Category Archives: memoir

A Peony For My Mother

There are things that you’ll remember in the oddest of times; remarkably some extremely trivial, after someone close to you has gone on.
Time pulls your heartstrings out of it and untangles the ribbons that once held your heart so interwoven with another.

Finally, you can breathe again and be filled up with just the simple memories. You now can look at a photo and see that your loved one was smiling and enjoying some momentary happiness. This doesn’t lessen the longing or the missing, just maybe the tears.

I choose to retell a time in the summer of 1980, it’s hot and early June, I came to visit my mom. I moved out in 1979 because I thought that this was some kind of requirement as I wasn’t in college. In this era, if you weren’t backward thinking, you weren’t thinking. It was fun visiting my mom back then, we always had a very rich engaging conversation and I loved our visits.

Looking out onto the “screen porch”, which is what we called our four season room that my father single-handedly built, and don’t you forget it, the table was set with a jug of sun tea, glasses, and a small cake. I smiled as I looked down on it seeing the old chewed on Tupperware glasses, grandma Nona “Banna” old plates, the old flocked tablecloth that had been washed so many times the print was coming off in some places! Last but not least, was the ashtray overflowing with spent butts and perhaps a nighttime deck soiree.

There it is, I think now, a true snapshot of times ago.

Anyway, I called out for my mom, she responded that she was outback. I found her on her knees weeding her flower beds. She and my father were extremely prideful on how manicured their home was. They had a glorious garden reaping with a bountiful harvest as well as these prizewinning favorite flowers; pink peonies, and yellow roses.
I joined my mother sitting in the grass and began plucking weeds by hand, following her lead. We talked about the nice weather and then on to the flowers. She began to tell me how the bees were attracted to the beautiful show the flowers were putting on. She went on to say that her observation of the bees was that even they would compete to land on the flower. We began to get sunburned as we chatted about the flowers, we decided to go get our tea.

Mom began tea with a freshly lit cigarette and of course, I smoked then too. We went on at least another hour with jokes and conversation.

On my way home in the car, I realized that my mother was talking about me the entire time. So I broke up with my boyfriend and put on a bra! I planted a pink peony bush in my yard to honor her because nothing has ever been the same since.

A true snapshot of times ago for me means a peony for my mother and memories that just maybe provoke more smiles than tears.

Happy Mother’s Day.2018-05-14 13.00.16

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Of Faces and Places In the Heart

My favorite past time of all is people watching. I have always been intrigued by people and their facial reactions, how they walk and talk and carry themselves.  I simply enjoy watching people.

Everyone, I mean everyone, has attributes that are lovely.  I find them. Sometimes, it’s their beautiful hair, their smile, it may be their whole package; how they are wrapped before us, the world, as they pass by us in a single millisecond of time.

There are times and places that we find along our travels where things rest peacefully in our hearts, simply waiting for that someday when they’ll jump right out of our chests and into the world for all to see. To be then on the witnessing end firsthand is to be graced by something I think very special.

Here then standing at an arrival gate in an international airport, I find such special things. Here, people watchers such as myself, rejoice. So much to see, there are so many lives walking by intersecting, touching, not physically; perhaps metaphysically. There are so many differences that they become the same or similar and at least commonalities.

Here, right here in this airport are many hearts slowly leaking, seeping, jumping and leaping out of their chests! We are unlike faces, we are unlike languages but we are alike in smiles and heartfelt touches of humanity.

Hearts that are seen leaping happen in the recognition of one’s family, distant relatives, and long -time friends. Each person filing off flights with hugs awaiting them burst as happiness fills their faces. It is uncanny how suddenly all of those unlike faces become more alike than ever and how this is so immediate. Eyes finding eyes and smiles finding smiles, filling full the faces of the tired and weary, the young and tiny, the ensconced elder in the wheelchair, the saddened, even if just briefly, smiling with their hearts leaping!

Some will receive balloons, flowers, and hugs. There are the lovelorn whose hugs are tight and lips are locked, with tears of joy leaping with their hearts. Those full-kisses have the power of missed weeks, months or even years to be immediately wiped away with new lives started or restarted and love rekindled or just started.

Let it be known, that in this place I stand, all those attributes we all have that I have witnessed firsthand, that they meld into each other and that the lovely I found before still exists only now as my own daughter comes out the arrival door and we see each other’s eyes, I can only hope that someone just witnessed a millisecond of my life as my heart leaps from my chest!

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a ConversationalTone!

Road Trippin…..

Road Trippin

 

There’s the rumble of the tires on the asphalt road, the wind blowing across the car with deafening sound and sweaty hair stuck to faces, as kids in the back seat ask, “When are we going to get there?”

There’s a stop for gas and a Polaroid camera, the station with a general store attached to it has salt water taffy and I am happy; all the flavors are my favorites! The man came out and began to fill my dad’s car up with gas and he washed the bugs off the windshield too! He and my dad chatted as the man pointed here and there as they were both looking at the atlas.

My mom sprayed her hair with hairspray and went back to reading her romance paperback. I don’t know why she keeps doing that we’re all choking back here! Also my mother thinks we can’t read too, it’s a book about kissing I am sure of it!

My brothers argue and wrestle, but me, I just peered out into the sky above me. I’m watching the clouds; they somehow look different out here. I suppose being out in the middle of nowhere means there just might be a little more sky!

I see there is way more room to play, but it doesn’t look like there are any kids around, just miles of corn and behind that  miles more of corn!  By the time my dad has gotten back into the car, I have already spotted an entire zoo worth of animals in those clouds, and I can even swear I see my grandmother’s face there too!

Time to go back onto the humming road now and count the thwamps and rumbles on the different pavements and undoubtedly I will fall fast asleep and miss the Native Americans on the plains that I think I might see.  I will also miss the license plate game my mom will play or 50 guesses question game, but who cares I’ll have my dreams of being a prairie girl like in my story books.

I’ll dream of what could be in the next town and the town after that!  And from this day on I will always have a sense of wonder, of what that next town will bring, more flavors of taffy pulled; I hope, or maybe just maybe, how many more miles of unfound zoo animals or grandmothers faces will be in the sky above me.

Dunes Beach Party

 

Oh how I remember those fun times so fondly, where teenage hanging out reigned supreme!

Summer was always so short (i.e. having fun), so gather your friends and get it together! Parties, bonfires in the woods and of course beach party flings were filling the calendar quickly and soon I’d be a senior in high school. There wasn’t a minute to waste, no not thinking about even making future plans like college or classes to take, but I mean getting to the mall (yes even back then there was one)!  There were new bikinis to buy and lip gloss and records (yes I’m that old, also shut up!) and possible concert tickets! Oh those were the days when the minimum wage was low and stuff cost less and I was skinny enough to make a halter out of knotted together bandanas and shoes were always optional!

Within two days of the last day of school car loads of teens made mass exoduses out of their respective subdivisions and out into the wanderlust of their souls. The forest preserves back then were filled with excellent music blasting and super championships of Frisbee, and if one wanted to, there was a guy in a van that would give you an excellent tattoo! How innocent were those that actually did that kind of stuff (no, I didn’t) but actually one never heard of blood borne diseases just yet. Nor did anyone actually die of such an adventure, that we were aware.

So the Frisbees flew and the days were long and the music was as hot as the pavement and it was all good. Especially if one could pack in at least six friends at one time into your car or jeep or special guy’s muscle car and cruise anywhere!  There were nice beaches along Chicago’s lakefront, but the older one got the further from home we wanted to go.

So, the Dunes of Indiana or Michigan called our names. Plans were made, cars were loaded with Styrofoam coolers of Pepsi and bags of Lays chips and with Coppertone oil and chewing gum, sunglasses, cigarettes, transistor radio and towels were filled. As our parents waved a quick goodbye, a virtual parade of cars gather at the station to fill the tanks with gas and on the road we went!  Our heads and arms hanging out open windows, bare feet on dashboards and smiles from ear to ear. The parade proceeded following the one and only guy who knew how to get there! (No google maps people…just handwritten directions or yes an atlas/map was used). The car I was in had one because my dad threw it at me before I left; dad telling me to “give it to the guy driving” because you will get lost!

We arrive! Fabulous expanse of beach lay before us, the weather was hot, we scoped our spots and laid down our blankets as far from people as we could. We nicknamed our spot Camp Beach!  We had the best time, all of use sunburnt tan lines and happiness tired; the girls decide to go to find the beach house to use the washroom. When we came out with freshly rinsed feet (shower was free) we headed back to our blanket camp. Dunes contain ups and downs and they sometimes go for miles and miles but your feet were baby smooth (no pedicures needed the sand provided them) we four were nearly back when we realized we were being followed by four guys we did not know! When we approached our blankets, the followers tried to talk to us and we expressed that we were taken by these guys here, they said oh ok. But they proceeded to park themselves right next to us! Well yes, you guessed it a horrible fight ensued and punches in our honor were thrown. A melee of sand was tossed and naturally a park ranger happened by, all was ended and everyone went their separate ways. We had enough of sun and fun and packed up Camp Beach. As we did this the boys were getting in their respective cars to drive and asked me for their wallets (the boys put their wallets into my beach bag for safe keeping so they didn’t lose them or get them wet)!! But when I reached into the bag, they were all gone! Every single wallet was stolen by those creepy guys! It was the worst ending a beautiful day could have. Not one of us ever recovered any of our wallet contents and lessons were learned that day!

We all could not wait to get home, and now with sunburn all I wanted was my mommy! So much for growing up!

Merry-Go-Round Memories

Merry-Go-Round Memories

 

Memories; lifetimes should be filled with them. Memories should make us giggle with delight

like when recalling your 12 year old self at the carnival. Do you rememeber the pure

enchantment you felt as you now spot the carnival in the distance? You see the lights and your

heart leapt!

Giddiness begins to happen, as you approach closer still, and now the music is softly sounds,

there are thrill screams from rickety roller coasters, and throngs of people sounds closer, closer

still and then there’s whistle of the man directing you to a pay booth with policeman’s flashlight

that causes us to jump and giggle again, as your parents follow the car packed with as many

children as will fit in it, in front of you while my two brothers and I sit quietly and smile feeling

extremely lucky to have arrived at this wonderland. My mom and dad share passing smiles

together that they were happy of their surprise vacation choice. We enter and the world warps

into a fantasy. The smells of a carnival are fabulous, the lights off the noisy rides and then there

are elephant ears dusted with white sugar, cotton candy a mile high, and corn dogs on a stick.

There were ropes of licorice in red and black….oh I want one of everything I see! There, I want

to ride the merry-go-round, I want to jump on a unicorn horse; but no I take the brown one with

the tongue sticking out weirdly. My brother is two ahead of me smiling with glee he is on a black

stallion, my younger brother is beside me and he is on a tiny white pony with blue eyes and he is

afraid.

My parents station themselves standing between us children, my dad a hand on my brother and

my mom between myself and my little brother, her hand on each horse. We begin, the music is

bellowing, the operator gives us a few rules, now spinning quite quickly, my sweaty hair is

in the breeze. My brother ahead of me thinks we are racing; he is slapping the red strap like

a rein and is smiling and laughing gratuitously. I glance at my baby brother next to me and my

mom is now holding him entirely as the pony pumps up and down. I look above me and I now

realize that my horse is just a stationary one. Just a horse on a pole and now I no longer am

smiling somehow I feel I’m having a less than experience. I want to get off of that goofy horse

anyway! I am dizzy, my baby brother is crying and my other brother is smiling crazily asking to

do it again when we exit the merry-go-round. Secretly, I hated it. But, do you remember how

much you wanted that damned stuff bear? It was deemed the top prize on the runway that year.

Every time I looked up some adorable little girl was sweetly hugging one, except I knew I was

not ever going to be one of them. (father thought games were a waste of money)

 

That night continued, and our little family trudged forward into Never NeverLand, finding a fun

house with fabulous goofy mirrors and hard to walk up floors (they were tilted), but I got scared

because of the freaky clown standing next to the funhouse; he looked directly at me and asked,

“did you have fun little girl?” ugh really? Dad bought us cotton candy and I forgot that freak for

second. We rode all the tiny rides because of my little brother and my parents

hated rollercoasters; that made me happy though. I love a little train and I rode a car that looked

like a ladybug! Back then no one cared if you were 12, they saw you were having fun, they left it

alone. Well, it was getting late and we were getting ready to go home, we were getting crabbie.

By the time we got to the car, my little brother was already asleep on my dad’s shoulder. Both

my other brother and myself were asleep before we left that parking lot.

That night our merry-go-round dreams turned into magical memories, stuffed bear or no; I thank

you mom and dad.