me, by Bonnie Raitt, played on.  

“Yeah…I guess I could say that about my life”, Evan agreed. “Would you like me to get you something from the bar?” he offered. “A coke or a beer?”

Ginny stared out onto the floor, as if she never heard him. “Isn’t it amazing how everyone comes to see the same people they always used to hang out with and still intend to hang out with to this day?” she asked. “How boring and predictable!”

Evan looked at her, puzzled, “What do you mean?”

Ginny continued to look out onto the floor, the music now upbeat dance music, and said, “Well, I mean you see all the football heroes all hanging out with each other. The members of the debate team are all huddled together as if they are preparing for the next debate. The cheerleaders, the drama club, the science club geeks…nothing has changed has it?”  

Evan shrugged his shoulders. “I guess that is typical. But that isn’t me. Sure, I saw some of the guys I played ball with, basketball, but the truth is I am not really that interested in hanging out with them.”

Ginny turned to look at him, her hazel eyes intent and solemn. Evan added, “I don’t have any contact with any of them. Nothing against them. I just don’t”.

They looked at each other in the eyes for a while. The silence was awkward. It was as Evan’s watching and waiting for her reply was the cue for Ginny to open up, and open up she did.

“I went to UCLA on a scholarship. I became a history major, world history, American history, women’s history. I never intended to teach, not at first. But it just seemed a good fit for me, and I have had plenty of teaching jobs, junior high school, high school. I moved to Sacramento.  I was briefly married after I got my first real teaching job there.”

Ginny’s eyes glistened. There was a pain in them that seemed locked in deep, not really wanting to expose itself too much, but coming out nonetheless.

Evan listened on, eagerly, so she went on, her gaze towards the dance floor “It did not work out. He cheated. He did it more than once and with more than one woman.  And now that I look back, I can see how wrong it all was, especially after my miscarriage. At first, I was so crushed, and I wanted to try again, for another baby, to try to please him, Jim, my husband. Thank God, I didn’t go on and on with him. I am glad I came back here…..back to Springdale.”

She looked back at Evan. He quickly looked away from her glance, his eyes downcast to the table. She wasn’t kidding. Her life was a roller coaster. He did not know what to say, felt so inadequate.

He decided to just share, in return.

”I was engaged once. It was a long engagement. She was a friend of a friend. Lana was her name. She told me she wanted to be with me, but she just wasn’t ready to make the big leap just right away. Actually, I am kind of glad now that I look back. We both owned our own shops. She was a hair stylist and I owned my own car repair shop, but that was about all we really had in common. I mean not really, even though we both liked sports a lot. We never seemed to agree on anything.”

Like he did, Ginny just listened intently, not attempting to make any reply. Evan added, “She was willing to cut me down in a second. I see that now”.

“Well how do you like that?!”

Evan and Ginny looked up as the woman that Ginny came over to see arrived back from the dance floor. She was walking, hand in hand, with her new found dance partner, fanning herself with her hand and laughing.

“Ginny’s got some company, too!” she exclaimed, beaming at Evan.    

Ginny replied, “Rhonda Flemming, this is Evan Stewart. She used to be Rhonda Boehner back in Fillmore”

Ginny turned to Evan to introduce him to her old classmate. “Evan…Rhonda. Evan, I don’t know if you two ever met each other before when we all went to school”.

“I’m not sure I have, either”, he replied, extending his hand to shake Rhonda’s. Rhonda quickly grabbed hold of his and gave it an overly enthusiastic shake.

“Hi, Evan!” she exclaimed "This handsome man next to me  is Brian. I never knew Brian until he asked me to dance!” she said excitedly. “And I am newly divorced and so is he! How strange is that?”

Brian shook Evan’s hand and then Ginny’s. “How’s it going?” he asked, grinning with embarrassment at Rhonda’s forward frankness.

“Ginny is one of the smartest people”, Rhonda went on to Evan and Brian. “We were once partners in an English class. We had to write a paper about each other. That was so fun in an otherwise booooooring class. Remember, Ginny?”

Ginny rolled her eyes, and made a shooing gesture with her hand to convey that Rhonda did not know what she was talking about. “I’m not as smart as anyone ever thought I was. I just worked hard and did my best, but thanks anyway for the compliment” , she said, modestly.  

“Oh, you were, too, Ginny!” Rhonda disagreed. She had a gleeful glint in her eyes. “Always so serious, Ginny Delgado! “

Rhonda grabbed Brian’s hand. “Hey, Brian and I are going to go mingle and walk around and see what trouble we can get into. You two want to join us?  

Ginny and Evan looked at each other as if to say “No way!” Ginny responded, “I think we are just fine here, but thanks”

Rhonda winked at her and then tugged at Brian’s hand. The pair of them went off together, leaving Evan and Ginny to themselves.

Evan smirked at Ginny, and then they both started cracking up with muffled laughter. Evan paused and then burst out laughing again. “Where did you find her?” he asked. A tear actually began to run down his face from laughing so hard, and he quickly wiped it away.

Ginny stopped laughing, tried to compose herself, but busted out with even more laugh
17.5k · Aug 2010
Technology Treadmill
Dorothy A Aug 2010
Phone in your home
Phone with you on the road
Three way connections
Incoming calls, not one, but another-aka call waiting
Phones with caller ID
Cordless phones
Hands free phones
Toothy phones sticking out of people's ears
Picture phones...say cheese!
Phone texting instead of talking
Hello? I cannot hear you!

Television and movies in your home
DVD players in your car
Watch those images on your computer
Watch them on your cell phone
Television in the airport
Television in the restaurant
Television at the gas pump
Television in the grocery store line
What's next? Television in the operating room?

Music on your home stereo
Music on your car radio
Store it all on your traveling ipod
Melodious cell phone rings everywhere
Your mp3 player and new computer speakers
Your favorite cable music channels
And plenty of music blasted in the stores
Can't I just have a thought to myself?

Don't forget computers!
Instant messaging
Junk mail in cyberspace
All your shows and movies
always at your instant access
Computer dating
Computer stalkers and hacking
Computer crashes I foresee
because computer bugs and viruses
are trying to invade my soul!
And I feel sick!

I can't get that music out of my head!
I think my ears are ringing!
You've heard of couch potatoes
I think I'm a mouse potato!
How is that for a human spud?
Yes, I admit I'm addicted to my PC!
That I spend more time with technology
than I do with the human race!

I should be burnt out
like old hardware
that is on extreme overload
Not made of wires and steel
but of flesh and blood
I am designed!

But I can't stop!!!

The technology of the future is now here!
I know what George Jetson was saying when he said:
JANE! GET ME OFF THIS CRAZY THING!
Dorothy A Mar 2012
The tired, old cliché –life is short—is probably more accurate than I would care to admit. With wry amusement, I have to admit that overused saying can be quite a joke to me, for I’ve heard it said way too many times, quite at the level of nauseam. Often times, I think the opposite, that life can be pretty **** long when you are not satisfied with it.

I am now at the age which I once thought was getting old, just having another unwanted birthday recently, turning forty-seven last month. As a girl, I thought anyone who had reached the age of forty was practically decrepit. Well, perhaps not, but it might as well have been that way. Forty wasn’t flirty. Forty wasn’t fun. It was far from a desirable age to be, but at least it seemed a million years off.

Surely now, life is far from over for me. Yet I must admit that I am feeling that my youth is slowly slipping away, like sand between my hands that is impossible to hold onto forever. Fifty is over the horizon for me, and I can sense its approach with a bit of unease and trepidation.

It is amazing. Many people still tell me that I am young, but even in my thirties I sensed that middle age was creeping up on me. And now I really am wondering when my middle age status will officially come to an end and old age will replace it—just exactly what number that is anyway. If I doubled up my age now, it would be ninety-four, so my age bracket cannot be as “middle” as it once was.

When we are children, we often cannot wait until we are old enough, old enough to drive when we turn sixteen, old enough to vote when we turn eighteen, as well as old enough to graduate from all those years of school drudgery, and old enough to drink when we turn twenty-one. I can certainly add the lesser milestones—when we are old enough to no longer require a babysitter, when we are old enough to date, when girls are old enough to wear make-up, or dye their hair. Those benefits of adulthood seem to validate our importance in life, nothing we can experience firsthand as a rightful privilege before then.

Many kids can’t wait to be doing all the grown-up things, as if time cannot go fast enough for them, as if that precious stage of life should simply race by like a comet, and life would somehow continue on as before, seemingly as invincible as it ever did in youth. Yet, for many people, after finally surpassing those important ages and stages, they often look back and are amazed at how the years seemed to have just flown by, rushed on in like a “thief in the night” and overtook their lives. And they then begin to realize that they are mortal and life is not invincible, after all.

I am one of them.

When I was a girl, I did not have an urgent sense of the clock, certainly not the need to hurry up to morph into an adult, quite content to remain in my snug, little cocoon of imaginary prepubescent bliss. It seemed like getting to the next phase in life would take forever, or so I wanted it to be that way. In my dread of wondering what I would do once I was grown. I really was in no hurry to face the future head on.  I pretty much feared those new expectations and leaving the security of a sheltered, childhood, a haven of a well-known comfort zone, for sure, even though a generally unhappy one.

Change was much too scary for me, even if it could have been change for the good.

At the age I am now, I surely enjoy the respects that come with the rites of passage into adulthood, a status that I, nor anybody, could truly have as a child. I can assert myself without looking like an impudent, snot-nosed kid—a pint sized know-it-all—one who couldn’t impress anybody with sophistication no matter how much I tried. Now, I can grow into an intelligent woman, ever growing with the passing of age, perhaps a late bloomer with my assertiveness and confidence. Hopefully, more and more each day, I am surrendering the fight in the battle of self-negativity, slowly obtaining a sense of satisfaction in my own skin.

I have often been mistaken as much younger than my actual age. The baby face that I once had seems to be loosing its softness, a very youthful softness that I once disliked but now wish to reclaim. I certainly have mixed feelings about being older, glad to be done with the fearful awkwardness of growing up, now that I look back to see it for what it was, but sometimes missing that girl that once existed, one who wanted to enjoy being more of what she truly had.

All in all, I’d much rather be where I am right this very moment, for it is all that I truly can stake as my claim. Yet I think of the middle age that I am in right now as a precarious age.

As the years go by, our society seems ever more youth obsessed, far more than I was a child. Plastic surgeries are so common place, and Botox is the new fountain of youth. Anti-aging creams, retinol, age defying make-up—many women, including myself, want to indulge in their promises for wrinkle-free skin. Whether it is home remedies or laboratory designed methods, whatever way we can find to make our appearance more pleasing, and certainly younger, is a tantalizing hope for those of us who are middle aged females.

Is fifty really the new thirty? I’d love to think so, but I just cannot get myself to believe that.

Just ask my aches and pains if you want to know my true opinion.

Middle age women are now supposed to be attractive to younger men, as if it is our day for a walk in the sun. Men have been in the older position—often much older position—since surely time began. But we ladies get the label of “cougar”, an somewhat unflattering name that speaks of stalking and pouncing, of being able to rip someone apart with claws like razors, conquer them and then devour them. There is Cougar Town on television that seems to celebrate this phenomenon as something fun and carefree, but I still think that it is generally looked at as something peculiar and wrong.

Hugh Hefner can have women young enough to be his granddaughters, and it might be offensive to many, but he can still get pats on the back and thumbs up for his lifestyle. Way to go, Hef! Yet when it comes to Demi Moore married to Ashton Kutcher, a man fifteen years younger than her, it is a different story. Many aren’t surprised that they are divorcing. Talking heads on television have pointed out, with the big age difference between them, that their relationship was doomed from the start. Other talking heads have pointed out the double standard and the unfairness placed on such judgment, realizing that it probably would not be this way if the man was fifteen years older.

Yes, right now I have middle age as my experience, and that is exactly where I feel in life—positioned in the middle between two major life stages. And they are two stages that I don’t think commands any respect—childhood and old age.      

I’ve been to my share of nursing homes. I helped to care for my father, as he lived and died in one. I had to endure my mother’s five month stay in a nursing home while she recovered from major surgery. I have volunteered my time in hospice, making my travels in some nursing home visitations. So I have seen, firsthand, the hardship of what it means to be elderly, of what it means to feel like a burden, of what it means to lose one’s abilities that one has always taken for granted.  I’ve often witnessed the despair and the languishing away from growing feeble in body and mind.
There is no easy cure for old age. No amount of Botox can alleviate the problems. No change seems available in sight for the ones who have lost their way, or have few people that can care for them, or are willing to care for them.  

I think time should just slow down again for me—as it seemed to be in my girlhood.

I am in no hurry to leave middle age.
Dorothy A Dec 2011
A rose in the middle of December is what I saw outside. Instantly, I connected this odd occurrence with my life. The thought hit my thoughts like a ton of bricks. That is what I am, I had thought to myself. That describes me.

As I looked out my living room window on a sunny, but freezing, Saturday afternoon, I was surprised to see this solitary rose that had bloomed on my mini rose plant.  Providing me with a few salmon colored roses each season of its bloom, without fail this plant regrows again and again in my garden. I first planted it there since forever ago, or so it seems.

Usually, such a flowering occurrence should be no big deal, nothing major or out of the ordinary. Certainly, I would not find this as something really noteworthy to write about. Rose plants do that kind of thing all the time.

But it was frigid cold outside, and the middle of December.

What a strange, yet amazing thing to behold! Maybe there is a proper explanation for it, but I don’t care. The petals were just as colorful as ever when really they should have wilted awy from the cold. All the other flowering plants in my garden surely did! It didn’t really make sense, but its presence was pretty awesome.

I eagerly went to find my camera to take a picture of my sweet, little rose. The grass was dotted with tiny patches of snow to show that-yes indeed-winter is really only days away from its official entrance. Plant activity and growth really should be over. Isn’t that right? I know we have had some warmer days during the previous month, but the icy cold seemed to have come to stay for a while. It surely defies logic to think of blooming flowers on such days.

I often look for “God moments”, as I call them, in which God gives me something to hold onto that reveals His love to me. Not looking for anything earth shattering, I see often see God in the little things, in the details of life. And I don’t even always look for such things, for sometimes I doubt God really cares or really is that effective in my life. You see, that is not uncommon for someone who deals with chronic depression. I learned early on in life that nobody is there for you, not really. I know Christians aren’t supposed to feel this way, but if I can be bold to be honest, I am. Often, I just think I’ll get by on my own. If I can’t get by on my own, I often try to put up with it instead of turning to God for help.  But lately I was feeling desperate.

Suffering with depression all of my life, and with managable anxiety, the thought of the approaching Christmas had been especially difficult for me. I know that people are “supposed to” feel uplifted with the holiday, but I was not. To reveal this is a source of shame to me, and I have learned to mask such uneasy feelings, trying to fake it for the sake of showing the world that I really am OK inside. It is like I expect everyone to look at me and say, “What’s the matter with you, loser!”

I knew I could find two things that would appeal to me—Christmas music and lights. Yet the music that I often love could not do it for me. The lovely Christmas lights, shining in the dark of night, didn’t matter either. I was feeling dejected, and I was growing weary with life—again. When not obligated to go anywhere, I felt like hiding from the world, feeling safer from anxious thoughts by myself. And as safe as I tried to feel in my comfort zone, this was frightening to me. This did not feel like living to me.

Is this how I am going to live out the rest of my pitiful life? This was one of my kinder thoughts.

I usually get through Christmas OK, making the best of it, but my losses often feel bigger than my blessings. In 1998, I lost an estranged brother to suicide. In 2005, I lost a father to Alzheimer’s, a few weeks after Christmas. In 2007, my mother had to spend Christmas in a nursing home recovering from major surgery. That year, I struggled through that season with very hopeless feelings, for my mother was in jeopardy of never walking again. She spent almost half a year in that place—a woman with sever scoliosis, and chronic back pain, who cannot stand for very long. In my hopelessness, I seem to forget the miracles in my life, for my mom’s return home seems like one to me.

I also see my father’s experience and death from Alzheimer’s as something far more than a tragedy. For many years, I avoided my father, wanting really nothing to do with him. Grudges surely seem larger than life over time, and although I wanted to forgive my father and seek reconciliation, fear often stood in the way. Even though my dad grew remorseful for how he raised his children, it took my brother’s suicide for me to find forgiveness for a man I thought never supported me or believed in me. For over two years, while my dad was ill and dying, the bond between us grew into something special. I know from personal experience that even in the difficult times, there are larger purposes involved.
  
No doubt, I have been provided with some huge challenges in life. Thankfully, I always pulled through when I surely felt that I would crumble into pieces. I clung to my faith in God, even when that faith felt like dying embers in a fire, for it seemed to be all that I had. Nothing else worked. Nothing else satisfied for very long. And when it did last, I wanted more and more, like a drug addict looking for his next fix.  

I have often been plagued with self doubt. What is my purpose in this life? Why am I here? I knew I was not alone in this thinking, reminding myself that I am not the most unique person in my suffering. So I searched the internet, a convenient source to turn to when you can’t seem to face people, and the world.  

Not wanting to live or value your own life is a horrible state of mind that I would not wish on anybody. I have relied on a depression medication since my brother died, and still do, but there had to be something more to help me. Deep down inside, I did not want to die, but I didn’t know how to live either. The heart of the matter was that in my worst bouts of depression, I was just so broken inside. I survived enough to go through the motions, but I felt like I was losing the battle—and really did not want to win the war anyhow.

I still remember the “God moment” I had when I was in London, England in August of 2011. At that time, life felt like an adventure as I went on my very first overseas trip to Europe. I have yearned to go to Europe since childhood. It was a Sunday morning in London, and a religious program was on. From what one man was saying on TV about his experiences, my ears perked up and I hurriedly scribbled some things down on a pad of my hotel paper before I forget some of his statements that stood out to me.

During my short stay in London, I was experiencing a cold. I wanted to feel Gods presence as I felt the swallowed up feeling of being a stranger in a faraway place. As intruiged as I was,  in the huge, bustling metropolis, I admit I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I find big cities as places in which people pass others with no concern other than to go about their way. London was fascinating, but I am a suburbanite, for sure!

The things this man was saying on TV really impacted me at the time, and I now carry that scrap of paper around with me in my wallet. Little did I know that a few months later that these statements would help to pull me through from reaching into despair. That despair began a few months after that trip when I was quite sick with the flu, twice in a row, and feeling very isolated and weary.

Sometimes, we have to get into that place where all there is is God.

It is not that I did not believe in God. I did not think God believed in me.

Sometimes, we grow best in hard times.  

All my crooked crutches and phony props, as I call them, weren’t working. If the computer wasn’t taking up much of my free time, television was numbing my senses from the stark reality that life felt empty for me. Where was God? Logically, I knew I had no reason to be bitter, for I knew the answer. I felt so far away from Him, helpless and hopeless—yet I clung to this hope—God never moved at all. I was the one who walked away, but like the prodigal son in the Bible, God would be waiting there for me with a joyful expectation. I truly believe that even though I often wonder how God puts up with me.

It has been a long time—if ever—that I fully trusted in God alone. Yes, I believed in Him, and trusted in Jesus as my savior, but I often held back. I was still so angry and hurt about the past. Why didn’t God rescue me from such a horrible childhood? Why was I bullied in school? Why didn’t I have a better family? Why did loneliness and insecurity plague me as it did? Why wasn’t I beautiful? Why didn’t I have a better life? Why this and why that. Even though I logically knew better, in my hurt and wounded soul, life felt like a big, horrible mistake. God must have not cared about me. I may not have consciously acknowledged it, but my actions proved otherwise.

We live in a world where you got to be stronger, you got to be better; you got to be tougher; you got to be faster; you got to be more successful. The media pounds this into our brains all the time in many different forms. How many of us feel like we can never measure up? I am sure I am not alone in feeling the inadequacy. Yet I could not concentrate on anyone else’s pain when I was so wrapped up in my own.

A rose in the middle of December—I put it all into proper perspective. What a fragile looking thing, but an enduring one! It symbolizes to me the invincible, indelible human soul in the midst of an often perplexing world. When all around seems bleak, when life takes a toll on you, that remains unscathed, untouched by the trails we often have to face.  When we die, I wholeheartedly believe, it will be the only true thing that remains of us. When our bodies decay into dust, our souls will be like that rose, brilliant and beautiful.    

Besides myself, there are two groups of people, near and dear to my heart, which I could compare to that symbolic rose in my garden. My current job is working with special needs students, usually with autistic children and young adults. I worked 19 years in a bland office job, and could not ignore the constant nagging feeling to get the courage and desire up to do something more fulfilling with my life. With fearful, but bold determination I thought: It’s now or never.  Maybe it was not the wisest thing, but it felt so freeing to say to my boss, “I think I quit”, without another job to back me up. I basked in the encouraging applause of many co-workers who wished they had the guts to do the same, but soon the panic set in.

What do I do now? What can I do now?

Never working with children before, I felt a call to work with them, and I absolutely have a greater sense of purpose. Many of these children cannot talk. Many of them cannot walk. Many of them accept people just as they are, for I believe they want the same in return. Their lives teach me what really is important in life—and that is compassion.

Other than children, I also love the elderly, sensing their desperate need for love and compassion. Forcing myself to get my mind off my own troubles, I heeded my pastor’s call to not simply “go to church” but to “be the church”. I knew I had talents. I knew could open my mouth and carry a tune. From what I went through in my life, I knew I had the compassion. After all, I dealt with my dying father in a nursing home. With a nursing home ministry in my church, and a nursing home right across the street, it was obvious—there are others out there that need hope and they need love. So what was my excuse?

In this world that expects you to be stronger, better, tougher, faster or more successful, there are those that live in the world that they don’t fit any of these categories. But yet they are here. They exist. Can they be ignored? The answer is surely, yes, and they often are.  Perhaps, the world is uncomfortable with them, does not know what to do with them. They don’t fit into the false demands for perfection. They don’t fit into push and shove to get ahead of everyone else, but they remind us, sometimes to the point of discomfort, how fragile the human condition often is.  

Lately, I have had such a hunger that food cannot satisfy. I yearned for a peace, one that only God can provide me with. I found two uplifting stories on the internet of people who struggle on and whose lives defy the idea of a perfect world. One of them was about an Australian man, Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs. He was picked on at school because he was perceived as a freak, as someone who did not seem to have any real chance at living a normal life. And he was angry that he did not look like, or function like, most everyone else. At about the age of eight he wanted to end it all, thinking he had no purpose in life. He eventually gave his life to Christ, and now lives a full life, reaching out to others with his incredible story of hope and perseverance.

Another woman, Joni Eareckson Tada, continues to amaze me. She is a quadriplegic from a diving accident gone horribly wrong. Her story touches many people with her hopeful attitude and her amazing faith in Christ. She, too, wanted to die when she thought her life had no more meaning. Recently, she has even fought breast cancer and chronic pain that has added to her decades of struggles with immobility.  She touches so many lives with her honesty about her suffering, giving people hope in times that seem hopeless.            

I wanted what these two people had. No, I did not want their afflictions, but I wanted to be able to reach out to others and touch their hearts, as well.  I wanted that faith, desperately, a faith that will not back down in the face of fear, in serious doubts, deep sadness, and pain. These people had little choice but to turn to God. The alternative was utter bleakness, a lack of purpose, and a slow death. But they defied the odds and etched a life out of faith, helping countless others to endure their struggles and to find meaning in life. There were plenty of times when I did not pray to reach out to a God that I gave my heart to many years ago. I bought into the belief that God was as inadequate and ineffective as I was feeling.    

Sometimes, we have to get into that place where all there is is God.

It is not that I did not believe in God. I did not think God believed in me.

Sometimes, we grow best in hard times.  

With plenty of tears, I cried out to God. It was a gut wrenching cry of someone with nothing to give but a broken heart. I wanted that kind of faith, and I meant that with every fiber of my being. Deep inside, my faith wasn’t gone. It never really left me, but only God had the ability to grow it, to prosper it, and to produce “life” back into my life. The battles might have felt overwhelming, at times, but I have always been a survivor. In spite of heartaches, and from what they actually teach me, I can be an encourager to others. Instead of just wanting to make everything go away, I can look forward to new chapters in my life.  

I know there will still be times when I will struggle to want to face another day, yet with my faith in God, I can.

So a rose growing outside may be not a big deal. Writers and poets have seemingly exhausted the topic, hailing it the most precious of flowers, the most perplex, with such lovely fragility, yet sheltered by stinging thorns. My inspiration to write on the same subject may not be unique, but as a rose blooms, and its glorious petals unfold, so does my story. I admit I hesitated to finish writing this, not sure I wanted to expose these things about my life. It takes a lot of guts to admit how imperfect you are in a world that seems to shun or poke fun at such things. But if I can encourage even one person, who has similar struggles, I will gladly try to be an encouragement.    

For almost a week now, existing in a stark contrast of its surroundings, that little rose remains, cold winter weather and all. Every day since, for about a week now, I continue look for it outside and find it going against the grain.  All the other flowers in my dormant garden are long gone. It will be gone eventually, but I am still enjoying my “God
Dorothy A Jun 2012
With great recollection, there were a few things in life that Ivy Jankauskas would always remember—always.

She would never forget where she was when 9/11 happened; she was in her algebra class, doodling a picture on a piece of notebook paper of her dog, Zoey—bored out of her mind by Mr. Zabbo’s lecture—when she first heard the shocking news. Certainly, she could remember when she first properly fell in love; she was fresh into college when she knew that she loved Trevor Littlefield—the day after they agreed to get back together, right after the day they decided to split up—after she finally realized that she really loved him, much more than she ever, really, consciously thought. She would forever remember when her parents first took her to Disneyland; she was seven and got her picture taken with Snow White and Mickey Mouse, and she instantly decided that she wanted to become a professional Tinkerbelle when she grew up.

And, like it or not, she could remember her very first kiss. She had just turned five, and it was at her birthday party. How could she ever forget those silly paper hats, and all her little playmates wearing them? They were a good sized group of children, mostly from the neighborhood and her kindergarten class, which watched her open present after present. Ivy remembered her cherry cake, with white frosting, and the stain she had when she dropped a piece on her pretty, new dress that her mother had bought her just for the occasion.  

It was later that day, behind her garage, that Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third, a boy her same age, planted one on her. It was a strange sensation, she recalled—icky, wet and sloppy, and Gordon nearly missed her mouth. Not expecting it, Ivy made a face, puckering up her lips—but not for another kiss—as if she had just ****** on a spoiled lemon. Ever since then, it was the beginning of the dislike she had for Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third. She didn’t exactly know why—there was just something about him that bugged her from then on.

There grew to be several reasons why Ivy knew that Gordon was a ****, something she first sensed at her birthday party behind the garage. Since about third grade, children picked on Ivy’s name, teasing her by calling her “Poison Ivy”.  And the one who seemed to be the loudest and most obnoxious of the name callers, chiming in with the other bullies, was Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third.  Ivy was proud of her name up until then, but the taunts made her self conscious. Her mother told her to be proud of her name, for it was unique and different, as she was unique and an individual. Still, Ivy felt uncomfortable with her name for quite a while. Only in adulthood, did she feel somewhat better about it.

A bit of a tomboy back then in school, she would have loved to punch Gordon right in the nose. If only she could get away with it! What a joke! Who would name their child Gordon anyway? She had thought it was far worse than hers.

So to counter his verbal assaults to her name, Ivy called Gordon, “Flash Gordon”, after the science fiction hero from TV and the comics. But Gordon was no hero to her. He was more of a villain, creepy, vile, and just plain mean!

Soon, new name of him caught on, and other kids were joining her. She had a smug sense of satisfaction that Gordon grew furious of the title, for it stuck to him like glue.

Gordon’s family lived right around the block, just minutes away from where Ivy lived. Ivy’s mom, Gail, and Gordon’s mom, Lucy, both went to the same Lithuanian club, and both encouraged their children to take up Lithuanian folk dancing. Ivy remembered she was eight-years-old when she began dancing. It was three years of Hell, she had thought, wearing those costumes, with long, flowery skirts, frilly blouses, aprons, caps and laced vests, and performing for all the parents and families in attendance. Worst of all, she often had to dance with Gordon, and he was one of only three boys that was dragged into taking up folk dancing by their mothers. Probably all of those boys went into it kicking and screaming, so Ivy had thought.

Many years have came and gone since those days. Ivy was now a lovely, young woman, tall and dark blonde, and with a Master’s degree in sociology, working as a social worker in the prison system. Ivy’s parents would never have imagined that she would work in a field, in such places, but she found it quite rewarding, helping those who often wished for or were in need of redemption.    

When Ivy came over to visit her mom one day, her mother had told her some news. “Gordon Durand’s mother passed away”, Gail announced. It was quite disturbing.

“What? When?” Ivy replied, her face full of shock.

“Well, it must have been a few days ago. I saw the obituary in the paper, and a couple of people from the Lithuanian club called me to tell me. The funeral will be Friday. Why, I didn’t even know she was sick! She must have hid from just about everyone. If only I knew, I would have gone to see her and make sure she know I cared”.

It had been a long time since Ivy saw Gordon, ever since high school. Now, they were both twenty-six-years-old. It never occurred to her to ever think of Gordon, to have him fixed in her mind like a fond memory from the past.

“Could of, would of, should of—don’t beat yourself up, Mom” Ivy told her "I guess I should go pay my respects”. But Ivy was not sure if she really should do it, or really if she wanted to do it. “Mrs. Durand was a nice lady. Sometimes, it is the nice ones that die young. What did she die of anyway?”

Ivy’s mom was pouring herself and her daughter a cup of coffee. “I believe it was leukemia. In the obituary, it asks for donations to be made to the Leukemia Society of America”.

Ivy shook her head in disbelief.  As she was sitting down with her mother at the kitchen table, drinking her coffee, her mom shocked her even more. Gail said, “Only twenty-six, same as you, and now Gordon has no mother or father! How tragic to lose your parents at such a young age! It breaks my heart to think of him without his parents, even though he is a grown up man now!”

“What?!” Ivy shouted in disbelief. “When did Gordon’s dad die?!”

Gail sipped on her coffee mug. “Oh, a few years ago, I believe. Time sure flies, so maybe it was longer than I think”. Gail had a far away look on her face like she was earnestly calculating the time in her mind.

“He died? You never told me that! How come you never told me?”

Under normal circumstances, the thought of Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third, would almost want to make Ivy cringe. But now Ivy was feeling very sad for him.  

“I did!” Gail defended herself. “You just don’t remember, or you weren’t listening. I am sure I told you!”

Gail was a round faced woman, with light, crystal blue eyes that always seemed warm in spite of their icy color. Ivy was quite close to her mother, her parents’ only child. She was grateful that her dad, Max, was still around, too, unlike the thought of Gordon’s dad dying. She felt that she could not have asked for better parents. They loved her and built her up to be who she was, and she felt that they could be proud of how she turned out, not the stereotypically spoiled, only child, not entitled to have everything, but one who was willing to do her share in life.  

“I would have remembered, Mom!” Ivy insisted. “I would remember a thing like that! What happened to him? Did you go to the funeral home?”

“I think he had a heart attack”, Gail replied, tapping her finger on her temple to indicate that she remembered. “I did go…oh, wait a minute. You were in Europe with your friends. It was the year after you graduated from high school, I believe. You couldn’t possibly have gone to the funeral home at that time”.

Since Gail did not want to go to Daytona Beach, in Florida, for her senior trip, her parents saved up the money for her to go to Germany and Italy. Ivy wasn’t into being a bikini clad sun goddess, nor was she thrilled by the rowdy behavior of crowds of *** craved teens—a choice that her parents were quite grateful that she chose, level headed as she was.

Since she was a little girl, Ivy dreamed of going to Europe. Her parents, both grandchildren of Lithuanian immigrants, would have loved for her to go to Lithuania, but Ivy and two of her friends had found a safe, escorted trip to go elsewhere,  on to where Ivy always dreamed of going—to see the Sistine Chapel and to visit her pen pal of eleven years, Ursula Friedrich, in Munich.  

Now, Ivy was available to visit the funeral home for Gordon’s mother, and she had decided to go with her mother. Not seeing Gordon in years, Ivy had her misgivings, not knowing what to expect when encountering him. Perhaps, he would be different now, but maybe he would prove to be quite the ****.

As she came, she noticed Gordon’s sister, Deirdre, and she gave her a hug. “I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. She was so nice”, Ivy told Deirdre. She felt uncomfortable talking to Deirdre, for she did not know what to say other than the usual, I am sorry for your loss. It was “sympathy card” talk, and Ivy felt like she was quoting something contrived from a Hallmark store.    

Deirdre was two years older than Gordon. She slightly smiled at Ivy and sighed. She must have said just about the same thing all day long, “It is good of you to come. Thank you for your kind support. Mom would appreciate it”.

Ivy looked around the room. There were many flowers, in vases and baskets, and people surrounding the casket. Ivy could not see Mrs. Durand in the coffin, for people were in the way, her mother included. She was glad she couldn’t see the body from her view.

Funeral homes gave her the creeps, ever since she was thirteen years old and her grandmother died, her father’s mother, and she had to stay at the funeral home all day long. Even a whiff of some, certain flowers was not pleasant to smell. They reminded her of being at a place like this, certainly not evoking thoughts of joy.          

Ivy looked around the room. “Where is Gordon?” she asked Deirdre.

Deirdre sighed again. “Gordon cannot handle death very well”, she admitted. “Go outside and look. He has been hanging around the building outside, getting some fresh air and insisting he needs a big break from all this.”

Ivy shook her head and smirked. “That sounds like Gordon, I must say”  

“Yeah”, Deirdre agreed, as she looked like Gordon’s help to her was a lost cause. “And he’s leaving me to do all the important work—talking to people who come in while he goes away and escapes from reality”.

Ivy went outside to search for Gordon. Sure enough, she found him by the side of the building, under a broad, shady tree. He was having a cigarette, standing all by himself, when he saw her approach.

Gordon looked the same—wavy brown hair and freckles, but much more grown up and sophisticated, his suit jacked off and his tie loosened up. Ivy knew that he always hated wearing ties. She knew that when both her mom and his mom convinced them to go out with each other—a huge twist of their arms—to the Fall Fest Dance in ninth grade and in junior high school. Gordon’s mom bribed him to go with her by promising to double his allowance for the month, and Ivy actually had a silly crush on Gordon’s cousin, Ben, hoping that she might get to talk to him if she went with Gordon to the dance.

Ivy glanced at Gordon’s cigarette, and he noticed. “Been trying to quit”, Gordon told her as she approached. He dropped it on the sidewalk and stepped on it to put it out. His face was somber as he added without any emotion, as if parroting his own voice, “Ivy Jankauskas—how the hell have you been?” It sounded like he had just seen her in a matter of months instead of years.

Well, at least he had no problem identifying her or remembering her name. She must not have changed that drastically—and hopefully for the better.

Ivy stood there before him, as he looked her down from head to toe. Same old Gordon! She thought he was probably giving her “the inspection”. She thought he almost looked handsome in his brown suit vest and pants—almost—with a sharp look of sophistication that Gordon probably wasn’t accustomed to. Surely, Ivy had no real respect for him.

“I’m well”, she responded. “But the question is more like…how are you doing?” Ivy studied Gordon’s blank expression. “No—really. I’d like to know how you are coping”.

Gordon stood there looking at the ground, his hands in his pants pockets, like he never heard her. “Come on. Let’s go for a walk”

“Here? Now?”

“Just a short work, around the block”, he told her. He already started walking, and Ivy contemplated what to do before she decided to follow up with him to join him.

They walked together in silence for a while. From anyone passing by, they surely would have looked like a couple, a well-paired couple that truly enjoyed each other’s company. Ivy could not believe she was actually walking with him. Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third? Of all people!

“You haven’t answered my question”, Ivy said. “How are you coping? You know I really liked your mom a lot. She always was pleasant to me”.

She wanted to add, “Unlike you”, but it certainly was not the right time or the right place. She felt a twinge of guilt for thinking such a thing. Under more pleasant circumstances, she would have jabbed him a little. That was just how they always communicated, not necessarily in a mean-spirited way, but in a brotherly and sisterly way that involved plenty of teasing.

Gordon thought a moment before he answered. “Yeah, it’s hard. But what can I do? I lost my dad. I lost my mom. Period. End of discussion. I’m too old to be an orphan…but I kind of feel like one anyhow. That’s my answer, in a nutshell”.

“And I wish I knew about your dad”, Ivy said, with a great tone of remorse. “I was in Europe at the time, and I couldn’t have possibly gone to the funeral”.

“Europe? Wow! Aren’t you the jet setter? Who else gets to do that kind of stuff but you, Ivy?”

Now that was the Gordon she always knew! It did not take long for the true Gordon to come forth and show himself.

“No! I don’t have all kinds of money!” she quickly defended herself. “I actually helped pay for some of that trip by working all summer after we graduated from high school. Plus, it was the trip of a lifetime. I may never get the chance to go again on a trip like that again”.  

Ivy was a bit perturbed that Gordon seemed to imply that she was pampered by her parents. He accused her of that before, just because she was an only child.

Autumn was approaching, but summer was still in the air. It was Ivy’s favorite time of year, with the late summer and early autumn, all at the same time.  The trees were just starting to turn colors, but the sun felt nice and warm upon her as Ivy walked along. It was surely an Indian summer day, one that wouldn’t last forever. She wore a light sweater over her sleeveless, cotton dress, and took it off to experience more of the sun.

“It has been ages since I’ve seen you”, Gordon admitted. “Since high school. So what became of you? Did you ever go to college?”

“I did and I work as a social worker…I work in various prisons”

Gordon laughed out loud, and Ivy gave him a stern look. “What’s so funny?” she demanded.

“I just can’t picture you going in the slammer, even if you aren’t wearing an orange suit”, he said in between laughing. He looked at Ivy, and she had quite a frown on her face. He changed his tune. “I was only joking, Ivy. I think you’d probably do good work at your job”.  

“And where do you work?” she asked, a devilish expression on her face. “At the circus?”

Ivy caught herself becoming snarky to Gordon. It did not take long. She opened her mouth to apologize, but Gordon, sensing her need to be sorry, stopped her.

Laughing even more, he said, “Good one! You are sharp and fast on your feet! You always have been! I work for an insurance agency. I work for Triple A”.

“Oh, really? Do you like your job?” Ivy asked. Her interest was genuine.

“It pays the bills. But, hey! I am going back to college in January. I just have an Associate’s degree right now. I am not sure what I want to take up, but I want to go back and at least get a Bachelor’s”.

“That’s great!” Ivy exclaimed. “I think you should keep on learning and keep on moving forward. That is a great goa
Dorothy A Nov 2012
This is not a poem. It is not really a story, either. I don't really need to classify it in a category, I suppose.  I simply say it is an expression of respect, gratitude, and love for my mom...like a living eulogy.

Recently losing a loved one in the family to a tragic death, I am realizing how vital it is to tell my mother how much she means to me. No, it doesn't have to be Mother's Day for this to take place, nor her birthday (although she just turned 76 on November 2nd). The reason is so much more than the norm, than the expected. It is an urging need within to express my emotions, my creativity—before I forget—before the emotions fade, or I talk myself out of doing what I think is right.  

I fear I might start to take things for granted again and never decide to actually do it.

You see, when my father died nearly eight years ago, it was at his funeral that I spoke the kind, fond words in a eulogy that I wrote for him. It was nice to say it at church to an attentive audience who heard how I lovingly felt about my dad. It seemed easier, safer to my comfort zone, not to speak such things to him while he was alive. Sure, my father knew I cared. I looked after him when he was dying, and we had a great bond during that time. But I would love to turn back time, and tell him face-to-face. I cannot, but I wish to say these things to my mother now, while she is still here—and not simply in her memory someday—writing it all down before I  forget what I want to her to hear and read for herself.

It is easy to fight with someone you love, and to find fault. Most children have conflicts with their parents. Often, some of us want to place blame and be angry, even if it is momentary. It is another thing to stop and think of what our lives mean, and to remember those who enhanced us, shaped us, and taught us. Sometimes, we learn the hard way. We may learn by fire—I often have—for it is the intense stuff that shapes us, develops us, and refines us into who we are. If we are keenly aware about it, that is, and use everything for our good.

My mother taught me many good things. I want to say them in the here-and-now, not just to memorialize her some day in the future….so here it goes.

This is what my mother taught me:

She taught me that hate is a sin. Yes, a sin, for my mother realized that hate is a strong emotion, a destructive one that is not pleasing to God. She thinks it is simply wrong—no matter what.  As a child, this wasn't always what I wanted to hear—if I was passionately, downright, furious with someone—but I surely have grown up and now understand that she was absolutely right. No matter how justified I can feel, the wisdom of it keeps tugging at my heart. As I have heard in a quote before: Hate is easy, love takes courage.  I have my mother to thank for instilling such principles in my childhood. They perpetually instruct me, speak to me and to remind me throughout my years.

My mother taught me to be fair and even in life, and she never played favorites among me and my two older brothers. If it can be helped, she believed that nobody should get more than the other, or less. As the oldest of 13 children, she understood that proper distribution is important, and nobody should be left out

My mother taught me to be honest. I knew that she did not like to lie to anyone for her own gain or anyone else’s.  If I wanted her to lie for me, I saw that she was against it and quite uncomfortable about going against her belief. That is something that I learned to uphold as a virtue, too, applying to my life.

Even the little things, she taught me. "Cover your mouth when you yawn....Answer people when they address you” all have merit. (She still is in the correcting business on stuff like that!)

She has written a little bit of poetry and sketched a bit, too. Her poetry was simple and sweet, and she would write stuff in my birthday cards a few times. She even wrote poetry in her father's card one time, and he thought it was beautiful. It was not often that she heard such compliments.  I guess that is where I get my love of poetry, story writing, painting and drawing—from her. And I think, perhaps, my mom got her interest in sketching from her father.

My mom had and still has a beautiful singing voice. Many in the family told me so. She certainly could have been a professional singer—she was that good. Some of her siblings could sing well, too, and her mother. It used to drive my crazy that she would hum to songs in commercials or start singing when music played in the movies or on TV. "Do you have to sing?" I would ask. But I later realized how fun singing was, and my mom was surprised that I actually liked to do it, too. I think she was convinced that I held an anti-singing stance in life. If only I could sing half as good as she ever did, and appreciated it more.

My mother taught me not to waste, not food or practical things. And although I used to think she was way too much like that, I now understand it is a value to use money wisely. My mom certainly appreciated the value of a dollar, growing up in a large, impoverished family. She certainly did not come from the "throwaway generation".

My mom also taught me generosity. She has been this way with her children, helping us out financially, if needed. My father was that way, too, later in life. It was a blessing to know my mom and dad were there for me, and I could be there for them. They were adamant about helping others if they helped you. And surely that can be expanded to helping those who cannot help themselves, something I am passionate about.

My mother knew how to laugh and have a playful side to her. Even with her physical ailments—her bad back, her arthritis—my mom has maintained her humor. My dad did, too. There was plenty to be serious about. Yet they both had a silly side to them, and those kinds of qualities remind me that growing older does not mean that one has to lose that childlike part that keeps us young and less heavy-laden. My mom just has always had a more bubbly personality. Starting out in life as very shy and introverted—more like my dad—I also learned to be a bit more like her.

Lastly, my mother taught me about faith, that there is a God. I believed in God as a little girl. Later, my mom and I had our share of fighting and bickering about the importance of going to church.. As a teenager, I had major doubts and disbelief, and stayed away from such practices. But there was a foundation laid down before me that I later desired to lean on and thirst for. Although our religious paths differed for good, my mother and I both are Christians, and my mom never lost or questioned her faith like I often have. I am now glad to be able to say that I have faith in God, and it is so necessary for me.

Yes, my mother taught me many things for which I am grateful for.
Dorothy A Feb 2015
She yelled out her back porch and into the alley as if one calling home the hogs. “Johnny! Johnny! You get home for supper! John—nyyy! You spend all day in that godforsaken tree that you’re gonna grow branches! Johnny, get home now!”

Up in his friend’s tree house, Johnny slammed his card down from his good hand that he was planning to win from. “****! She always does that to me”, he complained. “Just when I’m right in the middle of—“

Zack laughed. “Your ma’s voice carries down the whole neighborhood—practically to China!”

Everyone laughed. Iris’s daughter, Violet, said to her mom. “Grandma and Dad always butted heads.” She loved when her mom told stories of her childhood, especially when it was amusing.  

Iris’s good friend and neighbor, Bree, asked Iris, “I bet you never thought in a million years that she’d eventually be your mother-in-law”

“No, I sure didn’t”, Iris answered. “I am just glad that she liked me!”

Everyone laughed. Telling that small tale took her back to 1961 when her and her twin brother Isaac—known as Zack to most everyone—would hang out together with his best friend, Johnny Lindstrom. Because Iris was like one of the boys, she fit perfectly in the mix. Zach and she were fifteen and were referred to in good humor by their father as “double trouble”. It was that summer that they lost their dear dad, Ray Collier, and memories of him became as precious as gold. If it wasn’t for her brother and his friend, Iris be lost. Hanging out all day—from dawn til dusk—with Zack and Johnny was her saving grace.  Her mother was glad to have them out of her hair, not enforcing their chores very much.

“I was a tomboy to the fullest”, Iris told everyone. “I had long, beautiful blonde hair that I put back in a pony tail, and the cutest bangs, but I didn’t want to be seen as girly. I wore rolled up jeans and boat shoes with bobby socks, tied the bottom of my boyish shirt in a knot—but I guess I could still get the boys to whistle at me. I think it was my blonde hair that did it.”

“Oh, Mom”, Violet said, “You were beautiful and you know it! Such a gorgeous face!” She’d seen plenty of pictures of her mother when she was younger. Both Iris and Zack were tall and blonde. Zack’s hair could almost turn white in the summertime.

“Were beautiful?” Iris asked, giving Violet a concerned look, her hands on her hips in a playful display of alarm at her daughter’s use of the past tense. She may have been an older woman now, but she didn’t think she has aged too badly.

“Are beautiful”, Violet corrected herself. She leaned over and kissed her mom on the cheek. Iris was nearly seventy, and she aged pretty gracefully, and she was content with herself.  

They all sat in the living room sipping wine or tea and eating finger food. It was a celebration, after all—or just an excuse to get together and have a ladies night out. Not only had Iris had invited her daughter and friend, she had her sister-in-law—Zach’s wife, Franci—and her daughter-in-law, Rowan, married to her youngest son, Adam.

“Weren’t you going to marry someone else?” Bree asked Iris.

“Yes”, Iris responded. “We all wouldn’t be sitting here right now if I did. My life would have been very different.”

“A guy named Frank”, Violet stated. “I used to joke that he was almost my dad.”

Iris said to Violet, “Ha…ha. You know it took both your father and I to make you you. Everyone laughed at how cute that this mother-daughter duo talked. Iris went on, “I actually went on a couple of dates with your dad when I was seventeen. I was starting to get used skirts and dresses and went out of my way to look really nice for guys, but it was just high school stuff. After I graduated, I met a guy named Frank Hautmann, and we were engaged within several months.”

“What happened to him?” Rowan asked.

Iris sipped her tea and seemed a bit melancholy. “We did love each other, but it just didn’t work out. I know he eventually married and moved out of state. I ran into John about two or three years later, and everything just clicked. His family moved several miles away once we all graduated, so being best friends with Zack kind of faded away for him. But once I saw him again, we were really into each other. We took off in our dating as if no time ever lapsed. Soon we were married, and that was that.” There was an expression of “aww” going around the room in unison.  

Bree stood up and raised her wine glass. She announced, “Here’s to true love!” Everyone lifted their glass or cup in response.

Franci stood up next to have her own toast. She said, “Here’s to my husband and father of my three, handsome sons being declared officially cancer free, to Violet’s little bun in the oven soon to be born and also to my *****-in-law, Iris, for finally finding that pink pearl necklace that she thought was hopelessly gone forever! Cheers!”

“Cheers” everyone echoed and sipped on their wine or tea. “That’s some toast and makes this get together even more meaningful”, Iris complemented Franci.

Almost eight months pregnant, Violet restricted her drinking to tea. Her mother was so thrilled that she found out Violet was having a girl. It was equally wonderful that Iris’s beloved brother had recovered from his prostrate cancer, for throat cancer had taken their father’s life when they were young. So really finding the necklace that her mother gave her many years ago—that was misplaced while moving seven years ago—was just the icing on the cake to all the other news.    

Iris said, “My brother being in good health and my daughter having her baby girl is music to my ears. It trumps finding that necklace that I never thought I’d ever see again—even though it was the most precious gift my mother ever gave me.”  

At age thirty-five, Violet had suffered two miscarriages, so having a full-term baby in her womb was such a relief. It would be the first child to her and her husband, Paul, and the first granddaughter to her parents. Iris had three children altogether. Ray was named after her father, and then there was Adam and Violet. Only Adam and Rowan had any children—two sons, Adam Jr. and Jimmy. Ray and his wife, Lorene, lived abroad in London because of his job, and they had never wanted any children.  

“What name have you decided on?” Rowan asked Violet.

All eyes were on Violet who had quite a full belly. “Paul and I have agreed on a few names, but we still aren’t sure.” She turned to her mom and said, “Sorry, Mom, we won’t be keeping up the tradition.”

Iris was puzzled. “What tradition?” she asked.

Violet smiled. “I know it’s not really a tradition”, she admitted, “but didn’t you realize that your mother, you and I all have flower names?”

Everyone laughed at that observation. “That’s hysterical!” Bree noted. “Flower names?”

“That’s news to me” Iris said, not getting it.

“Me, too”, Franci agreed.

“Okay”, Violet explained to her mother “Grandma was Aster, you are Iris and I am Violet. Get my drift?”

The others started laughing, but Iris never even thought of this connection. She responded, “Well, my dad’s nickname out of Aster for my mom was Star.  I never thought of her name as something flowery but more heavenly…I guess. And I never thought of Iris as the flower—more like the colored part of the eye comes to mind. And Violet was my favorite name for a girl and also my favorite color—purple—but you can’t really name your daughter, Purple.”

The others laughed again. Everyone began to get more to eat, mingling by the food.  The gathering lasted for almost two hours, and eventually lost its momentum. Meanwhile, everyone took turns passing around the strand of beautiful, light pink pearls that Iris displayed so proudly in its rediscovery. It was a wedding gift from her mother in 1971, and Iris was painstakingly careful with it, swearing she’d never lose it again. She’d make sure of it. She prized it above anything else she owned, for she had no other special possession from her mother. Her sister got all of their mother’s items of jewelry, for Aster always felt it was the oldest girl’s right to it and this other sister gladly agreed.  Aster was never flashy or showy, and didn’t desire much. Her mother’s wedding ring, silver pendant necklace and an antique emerald ring from generations ago in England was all she wanted. Anything else was up for the grabbing by her two younger sisters.  

Iris learned the hard way to be mindful and not careless about her jewelry. An occasional earring would fall off and be lost, but any other woman could say the same thing. There was only one other incident that happened when she was a teenager that she never shared with anyone other than Zack. If she would confide in anyone, it would be him. Not even her husband knew, and she wasn’t going to tell anyone now. It was too embarrassing to share in the group, especially after tale of the pink pearl necklace that went missing.  

Bree told her, “Keep that in a safe or a safety deposit box—somewhere you know it won’t form legs and walk away.”

“Oh, ha, ha”, Iris remarked, flatly. “I don’t know how it ended up boxed up in the attic with my wedding dress. I sewed that dress myself, by the way. I guess too many hands were involved packing up things, and I am sure I did not put it in that box. Tore this house apart while it was stuck in the attic. Tore that apart, too.”
  
“And yet you didn’t find it until now”, Rowan stated. “It is as if it was hiding on you”.

“Well, I wasn’t even really looking for it when I found it, Iris said. “I was just trying to gather things for my garage sale, and thought of storing my old dress back in the closet. Luck was on my side. It’s odd that I didn’t find it earlier… but it sure did a good job of hiding on me.”

“Like it had a mind of its own”, Franci said, winking, “and didn’t want to be found.”

“Yeah”, Iris agreed. “It was just pure torture for me thinking I may never lay eyes on it ever again. All I had were a few pictures of me wearing it. I was convinced it was gone. ”

After a while, Iris’s friend, sister-in-law and daughter-in-law left one by one, but Violet remained with her mom.  They went in her bedroom to put the necklace back in its original case and in a dresser drawer —or at least that is what Violet had thought.

Iris placed the necklace into the case and handed it to her daughter. She told her, “I’m sure you’ll take good care of it.”

Violet’s jaw dropped as she sat on her parent’s king-sized bed. “Oh, Mom—no!” she exclaimed. “You can’t do that! You just found it, so why? Grandma gave it to you!”

Iris sat down beside her daughter. “I can give it to you, and I just did”, she insisted. “Anyway, it is a tradition to pass down jewelry from a mother to her firstborn daughter. And since you’re my only one, it goes to you. Someday, it can go to your daughter.”

Violet had tears in her eyes. She opened the box and smoothed her fingers over the pearls.
“Mom, you won’t lose it again. I am sure you won’t!”

“Because I’m giving it to you, dear. I know I can see it again so don’t look so guilty!” Violet gave her mom a huge hug, her growing belly pressing against her. The deed was done, for Violet knew that she couldn’t talk her mother out of things once her mind was set.

Iris shared with her, “You know that when I was born—Uncle Zack, too—my parents thought they were done with having children. My sister and brother were about the same level to each other as me and Zack were. It was like two, different families.”

Iris’s sister, Miriam, known to everyone as Mimi, was fifteen years older than the twins, and Ray Jr. was almost thirteen years older. Being nearly grown, Mimi and Ray were out on their own in a few years after the twins were born. Mimi married at nineteen and had three sons and two daughters, very much content in her role as a homemaker. Ray went into the army and remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.

“I never knew I was any different from Mimi or Ray until I overheard my Aunt Gerty talking to my mother”, she told Violet. “I mean I knew they were much older, but that was normal to me.”

“What did she say?” Violet had wondered.

“Well”, Iris explained, “I was going into the kitchen when I stopped to listen to something I had a feeling that I shouldn’t be hearing.”

Her mother was washing dishes, and Aunt Gerty was drying them with a towel and putting them away. Gerty said in her judgmental tone, “You’ve ended up just like Mother. You entered your forties and got stuck with more children to care for. How you got yourself in this mess…well…nothing you can do about it now. Those children are going to wear you down!”

Gerty was two years younger than Aster, and considered the family old maid, never walking down the aisle, herself.  She prided having her own freedom, unrestricted from a husband’s demands or the constant needs of crying or whiny children.

Aster replied to her sister, with defensive sternness, “Yes, I’ve made my bed and I’m lying in it! Do you have to be so high and mighty about it?”

“I couldn’t even move”, Iris told Violet. “I was frozen in my tracks. Probably was about eight or nine—no older than ten. I heard it loud and clear. For the first time in my life, I felt unwanted. It just never occurred to me before that my mother ever felt this way. Now I heard her admit to it. She didn’t say to my aunt that she was dead wrong.”

Iris’s mother came from a big family—the third of eight children and the oldest daughter—so she saw her mother having to bring up children well into her forties and older, and it wasn’t very appealing. Her mother never acted burdened by it, but Aster probably viewed her mother as stuck.

“That’s terrible. I don’t have to ask if that hurt.  I can see how hurt you are just in telling me”, Violet told her with sadness and compassion. “I don’t remember Aunt Gerty. I barely remember Grandma. She wasn’t ever mean to me, but she seemed like a very strict, no-nonsense woman.”  

“Oh, she was, Iris admitted. “I don’t even know how her and my father ever connected—complete opposites. Unless she changed from a young, happy lady to hard, bitter one. I don’t know. You would have loved your grandfather, though, Violet. He liked to crack jokes and was fun to be around. My mother was so stern that she never knew how to tell a joke or a funny story. Dutiful—that’s how I’d describe her. She was dutiful in her role—she did her job right—but I began to realize that she wasn’t affectionate. Except for your Aunt Mimi—their bond was there and wished I had it. Mimi was more ladylike and more like a mother’s shadow. Their personalities suited each other, I suppose.”  

Iris pulled out an old photo album out of a drawer. There was a black and white, head and shoulders portrait of her mother in her most typical look in Iris’s childhood. She had a short, stiff 1950s style bob of silvery gray hair and wore cat eye glasses. Not a hint of a smile was upon her lips—like she never knew how.

“Do you really think Grandma resented you and Uncle Zack?” Violet asked.

Iris responded, “Well, I’m sure my mother preferred having one child of each and didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘I’d like to have twins now’. I mean, she had a perfect set and my mom liked perfection. That’s all it was going to be—at least she thought. Nobody waits over a dozen years to have more. If my mother really resented getting pregnant again, now she had to deal with two screaming babies instead of one.  Must have come as quite a shock and she was about to turn forty.”

“It’s a shame, but woman have children past that age”, Violet pointed out.

“Sure, and some wait to start families until they have done some of the things they always wanted to do. But if I was to ask my mother if she wanted children that time in her life—which I never dared to—I think she’d have wanted to say, ‘not at all.’”

“It’s a shame”, Violet repeated. “Grandma should never have treated you two any differently.” Iris wasn’t trying to knock her mother, but Violet felt the need to be very protective for her against this grandmother that she barely remembered. Aster has been dead since Violet was six-years-old, and she had a foggy memory of her in her coffin, cold to the touch and very matriarchal in her navy blue dress.

Iris admitted, “I knew Mimi was her favorite, and I was my father’s favorite because I was the youngest girl. Zack and I we
Dorothy A Jul 2010
It was the summer of 1954. David Ito was from the only Japanese family we had in our town. I was glad he was my best friend. Actually, he was my only friend. His father moved his family to our small town of Prichard, Illinois when David was only eight years old. That was three years ago.

Only two and a half months apart, I was the older one of our daring duo. I even was a couple inches taller than David was, so that settled it. In spite of being an awkward girl, our differences in age and height made me quite superior at times, although David always snickered at that notion. To me, theses differences were huge and monumental, like the distance of the sun from the moon. To David, that was typical girlish nonsense. He thought it was so like a girl, to try to outdo a boy.  And he should have known. He was the only son of five children, and he was the oldest.

At first, David was not interested in being friends with a girl. But I was Josephine Dunn, Josie they called me, and I was not just any girl. Yet, like David, I did not know if I really liked him enough to be his friend. We started off with this one thing in common.

I knew he was smarter than anybody I ever knew, that is except for my father, a self-taught man. The tomboy that I was, I was not so interested in books and maps, and David was almost obsessed with them. Yet, there was a kindred spirit that ignited us to become close, something coming in between two misfits to make a good match. David was obviously so different from the rest. He came from an entirely different culture, looking so out-of-the-ordinary than the typical face of our Anglo-Saxon, Protestant community, and me, never really fitting in with any group of peers in school, I liked him.

David knew he did not fully fit in. I surely did not fit, either. My brother, Carl, made sure very early on in my life that I was to be aware of one thing. And that one thing was that I did not belong in my family, or really anywhere in life. Mostly, this was because I was not of my father’s first family, but I came after my father’s other children and was the baby, the apple of my father’s eye. But that wasn’t the real reason why Carl hated me.

During World War Two, my father enlisted in the army. He already had two small sons and a daughter to look after, and they already had suffered one major blow in their young lives. They had lost their mother to cancer. Louise Dunn was an important figure in their lives. She was well liked in town and very much missed by her family and friends.
  
Why their father wanted to leave his children behind, possibly fatherless, made no sense to other people. But Jim Dunn came from a proud military family and would not listen to anyone telling him not to fight but rather to stay home with his children. His father fought in the First World War, and three of his great grandfathers fought for the Union Army in the Civil War. It was not like my father to back out of a fight, not one with great principles.  My father was no coward.

Not only did my father leave three small children back home, but a new, young wife. Two years before World War Two ended, he made it back home to his lovely, young wife and family. Back in France, my father was wounded in his right leg. The result of the wound caused my father to forever walk with a limp and the assistance of a cane. It was actually a blessing in disguise what would transpire. He could have easily came home in a pine box. He was thankful, though, that he came away with his life. After recovering for a few months in a French hospital, my father was eager to go home to his family. At least he was able to walk, and to walk away alive.

This lovely, young woman who was waiting for him at home was twenty-year-old Flora Laurent, now Flora Dunn, my mother, and she was eleven years younger than my father. All soldiers were certainly eager to get home to their loved ones. My father was one of thousands who was thrilled to be back on American soil, but his thrill was about to dampen. Once my father laid eyes on his wife again, there was no hiding her highly expanding belly and the overall weight gain showed in her lovely, plump face. She had no excuses for her husband, or any made-up stories to tell him, and there really nothing for her to say to explain why she was in this condition. Simply put, she was lonely.

Most men would have left such a situation, would have gone as far away from it as they possibly could have. Being too ashamed and resentful to stay, they would have washed their hands of her in a heartbeat. Having a cheating wife and an unwanted child on their hands to raise would be too much to bear. Any man, in his right mind, would say that was asking for way too much trouble.  Most men would have divorced someone like my mother, kicked her out, and especially they would hate the child she would be soon be giving birth to, but not my father. He always stood against the grain.

Not only did Jim Dunn forgive his young wife, he took me under his wing like I was his very own. Once I knew he was not my true father, I could never fully fathom why he was not ready to pack me off to an orphanage or dump me off somewhere far away. Why he was so forgiving and accepting made him more than a war hero. It made him my hero. That was why I loved him so much, especially because, soon after I was born, my mother was out of our lives. Perhaps, such a young woman should not be raising three step children and a newborn baby.

My father never mentioned any of the details of my conception, but he simply did his best to love me. He was a tall, very slim and a quiet man by nature. With light brown hair, grey eyes, and a kind face, he looked every bit of the hero I saw him as. He was willing to help anyone in a pinch, and most people who knew him respected him. Nobody in town ever talked about this situation to my father. To begin with, my father was not a talker, and he probably thought if he did talk about it, the pain and shame of it would not go away.

One of my brothers, Nathan, and my sister, Ann, seemed to treat me like a regular sister. Yet, Carl, the oldest child, hated me from the start. As a girl who was six years younger, I never understood why. He was the golden boy, with keen blue eyes and golden, wavy hair, as were Nathan and Ann.  I had long, dark brown hair, which I kept in two braids, with plenty of unsightly brown freckles, and very dark, brown eyes.  Compared to my sister, who was five years older, I never felt like I was a great beauty.

I was pretty young when Carl blurted out to me in anger, “Your mother is a *****!”  I cried a bit, wiped away the tears with my small hands and yelled back, “No, she isn’t!” Of course, I was too young to know what that word meant. When my brother followed that statement up with, “and you are a *******”, I ran straight to my father. I was almost seven years old.

My father scolded Carl pretty badly that day. Carl would not speak to me for months, and that was fine with me. That evening my father sat me upon my knee. “Daddy, what is a *****?” I asked him.

My father gently put his fingers up to my lips to shush me up. He then went into his wallet and showed me a weathered black-and-white photo he had of himself with his arms around my mother. It was in that wallet for some time, and he pulled out the wrinkled thing and placed it in front of me.

My father must have handled that picture a thousand times. Even with all the bad quality, with the wrinkles, I could see a lovely, young lady, with light eyes and dark hair, smiling as she was in the arms of her protector. My father looked proud in the photograph.

He said to me, his expression serious, “whatever Carl or anybody says about your mother, she will always be your mother and I love her for that”. I looked earnestly in his somber, grey eyes. “Why did she go away?” I asked him.

My father thought long and hard about how to answer me. He replied, “I don’t know. She was young and had more dreams in her than this town could hold for her”. He smiled awkwardly and added, “But at least she left me the best gift I could have—you.”  

I would never forget the warmth I felt with my father during that conversation. Certainly, I would never forget Carl’s cruel words, or sometimes the odd glances on the faces of townswomen, like they were studying me, comparing me to how I looked next to my father, or their whispers as the whole family would be out in town for an occasion. It did not happen every day, but this would happen whenever and wherever, when a couple of busybodies would pass me and my father walking down Main Street, or when we went into the ice cream parlor, or when I went with my father to the dime store, and it always made me feel very strange and vaguely sad, like I had no real reason to be sad but was anyway.


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That summer of 1954, I was a bit older, maybe a bit wiser than when Carl first insulted my estranged mother. I was eleven years old, and David was my equal, my sidekick. Feeling less like a kid, I tried not to boss him too much, and he tried not to be too smart in front of me. I held my own, though, had my own intelligence, but my smarts were more like street smarts. After all, I had Carl to deal with.

David seemed destined for something better in life. My life seemed like it would always be the same, like my feet were planted in heavy mud. David and I would talk about the places we would loved go to, but David would mark them on a map and track them out like his plans would really come to fruition. I never liked to dream that big. Sure, I would love to go somewhere exciting, somewhere where I’d never have to see Carl again, or some of the kids at school, but I knew why I had a reason to stay. I respected my father. That is why I did not wish to leave. And David respected his father. That is why he knew he had to leave.

David Ito’s father was a tailor. David’s parents came from Japan, and they hoped for a good life in their new country. Little did they know what would be in store for them. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, their lives, with many other Japanese Americans, were soon turned upside down. David was born in an internment camp designed to isolate Japanese people from the nation once Americans declared war on Germany and their allies. David and I were both born in 1943, and since the war ended two years later, David had no memories of the internment camp experience. Even so, David was impacted by it, because the memories haunted his parents.

There was no getting around it. David and I, as different as we were, liked each other. Still, neither he nor I felt any silly kind of puppy love attraction. David had still thought of girls as mushy and silly, and that is why he liked me. I was not mushy or silly, and I could shoot a sling shot better than he did. David loved the sling shot his parents bought him for his last birthday. They allowed him to have it just as long as he never shot it at anyone.

David Ito, being the oldest child in his family, and the only son, allowed him to feel quite special, a very prized boy for just that reason. Mr. Ito worked two jobs to support his family, and Mrs. Ito took in laundry and cooked for the locals who could not cook their own meals. Mrs. Ito was an excellent cook. Whatever they had to give their children, David was first in line to receive it.

The majority of those in my town of Prichard respected Mr. Ito, at least those who did business with him. He was not only able to get good tailoring business in town, but some of the neighboring towns gave him a bit of work, too. When he was not working in the textile factory, Mr. Ito was busy with his measuring tape and sewing machine.  

Even though Mr. Ito gained the respect of the townspeople, he still was not one of us. I am sure he knew it, too. Yet Mr. Ito lived in America most of his life. He was only nine-years-old when his parents came here with their children. Like David, Mr. Ito certainly knew he was Japanese. The mirror told him that every day. But he also knew felt an internal tug-of war that America was his country more than Japan was, even when he was proud of his roots, even though he was once locked up in that camp, and even when some people felt that he did not belong here.

If David was called an unkind name, I felt it insulted, too, for our friendship meant that much to me. How many times I got in trouble for fighting at school! My father would be called into the principal’s office, and I was asked by Mr. Murray to explain why I would act in such an undignified way. “They called David a ***** ***”, I exclaimed. “David is my friend!”

Because David and I were best buddies, we heard lots of jeering remarks. “Josie loves a ***! Josie loves a ***!” some of the children taunted. And Carl, with his meanness, loved to be head of the line to pick on us. He once said to me, “It figures that the only friend you can get is a scrawny ***!”

In spite of my troubles at school, Father greatly admired David and his father, and he thought that David and I were good for each other’s company. Mr. Ito greatly respected my father, in return, not only for his business but because my dad could fix any car with just about any problem. Jim Dunn was not only a brilliant man, in my eyes, but the best mechanic in town. When Mr. Ito needed work done on his car, my father was right there for him. It was an even exchange of paid work and admiration.

Both my father and David’s father felt our relationship was harmless. After all, everyone in David’s family knew and expected that he would marry a nice Japanese girl. There was no question about it. Where he would find one was not too important for a boy of his age. Neither of us experienced puberty yet and, under the watchful eye of my father, we would just be the best of buddies.

David pretended like the remarks said about him never bothered him, but I knew differently. I knew he hated Carl, and we avoided him as much as possible. David was nothing like me in this respect—he was not a fighter. Truly, he did not have a fighting bone in his body, not one that picked up a sword to stab it in the heart of someone else. It was not that David was not brave, for he was, but he knew the ugliness of war without ever even having to go to battle. Nevertheless, he used his intellect to fight off any of the racist remarks made about him or his family. He had to face it—the war had only ended nine years prior and a few of the war veterans in town fought in the Pacific.      

Because of the taunts David had experienced in school, I was not surprised what David’s father had in store for his beloved son.  Mr. Ito could barely afford to send one child to private school, but he was about to send one. David was about to be that child. When David told me that when school resumed he would be going to a boy’s school in Chicago, my heart sank. Why? Why did he have to go? I would never see him again!

“You will see me in the summer”, he reassured me. He looked at me as I tried to appear brave. I sat cross-legged on the grass and stared straight ahead like I never even heard him. I had a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit, and my lips felt like they were quivering.

We were both using old pop bottles for target practice. They sat in a row on an old tree stump shining in the evening sun. David was shooting at them with his prized slingshot. I had a makeshift one that I created out of a tree branch and a rubber band.

“You won’t even remember me”, I complained.

“I will to”, he insisted. “I remember everything.”

“Oh, sure you will”, I said sarcastically. “You’ll be super duper smart and I will just be a dummy”. In anger, I rose up my slingshot, and I hit all three bottles, one by one, then I threw the slingshot to the ground. David missed all the shots he took earlier.

David threw his slingshot down, too. “For being a girl, you are pretty smart!” he shouted. “You are too smart for your own good! The reason I like you is because you are better than anyone I ever met in my entire life. Well…not better than my parents, but you are the neatest girl I ever knew in my life!”

For a while, we didn’t talk. We just sat there and let the warm, summer breeze do our talking for us. I pulle
copywrited 2010
Dorothy A May 2012
Trish had an uncanny ability to pick all the wrong ones. Like a friend once told her, “You always try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!”  If there were a hundred available guys in a room, she always managed to zone in on the worst one there, not the kindest one, not the one with the greatest character or honor. It's like she had a special gift for finding a man—a cursed one—yet she had only herself to blame—not  fate for it—like she tried to point her finger at for her troubles. In this regard, Trish was often her own worst enemy. And none of her bad experiences seemed to deter her from her defeating patterns, for it seemed that having a ****** choice of a man in her life was better than having no man at all.

A Friday night without any date was something she desperately wanted to avoid. At the age of fifty-six, trying to meet men was getting old, as old as she was feeling, lately.

At Pete’s Place, a local bar down at the end of her street, and two blocks over, Trish could at least feel like she was among friends. It was an old hangout that always felt like a safe haven to turn to, familiar territory that she could call her own turf, her home away from home. Often, Trish encountered regulars, down-to-earth faces who have been going to the family-like establishment as long as or longer than she has. Drinking really was not her thing, not more than one or two, at the most. But if anything, if worst came to worst, she could say she was not home alone and left out while the world seemed to go on its own merry way without her.  

Pete’s Place was far from a glamorous hangout, but it had a cozy charm to it that made it irresistible to Trish. In the back were a pool table and a dartboard that provided some harmless enjoyment. With a couple of flat screen TVs, there usually was some sports game to watch. And every other Saturday, there was a DJ conducting Karaoke that always attracted a regular crowd. Trish couldn’t sing a note, but she loved to watch and cheer everybody else on. She just felt so welcome here, so at home, that even if she felt depressed or lonely, the atmosphere eventually lifted her heaviness of heart.  

Entering the bar this time, Trish hardly saw a familiar face at all—that was except for the bartender, Henry, who worked this job since forever. For a Friday night, business seemed surprisingly slow. There was only an older couple watching a baseball game that was at Pete’s Place, a couple that she did not recognize.

“Where is everybody?” Trish asked Henry.

Henry smiled. “Hey, Trish! Good to see ya! Yeah, it is like a ghost town tonight, isn’t it? I guess there are too many good things goin’ on down in Buffalo. I think there are some big boat races goin’ on. And, for sure, there is the jazz festival”.

“Well, I’m here, Henry! Look out, everybody! Let the fun begin!” she said jokingly as she sat herself up at one of the barstools. She looked around. Even the wait staff wasn’t around, obviously gone home early and not needed.

“Would have been nice to go somewhere fun like that. I mean the jazz festival. I like jazz”, Trish said to Henry.

Henry was trying to stay busy by wiping down the bar, cleaning every nook and cranny behind the counter. “You should have called up one of your girlfriends to go over there. I am sure someone would have gone with ya”.

Trish rolled her eyes. “What girlfriends? They are often too busy with their own husbands or men in their life to care about what poor, old Trish Urbine wants to do!”

Henry felt bad for her.  The more she frequented Pete’s Place, the more he knew she was all alone, was in between having some man in her life. And, lately, she was coming quite often to the bar by herself.

“You are not old, Trish! Hell, I am older than you!” Henry exclaimed.

Trish just frowned, not convinced at all by what Henry said. “Not old?” she asked. She pulled a small mirror out of her purse and looked at herself, giving herself the inspection of a drill sergeant. “That is a joke! Look at those bags under my eyes. Look at those crow’s feet, for pity’s sake!  Look at that droopy skin in my neck! Horrible! I am trying to save up for a face lift. I really need it! Been needing it for a while now!”

Henry shook his head. “All you women are alike. My wife does the same, **** thing, the same putdowns to herself. Says she’s fat. Says she’s getting old and ugly. Says this and says that. But let me tell you Trish, after thirty-six years of marriage, I still see her as my sweetheart. I’d have it no other way than with my Bernadette. He patted his belly and added, "Hell, look at me. Believe it or not, with my job, I don’t even drink that much beer. But look at the gut I am getting”.  

Trish scoffed at what he said. Henry looked nearly as lean as he did the first time she met him. He was just being nice. .Under better circumstances, she would have found what Henry said as endearing and charming. To say he still loved his wife as his “sweetheart” was incredibly adorable and rare.

“Hey”, Henry said. “Enough of my jibber jabber. Pardon my manners. What can I get for ya, dear?”

“Just a Diet Coke for me, Henry. I have to watch the calories myself. You know me—don’t want to get frumpy, lumpy and dumpy. At least not more than I am!” Trish smiled. She thought that her self disparaging remarks were a cute way of getting her point across with humor, but Henry couldn’t see anything funny about it.

He filled her glass of pop from the tap and handed it over to her. “Hey, how’s that daughter of yours doing? Is she still living in Albany?”  

Trish cupped her hands up to her forehead and rested her head on them. “She is still in Albany, but she might as be on the moon for all we ever talk to each other”. She looked up at Henry and he could see the frustration written all over her face.

“I didn’t mean to upset you”, he said.

“Oh, you didn’t”, she returned. “I appreciate you asking, but you know the situation with Patti and I. It is either that we are at each other’s throat or we just don’t talk. Truth be told, we haven’t really got along since she was a girl. Once she hit those teenage years—oh, man they were a nightmare! I wouldn’t relive those years for anything!”

Henry rested his elbows up on the bar counter. “Oh, I know what you mean!. My second son, my boy, Steven, and I had a terrible time once he hit about fifteen. Man, him and I bucked heads all the time. Yes, indeed! It could get ugly, and it sure as heck did! But now I’m proud of him! In Afghanistan, fighting for his country—that is somethin’ that makes me glad! Now, I say that I couldn’t ask for better sons. I’m proud of him—of all four of my boys as good, strong men that they are!”  

Trish sipped on her coke, a hurtful look upon her face while reflecting on her daughter, a daughter that she named after herself.  Both were named Patricia, but the same name did not mean two peas in a pod, actually far from it. Trish definitely preferred her name, short and sophisticated—so she had liked to think—and the name, Patti, seemed cute and carefree. But Patti seemed anything but cute and carefree, not like she was when she was very little. But the name stuck with her, as she preferred to be called

“Yeah, but Patti still lives in the past” Trish said. “She still blames me for everything wrong in her life. Nothing has changed, and I am still the bad guy. Trish thought for a second. “Well, her dad, too. He’s bad, too, in her eyes. She always says she raised herself, that she never had real parents. That’s crap because I raised her and I was around—unlike her useless father!”

“Sounds bitter on her part”, Henry agreed. He thought to say that Trish sounded a bit like that, too, but he did not think it was his place to say it out loud.

“Bitter is right”, Trish said in disgust.  

Bartenders have always been seen as good listeners, like the working man’s counselor. People, like Trish, often came in for a drink to try to forget their troubles, and wanting to lean on a trusty soul in need. Henry has seen plenty of this in his twenty-four years on the job, and he has honed the skill quite well, the skill of providing a listening ear. Sometimes he had good advice, but he knew he was no psychiatrist.    

Frustrated, Trish went on. “I mean who else was there for her? When her dad and I divorced, she wanted to stay with him just to spite me! But would he have her? No, he only wanted to be with his under aged, ***** wife!

“And who else would do what I did? When my step dad died, and my mom couldn’t handle my little brother anymore, who was it that took him in? It was me! He was eleven and I was almost twenty-two and living with my boyfriend. I helped to finish raising him, kept him at my place right up to the day that he was grown—and more! And I did it because it needed doing, and nobody else was stepping in! When my sister moved to Colorado, and one of her kids, my nephew, Craig, wanted to stay here to graduate here from high school, I agreed to take him in for two years until he finished high school. And yet I am such a bad, selfish person in Patti’s opinion! It makes me sick to think of how she sees me as her mother!”

Henry poured her a refill of pop in her half empty glass. He knew that Trish was on bad terms with her daughter, that their relationship was shaky and strained. Patti was Trish’s only child, and it troubled him that they didn’t have much of a relationship. Yet Trish did not need pity. She needed to refocus and find a new direction. Henry knew that she has needed a new direction for quite a while now.    

“Well, you know I love my daughter”, he replied. “I know your heart must be achin’ bad—real bad. I couldn’t imagine my life without Jocelyn or me not talkin’ to her. She’s the apple of my eye, ya know!  And my boys know it and get that she’s special to me—Daddy’s little girl. With four older brothers, she has always been outnumbered. And myself and the Mrs. never expected her, neither. One—two—three—four, the boys all came right in a row! She came way after, Ben, the last one—a big surprise, I tell ya! But I was tickled pink and couldn’t have been happier to have my little girl”.  Henry smiled warmly, and added, “No matter how old she gets, she will always be my little girl.”

Trish’s mood wasn’t influenced by what Henry said, not for the good. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

Henry looked a bit embarrassed. “Oh, I ain’t tryin’ to rub it in to ya! No, no Trish!  I’m just sayin’ you should see Patti as someone special, no matter what it is like now. She still is your daughter. And ya lover her! You know ya do! Try to get through to her. Keep on tryin’ and don’t give up hope.”

Trish didn’t look convinced by his little pep talk, so he said, “One day she will have her own children, and realize she will make mistakes, too. You sure will want to see those grandkids. Trust me! I live to see all of mine! ”

Patti sniffed at that comment, putting forth a laugh that seemed so phony and snarky. This behavior was not like her at all, not the bubbly Trish that Henry used to see coming into the bar. “Grandchildren? Are you kidding me? Patti wants nothing to do with men! She avoids them like the plague! Says she doesn’t want to end up like me…married and divorced four times…she says there is no excuse for it. But she uses me all the time as an excuse! I think she is just scared to death of relationships with guys!”

“I thought you were married three times?” Henry asked. He had a surprised look on his face, but then he tried to think differently. “But I don’t want to **** in on your life. It’s your business, not mine to judge”.

“No, Henry, it’s ok. My last marriage lasted only seven weeks”. She turned red in the face now, but she wanted to set it straight. “Patti thinks it is disgusting that I married all those times. My last husband tried to clear out my bank account, and I left him. Patti says she will never marry. She won’t touch a man with a ten foot pole to save her life!”

She paused as Henry stared intently at her, listening. “She does not want to end up like me”, she added, her voice throaty. Tears welled up in her eyes.  

Patti was the product of Trish’s first marriage to a man named Earl Colbert. When Patti was six, her father divorced her mother. Since then, Patti had seen plenty of men come and go. In between her other three husbands, there were too many boyfriends to even keep track of. Trish was also engaged twice, but the engagements were eventually broken off.    

She sat in silence as Henry was still thinking of the right thing to say to comfort her. Soon, two young couples had entered through the door, dispersing the air of awkwardness, and stopping the conversation between Henry and Trish.  Henry continued to clean up around the bar as he waved to them and welcomed their presence. One of the guys came up and ordered a pitcher of beer before joining his friends at a table.

It was no more than a few minutes later that another customer approached inside Pete’s Place. It was Jake. Trish rolled her eyes at Henry. He was a regular here, too, like she was, and about the same age as her.

Jake immediately came up to Trish and put his arm around her. “Buy you a drink, darlin’?” he asked. His breath already smelled of alcohol.  

“Oh, Jake, get away!” Trish scolded him. “You know I don’t accept drinks from married men, so move on!” She waved her hand in the air to clear the bothersome odor of his ***** away from her.

Jack just laughed, and moved to the other end of the bar, his usual spot. Henry kept his calm although he did not like Jake acting like a fool to Trish, or to any of the women who came here. He had to do his duty and serve Jake, but if he had his way the guy would be just a step away from being told to leave. Henry always kept a close eye on how much Jake was drinking, and he often cut him off when it seemed he had his share.

“Whisky, Henry”, Jake ordered. They both knew the routine.

With his whisky in hand, Jake smirked at Trish and asked, “How come you ain’t at that big jazz festival downtown?”  

“How come you ain’t?” she echoed him, sarcastically

“Cuz I don’t have a sweet lady to go with me and keep my company”. He winked at her, and downed a gulp of whisky.

“Oh, you mean like your—wife!” Trish said.  Jake and Trish often bantered like this to each other. “You will never change, Jake. You are a rude and obnoxious flirt, and you ought to be ashamed!”

Jake just laughed her off.  “Sweetie, my wife knows I’m a big flirt. She’s OK with it! She says ‘as long as you are peeking and not seeking, who cares what you do!’”

The two young couples that came in a while ago overheard Jake’s conversation and started to crack up in laughter. It seemed that he was the entertainment for a lackluster evening at the bar, a court jester of sorts. Trish looked at the four, young faces that were laughing at her expense, glanced at Henry in silent agreement that Jake was an idiot, and quickly turned red in the face.

“Jake, shut your big mouth!” Henry intervened. “You lie as much as you belt them down!”  When Jake was more sober, he seemed pretty reasonable, but he was nauseating when he was on a drinking binge.

Henry exited into a room behind the bar for a moment. Jake whispered loudly to Trish, like an impish, little boy who knew he might get caught, but loved the thrill of it. “Psst. Hey, Trish! Look! My wife’s no fun at all! Won’t go out with me no more. The festival is going on all weekend. Just give me your number and I’ll call you tomorrow and pick you up to take you there”.

Trish pretended like she did not hear him, still rattled up a bit, but trying her best to hide it, and Jake soon devoted his mind to his drink.

She turned herself around in the barstool and pretended to watch the baseball game. The scene in the room was still practically the same way since she first arrived. Only now there was an edgier atmosphere with the four younger people in it. The older couple was still sitting together in the corner, intent on watching the ball game. The two younger couples were drinking down their pitcher of beer and talking away. One of the young man had his arm around his girlfriend, gently caressing her back, and the other young couple, that was sitting across from them was holding hands.  

In longing, Trish looked on at the young couples. How she m
Dorothy A Jan 2015
Shane Page made a quick call to his daughter, LeAnn, as he waited in the hospital lounge. “Hey, Dad, what’s up? You sound kind of upset.”

“LeAnn, Grandpa had a heart attack…”

LeAnn’s dark brown eyes grew large. “Is Grandpa dead?”, she asked. She was fourteen years old, and a wise, sensitive girl who cared a lot about her grandpa.

“No, not that, hon. The doctor says he will recover, but he had some blockages and he needs some fixing up.  He’s resting right now, pretty comfortably. I just wanted you to know where I was and that I’m okay—so don’t you worry. Look out after your brother…” He sighed in exhaustion and ran his fingers through the top of his dark hair. “It’s going to be a while before I’m home.”

“Well, wait a minute!” she protested.  “Why can’t Trevor and I go with you? Maybe Mom can drive us up there.”

Shane started to raise his voice, “Leave your mom out of this!” Then he realized his tone was a bit harsh and said more calmly, “You two got school tomorrow and there’s no need for you to be here now. Anyway, I don’t want to involve Mom.”

Shane and his wife, Megan, have been separated for four months now. It would be more than likely that they would be getting divorced. LeAnn, and her brother, Trevor—who was eleven-years-old—were staying with their father. It worked out that they remain in their home.  

“Dad”, LeAnn insisted. “She’s still our mom…”

“Just look out for Trevor. Ok?”

Shane got off the phone, and just sat there staring at the television but having no real desire to even pay any attention. That was the farthest thing from his mind. Around him were a few other tired people, looking about as frustrated, tired or worried as he was.

It has been a trying year for him. Still struggling with his marriage issues and now he was dealing with his father’s health problems. At age thirty-six, Shane was a young father when he married Megan. He felt it was the right thing to do considering she was pregnant at the time. The odds were against them remaining married, but they made if farther than anyone would have expected.  He certainly remained married longer than his parents—who were married for seven years—but he blamed his parent’s divorce on his womanizing, cheating father, a man he did not want to follow in his footsteps.

Dr. Bakkal had spoken to Shane, earlier. “Your father’s fortunate he made it in when he did. He was in requirement of two stents, and he was resistant to having them put in. I told him if he wants to continue to live, he’d be wise to get them. Otherwise, he’ll be in the same boat, but now we can prolong his life.”

“So he’s refusing?” Shane asked. That was his father, alright, stubbornly pigheaded to the bitter end.

“Thankfully, he signed for consent and he’s allowing you to be included in conversation over his medical issues. But really it is a good idea for him to have a power of attorney. You are his only son? ”

“Right.—I’m it”, Shane responded. “Well, that’s my dad for you. He thinks he’s got it all under control. Anyway, I’d be okay with being power of attorney, but who knows if he’d even have me. I don’t need to tell you he’s a stubborn man. He’s a proud man—too proud.”

“That he is”, Dr Bakkal agreed. “He doesn’t have a wife who can step up to the plate?”

Shane laughed a little. “He’s had four wives. My mom was the first. The lady he has been seeing now I’m sure saved his life. She was the one who demanded he go to the hospital and she drove him here. But she called me up and says she’s done with him.” The strain was obvious, as it was written all over Shane’s face. “He’s a headache, Doctor. He drinks too much. He smokes. He has yet to meet a vegetable…”

The doctor stated, “But things don’t sink in until we are forced to face them, sometimes. And he thinks because he looks alright on the outside, he’s okay on the inside—a fairly handsome man—a ladies man—who is, one used to being his own boss.”  

Shane agreed, but his face was grimaced. “That he is, Doctor. That he is. Yeah, but when the ladies get wind that he ends up treating them pretty shabbily—well, I’m not going to fill in the details. Four wives should tell you the answer.”

Dr. Bakkal put his hand on Shane’s shoulder. “Ah, but you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. I’ve no doubt you have some sense.”

Shane nodded.

Nodding his head—drifting in and out of sleep—Shane continued to wait in the lounge. Soon, Shane’s dad, Carl, had been able to get into his own room. Shane was able to go in and see him. Like Carl had told one of the nurses, he was “all wires, tubes and coils” and he had “enough numbers lighting up on fancy gadgets to keep the place busy” as his vitals were constantly monitored. Soundly sleeping, he seemed much smaller in his hospital bed with his face half shielded by an oxygen mask. What a strange sight it was. He hadn’t seen his dad in the hospital since his gall bladder surgery several years ago.  It was a bit unsettling for Shane to see him this way.

He didn’t want to wake his dad, so Shane just grabbed up a chair and sat by the foot of the bed. Before long, he had fallen asleep, too. When his phone range, he was entirely confused as to the time, even to what day it was.

“Hey, Dad, how’s grandpa doing?”

Looking at his watch and then peering out into the darkness out the window, he answered, “What’s that I hear…in the background? LeAnn, is that your mother there?”

“Yeah, Dad, I told her. She felt like we needed her and she’s making dinner for us.” Megan could be heard in the background talking with Trevor.

Shane frowned. “Oh, great! Didn’t I tell you not to involve Mom? You are perfectly capable of cooking, LeAnn. You do a good job, and—“

LeAnn abruptly handed her mother the phone. “Shane”, Megan said. “You can shut me out from helping you, but you can’t shut me out from helping my kids. Don’t act like you couldn’t use a hand.”

“I’ll be home soon”, he insisted. “It’s really not necessary. I’m not trying to be a **** about it…”

“You stay there as long as you need to. I can call Uncle Sal and tell him you might not be into work tomorrow.”

Shane worked as a manager and mechanic in his maternal uncle’s car repair shop. “Megan, I am quite capable of doing this kind of stuff, you know!” He hesitated and gave in to what he saw as interference.  Perhaps, guilt compelled her to come over. After all, she was the one who walked away. She was the one who was unfaithful, the one who strayed.  He added, “You want to look after the kids—then fine. I’ll worry about me”.  

“Well, you got it! I won’t interfere too much in your life, Shane. You’re just a chip off the old block,” she remarked, referring to his stubborn father. “The kids and I are doing just fine. I got it covered! Okay?”

“Hi, Dad! Love you!” Trevor boomed out from the background.

Megan laughed. “You caught that, didn’t you? I think the whole neighborhood did”.

There was no use trying to resist Megan’s help. “Tell the kids that their grandpa is comfortable, sleeping like a log. They can see him soon enough.” He stopped as a nurse came into the room to check in on his father. They briefly smiled at each other.

“Give them each a kiss and a hug for me”, he said, lastly, almost choking up. He wished it was like it was before—the four of them under one roof. But that was not going to happen.    

Shane met Megan at a party. She was a college student learning to be a teacher. He was working for his uncle in his auto repair shop. The plans were set for Shane to take over that shop one day. Uncle Sal had three daughters, none of them the least bit interested in taking over the business. When he met Megan, he was doing well for himself.

It was love at first sight for him. He was attracted to her fun loving personality, as well as her beauty. Her blue-green eyes would light up the room. At first, Megan wasn’t feeling the same way. Shane did slowly grow on her, this “grease monkey” with his serious nature and beyond his years. They would talk about their future together, for they really did enjoy each other’s company. But then reality hit them in the face when Megan became pregnant with LeAnn, and they married very soon. He wanted to marry her anyway, but now it was a matter of integrity. Shane wanted his child to have parents who were married and for his kid to know him better than he knew his dad.  

Megan gave up on her schooling, not becoming the teacher that she dreamed of. Shane often wondered if she resented him for this—like it was entirely his fault—though Megan never expressed that to him. A few years later and Trevor came. Plans to go back to school were put on hold. That light in those eyes seemed to grow dim, but he didn’t really notice that she was unhappy. He seemed to lose focus.

Such thoughts were punishing at this time, and he tried to bury them deep down. It was amazing that he was able to have a sound sleep in the hospital, resting in the chair in his father’s room. Next time he opened his eyes, the sun was shining. He looked up, disoriented a bit, as he noticed his dad looking at him, a small smile on his face and no more oxygen masks.

“Hell, Son”, Carl said in a gruff voice.. “You look worse than I do”. Carl’s thick head of grey hair was disheveled, and his usually, neatly trimmed mustache was invaded by surrounding ****** stubble.  

Shane got up and stretched and said back, “Thanks, Dad. Good morning to you, too.”   He looked at his watch and added, “Glad you’re alive. You scared the hell out me. You got your grandkids worried.”

“Well…get me out of this ****** hospital and I’ll show you I can get around just fine”.

“Whoa! Whoa! Superman—you are not! Just lay back, relax a while, and do what the doctors tell you.”

“Like what?” Carl asked with a furrowed brow.

Shane was careful not to lose his temper. “Well, for one, you can quit smoking. Two, you can give up the *****. Three—take your cholesterol medicine…”

“Ok….ok….you sound like your mother now”.

Shane knew it would go in one ear and out the other. He stood by the window looking down in the parking lot. “Yeah, Dad, Maybe I do sound like Mom, but someone’s got to tell it to you straight. Put some sense into you. Stop just for once and think of someone else besides you. If no one else, think of LeAnn and Trevor.” He paused and added, “Think about me for once.”

Carl laughed and mocked him, “Poor, little Shane’s got it so bad. I’m not against you, Son, okay? You’re a big boy, so man up! I’m sixty-nine years old! My old man was gone by fifty.” He started having one of his coughing spells, his cough like an old smoker’s cough.

Shane shot him a sharp look. “I guess I’m a fool to expect any better. Can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear—as mom always says. Obviously, just wasting my time here!” He went to grab his jacket to leave.

Carl boomed, cheerfully, “Well speak of the devil!”

“What?” Shane asked, unaware of what was going on. He turned around and there was his mother standing in the doorway. He smirked and said, “Mom, I’m surprised to see you! LeAnn, right? ”

Rosina smiled and nodded as she entered the room. With salt and pepper hair, and an olive complexion, she commanded the room with her presence. Carl always referred to her as “Queen Bee”, for she had that quality—regal like a Roman statue when he first laid eyes on her—though she was down-to-earth in reality.

Carl groaned at the thought of her coming. “Is it safe for a person to be in here?” she asked, in her grand entrance.   She whipped Carl a stern glance. I’m not here for you!” Then she gave a look of concern her son, and told him, “I’m here because I’m supporting you, my dear. And yes, LeAnn called me.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek, and a quick hug, and he returned the loving gesture.


“Mom, you didn’t need to drive over an hour to come up here. But since you are—have a seat.”

“You sure as hell didn’t, Rosie”, Carl echoed.

“Oh be quiet!” she ordered Carl, putting him in his place. She dismissed the offer of the seat, and told her ex- husband. “I’m worried about my only son, but I also am interested in how you’re doing…if my grandchildren will still have a grandfather. Take better care of yourself and maybe they will.”

Shane comments were sardonic. “Maybe miracles still happen…like quitting smoking, boozing, and maybe doing some walking and healthier eating…but since when has Dad ever listened to you or me?”

Carl attempted to sit up and get out of bed, but the effort was ridiculous. He groaned in pain. “Give a poor guy some rest, already! You two are just a couple of nags!”

Rosina sneered. “Old nag—old hag—*******—say what you want about me, but you know I’m right! Anyway, you are outnumbered. Or am I, Shane, and the nurses and doctors all talking out their rear ends?”

Carl made a face. If only he could just get out of here.

“Honey”, she said to Shane. I’ll be downstairs in the cafeteria. I’d like some coffee. You can join me down there if you’d like and we can talk.”

“In a little while, Mom, thanks”, he replied.

Rosina walked up closer to Carl and put her hand lovingly upon his chest. “I really do want you to get well, old man. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t care.”

“I know you do”, Carl admitted. “That is one of your faults. You don’t stay ****** forever.”

Carl was more scared than he would let on. He hated hospitals. He would do anything to just be back home in his recliner, watching a football game and having a few beers. What he wouldn’t do for just one puff on a smoke, too. Anxious, he tried to hide his fear, but it was just a smoke screen. He didn’t want anyone to know how he truly felt, nor did he want anyone to feel sorry for him.

There was silence for several minutes. Shane had said all that he should say. After all, he knew his dad probably wouldn’t listen. “Hey, Dad”, he finally said. “LeAnn’s going to her school dance. There’s a boy that likes her, but I’m really not ready for that.”

Carl grinned. “She’s a pretty girl, alright. Takes after her grandma when she was something else—way back, you know. The girl looks more like your ma than you do, though always felt you took after her look instead of me”. Carl’s background was English, Scottish and Welsh, and Rosina was full Italian. To Carl’s side of the family, he looked like his dad. To his mother’s side, he resembled her. Trevor took very much after Megan, with light brown hair and those blue-green eyes.

“Yeah, she is growing into quite a beautiful young lady”, Shane agreed “I got to still go dress shopping with her…and, oh, let the fun begin!  Can’t think of anything more enjoyable than a day of running her all around the malls.”

“Well, let Megan take her, for God’s sake! Or let your mother do it.”

“Dad”, “It’s fine. It may not be my thing, but all the stuff I do with Trevor—going to his baseball games, soccer, to karate. Well LeAnn was more into that stuff but she’s getting more into girly things.”

Soon, a young woman came in with Carl’s lunch, and placed the tray in front of him on his table. “Cute, huh?” Carl remarked about her after she left. Shane did not say a word.

“You need to get back out there. Get out and meet a nice girl”, Carl said, picking over his food. Jell-O, apple sauce, broth, a roll and juice—he wanted a hamburger. But how could he get a good one here? There were too many “spies” as he called them watching over him.

At the moment, Shane seemed miles away from his dad. Whatever he was saying made no impact. He made it a point not to speak of his problems with Megan to his father, and he liked it that way.  By Shane’s expression, he felt his son was holding back on something. But the truth was, so was he hiding something.

“I got myself into this mess, I know”, Carl declared about his heart attack. “I came close to saying, ‘Sayonara—that’s all, folks!’” His remarks were typical—just blow everything off. He joked as if he wasn’t fazed by it all.

Shane had now closed his eyes, and kicked back a little, “Uh huh”, he agreed, though he was simply responding without thinking about what Carl really said.

Carl didn’t want to be tuned out. He had something to get off his chest. He said, “ Well, all that’s done and said, maybe this is the right time to tell you. Got plenty of time here with my own thoughts.” He hesitated, for it wasn’t easy for him to say it. “ It’s bout time you know”, he said. “I think with me almost bitin
Dorothy A Oct 2013
As Lewis walked up to the door, it strangely felt like he had been here before. But he hadn't. She had moved here three years ago, and he never saw the place. It smelled like Nina's home alright, though. The faint whiff of hydrangeas, of roses, and of other flowers caught he keen nose, and he breathed in deeply and smiled reassuringly to himself. The he became serious, as if he had no right to smile.

Was this the right thing to do? He hoped so. Time would tell. It felt as if it was almost yesterday, instead of six years ago, as he knocked on her door.

After a few knocks, a minute or two, Nina opened the door to her house. Someone had to be home, for there was a car in the driveway. As she looked upon him, Lewis expected her to slam the door shut in his face, but she also acted as if she had just seen him yesterday. And it seemed like no big deal to her.

Without much emotion on her face, she left the screen door shut, but she kept the inner door open. Walking away, it was like she expected him to follower her non-verbal lead. He did, hesitantly.

In the kitchen, Nina poured him a cup of coffee. "You hungry?" she asked him. "I am about to put some cinnamon roles into the oven. I'm going to open up a can from the fridge."


"Oh?" Lewis responded, trying to be nonchalant, trying to hid the nervousness in his voice. "Not from scratch?" His heart was practically beating out of his chest.

Nina's back was towards him. She was finishing some dishes in the sink. "Yeah, I know I was always Betty Crocker. But I'be learned to make short cuts, and it tastes just fine. Makes life easier to not do everything like Grandma did it."  

After she separated the rolls apart, and stuck them into the oven, she just kept going about her business. She started to open some mail and sorted the items into piles of importance and priority, and into a pile that could wait.

Lewis was shocked. He couldn't believe her composure. After a while, she turned around, leaned against the counter top, and she acted like she didn't have a care in the world. She didn't look one bit stressed, angry, sad, shocked, disgusted--or anything.

Finally, Lewis said, "Nina, I don't get it." He felt itchy, and tense, as if he could scratch his skin off, as if he was waiting for a bomb to drop. "Why aren't you telling me to get the hell out of her...to go ***** off...or call me every name in the book."

Nina just looked him up and down. He began to chuckle, nervously. "Come on, Nina! I am surprised you just don't grab that pan of hot rolls in the oven, and whack me in the head with them!"

In response, Nina still said nothing, acting as if nothing ever happened.

Becoming quite unsettled with her unexpected composure, he went on. "I mean...come on..scream at me. Cuss me out! Slap me! Punch me! Something, for God's sake!"

Nina raised an eyebrow, and tried to resist smiling. She was waiting patiently for him to explain himself, not to go on like this. "Is that what you want, Lewis? Is that why you came her? To beat you into oblivion with a pan of hot cinnamon rolls?" She didn't try to make him look foolish--he was doing a good job of that on his own.

Lewis turned red in embarrassment, and started to smirk. "Well...yeah...would make more sense to me."

The timer went off and the rolls were done. Putting her oven mitts on, Nina pulled them out of the oven and let them cool on top of the counter. The silence was eerie, awkward.

She poured him another cup of coffee, and finally addressed the elephant in the room. As he still looked up at her, dumbfounded by her, she said, "Lewis...if you have the ***** to come here...than I can certainly let you in and hear you out."

With that said, she filled a plate full of rolls, places them in the center of the table, pulled out a chair and sat down across from him at the table. "I'm listening", she said, her expressions still low-key. Yet Lewis thought that her eyes and mouth seemed ready to mock him, positioned to put him in his place. His guilt wouldn't allow him to think, otherwise.

Why would she serve him food and coffee? Why not just get it all into the open and demand that he spill his guts?

Lewis didn't want to beat around the bush any longer, but spoke plainly in his confession. "Nina, what can I say? I'm an ***." She didn't nod her head in agreement, nor say that he sure was an ***, yet a "look of  suspicion was growing upon her face.

"OK, OK", he went on. "I should never have left you--of all days! What a frickin' wimp! I should have manned-up and told you I wasn't ready to get married. Instead, I stood you up at the church...of all places...in front of your family...your friends. A complete no-show--I made a mockery of that day! It was supposed to be one of the best...and I made it the worst! Some in my family haven't really gotten past it or have forgiven me. Not fully. A few barely talk to me. My best friend, Steve, thinks I'm a *****--a dumb fool!"

Nina sighed with relief. This was what she wanted to hear. The tears started flowing.

Lewis told her, "So I just don't get it. I don't get why you are not furious with me! It just blows my mind!"

Lewis grabbed for another cinnamon role, and Nina handed him a napkin. She wasn't crying anymore, and he was glad. Why was she being so nice though? So hospitable? Did she have something up her sleeve? Did she mean to get back at him? Maybe poison in one of his roles? Lewis had to laugh at himself. Actually, that might alleviate some of his guilt right now.  

Picking at her role, Nina explained, first more sharply. Then she was soft in speech. "It's not all about you, ya know! Look, Lewis, don't think that for a moment that just because it is more OK now that it was OK back then! Well...I guess you already realize this. You see, I'm different now...changed...grown a lot since. I did a lot of soul searching, lots of growing."

"I can see that. It's wonderful."

"And I wondered what I did wrong...at first. Then I hated you, blamed you. I wished that I never said I would marry you. I did plenty of screaming at you--plenty. I bring things in a rage--mirrors, a clock, a dish or two--bruised my fists up pounding things."

She paused and continued, all the time looking at the intricate, lace doily on the center of the table, under a vase of fresh daisies. Finally, Lewis saw the gamut of emotions. In one moment, her face would pinch in frustration and anger. It would then evolve into a soft sadness, and other emotions within.

"Wasn't so composed about you back then, Lewis. Let's see...I swore at you. I wished you were dead. I ripped up every picture of you...put some in the shredder, wishing they were you, instead..prayed that you would die. Bitterness isn't event he word for it. I thought you were the worst thing that happened to me, that you ruined my life forever. I cursed you up and down, Lewis. I'm sure I even invented some new curse words."

That was enough said. She looked up at him and slightly smiled. Lewis smiled back, for at least she felt real to him now, quite natural. She admitted, But I think I cried far more than I hated you. I still loved you."

Lewis wanted to sit right next to her and hold her. "Oh, baby...I'm so sorry..."

Nina quickly interjected. "Honey, you weren't ready for marriage. We were both young, only in our mid twenties...we thought we had it so together. It took me a while, but I finally realized that you needed to find out who you really were, came to that conclusion for a while now. And, boy, did I need to get to know myself more, too!"

"No!", he insisted, emphatically. "Don't make excuses for me! I did not do right by you!"

Nina reached across the table and put her hand upon his. "It seemed like hell at the time, but I needed to learn about me, too! Crazy as it sounds....if it did not happen...I never would have..."

She stopped short. Lewis had tears in his eyes, and one began to roll down his cheek. "Met Gary", he said, finishing her sentence for her.

Surprise flashed across her face. "You did your homework!" Nina stated. She was quite impressed and smiled.

"I wanted to know what happened to you", Lewis responded. "You probably wonder why I didn't walk away for good. I intended to....but you deserve some answers, and I'm here to give them to you. Sure, I could have walked away, and stayed away. I could have saved myself the embarrassment of facing you, again. I could have pretended to have some dignity left."

"But you do have some dignity left", she insisted, sweetly. "It takes a lot of courage to do this. I'm glad you did."

"Are you happy now? I mean...I hope you are."

"Very."

Lewis didn't even have to ask. He could already tell. They sat in silence for a moment. Nina finally said, excitedly, "Gary's a great guy! We both love art. We both love nature, the outdoors, to travel.  He loves other cultures, and learning other things--like languages." Her face was beaming with pride. "Gary is trying to learn Portuguese and brush up on his Spanish. This year ,we are planning a trip to Portugal and Spain!"

Nina always did keep a nice home, and she decorated it with art that was acquired from different places. Where Lewis didn't have a sense of what looked good, she had a good sense of style. When they were both together, the talked of going to different places that they never traveled to--Africa, Asia, Australia--backpacking across Europe. They were big dreams.

Nina did not want Lewis to feel punished, but his agonizing expression of remorse would have been punishment enough. It already was for him, and it showed his sincerity.

"You know how I met Gary?"

Lewis shook his head. "A support group for divorced people! she admitted, gleefully, as if that was the most amazing thing to say.

Lewis looked embarrassed. Perhaps, he misunderstood her.  "What? For divorced people? You were never married before Gary, were you?"

Perhaps, there was something she wasn't telling him. Nina burst out laughing, seeming so carefree as she threw her head back and clapped her hands. Her laughter was beautifully contagious, and Lewis loved to hear it. "No, of course not!" she said. I have no secret past before I met you...or even now. It's just that a divorce support group was the closest support I could get. After all, there are no support groups for jilted brides and grooms!" She laughed even more.

They were talking so easily now, getting along so well. But why? It still seemed so surreal. Lewis laughed along with  her, as if this was just an encounter  to revisit the good, old times. When hearing of Gary, Lewis felt the pain of his loss, as well as some jealousy rise up. As if he had the right!  

He truly was an ***! He never deserved her!

Nina soon became serious, again. "So did you just come here to say you were sorry?" She was thinking he wanted something else from her, something else to say.

Lewis was once poised to take off in a real hurry. Now, he felt more at home. "Yeah...I came to say I was sorry to you...hoping to stop feeling sorry for myself... I guess. I'm wishing I could just turn back the clock. I swear I'd do it all again, differently."

"But the past cannot be change, and we both know it", Nina stated, resolutely.

He nodded in agreement. She didn't burst his bubble, for to think otherwise was a childish, fantasy.

"I don't know what else to say, Lewis". Nina's eyes reflected sorrow, not pity. "Life does really go on...if we let it. We have to let it, though." She now turned the conversation onto him. " So how about you? I hope you have some good news to tell me, something in your life."

He shrugged his shoulders. "I've had a few, short relationships", he admitted. Where there any displeasing looks on her face? Lewis didn't notice anything, now. "Not all that bad, I should say. But I just don't want to settle down until I finish my Masters in business. I'm nearly done."

"Good for you! That is great news!" Nina truly was glad for him, and it just showed him what a great woman she was. But then Lewis already knew this.

"Are you still teaching?" he asked, hoping she was, for she strove for the job, and loved it so much.

"Yes, I teach kindergarten, and Gary teaches science at Darland College."

"Well, what do you know? Both teachers. That sounds like a perfect match for you. And what about kids? None yet?"

"In time...sure. We just aren't ready right now."

She offered him more coffee, but Lewis declined. He was thinking he should go soon.  He said. "You know we used to talk about having a boy and a girl--and in that order, too!"

Nina rolled her eyes. "Yeah, boy oh boy. Like we had complete control over it".

They both laughed. It was fine to reminisce, and they did for a while, Lewis realizing that this would be the last time. He lived three hours away. And why should he come back? He did what he set out to do.

Nina would tell Gary about the visit after he came home from work. As husband and wife, there were not secrets between them. Nina was sure he would be surprised,f or his ex-wife never came to apologize for the pain she caused him.

"Gary's wife had an affair on him, and then left to marry that man", Nina revealed. "Thank God there were no children from that marriage."

"Wow, that is ******! Thank God I never did that to you!. I would have never cheated with another woman...or I might never have tried to face you. It would be easier to slink back into the ditch and stay there! This is hard enough as it is!"

"Maybe so, Lewis. Maybe so." Nina quickly added, "You aren't a bad man. I know this and I wholeheartedly mean this, so don't keep beating up on yourself. I've forgiven you for everything. I forgave you then, and I forgive you now. "

"Nina, that means everything to me!" He started to choke up, and more tears came.

Listen, Lewis. You need to forgive you, too."

He lowered his gaze, as Nina held his hand and gave it a squeeze. Never was Lewis so contrite before. Like many men, he never was overly emotional, and so this different side of him was a refreshing experience.

"Yeah,  it's time to move on", he stated, using a napkin as a tissue.

"Yes, it is. And I loved what you did. It was helpful for us both. It's the closure we need."

"Yep", he said, wiping away more tears.

"You are a guy with guts, Lewis. you do have courage, and more integrity than you think, and I hope you see it."

Nina offered him more coffee, and he accepted. Why couldn't they chat a little while longer? It was no harm, and it made the visit even more meaningful. Sitting and shooting the breeze more was not a bad thing.

The kitchen still held the fragrant smell of cinnamon, as they polished off more rolls and spoke more of good times.
5.8k · Jul 2010
Beautiful Swan
Dorothy A Jul 2010
Beautiful Swan,
head held in high esteem
Beautiful baby
gracefully stroking down the stream

Ugly Duckling,
with head held down in the pond
Lesser creature who really
wants desperately to be the Swan

For nobody notices the inferior kind,
who cannot delight they eye
With the others ahead of the way
but can't keep up the pace it tries

Beautiful Swan rudely splashes water
in the face of the desperate Duck
Smug Swan proudly proclaims
"Too bad, Ugly Duck, you're out of luck!"

With one last fighting stroke,
Ugly Duckling catches up to push on
Ugly Duckling looks back and answers
"***** you, you Beautiful Swan!"
5.4k · Nov 2009
Tending the Garden
Dorothy A Nov 2009
We are all a garden
of sorts.
We all spring up
from a single seed.
And like a flourishing tree
or an expanding bush
we can branch out
and multiply
in number and in strength
surrounded by tender loving care,
being watered by others,
paid close attention to
as the gardener nurtures us
to maturity.

We bloom.
We blossum.
Beauty abounds.
Our colors come forth
in a harmony of hues
upon every petal
and every leaf.

But then come the weeds
that choke out our foliage
and wrap around our roots,
our foundations.
The weeds of hatred,
the weeds of bitterness
the weeds of loneliness,
the weeds of shame,
the weeds of fear,
and depression
invade.

Bugs infest our garden
and eat away at us,
tormenting us,
picking away at us,
and the beauty
and produce
that once was the glory
of our garden
has gone away.

Did we do this to ourselves?
We often wonder.
Did the gardener get too passive,
get too neglectul and uncaring
and forget to tend the garden?
Maybe we were not strong enough
to take up the fight,
wilting, fading in the sun.

Yet even a dying flower
produces seeds of growth,
and of renewal,
as a rebirth will come from
its entrance into the earth.
Even the most tragic looking
of sickly plant life
will have a comeback,
a resurrection
of sorts
when golden raindrops
do fall again
like prayers from the sky.

And so it is the gardener
was never asleep on the job,
did not neglect the duties.
And like all healthy ones do
abundant food
shall grow once again
in our garden,
fragrant flowers,
and branches
for the birds to perch upon
when at one time
all seemed dead
and hopeless
and lost.
5.3k · Nov 2009
Welcome to the Jungle
Dorothy A Nov 2009
Snake prowls
Preying owls
Welcome to the jungle

Night things emerge
Carnivores get the urge
Welcome to the jungle

Rainforest mammal
Dry desert camel
All know the law of the land

Swinging monkey on a tree
Or the flower-loving bumble bee
Know a jungle when they see one

Creatures with hungry jaws
Tear flesh with razor claws
For that's how a jungle should be

Man so set apart
Just because he has a human heart?
The joke's on me

So bask in the fantasy
That life comes so easily
Then welcome to the jungle
4.6k · Jul 2010
Goldilocks, Rewritten
Dorothy A Jul 2010
There once was a girl called Goldilocks
Who lived in a forest filled with phlox
She did not to have a soul to play with
And in the forest she would often drift

She once became lost, the lonely, little girl
The one with the head full of golden curls
Panicked and scared, she came upon a house
But it appeared that everyone there was out

She helped herself to the food, cold and hot
She tried the chairs until one hit the spot
Too tired to try to make her way back
She hit the sheets to take a nap

Very picky was this lost, lonely tot
Some porridge was too cold, some too hot
Beds too soft or too hard to sleep tight
Only one she found that felt just right

Mama, Papa, and Baby Bear were soon back on arrival
After a long day of fishing for their survival
What? Who had their nose in each of their bowls?
Gone was one porridge that to the brim was full

And who had sat in and broke one of the chairs?
It looked like a human by some strands of golden hair!
Hunters? Oh, no! Could they be on the prowl?
The bears sniffed around and started to growl

Baby Bear was the first to see
The little girl catching some Z's
"Oh, cool!" exclaimed little Baby Bear
"Can we keep her? Can she stay here?"

They all came upon Goldilocks all snug in bed
Papa Bear was now furious and began to see red
"And you call us animals!" he yelled loudly at her
"Who gives you the right?! Where are your manners?!"

Goldilocks woke up with an ear piercing shriek
Facing three hairy bears, she could not speak
Out the house she ran, far enough to see her home near
And that was the last that Goldilocks saw of those bears!

"She was just a scared, little girl", Mama Bear said to her spouse
"We could have stopped her and let her stay in our house!"
Papa Bear, disagreeing with her foolish trust,  swore
"**** it! I told you the last one out locks the door!!!"

"You begin feeding them...they are so clever
You'll never get rid of them. They stick around forever!"
Mama Bear refused to fight, for Papa Bear refused to bend
And that is all there is to the story. THE END!
4.6k · Oct 2013
Trees (8, haiku)
Dorothy A Oct 2013
Trees (haiku #1)

Tree wood with fire
Nature equips survival   
Light, heat, and cooking

-------------------------

Trees (haiku #2)

Leafy beings, green
Wood umbrellas, ancient roots
Growing, reaching sky

-------------------------------

Trees (haiku #3)

Pluck the tender fruit
Motherly branches feed all
Body and soul, blessed

---------------------------------

Trees (haiku #4)

Shelter for our homes
Furniture within our walls
Uses-myriads

--------------------------------

Trees (haiku #5)

Pencils, books, paper
Education thanks to trees
Writing, poetry

-------------------------------

Trees (haiku #6)

Trees crafted, songs sung
Guitars, violins, harps-more
Wood, melodious

---------------------------------

Trees ( haiku #7)

Birds, critters depend
Harmonious relations
Trees magical grace

------------------------------

Trees (haiku #8)

Bountiful beauty
Standing upright or chopped down
More precious than gold
Dorothy A May 2016
She remembered it well. Ben made no bones about it, as he told his little sister, "You want to make something of your life, you got to get out of here and don't look back."  And he did just that, saying his goodbyes to her as he embarked off into the army.

There's a whole other world out there than just Jasper Island

How terrifying of a concept that was to Rachel back then. Ben was almost three years older, and without him it was just her and Pop . Jasper Island was all she knew, and at the age of sixteen that was a terrifying concept to a shy girl who had been sheltered her whole life.

Rachel envied Ben. Between the two of him, he was the only one who really remembered their mother. She was close to three-years-old when her mother left this earth. Ben was six. Her recollections of her dear mother were like vapors, like dreams that had lost most of their definition.

There was only one time she really could envision her mother correctly. She could just faintly recall her mother hanging up sheets outside, and they were blowing in the wind like sails, matching her mother's windblown skirt. Rachel was giggling as her mother tried to shoo her out from getting caught up in those magical sheets. She could still remember the beauty of her mother as she snuggled up against her, her mother catching up to her impish daughter as she twirled up in one of the sheets like a girl trying to play dress up. Her mother's skirt smelled like a soft perfume mixed with the sea.

Everywhere, as a child, Rachel was surrounded by sea. It made her dreary home pleasant after she lost her mom. The sea was a constant friend. With its mystery and its beauty, the sea gave her a right to dream of what lay beyond it. Ben was right. She needed to get out from under her little, protective shell. She would read Ben's letters that came  Germany, where he was stationed, and would dream of being there, herself.

Pop never mentioned Ben, again, like he didn't exist. Her father was a distant man, a fisherman who never had much for conversation or desire for closeness. Rachel was used to his distance, for that was her norm. But as she grew up, she realized he was bitter when he lost her mother. Rachel's aunt, Roberta, her father's sister, clued her in on his former life before marriage. She told Rachel, "Your father never was a man to show his emotions. He shied away from people and would rather tinker around in his tool shed or be out on his boat. I sometimes don't know what your mother saw in him, for she was quite a social gal."

Rachel saw herself more in her distant father, more than she cared to see. She was artistic, and felt more at home with a paintbrush than with anything else. She would paint pictures of anything--the quaint homes around where she lived, the woods and nature, and especially anything  to do with the sea.

Everyone told her she had talent. She won a talent contest in her school, though the pool of artsy students was small. Her island school was about three times the size of a one room schoolhouse, and it was quite easy for her to shine there. Was she really that talented? Many of her teachers saw and encouraged her abilities. They  wanted her to do something with her gift, and surely not to waste it. Everyone said so--except her pop. He never took much notice.

Ben was right. Frightened as she was, Rachel decided to try to make it on the mainland. It just became too irresistible of a notion. She promised her father, "I'll write to, Pop". He didn't even face her as she was saying goodbye, so she repeated, "Pop...I am going to write, will keep in touch".

"Don't bother", he simple replied. He wouldn't even look at her, but buried his nose into his newspaper.

Eight years later, on Jasper Island, Rachel stood before the home she grew up in. Those words still stung.

Don't bother

Pop had died. Aunt Roberta was the one to inform her, and she wasn't able to get back in time before the funeral. It was a small one--you could count the attendees on one hand--but her pop probably wouldn't have cared either way.  Rachel felt numb about it all. How should she feel? She knew she should grieve for her father, but the tears didn't come. He was such a hard man to know.

It would be nearly half a year before she returned to Jasper Island. She was living in Europe at the time, and she had moderate success in living off her art.  It was enough of an experience in which she could support herself. She first saw her brother in Germany then eventually went to Rome, to Paris and to London, working her way through as she traveled. Eventually, she stayed in London and became an art teacher. But now here she was again on Jasper Island.

She looked upon her hold house for the longest time. It looked so different. There were new shutters, a new coat of paint, and it didn't seem right with the backdrop of the sea. The house was yellow and the plastic pink flamingos were an eyesore to her. New residents occupied the house, and it just didn't seem right or real. Though she had no claim on it anymore, it still was her home. Now it was sold off soon after her pop died. She never even got a chance to stand inside for one last time, to peer into her old room or sit upon the back porch and bask at the beauty of the sea.

She tried not to appear too nosy, as she looked out back. Clothes were hanging up on the line, blowing in the breeze, and she thought of the faint memory of her mischief with her mother so long ago.      

Rachel didn't dare to knock on the door. Perhaps, she knew the people inside. Everyone knew everyone on that island. If she did know them, she didn't really want to know the details. She was the intruder, after all. Or was it the other way around?  

She made her way around and marveled how time seemed to catch up with her island home. There was a new movie theater in place of the beat up one that she knew as a child. The playground by the school looked so much better it wasn't filled with children. Hardly a soul was there, like all the children had grown up, or something.  

Aunt Roberta was her only real link to her old home now. The few friends she had left a long time ago, just like her. Her mom's people vacated the island long before she ever met them. Aunt Roberta was still there to receive her, though. She had something special for her.  Gathering up two shoe boxes, she handed them to her niece. Rachel wondered what what the contents were, and she couldn't believe her eyes.All the letters she promised to write to her pop were all in there in those two boxes.

"I found them," Aunt Roberta said, amazed herself, "after cleaning out my brother's closets. He kept them all, it seems."

Rachel promised that she would write home, and she did. And it was true--her pop saved every single letter or postcard she ever sent him.  The envelopes were all opened up, so he obviously looked at them. She was amazed that he didn't  throw them away or burn them.  Never once, did he write her back, and Rachel thought he had completely dismissed them and disowned her.

Holding those envelopes and postcards in her hands was like finding some rare and valuable artifacts, and now the tears would come. For the first time in quite some time, Rachel felt something when it came to her distant father. It was everything rolled into one--her island home, her mother, her brother, her father, her sense of self--and she just wept freely as her aunt held her tight and comforted her.

Rachel never cared about the money. Her pop never made a will. He never owned much, but Aunt Roberta would make sure she was fair about the money. Rachel would have traded every cent of it if only she was to see her father one last time. She wanted to come back sooner, but she feared she would not be welcome, that the door would be slammed in her face. Now her only way to see her father was at the cemetery were generations of fellow island dwellers met their resting place.

At the grave, her parents were buried side by side, and the sea was their backdrop. It was just as her father would have wanted it. Rachel cleared away a few weeds, and she placed a handful of wildflowers at her mother's grave. "Hi, mamma", she said out loud. "I miss you and wish I could you could be here, again. I see you in my mind, and you are that young, delightful mother I still think of. " The sound of the breezes, and the birds constant communication of chirping, was a calming response.

She then addressed her father's grave, "Pop", she started to say, "Thanks for keeping those letters. I know it was hard for you now. We all left you, didn't we? Mamma, Ben...me..."

Rachel looked out into the sea. The sun was shining well, and it was like the waters were filled with diamonds. That enchanting sea--that is what her father cherished the most. He taught her how to swim there, not to be afraid of the waters but to respect the strength they held. He protected her from feeling so small and scared by it. He taught her about what was in the sea and how to fish from it. She smiled and thought of how she would have rather collected pretty seashells than to handle a slimy fish . He reaped so many things from the sea, and she knew he belonged to it. She closed her eyes and tried to think of such moments between her father.

Before she left, she held an unopened letter in her hand and said, "Pop, I got really, really sad looking at all those letters, especially because I can't write to you anymore. I'm just amazed you have them. I hope you read them, and if you did, I hoped you knew I really loved you". She smiled at what her dad would probably think as silly sentiment. He probably was rolling in his grave right now, squirming from all this mushy stuff. But at least now, she could tell him she loved him.

Rachel put her hand on his tombstone and stroked its rough exterior. She added, "Well, then I thought--who is to say I can't write? So I did. I got a letter for you,Pop, and I'm going to read it to you, now. Hope your listening."

She didn't know when she would come back for another visit to Jasper Island, but she knew she would return. Unlike Ben, she would not go way and never look back . How could she deny it as her home? She opened the letter, cleared her throat, and read it out loud, "Dear Pop, I hope you are at peace. I hope you are proud of me and that you hear me now. Take care of Mamma, and I'll see you on the other side." After she stopped, the tears came again, rolling down her check. She closed up the letter, put it on her father's tombstone and laid a rock on it to anchor it well. Eventually, the elements would get to it--the sun, the rain, the changing seasonal forces--but for now it was in good shape,

As the ferry made it's way from Jasper Island, the land became smaller and smaller, until it was just a speck in her view. But once it was the whole world to her, not just a destination to visit. Nevertheless, it wasn't some insignificant blip on the many maps of the world. It would always beckon her. Rachel could never forget Jasper Island.
4.5k · Aug 2012
We Reap What We Sow
Dorothy A Aug 2012
Karma?
I don't adhere to it
But I do believe
We reap what we sow

One cannot expect to have peace
When one has sown nothing but discord
Anymore than one can expect a golden crop of corn
When the planter has actually sown beans

And roots of bitterness will sure grow deep and destructive
When not thoroughly torn out of the ground
For a thriving garden must be rid of invading seedlings 
Of anything that does not foster, but fights its growth

To reap an abundant harvest
Sometimes, it is starting all over from scratch
For we've all been guilty of poor gardening
Have failed as farmers to one degree or another

You wanted succulent peaches
But you got shriveled prunes
You wanted wheat
But you got weeds

To produce a healthy garden
The fruit of forgiveness must grow as freely
As wildflowers in a field
Row upon row of compassion and love

An orchard of plenty for the desperate in need
Is the most rewarding harvest to reap
It will quench the terrible thirst
And satisfy the yearning soul
4.2k · Aug 2010
Anger (To the Nth Degree)
Dorothy A Aug 2010
Anger
Fury
Rage
Like three tigers in a cage
Fierce like fire
Having a desire
for revenge
Not making amends

Temper
Wrath
Hateful disgrace
The world's often a hostile place
Anger out of control, corrupting the peace,
Becoming a riot, calling for the police
Anger is combative to a truce
When raw emotions are on the loose

Anger comes in many colors:

Tumultuous reds
boiling in your head
Purple passions
in warlike fashion
Seething greens,
for envy is a fiend
Anger that is a shocking yellow
is anything but mellow

They blend together in a melting ***
A big, boiling cauldron, scaulding hot
In its feverish calamity, anger reeks
Of dead men's bones, you shall see
Like tasting gasoline, it is a toxic tonic
You don't want to be anywhere around it!
Its angry concoction you partake in to sip
Though it's like deadly poison on your lips!
In your body, it courses through
Before it makes a fool out of you!

Like two lighted matches on your tongue
Anger does the tango just for fun!

This mouthful of hot pins and needles stings!
You swallow it down, the whole **** thing!

You wash it all down with wine as it smolders
Down your throat anger goes, like jagged boulders!

Through your esophagus, resisting a slippery slide
Anger within you does not want to hide!

Into your gut, like a rugged coastline of pain
You now see the world with great disdain!

Your stomach evolves into a volcanic hole
Hot as a furnace with blazing coals!

Anger soon rises from the volcanic mountain
Lava bursting forth like a fiery fountain!

That is anger's transition that I see
My vision portrayed in this poetic story
Anger does have a rightful place
But out of control, it turns into hate
On one hand, it can help us fight evil
On the other, it can hurt other people
4.1k · Jul 2010
Fishing For Compliments
Dorothy A Jul 2010
There are lobster fisherman
There are those who catch many fish
with big commercial boats and big nets
Many like to fish for the sport of it
for trout
for bass
for perch

But the only catch I like
on the end of my line
are compliments
That's right
Maybe I never got enough praise
A shy, nerdy kid with the low self-esteem
Maybe it's just a narcissistic need
to be noticed

I can sit there for a while
in my sea of creativity
Sometimes I might snag  
an old boot
an old tire
a glob of seaweed
or a message in a bottle that says
"YAWN!"

Kidding aside
I write because it keeps me sane
Whether or not I have an audience of one
and that audience is me
or whether I can entertain others
I cannot stop or start the flow of my pen
for any reason but the love of writing

They say one man's junk
is another man's treasure
So when I feel that tug
on the end of my fishing line
with the paperless technology
we have to express ourselves
I know someone was hooked
onto the end of my invisible pen

So I am not too proud to admit it
I toss "modesty" out of my boat
for a bigger, shameless fishing experience  
Grabbing my pole to reel in
the sweetness of those kind words
and I say, "Thank you!"
Dorothy A Jan 2011
It was the Spring of 1908. Magdalena looked upon the water as it glistened in the sunlight.

A group of men stood beside her to her left, leaning against the railing of the boat as she was and looking out at the endless Atlantic ocean. The pungent smell of their cigar smoke reminding her of her father and his friends back home in Italy. She could not understand what these men were saying, but their words and laughter with each other comforted her.  They were all on their way to America, and their dreams were seemingly coming true. The spray of the ocean, and the brisk breeze, felt refreshing against her cheeks as Magdalena inhaled the fresh, cool air.

Magdalena looked over at her poor sister and tried to comfort her. Maria still was suffering from motion sickness, and she leaned over the railing in miserable anticipation to *****. Ladies and girls in babushkas were singing nearby, laughing with each other in the joy of each other's company. Magdalena really wanted her sister to experience the joy she was feeling, that these women and men were feeling around her.

She had to worry about her sister all the time. At age sixteen, Magdalena always felt responsible for Maria, especially now that she felt she had dragged her with her on this large passenger boat traveling across the vast Atlantic, a ride that seemed endless.

Maria was not quite fifteen, and she seemed more like a little girl to her older sister. Back in their small village in Italy, they both knew what their fate would be.

"You are lucky to get what you get", Magdalena recalled her father saying to her. "You are not the pretty one in the family, and we are not rich!"

Maria's father, Matteo, was not a bad man, but a blunt one. He knew he had to marry off his daughters one day, and the day came that Magdalena's father received an offer from a man almost thirty-five years older than she was for his daughter's hand in marriage. He was a simple peasant farmer, like her father was, and he went to the same  Catholic church as Magdalena and her family did.

"I don't want to marry him!" Magdalena confessed to her mother, Bella. "I don't want that life, Mama!"

"You don't need to love the man to marry him!" Bella shouted. "Don't let your father hear what you are saying! You need to be grateful! Do you think we can take care of you forever?"

Magdalena tried to be grateful. Out of eleven children that her mother bore, only six survived. It was not an easy life.   Her brother, Matteo, the third, and her sisters, Sofia and Arietta , were older than she was.  Maria, and her brother, Alberto, came after her.

Her father had already arranged for marriages for Sofia and Arietta. Both of them were currently pregnant, and Magdalena did not know if they were happy or not. Between the two of them, they already had five children. She never heard them complain, but she also rarely saw them smile. It was as if they accepted their fate with quiet submission and without a scrap of passion for their existence.

Magdalena looked over at her sister. Maria was retching, her hair hanging down about her. Madgalena lifted her sister's hair off of her sister's face, and gave her sister a handkerchief for her to wipe her face with.

"I am so sorry" Magdalena said, deep remorse in her expression.

Maria looked over at her sister, with her pretty green eyes, and asked, "Why?"

"Because I made you do this", Magdalena confessed.

Maria shook her head. "No, you didn't. I wanted to come".

They smiled at each other, and Magdalena thought her sister had the most beautiful smile ever. No wonder the men were buzzing about their home in hopes to find favor with their father. She could never be envious of her little sister, for she loved her too much.

Maria was going to be next, the last of the girls to marry off. But, first, it was Magdalena's turn. It was settled. She was to marry Vincente Morino, a forty-nine year old bachelor, a stocky man with thick white hair and mustache, and a gruff voice that scared her away.  

When she cried out to her father to have compassion for her, pleaing that he reconsider, his anger burned within him. "You either marry this man or you don't live here anymore! You will need to fend for yourself if you don't! You will not bring shame onto this family!"

Magdalena would cry herself to sleep almost every night. She shared a bed with Maria, and her sister would just hold her to comfort her. They had the closest bond among all the siblings. Maria looked up to her sister with great admiration, as did her sister to her.    

All her hiding away of her money paid off. Magdalena had to earn her keep by doing sowing and caring after a neighbor, an elderly widow. Every week, her mother and father expected her to hand over all of her money to them, for the common good of the family, for their survival.

She used to feel guilty for holding a small portion of it back. They surely would not discover it if she did. She dared not to tell anyone , not even Maria for fear she would be discovered and punished.

But now she found a good reason to tell her.

Some of the townsfolk had relatives that had went to America to live. If they were able to write, they would tell of tales of working so hard, but because of it they were now living lives they had never expected, of more food, of more space, of more freedom.

Magdalena removed the floorboards from below her bed. She pulled out the lovely paper money and coins from within her small metal chest. She now believed that she had enough money for her passage, and perhaps enough for one more.

"Do you want to get married to one of these men?" she asked Maria one day . They sat upon their bed, the soft, afternoon light filtering through their lacy, beige curtains. The distant sound of children playing could be heard on the streets below.

Maria didn't know how to answer quite at first. "No", she eventually said. "I am too young!"

Magdalena grabbed her sister's hand and clasped hers together upon it. "Then come with me", she said. "I am going to America".

Maria's jaw dropped open, and she looked like she had seen a ghost. She shook her head in disagreement.

"Don't leave me!" she cried out, tears welling up in her eyes.

"I am not!" Magdalena assured her. "You go with me!"

But how could they possibly do it? Two impoverished girls from central Italy, from really nowhere when it came to maps and the greater world around them. Could they really leave?

"I have saved some of my money", Magdalena whispered, for fear someone could have returned back home.

"You did not!" Maria whispered back. Maria worked, too, caring after some children down the valley. She never had enough courage to hold back any of her money.

It was a terrifiying concept, for both of them. Maria was both excited and fearful. She had decided that she would trust her sister. Madgalena knew she loved her greatly, and that she always would. Maria knew Magdalena loved her. But her mother and father! Her sleepy, little town! She would probably never see any of them again. This made her hesitate.

So Magdalena gave her time to think about it.

In the meantime, Magdalena continued to hide away money. Her mother was busy sowing her the wedding dress that her defiant daughter vowed to herself that she would never wear.

Then one day Maria came up to her sister in the garden in the back of the house. "I decided that I am going with you", she said bravely. She looked at her sister with a mixture of bravery and fear. Her breaths were short, and her heart was beating quickly.

Magdalena, her basket filled with zucchini, was standing in disbelief. She looked upon her sister with a warm, slow-starting smile.

"Then you better take me with you!" a young voice said from behind a tree.  

Oh, no! Alberto! Their twelve year old brother appeared in the scene, coming from behind that old tree by the rose garden.

Fired burned in Magdalena's eyes.  Alberto, that little snake! That rat! It couldn't be!

Who do you think you are spying on us?" she hissed at him. "And you don't even know what I am talking about!"

"Oh, yes I do!" Alberto responded, smugly. "You have been hiding money from Mama and Papa! And now you are going to America!"

Did he try to steal her money? Did he get his *****, little hands on her precious stash? Magdalena wanted to choke him, her insolent little brother, the youngest of the children who always was too smart for his own good. He just stood there, his cocky smirk on his face like he was so triumphant.

"Keep your voice down, or I swear you will not lived to see thirteen!" Magdalena warned him.

"You think you are going to leave me here alone?" Alberto told his stunned sisters. "Don't take me, and I will tell them. Take me, and I won't say a word".

Magdalena felt the need to grab a large branch to rush at him and beat him senseless. But she just stood there, hands on her hips, glaring at him in a showdown of angry eyes.

Alberto stood his ground, and he would not budge an inch. "Alright", Magdalena said in a harsh whisper, "And do you expect me to pay your way? I cannot do it!"

Alberto laughed, his eyes dancing in amuzement. "Do you think you are the only one who hides money?"

Magdalena felt better now that her sister's color was coming back. The air on the boat was refreshing as she breathed it in deeply. Where was Alberto?

"Oh, there he is", Maria pointed out. She shook her head and laughed. He was busy talking away with a pretty, young girl. Always the lady's man, the sisters agreed, far beyond his young years.

So now there they were, the three of them upon this boat. Magdalena did not want to betray her parents. She felt that they might want to come to America, but maybe they would stay where they were at. Perhaps they felt that they were too old to make a fresh start, or they could just be too afraid.

Would they miss her? Magdalena often wondered. Would they hate her for what she did? If so, she prayed that they would forgive her. It was bad enough she had left, but now Maria and Alberto would be gone, too, and she was responsible for it.

"Mira! Mira!" a man shouted out in Spanish. Another person cried out, "Look at that! America! America!"  

All faces were now captivated. The closer they came, everyone watched intently, like they were at a glorious theater. A low murmer of different languages all came about at once.

It took a long time to reach close to this unknown land, this vast coastline of the New World. It was just such an amazing sight that nobody wanted to go down below deck, one of sugar maples, and cherry blossom trees, of elegant homes nestled in cliffs.

Magdalena saw buildings much taller than she had ever seen in Italy as America came closer and closer into her sights, as her boat was making its way into the New York Harbor. She stood by her sister and gripped her hand in excitement. This took quite a long time to recach that destination, and it felt like a dream.

Alberto eventually ran over to his sisters. "That is it! That is it! The Lady Liberty!"

All three stood there amazed, with all the other passengers rushing about on deck and standing to look. She was a very tall lady, quite a lady indeed! A petina, a bluish-green, she stood there proudly with her lantern raised to the skies. Magdalena thought she was the most lovely sight that she had seen so far on her journey, and she could not stop the tears from flowing down her face.

Maria squeezed her older sister's hand, with tears streaming down her face, as well. As they held each other tightly, all Maria and Magdalena could do was cry in their relief and their hope.  

Alberto waved wildly at the statue, as if she would wave back. Others laughed and cried. Many waved, too,  and many stood there completely silent and struck with awe.

They had made made it.  At last! Magdalena felt like she had made the right move, even though she did not have a clue what her life would hold out for her.

Even so, she felt like she had found herself a home.
copywrited...............dedicated to all the immigrants who came to this country.
Dorothy A Jul 2010
Look upon all my beauty
I'm a traditional rhyme
Written so elegantly
Perfect in every line!

No, look at my free verse style!
I'm not prissy or fussy
I'm free as a bird with a free spirit
That flies within the realm
Of so many possibilities and directions!
Much less inhibited than you!

Nonsense! The camera flashes!
They are taking pictures of me!
Lovely, poetic form of old
Style, as pure as can be!

You're out of your mind!
You traditional snob!
All the oohs and aahs
Are really all for my poetic genius!
Move aside!

And so they soon got into a tussle, words flying everywhere....that is according to Free Verse

Traditional Rhyme felt so robbed
Free Verse, you trouble maker!
You may be the rage of the day!
But to me you are a faker!

Free Verse had such a harsh choke hold
On the throat of Traditional Rhyme
I can rhyme too... but not like you!
Perfectly? No! Not all of the time!

Traditional Rhyme called a truce
Finally accepting both ways
Sure, she had grace and she had style
But Free Verse would not go away
Dorothy A Nov 2010
The lone eagle makes its
solo journey over the vast horizon

I can see my flag in
the setting sun
as the lemon halo of fire
becomes a vivid pomegranate red,
the turquoise sky darkening
into a sea of navy blue
and wispy, white clouds  
are hovering over us like
spirits in the universe

Lady Liberty,
overlooking the evening
of the New York Harbor,
displays her lit up torch like a
cosmic nightlight
She forever sheds light over
weary Americans
to remind us to
still dream the American dream
but that vision often seems
so out of our common reach

Uncle Sam has put on his nightcap,
a tuckered, old man is he
The crickets are chirping,
singing to me their strange lullabye
as I think I'll call it a night

*Goodnight, America, Goodnight
Dorothy A Aug 2012
I am constantly reminded of that popular Bible verse in I Corinthians 13: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. It is a verse that I highly cling to in faith and hope, something that I truly love to hear and ponder upon. Otherwise, I could easily give in to despair and cynicism, as it is prevalent in this world like a cancer. A good combination of a good dose of faith, hope and love is surely the medicinal treatment required for the cure.

Whether you adhere to this Biblical statement and belief, or absolutely do not, anyone can understand that we need faith, hope, and love to rely on. No matter what our walk is in life, whether we are Christians or of another religion—or have no belief in God or the spiritual life whatsoever—we all must have faith, hope, and love. Must!

Our very lives, and the world, depend on it.  

The religious aspect aside, who can exist without these three, without faith hope and love? Take the sun, for example. Even the staunchest atheist has faith that, without fail, the sun will reappear on the horizon, each and every morning, dispelling the darkness of night as the earth revolves around the sun. It’s like an undeclared promise, a brilliant, seemingly miraculous occurrence that should never cease to fill us with awe.

Until we take hold of these thoughts, how soon we do forget.  

Can you imagine if you woke up tomorrow and you never saw the sun again? Never? What would it be like if there was nothing but bleak darkness as we looked up into the sky for its beautiful blue canvas and infinite greatness? Our meager light bulbs and man-made lamps would pale in comparison to the blotted out light—the desert in the sky. Life would cease to be, and the thought of it seems almost incomprehensible—the utter void, the earth’s destruction, the deathliness, the icy cold and chaos. How we often take such things for granted! And the life-sustaining sun is only one of the countless things that we often take for granted as we dwell upon this magnificent earth. One may use his or her own analogy to compare.  

Along with faith to spur it on, who can survive without hope?  Hope reminds you it is still there when you cannot envision it there or feel its presence. It offers fresh, new pathways when your hopes have been dashed, and urges you to move on from false hopes that are imposters to the real deal.

I certainly cannot live without hope, nor could another living soul.  Having no hope at all feels like a living death, one I know of firsthand much too well. Inside of me—in my own being—when it seemed that the sun in my soul, with all its nurturing and guiding light, had entirely disappeared from within me—I experienced that vastly void, and dark, bottomless pit. In complete horror and pain, I felt my life would always be this way.  I liken it to having your lungs being ripped away from you, the wind ****** out of your spirit.

Oh, it is a dooming, crushing thing to have no hope!

But the thought of having not a shred of hope was something that I just could not bear nor accept. Thank God, it was an illusion, not really gone for good. It is the very fuel to propel rockets of dreams and goals, and it works hand in hand with faith and love. I believe wholeheartedly that hope is there for anyone’s access, no matter how low life seems. For like that eternal sun in the sky—sometimes seemingly doused out by menacing clouds—a temporary mirage, no doubt—hope is an invincible, precious and extraordinary gift, one that outshines despair by a thousandfold.    

Imagine if there was no love. Many of us think love is an illusion, a ***** trick to avoid. People often were supposed to love us, but failed. Surely, we can often fool ourselves into thinking something is love, when later we find that it is clearly not. Often, we feel burned when we show our vulnerable selves, simply on our quest to love and be loved.

But we want love nonetheless. We have to have it.

Love is as messy as life is. Hate often seems triumphant as we turn on the news. It seems to outshine love, and we grow weary by the cruelties we witness through the screen or from firsthand experience.  And by taking a good look in the mirror, we often question how loving we really are, for our guilt is reflected back at us for how we have failed others in a lack of love. Sometimes, we are just too scared to love. Sometimes, we just don’t want to make the effort. But love is still the greatest of all. There is no way this earth could spin well without it. What would be the need of it's ordered structure if not for such a high attainment as love?

Like I Corinthians says, if I have all knowledge or have faith, but have no love, it as if I have nothing—nothing at all. How many people have been taught that they are not worthy?

Again, like that sun, love covers everyone—encounters all at different times of reach—even those who are seemingly incapable of its power.  

And yet again, what if love had simply gone away for good, like faith and hope? Like that sun in the sky? What if hate truly reigned and ruled the earth?

But the battle is never over, and love must always fight on.  These can't just be words that I am saying to fill up space. I truly fight to believe this!

Again, that sun in the sky represents love to me, as well as it does faith and hope. It is warming and enriching. It is a pathway out of the restful night and into the ongoing world. Like it is a living entity, it doesn’t demand our constant attention, and nestles itself into the clouds before it makes its entrance once again, takes yet another bow.  It continually feeds the plants, which feed the people and the animals. And to imagine that this greater-than-life ball of fire is capable of creating rainfall that sustains life, too.  What a glorious contradiction!

With my poetic mind always churning, and the imagery flowing, I share these thoughts to you. Faith, hope, and love—I am truly amazed!
3.5k · Sep 2010
Vision
Dorothy A Sep 2010
Vision
is a molded masterpiece
from the Almighty Maker,
an optical order
from the Divine Creator,
becoming sight for we who do not see
Sent to each visionary
to believe
in the simple truth
we possess

Vision
is to glimpse God,
the artistic nature
that His mighty hand has left
Obvious details about us,
even if focus is found
through failing sight
With a heavenly pair of lenses,
looking at what we cannot behold,
we can imagine eternity

Vision
is a tuning device,
a fine violin
rupturing the eardrum
of mediocrity
An untapped well
in refreshing water
designed to leak and splash
and spring into potential
upon the souls and minds
of mankind

Vision,
a prerequisite to each breath,
a telescope to uninhabited skies,
a stethoscope to the desires of the heart,
is Godly intent,
the gut of greatness,
as we mortals
any purposeful plan
conspire
creation
originally done on February 1997
3.4k · Nov 2010
A Corny Haiku
Dorothy A Nov 2010
I said "a haiku"
Yes, that's right--its a haiku
No, I did not sneeze
Dorothy A Jul 2010
The first time I heard it, I could not believe it. Did I hear it right? My son, Kyle, had a girlfriend, and her name was Jezebel Kawalak. That was her true name, honest to God. I thought maybe Kyle was joking, but that really was it.  Kyle was surprised himself, thinking she was joking, so Jezebel showed him the proof on her birth certificate. It was her mother’s idea to name her Jezebel. Her father was against it.

“She goes by Jez”, Kyle told me. “Everyone calls her Jez”.

I was making dinner when he told me the news of his new friend. I stopped cutting up some carrots and looked at him with great skepticism. “Jezebel? Who on earth would name their daughter that? Don’t her parents know that the name, Jezebel, is a putdown?”

I remembered the old Betty Davis film, and she was supposed to be some kind of ******. I decided to look up the name in the Bible, and Jezebel was not a nice woman, but an evil seductress and the daughter of a king. I didn’t know much about that Jezebel character from the Old Testament, but I knew she was far from nice.  Now Kyle reassured me that Jez was not all what her name implied. She was a shy, sweet girl who lived across the street and twelve houses down from us. She was petite, gentle in nature, which added coolness and calm to the picture, for her sweet nature coexisted in tune with my son’s impulsively creative disposition.

“Jez wouldn’t hurt a fly”, Kyle told me.

“Oh, sure” I said back. “But will she hurt you?”

Kyle and Jez were both sixteen and both in the tenth grade. They also attended the same high school, making their friendship all so more convenient. They were even in one class together, an English class. Like Kyle, Jez came from a divorced home and both were only children. Jez’s mom, Tammy, worked three jobs to keep things afloat, and Jez was often left alone at home to fend for herself. It was not surprising that she got quite lonely and was in need of a good, solid companion.    

Kyle never had a serious girlfriend before. He had gone out a few times with a few girls, but none of them were ever more than a brief date or two. I was glad for that. I sometimes worked a double shift as a hospital nurse and, ready or not, I was forced to deal with this new path in my son’s life. I could not always be around to make sure my son was doing what he was supposed to do. And he was far too old for anyone to really watch over him. He was still working on getting his driver’s license, slowly gaining more freedom as he was gradually gaining more trust from me. I did not like this hesitation in me, for I always knew quite well that this time would eventually come. Yet everything seemed like it was coming too fast, and I could not contain the breaking dam of my son’s ever increasing entrance into manhood.

“It is probably not like you think”, my mother told me about Kyle and Jez. “They seem like just good friends, like she is the sister that Kyle never had”.

My mother could not convince me that she knew what she was saying, not with that remark. Come on! I wasn’t born yesterday!

For the longest time, it was just the four of us, which is until my sister moved to Miami.  Kyle, my mother and I lived in Cleveland, and that seemed like a stab in the heart to me when my sister first left. But I eventually convinced myself that I could not be so selfish, and I learned to adjust to just now only “the three of us”. Kyle saw his father but his father and I divorced when he was the age of four. Since that time, he had three strong women in his life, his mother, his aunt, and his grandmother. We were not a big family, but we were a tight family unit. Whenever I had to work and when Kyle was in need of a sitter, my mother watched him. She deserved the credit for raising my son just as much as I did.

Kyle reasoned with me that he and Jez could be good study partners for each other. I rolled my eyes at that one. There would be more of Kyle playing his guitar than anything. He loved his guitar, practically was self-taught, and I had to admit that Jez had a beautiful singing voice.  Kyle loved to compose his own songs as well as he liked to play some from other artists, and he was pretty good at his talent. The trouble was that as soon as made something up in his head he quickly forgot how some of the songs went. Sometimes, he could get it right and sometimes not. But that was not because Kyle wasn’t smart enough. Actually, he was very bright.  Kyle could dream in his sleep about music and wake up frantically trying to remember what new song he was dreaming up.

The two of them sounded really sharp together, Kyle’s strumming and smooth singing and Jez’s soft back up vocals. There was no denying that they looked just as good as they sounded together. I would study Jez over as she sat next to Kyle on the couch with her golden brown hair clipped up on the back of her head, her eyes peacefully closed, and her small frame swaying in the rhythm of the music they were making.  If they weren’t working on live music, they’d be cranking up the stereo or watching television much more than they would be hitting the school books.

I was shocked when Kyle and I were alone at home and he said something quite out of the blue and totally unexpected. “You practically gave up on men, didn’t you?” he asked me.

“I beg your pardon, young man!” I snapped at him. I gave him a sharp glance and that was all that I had to say about that. I never expected him to say such a thing. Frankly, I was dumbfounded.

I did not feel like I had to answer to my son, but driving to work that day I had wondered if he was right. If my life was not wrapped around the needs of my son, my energies were put into my career. I enjoyed my independence, not like my mother who never worked outside the home once she was married. And when my father died, my mother’s financial needs were taken care of because of all those years of his hard work. It seemed like my mother came from a dying breed, not that I faulted her for who she was, but I had to take care of myself. I felt it was the right choice and better than the alternative of marrying for convenience.

Was I really that fearful of another commitment? It seemed that no man I had met since my divorce could be a good enough stepfather figure for my son. At least, I believed that was a good enough reason for me to remain unattached. How could Kyle ask me that anyway?

One day, he was destined to leave the house and have his own life. I was always so smug about women who seemed to have no life outside of their children, but was I only fooling myself? Before I knew it, I would be coming home to an empty house. Would I be alright being all alone?

All I knew is that I wanted my son to be happy, and I thought I did a pretty good job of helping him be that so far. For now everything seemed fine, but I could see how Kyle was really falling hard for Jez. In my worried mind, there was no denying that.

“You assure me that you will do nothing that you cannot undo”, I warned my son. “When I am not here, there is to be nothing done under my roof. And you know what I mean!”

“Mom, come on”, Kyle answered me. “I would never do anything like that in your house!”    

I looked at my son with a mixture of pride and sorrow. It was now I who had to look up to him to talk to him. It seemed like yesterday when I was the one towering over him. Now he was almost six feet tall, was now shaving, and was handsome like his father, his dark shaggy hair dusting his light brown eyes. I sure could not stop him from growing up. Trying to control that situation was like trying to control heaven and earth. Slowly, I was learning that I had to let go of him, for his sake and for mine.

Deep down, I knew Kyle wouldn’t do anything in my house. But I also knew that those two did not need my house to do the unspeakable, what I would not quite say to my son in proper words. I knew I was being unrealistic for some silly fear that if I said “***” it would egg on his teenage desire all the more.  Nor could I keep my son under lock and key to stop those flooding feelings.
  
It soon came to be that Jez was over every day. Why didn’t they ever go to her house? But then I was glad they were under my roof, like that would keep them out of trouble.  Jez’s house was rented and much smaller than ours, even though ours was not spacious by any means. Jez seemed to feel more at home in my house, and soon she was growing on me. Before long, I was quite used to her, for she somehow crept into my heart and won me over.  I had to admit that she almost seemed like a daughter to me.

“You did not have to make these”, I told her about a batch of oatmeal cookies she baked me.

Jez smiled at me and said, “Your favorite, with no raisins”. She put them in a cake box that she ******* with a purple ribbon and handed them over to me. She had such a sweet disposition that I wanted to tell her to go yell at her mother for giving her such a ridiculous name, but simply smiled back and gave her a hug.  

“I can see you really like her”, said my smirking mother. She had come over for dinner and was sitting with me at the dining room table. “She is really good for Kyle and you know it, too”.

Kyle just came around from out of the kitchen. “Thanks Grandma”, he said to her, and gave her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. He then gave me thumbs up as if to show that if Grandma approved, it was a done deal.

I could not disagree with my mom. Yet I wondered what Jez’s mom would think of everything. Even though she lived down the street I never met her. I wanted to invite her over, but she was always too busy working or taking care of things. How did Jez cope with her always being gone? She needed her mother just as much at sixteen as she did when she was a young girl.

“She works pretty hard”, Jez once told me. “I feel kind of bad because maybe she would not have to work like that if I wasn’t around”.

“Jez, don’t think that way!” I exclaimed.  I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. Kyle, sitting next to her, put his arm around her and gave her a good squeeze to make her smile.

Kyle admitted, “Jez’s dad always told her she is welcome to live with him. She could but she’s not so geeked about it. He lives in California, in San Diego”.

“And he has a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi”, Jez added. “So you think I’d be crazy not to go there”.

“I’d rather live in warm weather, all year round, with a pool to swim in every day”, Kyle confessed to her.

Emphasizing her remark by playfully dotting his nose with her fingertip, she said to him, “Kyle, you know that Cleveland has one thing that San Diego does not have”.

“What’s that?” he answered in a silly voice, gleefully playing dumb.

Giggling a little, she said “You”.

Kyle leaned over, and pecked her with a kiss on her mouth. I could feel the heat in my face, embarrassed that I was blushing over an innocent kiss. But I never saw my son kiss a girl before, not in a romantic way. I got up out of my chair before they could see my discomfort. How foolish I felt! After all, I was a nurse and nothing should have shocked me like this.

There were times I felt that I had more than a leg to stand on with my fears. There was a fine line between innocent times with each other and too much togetherness, and it seemed like Kyle and Jez were crossing it.

Usually on Friday or Saturday nights, Jez and Kyle would watch a horror movie. They both loved horror flicks, the more blood and gore the better. Both loved the classics, from the original Night of the Living Dead to the modern ones like Drag Me to Hell. They’d always snuggle together on the couch with the lights off and big bowl of popcorn, and if I was not working I would be extra watchful. They could be up till past one o’clock in the morning and, even if I needed the sleep, I stayed up right with them.

Often, Kyle and Jez would fall asleep together on the couch before the movie ended. They had gotten that cozy. A few times, Kyle would wake up to still find Jez sound asleep. She was quite a sound sleeper, more than Kyle was. Instead of waking her up to take her home, Kyle would scoop her up in his arms and carry her to his bedroom. In turn, she barely made a stir but rested her head upon his shoulders, letting him take her away from the living room. After laying her upon his bed, Kyle would come back to sleep on the couch.

“How are you going to explain this to her mother?” I asked, confronting him about it”.

“I’m not sleeping with her, Mom!” he argued with me. “You can see I am staying on the couch! Jez’s mom has some new boyfriend, so why would she feel like she even belongs home? Yeah! That’s right! He is crowding Jez right out of her own house! Do you have to look at me like that? Like I am the bad guy, or something? He is living with her mom, sleeping in her bed. Why do you think Jez never wants to go home? The guy’s a total loser! He creeps her out.”

I knew I had to eventually talk to Jez’s mom. I needed her input and she needed mine. As much as I liked her, I just did not feel like Jez should be around so much. It seemed like she lived at my house when she really did not.  The only news I heard about her mom was that Tammy was angry at her daughter for not helping to clean up the house more. So now I found a sound excuse to help Kyle to listen to reason.

I had to tell him to listen to me, to trust my better judgment and experience in spacing out his time with Jez. Perhaps, he needed to see her every other day. To Kyle, that was a hard sacrifice but, along with becoming an adult, came some necessary lessons.

“If Tammy wants her daughter to be more responsible at home” I told him, “you have to learn to respect that”. Deep down, Kyle knew I was right.

So those in between days, with no visits, Kyle was either instant messaging Jez on our computer or talking to her on the phone.  He may have listened to his mother, but he was finding enough ways to not take me as seriously as he should have.

I found myself wishing that Jez would just go away. That feeling did not last long before my guilty conscience got the better part of me. Jezebel Kawalak really was a sweetheart. Everyone who really knew her loved her.

“Do you feel like she is competing with you for Kyle’s time with you?” my mother asked me.

At first, I was ready to tell my mother how out-of-line she was with that statement. Did I seem that selfish? This was the time in Kyle’s life when the childish diversions in life were being replaced with more important things like earning his own money and planning what college he wanted to go and what he wanted for his future.  Or maybe I had to accept that he would tell me that college was not for him. Now he could play his guitar and dream of being a rock star, but reality was ready to kick in for both of us.  More carefree days like these were beginning to look scarce.

I had to admit that Jez became a threat. I worried that she had a high likelihood of ending up pregnant. What would happen then? Kyle was not mature enough to deal with that possibility. I still had those desires to see Jez just go away.

One night, I was going to get what I wanted. But it was something what I never would have wished for.

It was a long day at the hospital for me. I had barely the energy to eat the diner that Kyle had made for me. He was a pretty good cook as he had to learn to make his own meals when I was working. I was brushing my teeth when I thought I heard a knock at the door, but the television was on and I wasn’t sure.  

“Kyle, is someone at the door?” I asked him.  I heard no answer.

I went into the living room and the front door was open. In the dark, I made out the two silhouettes of Kyle and Jez sitting on the cement on the front porch.

I turned the porch light on and gasped. Jez was leaning on Kyle, her face battered and her lip bleeding.

“Let’s get her inside!” I ordered Kyle.

He helped her up but she was stumbling badly. Kyle lifted her up into his arms, and she winced in pain as he carried her inside.

Kyle sat in a chair and kept Jez cradled in his arms, caressing her bruised face with his
c. 2010
3.3k · Nov 2009
Pea Soup
Dorothy A Nov 2009
Pea soup,
but peas too few.
Life is a bowl
of murky green,
just wading
our way through
faded memories.
Reality,
hard to grasp
with a spoon.
Chunks and pieces,
a hint of aroma,
a fulfilling taste to soothe,
but hungry in an hour
for truth.
Pea soup.
Dorothy A May 2016
They could practically be heard arguing throughout the whole diner, but they were oblivious to their small audience of onlookers in the heat of their conflict. Tori stood there with her hands on her hips as her husband, Hank, made himself clear that he was upset. He was sitting up at the counter on one of the barstools eating his chili. On the other side, Tori poured herself a much needed cup of coffee.

“You’re a waitress, not Mother Theresa! A mother with two hungry mouths!” he bellowed out to her. “That’s less money that goes into our pockets! What the hell were you thinking, Tor?”

“Was only helping a poor guy out!” she shot back. “He looked hungry and—big deal—so I bought him something to eat! So forget it, Hank, cuz I’m not sorry!” She remained defiant in her stance, unapologetic in her Good Samaritan role. Her boss never allowed her to give free food away, so the food was on her. It was a hot dog and fries, one time, some bacon and eggs, another.  She got the man bagels, donuts, toast, oatmeal—whatever she could supply with his usual cup of coffee he ordered. It was obvious from the word go that he had little in his pocket, and he could barely put a tip on the table—usually a nickel or a dime, sometimes a few pennies. He wore the same shabby tee shirt, flannel shirt and bummy jeans. And those pitiful shoes—with his dingy white socks poking through at the big toe of his right foot—that was pitiful.  So what if she had two young children? Nobody was going into the poor house because she bought a poor guy a few meals.

“Well, stop buying him food! No more!” Hank commanded. Tori gave him her best you’re not the boss of me look as he put his spoon down and walked over to the booth towhere the man with unkempt, silvery hair, and an untrimmed beard, sat.  That was his usual spot, and that was Tori’s booth to cover.  

The man just stared at him, not seemingly startled by the younger man who boldly confronted him. “Hey, look!” Hank said, lowly, yet sharply, “Straight up and no *******. Get a job. Get a life. Just quit taking advantage of my wife. Got it?”

It didn’t seem like the intimidation was working. The man just stared at Hank, his deep, soulful, brown eyes could penetrate right through him, and Hank wanted to shift his gaze away. He didn’t though, for that wouldn’t have given him the menacing upper hand. “Well!” he demanded, fidgety and frustrated, “What’s your problem?” The response was simply the same silent stare and Hank blurted out through clenched teeth, “Don’t take nothing no more from my wife!”

Unexpectedly, the man placed his hand upon Hank’s and said, “My son, don’t be angry. Sin no more. I give you my blessing, and go now in peace”. Hank quickly pulled his hand away, his face burning with embarrassment. A few guys at table nearby snickered at the sight of the pair.

“The guy’s nuts!” Hank got up and moved back to the counter. “What does he think? He’s Jesus or something?”

“Hank, quit stirring up drama or you gotta leave! You’re gonna drive out business!” Al chimed in. Al was in the kitchen helping the cooks in the back to get out orders. Now if anyone had a right to kick Hank out it was him. He owned the place.

Hank, still enraged, pointed his finger at Tory and promised, “We’ll talk later!” He quickly stormed out. Tory was not to be dictated to, feeling vindicated for her kind actions.

Well, everyone thought the man who tried to bless Hank was harmless, off kilter, maybe, but harmless. He didn’t seem to cause any trouble, and he minded his own business—only spoke until spoken to, and it was always with grace. Was there something special about him? It was only Tori and fellow waitress, Bonnie, who put more stock into this than anyone else would.

“And what if he is God?” Bonnie asked.

Al scoffed, trying to keep the conversation at a low minimum.  “You sound just as loony as he is”

“Well? And what if he was?” Tori backed up Bonnie. “Or maybe even an angel! You know they can come in many disguises! Maybe God is trying to test us to see if we really give a ****. Did you ever think of that?”

Al shook his head. He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. “Test us?” he asked back as if Tori had no sense at all. “You’ve watched too many TV shows!” He raised his hands up in a grand fashion of showmanship, knife in hand,” Or maybe I’m not the owner of Al’s Diner, but I’m really God myself”, he mocked.  “So, as God, my dear little children, I command you back to work! Come on, now! Chop, chop!” He started to shoo everyone away. “How you think we are going to feed the masses, huh? With loaves and fishes? Customers! Customers! Get those orders moving!”  

The smells and sizzling sound of hamburgers on the grill were enticing to the senses. Tori and Bonnie went back to busily retrieving orders, and Al went to chopping some tomatoes, but soon he was playfully tapped on the shoulder.  It was Amber, another waitress who never seemed privy to the conversation.  “You remember this song?” she asked him, singing the tune in an off-key way, “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us….”

“Just a stranger on a bus, trying to make his way home…” Tori sung along, cheerfully moving about, adding a pretty, more melodious tone to the song.  

“Exactly”, Bonnie exclaimed, enthusiastically. “Like God’s gone undercover!”

Al rolled his eyes, for he thought he made himself clear he was done with this talk. But he couldn’t help but get a kick out his quirky waitresses. “Sure I know that tune—a few decades back—blonde chick—what’s her name?” he asked, smirking.  

“Joan Osborne”, Bonnie proudly stated. “Cool song, too. Makes you think a bit…at least for me.”

“And so why not ask him who he is?” Joey asked. “He’s got a name.”

It was like everyone forgot Joey was in the room though he was busily busing tables and sweeping floors. Tory, Bonnie and Al stopped what they were doing and intently looked at the teen. He seemed to ask a sincere question.  Al burst out laughing. “Now someone’s talking sense, and chalk it up to the kid with good wits. Yeah, Joey, these ladies just want to exist in fantasy land. Go, Team Al!”

Joey shook his head and said, soberly, “Not taking anyone’s side. I just think he’s got a name and he’s got a story behind him…and it isn’t what you think, Tori…or even you, Al.”

Al waved his hand to dismiss the whole thing. “Yeah, his name is probably Ralph, or something. Even then, I bet Tory would believe he is the Almighty right there in the flesh!”

“I would!” Tory shot back. She looked at Joey and answered, “Maybe you do think I’m as bad as Al does, but you’re too polite to admit it…but…yeah…I did ask him his name.”

“And, so?” Al asked, pretending with wide eyes to be full wonder, like he was clinging to every word, anxiously. “What’s his name?”

He was simply finding humor at her expense, and Tori wished she never said a thing. She reluctantly replied, “I am what I am.”

What?” Bonnie asked. “What does that mean?”  

Al replied, “I am what I am! Well, that sure don’t mean Popeye, sweetie!” With a comical, gravelly voice, he did his best Popeye imitation, “I yam what I yam and that’s all I am!”, squinting up one of his eyes he teased Tori, “Got that Olive Oyl?”

Bonnie and Joey laughed along at the sight of him, and Al added, “Look! I may be practically an atheist, but I’m not ignorant to the bible. That’s just what God said to Moses when he asked the same question!”

Tory defended the poor man that she so proudly helped. “So what if he does think he is God? He’s not doing anyone any harm, is he?” Al completely ignored her, so Tory to turned to Joey, and asked again, “What harm is there in it?”

Joey slightly smiled at Tory, trying to remain respectful to her beliefs, and said, “Truth be told, I don’t know much about God. I’m not a churchy person. He pointed over at the poor man in the booth and said, “I just know if God existed, it’s not him.”
  
Tori was saddened by Joey’s words. It was not that because he didn’t believe her ideas were feasible—that maybe God was testing them—but that he didn’t even know if God existed. The youth nowadays—who did they have to look up to?  Who guided them? The internet? Their cell phones? So many people seemed to have walked away from their faith or had none at all. And Al reminded Tori so much of her own dad. She grew up in a home without religion. Her mom had a vague notion of God, but her dad was a huge skeptic that had the same mocking spirit that Al had. Neither her father or Al were bad guys, but there were no miracles in their worldview. There was nothing divine, and everything was so ordinary and practical.

But Tori always felt awestruck by the world, nature and the animals, a curious minded child. She was the one who had that childlike faith—even now as a grown woman—and she yearned to know God, personally, not just know about Him. She just had to believe that this world and the universe were not all just for nothing, not at all a happenstance, not a just a brief journey on this earth and then that was it. It was after searching and yearning that Tori went to her friend’s church, and soon became a Catholic. She might have been alone in her family in this endeavor, but it gave her life more meaning.

Tori would look at the figure of Jesus upon the crucifixion and oddly was comforted by the sight of him that might bring others revulsion or doubt—the nails piercing his hands and feet, the thorn of crowns, the blood, the tragic sight of his lifeless body so cruelly tacked up upon the cross.  She raised her own two children to know God, and Hank’s lukewarm feelings did not match hers. He wasn’t much help in that department at all. But she knew by looking through the bible that true life was about helping other people, that God loved the poor and the downcast. To find your life, you had to lose your life. To feel exalted, you had to humble yourself. To give your life, to save someone else’s—well, that was the greatest gift you could give. That means you gave it all.  She might not have been the smartest person in the world, but she didn’t need to be bible scholar to figure such things out.  

Well, it would be a while before Tori would see her special customer again. But one day she ran back into the kitchen and told Al, excitedly, “His name is Bill!”

Al shot her a strange look, and then he got the connection. “Oh, so that’s God name?” he said jokingly.

Tori pulled him by the arm and took him out front, summoning Bonnie and Joey over, too. Bill was sitting in the same booth he often did, but there at the counter stool sat a petite, sixty-something-year-old woman whom everyone was about to meet. “Al, Bonnie, Joey, this is Bill’s sister, Mary”, Tori introduced her. “She shared with me about Bill’s story, and I think you should know, too.”   She looked like Bill, but had black dyed hair and was better put together. There was a warm and gentle way about her that intrigued Tori. And she sat there to shield her brother by keeping him out of the conversation, for she didn't want to upset her brother by mentioning something that might cause him pain.

Actually, they all were intrigued by her story.  Mary had told them that Bill once had a family, a wife and two sons. He couldn’t keep a steady job, though, and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. His wife divorced him years ago and moved out of state with their two boys. His sons never tried to contact him, and he hasn’t seem ever since. For quite a while, Bill lived on his own, but he didn’t take good care of himself. He was living more poorly than ever—not eating right or caring for himself, erratically taking his medication, and so it wasn’t a surprise that he lived a deluded life. “He does strange stuff like that, think he is God”, Mary admitted to Tori. “He’s been made fun of a lot for acting that way, and it’s my job to watch over him and see that he is safe. So now I help take care of him, and he lives with me. Bill’s always been too proud to accept my help, but the doctor says being with me will help to give him a better life”. Mary was a widow, and she didn’t have much money herself, but she did what she could to protect her brother.  

Al looked embarrassed, knowing now the truth about Bill and realizing he was making fun when he should have known better. Mary gave Tori a huge hug. “And thank you”, she said to Tory, “for looking out for my brother, too.”  Everyone, even Al, was deeply touched by their embrace.  

“You know that Tori is a saint”, Bonnie bragged on her behalf to reiterate the same sentiment. “There should be more people like her.”

Tori remained humble and disagreed, “No, I’m just doing what we should all do in this world. If anything, it teaches me that we should all see God in every opportunity.”

Al whispered into Tori’s ear and told her, “You want to give him something to eat again, well now don't bother paying for it. It's on me”.  She smiled at him like was ready to give him a big hug, and he added, “Don’t think this makes me all buying all this God stuff—or anything”.

“And why not?” she asked.  

He replied with his own question, the ultimate question that people have been asking for ages. "Why would any god allow a man to suffer like that? Just look at him! How could that happen and you still think there is some guy in the sky that's all warm and fuzzy, like some invisible Teddy bear?"  

"Oh, you mean so how can God be loving, fair and merciful?", she snapped back, hurt that Al would make faith sound so childish and idiotic. Tori thought a moment, and simply replied, "I could ask the same question. Is life fair? Is it just wishful thinking? Actually, all my life I've wondered such things. The difference between us though is I don't know all the answer any better than you...but I still believe."

Al waved his hand away at her, "Whatever..."

"Wait!", Tori commanded him as he walked away. Al stopped and turned to face her like he was more than through with this conversation.  She said, "Maybe if us mere mortals did our job on earth of helping others, it would better a whole nother story. You'd probably have a different point of view, Al."

She didn't expect Al to have some bolt of enlightenment when it came to God, but before he went back to the kitchen he left her with words she wished he didn’t say. “All those people way back then…all those prophets and saints…supposing they were around today. You think they'd they stand up to today's world? I don't. Wouldn’t they on meds, too? I'd say we wouldn't see them any differently than we'd see Bill.”  Blindsided, she never did know how to follow up with all that. Al just knew how to rain on her nice parade.

Joey never said anything about that day, but when Bill came in again, Tori surely took special notice of them sitting together for a while. When she passed by the table, Joey was watching Bill walk around, and she quickly noticed the new black and green athletic shoes on his feet. Even on him, they looked sharp.

”They fit alright?”  Joey asked. Bill nodded, and shook the boy’s hand. He never said anything about it, but his silly, old grin—along with a few missing teeth—was priceless. He truly was happy to get those shoes. The old ones, with the hole in the toes, remained on the floor to be pitched out.  

Tori had to ask Joey, “You bought those for him? That’s so sweet of you!”

Joey smiled. “I just never could stand those beat up, old shoes”, he replied. “They are a good brand, but didn’t put me back that much. I’m not making a big deal about it, though. I’m not even going to tell anyone I did it. Only telling you, because you asked.”

“Makes you feel good, doesn’t it? Like it really makes a difference”.

“Yeah, it does. It’s like buying God a pair of shoes.”

Did he just say it was buying God a pair of shoes? How odd to hear that from Joey, but how that statement impacted her, and Tori would never forget that.  She gave Joey a peck on the cheek and a hug. He was like a little brother to him. She didn’t feel old enough to be a mother figure, but she felt some kind of sisterly feeling for him.

Joey went on to explain, “Yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bill, lately. He lost his job, his family—he lost everything. No, he’s not God, but I was thinking…though I don’t know that much about religion or God, I thought that if you do
Dorothy A Mar 2015
Pastor Nate Yarborough knew since early on that he wanted to be a clergyman. He grew up in a Christian home and believed in God as long as he could remember. He dreamed of being a minister someday and becoming the pastor of  his own church. At only thirty-one-years-old, his dream came true. He was young, yet head pastor at Hope Christian Church and had a medium sized congregation that was thriving. To add to his dream-come-true, he had a beautiful wife, Veronica, and darling three-and-a half-year-old daughter, Michaela.

Jesus was the center of his life, but Veronica was the one who kept him grounded. Michaela was just the light of his world, a special blessing in his life. She was a happy baby who was just a typical daddy’s girl. When her father came home from his job she would squeal with delight and go running to him, at first as a wobbly toddler and then to a quick, little girl who would sprint to the door.  

“Daddy’s home!” she would announce in a big voice.

Nate would swoop up Michaela up in his arms as he planted gentle kisses upon her little cheek. “Michaela, my sunshine girl!” he would shout. “There’s my little beauty!” He definitely wanted more children, but he was thankful and felt so blessed to have her be his very first.      

“That is how we should with our heavenly father”, Veronica told Nate, in admiration of those two in action, “and not run from him in fear.”

Yet one day Michaela was having seizures and became quite ill. She transformed from a bubbly child to one who fussed and cried and didn’t want to play very much.  Her worried parents took her to the doctor, and she was put through a battery of tests. The church was praying for little Michaela, but the diagnosis was grim and shocking. She had a brain tumor. Her parent’s worst fears had been confirmed. Her tumor was malignant and it was inoperable.

Veronica would open up the outpouring of cards and letters of well wishes from parishioners. So many people were praying for the family. Veronica had hope even as her husband was growing distant as his little girl became sicker and sicker. In spite of treatment, in spite of prayers, little Michaela succumbed to her sickness. Her bright, little spirit was forever gone from their home.

“We will have more children”, Veronica assured her husband through her tears. “We will get through this—together. With God’s help, we’ll get through this!”  

Nate didn’t respond. Veronica felt him stiffen in his lackluster embrace. She stiffened, too, for she knew that wasn't of Nate's character, and she could tell by his face that he wasn’t buying any of it.  

His sermons now became shorter, far less engaging. They weren’t full of encouraging stories or inspirational words of faith, of challenging the defeated to never give up, and imploring everyone to always turn to the Lord—in bad times as well as the good.  

People in the church rallied behind Pastor Nate and his wife. They offered meals during the time that Michaela was laid out in the funeral home and finally laid to rest. They offered more prayers, encouraging words, and hugs for the couple to make it through this rough storm in their lives. A pastor friend of Nate conducted the funeral but Nate hardly heard a word. Veronica grew worried.

There were many in the congregation who grew concerned, too. They still were supportive, but now the elders and deacons had no choice but to gather at a meeting and figure out what to do. Nate’s leadership role was falling apart. His life, no doubt,  was falling apart.

“Why does God punish some on this earth who are innocent?” he asked one time at the pulpit.  “There are no answers when your heart is torn out from you, when you serve God with all you have, and He does this to you. Why? Perhaps, there is no such being as God. Perhaps, it is wishful thinking and we have all been duped…I’ve thought about it and I’ve searched the Scriptures, yet I get nothing there . I think the atheists aren’t so out of bounds, after all.”

Sitting a few rows back, Veronica looked nervously around. She heard some of the gasps in the crowd, heard many whispers, and saw the shocked faces. She laid her head in her hands and was too scared out of her mind to even pray.

“We are sorry, Veronica”, one of the elders told her one day. “We tried to reason with your husband. We care about you both, but this cannot go on. We asked Pastor Nate to get seek out some help—to step down temporarily—but he didn’t even flinch. He says he’s never coming back. He just doesn’t believe anymore. And he just doesn’t care. ”

Veronica tried to get Nate to go to counseling with her. She needed it, too, and he wasn’t helping her any. This church was his dream, and sure his daughter had tragically died, but he needed to hold it together—for their sake. To crumble on her was too much on top of losing her daughter. He just couldn’t do this!

She could handle her grief far better if they could remain a team. But he didn’t want to talk, wouldn’t listen to anyone, and now how were they going to make ends meet without his role as pastor? Nate fell into a severe depression, and Veronica felt helpless to do anything about it.

After a few months of trying to get through to him, her faith grew dim. How could this happen to them? To save herself from going down with him, she decided she had to walk away. She didn’t want to, but she had made up her mind to move back in with her parents.

“It’s for the best, for now”, she told him. “It doesn’t have to be permanent.”

Nate sat there, staring at the blank TV. “Do what you want”, he replied.

One of the parishioners, Craig DeArmond, decided to pay him a visit. His mother, Marge, always admired Nate’s sermons. She was a big supporter of his, and wept when she heard of the news of his daughter's death. It was evident to her that his faith took a huge dip—actually a crash landing—and his world that revolved around his belief lay in shambles.

Craig was saddened by how quiet the place was, how unkempt and uninviting it appeared. He’s been to the house before, a once pleasant place to be.  Now, it was bleak and joyless. “Will you talk to my mother?” Craig asked him. “She’s sad since my dad passed away a week after last Christmas, you know. Forty-eight years of marriage has been much of her life . My mom could use some counseling.”

Nate looked at him without much emotion. “Let her talk to the current pastor. She doesn’t need me.”

Craig said, “But she looks up to you, and it might do you some good, too.”

Nate scoffed at that. “Look, I’m not in the faith business anymore. There’s no way I can be of comfort.” He dismissed Craig with his hand and said, “She goes to me or she goes to a fortune teller—tell her she’ll get about the same results, either way.”

Craig stood up over Nate, hoping Nate would look up at him. He wouldn’t, so Craig was about to walk away but turned around and replied, “God forgive me, for I want to make this clear. Listen to me, Nathan Yale! You are one selfish *******!”

Nate suddenly shot a look at him. “A what?” he demanded.

“You heard me”, Craig said, his arms crossed. “I know you are a man of God—or at least you used to be.  He grew more bold, was on a roll and said, “Look, you are pushing everyone away! People who love and care about you have lost you! Your wife, for crying out loud, is a wreck! I know you’re in pain, but—”

“What do you know of my pain?” Nate shot back. His eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. Perhaps, he had been crying or even drinking.

“I don’t know!” Craig shouted. “But what do you know of faith?”

Nathan didn’t know what to say, for he was never prepared for this. Craig continued, “My mother lost both of her parents by the age of thirteen. She grew up in an alcoholic home, so she watched her parents slowly drink away their lives. She had no choice but to live with her aunt while her other siblings were spread out to stay with other relatives.”

Craig had Nathan’s full attention now. He took advantage of this and pulled up a chair and sat right in front of him, saying, “Her aunt’s husband—her so-called uncle—wouldn’t stop pawing at her and trying to put his hand up her blouse. She had no lock on her bedroom door and so this guy would sneak in--and guess what? He ***** her! At first, it was shocking! The second time, it was Hell. The third time it was worse! The forth time….should I go on?”

“Oh, God, why?” Nate said, tears in his eyes at the thought.

“Yes, he ***** her”, Craig repeated, “until one day she was pregnant and her aunt was demanding how she ended up this way , calling her a **** and shaming her. Mom finally blurted out that it was her uncle who got forced himself on her, and the aunt didn’t believe her.”

Nate was fully engaged. “What happened to your poor mother?” he asked, trying to keep his mouth from quivering.

“She was kicked out on the streets... nothing but the clothes on her back. With nowhere to go, she went to a friend’s house. The stress was so bad on her that she miscarried the baby, laying on the floor in agony. So the authorities placed her in a home for girls and never did she have to live in that house again…but the scars are still there--ugly, deep scars!”

So Craig left Nate’s house, but Nate had joined him in the car. Craig told his mother what he had revealed to Nate—without her permission—but he felt he had to do it. She agreed it was the right thing to do.

Nate gave Marge a huge hug during his visit. She was such a motherly figure, and he admired her for what she went through. “How on earth did you survive?” he asked her.

“Like you”, she confessed. “I was so angry with God. I hated Him, just hated Him. But when I was living in the home for girls, I met a girl who had huge faith. It was sickening to me, at first. I thought to myself, ‘How can you have such faith when you’ve ended up in here?’ And she didn’t know what happened to me, for I was too scared to tell anyone back then.”

“But you have great faith now”, Nate stated. “Better than even I ever had, I’m ashamed to say. I’ve seen your faith in action! ”

Marge put her hand to his cheek. “I fought for every bit of it”, she said. “I didn’t want to believe in God, but their was a nagging presence that wouldn't go away!”

Nate smiled. “I love the way you put it, Marge”, he said.

“Well, I had that friend who talked about Jesus, and then I went to rent out a room of a woman who took in boarders. She had a strong faith, and she took me to church. I’ve never been to church in my life, and I just wanted to get her off my back for asking! But my heart slowly softened, for I never thought that I’d ever believe in God…and didn’t want to…ever!”

“Neither did I…after loosing Michaela”, Nate said. “I loved her so much." He began to cry and put his face in his hands.

Marge put her arm around him and said, “But I found out that I really needed God. I needed to forgive a lot of people—my mother and father, my aunt and uncle—especially myself because I felt so hateful all the time.”

Nate sobbed, “I feel hateful, too—and guilty. I don’t know if I’ll ever have faith again. It scares me to feel that way.”

Marge held him in her arms like he was her little child. “Oh, but you haven’t really lost it, Pastor. You see, I didn’t want to believe in God, either, because I felt He was against me. If God existed…well, than how come my parents were alcoholics? How come my uncle ***** me? How come I got pregnant and the baby died? Ended up by myself? How come…how come? I think we all can ask our share of questions in this world.”

“They are valid questions”, he admitted, tears still streaming down his face. “Frankly, many problems pale in comparison.”

Marge couldn't have disagreed more. "No, Nate..,pain is pain. Yours is just as valid as anyone else's.  It just is just when it is an excuse to be bitter that is dangerous.  And I used that as a reason for being bitter!” she said. “But the bitterness was killing me. Slowly, I was dying.”

"But you made it through. You're quite alive, Marge, quite alive... and quite amazing."

They lingered in conversation, for they both needed this to take place. After it was over, Nate went home, feeling like a dam of walled up emotions had been finally released. It was certainly a start. He called Veronica up and he managed to say, “Veronica…please forgive me. Let’s start again…our lives together…” before his voice broke and the tears poured out again.

“Of course”, she responded, her voice trembling. “I already have forgiven you because I’ve been waiting and praying for this moment to come.”
Dorothy A Jul 2010
I picture my heart
like a cartoon character
with Betty Boop legs,
tapdancing around,
shuffling off to Buffalo

How many times must I learn
that I cannot elevate anyone
above God?
That I am not to worship idols?
My heart has no place with them

God and I are not that different
after all
He is a jealous God
and we are all made
in His image

So why would I
trade Him
for some wooden idol
or absurd image
that cannot compare?
Why do I let my heart
wander off
when it really belongs to God?
3.0k · Jul 2010
After Oz
Dorothy A Jul 2010
There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. Dorothy's Kansas never looked so comforting, her black and white world never so safe--never so flat, so barren.

Didn't she learn her lessons? She caused such trouble! She gave Auntie Emm such a fright! That bump on the head must have caused her brain damage. After the "big storm" was only a memory, and the terrible twister only a town tale, Dorothy did it again.

She ventured out on her own.

Yet Mrs. Gulch was still a witch. And Dorothy's "nasty, little dog" still got into the garden. The sheriff was ready to track her down and clamp down on her for good! Running home frantically for help, Dorothy realized that Auntie Emm was still too busy ******* at her shiftless farmhands, henpecking tired, old Uncle Henry,
and he was just too cranky to care. The farmhands were supposed to be her friends, but they just started crabbing at her again.

They soon gave her what for. "Dot, didn't you learn a thing in life?" "Didn't we rescue you once from a pigpen?" "That heart of yours leads you in the wrong direction! " "Where are your brains, anyway?"

Heartbroken, naive Dorothy realized something that was quite profound. Her heart was always in the right place--she just needed the courage, the courage to know she was smart enough to make it on her own. So Dorothy packed her bags, especially remembering her red ruby slippers. She would never forget her loyal friend and sidekick, her beloved pooch, Toto. If she was going, he was going with her.

So there she stood, suitcases in hand, in her bleak, little, colorless world. Terrified, she stood upon the precipice. Fear or faith? And all of a sudden she was noticed again! Just what was she doing? Who did she think she was fooling? Was she crazy!?

"You'll never make it!", they all warned. "You don't know the first thing about how to live in a Technicolor world!"

"Sorry, I do love you", Dorothy answered back. "But I disagree and I will forward you my new address". So off she went finding the path down the yellow brick road.
c. 2010
3.0k · Oct 2013
Couples in Love
Dorothy A Oct 2013
Guys and gals,
Ladies and gents
I love to see the couples in love

Couples newly in love
Couples well into love
Couples who never thought they'd ever find it

Young couples
Old couples
Middle-of-the-road couples

Eye catching couples
Plain couples
Color blind in-love couples

Taller couples
Shorter couples
From alpha to omega couples

Couples who lost the love, but found it again
Couples who struggled on through
Couples who defied the odds

Maybe I'm peering through rose-colored pupils
Maybe my vision has gone radioactive
But I love to see such couples in love
Dorothy A Oct 2011
Objective and Subjective decided to hang out together at the park one day, to get to know each other and to try to become friends. Soaking up the views, and watching the people go by, they just sat and relaxed on a park bench.

Subjective broke the ice, first, and said to Objective:

It is getting a bit nippy outside isn't it? I forgot to bring my sweater with me.

Objective replied:

The daytime high will reach 67 degrees with a NW winds of 12 mph. Humidity is 68%. The weather is forcasted today for a 20% chance of rain, but it is not due until evening.

Subjective replied:

Yes, that is good to know...I guess. Now I know why I am cold. Hey, look over there on the right! Check out those roses! Boy oh boy! Did they ever come up colorful this year! I am getting a good whiff of them right now. Don't they smell like heaven?

Objective replied:  

I have never been to heaven, so I can not give you an accurate report. Roses, though, come from a thorn bearing shrub that typically produce fragrant flowers of various colors. Roses are native to north temperate regions. They are widely cultivated for unpractical reasons such as objects of adornment.

Subjective gave Objective a good sidelong glance like, Are you for real? There was a long period of silence as both appeared awkward in each other's company.

Subjective finally broke the silence and said:

The birds are really chirping up a storm today! Oh, I don't mind at all! They sure tweet nice and sweet! But these pigeons I can do without! I don't want them around me! You know what they say, don't you? Pigeons are just rats with wings!

Objective replied:

Actually, rainstorms are not caused by chirping of birds. Rain is produced when water is condensed into clouds from the water evaporation of oceans, lakes and rivers when the heat of the sun activates the process.  Furthermore, there is no such thing as a flying rodent. Even flying squirrels don't actually fly. Birds and rodents are two separate species that cannot produce offspring. Therefore, a rat with wings would be impossible.

Subjective was now beginning to get red in the face. Maybe this was a bad idea hanging out with Objective, after all. Could he really learn to understand him by getting to know him?

Both Objective and Subjective's attention was soon diverted by a tall, slender woman with blonde hair walking by. She now became the center of their focus. Wearing a form fitting blue dress, that came well above the knees, her shapely. long legs were quite appearant as she walked along in 5 inch, spiked heels.
  
Eagerly, Subjective whistled and said:

Wow! Would you get a look at her? What a knockout! Hey, Objective, I think you just saw heaven, after all!

Objective shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly and replied:

Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder. Back in history, it was the full figured woman who was upheld as a virtue of beauty. Her size represented a desired lifestyle of affluence. For example, in the Classical period of art, as well as the Rennaissance and Baroque periods, it was the more voluptuous female that was often the subject of an artist's rendering.

Now Subjective was really ready to blow smoke through his ears, like his blood pressure was going to go through the roof.  No way could he take this for much longer!

He replied:  

That's it! I tried! I did! I really did! But you know what? You are the most annoying being on the planet!

Objective looked stunned at Subjective's outburst of anger. So Subjective continued on in his verbal lashing.

He yelled out:

Yeah, you, Objective! You just don't get it, do you? You really get on my nerves! I can't stand being around you! It is so infuriating!

Objective was at a loss for word. He attempted to utter a reply but could not.    

Subjective added:

I got to get out of here before you drive me crazy! What are you anyway? A walking encyclopedia? A walking dictionary? For the love of Pete, talk like you're normal!!!

As Subjective was ready to storm off Objective meekly replied:

Inanimate objects, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, cannot realistically have body limbs, nor can they function as living organisms....unless, of course, they are presentated in imaginery situations, such as cartoon figures in cinema, television, comic strips, or storybooks. Also,  I must tell you that I personally don't know anyone named Pete.......

Furious, Subjective got up and stomped off, muttering complaints to himself all the way down the street, leaving Objective sitting on the park bench, by himself. There Objective remained, wondering what he did that was so wrong.



THE MORAL of my LAME story is..........................

OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE JUST DO NOT BELONG OR GO TOGETHER!!!
2.8k · Dec 2013
Quicksand
Dorothy A Dec 2013
It looks like any other path. It is deceiving that way, that danger that for whatever reason isn't so obvious to you, it being quite sneaky and tricky while you are thinking that things are going just fine. Before you know it, you're knee deep in it, and it is pulling you under, threatening to devour you in its breath-******* muck and mire. The more you struggle, the deeper you go-- until it has all of you.

That could describe a lot of things, but to me it is the depression and, sometimes, anxiety that I wrestled with my whole life. It was never an everyday thing-- not always the most ominous feeling--and that is why I haven't always been wary of the warning signs. I was quick to want to forget about it, thinking that if I didn't continually address the matter that it would be gone forever. In other words, I wanted to return to the old and familiar, the patterns in which  life seemed easier than dealing with the matter. What felt like normalcy never required anything differently from me.

Ideally, when we are sinking, we would want there to be someone there that would be on solid ground to save us from that deadly patch of quicksand--that tsunami of terrible dread--but often the isolation becomes an only friend, a cold companion. Fear takes over, and it is just as gripping as the loss of our sure footing. Some people just don't understand, or surely think that we should have saved ourselves from this mess in the first place. And, no doubt, there is self-responsibility to counteract the lack of good chemicals in our brains, or deal with the unpleasant circumstances in our lives, but often it starts with us reaching out our hand to accept the hand that lends itself out.  It is that leap of faith to accepting outside help that becomes our first step--one of many steps we need to take in our journey.

And concerning faith, when there isn't a physical hand or tangible grip to grab onto, I know God is  always there. In my lowest of times, I have remembered the teaching that God never leaves nor forsakes us. Even when feeling unlovable, this becomes my lifeline.  So soon-- or eventually-- I come to realize that I can be brought back on dry, level ground, back freely onto my feet, unhampered and untangled from the muddy web I was stuck in. And God remains faithful--whenever I lose good direction--and the way seems so utterly, hopelessly lost. He always has. For no matter what, when I turn to God I know I can always reach out and my hand will not be slapped away.

Gratefully, I will do my best to do the same for someone else.
2.8k · Jul 2010
How I Hate Spiders
Dorothy A Jul 2010
I'm not Little Miss Muffet
From a spider I won't run away
I'll just squish you in a tissue
Or grab a can of bug spray

If that won't be sufficient
If that would not do
I'd just take off my footwear
And smash you with my shoe!

Spider, Spider there I see you
crawling upon my bedroom wall
You give me nothing but the creeps
with every single inch you crawl

You may weave interesting webs
But don't think I'm making nice
If I were not human (but a fly)
I'd be an entangled, delicious bite!

I hate your figure-eight, rounded body
I hate your dangly legs, eight
Is there anything about you I like?
No, I think everything about you I hate!
2.8k · Nov 2009
Michigan
Dorothy A Nov 2009
A hand-shaped heritage,
it opened its huge palm
and waved at us,
welcoming us in
It made us farmers
It made us chefs
It made us factory workers
It made us business owners
and inventors
It gave us higher education
to dream taller and wider
It bridged the gap
between two peninsulas
to include everyone
It smiled upon me,
and patted me on the back
"Well done, lady poet
Well done"
Dorothy A Dec 2014
I think of her often, for thoughts are all I have—not a single memory. She died before I was the age of two.

From what little that I heard, there was little reason to view her in a good light, but now I can see something admirable about her.  After all, this woman endured so much, and the odds seemed stacked against her. Incredibly, between the ages of eleven and sixteen—at least five times—this poor Lithuanian girl crossed the Atlantic in attempts to get into America. Twice, she was turned away. Some may not have had high regard for her, including her own son—my father—but I can see a heroic nature, a survivor, through and through. Just a toddler when she died, I missed out in knowing her. Throughout the years, I really had only gathered bits and pieces of information while trying to know better about her. It has been like constructing puzzle in which the pieces fit here and there, but the gaps are too big to cover.

This woman that I write about is my paternal grandmother. Out of all my grandparents, her story is the one that stands apart, an amazing, heart wrenching and most thought provoking portrait. Evoking emotions of anger, sadness and sympathy, I find it a rich tale of a poor woman.

This has been in the works for quite a while now—in my head, that is. I pictured what I wanted to say, the words playing out in my mind.  What a story it is, too, a tremendous one of sorrow and struggle, of need for love and acceptance, of perseverance and strength of the human spirit. Yet things get complicated when they come from my mind to the page, as I try translating my vision down into words. Before long, like a snake, hesitation surely comes slithering through, as it quickly snuck its way within, fueling my fear, a fear of disapproval and rejection by two people who are now dead and have been for some time—my father and my grandmother.  

And while writing, I imagine what my audience thinks—critics in my head abounding before I even finish. Well, I am the first to stand in line for that.  It’s kind of scary relating such things. I am not sure I am doing the story any justice.  I’m not sure I’ve captured the essence of it well.    

And who would want to read this anyway? Is it too long and of no significance to anybody but myself? I have my doubts. Celebrities do this all the time, and people just eat that stuff up.  I think we all just want to relate to what others have to say about themselves. But it does bare you—your thoughts, your secrets, your soul, —and it feels a bit unnerving, to say the least.  

So, naturally, I still drag my feet. If she were here right in front of me right now, what would my grandmother think? Would she throw the papers in an old fashioned stove—in the fire—as she angrily did to my father’s flowers?  I can only imagine my father as a child—in an impoverished scene that I only have sketchy knowledge of—with his young heart being crushed and shamed, his sign of affection and desire to please his mother, drastically rejected. In return for his small token of love, my father’s mother was furious that her boy spent a few coins on something perceived as useless, a waste of good money. Away like trash, they went. Like the flower story, would my father be ashamed and angry that I revealed some family history for others to read, stuff that he would rather have kept quiet?

This is why I am mentioning no names. Nothing is sugar coated—it is what it is—often not very pretty. Yet this is not intended as an exposé or a smudge on any family members. A slam on my father and grandmother is surely not my intent—far from it.  Rather, it is my offering of affection. It is my little bouquet of flowers to a history that includes me as a part of it.

Like those flowers of long ago, I’ve so wanted to scrap this story in the garbage. Often seeming like a knotted mass of yarn, I have had to work and work to get a smooth flow.  Like a sculptor, I wanted a fine piece of clay to emerge into form, but the chunks, lumps and bumps just frustrate me to no end.

It’s complicated to relate it all. It is revelation about my father’s origins which hold no real pride for him.  There was much pain and shame associated with his mother’s mental illness, his distant father, his broken home and lack of a solid, safe family structure, his constant poverty and fight for survival—the list goes on and on  As I unravel this tale, I continue to fight with the many tangles. As I try to find the face, I feel that my sculpted story is left wanting. So I continue to chip away.

Dishonoring? Embarrassing? I hope it this tale is not.  I envision an admirable purpose instead of the pain and the shame, redeeming the pride that was lost. My father’s origins are mine, too, and they help me to know myself better, and my father—to build that better, more complete puzzle of my grandmother.

Much of what I heard was unflattering terms. From a young age, I knew she was mentally ill. But what did that mean anyway?  Well, to my father she was crazy and nuts, not a good mother. No, she wasn’t mother of the year. Clearly, she had a temper and was known to instigate fights—with her husband, with one of her sisters. When my young father was physically disciplined it was by her, and it was probably quite harsh. If I didn’t like her, it was due to all that I heard. And when I had problems with my father, who had a bad temper, too, I probably felt that the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.  

But in spite of all the remarks, I grew to have great sympathy for my grandmother. It makes me wonder how mistreated she was as a child.  My father deemed her as neglectful, not in tune to her children’s needs. It is obvious to me that she was in lack, herself.

So what was she really like? I very much wanted to understand her, to be able to relate with her. I don’t know—perhaps, it is because I root for the underdog.  Often, I felt like one, too. And Lithuania is the perfect underdog, under the thumb of Russian rule until much recently.  Perhaps, it was because my dad’s dislike for where he came from made me all that more interested to discover what his roots were all about.  

History often repeats itself—what has shaped my father had a strong influence on me. Like my father, I grew angry and bitter from the upbringing I had. Getting a similar brunt of problematic parenting made for a tough go of things.  I could have easy said, “Who gives a ****?” I could have been thoroughly disgusted about my dad’s old baggage that I had to handle—all the wreckage of rage and shame that became dumped into the next generation.  I evolved from a more sensitive, inquisitive child to one who battled between the feelings of hate and love, painfully clawing my way out of the emotional garbage and with the terrible stench of it.  

Thankfully, the war is over. I am enjoying the peace.  
  
With insight, I grew to understand my father, to accept what he was—capable of good and bad. I can relate quite well in that sense, for I made plenty of mistakes that I wish that I could do differently, ones that hurt others as well as me.  I could not deny that, in my dad, there was a wounded man who could not really figure that out—not until he was much older. I saw a man who was remorseful, and humbled by his costly mistakes. I was able to heal from some of my wounds with that forgiving perspective, though it was not easy and did not come overnight.

Unlike my dad, I’m surely a talker and I ask questions, perhaps my father’s worst nightmare in that sense——he had to have at least one child who always wanted to know things about him and who he came from. That means both sides of my family. Perhaps, I was born that way, with a tremendous sense of wonder. Curiosity always got me, and I am much too hungry to remain clueless about my more secretive father.

Maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s bad. It involves risk which can lead to a boatload of hurt. Where do we come from? What were your parents like? What were your grandparents like? When where they born? When did they die? Do you have any pictures?  Can you go any further than them?  Sometimes, the answers aren’t what you want to hear.  

It’s nice to belong to something, to somebody. It isn’t always possible or realistic to relate to one’s family, I wanted to belong. Not just to my mom’s side did I want to identify—I wanted to fully belong—to both sides.

My mom and dad both had common backgrounds, both coming from poverty and chaos. The fallout from my mother’s unstable father created a similar unease within her childhood home. Yet her family actually seemed like it existed. I knew all of my mother’s seven younger sisters and five younger brothers, as well as all nineteen cousins. We used to visit mom’s parents in Detroit fairly often. My best knowledge of life in this unfamiliar, yet close by, city—my native city—arose through this connection. I heard stories of grandmother’s German immigrant parents and learned of my grandfather’s Polish and Prussian roots, part of his family’s rise from poverty to wealth—to poverty once more.

Born in the latter part of the nineteenth century, my father’s parents were much older than my mom’s. Impoverished Lithuanian immigrants, my dad’s parents surely wanted to be Americans. My grandmother really had to fight to even be on American soil, and my grandfather sought out citizenship and became naturalized. I have likely seen them both, but had no relationship at all. I heard that my dad’s mom came over our house for Thanksgiving dinner—a rare visit—and she died not long after.

My grandfather died the following year, when I was closer to three. Possibly having a primitive, early memory of this man, I am told my dad had him over the house once.  I have a vague recollection of sneaking into the living room, when I was supposed to be in bed, and got a smack on my behind from my dad, crying in protest as I walked past an older man starring at me. But I’ll never know for sure if that is even a real memory.

Since my grandfather was a supporter of the Communist party—a big taboo in those days with the McCarthy era and the Cold War—my dad was mortified and afraid to mention it.  I doubt I’ll ever know much about this grandfather. My father found only one photo of him in his wallet while trying to claim belongings from his flat after the man died. My father eventually gave it to me, and I was shocked by one of the most bizarre photos I ever had seen. In it, my dad’s father was photographed with a woman that my father cannot identify, but the likeness between her and me is so uncanny. I look more like this woman than I do my own mother, but I cannot say if she is even related. My dad knew almost nothing about his father’s family except that he came from a big one back in Lithuania.

Family must have been like foreign word to my father. I can see why. Since boyhood, my dad lived apart from his dad, and they became more strangers than father and son. My dad even admitted that he hardly understood his own father because of his thick, Lithuanian accent. My dad’s background still remains more like shadows in the dim light.  I don’t clearly remember my father’s older brother— out of the two that he had—because I only saw him three or four times. Since my father cut ties with his younger brother, I hadn’t laid eyes on him. Not even a picture was available. When my estranged uncle called on the phone to try to talk to my dad, I would speak to him, instead. One to be sympathetic, I never got why my dad wouldn’t bother with his brother, though the call usually involved asking for money. I was pretty much told that he was a no-good ***, plenty to keep me fairly leery of him. His first wife kicked my uncle out.  Most of his six sons—just as unknown as their father was to me—wanted nothing to do with him. No doubt, the guy was an odd and deeply tormented man, yet we both wanted to meet one day. If I remember one thing he said, that was it, and I agreed. This did seem unlikely, for I didn’t want to stir up the hornet’s nest, not creating more friction than there was.

Years later, that wish came true. One day my dad did get a picture of his brother from the older brother. Much later on—several months after my dad died—I was able to meet this troubled man when he was dying in the hospital and had tubes down his throat. unable to speak to me any more.  

My mom was my source in finding out about my grandmother, but she knew little.  She admits she didn’t know what to say to her mother-in-law, being young and not very savvy when it came to making conversation. What she remembered about my grandmother was that she was very quiet and often stared out from the position of an obscure woman in a room full of people. My mom thought her “spooky”. My mom recalls that my dad said that she smoked down her cigarettes the nub, burning and blackening the tips of her fingers.  She even might have started a small fire in her sister’s waste basket with a burning cigarette.

There is one thing that sticks out that my mother recalls that is sweet. What my grandmother asked my mother shows her humanity: “Do you love my son? “ It shows a woman who has genuine feelings, has desires, and caring. I could see the love that she had for my father when I heard that she brought his boots to school in bad weather, and he was embarrassed by the look of her—rolled down socks and an old fur coat.  I doubt, though, he ever heard the words of “I love you”, as my father did not say these things to his children.

Near the end of his life, when my father was getting dementia, I knew the time was short for us to talk and now was the moment to ask questions. “I know so little about your childhood”, I told him. He said there was nothing worth mentioning, and when I probed him a bit, he told me, “We were the lowest of the low”. It saddens me that the pain was still very much there.

What my parents couldn’t or didn’t tell me, I learned from a few other relatives. I called up my dad’s cousin—who lives in Las Vegas—with plenty of apprehension, never having met her, and not knowing if she’d want to talk with me. Slowly, I sensed her grow from suspicious of my intent to warming up to me a bit. She said she liked my father, but “he could have been nicer to his mother”. This cousin told me that he avoided her a lot, and she felt my grandmother was aware. My dad’s younger brother did, too, I am told. My mom related to me that once when my grandmother would knock on their door back in their flat in Detroit, in their early years of marriage, my dad told her not answer the door to prevent her visit.

If it wasn’t for this cousin’s mother, my grandmother’s sister, as well as two of her daughters, the poor woman would have been quite lonely—though I’m sure loneliness defined her. I am glad they took an extra interest in my grandmother. They would take her out for coffee or have her over.  This sister “felt sorry for her”, the Las Vegas cousin told me.  I’m glad, but she “felt sorry for her? I hope it was more than that.

Considering all what she went through, I am wondering what went through my grandmother’s head. Did this woman ever feel loved? If she did, it must have been like a glass of water in a desert.

Another of my dad’s cousins, from another sister of my grandmother’s, helped me out. Her family stories filled in some gaps, but what she couldn’t tell me records did. The records seemed to prove the stories correct, as some family stories can be more fiction than fact.

I did my own research, as well as get records from others, and finally hired a genealogist. I verified that my grandmother was born in 1892 in a village in Lithuania, not ever knowing the exact date. Loss began early in her life, as her father died of small pox when she was four months old. He was twenty six, and he wasn’t even married a year. Records show this bit of oral history to be almost spot-on.  My parents made a single visit to my grandmother’s youngest sister, and this great aunt told me that my grandmother lost her father at six months old. My dad never knew his real grandfather died, thinking his youngest aunt had a different father. He was surprised to find out that his mother was the one set apart from the others.

So my great grandmother was left a widow with a baby to care for all on her own. This would have been bad for both, so this gr
Grandmother, may you feel the warmth of God's embrace now, and hope you can know that I care and you DO matter.
2.7k · Mar 2015
It Was Murder (nonfiction)
Dorothy A Mar 2015
My cousin told me that I am a good storyteller, but I should write something about me, about real people and a time that I was scared "shitless".  Well, I can only think of one time of a real life shocker that shook up my young world. It's nothing suspenseful. It probably wouldn't win any contests, but it isn't contrived. It's a snippet of the first time that I encountered the raw reality of death.  

What did I know about death at eight years old? Our parakeet, Perky, died. My grandparents dog, Bruno, had to be put to sleep. As a girl, I vaguely recall seeing a dead man in a coffin, and that was at the funeral of my mom's aunt's husband.  This was only an introduction of the temporary world we live in.  

Well, then there was an older couple two doors down from us. They had two grandchildren that used to come and visit them, a sister and brother. When in the neighborhood, they would play with my older brothers.  I cannot even recall their names. I cannot remember what they looked like or what they said.

What  I do remember is the news being on in the living room, and I was eating dinner in the kitchen with my mom and brothers. Suddenly, the faces of that brother and sister were on TV. It was reported that their mentally troubled mother had killed them. I think it was because she was denied custody of them in an ugly divorce.  Doing a little bit of digging in the Michigan death index online, I rediscovered who they were. They were Susan and Richard. They were ten and nine-years-old at the time.  

I surely don't remember plenty of details, as this was in June of 1973. Over forty years ago, it's a much faded memory now.  I only know I did not go to the funeral home. If I did, I am sure I'd be horrified to look upon those children who were robbed of their lives.  Death was no longer just for pets or old people.  It wasn't fair and it didn't discriminate in age. And if it could happen to someone as young as them, it could come knocking on my door.

Perhaps, that was the beginning of my fear of death.
2.7k · Nov 2013
Birds On A Telephone Wire
Dorothy A Nov 2013
Today, is an overcast, sky-filled grey, autumn day. Nevertheless, the colors are still holding out as the leaves are making their last hurrah in the parade of changing their look. Therefore, I was not bothered by the gloomy looking weather. And on my way to the health food store-- high up among the telephone poles--I spotted the sight of three parallel wires full of birds, perched side-by-side. as if connected.

I am not sure what kind of birds they were, but they lined those wires, brown and thick, like ants on a sugar stick. And they must of huddled there for warmth and security, comrades of instinct and survival. Indeed, they surely seemed fine with their electric perches, with no intent on flying off, congregating contentedly.

With too much human expansion, it seems, I surely do wonder and am at awe at the magnificence of nature, this being a small example. Birds, as fragile as they often look--they haven't a thick coat of fur to warm their feathery bodies--do not appear fit for the cold--not for a second. And many fly to the South for winter. But there they were--bird after bird after bird--just hanging out up there, as if their temporary hangout was wired and strung just for them. This surely is a common sight, and is not supposed to be a big deal , but I found it special enough to keep in mind, important enough to return home to later record in word.  It is akin to me witnessing geese flying in a V-shape pattern, or hearing the melodic calling of a bird to a potential mate, of viewing a mother bird feeding her young in the bird house that I have provided outside my door. Or it reminds me of last year, on a snowy night in the Christmas season. when I was amazed by the sound of birds outside of KFC--of a bunch of sparrows that were just chirping away, arranged in a tree like living Christmas ornaments.  I don't ever want to take this stuff for granted, for it becomes easy to do so in the maze of life we often have.

With just this small example, today. I am reminded of how wonderful and majestic this earth truly is. Nature surely is a feast for the eyes, as well as for nourishment for the body. For me, it is medicine for the soul, sanity for the mind, music to the ears, as well as a stimulating journey in awe and beauty in the wildlife, grand landscapes, fragrant flowers and abundant plant life. Who can say otherwise?
Dorothy A Sep 2011
I know why Vincent Van Gogh Cut off his own ear

We are a mad bunch, you see
Poets and painters and playwrights
On the prowl for something to
jump start our perpetual yearnings,
our keen senses and cravings,
on the quest for so much more
than the status quo,
of merely checking off just another day
from our calendars

We are those kinds of people
Who wish to reinvent the world
Often cursing at our failings and insecurites
While obsessively working to shape and sculpt
our view of this planet
To fit our own brand of imagination
To satisfy our starving hopes
and desperate dreams
To foster vivid visions
from the views that are vague  
And to wipe away
The nightmares of old
that cry out in us

We believe in make-believe
We who are misfits to "normalcy"
We rarely seem to fit into
The "real world"
Yet we know that this world is
Pure insanity
Stark madness
Sheer perplexion
Yet we are the ones
suffering for the sake
of our art
Often misunderstood
Many times branded as "weirdos"

I can understand the pain
Of not getting my art right
Of not seeing its worth
Because someone sniffed at it
Or scoffed at it
Or blindly passed it by
Many times, we want to break through
And join the world of our works of art
But we can't
We're stuck in the middle of its beauty
And nothingness

Yes
I know why Vincent Van Gogh cut off his own ear
2.4k · Nov 2010
Days of Autumn Trees
Dorothy A Nov 2010
Like noble, wooden soldiers
Are the lovely autumn trees
How I love those autumn trees!
How I love their brilliant leaves!

Not able to walk,
Not able to talk,
But those Autumn trees
Stand there,
Stoically,
Silently,
And they speak
And move just the same
I can hear their tale
In my heart,
In my soul,
For there within rings the message of
Rennaissance and renewal

They are rooted in place
Like guards of the land
Their grand colors,
As Autumn showers
Of fiery rain,
Yet harmless and peaceful
As the leaves descend
To the ground for their final destination
The earth now becomes
A patchwork quilt
From the release of Fall foliage

They truly are like royalty,
Adorned in fine fitting robes
That have been splashed with
Nature's paintbrush of  
Gold, scarlett and blazing orange,
A kaleidoscope of stylish colors
A dazzling tapestry to behold!

But they must now shed
Their Fall finery
In an ancient tradition
The cycle of the seasons
They've endured throughout the ages

Their leaves become as
Paper to the wind
Yet they shall not suffer loss,
For soon they shall be
Blanketed in glorious white,
Like a luxurious fur
To clothe them once again
In Winter's fashion

To endure all that the weather
Has to throw at them
The tempests, the droughts--
We humans can glean
The seeds of the wellspring of life
Harvested from these trees
These days of Autumn's reign,
That have reaped the seasons of growth
From Spring and Summer

Autumn helps to instruct me
To keep my eye out on the horizon,
Watching and waiting
For life has not adandoned us in this season
But will return to us all in Spring,
On that you can fully rely upon

The nature of the trees--
Harboring birds,
And other creatures,
Sheltering the land,
Is one of kindness
I never tire of their beauty,
Their majestic branches
That spread out in
Growing abundance,
Bearing life-sustaining fruit

After all their leaves
Have finally left them
They stand there,
Now naked and eerily haunting,
Like upside-down brooms
sweeping the endless skies
And we mortals, in turn,
Sweep and rake away
The remnants of their Fall spectacle
From the layering of the land

The children realize the Autumn gift
As their playful hearts gather up
The leaves to freely jump into
The cushioning piles,
Into the mounds of fading colors


Why do I love Fall so much?
With all those dark, cloudy days?
With the sun becoming scarce?

I love Fall so much
Because it reminds me of hope,
Of what will eventually grow once more,
Not just of the obvious loss of green leaves
I see the fragility of life,
And the strength of it, too,
As the leaves descend to the ground
Shrivel up into brown decay
And crunch beneath our feet

No, Fall is only a temporary moment
Of nature readying itself for slumber
It must make way for Winter
The grandfather of the year to come,
To replace these days of Autmn trees...
Where nothing can ever grow,
Where the land is now barren,
Where the ice and snow take over,
And survival is never taken for granted

But Winter shall make way for Spring,
Where the cold, hard, lifeless ground
Warms up to nurture the tender seeds
Of flowers that have withered and died
For it is a time for another chance
The land awakening to embrace life again

Without such seasons of life how do we
Dream of brand new beginnings?
We clearly see that life must succeed death
Nature is surely our teacher
If only we look for its lessons
2.4k · Nov 2012
Underrated Writer
Dorothy A Nov 2012
That could describe you
That could describe me
Those of us of obscurity
Who do not have a name to back us up

Not an Ernest Hemmingway
Not a James Joyce
Not a Maya Angelou
Just a continual scribbler of some thoughts

Only are we considered underrated
Because we're not well-known
But that doesn't mean
We can't give the best of them a run for their money
Dorothy A Jan 2014
It's the Grim Reaper
It's the Boogie Man
It's the wolf in the closet
It's the monster under the bed
It's the phantom that's chasing you in your dreams
It's the madman who dances delightfully in your brain matter
It's the poison in your coffee
Paralyzing
Petrifying and penetrating
A flesh eating
Bone chomping
Soul *******
Grave robbing Ghoul
Right within the halls of your head
Grotesque and greedy, it is
Gloom everywhere
An anxiety production line
Breeding anguish
Bleeding you out
Windpipe choking
Werewolf watching
Witches brewing
It's dreadful and dooming
It's horror at every corner
It's a newspaper dripping in disaster
It's a future forecasting fatalities
Your obituary in every new edition

BUT IT'S NOT REAL
Dorothy A Mar 2017
It’s a horrible feeling when you belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to you. When you don’t matter to a single soul—there is no worse feeling in the world. That feeling nagged Clem throughout much of his life. He used to walk around, wounded and broken inside. Though what he felt inside may never have shown on his tough armor that he wore in public, Clem often felt his life pretty much meant nothing. So how did he ever get to where he was today? How did he get to be so blessed? It amazed him.

Born in 1917, Clem Manning never thought he’d ever make it to one hundred years old, yet here he was. Today was his special day, though he didn’t want any fuss over it all. But he was living with his daughter, Violet, for the past few years, and she wouldn’t have it any other way but to put together a celebration to remember. With a houseful of people, some inside, some in the backyard, and some on the front porch, Clem could say that he no longer felt that he belonged to nobody and nobody belonged to him. It was a beautiful Arizona day, and the distant mountains were ablaze in a fiery purple.  It was a day made for birthdays.  

Seeing one make it to one hundred was rare and amazing sight to witness. To make it this long meant you beat the odds.  Most of all, it was amazing to good, old Clem, himself. His parents died young, long before he could remember them. If others in his family lived longer, he never would have known. The only kin he knew of was his aunt and her husband. They may have taken him in, but he certainly never felt wanted. Both of them slapped him around, punished him by locking him in closets, and prevented him from eating meals when he was bad. They also neglected his needs of decent clothing and a good bed. He had a beat up mattress on the floor or nothing but the hard floor, itself, when he was being punished.  Thankfully, somehow someone intervened, and he ended up in a boy’s home. That place wasn’t a whole lot better when it came to dodging a hard hand, but he was kept clean and with a full belly.

Clem ran away when he was fifteen from that place, and that was in the throes of the Depression. From there on, he fended for himself. His days of experiencing hunger from living at his aunt’s house helped him to be street smart. The petty thievery he learned to master—just to manage to stay alive—continued on beyond childhood.  Like many men, down on their luck and traveling the country, he rode the rails illegally. Just how did Clem survive to be so old, anyway? In his hobo days, he’s been shot at, chased by police, and bitten by dogs. He also almost drowned once in a rapid river, and had a bout with double pneumonia that made him downright delusional and on Death’s door.  

But when the second world war came about, life became easier for Clem. He found his sweetheart, Bess, married her and settled down out west. He wanted to fight in the war, but a hernia disqualified him from joining. His life was surely spared then, for many of his friends were drafted in the army, went overseas, but never made it back alive.    

It sure has been one heck of a life. Resting in his easy chair, he was thankful he still had his wits about him—had a sound noggin—and that he could see and hear still alright—with the help of coke bottle glasses and a hearing aid. Everything that surrounded him was a grand sight to look at, knowing that he helped to create all this hustle and bustle of people in his presence, those here simply to honor him.

He and Bess had three of their own children, Hank, Violet and Daisy, and they also adopted two more, Ted and Sam. It was during those days in the home for boys that Clem saw some of the luckier ones go to good families, selected by potential parents that could give them the secure homes they desperately wanted.  Clem was never picked but picked over. Because he never got that chance, he swore he’d help out those just like him, ones who felt unwanted or ignored, ones that belonged to nobody and nobody belonged to them. He did just that very thing and strove to become the best dad he could possibly be. This was a learning experience for him, and his mistakes were his teachers. Nobody showed him how to be a father, but Bess was his rock and his ally. How he longed to be with her, again.

Clem outlived all of his friends. He lost his sweet Bess fourteen years ago, and buried one of his children—his beloved firstborn child, and it wasn't easy to bury Hank. It should have been the other way around.. There were now thirteen grandchildren, and he never did remember how many great grandchildren that there were, but they were all here now. It was a miracle to have everyone under one roof, as there was family scattered all across the country. He smiled to himself as he thought about how everyone took the time out of their busy lives just for one, old geezer.  

“You better matter to someone right now”, Clem once told a good friend, “Cuz one day you’ll be long gone, and you’ll be lucky if anyone knows your name. It doesn’t matter if you are loved by one hundred people—or one person. That’s how I see it, anyways”.  

With his wife’s relations, and his children and their families, Clem knew the family tree had plenty of branches on it. His life did matter in this world. One of his grandchildren, Amber, mapped a tree out, and she made it all seem so spectacular, and put together like a royal family’s would be. Sketched around the details was a tree done in colored pencil—vivid greens and browns that were eye catching to even a old man with weak eyes—and today it was on display for everyone to inspect and talk about.  

Clem knew very well that his days were waning, that soon he’d just be a memory in the minds of his children and his grandchildren—probably not his great grandchildren who would barely remember him, if at all. Someday, he’d just be a name in the family records of that famous family tree. Like he said to his friend, his name would barely matter to anyone some day. He was simply Clem Manning, a guy who got a break in life and dodged disaster. Maybe only the good did die young, or perhaps he was just too stubborn to die.

But this wasn’t a day for having a sourpuss or for dwelling on the hard things. This was a day to remember for everyone, more than just a birthday for a lucky, old guy that beat the odds. Clem couldn’t eat much of the food made for his birthday feast—too rich or not appealing to his declining appetite—but he promised to have a nice sized slice of cake. It was red velvet with cream cheese frosting, his favorite.

Happy Birthday to you…happy birthday to you…happy birthday, dear Cle-em

Da-ad

Grand-pa

Happy Birthday to you!

There was lots of applause, cell phones out and cameras snapping for picture taking, as Clem tried to blow out the three candles—1-0-0. Thankfully, he had a bit of help from the little ones up close, for Clem wanted to still show nothing was going to beat him, especially three, little, measly candles. But those weren’t just measly candles. They represented so much of who he was.

He still couldn’t believe he made it to see this day. How on earth did he pull it off, anyway?
2.2k · Dec 2010
Diamond in the Rough
Dorothy A Dec 2010
Excuse me if my edges are a bit jagged
If they cut and scrape you, I am sorry
I really didin't mean it, you know

You might think I'm an eyesore
Not worth all that much or very useful
But I fooled you, didn't I?

For I'm simply a chunk of coal,
Seemingly dark, rough and lumpy
But you know what happens to coal, don't you?

It takes a heck of a lot of pressure
And it sure takes quite a while
But in the end it is a diamond, clear as crystal

Its many facets shine up in illumination
A valuable, precious gem to behold
As many of us are refined to become
2.1k · Sep 2010
Forgiveness
Dorothy A Sep 2010
It is often the
most difficult task,
to forgive
Could you agree?

I am not very good
at it, I will admit
When all you want
is to get even
or to make the other(s)
hurt just as badly
as they hurt you...
that fuels the grudge

What is forgiveness?
Is it letting someone
off the hook?
Is forgivness
simply forgetting?
Is it saying the wrong
perpetrated upon us
is now OK?
That it really did not
hurt or offend us after all?

No, it is so much more
Forgiveness is not an act
of the emotions,
for they seem unable
to ever come to reason
and they often betray us

It is an act of the will,
a release not just for the other
but for ourselves
from the prison of
resentment and anger

Do we need to hear
an apology
to forgive?
No

Do we need to make sure
the other or others
receive justice?
No

What we need is to make that choice
To forgive even if we don't feel like it
To wait till we "feel like it" is a lie
It is like holding on to a poison that
only destroys ourselves
and not the ones we intended
for it to torment

Forgiveness doesn't mean
we now have amnesia
about the wrong
inflicted upon us
It just means
all resentment
and bitterness
no longer have us in
a vice-like grip

And if we refuse to forgive one
who is begging us for it
that person is stuck in a *******, too
Sometimes, we find it is us
that is in need of forgiveness
and sometimes it is
that very thing
that we need to
extend to ourselves  
so we can enjoy
being in our own skin

I am nobody to instruct another
about how to forgive
I am writing this partly for myself
It is one of the hardest things
for me,
to forgive
But when I am on the receiving end
it feels so beautiful and so freeing

To err is truly human
And to forgive is truly divine
It is not of our human nature
to simply forgive
but is a gift from God above
Even under the worst
of cruel situations
true forgiveness is possible
Dorothy A Mar 2015
I've got two pieces of wood and a few nails

You've got millions?
You've got gold?
You've got silver?
You've got diamonds?
You've got rubies?

I've just got two pieces of wood and a few nails
I've got what appears to be almost worthless
Pretty much a joke!

Two pieces of wood and a few nails..

You can't build me a house with it
You can't build me a ship with it
You can't build me bridge with it
You can't build me a car with it

What good is it?

Well, not so fast...

It's amazing what two pieces of old wood can do
Cross them together
Place a Man of sorrows upon it
And insert nails
For all the world to see
An ultimate act of love
For mankind

Two pieces of wood and a few nails....

Now I see their worth
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