It is quiet now and the click of my keyboard the only voice in this darkened room. Another weekend winding down in silence. New precious moments with my family being filed as memories like many before them. Life is like that as it bursts full like a flower in bloom only to close in repose when the laughter and sharing is gone. In this current stillness I feel age in my soul as I reflect upon the many changes in my life. So much has happened…so much time has passed. At this moment I yearn to maintain the feeling of connection with those I have so much history with- whether apart by many miles or many responsibilities. But aloneness sits here beside me as my companion.
I find myself sometimes deep in aloneness. Whether I enjoy the solitude of my inner soul depends upon where I choose to land my thoughts. There is a certain fear that may rise with being alone. When there is no distraction to drown out the insecurities and doubt that have held their own deep inside. Heavy with issues of melancholy and disconnection that can crowd within and remind me of my singularity in a world of masses. Alone can be a hard place to be.
Yet I know that being alone can also provide a beautiful rejuvenation of the spirit. A time to relax and reflect. The inner voice at peace with life and unnerved by imperfection. A reconnection within myself that reminds me of the strength of my soul in a crazy world. Alone can be a renewal of spirit. A time to converse with the universe. A time for the flower to fully bloom.
So where do I choose to drift on this dark night. Where shall I dare a journey. I believe I will smell the flower of nostalgia for a while. Oh but to remember yesterdays with games of rummy, chess and tripoly – and bantering with my brother. I choose to feel my childhood home surrounding me in the comfort of my family. Naïve in thinking life would always be so simple and sweet. Alas…a time when I do not truly know how painful it is to lose a loved one. And in this I know that I am not alone.
The promise of a new day. It nudges me awake in the wee morning hours between the sunset of yesterdays and the hopes and dreams of tomorrows. It is simply- today. Unable to determine the impending success of it, I rise to greet this unwrapped “present” and see what it has in store for me. Today…that unknown, unseen space of time which courses through my veins and continuously reminds my heart to beat and my lungs to breathe.
I anticipate the moments spent … the choices made and the road my soul determines to take. For I am not promised more than possibility, not promised that I will end this day with contentment or even in the arms of my beloved. As I sit here and contemplate, I watch the world wake up outside my window. Without notice, the lights of daylight begin to shine and the shadows around me shorten.
I think about the homeless and what the morning means to them as their journey continues. I think about the hungry as they face another day to quiet their empty bellies. I think about the sick and their struggle to overcome pain and suffering yet again. I think about the angry, bullied child who does not know love and the day is long and lonely. I think about the many who are afraid, tired and troubled…those that may not think they can or should survive another day.
I cannot stop wondering where the world will be when this day is done. There is a certain responsibility to living that should be acknowledged and respected. We are all intertwined, our decisions and actions affecting each other’s life more than we will ever know. So I contemplate what choices others will have made and what consequences will be felt. What choices will I have made and what consequences will be felt.
The unseen birds begin to chirp and chatter. The painted sunrise completes the affirmation. A new day is here.
The American dream has always been to own a house. For many it is made of brick, timber or stone. The size and grandeur dictated by the needs, wants and finances of the owner. The colors carefully chosen and the effect upon the neighborhood deliberate. A house can showcase our individuality and creativity while it shelters us from the winter snows and spring rains. A house becomes an outward symbol of our success while the material goods locked behind the doors are there to satisfy our possessive natures. But a house does not make a home.
Home…a simple four letter work that resonates with warmth when softly and smoothly spoken. For me it is a place that won’t be found on any map or GPS. Home is a precious place of deep feelings full of love, companionship, trust, respect and honesty. Its grandeur succeeds even the greatest of mansions built. A home is not to be seen by eyes but felt by the heart. It houses my soul.
My home is made in the arms of my best friend and husband. Where ever we are together in life…that is where my home exists. In the mountains, on the lake….in a tent or in a house. I am at home when I am with him whether we are traveling down the highway or sitting quietly on a porch swing. Home gives me comfort in times of stress and struggles. It is that place in my soul that shines where life feels most complete. It reminds me that love is as real as the sunshine that falls upon my face. As real as the darkest of days and the longest of nights. I am fifty plus years into my life journey…and I am home at last.
I once knew a boy who was as shy as the breeze on a sweltering summer day. He held big blue eyes and a smile of pure innocence that melted my heart. Wearing a superman cape and too short pajama bottoms, running through the house with The Wizard of Oz rewinding for yet another viewing- a boy I once knew.
I once knew a boy who was the quietest child in preschool – so I was told. He often played alone and never ever bossed or demanded of another. Swept away by the diagnosis of severe hearing loss at age four…I simply smiled in his presence but cried many tears apart from him. I felt an unfairness to be true- a certain sadness that his future would not be as envisioned. You know, perfectly planned out as parents do once we count the fingers and toes.
I once knew a boy who read books in utter silence for hours- stuck in his hands as if glued to the fingers. Carefully respected, never dog-eared and ever broken at the spine. Books were his love and sweetest treasure, especially those with maps. Reading became a world yet to discover and full of possibilities. A world he loved dearly. This little guy knew the beauty of the written word and its ability to transcend the present taking him to new places and adventures- without the demand for sound and leaving spoken words unheard.
I once knew a boy who taught me that life is what we make of it. We can stop and give up when the road ahead seems just too hard and long or we can walk on and figure it out along the way. We can wish for what we cannot have or appreciate what we possess and use our talents wisely. We can step over those who are in our way or reach down and pull them up with us. I have learned a lot from a boy I once knew…now a man I call my son.
This time it was not a certain song possessing poetic words that tugged at my soul whisking me back to times once known. It was not a particular sentimental fragrance that pulled me into my yesterdays. It was but a simple floor tile of yellow, green and black. That fifties tile recently uncovered during a renovation after many years of being hushed and hidden beneath our feet. A flood of memories to be true, that rushed through my head and heart as I stood in wonder. Memories of paper dolls, coloring books, and my beloved chalkboard where I taught school to the empty chairs lined up proper before me. A rare cherry cigar or pipe smoked by my father as we watched Wild Kingdom and Walt Disney with popcorn and Pepsi Cola. Adventurous winter days of cooking hot dogs in the fireplace or just watching the fire snap and crackle while wrapped up in a favorite blanket. Days with cousins, aunts and uncles as we filled the house with constant chatter and much laughter. Projector screen and slides shown at days end with the curtains drawn, ooing and ahhhing to life as remembered with simple reverence to days gone by. Music being played on the record player- careful not to jump and skip the vinyl while dancing to the Twist and Cha Cha Cha. Oh the days brought back by the simple floor tile…Christmas trees, Thanksgiving tables and hidden Easter eggs. Grandchildren and their first steps as well as family together grieving the loss of my mother….all memories held in the space of this room supported by the tile floor underneath So strong, so sturdy, yet silent. Only asking for a buffing and wax in the early days. But as style dictated, covered with various carpets throughout the years. The old carpets are gone…torn out and rolled up and thrown away. But the tile…ever faithful to this day. Alas, we both know that soon once again to be covered and tucked away for discovery sometime in the future. I only wonder if it will be me peering upon the yellow, green and black or someone new …someone who has no idea the richness of the memories quietly possessed within.
Even though she walks with the deliberate, slow steps acquired with age and arthritis, she continues to move forward. Her hands may search about grasping the back of the chair or the nearby wall to steady herself, but she carries herself forward. My dear, dear Auntie is one determined lady.
I love to hear her speak of the past, her life continuously revealed to me in layers by stories I had never heard as well as those I will never forget. Her past personal trials, as well as her adventurous travels and Lucille Ball antics charm my heart. Always able to recite a joke with precision, punch lines totally intact, she is a brightness that fills the room with laughter at a moments notice. A courageous woman who has suffered great losses in her life yet continues to shine. Her wit is pure and her spirit a delight. My dear, dear Auntie is amazing.
Even the quiet moments with her are full of life and the silence whispers with reflection. And here and now I admit that secretly and with some selfishness…. I randomly seek and discover glimpses of my mother in this woman. Sisters are they, yet Mom departed and when I am around my dear Auntie, I am drawn to her like a moth to the flame. A connection unspoken, yet even more present than any words could declare. Yes, she is my closest female reminder of Mom and sharing our thoughts, hopes and life is a joy and I believe Mom is smiling as well. My dear, dear Auntie…I love you so.
The winds of change. I hear them in the distance…coming my way. I tell myself that I am ready. I am prepared for what life is blowing towards my back. Grounding my feet upon the earth, centering myself..I prepare. This is not one of those times when I am caught unaware and find myself in the middle of the storm-feeling lost and alone. I remind myself that we all feel the winds of change, walking forward and bracing ourselves as we journey into the cold battering the push and pull upon our hearts and soul. Heads down as not to feel the brash sting fully upon our face, we must gather determination and optimism that there is hope after the storm…time and time again.
Yet I admit I am never fully ready to have my life,past and present, tugged here and there by some unseen forces of nature. Change is hard, change is scary and change can be damn difficult. But this is not solely about me…this story is about my father and his courage to face the storm of change and ride the waves with patience and an attitude of acceptance that makes me humble. After fifty-eight years of living in his home, my father has moved into senior apartment living. Fifty-eight years of family, marriage and children and grandchildren. Alas this has been tremendously difficult at times with a taste of bittersweet moments and memories. But he has weathered the swirling tornado of confusion and displacement and walked forward determined to make his future full. And I am proud of him.
We cleared the years of books and mementos and simple material things that no longer have a purpose or function. Cardboard boxes and bubble wrap surround those things too dear to part with in hopes of finding a place for them in our tomorrows. I found many memories came back in a torrent of emotion that nearly subdued me as I recalled my life in this place called home. The waves of emotion knocked me off my feet as I reminded myself to keep my head above the waters and tread ahead. Home…much more than four walls and a roof. This space welcomed untold family gatherings as well as many gracious times of pure childhood happiness and laughter. Home…where even on the darkest of days- a light would shine.
Yes change is in the air. The winds of change have blown ashore. Whirling all around me and my father and my family. Rather quickly I am brought back to the present. Pulled from the sublime memories that I tend to cling to and into the world of today. I watch a man of many years as he boldly faces what life brings and marches ahead. I sigh…I am that little girl again running to catch up to hold his hand…wanting not to get lost.