Why Did You Do That?

images[1] (11)I used to think it was the weather conditions that prompted the onslaught of memories I get sometimes.  Most often they are of my dad and his influence in my life in ways I never realized.

On a cold wintry day such as this would, I sometimes wrap myself in a quilt and look out at the snow crusted lake, ice banks formed along the shoreline.  I would drift back to when I was younger, much younger, and how much I hated the cold.  Funny how it doesn’t phase me in the least now, living in the frozen tundra of winter in upstate New York.

Rainy spring afternoons would often bring about thoughts of childhood and wondering how I survived half of what I attempted.  I got lost in the woods once, near my house, my younger sister and several of my cousins.  I was the oldest and I decided that we were going to go on a nature walk.  The relatives were in town from New York City, another lifetime ago for us and I was anxious to show off my nature skills.  I was 8 years old and my cousins ranged from 5, 6, and 7.  There were six of us.Autumn

I figured that I would just leave signs at the turn of every tree, a particular rock or a bush would be my markers.   The only thing nature girl didn’t realize is that returning back from trekking through the woodlands all the aforementioned markers looked the same.

I knew that we were lost, but somehow it didn’t seem to bother me.  I knew someone would find me, and sure enough, I heard my father’s voice loud and clear, calling for me through the thick underbrush and fallen pines.

Walking back towards the house, he suddenly stopped and asked me his patented question to make me realize I had taken a wrong turn.

“Why did you do that?”  he asked me simply, as if there was some great truth pulling at me that had to be answered that day.   But he knew the answer.

“I dunno” I answered just as simply.  “I just felt like walking.”

This morning’s beautiful sunrise brought forth another memory, of a time when I was younger than now, but older than then.

With my three year old son in tow and money in my pocket, I jumped in a van with a friend and we drove to Phoenix, Arizona.  Had one of my children done this today, I would have surely killed them; but I paid no mind as to what my parents might be thinking or feeling.  I was full of myself and the wanderlust and longed for adventure.

A growing hub of work and society back then, I found work in a hospital and made lots of friends.  The sunrises were spectacular but I knew that this was not the place for me.  I knew I was lost but it didn’t seem to bother me.

k1356308[1]When I got off the bus at the station many months later, tired but happy to be home, my father came to retrieve us, not too gently this time.

“Why did you do THAT?”  he asked once again, looking for some clue as to why I thought the way I did.

“I dunno” I replied again.  “I just felt like driving.”

Of all the times I needed my father, I thought he wasn’t there.    Growing older I realized how much he said without saying a word, just asking a question now and then.  He was always there, whether I wanted him to be or not.   He saw some of me in himself, I suspect, and quietly bragged to anyone who would listen how his oldest daughter had chutzpah and wasn’t afraid of anything.  Maybe it was because I was too naïve to be afraid; maybe I was just stupid.  My father gave praise sparingly, so I reveled in whatever he had to offer.

His birthday is July 9th and he has been gone 10 years.  I miss him more than I thought I ever would.

As I sit out on the deck and watch the sun rise high in the sky, I realize it has nothing to do with the weather conditions at all.    He is sitting next to me, watching me and still trying to figure out what makes me tick.   My memories are of him and my mother, my siblings and my cousins, the ones I almost lost in the woods so many years ago.

The cell phone purrs quietly next to my chair and I pick it up to hear the voice of my son, all grown up now, the one who had once gotten in a van and drove to Colorado.  All grown up now with a wife and two daughters, I know he is where he is supposed to be.

“Why did you do that?”  I asked him softly, but I already knew the answer. 575564_4025847640941_447812431_n

I swear I could feel my father sitting next to me, smiling.

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Good Night, February

028The day started sunny and bright, but I knew the storm was coming my way.    The lake was calm with waves on sabbatical for the moment.

As I drove the distance to complete my first errand, it was obvious a lot of other people had the same idea.  The roads were busy with last minute shoppers to pick up supplies, to replenish and restock the cupboards of soups and gravies and sauces.  Macaroni and meat, chicken and salads,  I was well stocked and prepared for whatever storm would come.  Birdseed and suet, bread crumbs and bread crusts, all ready and waiting for friends both feathered and on four legs.   It is the end of February and one more month of winter at hand.  In western New York, the month of March arrives loud and drunk, and leaves quietly hungover.

The day passed easily with no veering off course, my destinations planned and completed, I headed back towards the lake and to home.  The air was getting cooler and the briskness of the temperature made itself known.  The waves were beginning to pick up steam, a soft roll that would eventually turn into a roar.

This is my favorite part of winter.  The sounds of waves create a loud and boisterous symphony in the background of my days.  It lulls me to sleep at night and reminds me of one of my favorite John Lennon songs;   I would sing it to my children when they were babies, and I have sung it to sick puppies on the mend.

It goes perfectly with the setting sun over my winter horizon, and I am full of love and gratitude every time I hear both the waves in my mind and the memory of the song in my soul.

It is a song of love and promise for yet another day to do it all over again.  I pray that I never get tired of it.

 

Now’s the time to say good night

Good night, sleep tight

Soon the sun turns out it lights

Good night, sleep tight

Dream sweet dreams for me

Dream sweet dreams for you

Close your eyes and I’ll close mine

Good night, sleep tight

Soon the moon will shine its light

Good night, sleep tight

Dream sweet dreams for me

Dream sweet dreams for you

Close your eyes and I’ll close mine

Good night, sleep tight

Soon the stars will shine so bright

Good night, sleep tight

Dream sweet dreams for me

Dream sweet dreams for you

Good night, February.

Good night.

 

 

 

 

 

What is it with Me and Birds?

Every now and then something happens that’s so utterly bizarre you have to tell someone else to make it real. I was driving to my destination with plenty of time before my day was to begin. Traveling at the 55 mile an hour speed limit (really!  I was!) a small sparrow flew right into my windshield. Awww I thought, poor bird!  I killed a birdie. I turned to get on the main highway, a little sad I had creamed one of God’s creatures.

But not ten minutes later, I was surprised again. BAM!! I heard as I drove the 55 mph speed limit (well, maybe 65 mph). A pheasant had done a kamakazzi nose dive into my windshield! There were brown feathers and blood flying everywhere.  I had to turn the windshield wipers on to see where I was going. Watching the guy in the car in the next lane laughing hysterically, I was still able to maintain the speed limit. Watching the soap drip off the glass, I thought how totally weird the whole thing was. I have never hit anything in my life. Two bird in ten minutes?  I’m glad it wasn’t a deer.

When I pulled into the parking lot some twenty minutes later, I realized the bird had lodged itself into the front grille of my car.  Ewww…So off to the car wash I went.  I was not greeted with open arms. As a matter of fact, the college age men and women tried everything to dislodge it with the sprayer and soap nozzles. No luck. This was one big bird. Finally, one brave young woman, amongst the screams of Yuckkkk! and Gross!!! finally took a rag, and wrenched the now wet and mushy bird body (minus it’s head) from the grille. I thought about how courageous she was – I certainly couldn’t do it, its why I was there in the first place. I sent them two large pizzas, signed THE BIRD LADY.

The darn thing dented my hood. Unreal. Just goes to show ya – you never know when it’s your time.

Hats

capI have never paid much attention to hats, I just wore one until the occasion arose to slap on something different.

Wool, knitted and colorful hats were smashed down on newly coiffed hair, with little or no concern to what it was doing to the just finished product.  Black knit, blue patterned, or white felt, I didn’t care as long as it kept my head warm.  Sometimes a beret would be enough, if it wasn’t too cold or blustery.  Fashion was never considered, only the form and function of protection.

Warmer weather brings wide rimmed, floppy hats, to guard us from the harsh heat of the sun, and to keep us safe from the scathing remarks of those who don’t really understand hats.  Even hats with gaping crocheted styles may do little to offer safe haven, but are PB109H-SCARLET-Mediummerely used to remind us we are wearing one.

Veils, although barely covering one’s head, can be also used as a shield.  Be careful when searching for those.

The same may be said about hats worn as a woman.  I’ve been daughter, mother, wife, girlfriend – not necessarily in that order, and never donning one particular type of hat.  In hat years, the time seems to fly by, again paying to mind to how it looked, only to how I was formed or functioned.

It is difficult to wear two hats at once, but it can be done; one hat may feel slightly askew, however, so take care to make sure it is adorned tightly.  Whatever you do, don’t let the winds of the day blow it off your head.  Only you should be the one to decide what hat you feel comfortable wearing and when it is time to change to another.

There are times when the wind from storms will blow it right off of your head, leaving you unprotected and vulnerable to the elements.  Its best to just stand firm while while your face is pelted with stones or ice, leaving  you cold and shaken.  But remember; all storms pass.

Some hats are hand me downs from our mothers or borrowed from our sisters.  We may envy the hats worn by others which may entice us to go out and search for the same kind to fit our heads.

helmetBut a word of caution here: wearing someone else’s hat just doesn’t seem to work as it may fall down around your face, or even worse, obscure your vision.  Hats should fit us so perfectly that we don’t realize we are even wearing one. Even if your hat is a helmet at times, it is yours to wear and yours alone.  Don’t offer it to anyone else either, unless they ask to try it on.

You can share your hat with others, but don’t let go of it.  Everyone must find their own hat in this world, no matter how much you think you are helping to allow them to wear yours.

After wearing the variety of hats I’ve accumulated in my closet, I realized that sometimes it’s okay to forgo wearing a hat at all.  There’s no shame in letting your hair, as well as your mind, just float aimlessly in the wind.

It is okay to go outside without a hat.

But at the moment I am content to wear a ball cap, the kind with a well-worn rim like the one I used to wear as a kid.  It reminds me to have fun and just pull my hair back, my face turned upward towards the sun.

hat

 

 

A Valentine Tale

TURTLE  DAVEWe used to hang out in the backyard of my house, and talk about the world and all the things that were happening in the neighborhood. How many ice pops we could eat before we got an ice cream headache and debate the differences between smooth peanut butter and chunky. His favorite action hero was Superman and mine was Catwoman.

I adored him. My stomach would flip flop with butterflies when ever he would walk by me, which was quite often. He was a little older than me, but that was ok. I remember his blonde hair, cut close to his head, and his smooth skin. Strong legs and muscled arms he was the original Norse man. His face was bronze from being out in the sun all day. My heart would beat so loudly when he was near me, I would be afraid he would hear the pumpa, pumpa, pumpa.

I remember the first time be kissed me. We were outside on my parent’s porch, drinking root beers on a hot, summer afternoon. All our friends had gone home and we were sweaty from playing softball.

We were laughing about how many freckles I had on my face, and he was starting to count them with his forefinger. The feel of his breath on my face, his lips so close to mine was almost unbearable. He had begun to count the freckles around my mouth when he suddenly stopped. I could see the iris of his eyes and he just looked into mine. The smell of our mixed perspiration was intoxicating.

All of a sudden, he jerked forward and kissed me on the lips, a big SMACKing noise. Then he smiled, turned red and said, “gotta go.” He stood up and ran home.

His name was Nicky Rice. I was seven years old and he was nine. He was my first boyfriend and it’s his kiss by which all others are measured.

Happy Valentine’s Day Nicky, wherever you are.

 

 

 

Steak and Baked Potato, Superbowl Traditions

Every year at Superbowl time I rerun this column – I’ll be sure to get a call from all of them, even though they are most likely starting their own traditions…..

69578,1177962674,4[1]Part of getting divorced is helping your children, no matter how old they are, understand certain things. You are not divorcing them, just their father. Their father and you will always love them, no matter who else they may marry.

Their childhood wasn’t a mistake, and that they can take those memories with them where ever they go.

Such are the memories of their childhood and the Superbowl.

I was never a football fan; my interest was more towards baseball and hockey.

But football was the rule of the house when they were kids. Football season was a time where no one got to watch cartoons, nobody could come over to play; football was on.

Sundays were spent going to church, and then home to either play catch in the backyard, rake some leaves or shovel some snow, whatever the season brought.

But the Superbowl Sunday was different.

The Superbowl was a party, and even though we had little to no money, we always splurged.

The splurge was filet mignon steak, a baked potato, and creamed corn.

But the biggest splurge was that they got to eat on the floor in the living room, in front of the t.v.

Something so foreign to them, it was my cardinal rule that no one ate in front of the t.v., and there certainly was no food allowed in the living room.

It started when they could barely chew the steaks themselves. What a great surprise, they275413SDC[1] were eating in the living room! It was the most exciting thing they had ever heard of, and on the floor yet!! A blanket laid on the floor like a picnic, it became a tradition they looked forward to every year.

All grown up now and on their own, I thought about that today as I sat watching the ice melt on the lake. I wondered if they remembered.

They did.

The son in the Navy called from the ship “Got your steak ma?” and I almost burst into tears.

The son in Colorado called from his townhouse “Eatin’ some baked potato today ma, how about you?”

The son and daughter who live in the city were partying, and I can only hope they can afford to eat a steak now and then.

Just like back then.

I can still picture in my mind’s eye the look on their faces that first Superbowl afternoon.

Spread in a circle on the floor, they held their dishes up as I handed out the slivers of filet mignon, plopped a small baked potato wrapped in tin foil on their plate, and let them scoop their own creamed corn onto their dish.

“Are we rich, Mom?” my warrior daughter asked with all the awe of Cinderella being told she was really a princess.

I looked around at the shiny faces, and my heart was filled with love. This was one of those moments you keep close to you for when you need them. It’s what helps you get through the night when all is confused, and keeps you from killing them when they try to push their limits.

“Yeah ma, are we rich?” Navy Boy asked.

securedownloadI looked at them in their hand-me-down jeans and flannel shirts, worn thin in the arms but still wearable.

My quiet son smiling softly as he looked at the design of the tin foil and wondering if he could draw that.

The baby in her pink sweat suit with a Care Bear applique on the front, an outfit I had picked up at a garage sale for 50 cents.

“Today we are” I said, as I turned my face so they didn’t see the tears.

Today we are.

Have a steak and a baked potato on me.

Eat in the livingroom on the floor.

Make your own traditions, for they will remember them when they need them.

Happy SuperBowl!