aging · creativity · culture · expression · poetry · relationships · writing

Hand Holding

Found my first love
holding hands
walking home
from school –
grade one.

Father’s grip
crushed,
controlled,
warned against
disobedience,
held on until
compliance
was assured.

My sister’s hand –
frail flesh stretched
over aching bones –
clung to mine
until her internal heat
burned the touch
and I had to let go
while she surrendered
her last breath.

A lover’s hand
lacks stillness –
strokes and cajoles,
employs sensuality
to invoke desire.

Held my children’s hands
with my heart –
never wanting to let go,
prideful possession.

My granddaughter’s fist –
still pink from birthing –
wrapped around my finger
gripping the unknown
with the ferocity of
one hungry for life –

My husband’s hand
reaches out for mine
conveys support
for unsteady legs
offers strength
to propel me forward.

Hands convey
what the mind cannot –
a secret language
nuanced for life’s moments,
leave deep impressions.

(Tonight is Open Link night at dVerse, and our host Lillian has invited us to celebrate with her, as August 9th marks many National celebrations, one of which is National Hand Holding Day.  To see the others and join in, visit here.)

 

 

dreams · life · Love · poetry · relationships · women's issues

Checked Out

Every woman needs a man,
her mother told her, to make
her complete.  To submit,

she realizes, too late, soul
traded for high-rise living,
big city dreams numbing

inner losses; she eats to
appease an inner sorrow,
a second-rate childhood,

afraid of being a burden,
loathe to create a stir,
conditioned complacency:

appeasing, pleasing, follows
plans, avoids decisions, never
really knows where she is going.

Can she fault the man, schooled
to provide – the alpha male taking
ownership/ charge?  His child

lives here too, feeds on impulses,
craves attention, overcompensates
for fears of lacking with bravado;

cannot understand why she never
asserts her self, alternately reads
acceptance and disapproval, frets –

an eternally unsettled gnawing gut.
They stumble over one another, seek
separation in small quarters, discuss

repairmen, schedules – nothing;
avoid deeper issues like the fact
that they are both suffocating, near

jumping off the ledge of their high
faluting existence, into the snarl
of traffic that immobilizes them.

The noise of city living has negated
their ability to listen, the distractions
altered them; the distance between

is too far to bridge in a single sigh,
and she, no longer submissive,
has joined him, and checked out.

adversity · disability · health · poetry · Rants · recovery · relationships

Re-de-fine-d

Ask me how I’m doing
and I’ll say “fine”, not
because I’m actually “fine”
but because “fine” is the only
socially acceptable response.

If I said that I have been lying
here for three hours now trying
to will my body to movement
that would elicit unsolicited
advice and tarnish my “fine”

I’d berate myself for breaking
my promise not to complain
knowing that complaining
provokes compulsive needs
to fix which makes me angry

Because my concept of trying –
which is defined by getting dressed
every day – does not match trying
every new therapy, drug, exercise
offered by well-meaning but clueless

others, who may experience fatigue
at times, but have no understanding
of what it is to be exhausted after
something as simple as bathing,
let alone debating what I haven’t tried.

So, ask me how I’m feeling, and
I’ll say “fine” and we can get on
about the weather or the latest
movie must-see, and I can bask
in the warmth of the contact

carry the conversation into the
void of the rest of my day, smile
to think that I still have friends
who accept my “fine” even though
they know I am anything but.

 

 

dreams · Humour

Maybe, Leave Me Out of It?

Please be warned,
if you invite me to share
in an issue about which
you are overworked,
I will involve myself.

While you are
attempting to ascend,
I will be vetting out
the underminer –
aiming at sizeable
transformation.

I will dress myself
in false shades of
compassion, pretend
grace, while all the
while prodding –
trigger-happy.

No doubt, my
pursuit will result
in mortal injury –
chasing redundancies
is an obsession
of mine.

While you’re looking
for closure, I will
be killing the
proverbial
‘fat lady”
so there will
be no end.

Please be warned,
if you engage my
participation,
on any level,
you can be
sure of
overkill.

 

Uncategorized

Day 162 “Competitive Communication”

The sound of tinkling glass alerted me to an incoming text and despite the company around me, I had to look.

“A new video of the baby!”  I exclaimed, hitting play before anyone could protest.  (As if that would stop me anyway.)

“Look at how tiny she is,” my friend noted.  “My granddaughter is twice her size.”

“Does she have any teeth?  My grandson has a full set of teeth.”

“Just got her first one.  She is late on that, but so was my other granddaughter.  She’s not talking, either.”

“Neither is my granddaughter, but she being walking for awhile.”

Cellphones emerged from purses and pictures were passed all around.  We all basked in the grandmother’s right to brag, completely oblivious of Sue, who sat quietly throughout the process.  Sue’s children had not produced offspring, nor did it look like they might be close to doing so.

Thor came limping through and I passed him the phone.  “Here’s the latest.”

“How are you doing?”  my friend inquired of Thor.

“Better.  On the mend.  Still frustrated with this leg brace.”

“My cousin’s husband is going through the same thing.  He’s been a year though and it looks like he might lose the leg.”

“I work with a woman who lost her leg.  I hear it’s more common that we think.  Good thing you’re on the mend, Thor.”

Thor had exited the room.

“He’s doing better though, right?”

“Way better!  It has been quite the year.  Wouldn’t want to go through that again.”

Sue remains quiet.  Her husband has been ill for many years, dependent on her.

“What a lot of noise!”  he expressed to me later.  “Do you even hear each other?”

He makes a good point.  In our excitement to “catch up”, my old friends and I talk at each other, competing for air time, but nothing is really said.  In fact, in our need to get a word in, we may have inadvertently created rifts.

I hate this about myself, this need to compete in the conversation.  Someone always gets left out and overlooked, and an opportunity for authentic communication is missed.

Next time, I will remind myself to listen and observe, before jumping in so aggressively.

 

Family · health · life · Love · memoir · relationships

Acceptance

“I know what I want to give my Father.”  Dee looked at me through her veil of blonde hair.  Her face always bore such sweetness, yet the young girl I knew was so intense.

“Tell me.”

Dee was dying.  This was her third dance with cancer, and the doctor’s said it would be her last.  I visited daily, at her request, and we talked about fears, and dreams, and spirituality.  Lately, it had been on her mind that if her life was to be a short one (23 years), then she had to make it purposeful.

“I have decided that the best gift I can give him is to accept that he loves me, even if he doesn’t show it the way I’d like.  What do you think?”

Dee and her father had been fighting since the news came.  He wanted to take her home, but she refused.  She wanted to die here, in the town she had been living the past four years.  He couldn’t understand her unwillingness to fight in the face of death.  He wanted the doctors to do more.   She wanted him to let it go, and to be more emotionally available to her.  We had been discussing their relationship during my past two visits.

“I think that is an amazing gift, Dee.  I am forty years old, and I haven’t even been able to do that with my own father.  That’s the best gift ever.”

* * *

Dee had me thinking.  What would happen if I were to accept my father, just as he was?

Dad’s 75th birthday was coming up and I hadn’t yet bought him a gift.

He had asked for my acceptance once, and I’d said no.  It was the night he shared with me his awful secret.  He sat the family down and told us all.  He said that all he wanted was acceptance, and when he turned to me I said I couldn’t do it.  I said I needed my Father, and what he asked of me was too much.  I stormed out.

So, on his 75th birthday, I wrote him letter.  I apologized for that girl so many years ago, and I told him that I never really understood his problem.  I told him that I knew he loved me,  and that I loved him too.  And I said that when I got past all my self-righteous anger and frustration, I had to admit that he was probably the best teacher I ever had in life.  If it hadn’t been for his struggles and the challenges they presented for all us, I might never have been the person I was.  If there is a divine plan, or higher purpose for life, I wrote, then he accepted a hellish existence in order to give us the opportunity to grow and evolve.

He cried when he read it, and he called me up after, and said I had an odd way of looking at life, but that he appreciated it.  He appreciated it that I was willing to accept him as he was, but he wanted to be better.   Did I think it was too late?

I told him what Alan Cohen said:  “Look in the mirror.  If you see yourself looking back, then there’s still time.”

* * *

Dee’s father liked his present, too.  His anger had broken the next time I saw him, and he even let me see him cry.

 

abuse · Family · life · Love · memoir · relationships

Whiskey Fights

Most evenings I would return home from work at 10:30 exhausted by my day.  Juggling school, homework, and a part-time job was taxing, particularly as I worked from six to ten, four evenings a week, as well as eight hours on Saturdays.  Typically, I would stop to visit with my parents before heading off to bed.  It was always at these times that my father would engage me.

It started with an empty drink glass he would balance on his knee. This was to be my cue.  I would ignore him.

“Ahem!”  He would nod at the empty glass.

Continuing to ignore him, I would talk to my mother about the day.

Clink, clink, clink.  My father would tap the glass to get my attention.

“Your legs worked fine the last time I saw them.”

He’d raise his eyebrows in displeasure.  “I worked hard all day.  It’s the least you could do.”

“I worked hard all day, too.”  I’d object. “Get your own drink.”

My mother, the peacemaker, would take a step towards him.

“Don’t you dare, Mom!  You worked equally as hard all day.  He can get his own.”

“Is this the thanks I get?  All I want is a simple drink, and my own daughter won’t even get up and get it for me.”

It was the point of the thing.   My father was the epitome of male chauvinist pig.  It was his home, his castle, and everyone and everything was expected to pander to him.   It made me mad.

My mother stood by, hesitant.

‘It won’t hurt him to serve himself once in awhile.”  Now I was arguing with her.

“Your not going to win,”  she’d sigh.  My father leered with satisfaction.

“Not if you give in.”  It was a hopeless plea.  My mother always gave in.  Didn’t she realize I was on her side?  I was doing this for all of us?

This wasn’t about the drink.  It was about all the times he made her have dinner on the table the moment he walked through the door, then pushed his plate away after two bites, exclaiming disgust at her cooking; humiliating her in front of all of us.  And how he always had to have the first helping of pie, and it had to be flawlessly served; no broken pieces for him.   It was about how he insisted on napping in a chair beside the dinner table, forbidding us to talk even though we were busting to discuss our day.  And how every time we were watching the movie of the week, he would come in just at the climax and insist on changing the channel, even though he had a TV set in his room, which only he was allowed to watch.  He was the King of the Castle, he’d remind us.  As if we needed reminding.

For once, I wanted to win.  To prove him wrong.  To see him back down.  It wasn’t going to happen.

I got up and grabbed the glass.  There was no winning against my father.  He knew it.  She knew it.  I seethed inside.

(Image: www.photigy.com)