Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The real reason...

The real reason I always felt a bit sorry for her was because she never allowed herself time to be "me" before she chose to become "we". 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

That is what real men do...

They show up.
They support you.
They are present.
They value you.
They own who they are.
That is what real men do.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day...

3 pictures that typify what Father's Day means to me. The first one is of my Dad and me; the second one is of my Grandpa Reed with Mom and my Aunt Bobbi, and the one on the bottom is of Mom & Dad when they were first engaged (without the two of them I may have not been able to celebrate Father's Day). My Dad and my Grandpa Reed were fathers in the best sense of the word--genuine, steady, strong and true.





Sunday, June 11, 2017

It is not about you...

It is not about your issues, whether real or imaged; 
Those things in your past or in your present day life.
It is not about the bullshit, the competition, the pretension.
Don’t you understand that there is life outside of your reality?
There are consequences to your actions;
They relate to your deep seated insecurities.
I am uncertain why you don’t understand that it is not about you.

Her life...

She didn't love her life because it was perfect.
She loved her life because it was hers alone.

Epiphany…

One day she woke up with an epiphany.
It wasn’t merely the life she desired.
It was the life she was meant to live all along.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Two different things...

Being nice and being kind are two different things.
If you have to choose one, choose to be kind.

In the end, that's all that matters...

My father wasn't a perfect man.
I certainly wasn't the perfect daughter.  
But we loved each other deeply.
In the end, that's all that matters.

Monday, June 5, 2017

I refuse...

I refuse to live a life where I do not believe in the inherent goodness of humanity.

Choose...

Choose to be happy.  Choose to be at peace.  All is as it should be.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Leaning in…And Finally, Stepping Out


Here’s the thing.  I’ve led my entire life living up to the expectations of others.  I in some ways, in most ways, have taken on the role of the oldest child.  One of three siblings, I was the middle child.  I admittedly do have some of the traits that psychologists attribute to the child in the middle:  I am a peace keeper, I do believe in the goodness of others, and I am inherently the adult child who deeply, who at times over-emotionally, cares.  Please understand I’m not implying that my siblings don’t care.  It’s just that for some reason, due to some dynamic in my family, I’ve inadvertently assumed that role.

Let’s get back to the leaning in.  I googled the term and this is what I found: “In early 2013, the term "leaning in" started popping up on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  The term comes from the book "Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” published in March 2013 by Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. The book traces its origins to a Ted Talk Sheryl Sandberg gave titled "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders". The point of her message was to convince professional women to stay in the workforce and "lean in" to whatever role they are playing.”

Although this concept may be “new” it is essentially a repackaged definition and concept regarding the role of women.  I was raised as a young woman in the 1980’s. My father and I had a different relationship than that of my other siblings. He pushed me to achieve.  He said to me that “I don’t celebrate mediocrity” when I brought home less than “A’s”.  My parents moved from Iowa to the St. Louis area with my Dad's job. They purposefully chose a school district that would provide the best education a public school could offer.  This school was filled with overachievers.  It wasn’t if you went to college, it was where you went on the way to graduate school.

The young women at that time were expected to achieve, achieve, achieve.  In education, in occupation, in life.  We, and all of my female peers who grew into adulthood at that time, were expected to be “hard chargers.” We were expected, to coin today’s term, to “lean in”.  I suspect this was because it was the period in which Ronald Reagan expected all in society to become independent and self-sufficient.  To place work above all other things.

So I did that.  I met all of these expectations of my parents and of society.  I became the woman I thought I needed to be.  I’ve described my life in my nonfiction work, Jennifer’s Mask.  Truth be told, I wrote this “fictional” work as an exact reflection and experience of my life growing up and my life as an adult woman. At times, I wrote about some things that were brutally honest, that may have caused discomfort in my family.  I wrote truthfully about my life up until that point as Jennifer.   Now it is time to write about me, as me.

I’m through leaning in. I’m finished with living a life of expectations of who I am and who others expect me to be.  I’m certain I will continue to be that responsible person who loads herself with societal expectations—to a point.  The thing is, I’ll always be there for those members of my family who have proven their loyalty and show their love for me through not just words but actions.  To be frank, I have people in my life with whom I’ve made a conscious decision over the past few years to remove myself, both emotionally and physically. This isn’t in blame or in anger.  It’s out of self-love and of a realization that I deserve genuine people in my life who care for me and, most importantly, who I care for. With these people there is no pretense, no competition. 

Leaning in and being a “hard charger” no longer appeals to me.  I no longer desire or need, at any level, to be that woman who “does it all.” I admittedly love to work and to continue to challenge myself with the sometimes complex and intricate dynamics that managerial and/or executive level positions entail.  The difference for me now is that I’m not chasing that “thing”; that drive to excel, that higher and higher income.  I no longer want to sacrifice my emotional, physical and spiritual health to achieve these things.  I’ve realized that ultimately the question for me is “to what end?”

So this is where I am in the second chapter of my life.  I’m scaling back regarding material possessions so that I may experience those things which bring me joy—traveling with close family and friends, taking time to just be. I’m learning a new language (Spanish) and am obtaining my second Master’s degree for the mere fact that it interests me and keeps my mind sharp. I don’t get “bent out of shape” anymore at the games and the ridiculousness of life sometimes.  I still am that person who believes that most people are inherently good.  The difference, I’ve come to realize, is that I deserve to receive that goodness not only from others, but most of all, from myself.




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Life lessons learned/rules I live by…

Love deeply
Regret nothing
Never be with someone who devalues your worth
Find joy in every day
Be present and mindful of each moment
Be genuine and true
Be gentle
Be compassionate
Be loyal to family and friends
Do no harm
Share your bed with your dog and/or cat
Allow yourself to cry when something touches you
Don’t be cynical or defensive
Believe that people are more good than bad
Be kind and giving to those in need
Be quiet and listen
Be respectful of others
Be grateful
Travel often
Continue to grow mentally, physically and spiritually
Challenge yourself
Face your fears
Love those who love you back
Eat good food
Read good books
Drink good wine
Experience people who are different than you
Thank God every night that you have been given one more day

The small things/life edited...

My life has gradually become smaller. It has become smaller due to intention.  I have my small world which consists of close family members and friends. My small world also has a few belongings which have meaning to me: family photos, artwork from my now adult son.
I have begun molding my life into a world which I desire. At times, I feel a sadness at the letting go of the people or things in my life which are detritus; those peiple and things which I must let go. My wish is to keep the good memories I have, yet I know I must let some of these people and things go.

Contrary to what the world extols that bigger is better, I’ve come to the realization that for me, the small things are in that sweet spot.  My friends and family have been curated. I’ve edited and revised those material things: my possessions have been culled. The result is the edited version of my life. It has become “lesser than” and the final result is the people and things that matter to me.  These are the small things. This is my life edited.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Heavenly Father (My Testament to Him) …

Heavenly Father knows me; He is aware of me.
He had a plan for me ages before I was born.
He put me on this Earth to gain experiences:
To refine me on this Earth before I return to Him.
So I never despair when life does not go my way.
I know Heavenly Father has a plan for me which was preordained.
I know that when I experience a hardship 
He is testing my faith in Him and that something wonderful will counter the adversity. 
These things I know above all others:  He is aware of me, He loves me, and I am never alone.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

She promised herself...

She promised herself she’d go sometime and do all of those things she was meant to do.  Then suddenly, one day she realized she never knew that sometime had actually come.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Girl, it's gonna be all right...

Tonight I had to say to myself, “Hey, Girl.  It’s okay not to be strong all the time.  You’re human, Girl. Sometimes life can get messy, Girl. You need to give yourself a break.” 

When I talk to myself in this way, I call myself “Girl”. I say to myself  “Girl, if you don’t stop giving from your cup without filling it back up, you’ll have nothing left.” I set myself down, breathe deeply exactly five times and I say to myself, “Girl, it’s gonna be all right. It’s gonna be all right.”

No one knows the question...

There are days when everyone has an answer, 
yet no one knows the question.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ardent love...

you say that you adore me
your ardent love implores me
your desire is to explore me
your ardent love implores me

Saturday, May 6, 2017

That shine...

that’s the thing about the construct we call love.
in the beginning you both have that shine.
you are “in love”; enamored by one another.
the newness of this relationship is fresh, unused.
that newly found sense of love is coruscant.
maybe that shine will endure over time.
there are those rare occasions when it remains.
it is also possible that twinkle may fade away.
it may no longer contain and reflect that shine. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

she is part of me (she will always be part of me)/ an homage to my mother…

she is part of me (she will always be part of me)
i share her reddish wavy hair,
i share her blue/green eyes
i share her pale skin which is sensitive to the sun
i share her ironic sense of humor
i share her frugal tendencies
i share her sensitive nature
i share her tendency to worry
i share her love for close family and friends
she is part of me (she will always be part of me)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Estella Pride...

I think that we are often spectators when it concerns the lives of our ancestors if indeed  we are spectators at all. As children we may have heard a certain ancestor discussed around a Sunday dinner or in a brief passing conversation. Now in my mid-fifties I have found myself wondering about her; about my maternal great grandmother.  Who was Estella Pride?  How did she feel when she became Estella Pride Kernen at 28 years old? It was then and there that I realized by knowing her I would better know myself.

This was the way I originally learned about my maternal great grandmother, Estella Pride. I began to know her out of a cursory curiosity and slowly began to know her as my great grandmother. I began to know this woman who was Estella Pride. This was the woman who was to become Estella Pride Kernen. This was the woman who was to become part of me; who would always be a part of who I am. I found myself thinking about how my great grandmother must have felt as she traveled on a train from Morgantown, West Virginia to become the wife of an Iowa farmer, Carl Kernen.

How Estella Pride must have felt as a young woman who was relocating her life to become a bride, to live a life which she had no knowledge of. How it would have felt to be put on a train headed for rural Iowa which carried her, her piano, her trousseau, to a place she had never been.  To a place she had never known.

Nowadays we women are taught, we are encouraged, to be strong and independent.  We are taught to follow our dreams. This was not the case many decades ago.  Women of that generation were expected to marry an acceptable man.  They were expected to do the expected things, at the expected time, in an expected way. There was a family, there was society telling a young woman who she was and who she was to become: a married woman, a mother, a companion and a support for her spouse.  There were never those options to gain an education or to have a career the way women are given those choices today.

Estella Pride may have been a bit of an anomaly in that she was several years older than the man she married.  According to my grandmother, her mother, Estella, was quite secretive and sensitive about the age difference between she and her husband, Carl Kernen.  So much so that it was said she did not divulge the fact of her being older until she was on her deathbed.

Estella Pride was an educated woman from a proper family.  It wasn’t that my great grandfather wasn’t her equal.  He was just different than her. Carl Kernen was from a different part of the country and had a different past.  I have not discovered how and when my great grandmother and great grandfather had met.  Was this marriage arranged for them in some way?  If so, how must this have felt?

I know Estella Pride only from the time she was an elderly woman and I was a young girl. My great grandmother must have been in her early 90’s at the time.  I remember how I sat in her lap when we visited her in “the old folks home.”  They say that smell, the olfactory sense, is the most primitive of the 5 senses. I believe this is true. I remember Estella smelled of baby powder and Noxzema.  She was a formal, proper lady.  She referred to me as Julia. She was a tall woman and not one of those women who shrank away, who diminished and gradually faded away in her old age.

These are the things I have learned about Estella Pride, my great grandmother. A woman’s worth is not dictated by societal standards nor is it dictated by well-meaning family. If it is who you are or who you aspire to be, it is perfectly acceptable to be a regal, formal lady; to embody class and dignity.  Estella was immaculate in both her dress and her mannerisms.  She seemed to command certain behaviors, a sense of respectability, a sense of decorum.  I do not think these things are often even thought of today. For me, however, when I reflect on these things my thoughts always return to my great grandmother, Estella Pride.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

You do those acts of kindness...

You do those acts of kindness not for the changes it will make in them. You do those acts of kindness for the changes it will make in you.

Irish drunk...

My family and I have under an enormous amount of stress lately due to the failing health of our mother.  My brother texted me and said that when he is in Atlanta on a business trip he'll pick one night when he will be getting "Irish drunk." 

My text back: "Just be safe. I don't mind bailing you out of jail, but I will be royally  pissed off if I have to travel to that little hunk of heaven to do so. It is hot, humid, and  has terrible traffic. Also, Atlanta has more crackers than a saltine factory. In sibling love, your sister, Jules."

Friday, April 28, 2017

A little bit less...

Sometimes a person you care about says something that hurts you deeply.  The thing they don’t realize is that when they do this it makes you love them a little bit less.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sometimes life just kicks you in the ass...

sometimes life just kicks you in the ass.
you think "really?  is this just a cosmic joke?"
later that day, unexpectedly, you have a moment that is just amazing.
it may be an incredible sunset; a phone call from an old friend.
it is then that you realize that despite being kicked in the ass, you just may be able to make it through one more day.

Monday, April 24, 2017

I feel quiet/tomorrow can wait…

no television, no computer
no conversations, no email
no cell phone, no “to do” list
tomorrow can wait; it will always wait
I lay on my bed in the darkness
I silence my body & mind
I feel …quiet; tomorrow can wait

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Depleted....

Yesterday when I got in my car, the warning light came on.  It said, "maintenance needed...low tire pressure, oil change due, windshield wiper fluid empty." I thought of the irony of this.  I thought how I felt 5 days ago when my mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia.  I wanted to scream “maintenance needed" at the top of my lungs. Maintenance needed for myself as I felt I was sinking, falling into a place which I did not want to go.

Six days ago I delivered my mother’s prescriptions which were recently prescribed by her doctor. I was concerned for her and thought delivering these medications would provide an excuse for dropping in. On that morning I found my mother confused, disoriented, fully disrobed and unable to stand or walk as she sat on her bench in her bedroom. I asked my mother how she felt and she responded “I think something is wrong.”

I called 911 as per  her doctor's recommendation. I'll never forget that feeling of panic as I took my mother's blood pressure The reading was so high I feared she might have a stroke. When the EMS arrived Mom couldn’t stand up or walk. She was agitated and said she didn't want to go to the emergency room. She been there only 2 weeks ago.

What ensued was 10 hours in the emergency room, admission to the hospital, and the diagnosis of vascular dementia.  Skilled nursing was recommended for Mom upon discharge which was in 3 days. Scurrying to find a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation and visits to assisted living or memory care post skilled nursing facility.

Visiting my disoriented mother in the hospital, dealing with financial concerns, and long seated strained family dynamics. All the while trying to balance life with my family as things were falling apart.  I felt deep sadness and anger at the disease that has enveloped Mom. I felt fear. The fear of what has happened to Mom. The fear of what might be.

Updates to concerned family and friends, fitful nights of sleep and tears in those wee hours of the morning. Attempting to keep a sense of normalcy for my adult son who lives with me as he is attending college. I tried to act strong and capable while feeling feeling a deep sadness. I felt disbelief, guilt and anger. Why is this happening to Mom?  Why so soon; why so severe?  This wasn't how it was supposed to be.

Constant reassurances to Mom when I visited her in the hospital. Taking care of her cat, Tess, while disregarding my own because I arrived home late each night due to the many tasks which arose. Feeling exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually.  In a word, depleted.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Life or something like it...

I had the strangest feeling two days ago when I visited my mother.  She was in the hospital and was recently diagnosed with vascular dementia. She was receiving speech therapy and I sat in the corner of the room, just observing. I watched my mother interact with the speech therapist.  She tried so hard to find the right words when the therapist asked a question. It became clear that she was unable to retrieve the majority of past or present life events.  She would then become frustrated and agitated.  At one point she could not recall my father’s name.  A man she was married to for 45 years. A man who was the love of her life. My mother said that she wanted to stop working with the therapist. It was clear that she was aware of the deficits in her memory. 

As I sat in that corner of the hospital room observing my mother, I had the strangest feeling. I recognized the woman who was lying in the hospital bed.This was the woman who had raised me. The woman I always adored, the woman who, without fail, was always there for me. She had the same beautiful wavy red hair and the kindest eyes I had ever seen. Despite this I had an overwhelming feeling that this, in fact, was not my mother.  I knew intellectually that of course the answer to this question was “yes." Emotionally, however, I felt frightened that this woman laying in this hospital bed may eventually not know or recognize me as her daughter. She will, in essence, not have the constructs which make up one's past. Those essential moments which color the history of a person's life.

That was the question I was trying to answer as I sat in the corner of that hospital room on that day.  If my mother could not remember her past or present, would this woman still be that person who I called mother?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The big forget...

We’ve all had that moment when we forget that word in mid-sentence or we forget where we placed an item (our keys, our phone).  In that fleeting moment we have that fear which hits us as with an exclamation point: “Am I losing my memory?” It’s concerning at least and frightening at best.   If we are past 30 years old and are honest with ourselves, we all have had this moment.  We see a close relative, maybe our Aunt Gert or Uncle Henry, exhibiting signs of memory loss. We see a commercial touting the new drug which will slow the progression of Alzheimer's. This is when we say “Please, please God, don’t let this be me”. We push down that fear and panic. We relegate it to a hidden compartment inside of ourselves each time these feelings arise.

I’ve recently been dealing with a parent who is suffering from memory loss.  She has been diagnosed with vascular dementia. My brother and I are trying to be there for my mother, emotionally and physically.  We listen and nod at pauses in her speech as she searches for that lost word. We want and need her to see that she is okay. The memory loss is wearing her down, mentally, spiritually and physically. We stop by her apartment to check on her; to make her a meal; to take out her trash.  We assure her that we’ll always be there as we stuff down our concerns. These concerns come to us late at night as we lie in bed hoping for a few hours of sleep so that we may escape our present day reality. Throughout the day we do those things which need to be done. We put on a brave face even though, internally, our emotions move from deep sadness to anger to frustration. We tell ourselves that we are doing what needs to be done, yet continue to worry that it may not be enough. There is no pill, no amount of alcohol which can dull the pain or remove us from this new reality.

The most difficult, heart wrenching thing about it is to hear your parent acknowledge the fact that he or she is aware that they are losing their memory. They say they know friends and family are worried. Truth be told they are concerned as well.

Today was Easter Sunday. We gathered at Mom's as we do every Easter. We tried to make things normal and light hearted.  We tried to avoid looks of concern as our mother would pause as she was talking or relaying a story.

After the meal, after the clean-up and time spent with Mom, we said our “I love you’s.” We said our goodbyes.  A few hours after returning home I felt compelled to return to my mother’s apartment.  She said that she was happy to see me.  I wondered if she realized that I had been with her just two hours before.  I wanted to let her know that I was there for her, to listen or to just spend time.

My mother said today that she realizes her memory is failing. She said that she did not want to be a burden to her family.  Isn’t that the thing we all fear most? Losing our memory or becoming physically and/or psychologically dependent on our family?

I remember when my grandfather (my mother’s father) began suffering from memory loss. He had undergone a thorough work up at a hospital renowned for diagnosing memory impairments in Omaha, Nebraska. The tests were inconclusive yet the doctors said that they suspected Alzheimer’s dementia.  Back then there were no medications to slow or prevent further memory loss like there are today. My grandfather voiced his concerns regarding his memory loss as he struggled against the fading away of his memory.

The first signs of his deteriorating memory involved difficulties in doing his activities of daily living. Then there was the driving. He would get lost when navigating through Bedford, Iowa. This was a small Iowa town in which he had grown up and had lived for 70 years.  

I remember the phone call from my grandfather late one night after my grandmother placed him in a nursing home. My grandfather said that he knew he was becoming forgetful. He said he feared he was losing his mind. My grandfather was from hardy stock. He was a tall, strong man whose ancestors hailed from the Netherlands.  He was an Iowa farmer who was also an intellectual. He was a person who, although always present, lived a life of the mind.  Typically, he would rise at 5 in the morning to read the Des Moines Register or the New York Times before he would begin his chores. Would he have been born at a different time in different circumstances I am sure he would have become an attorney. He loved the law and the significance it played in our lives. 

Tomorrow my brother and I are taking my mother to a geriatric specialist.  We are hoping that he will provide us answers to my mother’s failing health and memory loss. We want to give our mother hope that things can get better.  We hope that for her sake (and ours) we will get those answers. We pray fervently that she is not a victim of the big forget.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sometimes it just doesn’t fit...

We’ve all been there. In that relationship that just doesn’t fit. It is analogous to that furniture which so appealed to us in the showroom and which we ended up purchasing.  When we get it home we fervently attempt to make the furniture fit.  We move it around the room, we upend it, we juggle it and even hang it from the ceiling.  However, despite all of our efforts it just doesn't fit.



I think we should save the curtains....

There is always that one person who, when the Titanic is sinking says "I think we should save the curtains."



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Today I spent my time…an homage to the sandwich generation

  1. ·         I spent the early morning getting a colonoscopy (I am 54 & am at “that age”)
  2. ·         I spent the late morning proof reading my son’s college essay in professional writing (I am a woman who knows proper grammar)
  3. ·         I spent the late afternoon helping  my mother with her health problems & memory issues (It's what we should & want to do)
  4. ·         I spent the early evening planning how to be there for my mom (a widow) & my son (a milllennial)
  5. ·         I spent the mid-evening preparing dinner, taking care of the pets (dog for a walk & cat fed)
  6. ·         I spent the late evening calendaring my things to do while doing laundry & cleaning up the house (there remain “life things” which need to be completed to keep a family functioning)
  7. ·         I spent the wee hours of the morning working (I must financially support my family)
  8. ·         I spent the few hours left sleeping that “sleep of the dead” (I try to “unplug” and pray I get a few hours of sleep).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Paris Red....

Red is now in for those in touch with modern day fashion trends. The ironic thing is that a good red lipstick has and always will be in. It's a classic and classics are eternal. I first wore a red lipstick back in my early 20’s. I didn’t wear it every day as I was, and am, a minimalist when it comes to all things (including makeup). Back in the days when I chose to wear a red lipstick, I wore Max Factor Paris Red. It was the perfect shade of red for me--red with a blue undertone. It was affordable for a girl on a limited budget. It gave the illusion of a confidence that belied a girl of 21. I wore Paris Red on those days and nights when I needed to feel powerful; at those times when I wanted to make a statement. Much to my chagrin Max Factor discontinued this shade a few years ago. Now in middle age I can better afford the alternative red lipstick as a substitution for Paris Red. I now wear Coco Chanel Rogue Coco Gabrielle on those times when I need a boost of confidence. Despite that, I still miss the hue, the impact, of Max Factor Paris Red.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

I know a man (he holds my heart) …

i know a man (he holds my heart)
there is both nothing & everything with he & i
he is a virtuous, good man/strong & true
i know a man (he holds my heart)
he is always there, but at times not quite
he holds my love in the palm of his hand
i know a man (he holds my heart).


Friday, April 7, 2017

I have a friend...

I have a friend who is genuine & true.
She is a no bullshit girl who knows her worth.
She values who she is & she values me too.
Our friendship is one based on respect & humor.
We've made good memories & have many more to come.
I have a friend is who is genuine & true.



4 ½ hours-4 ½ minutes...

There are exactly 726 pages in Julia Child’s How to Master French Cooking, Volume One.  I have read them all, page by page, much like I read a gripping, riveting novel. I have studied, highlighted and jotted notes in the margins.
One night I unexpectedly landed upon the boeuf bourguignon recipe. In brackets, it says “[Beef Stew in Red Wine with Bacon, Mushrooms and Onions]. Julia Child goes on to introduce the dish: “…Carefully done and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner.”
The recipe for Julia Child's bouef borguignon appeared on pages 315-317. There are 21 ingredients and 25 steps to follow, meticulously, to recreate this dish. Preparing the boeuf bourguignon recipe is an arduous and all encompassing process: it involves cutting, simmering, sautéing, slicing, sprinkling, tossing, cooking, pouring, skimming, mixing, and serving (not necessarily in this order).
As with the most enjoyable things in life, the anticipation of that object or experience takes an excruciatingly long time. When the actual experience appears, it is fleeting and passes in the blink of an eye.

Such was the case with Julia Child’s bouef borguignon.  It took 4 ½ hours to prepare—4 ½ minutes for my family to devour. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I made a frittata for you...

I made a frittata for you.
Mixed the eggs, peppers, onions just right.
I made a frittata for you.
Cooked it in the oven ‘til it was hot, crispy & light.
I made a frittata for you

Monday, April 3, 2017

A small yellow book...

My father gave me a small yellow book, Poems by Robert Frost, when I was 8 years old.  The book was tiny and fit in the palm of my hand.  My father read these poems to me each night for 20 nights until the book was completed.  He told me to always keep it nearby as there were many life lessons in this tiny book. My father was right.  I still carry it with me today.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

At one time I was that girl...

My son got back from a date tonight with a girl he just met. He said her name is Jasmine. I asked him how it went & this is what he said " She is quite tall, quite intelligent, quite beautiful.”

He asked me why I was looking at him & not saying a thing.  I said that at the right time he needed to tell her this.  He asked me how I knew this. I said " Believe it or not  at one time, I was that girl:"

Saturday, April 1, 2017

If i were gladys knight...

if I were gladys knight, I’d wear a sequined evening gown.
i’d sing with a voice dripping like sweet honey;
the adoring crowd would sing along.
they would shake their heads in wonder at the lack of auto-tune.
if I were gladys knight.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A good friend's insight...

I took this afternoon off to travel to my father’s grave site. It was a spontaneous decision for me and quite unusual to do on the spur of the moment. I am a planner of all things; a scheduler of when to do something and how to do it. Today was not that day.

I typically visit Dad’s grave with family as we take Mom to the cemetery, usually two or three times a year.  The Dallas Forth Worth National Cemetery is enormous and usually takes a map to navigate it.  I’ve memorized that Dad is in section 14F, site 116. He is in the row with three trees standing as sentinels.  I’d like to think this is reflective of his three children; Joni, Jeff and me.

Today I felt that I wanted to visit with Dad alone.  I’ve been feeling in the last few days that I needed to feel his presence.  I wanted to tell him that everything is all right. That his family is moving forward in life as he would have wanted.  I felt compelled to let him know that Mom is okay. I wanted to let him know that I’m trying my best to fulfill the promise to take care of her as he asked me to do on the night he passed away.

I wanted to assure Dad that even though it's been just Quentin and me for many years, his youngest grandson is doing well. I wanted to tell him that he is working hard to earn his bachelor’s degree in business and he will do so in the next year. I wanted to let Dad know that Quentin has grown into the man who he wanted him to be. That he is strong and kind; faithful and true.

I wanted to tell Dad that I missed the times when I could talk to him about anything.  About the joys I’ve had, about some of the sorrows. About where I am now as well as where I am going.  I wanted to let him know that I missed the times I had with him and that even when we sometimes disagreed I always loved and respected him.

I think this desire to visit my dad was brought on from a conversation I had recently with my friend, Siobhan, who I have known for 25 years.  We began our friendship while both serving in the military.  The other day Siobhan asked about dad. I told her he had passed away over 10 years ago. I shared with her how difficult it has been to deal with his death and his absence in my life.

I had forgotten that Siobhan and I had, many years ago, discussed the sometimes complicated relationships with our dads.  I think this is often the case, particularly when a father and daughter have different outlooks on life.

Siobhan said that although we had both experienced the loss of our fathers she felt it may have been more difficult for me.  I asked her why she thought this was the case.  She replied that when I lost my dad, I also lost my best friend. 


She did the best she could do...

We all have that person in our lives who with or without intention, strikes out at us cruelly, typically out of the blue.  It may be something they said or something they didn’t say—a sin of commission or a sin of omission.  The reasons for this are endless: a jealousy, a resentment for something real or imagined.  Perhaps even a spitefulness that periodically spews out.

My grandmother was guilty of this. It may have been a deeply buried sense of her frustration of not living the life she envisioned.  My grandmother was a beautiful, intelligent woman who came from a family who might be considered affluent even by today’s standards. She married my grandfather who was an Iowa farmer.  Perhaps she became restless and frustrated at the life she had chosen or the life that had chosen her.

Regardless of the root of my grandmother’s vicious outbursts, they did occur.  Oftentimes seemingly without rhyme or reason. The primary target of her lashing out was her family. When I got older my mother told me how her mother had, at many times in her life, targeted her and verbally berated her.

I knew from spending time with my grandparents in the summers that my grandmother had these tendencies to focus, to hone in on one certain family member. The next day she would act as if this occurrence hadn’t happened.  I recall one night when I got up to use the restroom.  I was staying the weekend with my grandparents as I attended college nearby.  On that night I overheard my grandmother berating my grandfather.  As was always the case with him, he was calm and measured.  He never struck back.

I was shocked at what I heard and was conflicted as to what I should do.  I felt that this was something between my grandparents; that this was something I should not be privy to nor witness. The next morning, I nervously got up and took extra time to shower and dress before I went into the kitchen. My grandmother acted happy; as if nothing were wrong.  I was quiet and pensive as I ate my breakfast. When I did find the courage to speak about the incident, I told my grandmother that I had overheard her last night. I told her that I heard her saying horrible things to my grandfather. She looked at me, guileless. She said that I must have been dreaming; that this never occurred.

My mother had said that this pattern of behavior was common for my grandmother, both when she was growing up and as an adult.  That it seemed easy and natural for my grandmother to act reprehensibly then deny that it had ever happened.  It became what my family referred to as her “magic eraser.” Needless to say, my grandmother never did change these behaviors.
 
My father was amazing in that he never once treated my grandmother, his mother-in-law, unkindly. When discussing my grandmother's bizarre and spiteful behaviors, he would say that she did the best she could do.  Both my grandmother and my father have been gone for many years.  I’ve had time to turn these ideas over in my mind; to try to make sense of them.   I often return to those words from my father: “She did the best she could do.”

I think now, as an adult, I may have a better understanding of what my father meant when he said that.   It’s not that he was condoning or excusing my grandmother’s cruel and erratic behaviors.  I think he simply saw her as a deeply flawed woman. He somehow knew that her pain became lessened by expelling it. Whether purposefully or unintentionally she spewed this pain out on others. So I think when my father said “she did the best she could do” he was saying that maybe, just maybe, my grandmother was not capable of doing any better. She did the best that she could do.  


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

You are nothing less than special...

I met with a young woman several months ago for a counseling session. She was in her late teens.  In that age where a young woman feels pushed and pulled by how she sees herself and how society expects her to be.  I found myself wanting to reassure her that she was unique and worthy.  I wanted to tell her that if she waited for just a few years, that indeed she would come unto her own.  I struggled with how to balance the need to reach out to her, to reassure her that all was well.  Then it came to me.  I told her to always remember: you are nothing less than special.