Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen

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Real Mom’s don’t eat and I have no pictures to prove it!

In searching for a photo the other day, through my endless and now digital photo album archives, I realized just how few pictures of me there were with my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not one who likes having her picture taken, as what develops is never what I see from my eyes out.  However, through the years as my daughters have grown, holidays and special times, there are just a  few scattered photos of me, peppered through the banquet of faces.  One of the obvious reasons,  is  I have always been the photographer, setting up the perfect shot for the memory of my film, digital disk and heart.  Because I was the sole focus parent for most of their lives, I made sure life wasn’t kept in a darkroom and was always there even when they were not.

Seeing the laughter, tears and silliness more often than not surrounding a celebration or meal, I remembered a poem which was tucked into my cookbook.  Simple theme, but the meaning was true.  It was a an adult remembering how every Sunday dinner his mother always took the chicken wing and from the eyes of innocence, thought she liked it.  In deed, a mother’s love is on the wings of her heart.

Between the daily Melmac and Sunday Currier and Ives, our table was set for three and food was done family style.   Mom took her helping after Dad and I, or  on a special occasion when the rest of the family had been served.  It never dawned on me; she took what was left until I was a mother myself.  I would always set the table and my girls would eat, while I “cleaned up” around them.  Once they were done more evenings than I can remember, my dinner was what they left behind.  So, I guess even as a vegetarian, I preferred the wing as well.

When we become parents, the only guide we have is what comes from the heart and it directs us to the best interest of our child through love, compassion and unselfishness to a fault.  I have always teased my girls, telling them I do things for them because “I am the Mom!”  But the truth is just that, I am the mom, a job I took on in eager anticipation of giving all I had to share this life with them.  There isn’t a mom alive who can’t echo this sentiment – I said “mom” not parent, just to be clear.  In some wise words, “any cat can have kittens.”

I may not have a lot of pictures of myself with my daughters in a self promotion of having given birth.  But I have watched as three little girls grew into beautiful young women and aside from the nurse telling me “It’s a girl!” the most heart filling words I ever heard were, “That’s my mom!”  If I could use it as a dictionary definition, those moments would be pictures worth a thousand words and only those four would be worthy.

Watching my grandchild play and grow I see the cycle begin again.  I catch them when they least expect it and when they pose for my heart and camera.  Their memories and pictures will be with me always.  All I can hope for  is they remember I tried to be there when it mattered, tried to feed, cloth and spoil them the best way possible, always playing as dishes and dusting waited.

Basically, I want them to know as far as they are concerned,  I will always be in the picture.



I’m not in the closet with my football and tiara- so deal with it!

We are in this life together folksWhy is it so hard to understand that?  Needing instead to face a daily battle of  jumping  on the top of others to win.   Really, it gets old, especially as I get older.

Anyone who is a parent or raises a child, can immediately understand what I am saying.  They can also understand that to honestly love a child, it must be done with not just open eyes, to keep them from running with scissors (save that for adulthood hidden agenda’s), but with an open heart as well.  Children come into this life with no choice in accepting what they are presented with – why then, do the adults around them get a choice?  By that I mean, why do they get to be different (and it is okay), and at the same time condemn their children for the same thing?  Talk about a do what I say and not what I do moment!

I was born in an Open House – My father was born in 1908,  and he raised me with  his  open heart, open hand, open mind and most of all with an open door.  Growing up the only difference I ever knew in those around me, was what they presented.  My father simplified it with “Pretty is as Pretty Does” – basically stated:  Judge a man by his actions to know who he is inside.  Damn my father rocked.

As the years and generations have continued since his turn of a century wisdom, which I practice and passed along to my daughters, there is an addendum that needs to be attached.  “Yup, It’s really in my DNA.”  That comes with the benefits of living this long, and seeing medical science claim to know everything (even if it is only when it is  politically correct sadly).

Like my father, I was gifted with only daughters in this life.  I was able to delight and grow in the differences within them,  as they matured into adults.  However, I had no real baseline  in which to see them as anything but sugar and spice and sometimes nice.  As a grandmother now of both a boy and a girl, I now can truly say I have seen life from the other side, from day one, with eyes wide open – nothing really surprising for me, just a nice confirmation.

We all have a purpose in this life, and the least of it should never be to bring pain or harm to another, as they continue on their own purpose, in a world where we want as many choices for ourselves as possible (as long as they refer to anything but gender and sexuality that is).  By that I mean, go to Starbucks and get your triple caramel, one shot, chocolate, half caf, soy latte with a touch of cinnamon on the whipped cream chocolate curled topping,  but don’t ever let your son have a doll, even if you say it is a damn action figure!  Please!

My youngest daughter delights me.  She of all my children was her own drummer from birth, who listened to life.  To this day in all her beauty accented with love, meditation, tattoos and bottle blonde hair, she remains the same if not better.  The only difference now,  is she has a little girl who at 20 months is channeling Marilyn Monroe, as a diva in training and cracking everyone up – you see she already has more (pretend) make-up, jewelry and boa’s than her mother could have ever thought or dreaded.  There is no role model in her home for it, it was never anticipated, but oh how it is enjoyed and entertained.  This loving, laughing and happy little girl is who she is, plain and simple, and I thank God she was born where she was and to the parents she has.

In the era these small children will grow and call their generation, maybe they will be the ones who can stop the ignorance of bigotry, harassment and bullies, which offer action and opinion more often than not, because they themselves refuse to accept their own issues.  The world is not our oyster with the one perfect pearl, it is an ocean that needs to flow freely, with tide pools of discovery, and not tidal waves of adversity that kill off everything in their wake

Today, my grand daughter took her purse of assorted cosmetic tricks and treated the Buddha in her living room, to the full Merle Norman (nothing to do with the Full Monty, but just as open).  I think her photo should be the wallpaper and screensaver on all every computer in the world, because wisdom isn’t from the Mouths of Babes – it is through the Actions  of Innocence,  before life has corrupted it to their standards.

Without a word, in the silent knowledge still fresh from God, this little girl spoke so loudly:

“Accept who I am and find the Wisdom in your spirituality.”

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What’s left isn’t always right

Wouldn’t life be wonderful if all of those dreams we planned and hoped for came true?  Of course, I mean the good beneficial dreams, not the silly ones about winning the lottery, not getting a speeding ticket or God forbid lightening striking someone who has done us wrong.  I just mean those basic dreams that we are born into this life assuming will happen, if we follow the rules and play fair. But life is more of a gamble and we are given a hand that usually doesn’t deal out a full house or a flush every time.

When people move in and out of our lives, they usually take the best parts and what remains are lost moments, unsaid thoughts or just the emptiness of being alone, as life and those we love continue to move on, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.  No matter how hard we try to accept a new path in life, memories, loss and silence are always left, it just doesn’t seem right.

Waking up from a clockwork orange jigsaw styled dream, I looked into the darkness and realized that for the first time in 50 years, all that was around me in 1700 square feet of American suburbia was truly “all there was.”  I had always been one of the lucky ones, who unlike Thomas Wolfe, could go home again.  The house that welcomed my first steps and achievements stood against time and always kept the door open.  After my father died, the silence was thicker, the grass was browner and the dust grew denser, but the house remained a welcomed testament to my life. Now that mom has passed away, so has the house into the lives of a young newlywed couple who will never know where I last kissed my father, the couch where my first born laid asleep, the tree dad was cutting down with a circular saw and 200 ft extension cord – unknown to me as we spent the day helping, I was going to be proposed to that night as well, the doorbell my nephew would rings as the “Avar Man”  or the conga line dancing chorus of tiny tree frogs, who escaped from my room on a hot summer afternoon and made way across the living room rug.  The painful reality is I know them and I miss them terribly.

As I look into the rooms and shadows of my own house, I see my daughter standing in beauty, as she tried on her wedding dress for the fifth or was it tenth time?  I see the curtains in my bedroom that collect more dust than I want to admit. The day they were hung, my father accidentally drove my car through the garage into the house.  The sound was as loud as a train when the walls moved and the drywall showered down. There was a hamster that disappeared for a year, waking up in my daughters Easter basket, and a real Easter bunny who surprised us in the crawl space one fall day.  Life sprinkles more than lines across our face, it shades the shadows in memories of color that we catch from the corner of our eye.

I may not have always done what was right, but it was the best I could do and I always pray there will be a wisp of one of those dreams waiting around the corner when I need it the most.  However, it isn’t the dream which we find surrounding us in silence,  it is sometimes the lost memories and forgotten regrets that hold us when everyone else is gone.  Indeed, what is left isn’t always right, but it is always right there.

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I would have done something fantastic!

Years ago there was a short lived television show,  running a promo teaser of a man realizing there would be no more “relations” in his relationship.  He had a stunned look on his face and said:  “That’s it?  If I had known the last time was the LAST time I would have done something fantastic!” Famous “last” words, we all know – all too well.

The past 6 years have literally run over me, and as I thought about it the other day, too many of those “last times” came into focus.  Of course we have all lost someone dear to death and those last times are forever in our hearts. Many of us if we are lucky,  are truly “loved completely” and therefore have no regrets, only selfish loneliness because the person is no longer in our personal life.  By this I mean  it is inevitable that we look at a moment, and wish those lost loved ones were near, how they might have enjoyed a certain event, picture or even a meal.  However, fantastic regrets are different, they come simply from living your life a little too fast and too distracted and suddenly there is no turning back.

In those lost years, I have become a grandmother twice, a boy and a girl equally spoiled I hope.  I have lost some dear friends, including a special niece and my mother, watched a child graduate from college, marry on a mountain top and return to her roots finally content.  Along the way however, I lost a lot of me – emotionally, not the 10lbs of unfantastic physical hip related bulge, that is keeping me company as I write. Looking back over those years, I too find myself saying if I had known that was it, I would have made a better choice or given a better first impression or I would have stayed longer or left sooner.

Why does it take a death or shocking experience to bring us to terms with what is right in front of us all the time? Why don’t we understand the need not to wait for a moment, but to unselfishly BE the moment? When you find yourself in a craft room, kitchen or even garage do you ever do something extra? Such a smiling random act of kindness goes a long way.  I have found a cool soda, warm coffee or fresh cookie brings my mail hand delivered with a smile and question of “So how is…. today?” A clerk at the gas station once stopped me in delight, saying the $1 scratch ticket I left him bought a $20 lunch and dinner–I always leave a ticket for the clerk when I am able to buy a couple for myself.  Ironic though is how we act on moments with casual strangers, but family and close friends who matter the most, end up with that I would have done something fantastic regret.

A famous physic believes we select certain people in our life before beginning our earthly journey and family is something we have no control over and do not have to accept.  I can agree to that in part, but some of the best people I know are in my family tree and I hope I give them something fantastic at least once in a while, because it is due to their offerings to me that have made them so important.  Not seeing the forest for the family tree is a very appropriate teaser for the untelevised fantastic regret category.  Just because someone is right there doesn’t mean they always will be.   I had a car accident that hinted just that, with a crash cart in the ER and some nasty scars for me personally.  These special people don’t exist just for us, they need reciprocation for resuscitation and if it isn’t there they will go away, and that is no accident!

I regret the last day in my business office, wishing I had kept all the memories and maybe found a way to change the outcome.  I miss being a part of the working world like breathing the air around me.  I regret the last trip for school clothes and supplies wasn’t more of a memorable experience, looking now at the adult women, who once ran to my shopping cart with hangers of clothes and glue sticks makes me sad.  I regret not walking my dog more and running in the park.  His labored breathing and graying face make me sad knowing the last day is closer than the first.  I regret some truly stupid situations that I let life dictate the outcome,  not standing up for what I knew was the right thing to do.  But when I think of the people that matter, I only regret we don’t get more time together to continue what we have already treasured and shared.

It is fantastic to love with no regrets, I just need to do it more often..

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San Tizer, a 3 amigo and a Vista card are all you need in life

Life’s best lessons aren’t found in a book or even along the highways and byways, which might find them transcribed upon a 120-foot roll of teletype paper. They do however live forever in our hearts etched with laughter and tears never intending to make the impact they end up making.

On the way to OZ, Dorothy discovered intelligence, love and courage in the most unique way, while she sparkled along a road of presumable yellow sunshine.  In a real life, people cross into our path in much the same way, however, what they share with us is not unveiled behind a curtain by a little man, who may or may not be a wizard.  It is up to us to see the magical value just as Dorothy did when she needed it the most.

In my life it has always been the unexpected.  My four year-old grandson recently alerted us in a very mature voice after a trip to the bathroom, he had used the “San Tizer,” (and also, that he didn’t touch his wiener a TMI moment). We laughed at his pronunciation that made it sound like the name of somebody who could be a rap performer or extreme terrorist.  Along with so many other phrases, moments and actions that accompany childhood, there is a time they stay with us, when children try fit in and be a part of the adult group.  By innocently offering what seems to be acceptable, they illuminate what any of us ever want – to fit in.  So when it comes from innocence, it makes us realize the obvious more – that it never really changes with age.

Past toddler stage my youngest loved to come to work with me.  My job with an AFC football team took me away from my girls more than I liked with long hours and travel.  She became obsessed after hearing about the “Three Amigo’s,” who at the time were onfield sensations.  She had no way of comprehending the meaning, the players or what they did, but somehow after that every flamingo she saw was a “3 Amigo.”  It became linked to my job. It also became a bond between us, and when I was at work we kept that bond and I didn’t feel as if I was missing more than I was experiencing in her life.  Years later, she found packed away a favorite “3 Amigo” and was brought to tears when her daughter took it as a favorite toy. The Carter family could almost be heard when that circle proved to be unbroken.

Youth aside, it was my father who could coin a phrase that unknowingly became a family favorite, like when I made him a webpage and he told people he was on a satellite.  His experience with newfangled credit cards was the best however, giving him the blue and yellow logo of a “Vista Card.”  Dad was born in 1908 and a man of value, honor, principle and cash only basis.  It was a challenge to always make ends meet after he retired and in his 70’s, so he carried an all purpose Visa card.  It was on odd occasions when he would show up with something unnecessary or unexplainable, and I was told it was on his “Vista card.”  I laugh and those sincere gestures of love he brought to my door from canned grapefruit, Christmas trees to kewpie dolls.  A true vista is a mental view of a succession of remembered or anticipated events, and without knowing that, dad nailed it as solid and albeit as crooked as one of his homemade shelves.  His “Vista Card” of freedom brought more memory and anticipation than it ever bought.

Houdini promised his wife he would find a way to reach out to her after his death.  His promise, like that of countless others leaving this life was what we all want, to know we are not alone we are a part of something.  We keep these hopes, old memories and treasured feelings close to our hearts and hold them with warm hands when our dreams are cold.  Cary Grant knew that winter was cold for those without warm memories and did something about it before Debra Kerr could react.  There is an affair to remember in all of our lives, and it doesn’t need to be romantic or sexual, just a simple “to be remembered.”

I know I am the sum total of my life experience and enriched by some of the best laughter, tears and compassion anyone could ever ask to have, and my winters are always warm because of it.  When I leave this life, it will be knowing I was someone’s 3 Amigo, their misspelled “breast friend,” and a hero without trying who knew about San Tizer on a vista, that had no boundaries.

I have been blessed.