Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would’ve been my dad’s 92nd birthday, if he were still alive. Though we lost him 24 years ago, I still miss him terribly. He had a way about him that made you want to be him. Maybe because he really didn’t care what other people thought of him, though he’d bend over backwards to help you out if you were in need or trouble. Or his yuk yuk laugh. Or that he always wore blue jeans – long before it was cool.

He loved boats – I think because secretly he had a wanderer’s heart and always wanted to travel the world. In fact, the last day of his life, he had gone to the harbor to watch the boats with his wife. Later that day, he passed in his sleep. But I’m glad that it was in a safe and loving place.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope there are boats, Budweiser, and country music, wherever you are.

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Out of Sorrow Comes Joy

First, I’d like to say thank you to all of you who expressed sympathies about losing my dog Maggie last week. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me except to say, it meant a lot. So, thank you to everyone.

Going against my natural instincts, I decided to adopt another dog, rather than wait. I think that Maggie would’ve been happy about that. In fact, I am too. Because out of the deep sorrow I felt at losing my dog of 13 years, I am now feeling immense joy from the new puppy. Lily.

I will always have the old memories of Maggie – she was a remarkable dog – a remarkable ‘person’ and can’t be replaced. But Lily is a little white bundle of joy and I look forward to making new memories with her.

If you have lost a beloved pet, I empathize with you. Deeply. It is a profoundly sad experience. But if you are holding off in adopting a new pet, don’t. Please, don’t. There are so many wonderful animals out there just waiting to find a loving family. And you could be that family.

God Bless.

Annie

This Father’s Day

Every year around Father’s Day I get a little weepy because my dad is no longer with us. Put frankly, I miss the hell out of him. I wish he were still here. I wish today I was taking him out for a pancake breakfast and a round of mini-golf, or trekking out to (God forbid) Disney Land so we could go It’s a Small World and the Pirates of the Caribbean a bagillion times.

I think about times we could have spent together but didn’t because we lived 3,000 miles apart. I still can’t listen to Johnny Cash without getting teary-eyed because Cash was one of Dad’s favorites. Ditto with Budweiser commercials, Rodeo movies, and soft-serve chocolate ice cream.

I think my dad was my very first friend. I suppose I am like millions of other daughter’s who were daddy’s girls. And my memories of him are like a crazy mixed-up collage of lessons learned, laughs shared, reflections, realizations, simple pleasures, weird adventures, heated debates and knowing that I was loved.

Dad wasn’t perfect – far from it and I have no desire to idolize him. He was a man with many flaws and could be stubborn as hell. But he was real and he was honest. He knew who he was. He took his responsibilities seriously but he never took life too seriously. He wasn’t politically correct, subtle or fashionable. He was just Lucky. He was just a man who worked hard, loved his family and did everything he could to help and he was my dad.

Happy Father’s Day Dad – hope all is well where you are – that you’re having fun and finding lots of things to laugh about – that the coffee is hot and strong, that the sun is shining and you’re spending time watching the boats in the harbor. That your camera always has film, your radio has a country music station and calories don’t count in heaven.

Love,
Me

Oh Mother – Theme Friday

Oh Mother…

you gave me birth

but I often wondered why

I never pleased you

I often made you cry

I was too sullen

too fat, too shy

Too quiet, too noisy

too low, too high

Neither the baby

nor first-born

I tread in the middle

Feeling forlorn

Professing maternal love

with tears and supplication

and criticized my actions

with promised damnation

Oh Mother…

I sought your praise

in everyone I met

left feeling needy

from that foolish sucker’s bet

copyright 2010

Christine and her mother….

Teapot – Theme Friday

I’m a little teapot, short and stout – here is my handle, here is my spout…” Before I ever knew what those words meant, I sung them to amuse grown ups. Mommy…Daddy…aunties and uncles.  The words gave me a fleeting power to command the eyes, ears and attention of adults. For those few moments, I ruled, cavorted, made them laugh and praise me — using my blond ringlets and fetching dimples to their maximum power.

It wasn’t long though before I connected the words to the vessel that made tea. A wonderous liquid with healing capabilities far beyond touted claims. The power to comfort. The power to reassure. The power to warm. The power to make a sick little girl feel not so sick, not so lonely.

And tea had its greatest power when I was ill. Mama always made me tea and toast whenever I was sick. Oddly, when I was sick and Mama went through the tea and toast ritual it was the only time I felt unconditional love emanating from her. Bringing a tray into my darkened sick room, Mama spoke softly – felt my forehead and smiled at me as though I were the center of the universe. Truth be told, there were times when I wasn’t as sick as I pretended to be. I craved her love so—to be the owner of all her attention and care. To remove my siblings from the equation…

Granny’s teapot, a relic we inherited, was once grand and lovely. All the way from County Cork Ireland it traveled to find its new home in America. I don’t much remember Granny because she left us when I was very small.  Eyes the color of jade, clear and unmutuable—hands white as milk with fine blue veins pulsing beneath the skin.

That teapot became Granny in my mind – fine structure, but ancient in its wage against time.  Pale and edged in faded gold and a spray of faded pink roses front and back. And from it came comfort, strength, love and reassurance. And I cried the day it finally died by suicide from a high pantry shelf. Tea never tasted the same after that and I spend my weekends looking for another Granny teapot and the curative powers it imparted.

copyright 2010

What powers does Christine’s teapot have?

California – Theme Friday

It was the land of milk and honey—dreamt of often in the still of dark wintry nights. Sunshine, palm trees and movie stars. No need for galoshes or woolen caps. Where gardens thrived and lemons grew in your backyard.

“When I grow up, I’m living in California,” Jill told her mother.

“But what about Christmas?” her mother asked.

Jill shrugged. “Santa will wear his summer suit then.” Her pudgy fingers swiped at the remains of brownie batter in the bowl. The chocolatey goodness exploded on her tongue with each scoop.

“But you won’t be able to make a snow man,” her mother reminded her.

“I don’t care, I’ll go swimming instead,” Jill’s smile was chocolate covered and it made her mother laugh…

The low roar of the surf roused Jill from sleep. She turned over on her back, lest her tan be uneven but the sun blazed and she sat up, hot in the noon day dazzle. The dream or memory of she and her mother in the kitchen hugged her conscious thoughts. “When I grow up…” she said barely audible.

“Are you talking to me?” Joe asked and nestled closer to her on the sandy towels.

“Go back to sleep,” Jill hushed and looked out at the vastness of the Pacific ocean. Endless blue and sparkling. Dolphin fins sliced through the water and played tag with the sailboats bobbing and swaying against the horizon.

California was the land of summer she’d always dreamed about. Sunshine. Palm trees. And even an occasional movie star siting. Maybe not movie stars but definitely familiar faces that she’d seen on television. And the homeless who happily pushed carts and panhandled for ‘spare change’ as they hovered outside Starbuck’s. High taxes and strange politics. Lifestyles from benign to bizarre. Something for everyone. But her heart longed for home.

Today, Jill missed the crisp air and swirling leaves. And the smell of her mother’s kitchen swathed in the aroma of home-baked goods. Brightly colored scarves flapping in the wind. Corner diners serving bad coffee and good soup. Neighbors who all knew your business before you did. But more than anything her mom. The best person she knew and would ever know. A woman of infinite patience and profound kindness. Jill was missing her mom more than usual she guessed because they had missed their weekly call. In fact, now that she thought of it, her mother hadn’t returned any of the several calls Jill had made to her.
Jill fished her cell phone out of the crimson beach bag and and flipped it open. No signal. She sighed, lay down on her back, resolving to try mom later and she fell into a beachy daytime nap.

“Jill?” Mom whispered in her ear.

Jill cracked open one eye against the brightly beaming sun. “What are you doing?” Jill sat up and scooted over to make room on the towell. Her mother sat down and burrowed her pale toes into the warm sand. “I missed you, darling. I always miss you.”

Jill hugged her mother. “I miss you too, Mom. But where’s Dad? Did he come with you? And how the heck did you find me on a beach with hundreds of people?”

Jill’s mother smiled and patted Jill’s hand. “I’ve always been able to find you, no matter where you hid, now haven’t I?”

Jill heard beeping coming from somewhere and looked around. “What is that sound?”

“Honey, I have something to tell you.”

The beeping continued and with each issuance unnerved Jill. “What the…?”

Jill’s mother squeezed her hand. “Jill, you need to listen.”

The beeping grew more rapid and urgent and Jill felt frantic to discover its source. “I know Mom, but that beeping is driving me crazy. Can’t you hear that?”

“Not any more,” her mother said.

“What?” Jill turned back to her mother but could barely see her in the bright light. “God the glare coming off the ocean is unbelievably. I can hardly see you. It must be that blasted beeping, it’s so distracting.”

Jill’s mother leaned in closer and whispered. “I love you darling girl, never forget.”

“Mom?”

“Hey wake up,”Joe shook Jill a little to bring her around.

Jill opened her eyes and saw concerned brown eyes staring into hers. “Where’s my mom?”

Joe handed her some water. “Drink this, you’re dehydrated. Your mom isn’t here, honey. You were dreaming. And pretty loudly too.”

Jill jumped to her feet and looked in every direction for her mother but she was nowhere to be seen. Her heart sank a little. “It was so real. I could swear she was right here. I can still smell her perfume. I was trying to talk to her but there was this beeping sound…”

Jill’s cell phone rang then and she jumped. “Hello?”

“It’s Dad, honey…”

“This is so funny I was just dreaming about Mom…let me talk to her. She won’t believe this…it was like she was just here” The silence from her father was eerie and profound. “Dad? What’s wrong? Dad?” Jill heard that beeping again but it was coming from the phone and then it stopped suddenly.

“Jilll…”

“Oh no!” Jill cried suddenly realizing that it was the last time she would see her mother.

copyright2010

Here, Christine is California dreaming

The Sea – Theme Friday

the-sea, theme friday, writer chick, fiction

Emerald blue and crystal green dreams that rush the shore and explode in an ecstacy of froth.

Chatters hum from oiled denizen. Spray. Swat. Snooze. Kick sand. Splash. Shells sparkle – treasures given and snatched back when you reach for them.

Sun leaves its mark- red, brown, butterscotch, fushia. Flirts with clouds that fluff across the sky, waving hello and goodbye.

Laughter makes song that nestles in deep and warms our winter nights. Our Christmas by the sea.

Christine’s sea ebbs and tides here

Jess’s seashore flows here.

Hi Dad

old-truck

Hi Dad,

Another year. Another Father’s Day. I’m reminded of you in ways both good and bad.

Good because of all the laughs and late night heart to hearts. The smiles and in jokes. The funny looks and winks.

Bad because those times are gone and have been for some time. And the years march on and there are so many things that have happened that I wanted to tell you about. And I do. But I’m not really sure if you’re still ‘out there’ listening.

I know you’re still ‘here’ inside my heart. I know that I keep that place warm and safe. Keep it a nice place for you to visit.

I miss you in ways that defy words. Deep missings.

And on some level, I know that you know.

Even though I can’t call you with news and events of my whacky life – I’m hopeful you still get the memo.

I never forget. I always remember. You are my dad. My hero. My angel.

Love,

A

Connections – Theme Friday

Yes, Theme Friday is back with the original crew, me, Christine and Jess and we’re really all pretty jazzed. We hope you are too.

Danny walked slowly toward the entrance, though the rain saturated his lightweight jacket and plastered his dark hair to his forehead; he was in no hurry to get to his destination. There were many things worse than being rained on. Many things sadder than the rain.

The door felt heavier as he gave it a tug for the thousandth time. How many times had that old door met with his reluctant hand, he wondered.

Whoosh and thud, the door closed behind him and by so doing sealed him inside the jar of wasted souls, befuddled minds and the indifferent guardians of their final days. The air wore a perfume of antiseptic, age and grief. If tears had a smell, Danny thought, they would smell like this place. If broken hearts required real estate, they would live here. Danny’s shoes squeaked a lonely tune as he made his way to room 232.

Nora did not look up when Danny entered and it had been years since that was the case. The days when he could see the spark of her lighting up a room. The days when the wry smile that teased the corners of her mouth upward was quick and constant. The days when the connection of them was still there.

“Ma?” he asked, always hopeful there still existed a neuron somewhere deep within Nora that recognized his voice and could make her see him.

Nora, remained still in her chair – tiny and frail, so very alone behind the closed door that was her mind. She faced the only window that looked out on a small birch and some grass, and it seemed to melt as the rain clung to the windowpane.

Danny crossed the room to Nora and gently squeezed her shoulder to make his presence known. Her head turned slightly and he saw the suspicion in her eyes, where once love and adoration lived.

“Hi Ma,” Danny smiled. “It’s me, Danny. Your son.” And his heart ached and fell back when Nora’s eyes went vacant again, as they usually were.

It was the dinner hour and an orderly brought in a tray for Nora, nodded to Danny and was gone like a ghost on a mission of invisibility. Though Danny tried to get Nora to eat, the only thing she would open her mouth for was the tapioca. “Mmmmm,” she murmured after each spoonful and her eyes glimmered as some tapioca memory went live from the sensation of the taste in her mouth.

“You always loved your tapioca, huh Ma?” And he flashed on his own memory of being two and stuffing tapioca by the fistfuls into his mouth as a proud Nora egged him on.

“Where’s Daddy?” she asked, suddenly inhabited by her former self.
“Not here, Ma – maybe later.” There was no way to explain death to someone who doesn’t know who they are.

“Oh,” she murmured and was gone, leaving just the shell of what she was behind. They sat and watched the rain and millions of memories mimicked the millions of raindrops that tapped out a lullaby on the windowpane. Their connection had always run deep. Danny’s first memory was of her. The auburn curls he reached for. The bright blue eyes that spoke to him without words. The infectious laugh that always captured his own funny bone.

She taught him to love nature. To care for his dog, Snuffy. To cook. To say his prayers. And to always give others a second chance. Everything he knew about people he learned from her. Everything he held dear she’d given him one way or the other. What hurt Danny the most was that Nora no longer remembered the gifts she’d bestowed upon him and countless others. No longer knew the value she had given the world.

Danny came out of his reverie to find Nora asleep in her chair, snoring softly and twitching her nose. How that twitching nose had always endeared her to him, like sweet bunny rabbit entices a child.

Gently, he picked her up and marveled at her lack of weight and mass, seeming no heavier than Danny’s eight year old, Katie. With practiced care, Danny lay Nora in her bed and covered her with the thin, blue hospital blanket.

The rain continued to pummel the outside world and Danny sat with Nora a while longer – until the nurse told him it was time to go. Danny bent and kissed Nora’s forehead. “I love you, Mommy,” he whispered.

“I love you too,” Nora replied from her cocoon of sleep. And for a moment the connection re-ignited and Danny felt whole again.

Danny thanked God for that rare gift, walked out into the rain and let it join his tears.

themefrilogo

Jess is connecting here and Christine is connecting here – go connect with both of them, you won’t regret it.