witness

we parents…we watch our children grow with wistful eyes and full hearts

bearing witness through the stages of life, as they run and float and fly

one day nursing a tiny wrinkled newborn…the next, it seems, standing by a grown son or giving away a bride

the days between fall, one by one, like autumn leaves, until we give our child to the world to carry on

but for this lingering son, there will be no wedding day, no firstborn, no flight from the nest

his life is different, yes, but his alone…and we who love him bear witness to that life, to his existence, to the meaning of it all

©2018

home

home. the word evokes mental pictures, memories, feelings, and for most…a deep longing.

i say the word often, as lingering son completes his third week in icu. home evokes feelings of hope for him. hope for family, hope for normalcy and routine. hope for love over perfunctory politeness.

hope for the place everyone knows how he communicates, where everyone speaks to him as an adult, where there is comforting, and no one asks ‘what does he go by?’.

home is where wiggling toes or shoulder shrugs are greeted with encouragement. where his wrinkled brow says he needs a change of pace, or something isn’t right. home is where he is part of life, not someone’s job for the day.

we hope to go home in the morning.

it’s about time.

©2018

vinegar pie

my mom was not a very good cook. she was a lot of things…smart, pretty, educated, and opinionated. but cooking was not her strong point. 

i’m pretty sure she got the ‘not a great cook’ gene from my grandma. i remember Sundays visiting with the kids, taking with us a box of fried chicken from Knott’s…in self defense to her dreaded meatloaf. its  makings were a mystery, but i wager there were far more cracker crumbs than meat in that loaf, and what meat there was, was eighty percent fat. meatloaf aside, no one loved you like Grandma. she made wonderful noodles that i’ve still never replicated. the less than aptly named ‘never fail noodles’.

i have a recipe from my Grandma’s tin, handwritten and a bit faded. it’s for Vinegar Pie. she won a pie baking contest one year (bad year for fruit??) with this pie. my mind conjures up visions of sour faced judges, fresh from the pickle competition…

we’ve all heard the saying ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. well, vinegar pie is my lemonade.

we all have vinegar in our lives. it’s useful for some things, usually in small quantities. it offsets too much sweetness, and lends its own tangy flavor. on its own, it is sour and disagreeable. blended with the right balance of ingredients, it turns into something good. like vinegar pie. 

thank you, Grandma Woolverton. your chicken noodles are still the best i’ve ever tasted, though it’s been nearly 30 years. and Mom…you taught me well. maybe not cooking, but i learned how to comment, editorialize, and advocate…from you. 💞

©2018

advocate mom

i’ve seen many moms like her, a few dads too…though this seems most often a women’s land

she is standing outside a meeting room, rifling through the mix of papers in the bag she carries with her, everywhere. inside is a confusion of old name tags, pens, and half eaten energy bars that seem to multiply overnight

after quickly checking her phone for messages about kids at school, or work, or a disaster call from the nurse at home, she draws a breath, smoothes her shirt, and runs her fingers through her hair. she’s often a bit rumpled from the early morning drives, and lack of sleep…and is usually seen with a cup of coffee nearby

this mom is a warrior. an advocate for her family and others like them. she cannot stop, or something may be missed…or may fall apart. she won’t let that happen, not on her watch

she is relentless. she is vigilant. she is tireless…yet, at the end of the day, she feels an exhaustion only known by others like her, and by marathon runners

there is no pay, and little recognition. the rewards are often intangible. she is doing more for all of us, every one, and for those yet to come…because she must.

change requires all we have to give. it requires giving up your shyness and taking up a pen, or speaking into a microphone. change requires learning about things you haven’t known before, and then teaching others. she may never see the change she fights so hard for, but she knows she gave her all… a damn good try…and will leave something for others to build upon tomorrow

©2018

the box

slowly, reluctantly, i close the lid on the small, scarred, cedar box

it had been mine as a young girl, but somewhere along the way it became yours.. i suppose it’s mine again, these details are difficult to fathom, even on the best of days

i gently, almost reverently, open the box again, and take in its contents…

your worn wallet, holding the license that expired nearly a decade ago, a tiny copy of your diploma (a sign of how young you were when you carried it)

there is a picture of a girl you loved, and some paper money of a sort no longer printed, and a two dollar bill from Grandpa

in the box are a few notes, and pins that never were put on your school jacket, keys for cars no one owns and for motorcycles in pieces scattered like leaves

a letter from a college, an old empty shotgun shell, and a couple of arrowheads you found near the creekside

pay stubs from two jobs, and business cards from people you met…i wonder if you ever cross their minds

a couple of old collectible coins in holders that you saved like treasures through the years

there’s a plastic bag, inside are some locks of hair they shaved before your first brain surgery…they always hand this to the mom, i don’t know why

i found myself clinging to everything that was you, and so twelve years later, i still have that bag

i used to look through the box as though i might find you there

or maybe the secret to unlock your prison and set you free…but it’s not in there

i let the weight of the lid fall, and silently slip the box into its place on the shelf, until i next feel the need to visit

i’ve started a new box now, just as you have started over

it’s very different, just as you, we, are all changed…but life is about change, isn’t it?

©2018

fathers

we see you

night after night, without fail

after a long day’s work, you are here in his room

you, who can barely boil water, learned to mix medications, and to prepare his tube feedings

you patiently remove shoes and socks from uncooperative feet, ready the hospital bed, and gently lift your youngest son from his wheelchair

you speak…talking to him about your day, his…about the farm, and music for the long night, as you undress your boy. it’s no easy task…were  he to stand, he’d be taller than you, now

gently, with a father’s strength, you stretch stiff muscles and straighten resistant joints…all the while speaking and comforting. this is your evening ritual

you manage the feeding tube with one hand, once unfamiliar, and now just another part of your day. you tell him what you are doing every step… medications, a meal…water. water. simple, yet sustaining. the most basic of needs

pillows are fluffed and strategically placed, the quilt drawn up and tucked in

you kiss your lingeringson, and he relaxes into sleep. he will open his eyes at 4am, when he hears your bootsteps approach on the wood floor

he waits for your good bye at 5 am, and listens as you quietly close the back door and begin your day again

this is not what you planned or envisioned, it just…is

you are a father, caring for his son with love and with grace, dedication and determination

you are amazing

©2018

 

miracles

spring is a conundrum…

of new life, of beauty bursting from the grey winter deadwood…and memories of loss, pain, and a life that now would never be

not the same, anyway

not the one expected

that life is now the grieved for…

the possibilities and promise that lay crumpled, and destroyed…left behind somewhere in the wreckage as they pulled you, lingering son, free

my eyes wander to the flowerbeds under my bedroom windows, to the roses you planted there

they’ve had to fend for themselves these past twelve years

and they thrive…like you and me they continue on, a bit crooked, uneven…

what didn’t live has fallen away, leaving scars and bare spots…so much like our lives

but here and there, seemingly at random, vibrant life bursts forth

there is beauty, and wonder…

there are miracles

©2018