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Archive for January, 2013

dad belly 2

I retreated to my bedroom. I was not up to the task of processing the noise and conversation around me. Entering my room I stood there. I could not lie in bed, I would not sleep. I could not call anyone on the phone, I would only cry and if those suffering through the same emotions as me were having a happier moment, I did not want to bring them down.

It was early evening. The sun was just beginning to set. The purple, gold and grey hues of twilight were softly streaming through my window. I walked over, knelt down at my sill and placed my head upon my hands that had come together in prayer.

I had just left my father’s side after a week of caring for him. Loving him in a way I had never done before. My funny, steadfast father was ascending, his body slowly succumbing to cancer. Each day as he was cleaned and wounds were nursed, we held his hand and participated in ways we never felt possible. I was dismayed that my dear father was enduring so much pain and loss of privacy but my feelings were insignificant compared to his own. In these moments I whispered in his ear how much I loved him, placing a thousand kisses on his cheek, as he bore through excruciating and demoralizing tending.

The morning I left, the reigns of care being ever transferred between my mother and an endless stream of family, I was dejected beyond the prognosis. Dad’s every want and need had become my own over the last week. It felt as if I was leaving my helpless child, a child who might not be there when I returned.

Bag packed, I sat at my father’s bedside forcing a smile into my eyes and frivolity into my goodbye. I took his hand and leaned in to say something along the lines of, ‘I can’t tell you how happy I have been to be here with you. I can’t remember the last time we spent so much time together. Now I have to go home to all that laundry? I just love you so much Dad. I want to stay here with you.’ My dear sweet dad looked into my eyes, cupped my hand between both of his and said, ‘So why go?’ At that moment I could have crumbled into a thousand pieces of revered yesterdays but I held it together, for him, and just laid my head on his chest.

Now kneeling at my window I prayed. I could not detach myself from his bedside, the loss and hollow feeling inside was just too much. I asked God to allow me to touch my father from my home far away, place my hands on his cheek and allow him to know in his heart that I was present. I prayed to God to lift the pain from this man who had given his family so much, was part of our core. I petitioned to God that if he must take him now, I would understand, but still I asked for a little time. One more chance to visit in the flesh the man who cast away neighborhood bullies, taught me to ride a bicycle and through the big and littles in life, had been my go-to.

It was at this moment when I felt a physical change within my room. There was stillness and a quiet that were tangible. The filtered colors of a day leaving, the subtle sway from the budded tree tops had a lulling effect. My sadness was temporarily lifted and I felt at peace. I sensed my dad knew at this moment I was thinking of him and knew I always would. I was amid a prayer being answered and I had never felt anything so beautiful in my life. I knelt unmoving, suspended in a warm caress.

My husband called up to me, seconds or maybe minutes later and though I felt this miraculous moment recede, it had left its mark. I felt peace and comfort.

… There are moments in our life, spiritual moments, that cannot be explained. I have had a few and when the passage of time and the question of doubt begin to dull their impact, I resurface my experiences. These gifts I do not want to forget. I am not the most fervent of believers. I question the color of red paint even as I view it on a wall before me. Still, I would like nothing more than to be in possession of unwavering faith. The comfort it must bring to those who possess it is unfathomable. So I revisit my walks with the glorious and hope for a stronger faith.

Mother Mary was prevalent in the next leg of my journey, when I said goodbye to my father. She was one of dad’s favorites. I will share this soon.

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bridge 1

The other night, after an unsettling visit to one of my family’s happy places, my mind was churning and I shared my thoughts. I saw an influx of views on my related blog post in the two days that followed. I felt more than a little guilty to have my post reviewed at the expense of the story it told. If it was one of my silly recaps on life with kids, or bad teeth, I would have felt great. I checked myself more than once to make sure my rambling blog, after drafted and posted to the world, was not some breech of ethics. My introspection cleared me of any wrong doing, thankfully.

Still, as I lie in bed last night, after reading an update on the search for Sarah and seeing a picture of her crossing a bridge I’ve walked over a hundred times, I thought I should do something on her behalf. Small and ineffective as the gesture might be, people might read the attached link and have something to offer. God willing it will be a lead to her safe location.

Though it’s highly improbable that someone reading my post will be able to help solve this mystery via tangible evidence –they/you can minimally offer up prayers and positive thoughts on behalf of Sarah Majoras as well as those who know and love this woman best, that they soon find closure and peace.

Praying for a happy ending Sarah.

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2013/01/camera_images_from_lambertvill.html#incart_river

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I enjoy walking along the streets of New Hope, PA. The crowds of people, truly a melting pot of cultures and penchants, intrigue me. I make stories up in my head, imagine who they are, how they got where they are and contemplate lives that in many cases look so different from my own. My scenarios, no doubt, are marked by many misconceptions. You truly cannot know a person’s soul by the clothes they wear, type of Harley they ride or the sex of the hand they hold.

I have a soft spot for this eclectic town where my husband and I first dated, where I found my favorite plate of Thai. Connected to Lambertville NJ, by a bridge and spirit, it’s an artsy place dripping with talent and antiques but happily lacks the pretentious dealer. Or perhaps I’ve been lucky enough not to enter their establishment. New Hope is a locale portraying the unique and weather beaten history of life along the Delaware. The dilapidated buildings remain beautiful by their architectural style, by the past contained within peeling paint and weathered stone walls. It’s a place with much character and I appreciate all it has to offer.

Though it may sound as if I’m writing a promotional for New Hope that was not my intent. I’ve just painted a picture of the adored location behind my post. This afternoon we took the kids to our anniversary restaurant. The story behind Wildflowers, and a happier portrayal of New Hope, is contained in the following; https://littletwits.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/withering-wildflowers-a-culinary-reflection-2/ . Though we typically enjoy our treks to New Hope, today we had a very different experience.

When we arrived we went straight to Wildflowers for dinner. We called and checked the recording, peeked down the side entrance and hoped someone would pop out to say, ‘We’re here!’ Regretfully, it appeared to be closed. Looking through the front window I noted a missing person’s poster. Immediately I said a prayer that the woman had been found in good health and that this was old news. I tried to ignore the sad feeling that seeped into my gut.

As we walked the streets in search of an alternate restaurant I noticed signs posted on store fronts and telephone poles. They were everywhere. It occurred to me that this unnerving search was current. As I traipsed along with my hungry family, lamenting over a closed restaurant, a community was searching for one of its own.

We found a place to eat but neither the food, nor setting, resulted in an enjoyable experience. My older son, looking outside, commented that it felt eerie. ‘What do you mean eerie, the weather or the restaurant,’ I asked? He responded that it was the day, everything, that seemed strange. It was an odd comment coming from a 12 year old, over a plate of hot wings.

I glanced through the window and assessed a dismal winter day cloaking cars and boutiques. My eyes fell on the nearest missing persons poster. I wondered if my son was picking up on an underlying sadness, an uncertain tragedy.

We left the restaurant and I walked with a quicker pace than usual. I felt the need to leave these streets. Today I would find no joy here. On our way to the car two news vans drove by. We passed a crying woman and as I hastened toward the parking lot a helicopter was heard. Looking toward the direction of the sound I spotted a swirl of blades hovering above the Delaware. The frigid temperatures and a recent dusting of snow froze sections of the water. This fragmented spectacle of ice and nature would typically beckon me to capture it on film. Though my camera swung from my shoulder, I had no interest. The river seemed ominous, like it contained a secret hidden under its mass and greyness. I wanted no part of the Delaware today and hoped my sensitivity was off. The unsettling site of a news crew, walking along a sidewalk recently inhabited by a missing woman, had me imaging scenarios. I wanted to disprove my hypotheticals and come up with a logical explanation that put a missing stranger in a warm safe place.

We drove from New Hope, over the bridge into Lambertville. I read on my phone that this would have been the same route taken by the missing woman, just two nights earlier. I glanced to my right, took in the wide frosty mouth of an incredible river, and felt very depressed. This is one of those times, the most important of times, when you hope your gut instinct is wrong.

Regardless how strange or improbable the facts end up being; I pray the story unfolds to reveal a life was not lost.

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bad teethbad teeth2

Teeth are something. We all have…or have had these mouthy pearls. Some have choppers of steel whereas others, like me and the bulk of my family, have brittle white slabs that dart out in unflattering directions.

As a kid I was forever getting cavities and the trend hasn’t much improved as I drift into middle age. I recall those brutal hours of my youth, sitting under the florescent light in Dr. Kane’s office, dreading the sound of that mean little drill. I anxiously anticipated the fragrance of enamel being chiseled away, the slurp, suck, slurp as a hooked straw went to town inside my mouth. I would lie there in a state of rigor mortis as I awaited my doom. I still feel that way and regret, whole heartedly, those errs of childhood that resulted in my having had 3 root canals, one a do-over, in a single year span.

I should point out that Dr. Kane was not a tyrant. As far as dental dudes go he was a gem. He gave me nitric oxide and I sniffed this stuff up quickly knowing it would bring me some mental relief. Soon I would float away and hear the muffled sounds and conversation going on around me. I liked to smile at their comments, pathetically trying show I was still on the scene with Mr. Dentist guy and assistant, but as I breathed in more and more, a hard straw catching my inner-cheek in search of drool, I went on a little journey.

Dr. Kane was known for singing, ‘Zippidy Doo Da,’ as he drilled away the results of my poor brushing, or even worse, the 1001 times I threw the faucet on for a minute, did nothing, and yelled down to my parents that, ‘Yes, I’m brushing my teeth!’ All those falsities in my young life coupled with bad teeth genetics, put me in Mr. Zippidy Day’s seat far too often.

These days I still dread the dentist, though Dr. Pete is a gentle soul. He feeds me my beloved nitric oxide, I stare at his postcard of orangutan’s wearing lei’s and Hawaiian shirts, strategically placed on the light above, and wring my hands.

Last November I shared a snippet, https://littletwits.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/how-to-lose-a-tooth/, which involved my youngest, Mr. T’s, dental and tooth fairy fears. T is not alone. All of my kids have an aversion to dentistry related activities and at least two resort to the same teeth destructive tricks that I used as a child. I can’t figure out why they, or I, would stand around a running sink for 2 minutes, staring at tile formations, rather than giving our mouths a minty refresher. It’s a nightly battle and the stories of deceit and ruses I use to catch my kid’s untruths are many. They can’t seem to grasp the concept that I’ve been there and done that. They care not about the importance of a good brush and floss. They are of my flesh.

Personal decisions related to this mouth of mine have a long trail of mistakes and missed opportunities. Dear Dr. Kane had suggested braces to cure me of my snaggle tooth appearance but as my rack of incisors and canines looked similar to my sister’s I didn’t recognize just how bad they were. Give any one of us a poppy seed bagel and you can bank on the fact that half of those seeds will be hanging out in our mangled teeth long after the bagel’s been swallowed. Dr. Kane’s suggestion, to blanket my smile with a corrective silver façade, was offered to me the summer before I entered high school. My parent’s, rather than battle a young teen and dish out thousands of dollars for an unappreciated gesture, left the decision to me. I said not a chance in hell and lived to regret that stance.

In your face retrospect; I recall one night being out at a club as a young woman. I was swinging my long curly locks around and feeling like ‘the thang’. My friends and I clustered together, surveyed male opportunities and felt in our pockets for those fake wedding bands, in case we needed a polite reason to deter an undesirable party.

A group of young men approached, good conversation and dancing ensued. Within the male contingency existed one guy in particular that I remember all too well though this dance party happened decades ago. He wasn’t bad looking, resembled that West Orange NJ kid from 90210, and he had a sarcastic tongue that rivaled my own. After a while our one-on-one banter took on an edge and we began to verbally spar. He had a cutting line that transferred me all the way back to the decision I made on Dr. Kane’s chair.

He said, ‘Ya know you’re not bad looking if you keep your mouth closed. You have horrible teeth.’ I was mortified.

To make matters worse, my friend was smitten with this guy’s buddy. I was forced to hang with this shmuck into the evening and give the boys a lift home. We got lost delivering Steve Sanders to his abode which extended my fantastic night.

I did not let Blondie know how badly his words had stung, I had too much pride for that. I’m sure I responded with my own verbal smack. However, not once in 20 something years, when pondering my crooked countenance or picking out a stalk of broccoli, do I not remember his spot on jab. I earnestly regret my decision, the choice of a vain boy crazy thirteen year old, that led me into my high school career > minus a brace face.

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hopscotch_0

The Devil is in the Details – A WordPress challenge. #DPchallenge
The Temptation of Childhood

‘Stay right here. Do not leave the driveway,’ was her father’s instruction. ‘Piece of cake,’ thought Kaki who though often flighty and forever day dreaming, knew enough to recognize that her little suburban neighborhood was safe and she could manage this small task of staying put. Kaki was a brave and scrappy five year old and she reasoned no boogie men were hiding behind the trimmed emerald green shrubs that dotted the lawns of the Ackerman’s, Huckle’s and Houseman’s. If her dad was comfortable leaving his Shirley Temple knock off, a scabby kneed pile of wanderlust holding vigil in the outdoors, than so was she.

The afternoon sun was making a hibachi out of their driveway and her scuffed black patent leathers began to sizzle. To fill the time, and avoid being cooked alive, Kaki hopscotched a couple of times, tried not stepping on the cracks and contemplated pouring salt on a slug. A long hot minute of waiting passed and she was feeling bored. That’s when she saw them…

Standing around the bright red fire hydrant on the corner were her friends, Suzanne, Bobby and Lee. Not only could she see them, she could now hear them. They were Laughing, laughing, LAUGHING! ‘Oh what could they be laughing at,’ she anxiously wondered? Fun was erupting from only a few houses away and it was having an effect on Kaki. She felt a pull. Her feet began to shuffle and a step, then two, was taken in their direction. Soon her scraggly little form began to skip. Her friends seemed to beckon, ‘Come play with us.’ The lure of childhood was drawing Kaki from her father’s directive and she had little control. Temptation was masked by a giggling cluster of children under a canopy of Sycamore trees. On this muggy summer day it seemed temptation would get the better of Kaki.

Hopscotch picture posted from Pinterest. Original photography: http://www.mikemoruzi.com/photo-galleries/portraits

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cabinet

In the summer of ’99 I received the most beloved of material gifts. Mothers, sisters and friends, knowing that I am an old soul who prefers chipped china with a story over a fancy modern gadget, came up with a wonderful idea as they planned my bridal shower.

The event was held at my brother’s home. His rooms were draped in lace and floral accents excavated from the far recesses of my family’s many closets. Tables were set with mismatched china borrowed from a myriad of households. Chilled and hot infusions, petite sandwiches and tea cakes accompanied fresh whipped cream, berries and sparkling punch.

Guests were invited to wear, if they pleased, lace and flower adorned sundresses. Most did and the effect was delightful. Our collective bunch, all long standing northerners, would have fit right in sipping our tea, sugared with a touch of gossip perhaps, in a fine southern parlor.

My mother and wedding party presented their gift, coordinated expertly around the day’s theme. I learned my sisters had antiqued, on numerous occasions, in pursuit of the ideal ‘Tea Cabinet’. The piece they settled on was sturdy and beautiful. It was imperfect and therefore perfect having been well loved through the years. This crafted gem of stained wood and waved glass, in my eyes, could not have been more pleasing.

Foregoing a more traditional wishing well, guests were asked to bestow tea totaler items. They delivered on this request. My newly acquired tea cabinet, one unwrapping at a time, was stocked by the thoughtful hands of dear guests.

My husband’s spunky Great Aunt Nettie gave me a mini tea cup, in ivory and cobalt blue, from her childhood. A sister gifted me with a treasured cup and saucer from our Grandmother’s collection. Other friends found whimsical fairy tea cups while some brought a bit of Ireland to the party, with Belleek and Carrigaline tea sets.

I’ve collected additional trinkets, through the years, to place within my tea cabinet. The inclusions are always deeply personal… a newspaper clipping announcing my parents engagement, a potpourri heart embellished with ivory and snow white buttons made by my mother-in-law and many more treasured tokens depicting marriage and love. Atop I have clusters of wedding photos, both my own and that of my family and closest friends.

Though I pass my cabinet innumerous times daily, every once in a blue moon I’ll stop and take a moment to admire this ligneous member of our family. Perusing its archives I reflect on how very blessed I am to have the warmth and love of that day, the gifts of many no longer with us, within the aged and knowing doors of my Tea Cabinet.

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plaid pants

Those blank thank you cards, awaiting my children’s Hancock’s, have been on the counter for a week now. It will happen. At some point I’ll catch my kids in between school, activities and the flu and get them writing.

Etiquette views vary, and I’m no guru, but there are a good many cases that warrant a sincerely penned, ‘Thanks.’ Whether or not the gift giver expects an acknowledgement most appreciate the effort in a thank you card.

Though my husband is our boys coach in many things, primarily sports, when it comes to buying gifts and acknowledging gifts, I typically coach the team. My training regiments do not apply solely to missives of gratitude. My boys are prepped in advance of a potential gift receiving. Take this past December as an example. The only thing on my seven year olds brain was receiving an i-Pod. He shared his want to anyone who came into earshot, including Santa. Gaining this tiny link to gaming euphoria was his #1 priority. My son’s birthday is a few weeks before Christmas so in his mind he had double the chance to land this dream gift. During phone calls from family and friends there would be mention of buying him a present. They asked, ‘Do you want Lego’s, a GameStop card?’ Thinking that their inquiry was his in my son matter-of-factly responded, ‘Ya know, I would really prefer an i-Pod’.

I sat down with my little guy to explain how this works. I clarified that Aunt Shirl, his buddy Thomas and our next door neighbors, as generous as they are, will not be giving him a $400 piece of heaven. He needed to mentally prepare, put his game face on. I drilled in that no matter what was gifted he needed to display true gratitude upon opening each box. I’m a stickler for appreciative behavior and there is a reason why…

I recall all too well an incident of gift receiving gone bad. It was 1970 something and the ungrateful twit was yours truly. My aunt handed me a shiny box for my birthday. I’m not sure what I expected to see inside of it…an authentic Wonder Woman costume perhaps, Cinderella’s magic ball gown? Either case, I ripped away the paper, pulled apart the cardboard and lifted out a pair of plaid bell bottoms. The pants were brown, avocado and orange, consistent with the times I suppose. I was horrified. My face dropped, my eyes filled with tears and I may have even ran from the room. Whatever my ungrateful reaction was I know it left my poor mother embarrassed and my aunt thinking I was a royal brat. The parental reprimands, and fact I did not receive another birthday gift from that aunt, have stayed with me ever since.

I can’t say my kids reactions to gifts are always stellar nor are their thank you cards timely and consistently sent, but we try thanks to that sepia colored memory. I never did strut down the street in those plaid pants and this lovely picture confirms I already had enough of these duds in my wardrobe… but you could say that even though I never tried them on I’ve been wearing them ever since.

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cable boxCancel Technology?
A friend recently sent me an email and shared a story involving her son. Over a period of weeks she noticed that he was sequestering himself from family for longer stretches of time. She acknowledged her son was getting older, recently became a teenager, and reasoned this separation was typical particularly when he had younger siblings in his business 24/7. Still, her senses told her something was off.

We are similar in our approach. Her kids are not allowed to have lap tops in their bedroom. Password locks are on their TVs to restrict undesirable content though it’s an impossible feat to block out everything.

We all know how difficult it is to stay on top of each and every unsavory window of opportunity presented to our children. Plus, kids are smart and kids are curious. It wasn’t so very long ago, though I’d prefer if we don’t do the math, that I was a kid…wide eyed and interested in the S word. One rainy day comes to mind, when curiosity and a chance meeting with nudity, engrossed my friends and I.

Being forced to stay inside, due to the rain, my neighborhood buddies gathered in my basement. We decided to watch TV. Click, click, click, we charged through the cable box and landed on a ShowTime movie. We were the first on my block to get this movie channel and it gave us some interesting options.

The visuals were beautiful; an island, an ocean, two teens dressed in loin cloth or something. We became a room full of transfixed 11 year olds watching Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in The Blue Lagoon. Not long into the movie we realized we should not be watching this flick but not one of us moved. A scene emerged where Emmeline, ill and in the raw from the waist up, was being wiped down with a cool rag by her cousin Richard, hopefully her third or fourth cousin. As this scene unfolded, my older brother Jeff, age 21, decided to come down the basement stairs. Not one of us heard him.

Though the first to get ShowTime in our neighborhood we were also the first to get rid of it. That was my parent’s best defense.

Parents these days have it tougher. Technology has opened endless portholes to places we don’t want our kids going. Still we try our best. We talk to our kids, watch and listen.

My friend listened to her 6th sense and one night it came to her. The device her son had been using for gaming, an old i-Pod, had internet access. She felt like a dunce. Picking it up, scanning the history, she located page after page of porn. Though her son still had footballs and baseballs on some of his underwear this was proof positive that he was not a little boy. They had a long talk.

My friend knew she couldn’t restrict her son from electronics and curtail all things adult or deviant. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Her son needed to reign in this curiosity, recognize that it wasn’t an acceptable pastime to wade through these sites. He was reminded that his feelings and interests were normal but he had to take ownership and differentiate between what is right and what is wrong in this world. Her experience prompted me to have a talk with my own teenage son.

My parent’s recourse was to cancel a cable channel. Parents today would need to cancel technology. Obviously this is not an option. Luckily we can use this same medium to secure some of the parental guidance needed to stay informed and hopefully one step ahead.

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