Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Mother's Memories to Her Child: Spiritual Beginnings

Joyce

The first person who told me about God
My parents; mostly my Grandma Eulah who was very religious. Later - my parents again.

As a child, my image of God was
A being who ruled with an iron fist! We were to honor Him and we were intimidated by His power.

I first knew that God was real when
Touched a "little" by grandma's death while in 6th/7th grade. Later, I was experiencing my father's dying at a very young age (he was 61). I was angry at God for a long time.

My favorite religious holiday
Christmas and Easter. They were very important holidays in the Catholic Church. Mom and Dad always went to church those days but were lax others until they got older.

People who helped me learn about God
Grandma Eulah
Dad
Mom
Aunt Rose
Aunt Arna
Uncle J. D.
Father Mulligan
Sister Josephine Marie

Dawn

The first person who told me about God
My parents

As a child, my image of God was
A dead man on a cross
An angry, judgmental father
An ethereal unknown

I first knew that God was real when
I knew there was something bigger than me that I was connected to from a very early age. I woke up one morning when I was little with a song in my head. I went to church, and they sang that very song. I felt united with something indescribable.

As a teen, I entered a Twelve Step Program. They told me I could believe in a Higher Power, and it didn't have to be defined by anyone else but me. At The Right Step, I was encouraged to write about the God of my own understanding. I started identifying God as a She, and I was better able to connect with that Higher Power.

My favorite religious holiday
Christmas

People who helped me learn about God
My parents
Anne & Steve Mcallister
Gary Reyes
Emily Barclay
Sarah Harrington Levit
Andrea
Lauri
Becky Cuellar Ahlgrim
Silvina Duchini
Amber Tillman
Carol Wyatt
The Right Step Program

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Mother's Memories to Her Child: Childhood Treasures

Joyce

My favorite storybook(s)
All those by Jane Eyre; classics, and, as I got older, romance & history.

A game I never tired of playing
Jacks with Linda
Sorry with mom
Gin Rummy with family & friends

My favorite childhood rhyme
Not really a rhyme, but a song: It is French
"Whatever will be, will be." Mom sang it to me.

The best toy I ever owned
My dolls ~ a nun doll and a bride doll that my Grandma Eulah made the clothes for me. đŸ˜¢Lost these ~ move to Houston in 1973.

My most cherished item
A cross my Dad gave me when I was 16. Still have it.

Dawn

My favorite storybook(s)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark; More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Classic English literature
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
Nell's Quilt by Susan Terris
Anything by Ray Bradbury, but especially The Martian Chronicles

A game I never tired of playing
Cops & Robbers
Truth or Dare

My favorite childhood rhyme
A song called Que SerĂ¡ my mom sang to me. Here are the lyrics:

Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)

Doris Day

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here's what she said to me

Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡
What will be, will be

When I grew up and fell in love
I asked my sweetheart, what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows
Day after day
Here's what my sweetheart said

Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡
What will be, will be

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome
Will I be rich
I tell them tenderly

Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡
What will be, will be
Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡

The best toy I ever owned

My Puffalump, Cabbage Patch Kid, and musical doll from my Grandma EZ. She bought the musical doll before I was even born because she was determined I would be a girl.
A Barbie pool party set given to my sister and me at Christmas by my big brother when he got his first job.


My most cherished item
My Grandma's wedding ring. She gave it to me when I was 11 or so. My mom thought she was crazy. I wore that ring every day until I was 16. The diamond fell out when I accidentally hit the car door. It was actually not even a complete diamond as my Grandpa couldn't afford to buy her anything but shavings back in the Depression. My parents had it reset with a pearl, which is my birthstone.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

For my girls

Dear Maya and Lila,

 My sweet, sweet girls.  You are so precious to me.

Lila, you are 16 months old,  and you have just started walking.  Uncle Robert came to visit for three days, and on the second day you took two steps. On the third day, right before he left, you took four steps.  I don't think you even realized that you were doing it.  You were just looking ahead and it was clear that you were thinking about something, and you took four steps.

Maya, you are turning six on Sunday.  You only have one week left of kindergarten.  You have been identified as gifted this year,  as I knew you would be, however, your behavior is still that of a five-year-old.  You are doing math on a fifth grade level.  You read on a fourth grade level.  Yet, you cry at the slightest provocation. Sometimes I think you do this to get a reaction out of me;  sometimes, I think you do it because you really mean it.  The problem is, it's very hard to tell the difference.

You started kindergarten a whole week late because grandma died on the 18th of August unexpectedly.  That was and probably always will be the strangest day of my life, yet, I knew it was  exactly as it should have been.  In the time since she has died, you have mentioned her many times.  Most of the time, you mentioned her because of selfish reasons such as she will never send me packages again;  but sometimes you mention her for unselfish reasons like Lila will never know her.  You cry, and I try to console you, but, at the same time, I don't know how to because I feel exactly the same way.

 Your best friends have moved to Tennessee.  The boy you have known since you were 15 months old and have spent at least 2 to 3 times a week with for the past two years is gone from your life.

 You and I have experienced so much loss in the past nine months.  I will never know for whom it is more difficult, the child who is only five who has lost her greatest advocate and her greatest friend or the woman who is 36 and will never again physically see the woman who gave her life.

 My dearest, adorable, most wonderful Lila: You will never know for yourself what you have lost, but Maya and I will try to tell you. You will never know the joy of receiving a package from grandma in the mail, but Maya will tell you how important it made her feel. You will never know how exciting it was for grandma to visit because you knew she was bringing you a plethora of new books, but you will still reap the benefits because neither Maya nor I have ever let go of those books, and I see how much you love them on a daily basis.

 Though Maya no longer has need of baby books or infantile stories, she reads them to you every day, and she enjoys them  because you do. It never ceases to amaze me how excited she gets when you laugh, and she goes out of her way to make you laugh.  She is truly a wonderful big sister, and I hope that she will always remain a better big sister than I have ever been.

My sweet baby; you, more than anyone, has lost the most. You will never get to know the person who gave me life, who wanted me and desired me and brought me into this world.  Sadly, neither of you will ever know my grandmother, the woman who knew before I was ever born that I would be the baby girl that she had always wanted.  She wanted her daughter to have a little girl to love and cherish just as my mother wanted that for me.

 If my life can possibly be an example to either of my daughters, it will be that you will have many friends in your lives;  you will love many people,  and people will love you,  but no one will ever love you as much as your mother.  Once you realize this – how much a mother truly loves her child – I hope that it will not be too late, as it was for me.  I hope that you will find, before such a tragedy occurs that your mother should pass, a true and loving friend in your own flesh and blood; that of your sister whose life was brought about specifically for you by the person who loved you the most.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What does my grief look like?

Fire all consuming
with an emptiness -
The world is upside down
until the sinews of my life
break like threads in
a rusty needle.

I am the one inside the proverbial haystack.
No one is looking for me.
They are all lost in their own
piles of straw.

These waves of change
flood the plain of our existence
making it hard to breathe
consuming all the oxygen
until there is only
the tightness in my chest.

I can bang against my chest
but no amount of violence
will bring back
what has been

taken?

lost?

voluntarily resolved,
returned from whence she came.

An open letter to my mother

Dear Momma,

I miss you. I pray for you almost every night and think of you fondly every day. I really wish we had had more time together. I had hoped you'd get to see my girls grow up.

I am confident now that you are in a better place - a place where you can continue to grow and learn in a way I can barely fathom. I am truly happy for you. I thank you for the life you gave me, for the sacrifices you made for me. I hope I can do the same for my girls.

You know daddy, Robert, Jean, and I barely talk anymore. With the exception of dad, I have little knowledge of what goes on in my siblings' lives. You always told me what they were doing whether I wanted you to or not. You were always the one who kept your own siblings together.

I know you wanted the three of us to be closer. I'm not sure why it has not been possible. The closest the three of us EVER were was while you lay dying last August. It was as if we all had one mind when it came to you and very little else in common.

I hope you are spending time with your baby brother. I miss Uncle Ed, too. He was the coolest of the three of you. You were the strongest and John was the weakest. It seems strange he is the only one left, but Doris needs him. Perhaps he will grow stronger for her now.

I love you very much, and I truly hope we can be together again soon in a more perfect world.

Love,
Dawn


A poem for her

I told you all about
the dirty little secrets
I hid in my bones
kept buried deep in the recesses
of my being.

I dragged them out one by one
from the shadows and placed them
before you:
My shame, my fear, my failings.

You looked upon them, nodded,
brushed a thoughtful finger over the dust
wrapped them tenderly in your arms.

All the while you looked me in the eyes
Your smile never faltered
That knowing, lopsided smile.

You placed my dirty secrets in
the waste bin and said,
"All is forgiven."
Then,
"What do you plan to do now?"

All the years I trembled
fearing your reaction, your
disappointment in me.
How very foolish of me.
You who have known me inside and out
all my life
in whose body my soul first sought refuge
As if my silly flaws could
escape the notice of a loving
mother.

Because you taught me to never
go to bed angry;
to tell the truth no matter how painful;
to love unconditionally, and, that,
in the end,
family is all you have. 


Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Mother's Memories to Her Child: My Pets

"Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O Lord, You preserve man and beast."
Psalm 36:6

Joyce
The first pet I ever owned
A little parakeet - can't remember the name but he sang a lot. He was very friendly and people oriented.

The pet I most loved
Jill, my Angora cat whom I loved dearly. The parakeet would sit on her.

Other family pets
John had a dog - a German Shepherd. We had several smallturtles and some baby chickens. We also had Blackball, a very sweet outdoor cat.

The pet I always wanted
At one time, a horse. Ed got one, and he was mean. They (Dad and Ed) had a hard time with the horse. He threw Ed and hurt him. He got rid of the horse.

My favorite book or movie about an animal
Black Beauty
Old Yeller

My best animal story
My mom telling me about her pet pig and her pet goat. She loved those pets a lot. She told me about the goat eating stuff it was not supposed to and her dad killing her pig for food. Also, her bunny rabbit.


Dawn
The first pet I ever owned
I had family pets, though I suppose I did not own them; my parents did. They were Sir John, a white cat, and Roxanne (Rocky), a Shelty. The first cat I owned was named Primo, but she died. I loved her so much and got her when she was a kitten. She sat in my lap while I watched TV. We kept her in the bathroom, and, one night, I went in to feed her and play with her, but she ran right under me as I was sitting down. I sat on her and broke her neck. It was truly awful. Then I got Emma who was from the same litter. She was a joint Mother's Day and my birthday gift from a friend.

The pet I most loved
Sir John. I cried unconsolably when he died. My parents told us on a Saturday morning when I was about to start watching my cartoons. They buried him in the backyard.

Other family pets
Bear - a mutt. He was a puppy when Rocky was an old lady. It was cute to see them play together, or, rather, for Bear to play with Rocky while she looked at him. 
A turtle my brother caught in the bayou nearby who was eventually eaten by Bear. 

The pet I always wanted
A fluffy lap cat. Preferably an Angora or Siamese.

My favorite book or movie about an animal
That Darn Cat!
Socks by Beverly Cleary

My best animal story
My mom told me Sir John used to lay on the headboard and swipe his paw at her hair, eat her ice cream, or purloin her popcorn.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Appearance of Grief

Fire all consuming
With an emptiness inside -
The world is upside down
Until the sinews of my life
Break like threads in
 A rusty needle.

I am the one inside the
Proverbial haystack -
No one is looking for me.
They are all lost in their own
Piles of straw.

These waves of change
Flood the plain of our existence
Making it hard to breathe
Consuming all the oxygen
Until there is only
The tightness in my chest
The bowling ball in my belly.

I can bang against my chest
But no amount of violence
Will bring back what has been

Taken?
Lost?
Voluntarily returned
From whence she came.

I shuffle off the chaff that
Threatens to drown me
Emerge into the field of my bovine brethren
Squint against the glare of the fire in the sky.

This is my reality -
New
Bizarre
And, oddly, beautiful.