Writing For The Moment

A Sticker Back in Time

No sooner had I lay the sticker on the window sill and I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen. Her kitchen window that looked out upon the back yard amidst the crowded view brought on by vases of dandelions, wishing weeds, and other long since died flowers. Gifts from her many grandchildren, all of which Grandma cherished. The window sill itself covered from edge to edge with vases, rocks – some painted, some not, stickers and other treasures. All framed in by simple cotton curtains that Grandma had sewn herself.

The cupboards were a dark wood, darker still around the edges where they were opened time and time again. In each cupboard resided an array of colorful dishes, burnt orange, avocado green, lemon yellow and chocolate brown ceramic mixing bowls in one. Tupperware containers with an assortment of lids, silver metal bowls, clear glass bowls, all used for the many foods that Grandma made for breakfast, lunch and dinner, whether it be for herself, us grandkids or for when she had c’mpany. The silverware drawer a hodge podge of utensils where a complete matching set was a treasure to be found. Many of the matching pieces long since buried in the backyard where the pirates kept their treasure hidden from the scoundrels that came searching.

The vinyl floor beneath my feet bearing the evidence of a well lived in and loved home. A place where one was always welcome no matter the reason, the length of stay, nor the conversation or lack thereof you were to give. Crumbs from graham crackers scattered in a trail leading to the back door, drips of bacon grease from the stove to the kitchen counter where an emptied pickle jar now full with hardened grease awaited to be used for fried eggs, brussels sprouts, and other things that tasted better when fried in bacon grease. A red stain, most likely Kool-Aid, that would never come clean, not even if Grandma were to get down on her tired well used knees to scrub it.

The washer and dryer at the end of the kitchen covered with baking pans, cookie sheets, and more bowls looking for a home, waiting to be used. I look closer, there on the right were two pans being used. Covered with linen dish towels. Quietly sneaking over, not making a sound as my sock feet slid one step length at a time, I lift the towel to reveal pies. The steaming warmth wafts the heavenly smell of freshly baked strawberry rhubarb into my nostrils as I inhale, deep, slow.

A noise startles me and I glance to the window in the back door. I sweep back the curtain, also made by my grandma but with a fabric that does not match the one over the sink. I see myself, a younger me all of about 8 years old. My hair is a much darker auburn red, thick, bushy, frizzy, not curly but not straight, a mass of deep fire framing my freckled face. I am running breathless across the back yard being chased by my cousin, Mikey. My sister, Lisa, and my other cousin, Bobby, are both running in the other direction. I dash through the clothes drying on the line just barely out of Mikey’s reach. A smile spreads across my face as the warmth of remembering time with my cousins wells up from within.

I turn and walk through the kitchen to the living room knowing what I will see. The TV is on with the sound turned down low, almost off. There is my grandma in her rocking chair with two large bowls vying for space in her generous lap. Her slippered feet just touching the ground gently nudge the floor to keep the rhythm of the rocker going as she snips the ends of green beans fresh off the vine from her backyard garden. The trimmed beans being prepared for canning. I listen closely so I can hear the song coming from my grandma’s mouth.

“Blessed assurance Jesus is mine!

Oh, what a foretaste of Glory Divine!

Heir of salvation, purchased by God

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Oh, this is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long……”

I can hear her voice, the one that soothed my fears, my worries, my broken heart, lulled me to sleep, and filled my life with so much unconditional love. The safe haven of my childhood remains in my mind and in my heart.

I look again and I see the sticker on the counter next to my kitchen window that overlooks my backyard, so different than my grandma’s. My counter is clear of dirty dishes that I just washed and put in the drying rack. As I look around I see a few objects that at times I think of putting away to remove the clutter. A ceramic dish that holds my rings created by the young hands of my son, painted in shades of green and red, it does not fit the decor but it fits my heart. An empty bottle formerly filled with Smoking Loon Cabernet, now holds lamp oil, a wick threaded through a cork, the memory of a weekend away with the one who would one day become my husband, the father of my son and the adopted father of my first-born. A noise pulls me from my thoughts to look out my kitchen window upon my own backyard.

There I find my son running through the yard, a soccer ball at his feet. The neighbor boy, a few years younger than he, eagerly trying to steal the ball away before Michael can score a goal. He slides and they both tumble to the ground in a fit of laughter. A smile spreads across my face as new memories fill my very being.

 

 

Christianity and People, Family and Pets, Writing For The Moment

Do as I Do, Not as I Say

How often do we give an instruction to a child, our child or someone else’s child that we have influence over, that in actuality we do not follow ourselves? I was raised by two Christian parents. Married for over 35 years before they both passed away. They never divorced although they had plenty of reasons that would have satisfied most anyone’s curiosity and conviction as to a justifiable divorce. They stayed true to their vows, at least that is what everyone thought that sat at their funerals, separated by only a matter of months. Many good memories, anecdotes and accolades were shared as guests, friends, family and co-workers, reminisced about each of them at their perspective memorial service.

I sat their listening at my mother’s funeral with tears pouring down my cheeks brought on by the memory of who she was to them, of who I wished she had been for me. Believe me, I loved my mother. I longed for many more years with her. I felt cheated out of time I assumed I would have with her and only her when my father passed. The biggest problem lay in the fact that she passed first and far too soon. The memories shared expressed who my heart knew my mother was, the love she had to give, the attention and generosity of time, talent and compassion. The unconditional understanding she had for those around her. I knew that is who she was, had always known this. And yet, the thought kept creeping into my mind again and again although I tried to brush it off, that they didn’t know her, not all of her.

I sat at my father’s memorial and listened as people spoke about him and the ways he had touched their lives. Most if not all commending him for his tenacious spirit that never quit even under the weight of many health set backs year after year that were debilitating, life changing and never-ending. And all I could think as I sat there was, that they didn’t know him. Not how I knew him.

Even before Facebook my family, like many others I am sure, had mastered the art of putting on a good face. Posting only the happy moments of our life for all to see. Anything else, anything disparaging, anything questionable, of poor taste, that would leave a sour taste in your mouth or worse yet make you vomit, was hidden, left unsaid. On any given Sunday we would dawn our best, put on our freshly shined fake patent leather shoes, and walk into church, mom and dad hand in hand, each of us kids with a smile or at least a smirk on our faces. I should probably note (and commend) my older brothers that there did come a time that they finally refused this ruse. Our parents swayed and allowed them to stay home rather than stir the pot and cause a scene at church. Although I never went to work with my parents, I can imagine the conversations between them and their co-workers as they shared tales of their families. Oh, the webs they must have woven, beautiful and intricate in design to show off the cohesive and loving family they created with their own words.

As a child I was told a magnitude of times enduring countless hours of church, Christian school and conversations at home, to tell the truth.

Thou shalt not lie.

Put on the full armor of God……Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist….

You shall not give false testimony [lie] against your neighbor.

For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals with dishonesty.

The truth shall set you free!

Just tell the truth, you will feel better if you do.

Tell the truth…. We may be disappointed but if you lie you will be sinning.

Confession is good for the soul.

On, and on, the teaching went. Tell the truth. And yet, as I sit here and reflect as I have done over and over again, so much of my upbringing and years of my first marriage were nothing more than lies. Outright lies. I was lied to. I was lied about. I listened as lies were told. I listened as my family was told by their Pastor to lie. I listened as the truth was withheld in order to protect the family, the church, anyone they deemed in need of protection by those lies, themselves. I told lies to protect them, him, my daughter, me. I lied to be who others wanted, expected me to be. They taught me well.

Tell the truth, just not about this.

Tell the truth, just not now.

Tell the truth, about other things.

This truth would be better left unsaid.

Confess your sins, but do it in private.

Be honest in everything, except the things that are embarrassing, will hurt the church, will affect yours and our reputation.

Tell the truth….some other time.

Do as I Do, Not as I Say, Tell the truth, Just not today.