Category Archives: Family

Shards

Broken crystal shattered across the floor
prisms of light blinking out – forever gone.
as darkness slips over the furniture,
refracted glitter –
so lie the pieces of my heart.

As a child, night terrors were sent scurrying
by the broad sweep of my father’s arms –
bringing back the crystal sheen of safety and warmth,
his finger gently wiping away tear’s glistening on my cheeks,
letting me know there was one person in that terrifying world
who could send monsters scurrying away from beneath the bed.

Here, an orphan of middle-age extraction,
with no Daddy to wipe my tears
I stand helpless, my fumbling fingers quivering
as I stumble upon shards of glass
raggedly thrusting into my darkness
as I look for answers to age-old questions.

Not able to strike a flint
to illuminate the deep chasm of midnight’s void,
or encourage the wisp of a kerosene flame
to thrust back the clammy darkness
of a cavern’s awesome void,
that echoes in the
space of my childhood heart.

I lost the flare –
I can move through the motions well enough,
but, my feet torn jagged
from slivers unseen in the dark,
my child staring with eyes that can’t see –
sharp edges, piercing through the deep,
to stab the tender spaces of my soul.

 

The Creature Cometh

Some people come into your life in attack mode, like a storm trooper or a terrorist.  Perhaps it is unfair for me to hold that analogy when speaking of him, but my brother Wayne was one of those people.  Devious, amoral, likable and unlikable at the same time, he assaulted our lives in ways we were never prepared for.  From the time he first joined our family, he had a shit-eating grin that would drive me absolutely crazy every time I saw it.  He was adopted when he was seven and I was ten.

I remember sitting at the breakfast table eating cereal.  My sisters and I were huddled around the table, slumped over our oatmeal when my parents came into the room and asked us if we would like a brother.  Paying more attention to our bowls than to them, we droned, “yeah, yeah, sure”.  It was the sum total of a family discussion about such an important issue.  My sisters were far more accepting of this stranger than I.

The hidden agenda of my parent’s game plan (I’m not even sure they voiced it to themselves) was that he was supposed to be the son my father never had.  It was only voiced to me once, right in the beginning.  It was a sorry proposition from the start.  Not that Wayne wasn’t sweet – he certainly was – but that boy could lie like no tomorrow, looking you straight in the eye and smiling.  He would hold a broken vase in his hand and say it was whole and nothing had happened.  You can’t really blame him.  His life was torn apart at a very young age.  His parents were driving one night and the car crashed, killing both of them and her unborn child.  There were twelve siblings and they were shuttled from relative to relative until all of them ended up under their uncle’s roof.  Seven girls slept in one room and the five boys were in another.  Kids were exploding out the walls.  Even my ten-year-old mind cringed when I saw that crowded bungalow with mattresses everywhere and a bare, postage size yard with no toys to play with.

His uncle was a member of my father’s congregation (Dad was a minister).  He was a good man but overwhelmed with the responsibilities of all those children.  Members of the parish talked it over and decided to adopt some of the children.  One brother went to a politician in Washington’s family; a sister to a loving family nearby.  The oldest was almost of legal age so he stayed with the uncle as did the youngest boy.  The older boy ended up in prison, perhaps Wayne was more like him than not.  The rest found homes all over the tri-state area.  To the extent it was possible, the siblings were kept in touch with each other.  The siblings lost regular touch with the oldest once he hit seventeen.

But Wayne . . . he was totally unique.  He hit our family like a tsunami; we literally didn’t know what walloped us.  As the years went by and the incidents heaped one on top of the other, we would shake our heads in disbelief.  As adults, when someone asked us about our brother those unspoken glances would slide between us.  One of us would begin, “Do you remember when . . .” and as the incredulity grew on that person’s face, our Paul Bunyan-like tall tales would flow out.  The sad part was that all the stories were true.  Sometimes we would laugh so hard tears would roll down our cheeks.  But at the time, when we were going through it, those times were anything but funny.

Mom told me once about when Dad decided to proudly take his new son fishing.  Dad put his fishing hat on and bought a new rod for Wayne.  Mom packed a lunch . . . a thermos of cocoa, one of coffee, sandwiches, and fruit for dessert.  She stood at the boat launch and waved from shore as she watched the skiff row out . . . and then watched as it turned around and came back to shore.  Wayne had wet his pants.  Dad never took him fishing again.  I think he began to give up on Wayne from that day on.  They always had a tenuous, strained relationship.  Sometimes Dad’s frustration would leak out when Wayne pulled a stunt, but Mom gave him everything she could.

When he had been us for a few months, he was hit by a car in front of our house.  Because adoption formalities had not been completed yet, we had to go to court to determine if we were a fit family.  (Hmmm….  They may have had something there.)  It wasn’t that we weren’t fit so much as we were at completely opposite ends of the spectrum in social, behavioral and cultural preferences.  The linkage connecting Wayne to us was often frayed, tattered almost beyond recognition.  My father and I seemed most frustrated with him whereas my sisters enjoyed being with and playing with Wayne, he was their brother, plain and simple.  But those determinations were eventualities and not pertinent to the court processing on that day.  We were cleared, something I questioned at times in later years.  We were, by no means, at fault, but looking back I think Wayne would have been happier in a different family.

Wayne had bladder issues.  Seriously.  He was a bed wetter for years after he came to us and while it certainly wasn’t his fault, it made for a set of challenges none of the rest of us had dealt with.  It wore my parents down.  Every time we went anywhere in the car they would ask him if he needed to go to the bathroom.  Of course, he would say no.  But 10-15 minutes later, halfway between a couple of exits, he would have to go NOW.  So we would have to pull over and let him run into the bushes.  Every time.  Or else.  And this would continue again and again throughout any trip over a half hour.

I just could not get up in the morning.  Now, to be fair, my Dad and I were not morning people either but this was something completely different, alien.  My parents would call for breakfast and he’d sleep through it.  They would enter his room and remove his covers – nothing.  They would drag him out of bed – still nothing.  Many times they would have to resort to throwing water on him and even then if he didn’t want to wake up, he didn’t.  Once his feet were moving, they did so at a beat far slower than the rest of humankind.  If there were chores to be done, they were not done by him.

Then there was his room.  I know, I know, boys have different smells than girls, but this was farcical.  Showers had to be forced on him.  His room carried a lingering stench, even when all dirty clothes and sheets had been removed.  Broken toys were strewn every which way.  A couple of tattered posters hung crooked on the walls.  No care was taken for his or others’ possessions.  One time he took some of my favorite records and left them in the hot sun where they baked in rippled, warped ruin.  I missed Cat Stevens “Tea for the Tillerman” and when I tracked down where it was, I was furious at its damage.  That may not seem like a big deal but we were a Minister’s family and Ministers do not earn much money.  It was not going to be replaced.  Fungus covered dirty dishes were pushed under the bed.  Wayne never threw out the garbage.  When his door was closed, you could almost see the malodorous vapors curling out through the cracks.  His room had a personality of its own.  It was corrosive, blinding, mind-numbing – offensive had a whole new definition.

Wayne loved to take things apart.  The problem was he didn’t know how to put them back together, and my father wasn’t mechanical, so they were never put back together.  My mother began buying appliances at thrift stores and yard sales for him to work on to his heart’s content.  The problem came when he thought he was an expert and still moved on to the household machinery.  One time he took apart the washing machine – it made Mom really happy.

There were times when my parents had to have thought he was possessed by the devil.  He did so many destructive, crazy things – ones that didn’t make any sense at all.  In the summer, our family went to our summer cabin in upstate New York for the entire summer.  Dad would come during his two weeks off which meant Mom was alone with us and given no respite.  Wayne was like a Brillo pad rubbing on her nerves.  So when he did something completely idiotic, she would send him out to the garden to remove rocks.  See the thing about New York and New England is that when God created North America, he stood in the west, lifted up the continent, and let all the rocks roll down into the Northeast, so Wayne had his work cut out for him.  But the result was a great set of biceps and still no understanding of right and wrong.

My parents went to Europe for a second honeymoon when I was a sophomore in high school.  During their three-week absence, Wayne decided he didn’t want to have to get out of bed to throw out leftover food he was eating so he did the only thing that made sense.  He knocked a foot wide hole in the wall next to the bed so he could drop leftovers down and save himself the effort of movement.  My parents knew something was up when they returned and Wayne had rearranged his room.  His hole made sense in a Wayne kind of way.

We were a family of swimmers . . . a throwback to our Norwegian heritage.  Wayne, of German extraction, hated water . . . to bathe in, to swim in, and to horse around in.  The only way Wayne liked his water was to cook his pasta.    He would stand at the edge of the swimming hole, shivering uncontrollably, in fear more than in cold.  He never learned to swim beyond the doggie-paddle.  Dad was a firm believer that we know our way around the water.  He must have tried a thousand times to help Wayne dive.  Finally, his patience in short supply, he held Wayne over the water by his ankles and then let go.  It might have been a crude method of instruction but after a few times, Wayne finally became able to enter water head first.

My Dad simply could not understand Wayne.  He tried.  He wanted to love this boy but couldn’t quite make himself.  I understood.  I felt much the same.  He defied comprehension.  His ways obliterated thoughtful kindness.  Every time you would try to give him the benefit of the doubt you would learn, real fast, how wrong it was to do so.  My father’s frustration would seep into his handling of Wayne’s discipline, I think he hated himself for that – it showed his humanity in ways he wasn’t prepared for and couldn’t forgive himself for either.

I used to get so angry at Wayne . . . as the eldest, I carried the greatest measure of responsibility.  At a young age, I was babysitting my siblings.  Mom would leave to do errands and give us a list of chores.  I would send them outside to play or stick them in front of the T.V. and do all the chores; it was the only way to get them completed.  When they began messing up the house right away, before mom had even come home, I went nuts.  Wayne would look at me with this impassive, mocking, careless stare of his and my blood would boil.

I was stepping in for my parents while they went on vacation for a week.  Wayne sneaked out with the car, driving it over 100 miles an hour.  The car was the only family vehicle and necessary for my parent’s business.  I can only state that I went temporarily insane.  I was sweeping the floor when he came in and when I started yelling. I smacked him on the arm with the broom.  All those years of moving rocks paid off.  The broom snapped in half – he didn’t even sport a bruise.

Wayne joined the Army when he was seventeen.  My parents thought the discipline would be good for him.  Actually, they hoped the Army could succeed where they had not.  What they didn’t bargain on was for the Army to fail just as much as they had.  His grades in school were atrocious and he refused to put any work into studying.  The Army assured them Wayne would get his GED through them. A couple of months after Wayne enlisted, his Sergeant called my Mom for help in how to get him up in the morning.  They tried water, blowing bugles in his ear, dropping him, not giving him blankets, giving him extra chores but nothing worked.  The sergeant had never encountered someone like my brother.

Wayne was assigned to the garage.  Here Wayne would disappear during his shift where they couldn’t find him.  He went in the back; curled up in the huge truck tires and slept the day away.  The Army psychiatrist did an evaluation and determined Wayne was a sociopath.  Once they realized they had an unfixable incorrigible in their midst, he was discharged.

The Army left its imprint though.  Life among all those men made him look at circumstances differently.  He came home realizing his sisters were not blood relatives.  As such, he had no problem drilling holes in the walls of the shower, bathroom, and their bedrooms to have a peek whenever he chose.  He considered them sisters when convenient, but not when it came to sexual titillations.  Even when we discovered what he had been doing, he didn’t understand he was doing anything wrong.

Once Wayne found an old television and thought he had struck gold.  His room was on the top floor.  It still carried the fragrances of old.  Clothes were strewn everywhere.  He had broken most of his furniture, so his room was otherwise quite empty save for a mattress and box-spring, a beat-up, cheap boom-box, and a small table.  The television needed better reception so, logically, he knocked a hole in the ceiling drywall and ran hanger wires up through the hole.  You think it worked?  My parents flipped when they saw it – all the wiring already up there could have been compromised.  There could easily have been a fire.

Mom had a keen business sense.  She made astute real estate decisions.  After years of seeing Wayne destroy one thing after another, she decided to purchase him a small home which would act as his inheritance.  (It also served as a way to get Wayne out of the house and on his own) The house was fully paid for and taxes for the site were low.  However, he did not pay the taxes ever.  When he lost the house, it was a simple back tax problem.  He also had a flair for decorating.  For instance, the kitchen and the dining room were separate rooms.  Wayne wasn’t happy with that.  He took a sledgehammer to the wall but after making a sizable hole, grew tired and stopped, leaving the gaping hole there from that time forward.  He would find some paint and begin a wall, then change his mind and leave it with brush strokes glaring in accusation.  Garbage was never thrown out.  Beer bottles and cigarette butts littered the table surfaces.  He had a special way of making a house a home.

We celebrated Mom and Dad’s 25th wedding anniversary at a hotel suite in New York City because it was convenient for family and friends to congregate there.  Wayne had just started renewing contact with his birth family and had been them that weekend; he brought three of them to the party.  It was a freaky experience turning around and seeing that same shit-eating grin on another face.  The threads of lineage were so clearly drawn it was shocking.  I sat and talked with his sister; I liked her.  I tried to fit Wayne into the life she was talking about, to see what he had lost.  I always thought we were doing him a favor adopting him, now I started to wonder.  I looked at my family – with alcoholism running rampant within it and the syndromes of being a minister’s kids thwarting our behavior.  He had common interests with them he never had with us.  He seemed so at ease with his natural brothers and sisters, so “in place”, it was clear he belonged with them.  What were his missed opportunities?

When Wayne was twenty-three, his world changed irrevocably.  One day he was fixing his truck at the side of the road, his head under the hood.  A drunk driver speeding down the road hit the back of the truck which in turn hit Wayne and sent him flying backward.  The truck was hit with such force that it continued moving forward, hitting Wayne again.  Wayne was in a coma for the next six weeks.  He suffered tremendous damage.  I was in California at the time and it was several months before I saw him again.  I was shocked by the change.  His right eye bulged from its socket.  He had difficulty walking; one arm still didn’t work right.  It was a miracle he lived at all, and the person who did this to him faced few repercussions.  The drunk driver didn’t have any auto insurance, leaving many of Wayne’s medical bills uncovered.  He faced few repercussions for causing the accident.  He was sentenced to seven to ten years but was released after six months “for good behavior”.

Two major things happened as a result of the injury – Wayne did not have any short-term memory and that part of his brain which created the sociopath was removed.  When he awoke, Wayne was a gentler, kinder, person who was always telling jokes (okay, okay, so it was the same joke over and over and over again.).  That sneaky, conniving side had been excised.  One time Mom sent him out to rake the yard.  A couple of hours later she remembered and went to see what had taken him so long.  Wayne was four yards down.  No one had told him to stop so he just kept on raking.

The drain on my parents’ emotional and mental resources was heavy.  My mother was adopted herself and her experience was far removed from the daily one she lived with Wayne.  After his accident, Wayne was home living with them and they were starting up a new business so finances were tight indeed.  The family lived in a little apartment.  Wayne’s disabilities were increasingly difficult to work with and he had gone through as much rehabilitation as possible.  He was as well as he was going to get.  My Father and Wayne could not escape each other.  My mother, it seems, had even greater problems with Wayne.  She used Wayne much the way one would a servant – filling his days with meaningless, menial chores.  Her frustration spilled into anger which flowed into outright rage.

My younger sisters have a different perception of Wayne.  As they become older in age, their esteem for and love of Wayne directly increases.  My cousin, thirteen years younger than I recalls she loved Wayne.  “He may have been smelly but he was a good guy.  He always treated me well.  I would take him out with my friends after his accident.  Okay, maybe it was so he could buy the booze but I still liked him around.”  My youngest sister, just five years below me became angry when I asked her a couple of questions about Wayne’s accident.  “You never liked him.  I don’t know what’s wrong with you.”  They have led me to understand Wayne wasn’t as bad as I felt he was.  Nevertheless, they were always eager to join in on “Wayne stories”, leading me to believe latent feelings might not have been as positive as they wanted.

None of us escaped the years with Wayne unchanged in fundamental ways.  I think my parents and I, the more responsible ones in the growing up years of the family, felt by turns, rage, personal humiliation at our feelings and sometimes behaviors, frustration, confusion, and hopelessness.

Finally, my parents called Wayne’s natural siblings and asked them to help out.  He moved in with one sister, then another.  Finally, Wayne moved out to Iowa, to live with his brother’s family on their small farm.  He obtained a job washing dishes at a nursing home where his sister-in-law worked.  She was able to watch over his performance, ensuring his success.  Since then, he has been living happily with a certain amount of autonomy.  He comes to visit the family every year or two, staying loyal to the family who tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to give him a chance at a new life.  It is a workable solution.  My brother of the shit-eating grin needed both his families to grow up – one to give him a space to grow in and the other to welcome him back home.

Acceptance

Bitter, rasping, grieving, raw
Pain drips, seeps, crawls
Enters every orifice
Building in complex patterns
So severe, so horrific
Chains I have anchored about me
Ensnaring me in a choking, godless bankruptcy
I cannot breathe through it
I am drowning in it
There is no me anymore
Just obligations, duties, responsibilities,
Contrived relationships
Confusion, my brain is seeping away
So I’ll be no more then the man downstairs
Constantly singing his toothless songs,
His cells are in me, so is the dominatrix’s,
Mine? Mine are gone –
There is no me anymore –
I having been missing the memory of her
The one who was so smart, but in the end no more than
A sack of liabilities dumped on the doorstep of a woman who shows love
By beating it out of you
For the good it will bring
Oh, I am drowning
In a reflection of me
There is no me anymore –
I traded her up for this shell
With no respect for the casing
for the heart
for the mind
when others didn’t respect me
I believed them
Soaking it all up like wine
Becoming drunk on deceit
These are crone fingers, brittle, grasping,
Seeking to hold onto what long ago went away
In bitter disgust
At the wretch shivered and hovering in the corner
Trying the hold onto the dust
Left in their footprints
Alone
And self-created
Effervescent ________________________________________
My daughter’s laugh is effervescent
Bubbling out of her wellspring
From a source I don’t know
She took the best and seized it
Grasped it in her precious fingers and held on for dear life
Until she found the right people to share it with
She has her own Zen iridescence,
Sparkling in the sun, soaking up all life-giving rays
She is this generation’s Job,
She has ground to cover
And making it fast
Not time for bonding now . . .
I turned away, thinking she was at my feet,
turned back and she was gone
the door open, the dog left out

Summertime at the Cabin

As a kid, our family went to the Cabin in upstate New York every summer.  It was paradise…two months of town rec, swimming pools, waterfalls, state parks, swimming holes, mountains to climb, fossils to find…every child’s time of wonderment and freedom.  Granted, it was a time when kids could walk down the tar hot road to friends a mile or two away for the day.  Times have changed, but up there, not so much.

Nowadays, the adults do day trips, hang out at the creek, go swimming, build campfires and eat delicious food.  Come to think about it, the youngsters do the same thing.  They still rely on their tablets at night when the adults are at the bonfire, but there is a miraculous lack of technology there.  Even though there is television, movies, cell phones, and lap tops, there is surprisingly little interest in them.  Everyone craves the companionship of friends and family.

The girls, aged 10 this year, keep going over to the Millenials’ side of the camp, entranced by big adult things.  Thgey are funnier, more hip, and I think having the girls around makes the Millenials more circumspect.  Their other activity is the creek.  Just like I did as a child, they could spend every waking minute in the icy, chill waters of the mountain steam, its swimming holes and waterfall. My mom used to make sandwiches, a quart of iced tea and one of lemonaid, and we’d spend the whole afternoon back there.

Time seems to stand still, or at least move more slowly.  Even the sun stays up an extra hour, giving us more time to just Be.  My bags are packed, all in readiness for Thursday morning when we light out of here at 10 a.m. promptly.  I’ve been working twelve hour days so am really looking forward to this respite. Fourth of July is something spectacular with a big party, hours of fireworks going up all over the valley, and friends unseen for months to a year.

So if you don’t hear from me for a few days, pay no mind.  I’ll be back in a week and a half, relaxed and ready to renew my acquaintance with every day life.  Cheers!

Nonny land

Yes, that is my new name. . . Nonny.  Doesn’t mean anything but I like how it sounds.  When I was going to make my name Nana, my sister said I couldn’t take my Grandmother’s name since no one could be her.  Turns out she wants to be Nana.  That’s OK because I really like Nonny better, it suits me, just a little, or a lot, off track.  However, all bets are off if Emmitt chooses a different name for me.

That’s my grandson’s name, Emmitt Samuel.  After 5 days of labor, 4 hours of heavy pushing, resulting in a c-section, Dani finally gave birth right on his due date.  It was a very hard delivery.  Pre-eclampsia developed the last two days. After the cesarean, she hemorrhaged a liter and a half of blood and had to be opened up again.

Emmit developed jaundice and lost 10% of his birth weight.  They were in the hospital for five days. But he looks like Dani, covered with a full head of almost black hair. There isn’t too much of Kendall in him as of yet.

I know I am giddy with delight.  Being a grandmother is beyond my expectations.  That little boy is a miracle.  The birth of a family where a couple was before.  Both Kendall and Dani are wonderful, exhausted parents.  It was a truly nurturing, loving experience where we all enjoyed being together and tending to the constant needs of this little man.  He should take comfort in it….he will have to share time with others as he grows.

But one thing is for sure – I will be visiting California much more often from now on.

Off I Go!

This is it!  Off to California tomorrow.  I’m going to be a Grandma.  I’m wiggling inside and out of expectation. The bags are packed, my cat is provided for, and the fridge is empty of perishables.

Here’s the thing . . . I’m all jazzed about seeing my daughter and getting to know my son-in-law, and of course, being there for the birth (even though I have to wait at home until the baby is born).  But Dani and Kendall are going to be non-pulsed about it all.  Yes, their excited but they are in their own place, they have seen her belly grow and heard the heartbeats and seen the sonograms.

I haven’t seen them in two years.  It is such a long time and a lot of longing in the in-between time.  All that time I think about them.  But I remember what it was like to be a new mother and what it was like to be living far from my parents.  There wasn’t the same emotional investment that my parents may have had.  I was a twenty-something with a good life and a lot of living to do.  Part of the reason I moved 3,000 miles was to get away from my parents. I need to contain some of this enthusiasm.

My son parented me about boundaries and appropriate behavior at Dani’s.  Yori said Dani was an independent, disciplined, intelligent woman who knew her own mind.  I needed to remember I was there on vacation and not try to do everything for them.  They wouldn’t appreciate it at all.  I have to remember to relax, take care of my healing foot, and just be present.  He is right, of course, not that I necessarily know how to relax and let the world revolve around me.

But until then, I’m jiggling.  Wish me luck and hope that I behave appropriately.  Be back in 2 1/2 weeks.

Expectations

The baby isn’t even born yet and I’m learning the disappointing truth that it isn’t about me and my expectations.  It’s all about the parents and baby.  Don’t get me wrong.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be . . . but still.

I had fantasies of being in my daughter’s room until she went into delivery when I would leave to allow them their precious moment.  Hah!  Then I thought I would wait in the waiting area until after she gave birth. Another disappointment . . . I have to wait at their home.  Then the kicker, my ex-husband will pick me up and take me to the hospital.  I get to share the unveiling with him!  I get it.  It’s only right.  But I hadn’t given him a single thought.  He is the baby’s grandfather after all.  Grandmother – grandfather – equal in the eyes of the parents.  Grandpa even tried to name the baby.

So I’ll stay home and make gluten-free meals for those crazy nights when baby is making his presence known.  Clean the place. Show my worth somehow.  I sound terribly selfish and immature, I know.  These are just my petty ramblings.  It’s amazing how immature I can still be.  After all, I’m becoming a grandmother for the first time.  This is a life-changing event for my daughter and her husband (and the baby).  I’m thrilled for them.

Most of the pettiness comes from the fact that my time will necessarily be so short with them.  I only have two weeks and then I’m 3,000 miles away. I want to cram as many memories in as I can.  I can be content seeing the man I once loved dearly holding baby the way he once held our own. In fact, it will bring back surreal, precious memories transposed over the present moments.

Only a couple of weeks (we hope) to go.  I’m rationally excited.

Bump

My baby has a bump.  A growing, wriggling baby bump all her own (and her husband’s).  It delights me.  I believe I may even be enjoying it more than she does; although she’s excited, she has to go through all the rigors of pregnancy.  I see her pictures, each one bigger than the last, now beginning to see the full loom of pregnancy.

Her 30th birthday was yesterday.  She is but a few months off the schedule I had when I gave birth to my first, her brother.  She waited until later, as did I.  I’d give anything to be there with her but economics is one reality I simply can’t avoid.

I look at her pictures and see this thriving adult, about to enter an entirely life-changing chapter of her life, and can’t help but see in my mind’s eye the little girl she once was.  I wonder if it ever truly leaves a mother.  Are my children always going to be my babies?  Or, will I allow them to grow up?

Not too long ago it was me telling them, in succinct terms,  not to parent me.  Our relationships are so much better since we passed that hurdle.  But I wonder if I am trying to claim ownership of them even as they are fully adult, with mortgages and spouses, college loans and now a baby.  Is it that I am so far away that I hold fast to their childhoods, something I can connect with despite the miles between us?

I am so blessed.  Even though I can’t see them often, every 1 1/2 years or so, I have a great relationship with both my children and their spouses.  We talk every week, sometimes more, and my son still calls every time he is sick to ask what he could be doing to feel better.  He called yesterday saying, “I’m dying Mom, what can I do more for this sinus infection?”  There were few words I could share as he had already learned the lessons of previous sinus traumas.

My daughter is taking such good care of herself.  An avid runner, she is not doing so, preferring gentle pregnancy yoga.  I wish I could be there for her, taking care of their baby.  I’d move there now if not for the exorbitantly high rents in her area.  She plans on working after maternity leave.  Her husband plans to care for the baby while studying for his Divinity Masters.

If only the world went according to my plan.  But until then, I’ll have to depend on God’s timing and will.  And be content.

Your Rage

You – so full of youthful righteousness
from resolve etched in fear
slipping down the planes and lines
of your furrowed brow
glowering your rage and frustration
despair flung out, rolling in waves
warding off the heavens
with its glad tidings
and earnest appeal
granting no access within
wanting only to ward off all
who might crack through
that thin veneer and reach
the fragile underpinnings
of your heart
Try to remember dear one
all words are not weapons
some hold elements of honesty
to the eyes and mind of another

You are safe
though you choose to fear it
your childlike emotions
do not threaten me
Safe may not look like you
envisioned it
but safe nonetheless
You are loved little one
You are loved

Misgivings

And what legacy have I left you
my golden skinned son
of radiant bein?
Not one that led to
where your feet tread today
with a lightness of being
I can’t begin to imagine
The dark side
when I gave you up
too readily
I can’t recompense
for all those days lost
punishments held or withheld
lessons discussed and learned
hugs – of so many hugs –
lost, not to be recaptured
my legacy of misplaced love
and weak-kneed frustration