Reflection

Reflection

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mass Transit ~ Life as one travels




10:30 PM
 
Our flight has landed and we are heading home.  Rather than pay long term parking at the airport we opt to take mass transit to and from.  Gliding down the escalator with suitcases in tow, we see the Bart train at the station.  We don't know if this is the train we should get on and we hope it stays till we can stand on firm ground.  I see a flash of a woman with a rolling carry-on bag boarding, then I see the door close, her arm and bag outside the door.  For the brief moment my mind assumes the door should open, that it would sense an obstruction, but no the arm and bag are caught.  Then her arm disappears and all that is there is the bag.  Magically the door opens and she is able to pull the bag in and we have time to find out where this train will go.

I'm drowsy with the subtle movement on the train, strange however, since it is a noisy ride with screeches, squeaking and other sounds that leave you to wonder if it is normal for the train to sound like this.  I hear a male voice near me and glance up.  There is a lady who has been sitting next to us since we got on being very calm while a man hovers over her talking.  They weren't together as he has come on after our third stop.  She is attractive with dark complexion and long, straight, dark hair, mid to late 30's, with her tablet in her lap and a large tote bag on the floor.  The man is wearing cream colored slacks, a white lizard skin belt, white shoes and a pumpkin colored turtleneck shirt.  He is maybe in his early 40's and African American with a neatly trimmed mustache.  He is speaking softly with a monotone voice and it is slightly hard for me to understand him with the noise of the train.  What I do hear is his flattery towards the woman.  "You are very beautiful", "You are lovely", "I haven't seen a woman like you" and so forth.  For every flattery sentence she calmly says "Thank you" just as monotone as his voice.  I'm not sure what to think.  Is she being harassed?  She seems quite calm through all the interaction.  "I would like you to go out with me" he says.  I don't hear her say anything.  "Sometime then we should go out".  Still nothing.  He walks away.  She sits as she has without response to my eye contact.  I close my eyes and drowse off once again.

As we get closer to the city center of San Francisco more people get on.  Young people in their late teens to twenties mostly.  A group are sitting and standing nearer the other exit, laughing and talking.  Two African American girls pass through our car chatting up a storm and checking out who is in our car before moving to the next car.  Both wear khaki colored pants with two orange, stiff, narrow ribbons hanging out their back right pockets.  One has the most lovely ringlets of strawberry blonde dyed hair that goes down the middle of her back.  Within five minutes they pass through again.  I wonder what the ribbons are from.

A young woman four rows back wearing earphones plays music so loud it is as though she has no earphones on.  She will regret this when she is old and can't hear anymore.

We're almost to our stop and I text our house-sitter who will come and take us home.  I look up and see a young muslim woman wearing a hijab.  She sits down next to another young woman with long light brown hair.  They look very similar in age yet such contrast.  The light brown haired women is relaxed while the young women in the hijab is stressed.  As she sits down she clearly has asked to borrow the other woman's cell phone.  I see that she has come with a backpack that is full, heaping even, with a folded up blanket at the top.  She also has a small rolling suitcase.  She is talking on the cell phone and her face seems so pained in expression.  She looks near tears and it breaks my heart to see this in such a public place with no one with her.  The light brown haired women sits quietly and I wonder her thoughts.  The young woman with hijab passes the phone back and her face reads such turmoil.  You can see her mind is overwhelmed.  Our stop comes and we depart along with the light brown haired women.  I wonder where the young woman with the hijab is going.  I hope all will be well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grace


My step-grandmother Grace was a strange one.  I didn't know how to place her in my family at age five. We didn't see her often as she lived in another town not nearby.  At home I had my Nan whom lived with us.  All warmth and love.  Grace, well she was a bit stand-offish as well as having a brooding way about her.

One visit she came with a cassette player and while I can't remember how it came to be of me listening to her talk on the tape she played, it had a lasting impact in my memory.  She was convinced that she had been reincarnated as well as being involved in channeling her previous lives.  I must have been near 10 years of age by this time and listening to the cassette of whom she had been had me terribly confused.  I wasn't brought up to believe in reincarnation but I'm pretty sure this was the first time this concept had been tossed at me.  Grace seemed a bit self-centered without regards to how her words and thoughts might have an effect on a child.  

What did I think?  What did my parents think?  It seemed like they were all polite in listening to her speak of this and to listen to the cassette, but they didn't react either.  More politeness.  I'm sure my Nan was holed up in her room crocheting or some other handwork. I don't think they hit it off those too and this surely didn't bond them.  

For me it opened up a kettle of worms in my brain.  It confused me as then I wondered if I too had lived before.  What other time might I have come from?  I began having vivid nightmares of people dying, especially of my Nan dying.  I would wake up and sit outside my parents bedroom door, rocking myself quietly.  Why I didn't knock to be let in or why I didn't go to my Nan's room I don't know but perhaps leaving my room, listening to the quiet of the house knowing they were in their beds and alive settled me enough to climb back in my bed with a light on and fall back to sleep.  

By the time I was near fourteen I was fascinated with the idea of reincarnation and how that would mean to me, that I would not die but return in some other form.  Certainly far from my Presbyterian church upbringing.  I was still having the death nightmares occasionally and slept with my radio on to go to sleep,  often leaving my light on at night after a disturbing dream.  Death, such a mystery, that I felt I needed some explanation to settle me into knowing my loved ones would be okay and not in some creepy, spooky, graveyard.  The thought that they and I could come back and somehow channel ones memory into the future life, well, that sounded more comforting to me than the line that I would go to hell if I didn't read the bible everyday or if I didn't follow the Christian rules.  

My parents divorced shortly after and I never saw Grace or my step-father again.  If the idea of reincarnation was a comfort to her, I hope she found what she was seeking.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Scarf

           I've been cleaning computer files, updating, moving items around and found this in my "document" files.  A story I wrote for my dearest niece upon her 40th Birthday.  I'm so glad I found it and could share this....she is one very special young woman.  

                             


 She gazed out to the farthest point to sea as the sun began its slow descent towards the horizon.  She was middle in the cup of the bay, with the craggy steep cliffs to her left and right.  Her eyes closed softly and her ears opened to the laughter below on the beach.  She thought she might have heard her sons voices amidst those of the other children playing on the beach or in the gentle methodical waves. 

   She listened intently upon the waves that almost mimicked her heart at that moment.  The pause as a wave gathers offshore. That quiet, yet momentous moment before it spills over and rushes to the shore.  She sees in her mind as the sea devours the sand and lashes out to bare toes, then feet, then ankles, then calves and knows the little scream one makes because of the chill the water brings.  A smile forms and she opens her eyes. 

     Her scarf flutters over her eyes shielding the view that she wants to see of what she was thinking.  She wants to see what she hears of the children.  Was she not a carefree child not more than it takes for a wave to melt a sand castle?  She pulls back the scarf the color of indigo blue and sand.  It was as light and wispy as a lazy kite in the sky. 

     She inhales and the acrid smell of seaweed lying on the beach hits her nose.  The smell brings up memories of dragging large seaweed ropes along the sand.  Or the time when they all pretended it was a large slithering snake and how her children jumped away as she ran after them with the bulbous end that might “bite” them.  She laughs slightly to herself of those times.  This is a place of joy, a place of memory making.

     The sun slips down closer to the sea almost to the point where it will be ablaze in shades of red, orange and yellow.  She knows that her family will want her there with them as the sunset begins and hits the surface then dissolves into the deep blue sea.  It was voted upon to stay at the beach till the first star twinkled in the sky.  What that really meant was till the sky was filled with stars.  They would all lie on the big quilt looking upward to count the stars and find the constellations.  Times like this made magic because of her husband.  Stories would abound as he talked.  She knew he would reach for her to cuddle close and she would listen as the boys discovered the Milky Way. 

     She begins the walk down the rocky cliff trail careful not to slip.  Her scarf is wild in the breeze that blows up to the cliffs from the beach.  She wraps it once then twice and finishes it by making a soft over under slip as though she was tying her shoelaces.  She recites to herself as she sinks her toes in the cooling sand that squishes and squashes beneath her.


i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
 i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)



(Poem i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

               by E. E. Cummings) 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

And so it goes......

My dining room is beginning to reappear.  It's been missing for the past nine months.  Removing the last personal effects from my mom's home, stuffing it wherever I could find a table, under beds, closets, and sadly even the floors when there were no other options, just getting it out of her home and closing the door forever.  Bit by bit I'm reclaiming my home and the dust that lies beneath all those boxes and table tops.  Dear daughter's bedroom....that will take some time to deal with.

What does one do with a framed honorary degree when my mom didn't go to the college but was generous in giving to the school?  I can't even begin to say how many plaques I threw out.  What would I do with them?!  If I deemed it worthy of saving for some historical family pass down, then I saved it.  Clearly my parents were movers and shakers in their social time, yet to hold on to these framed, engraved, and even a statue, I had to draw the line.  I'm proud of all the honors bestowed upon them, I just can't have it become needing of it's own trophy room.  

With months going by and my wandering in the room occasionally, I have had the chance to think about whether to keep the tall, single, glass, candle holder.  Today I decided to let it go.  It is lovely but doesn't go in our home.  Still it has taken me nine months to make the decision.  I wish I had kept the decorative asian brasier I sold because I didn't know where to put it in our home.  She would put orchids in it but wouldn't it have been entertaining to have used it the way it was meant to?  No I kept the stupid tall glass candle holder.  Those rapid fire decisions we had to make when her home sold with a 30 day closing still haunt me every once in awhile.  Then I sweep the thoughts away knowing they were just material items without any family heirloom title of how they came to be in her home.  



With Thanksgiving mere months away,  I'm determined to get the dining room emptied and cleaned.  Polish the silver that has been slowly turning blue-grey.  That will take some serious time to bring back to a sparkling clean.  Speaking of silver, what does one do with unwanted silver?  I have too many large trays.  I mean LARGE!  Who buys this stuff anymore?  Who uses this if they have it?!  The silver will be the next project of what I will keep and what will be sold.  Then E. will have her room back.  I laugh about this as I still label my children's rooms even though they don't live here.  I should say, we will have a guest room back that one won't trip over the multitude of boxes under the bed and around the room.  The closet will be another project if I don't forget what is in there.  I sort of have.....

I thought I should check the boxes on one side of the bed and low and behold I found a box full to the brim with table linens.  I thought I had absorbed it all with my linens.  Clearly not.  I put the lid back on and pushed the box under the bed.  It can wait.  I brought two more  boxes, filled with wine goblets, that I placed side by side with the other boxes with the last available space.  My conclusion being that wine glasses always seem to break and I can just replace as needed with these.  

The Asian clock is keeping me busy.  It doesn't like to stop.  If it stops and I rewind it, it gets goofy by being off by 15 minutes.  Even without fiddling with the pendulum.   I correct the hands, making sure the hour chime is right, only moving the minute hand, and it still will be off.  It takes me multiple times of correcting and finally changing the pendulum to have it working perfectly.  I had no idea it would be so fussy.  No matter, I do have a fondness for it and the quirkiness of it is probably why.  A couple of weeks ago the hour hand had come loose and was just swinging if touched instead of being firmly attached to the small square piece that it and the minute hand are attached to.  I sort of panicked, fearing I might break it if I pushed it back on.  I let it sit a day and then decided that I'm in charge of this clock and I will fix it.  I can do this!  Carefully I pushed it slowing and tentatively back in place.  It held!    Bless my mom's housekeeper for keeping that clocking working all the years it was in her home. 

And so it goes on this beautiful Indian summer day.  Trying to empty out a room and resting off and on to hopefully get rid of a lingering virus.  



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Dance Amongst Words

I'm trying to find the magic time to write when my mind is open and the house is quiet.  One would think with only two in the house that it is quiet.  It just seems that I have been doing the humdrum home care as well as enjoying the time while my middle daughter E. was visiting us.  One's children fly home and that is the time to savor with them.  My time will come.....

I've been reading blogs of others I've neglected.  I use to be able to read them with my morning coffee and then the past year swept that time and my heart away.  Sort of like listening to the radio in the car and singing with gusto.  I'm still enjoying the quiet of sitting in the car.  I find this odd but I'm going with it.  It's sort of comforting to drive along hearing the subtle sounds my car makes which isn't a lot as it is a hybrid.   I still sing at times, but I'm getting annoyed with the radio stations when they start playing the same songs that I hear a bit too much of.  Yes,  I could bring the iPod.

What thoughts transpire these days.....

I am amazed with the fact that my son is so far away.  Yes, I of course!  He is in college!  It's just such an odd feeling, me the mother of four,  the last one gone and I am just swirling this around and around in my head of how this affects me. 

I wonder if he misses us.

Does he think about us?

What does he miss most of all?

When I left home I was ready and packed as soon as I had a place to go.  But I had a Dr. Jeckll and Mr. Hyde mom that on one hand could be loving and dear and then be all over me over absolutely nothing.  So yes, I was ready to get out of the house.  I choose to go to a nearby college and since my Papa was a Developer and his business was also managing apartments that they owned, I moved into one of his apartments when I graduated from high school.  Quite the big step and we picked out furniture for the apartment from a recent closing of Model Homes that his company had built.  One special piece of furniture did not come from there.  My Love, my boyfriend all those years ago, had made me a lovely round oak table with claw feet.  

I knew nothing of cooking.  Thank goodness for my Love and his mom who had us over for dinner many a night.  That and the many afternoons I would go to her house, have tea and have the best woman to woman talks.  I cooked strange combinations of food.  Certainly not balanced.  My parents would take me out as well from time to time.  I had a lot to learn of being on my own.

My Love and I had a love nest.  It was wonderful to be with him in the evening, sort of like I imagined married life might be.  I would do my homework and he would be reading in bed.  Then I would turn out the lights and snuggle with him, night after night after night.....

My time away from home is far different than my son and that is fine by me.  

The writing....I want to dance with my thoughts!  Like having a waltz playing and my fingers and thoughts are like a dancer's feet, they tap and are ready.  Who will take my hand?  Out on the floor I will step and be caught up in the motion that will sweep me along.


Like the song "To Be Surprised", that I will be....whatever flows will flow.

Very soon we will be back East, exactly where we were two years ago to the date of our daughter K. and her hubby B.'s wedding!



I'm looking forward to walking in the field they were married in.  To see the changing colors just as we did and let my mind fill with the sweet memories of that whole wedding trip. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Choose Love



Without children living at home, the new title of empty nester still quite new, my thoughts swoop to places uncharted.  Only fifteen days without R. in the nest and fifteen days of being a "just the two of us" with five of those at a family wedding.  Stop counting Ellen.  That is me, the one who logs down emotions and thoughts, calculations of living.  I can't help it. 

So what one may ask, is transpiring in those thoughts?  A lot.  Given that it has been a year of extreme lows and extreme highs I can't help but think these thoughts belong on a trapeze.  Swinging back and forth, being caught (God I love my husband for holding me tight), swinging out freely on my own (God I'm grateful for my self-stability and trust in myself), then from lofty heights I fall into a soft net of my loving family.

After watching my mom lose herself from Alzheimer's, with urgency I wish to live more fully.  I want to do it all.  I want to go everywhere, NOW.  Not later, now.  I want to smell every flower, touch the softness of every petal and hold it's delicate blossom knowing soon it will fade.  It's not that I am thinking of my own demise, though those thoughts certainly have come up when you lose your parents and wonder "what now?".    Rather than take that step to that door, I choose life and that other door called living.  

Sometimes my thoughts travel back to when Papa died and that turning point where I knew my mom was dying, figuratively, because she gave up on ever being truly happy again.  Fourteen years of living but not wanting to be living.  Then the last three + years where her brain became emptied unvoluntarily.  I've wondered if her ability to love was only for him.  What might cause one to abandon the essence of loving?   One can give and give your love to someone who has given up on love and in doing so you can become weakened and can find yourself hurt, angry, and in the end with my mom I became empathetic.  Deep inside I knew there was nothing left that I could do to help her.  

I'm blessed to be married to this man, my Love.  He has loved me through every stage of my life and I to him.  We both yearn to see the world and to be with our family whenever we can.  I'm ready to allow myself to be silly, something that has been lost to me for quite some time.  Laugh at myself, love myself, discover who I am and whom I shall continue to learn about.  



Time is precious.  Neither of us want to waste a moment to live in happiness.  We can't avoid the days that surely will come of grief or sadness.  Slump days will happen, illness will happen, days of utter delight will happen.  Balance.  Karma.  Yin-Yang.  

What I'm observing in myself since R. has left is the renewal of the amazing relationship I have with my Love.  It's sort of like dating all over again.  And that is pretty darn fun.  I'm learning to listen with intent and not with "uh-huh" half heartedly.  When you are in a relationship that spans as long as we have you can sometimes not listen with both ears.  I've done this and he has too.  I'm ready to woo and be wooed.  So what that we have been married for 37 years?  Let's begin again and again.....

 I choose Love.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Going. Be Brave.




It's Sunday, the day before we leave to take R. to college.  He is packed, the earliest I've ever seen him pack up to go anywhere.  I showed him how to fold a dress shirt and gave him a lesson of how my mom would pack her clothes.  Lay the garment button side down, take some tissue doubled and lay it flat on top of the garment, fold to about 2 inches to the neck down the body of the shirt, folding sleeves carefully in the body on top of the previous fold, fold again in half.  My mom for extra measure to prevent wrinkles would add extra tissue before the fold.  Sometimes she would then lay the garment inside a dry cleaners bag before putting in a suitcase.  It worked.  Prevented some serious wrinkles.  R. won't be doing this but the pearls of wisdom must be shared if only for me to talk out loud with motherly advice.

My Love is wandering around, bringing items to R.'s room.  Something he normally does not do.  He took a long bike ride and a short nap but then he was looking for what he could do to help.  Clearly R. needs no help from us.  We have passed this on over the years leading up to this day.

And I, what do I do?  I was great this morning.  Happy and cheerful.  I went to my gym and all was well until the folding advice.  Then it started, the thoughts of him being away and my tears that run down my cheeks, come and go.  I have a hard time with goodbyes.  Even when I know that I will see a loved one again.  It's the goodbye.  I washed the last few items he was going to pack and laid them on his crumpled bedsheets.   When R. was little I taught him how to make his bed and explained that it was a chore that he was responsible for.  And he did make that bed every day except Friday when it was sheet changing day.  He has always been responsible.

Then he became a teen and the bed chore sort of passed.  Having had the three girls before him and all the difficulties of what to push with teenagers, I chose to let that go.  Pick your battles.  A bed not made is not a big deal.  I don't sleep in it and it is out of my view.  The one day of the week I make it is sheet washing day.  I did it lovingly because I knew there would be a day he would not be here and this room would languish in a slumber that empty rooms do till someone needs that bed.  

His room use to back up to ours from birth till near 4th grade when we moved him back to one of his sister's former rooms.  We got a queen bed instead of moving the twin knowing that he would be growing.  That queen bed gave him the ability to sleep diagonal which I never could understand.  It gave him the ability to make the duvet go sideways and the sheets pushed to the foot of the bed unused.  Pillows all over the place but always on the bed.  Frankly I couldn't sleep that way but for his teenage rest it was heaven.  He does like that bed and now he will have to resort to Twin XL.  From four pillows to two.  From mom changing sheets to him doing it all.

Quiet day, heavy in the air of departure.  Lost parents not knowing which way to go.  Not knowing what to say to each other because any possible thought could send us both into an emotional trigger of tears.  "Be brave", my mommy mantra of the day that is said calmly in my head and heart.

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