Tag Archives: Children

Love is . . .

Love isn’t the brassy blare of a band, marching down the avenue on July 4th’s celebration. Oh, to be sure – that is part of it – loud jangles, crash of cymbals, heartbeat of drums. But love has many faces, some apparent, some quite deceptive.

Love is the gentle stirrings evoked by a walk after a thunderstorm’s power, smelling the earth, watching lightening flitter over the New York skyline, curled up on a rock, and telling each other of your pasts, and peoples – speaking in reverence and caring tones.

Love is the sharp pain of betrayal and the shooting stabs of hurt inflicted upon sensitive, fragile egos that make one near in anger and rage – defending yourself at risk of rejection – yet believing, nonetheless, first in your own sense of worth.  Being able to say “fuck you” to the one you love.

Love is the despair and confusion and insecurity brought forth in opening yourself up to another person.  Of being aware of his frailties and still wanting him more than ever – because of those faults not in spite of them. Of seeing the flaws yet not running away.  Of opening yourself , baring your soul when trust is just a mirage, still to become real from knowing your love, facing it and not walking away, and of having to tell that other person that love is there – whether or not he chooses to respond in kind.  Of wanting so much to hear the words “I Love You”, yet not pressing but allowing them to come of their on accord at a time of his choosing – if at all.

Love is passion and the exploration of a body found wildly exciting – seeking those hidden sources of pleasure, being sexually vulnerable.  And love is those quiet ripples that float through your body as you see the one you love or think of him during the course of your day.  Love is giving and taking- together or apart – the stillness of soul touching – the fire of lust, the knowledge that this is something different than any before or any after, but that a part of you, larger than ever before, rests in the hands of another, and you are content, or largely so, to have it that way.  Love is a gift from God to be savored, enjoyed revered, for each moment it is a part of you.

Love is encouraging the strengths in the other, urging him to grow and explore facets of himself.  Being a source of strength rather than drowning him in your need.  Love is knowing the relationship may end yet moving forward in self-determination, with trust and belief gathering your courage about you, a mantle of strength in the storm of emotion.  Love is knowing that love may change in form and substance, devolving into a well of despair, fragmenting, feathering away into a manifestation of a different making – yet Love still.  Love is holding still the trembling of the soul.

Love is the bringing into the world two children to bless this union. Children precious, deserving of all that is good.  Physical manifestations of love and passion.  Children who bear witness of good and ill. Who bear the scars of devastation.

Love is the torture of knowing your love was always far greater than his. Of sustaining emotional scars, physical bondage, inquisitions, blasphemies, of running and hiding to escape his wrath. Of finally, running away, knowing not to do so would mean your death, be it emotional or physical.

Love is the PTSD moments after the Fall. Twenty years later.  The choosing aloneness rather than taking the risk of opening yourself up again.  Of the nightmares that continue, again and again, of what it turned out to be.  Of the ending, cruel, painful, devastating in consequences not just for the two of you, but for the children brought forth from the union of those souls.  Of the never ending trauma that follows in your wake, curling in sadness and despair deep within.

The Other Woman

Every night I pray for her.
In my mind’s eye
I so clearly see her.
My platitudes ill advised,
meaningless . . .

How can I justify our God’s plan?
Why should I be free of need
and she have anything but?

I know it’s stereotyping
but her swollen belly children
deserve an accounting.

Soon she will be gone –
disease stealing her strength away.
They will be orphans -alone –
under a tattered canopy,
thrust into begging to survive.

Just one more parent gone,
one more family destroyed
one more ten year old
parenting a large brood
under the blazing sun.

Why she – why me –
I who have nothing to give,
intimately knows every wrinkle
worn of care . . .

But I am here
babbling words to our Father
as she dies bit by bit
under the African sun
in a refugee camp
alone . . .

Sunsets and Fireflies

Sunsets weave magic into my life. Whatever is going on, the beauty of a sunset gives me pause, lets me be caught up, if even for a moment, in the knowledge that the world is a thing of majesty, even if we insignificant people are managing to muck it up at an incredible rate. What will happen when we can’t see sunsets anymore, when the lights of the sky go dark, when brooks are too polluted to refresh yourself in them or even perhaps draw near them.

How far back have generations asked themselves if they should bring children into the world because of how bad the world has become? How many of us are scared, each and everyday, by the raging violence in the world and the rulers who seem to delight in making the lives of the underclass, the poor, and middle-class, the disabled and disease ridden people more miserable?

We are so blind to our impact on this planet. From the acts of kindness we do or do not, to the effect our acts have on the physical bodies of ourselves and others. I read how it was suspected a grandmother’s smoking caused autism in her grandchild. Yes, we all know smoking is bad for you but autism? We complain how bugs bother us but to go through life without seeing the dance of fireflies?

No matter how many years I have left, let me not forget sunsets and fireflies. I trudge so often in the sludge of life’s underpinnings. Give me a glowing sky.

When do you say Goodbye?

She was by turns feckless or feral.
ferocious, fickle, self-centered.
Twelve years spent in her company,
unable to respond or defend.
captive, as she came to visit
several weeks at a time,
several times a year.

Schizophrenic, Bipolar –
voices keeping her company
more than her devoted husband.
Her only caregiver –
he wore himself down
to bare nubbins.
And I worry now he will soon
follow the same path.

She appropriated my life
told me there was a cancer in me
she had to cut out.
Humiliated me in front of family
relatives, her friends – while they lasted.
Spoke in a foreign language
my husband wouldn’t teach me,
about me, in front of me,
my knowing the words were directed ,
about me, in front of me.
Told my children she
was their real mother.

She died last night,
first came mourning,
now rage . . .
It’s been 20 years since I have been
her daughter-in-law,
since I have seen her except
when my children married,
or graduated from schools.
And even in these years I treated her
with a consideration and kindness
rarely shown to me.

This woman who made my life
miserable, terrifying, unstable –
who did so much to ruin my marriage –
twisting, turning truth,
confusing my children,
angering my husband so he wouldn’t
speak meaningfully to me for months.

Who twisted my children’s
understanding of Mental Illness,
refused medication or therapy,
made her husband of 60 years’
life one of horror and despair,
beating and berating him,
listening to those damn voices . . .

After all this time, and I mourn
for her, for my children,
for her husband and my ex-one.
Mourning the woman she was
and could have been
if she had accepted her diagnosis.

Listening to her voices . . . .
Still feeling a relative,
Mourning the loss,
even as the rage pours in.
Some nightmares you never forget.

Idiot sayings of old

“Children should be seen and not heard’ and somehow that only applied to boys “- my brain smiled when I read those words this morning.  Still chuckling, I am remembering my sisters and brother, aged 5 and 7, climbing out the second floor window of the parsonage, creeping down the six-inch shelf along the second floor the distance of the home and climbing down the pine tree at the end, covered in needles and sap.  Not just once mind you, but a lot.  My mother never knew.  somehow, she was oblivious to all the shenanigans of my younger siblings.

Please understand, the demands of obedience were intensified being minister’s kids. That particularly applied to me, as the oldest.  My parents placed a lot of responsibility on me.  I was the quiet one by nature by I had my share of going out to pick my switch when I had disobeyed.  But my illicit activities where nowhere near those of the others.  Well, except for the time I was playing in the church while my Dad was counseling a couple in the parsonage’s office.  I inadvertently turned on the organ and music, of a kind, rang through the neighborhood.  I remember my Dad flying over to stop me but he could hardly contain the smile lurking about his lips as he chided me.I was about 5.

Although come Sunday morning, my Mother was yelling for us to get ready for church. When we were in church, it was the “whammy look” which brought us to heel. One of those was like the Death Star shooting rays at you – total  inialation. I have had countless nightmares involving the whammy look, even through adulthood.  Although I have to admit it was my adult years when I deserved a whammy look once in a while.

That rebellious, fiercely disobediant spirit lurked strongly in my son.  I worked from home, not the easiest of tasks with young ones about.  Once I was talking to a client and suddenly realized it was far too quiet.  Finishing my call, I went to check on my son and his friend Luke. I couldn’t open the door.  When I told  my son, Yori, to open it, there was no response.  I walked outside and looked through his window. Everything he ownded as crammed up against the door, including his mattress. (He was about 4 at the time). I gave him 5 minutes to put everything back.  When I walked into his room, I was surprised how far he had achieved that goal.  Later that night, I opened his closet to put clothes away and everytrhing tumbled out and on me.

Another time, while talking to a client, I heard chopping. When I finished the call, I went out to check on the boys (Luke again). (This is the boy who, at his wedding had his dogs carry the rings and act as best man and maid of honor)  They had climbed the fence into the dog’s yard, gone into the garage.  Took tswo hammers. And proceeded to chop large holes in the fence. Aghast, I tracked down the dogs and put the boys to work picking up wood. There were many such incidents in Yori’s childhood.  Needless to sday, the kids won, the 10 year old job did not

.So the saying “Children should be seen and not heard” was a misnomer in my famly heirarchy.

 

 

 

 

The world is crying

There is so much pain in this world.  It seems to be screeching out at us.  Not sorrow, although that is there, but abject misery.  We may think our little lives are painful but when I think of the refugees, the millions of people in refugee (internment) camps, those who have nothing to eat, no shelter, lacking clean water, caught in the crossfire of crazed beings fighting over bombed out towns which lack every necessity now, children raped, stolen, trained into soldiers, deliberating drugged to make them more obedient, who are we to say our pain is great?

It is real, and exceedingly hard to climb out of, but my pain is increased by the pain of this world.  It’s crying out, in the air we breathe, in each time I put food in my mouth or walk into my comfortable, safe apartment.  I may be disabled, living on Social Security, and facing real challenges, but can you imagine being disabled – mentally, emotionally, physically, And being a refugee?  Can you imagine being on a boat with so many people it is impossible to move, not knowing when, or even if, a country will take us or if we will capsize the boat and drown?  That is fear.  That is feeling voiceless, unwanted, without shelter or food, not knowing how to care for your children in a situation like this, totally alone in the midst of many.

I hear and feel the ground beneath me aching in sorrow.  I feel the air I breathe trembling in agony.  There is only so much pain this Earth can withstand and in these times, it feels like it can’t possibly take anymore.  For we can’t forget, this world is an organism in its own right.  Can you imagine how It feels being bombed, desecrated, stripped of its beauty, groaning under the strain of having to hold the burdens of the multitudes? Sometimes I feel I should sit down on the ground and stroke it, soothe It’s burden even a little.

And mostly, I don’t know what to do.  Where I can place my small sums of money that will make a meaningful difference and not swallowed in “administrative fees”. Can I make a difference and where? If I could jump on a plane and fly to those crying in the wilderness, what could I bring but a hug, an ear to listen (if I understand the language).  But even that is not a reality. I need to look for people and places nearby. Stretch out a hand where it can actually be grabbed.  Help. And I need direction about where to do the most good, any good, rather than retreat into my tiny world of cat, books and home.  How is an activist born?

Schoolroom Teachings

With sure lipped bravado
he jet-sends his jeers
to ears waiting, knowing
expecting those words to come,
a fine dance of discontent
within the classroom walls.

Listless teacher, burned out
from too man kids and too many years
crying out for silence
to deaf ears, churning minds,
squirming bodies.  A Saint
might be able to achieve, but
one who hides beneath cover
of smile, whose eyes reflect out,
carrying no inner workings
the poor children carry the
hidden legacy of a broken system.

To look at the children,
the ones who care, yet are not
closed to the outer world,
their bodies retreat into themselves
curled up in a concave impression
of distancing, of
protecting the heart and mind,
placing all extremities out front,
to give the illusion of active attention,
so a measure of safety is gained.
Their eyes wells of sadness.

We witness in silent horror
as our children slowly
are divested of their gifts,
stripped bare of courage and strength,
rendered helpless in the feudal system,
where teachers are all powerful rulers,
infesting the masses with
their brand of corruption.

And, in the corner
facing a stark wall,
eyes turned away from the maelstrom
a boy draws mazes,
over and over again,
seeking his way out.

 

Slave

A single word which evokes so many feelings, thoughts and actions – horror, despair, pain, dismay, “holier than thou”, profane.  On the flip side, being those who have or want or are crass and debased enough to have slaves – egoism, acceptance, deserving, powerful, rightness.  And those of the slaves themselves?: – fear, rage, manipulation for survival, complacent, worn out.

I think of the typical American viewpoint, there always seems to be a great deal of finger pointing rather than looking within themselves at hidden, locked tight feelings they may have themselves.  If they look within our national borders, they may think of criminals who bring sex slaves from other countries here for profit. Finger pointing. But there are others – wealthy people who “adopt” children only for us to find out, if we are lucky, those children are really slaves, sexual or as housekeepers. And there are men who use children for porn or sex – those children are slaves.  Even those who have no passport ot Visa laboring in sweat shops and fields for little pay, certainly not enough to sustain a productive, safe and healthy life.  And what about the millions of us who read or watch TV or go online to witness slavery in other countries, saying “what a shame.  Someone needs to stop that.”

Our souls can never be clean until every bit of slavery and genocide is iradicated within our borders and we are striving to make an active difference in those countries where slavery is a way of life.  Our God demands it and I have to believe the core of other religions demand it as well.

Caregiving challenges

His face a maze of rivulets and ravines, crutches help bear the weight he carries,
his feet heavy, movements ponderous. Yes, age has wormed its way into his bones
but more, he carries the years upon years of caring for a willful, capricious wife –
most times removed, caught up in her own world, with people and presences
no one else can share or know, leaving him alone with the battle of care.

Caregivers have a heavy burden even with the easiest people those with minds still clear, bodies more or less functional. Whose age or disease make the need for care, daily or occasionally, a burden, willing or not.

But for others, caregiving  carries a much different burden. When they must manage a violent or mentally challenged person, a person with bipolar or schizophrenic
episodes, one whose body has worn out, needing total care, it can make the caregiver
sicker than the person cared for.

That old man has cared for his wife since she had nervous breakdowns forty years prior, sitting by her bed every minute, ignoring all else, including his only son, alone, left to fend for himself, do the shopping, laundry, cleaning.

He has abided her demands, given into whims, defended her right to choose not to medicate. In so doing, she has chosen a tangled trail leaving her family to carry a hard burden of care allowing the right of self-choice to medicate and feel largely better or be “in control” of herself as she berates, hits, babbles, ignores him or
or talks gibberish. BUT always remains the center of attention.

The burden of caregivers is their lives aren’t their own, at the least for sizable chunks of time.  From bill paying and shopping, to bathing, feeding and all facets of self care,
they spend from Sunday visits to constant care for family or hired professionals.

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, all bets are off. You are not often recognized for yourself. Hitting, endless paranoid pacing, constant distraction, inability to  voice thoughts coherently . . .it is exhausting. But it is also a means to give back, to make amends, to relish the moments you have because they may not be long.

That old man now must also contend with a son who believes his mother has every right to choose not to medicate, even though all who are part of her life are negatively affected by that choice. The son refuses to listen to his own children who have enough detachment to see the situation more clearly.

When the Father is overwhelmed, the son brings her, 600 miles away, to his home
where she sits alone, hour after hour, or wanders off with the dog, lost, unaware of where she is or why others are yelling at her to get off the street. It’s not care, not a solution, it’s an ill-chosen stop-gap measure that could hurt or kill her.

We need to be aware of the long-term effects of the decisions we make for our loved ones or those under our care. Sometimes the right solution is personal care by the family, sometimes it’s professional care within the home, but assisted living or skilled nursing homes may be the best options too.  Money is, of course, a vital component in decision-making, as is insurance coverage, and what the impact will mentally have for the person being cared for.

And the words they turn ’round and ’round

Just when I thought they were gone
(dirty, nasty things)
those little voices returned
like five year olds-
taunting their teacher
incessantly nagging in high
whiney voices,
to shatter any semblance
of peace and calm

Crushing new-found confidence
they tread on faltering egos
destroying all feelings
of worth, of respect
for myself.

Leaving the senses reeling,
Swaying on unsteady feet,
teetering at the brink
of an endless abyss
half-wishing to fall.

Those chattering images
of visions long stored
in deep recesses of the mind
negate a return to sanity.

Hopelessly forcing a surrender
through clenched teeth
to my defeat –
destroyed by voices of the past.

(I wrote this in 1981.  What sickens me is that so much is still the same.
But it is real, it is truth. Perhaps it deserves its day in the sun.
I was clearly Bipolar even then. As the days go by, I see the mask of
pain I wore, wear, still dragging at me – but now it makes me
nauseous to read, hopeful to grow, wanting more, so much more
than the banality of depression, starting to evolve – at 60 no less.)