when words fail me, which is often, I paint. When words work for me and are available on time, I am surprised.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Empty Nest

I realized today that the most prolific and talented writer, Michelle O'Neil has been checking into this blog. She is the greatest writer I know, her blog address is: http://michelleoneilwrites.blogspot.com/
I like to check out her site because I love the way she writes and to learn about this new forum of blogging; her site is named Full Soul Ahead. When I read it today, she had posted about the hysterical (the word hysterectomy stems from this word- Hysterical. It's those female parts that make that gender so crazy) things her children say such as calling stuffed animals, stuffed up animals.
Both of my sons moved out of the house and into their independence a little more than 3 years ago. I knew it was going to be weird not having bus stops to race to every morning or their constant companionship. They were my life. I braced myself for this "Empty Nest" but it hit me on the head as if it were loaded with a ton of bricks. I realized the truth about this empty nest; it isn't about missing having those kids around or the daily routine, it's about regret. Yes, regret. Know this all you mothers of children still residing in your home (under the age of 20, I guess), empty nest is regretting the fact that you didn't appreciate those babies as much as you should have. They are only little for the shortest amount of time even though you can think of days that seemed to last forever. You will miss the way they felt in your arms, the sound of their breath as they nursed from your breast. You will miss their laughter and the funny things they said. "Momma, I wanna hold you" when they wanted to be carried. And how about the time Wiley greeted me when I picked him up from his day care provider's house and said, "Guess what, I planted a green gumball today, they're the good kind right? Do you think it will grow?" There was also the Christmas list for Santa that listed a "molk troll" car. Yep, a remote control car, that one still stands. Oh yeah, you can still love those kids, even when they move out and create their own families, but you can never have those precious little ones back. No matter how tedious and trying and downright UNGLAMOROUS life can be when you are the mother of young children; it is a priceless experience. Here is a little poem I submitted to the Washington Post column, I think it is called The Daily Haiku (?). They haven't published it, so I will, because I can! Disregard the poetic license, I see my sons often and talk to them on the phone almost every day.
My first son was born when I was 19, nearly a child myself. His brother arrived less than 2 years later. Soon after, I became a “single mom". Year after year, our home remained “broken" but our family bond grew strong. I used to spend my days wishing those boys would grow up quickly, and then I could get my life back. I spent hours thinking of all the places I could go and what I would do when I got there. It’s been three years since I’ve seen either one of those boys. One travels the world, the other goes to school far from here. They both send me e-mails, sometimes they call. I spend my days now, trying to remember what could have possibly seemed better than being with them. I miss my sons.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Oh Mexico

My dear friend Saundra came to my house today to get her haircut and to visit. She is very sweet. Saundra is a doctor from Peru? or somewhere in South America. I have known her for a few years. She lives in the US now, about a half an hour from my house. Her medical license is not recognised in this country, it is not reciprocal. As I cut her hair today she told me about what happened to her yesterday. She was walking her two dogs along a trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway, they were on leashes. It was a beautiful day. A small family approached her and they had 2 dogs with them, they were not on leashes. The family's dogs ran over to Saundra and got into a doggie rumble. Saundra's dogs got all wound up, trying to protect everyone and knocked Saundra to the ground. She has a big bruise on her hip, a cut on her shin and pulled muscles in her arm. The dogs knocked her over twice. She was embarrasssed. She hollered at her dogs. The other people, the small family, called their dogs and kept on walking; they didn't offer any aid or concern or apologies to Saundra as she attempted to pick her dignity up off the ground. It wasn't until the next day, which was this morning that Saundra began to wonder how any one could be so impolite and uncaring. In her country, well, let's just say noone would walk past a women who was knocked to the ground by unruly, frightened dogs and look the other way; it is unheard of. She told me this story and I was reminded of a certain nighttime bus trip I was on many years ago, somewhere in the heart of Mexico. In order to let Saundra know how deeply I felt her disgust with her new surrounding culture, I told her this story.
When I was in my early 20's, after my internship in Midwifery school in the Mexican border town of ElPaso, TX and Juarez MX., I gave my car away and bought train tickets for myself and two very young sons into the Central. My youngest son, Avi was only 2 AND1/2, my oldest was 4 years old. I usually bought 2 tickets for busses and trains as we travelled. I would put the little one on my lap and the bigger son in the seat next to me. One night we boarded a very crowded bus; many passengers were sleeping as we boarded. I couldn't find 2 empty seats next to each other anywhere. I moved towards the back of the bus and decided to slip the three of us into one seat next to a sleeping young man(maybe 27 years) in the window seat. An American to the core, full of angst about having young children and not the funds to own my own vehicle, about inconveniencing the public with my offspring and all the unacceptable behavior that goes along with that curse, I was afraid of how this man might react when he woke up to find some little kid crammed into the space between my and his seat. Sure enough the bus drove on. Sure enough, my 4 year old son Wiley, fell asleep. But he kept falling forward, a giant head nod movement affecting him to his waist. Oh-Oh I thought, he is going to wake that man next to him and he is going to be MAD! I was nodding off too; I was tired. The third time my little sleeping boy nearly fell out of the seat, it happened. The man next to us opened his eyes, jolted awake by the motion of my baby falling forward in his own sleepy state. The man noticed there was a baby wedged next to him, I braced myself for the assault. The man raised his arm, swung it around my son and tucked him under his arm. He patted my baby on his head. They both closed their eyes and went back to sleep. I sighed relief and prayed to become as much"from the heart" as the people all around me in this beautiful country.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Releasements are Exhausting

My sister called last night just as we were walking out the door. We were invited to our neighbor's house for dinner. It's always an impromptu party. My sister doesn't call very often. She has her life, I have mine and we live 4 hours away from each other; but our Mother's husband had been sent home from the hospital to die. There was nothing else they could do for Mike, now that they found the cancer in his brain. Now that it had spread, after the intensive surgery for the esophogeal cancer. I answered the phone, as I suspected, Mike had died that day. I told Tate. He said he was sorry for the loss, he was genuine. He also said he'd be over at the neighbors house , he knew I would be talking to my sister for a long time.
Mike was my mothers second husband, the one after my father. I never referred to him as my stepfather; always my mother's husband. She was married to him longer than she was married to my father which I think was 19 yrs. Mike was okay, I guess. He loved Jazz music, he was an audiophile. He had 2 racks of stereo equipment which had to be tweaked monthly by a professional. Every night after dinner he would retire to his sacred chair and drink his gin(at least 1/5th), smoke his cigarettes, and listen to his music until he would stagger to his bed or simply pass out in his chair. To oblivion baby.
Tate drinks beer in the evening. Pete, neighbor Neanderthal, likes to drink Whiskey and Tequila(yechh). Tate usually says he doesn't want any of the whiskey, but he ends up drinking a few after Pete pours them for him.
Last night when I got off the phone, I went across the road. Tate was double fisting the vodka. He was wobbly and off. He kept insisting on drinking more, and more, and more. He was falling down, he was stinking drunk.
Out of character. He kept saying stuff about Mike's passing; he did it out of context and he never even met the man. They live in France my Mom and Mike, they are also not wealthy enough to send tickets for visits. In fact, my mother is blind and they are poor, or she's poor now.
Tate staggered past me towards the back porch of Pete's house. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and I saw him. Mike was having one last booze fest. He just happened to be in Tate's body. I ran to the deck and grabbed his face in my hands and said, "Look at me. When is your birthday?"
"November 2nd"
"Day of the dead, right?" "Yes"
While looking into his eyes I had him repeat after me. I had him claim his own body and release Mike into the light. We told him he would be safe in God.
Tates body rocked backwards as if he had been pushed by strong arms on both shoulders.
He settled down. I drove him home. We prayed some more together while lying on the floor of our living room. I burned some dessert sage. We slept.
I have homework and housework and reading to do.
I am just too tired today.