Friday, March 27, 2015

A Glimpse Forward by Looking Back

Hit a bit of a dry spell with the writing. Writers block, I suppose. Until I can work through this, here's one of my first journal entries from 2004. About my mom. It will give you a peek...a glimpse of what lies ahead for us in JOAH.

Okay, so it's time for me to write about the one person in my life who opened me up and blocked me out.  My Mom.  Where do I begin?

No journal will ever have enough pages to hold all my feelings, thoughts...memories of her.  She was something else.  Complicated...that basically describes her.  She was a walking, talking contradiction in many ways.  And maybe that's why I've never been able to write a poem about her.  God knows I've tried--for years--to express my innermost heartsong for Mom.  It's just too complicated.  I can't.  At least, not yet.  But I feel the day coming...

In the beginning she was a very beautiful person, radiating with life, love and hope.  My childhood memories of her are always tender.  I can remember how she could wipe away my tears and fears with just the simple stroke of her finger across my cheek.  Whenever I was feeling low, she would tell me the story of the trip her and Dad made from Idaho to California before I was born.  She was about three months pregnant with me at the time.  Their car ran out of gas, and they were pushing it up a small hill, Dad in back, and Mom at the driver's side, steering.  Somehow she lost her footing, slipped and rolled down the hill, head over heels.  When she came to a stop, she was cussin' because her knees and hands were skinned up.  That night she started bleeding so Dad took her to the hospital, where she was told she had miscarried, yet six months later I was born.  She had been carrying twins, the doctor told her, but I survived the fall.  "You are a survivor," she'd tell me in a tender voice.  "You fought to stay alive inside me.  You were meant to be.  Don't ever give up.  God has something very special planned for you."  "What?" I would ask.  She'd wrap her arms around me and rest her head on mine.  "I don't know, honey.  That's for you to find out when you grow up."  Then she'd pull away from me, cup my chin in her hand and say,"And when it happens, you'll know."  That moment lives forever in my heart.

And so the years rolled by, and time, as it often does, changed everything.  Including Mom.  Too many things went wrong...terribly wrong...for her.  To isolate the change in her and contribute it to any one thing would be a a fruitless effort.  The cause and effect of time on my mother's life is like the crafting of a raw chunk of rock into a precious gem.  She was a diamond in the rough waiting to shine.  But somehow in the process of shaping and polishing her, the grip loosened, the gem shifted and the crafter's tool struck too deep, shattering everything.  The pieces flew in many directions, scattered and fragmented, never to be whole again.

How do I tell the story of the person who inspired hope in my life, who always told me to never give up, no matter what, when that same person lost all hope, and just gave up?  It saddens me when I think of how love and hope wasn't enough to keep her going.  So many times Mom thought she found love in a man, and through some strange twist of fate, she lost it.  Twice in violence, once in frustration, and the last time, in death.  Maybe she lost too much, too many times.  And the last time was just that...the last time.  It's like she was dancing on a cliff, so enthralled with the music she didn't notice how her movements were bringing her closer to the edge.  But there was still love in her love...her children's love.  Never ending love, given unconditionally.  I was there, pulling her away from the edge, doing everything in my power to get her attention, to bring her focus back to her family.  But she just pushed me away...from the edge...and she let go.  That's what hurt the most, was the feeling that her family's love wasn't enough to keep her holding on.

She always had so much fight in her...a quality I admired and feared.  God help the poor soul who crossed my mother, she could be hell on wheels.  If you sparked her anger, your best defense was to turn and run, cos if she got a hold of you, you were going down! 

One particular incident tells it all.  I can't recall what year it happened, mid-70s I think.  Mom was dating a traveling salesman (yeah, I know...) and one day she was telling her sister, Joan, about him.  They compared notes, and the conversation revealed that they were both dating the same guy.  Of course, he had told each of them they were the only one he was seeing when he came to town.  So, Mom devised a plan to teach him a lesson.  The next time he came to town, he called and she invited him over for dinner.  He arrived on time, and Mom put the plan into action.  They were relaxing with a cocktail while waiting for dinner to cook (lasagne, I think) and he was settling in for a good time.  There was a knock at the back door, and a few moments later my aunt Joan casually walked into the dining room.  The guy froze, his jaw dropped and his face turned a shocking hue of white.  "I believe you know my sister, Joan," Mom said, as she turned to him, her blue eyes flaming.  He studdered something, dropped his drink, and ran for the front door, never to be seen again.  I don't know who got the most satisfaction from it, but both Mom and Aunt Joan sniggered about it for weeks after.  They both delighted in retelling the story of their sweet revenge on the lying, two-timing, luckless SOB who made the mistake of dating two women in the same town, who just happened to be sisters.  I think they both made a significant impact on his life, or at the very least, his dating philosophy.

In conversations with my two younger sister's, who were 14 and 12 when Mom died 26 years ago, I have learned they remember very little about her.  To fill the void in their memory, I have shared my stories, like the ones above, about our mother.  The good stuff, the laughter, and all the fun we used to have together.  The only thing they remember is that she was either always working, tired, asleep or angry.  They don't remember those magical times we shared...those defining moments that bond a child to a parent.  All they remember is that I was always there for them.  I was the one who wiped away their tears, calmed their fears, and spoke the soothing words of love and hope.  Many times Chris (the oldest) has told me "To us, you were Mom."  Those are bittersweet words to hear, a double edged sword that just cuts through me...but it is the truth.  Hearing her speak those words fills my heart with joy and sadness, at the same time.  Yet, it is the joy that rings the loudest and lingers deep inside; and gently reminds me that I made a positive impression on them.  All those times I got frustrated with their endless bickering and fighting, when I felt like I was talking to a "brick wall," my words and actions really did sink time.  Like all good things, it just took time.  They remember the love I gave.  And they held on to it through all those years, carrying it in their hearts and in turn, passing it on to their children.

There is a saying "A hundred years from now it will not matter how much money I made, what kind of car I drove, or the size of the house I lived in.  The only thing that will matter is that I was important in the life of a child."  Okay, maybe that's not the exact wording, but you know the one.  As we go through our lives, whether we walk with grace, even if we stumble sometimes, the only thing that really matters is how we treat each other, and ourselves.
For years I have carried the burden of despair because I felt that I should have done more for my mother, and if I had, maybe she would have lived longer.  Now, through this entry I realize I did everything I could, but it was out of my hands.  All this time I've been unable to see that all my love was not in vain, my direction and my focus was true, set on the course of two young children who needed just be there.  With my heart, I gave them all I had to give.  I see it now, in their eyes, and in their children's eyes, I see the truth.  All is not lost, for I was important in the life of two children.  And those two children have lived on, and grown up to become mother's themselves, who fill their children's hearts with warmth, hope, and love.  What more could I ask than to have the love I put out there so long ago, returned to me in the heart another child, knowing that the source of that love, was after all, my mother's love for her child.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Journey of a Heart B1 C1 (con't)

It's Saturday. I have the house to myself. Sam is attending an all day class. Later today I will head to the barn to ride AJ, put some time on him or what we call, "wet saddle blanket" time, which equates to a lot of riding. Then later this evening, I'll take Duke to team penning. Only two sessions remain and I've only participated in two this season, a drastic drop from previous years. Oh well, sometimes that's how it goes.

For weeks, words float around in my head every day, but other duties take my attention; the job, the house, the horses, family, friends. It's frustrating at times, wanting so much to just sit, put some music on and write...allow the words to pour out my fingers from my mind. Writing takes forever for me, and I need to allow myself to just follow the feel of writing, and then go back and fine tune. I fine tune as I go and therein lies the problem. It takes me forever that way. And so I have my daily writing challenge.

Today, I'm going to follow the feel and see where it takes me.

Ugh! I'm already fine tuning. Began this paragraph three times and changed it, over and over. Okay...letting go of control and handing it over to the feel.

The story will continue, but in telling it I now find myself at one of many crossroads. I'm struggling with the outcome of the truth. In order to tell my story, things swept long ago under the rug of secrecy, will be uncovered. People will get upset (perhaps...perhaps not) and being who I am, I don't want to upset anyone. Which is the main reason why I have put off telling it. The more people you have in your life, and the more involved they become, the more complicated things get. Interaction leads to something, good or bad.

But I ask myself, why should I hid their secrets, when I believe the light of day is necessary?

If you've visited my Pinterest boards, then you know I love quotes. But then, I love words. Last year, I found a remarkable quote, and it got me thinking. Words to put me back on the path of following my dream. Yes, it's a big dream, and it scares me sometimes. But I can not let another day go by living with the regret of silence. Not this kind of silence, a quietude forced by fear of consequences born from the spiteful discourse of other people's thoughtless actions.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

It's the simple truth.

Soon, you will see a different side to my sister, Diane. For now, she is my protector, my angel. But soon, she makes a choice that forever changes the course of my life. An emotional choice, rooted in jealousy. And it will set in motion a sequence of events that will split the lives of my father and myself in two.

Jealousy. That stupid, petty green-eyed monster that lives in every person. I have no use for it and will go to any length to avoid it. The wounds and scars left by one act of jealousy in my life run deep and taught me well.

So, back to the story. I hope these inside thoughts of the writing process don't distract readers much from the story. It's my way of bringing a behind the scenes perspective, if you will.


~~~~~Journey of a Heart (JOAH)~~~~~

Book one: Through the music
Chapter one: Tears of Time (continued)

It didn't take long for us to move again, as the apartment proved to be too small for the four of us. In 1962, a small two bedroom house in North Hollywood with acreage soon became our home, and it was there that my deep love for horses first took hold of me, and never let go. There was a lot of land behind the house, filled with empty outbuildings, trees and bamboo. Bamboo grew everywhere! The street had plenty of children to play with and Saticoy Street Elementary School was only a block away.

Next door lived an older couple who leased horses to motion picture companies and television shows. For a time, I lived next to the white horse rode by James Drury in the tv show, The Virginian; I spent countless hours at the fence between their property and ours watching all the horses. They would always come to see me when I did, and sometimes I'd just sit on the ground, listening to the patterns of their breathing, their movements and the persistent buzzing of the ever present flies.

With all the land, we soon had animals of our own. We had two German shepherds we named Eva and Zsa Zsa, after the Gabor sisters, because they were very much like them. Eva always carried one of her ears off to the side, giving her a silly look but she was so lovable and cuddly; while Zsa Zsa was prim, proper and very reserved. Unfortunately both dogs had a bad habit of getting into the neighbors yard and killing their chickens, so we ended up rehoming both with a local seeing eye dog service for the blind.

And then there were the cats. I have many memories in that house, but one that stands out is the time our cat decided to have her litter of kittens in my bed, on my back, while I was asleep. It was the middle of the night, everyone was asleep and I had to go potty. But I felt this heavy weight on my back and a lot of movement. When I lifted myself up to see what it was, I heard a thud when something hit the floor. I began calling out to mom, which woke Diane, who promptly told me from her bed on the other side of the room to go back to sleep. Well, I couldn't really, because there was the matter of using the bathroom. And the litter of newborn kittens on my back. At that point, annoyed with me and my late night disturbance, Diane rolled over with a huff of consternation and put her back to me. Worried about whatever it was that fell to the floor, and the burden on my back, I announced the situation to Diane, point blank. She didn't believe me. But something convinced her to turn around, look over at my bed, and then get out of her bed. In her haste, she almost stepped on a kitten, the one that free-fell from my back to the floor. She whirled around, running out of the room and calling for our mother. Seconds later the dark room was flooded with light, mom and Diane were cooing over the babies, while I, still laying on my stomach, did my best to contain the internal urge. To no avail. Finally, with tears welling in my eyes, I hastily asked for the removal of my furry burden so that I could relieve myself. This was done, post haste and none too soon. I hiked up the long skirt of my pajamas and high tailed it to the bathroom, just in the nick of time.

For as long as I can remember, animals were always a part of our family. When it was just mom, Diane and I, we had a collie named Laddie, a parakeet named Jimmy, a skunk (de-sacked), a raccoon, and plenty of cats. Not all at the same time, mind you. Laddie was hit by a car and didn't survive. The parakeet, well I'm told my Aunt Joan wasn't a fan of the bird, and convinced me one day that cats and birds loved to play together, then suggested I put the bird in a box with our cat. So I did. If nothing else, I was an obedient child. Mom never forgave my aunt for that one. As for the skunk and raccoon, I don't know what happened to either of them. My only memory of those two was helping mom give them a bath, feeling something warm and gushy on my hand, and pulling it out of the bath water to find one of them had pooped on me. Mom deftly thrust my soiled hand back into the wash water and removed the offensive mess. Oh, and I know you can't lock a raccoon in a bathroom with a full roll of toilet paper. If you do, they will spend hours tearing the entire roll into tiny, tiny pieces, one sheet at a time. It makes a huge mess.

Writing this morning.

Another entry flows...

To enable the creative waters, input melodies...