Tag Archive | mother

The Boy on the Beach…

 

Handicapped young man standing at the shore break

The tide crept in as the sun shone high over head.
The waves steady and loud crashed upon the shore with each roll of the tide.
Shifting in our seats as perspiration found its way across our skin, we watched silently at the lone figure just at the shore break.
His thin body dancing as sea-foam touched his toes.
His arms flailing above his head, mouth screeching with excitement.
Next to me my husband straightened and placed his hands upon the arms of his chair.
The waves grew with each approaching tide, and yet, the young man remained at the edge of the water.
My relaxed feet upon the sand, now steadied themselves into a standing position, I too shifted in my chair.
He was not your ordinary teenager… he was special.

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Why was he alone at the beach? Surely there was someone nearby…
Crashing at his knees, the waves rose towards the young man.
His unsteady legs beat against the sand as he charged the slope of the beach.
“AAAhhh,” he screamed in desperation.
Stopping, he turned to eye the water and without pause, chased the receding water to the rocky edge of the shore.
Eyeing my husband in silent conversation, we watched worriedly.
My husband shifted uncomfortably forward, preparing himself to rescue the man-child should the ocean catch him off guard.

IMG_0206A splash of red caught our eyes as a woman quickly descended upon the beach.
Her eager hand caught the teenager as a wave perilously charged overhead.
Rising we watched, ready, worried.
Giddy and energized, the boy stumbled behind his mother, she smiling through her panic.
Falling, the water tumbled across their bodies as they crawled haphazardly away from the shore rocks.
Her voice was lost to us, but her smile remained throughout her rescue.
He, unaware of his peril. She, fully committed to his safety.
Holding onto one another, they weathered the wave one after another.
Laughter rising above the waves, easing our worry.
We lowered ourselves into our chairs…
Watching as mother guided, warned, encouraged, and loved her son while embracing a day at the beach.

Humanity in an Unexpected Place

Her aged hands shook as she focused in on the bottle precariously held in her left hand. A whisp of gray fell from her forehead covering her eyes as she sighed heavily. I couldn’t help but watch her with curiosity as I moved quietly around her in the theater bathroom. She placed the bottle down upon the counter and pulled out a folding cup from her weathered bag atop a brown battered suitcase. She paid no mind to me as I took longer than usual to wash and dry my clean manicured hands. Worn and full of story, her fingers found the capsule within the bottle and she placed it on her pale tongue. She moved with ease as she filled her cup half full with water and placed it to her dried lips, swallowing the pill without hesitation. I stared at the suitcase through the mirror as I pulled a small brush from my Kate Spade purse. It’s markings were from years of wear and tear, perhaps a discarded piece of luggage from someone no longer wanting it. Its wheels were battered and the material torn in various areas not accustom to being worn. The elderly lady tucked her cup and pill bottle away and from the front pocket of her suitcase, a small tub of tooth paste emerged along with a tooth-brush. I knew I shouldn’t stare, so I averted my eyes as I put my brush away and dismissed myself from the cold, brown walls of the theater bathroom.
What was this woman doing in the theater, I wondered as I stood silently in the lobby of the vacant entertainment hall? Could this woman be homeless, could she be traveling and just killing time before checking into a hotel? Curious, I stood looking at placards in the lobby waiting to see if the old woman would emerge from the restroom. She did. Rolling her bag behind her, step by step she shuffled her feet towards the vending area where she asked for water. The young man behind the counter smiled and asked how she was doing. She forced a smile toward him, trying to make him feel better as he place a cup of water in front of her. He turned slightly and pulled out a small container that housed a wrapped sandwich and a bag of chips.
“My mom made me an extra sandwich tonight. I thought you might like it later.” He pushed the food toward her with a slight hint of a smile. Her hands, those old dry hands, shook slightly as she placed them on the gift.
“You are so kind to me,” she said.
I turned away from the two at the counter and felt my heart-break. She was someone’s child, perhaps mother, sister, wife or grandmother. What was her story… what did it matter? It made me angry, angry at our society, government, families and myself! How could I let this go on and not lift a finger to do anything? I searched my purse for cash, any cash that I could graciously give to this frail eighty-plus year old woman. But I had nothing but a wallet full of credit cards that lay at my beck and call whenever I got the urge to shop. Shaking my head in annoyance, I looked up to see the counter boy looking at me. He smiled as if he knew what I was trying to do.
“Ma’am, your movie is about to start,” he called over to me, “You might like to take your seat.”
I looked at the kind smile that the little lady gave to me as she followed his words across the room.
“Oh, uh… thank you.” I replied hesitantly. I snapped my purse shut and slowly turned towards the movie theater door.
“I’m just going to sit over here for a while and rest my feet, if you don’t mind,” the feeble lady quietly said, as my hand pulled at the door to my movie.
“Not a movie tonight?” the young man responded, smiling and offering her a soft chair over the hard bench she was now resting upon.
“If you think there’s one I might like….” she seemed to perk up.
Quietly, the door I was holding shut behind me, shutting out the conversation I so longed to hear. I couldn’t bare to think that this little old lady was homeless, alone, and trying to find some shelter from the evening heat in this old theater.
The music sounded as I sat down upon my velvet red seat. My daughter smiled toward me and patted my hand as we began our mother-daughter movie outing. I was lucky and I knew it. I had everything I ever wanted in life… love of a great family, enough money to be comfortable, and a wonderful house to call home. As I squeezed my daughter’s hand, I prayed that the little old lady would find some peace tonight within the walls of the theater.
The door opened behind me, spreading light across the chairs and movie screen. Hushed whispers turned heads of patrons already watching the previews. I too, turned to see the late arrivals as they made their way down the darkened aisle. There she was, holding tightly to the counter boy’s elbow as he guided her to a seat just a few rows before me. He placed her food in her lap, and from his shoulder he pulled down a small throw blanket that he placed over her frail body, tucking its loose edges around her legs to keep her from catching cold in the air-conditioned room. I could feel my daughter’s stare as she watched the scene unfold before us. “Isn’t that sweet?” she whispered into my ear. “It must be his grandmother.”
A small tear slid down my cheek as I patted her hand… “It must be.” I whispered back, knowing the truth would break her heart. “She is lucky to have him in her life,” I whispered as the theater darkened and the movie began.
When we rose hours later to leave the theater, I looked over at the little old lady still resting on the red velvet seat. She did not stir, she made no move to leave…perhaps she was asleep or waiting for the boy to aid her…perhaps she found her final peace having felt the kindness of a generous counter boy. I will never know, but I wonder. I wonder every time I see an elderly lady on the street or in a grocery store, or when a homeless person quietly stretches their hand in my direction. They are a reminder that life is too short to be selfish and naive, and that now is the time for me to do something about it. This is for you my Little Theater Woman and counter boy.

The Chocolate Chip Monster

FullSizeRender-2When I was little I lived in a house with four boys. Life was always an adventure…even when it was quiet. And on days like today, when the house creaks in its stillness, I can’t help but think of one of my brothers who’d undoubtedly snicker at me if he saw what I was doing.

He was the second oldest child and probably the sneakiest. I’m sure he would disagree with me, but the truth be told, he was so charming that he could get away with murder and no one would ever know or care. So it should be no surprise when I say that he was notorious for raiding the kitchen when no one was around. Oh, he wasn’t one of those kids that were obsessed with food… he just had a craving for a particular item that would vanish in the night. He was clever. No one ever saw him taking the item out of the cabinet, nor eating it for that matter. But sure enough, whenever my mother reached for this sweet delectable, it was GONE. You could only imagine the horror on my mother’s face when a bake sale was looming and her chocolate chips were missing!!

Talk about an inquisition! Every child would be summoned to the living room where my father threatened groundings if whomever took the chips didn’t step forward. My oldest brother stood with his arms crossed glowering at each of us, as if to say, fess up or I’ll take you out. My youngest brother always piped up saying he wished he had taken them. And of course, I was the princess and we all know that princesses never take anything without asking. So that left child number one and two to battle it out as to who took the coveted chocolate chips.

FullSizeRender-1 Oh, I know what you are thinking right now… You’re probably wondering why chocolate chips were such a big deal. First, have you  seen the price of chocolate chips? Crazy, I know. You’d think they were produced in the Swiss Alps or something. Have you ever lived  in a house where dessert was a rare and unique thing? It was in my house. Can you imagine how many bake sales and classroom  parties my mother had to do with five children? Chocolate Chips were a BIG thing.

So back to my two brothers, sixteen months apart, standing in front of us denying any association to the chocolate delight.

“Just tell the truth,” my dad would plead. But both would stand their ground.

To this day I’m not sure what it really mattered. The chips were gone. It’s not like they were going to upchuck the little morsels and my mom could get back to her baking. The inquisition would usually end with my dad grounding all of us until someone came forward to tell the truth. Which, quite frankly, never worked. The reality of it was… we would drive our mother crazy grounded to the house, and she would finally kick us all outside and lock the door! (I don’t blame her.)

Then one day my brother got caught red handed. I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. He obviously was not on his game. He had to be seventeen years old and he stood in the kitchen with the bag dangling from his fingers. You’d think after years of taking them on the sly that he would have a better response then, “I felt like something sweet.” But no, he just stood there with his charming smile throwing my mom off her game. She laughed, he laughed and the gig was up.2015-01-26_1723

Fast forward to today…. You know, the quiet house and me? I had finished my workout and did my chores when a craving for something sweet took over me. What did I want? What could be left in my house of low carbs, vegetables and fruit? Ahh… You guessed it. CHOCOLATE CHIPS! Sweet little morsels of chocolate just calling my name. Why were they still here? Don’t laugh… but I’ve always bought more than I needed incase someone should become a Chocolate Chip Monster like my brother. So I paused inside the pantry as I argued with myself whether to raid the bag or not. And then a sly smile crossed my face as I thought of my brother and I said out loud, “I just feel like something sweet!”

Oh My Gosh… like brother, like sister… a Chocolate Chip Monster rises again!

Missouri Streets

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We all are inspired by someone…perhaps a famous athlete, actor, politician, or better yet, a parent. But for me, each and every day that I sit down to write, I think of one person that I most want to emulate… and that is my daughter. My amazingly creative daughter has more God given talent for writing than most people her age, or anyone for that matter. When she was little I saw it… a natural ability to tell cute little stories with full beginning, middle and ends. And then she began to really write, blowing away all of us around her with her profound thoughts and incredible vocabulary. Her thoughts were transferred onto a page with such pure honesty, that one couldn’t help but wonder if the person standing in front of us was the author, or was she so talented that she could write as another person altogether. Her first poem was published by Seventeen magazine while she was still in middle school. And since then, she has quietly hid her work in sketchbooks next to her bed or in a chest often unnoticed by anyone passing by. But I know they are there…full of her most inner thoughts and her most creative masterpieces… unseen for fear that they are not worthy of a reading. I don’t open them, of course, as a writer’s work is their’s alone… but every once in awhile she will send a text from college with an incredible saying or poem and I text back, “Who’s the author… it’s so beautiful.” Her answer still surprises me… “It’s me mom! Who’d you think???” I thought maybe Dickinson, Hughes… any of the greats… that’s right…she is GREAT. And so when she sent this poem during the Ferguson Riots, I thought that she had found some new poet, a new “modernist” if you will… and maybe she did… in herself. At twenty-one she managed to personify another person’s views so perfectly that she even had me fooled yet again. And although it was sent by text, and my formatting may be incorrect… I think you will understand it’s incredible message. I titled it… Missouri Streets:

Missouri Streets

They’re lynching us

to their trees,

with lead

and powder,

And it’s like

Granddad said:

The invisible man

 has found his camera,

but these shouts sound louder

than a cry for justice.

We say

they turn us into

the shadow of monsters

and shake the

ground that

brings us water,

thirsting for more

to help

this protest

grow,

But we ain’t

got no water,

we aint got no

heat,

And we’re shaking to our

bones

In these Missouri streets.

This is why my daughter is  my inspiration…a true wordsmith. I wish I could share more, but for now she let this one be seen… I hope it won’t be long before she let’s go of her most prized work and THEN, you will know why I want to grow up to be like her.IMG_3046

The White Villa Lessons

courtesy of hotel andalusia

photo-google images

The large white villa stood out amongst the tiny Spanish community with its  shutters and wide array of fruit trees. How long it had stood there was a mystery to the family inside. They had come to like the gated house with all its unique architectural features and massive pool. It was the 1960’s, and life here was a colossal of changes for this family of seven. Inside the gates, the boys chased each other around the yard until they managed to find their way out and up the cliffs that loomed above their home. The girl, quiet and tiny, played with her dolls and watched as her mother bartered with the traveling gypsies. It was a world like none they had ever known… one that would leave a lasting impression on them long after they returned to their own homeland.
It was here that some of my most fundamental characteristics were embedded into my being. I, of course, didn’t know it at the time. But now looking back, I realize my experience in Spain affected me in more ways than I ever knew possible. You see, I was that little girl playing with her dolls and watching her mom as she helped the gypsies feed and cloth their young. They say that children learn from a young age, and perhaps I did too. I never really knew when I got the desire to help others… to not judge them by their looks or occupations, but I have a pretty good idea that it was when I was there in Spain. Some of my earliest memories are of this time in my life. It was the first time I had ever seen a gypsy, starving artists, and my first person with dementia. I can still see them vividly in my mind because I remember my own mother’s reaction to all of them. She smiled, she offered help, she did not judge.

photo of gypsy girls

courtesy google images

You could only imagine the chaos when the first gypsies arrived at our gates asking for food and clothing. All of us kids came running to the gate, gawking and whispering to each other. I smile now thinking how crazy they must have been to have come to a house with five children who were passing clothes down the line. But still my mom found clothes to give them. If they asked for food…she found that too. We were not wealthy. We lived in the large white villa only because it was the only house that could fit our large family. I don’t know how my poor father managed to pay for it, as the military didn’t pay him much…but he lived by the motto “If there’s a will there’s a way,” and he and my mother managed to provide for us.

One day a painter came to the tall wrought iron gates and needed food. He looked as though he had been living down by the river and us kids watched him earnestly. He had his paintings with him and was surprised when my mother asked if he’d like to trade. She figured he would rather feel as if he bought the food. My mother selected two paintings, bullfighters in green and blue… he took fruit, meat and small rolls. To this day his paintings hang in my parent’s home…a reminder to all of us children the importance of generosity with humanity.

Then one day I travelled with my mother and our maid (every one had them there) to her home in a small neighboring village. As we walked up to her tiny cottage a large basket swung from ropes in the gently wind. Inside, our maid’s ninety-eight year old mother lay like an infant cooing and babbling like a baby. She was all shriveled up and sucking on her bony thumb. My six-year-old eyes bulged from their sockets as I stared down at her and wondered what on earth was an old lady doing in a baby’s basket. My mother gently nudged me on with a smile and whispered not to stare. But I was mesmerized. I had NEVER EVER seen anything so odd in my short life. But when we returned to our car, my mother told me that the woman had lost her memory and thought she was a baby. That sometimes things happen when we get old and we must not judge people for things that they cannot control. And now…when I see something odd… I think about this small lesson from Spain and find understanding and compassion for those that cannot control their destiny.

The truth is, it was a big house that held within it great memories for five American children. The stories are countless…but the lessons from that period in my life are by far some of the best ones a child could treasure. They are lessons that mold and shape the tiniest of people into caring, loving and understanding human beings. Sometimes it’s nice to think about where those lessons came from…. thanks mom and dad for those days in Spain and all that followed.

Born to Read, an Addiction to Books

photo 3     She sat with her nose in the novel as my brothers fought over something, what I don’t know. It really didn’t matter. What mattered was all hell was breaking loose and my mom, the more than avid reader, continued to read.

“Mom!” I said with some urgency. “They’re going to kill  each other.”

“Mmmm…” she replied without making a move. I could see there was no getting through to her while the book was planted firmly in her grip. So I did the only thing I thought I could  do… I snatched the book right out of her hand and jumped back a good two feet from where she sat. Her eyes shot up to meet mine in disbelief. She was utterly surprised, almost confused as to where she was. That’s when my mom heard the ruaucus my brothers were making and jumped up to intervene.

My mom has a problem….she’s addicted to books. You think I’m kidding, I know, but really… there is no other way to describe  her fetish for  books. I’m not sure if she always read or if she turned to books to escape from five children, four who were boys. But ever since I was small my mom has read. I can still see her sitting in a chair reading late into the evening, or resting on a lounge chair in the sun with a book in her hand. She’s the type of addict that even carried her book in her purse! I remember when the “book cover purse” arrived on the market, my mom thought it was just the cat’s meow. She could “camouflage” her latest read. But of course we all knew what she was up to. What she didn’t know was we were always aware when she was secretly reading… we could get away with murder. My mom disappeared into her books for hours, living life in another place and time. I know, I know…it sounds like she ignored us. If she had been smart she would have. But the truth was, she was and still is a very devoted mom. She was the PTA mom, Booster organizer, perfect neighbor AND Crazy lady that carried her book around… so she could read a few lines here or there between her very active children.

Recently I went home to visit my parents. My mom is in her seventies now and still fun to be with…until the book comes out. Still she reads like a crazy fool.

“Mom,” I said. “You can read when I’m gone! Put the book down!” (I felt like I was the MOTHER!)

“But I’m almost done, and you know this is the best part…” she said sheepishly.

How could I deny her the end of the book? So I shuffled back to my guest room to flop down on my futon, because heaven knows there isn’t room for a bed in my mother’s READING ROOM! On all four walls as high as my eyes could take me there were books alphabetized by author. THOUSANDS of BOOKS! I know you think I’m kidding, but see for yourself. I began counting, as I had done many times before when I slept in this room during a visit. (It’s like counting sheep…I’d be exhausted at 1, 219 and be out like a light.) But somewhere during my counting, I began reading the titles and authors, and looking at the covers…and I realized I have no real idea how many books now graze the walls of this room, but I do know that MY MOTHER IS ADDICTED TO BOOKS! VERY ADDICTED TO BOOKS!


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And so I got to thinking about my twenty-one year old daughter. I was in her college apartment recently when she asked me for a new bookshelf. I surveyed her room and noted the books piling up three walls. She is my mother reincarnated… SERIOUSLY! From the time she could read she fell in love with books. We could not “borrow them” from the library. She had to buy her own books and keep them.  So over the years she has accumulated enough books for a library to give her grandmother a run for her money. Years ago when the Kindle came out, I thought… Wow! I could get my daughter this and she’d be in heaven. Oh NO! Not a Kindle, tablet nor anything else that was not a book was allowed in her life!

“Mom,” she began, “Any REAL literature major wouldn’t be caught dead reading a book on a tech device! We love the feel of the book, the smell…it’s the whole experience mom! Don’t get me one of those damn things…I WON’T use it.”

I smiled a sly smile and nodded my head. I had to agree with her…there’s nothing like a good book in your hands drawing you into a world unlike your own. I wouldn’t insult her by giving her the book of the future. Instead we trucked down to a nearby book store and used the money I would have spent on the tech device to bring home another stack of books. We were both in heaven.

I guess it is a good thing to have a mom who loves to read…for she passed her love of literature to all of us children and I, to mine. I’m almost afraid to read a novel because, to be honest, I am just like my mother, my daughter is like me…we see no evil, hear no evil….We just read and the world passes us by. I NEVER pick up a book to read if I know I have something else I should be doing. But if there is nothing on the schedule, I will read day and night and go without food to finish the book I’m reading. It’s just in the blood…

We were born to read, we have an addiction to books!

#addiction to books

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