Sunday, January 1, 2017

Visiting Sharon

Almost 3 year old Kaitlyn and I run down the long hall at Overlake Terrace Assisted Living Center where my parents, Kaitlyn's Great Grand parents have lived all her life.  We are running, and getting the energy out before her family takes to the road for the 3 hour drive home.

I remember as we run the long hallway, that Sharon lives in this section of the facility. Sharon is one of the first residents I met when Mom and Dad first moved here 3 1/2 years ago. Sharon arranged the real flowers on the dining tables. Sharon is spry and cheerful, she loves to talk about our hometown, Portland. She loves to hear about my life and share her own. We are both teachers and have many things in common.

Sharon disappeared from the regular dining room a few months ago. My Mom said it was her memory. Sharon now has to live in the 'transition' Section. I internally grieved when I realized she would not be around to chat with. She made my visits positive and interesting. I thought of her as a friend.

As Kaitlyn and I run I realize we may find the kitchen area where Sharon sits in the transition area. There she is, and I call her name. Kaitlyn is wearing a pink ballet dress with roses and a full tulle skirt. All the residents turn to look. We go to Sharon and give her a hug. I look into her eyes and ask how she is doing.
 "Hanging in there..." she says with her signature smile. Her eyes light as she watches Kaitlyn bounce around the room. The residents in the room are happy, even as the happiness is tinged with the strange realization that youth is a reminder of age. Yet the residents all light up when they see my little grand daughters. It is as though time stands still, or does not exist. We love what we love, we love life in every form, we savor what this means, to have lived at all, and then to be aware enough to watch the next generations rush ready into the world.

Before Kaitlyn and I return back down the hall, she gives Sharon a hug, and Sharon makes a sound like a person being massaged, a resonant "Oh" sweet with content. My little ballerina and I wave to the room, and walk back through the disguised doors, painted to look like one is entering a garden. We have to find a staff member to put in to code to open them. We return to watch Nama gazing upon Kaitlyn's little almost 1 year old sister Adelyn. My mom, remembering babies, the nine she had. The precious first year when they are vulnerable and rapidly growing, small and adorable.

Our Christmas visit is at and end. We hug the kids and say goodbye. Their Dad, hugs his Nama who held him when he was just born, and then on the first night when he was wakeful. We have our chain, chain of life, time and love. We remember the wonderful times. We remember to look for lost friends wherever they have landed in the world.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Feeling

I mow my wet November post election lawn
ruthlessly at the lowest setting, despite
 cautions from gardeners to go high,
I am not feeling high.
Now those weeds and grass are
an inch above their lives,
like many refugees and immigrants.

I enter social media again, and post stuff
stuff I think is really crucial now
when confusion reigns.
I had left this world for many months -
and will leave again, maybe tomorrow  when
the wine has worn off.

Having a sexual encounter with a full grown adult because of
mutual attraction is far different
than
forcing a 13 year old illegal immigrant in a whore house of
models hoping to get a break
from a cadre of rich men as their jailers.

I think all day of little girls, so boisterous and free-
I vow to stand and fight this sickness
led by a sudden dictator
the christian without a conscience.

They said, in Catholic School,
to guard against false prophets,
men of low moral standards, posing as leaders.

Now it has come, and I can hear the nun's voices asking me

"If you had to stand up for God,
like Joan of Arc, could you do it?"
Mettle not metal.
I wondered when I was 7
what that would be like
oh, but things are better now it could not
happen to me.





Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fall 2016 With Adelyn James

The trees are colors, yellow, orange and brown,
The leaves shine in wetness, the air is warm, tomatoes still ripening
ever so slowly.
Nine month old nieta, grasping the umbrella handle in her
amazing, tiny, perfect hand.
What gratitude I feel to the Goddess when I look at the perfect fingers of
my nietas.

We walk down to the chicken house and say hello chick chick chickees.
She watches them intently, registering every movement.
I think she knows them from another plane which she has
recently arrived from.
We drop pinkish tomatoes into the pen, and stand while they
peck eagerly at the juicy seeds.
She touches the round smooth fruits like a ball,
yet no, she is my smart nieta, she senses this lovely bit of color in our walk
is more cool than a toy.
She draws her tiny fingers across the taught skin to know this thing we have just picked
from the yard.

We walk the road, and soon
her little sparsely haired head droops into sleep.
My feet turn up the hill to home.
I try to extract her from the Bjorn baby pack, with out awakening her from her
much needed nap.
She folds softly into her baby sleep.
I gather my things
to head back down the road
Being with what 'is'.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Last Thing

         The Last Thing ~ 
                                                                            For LaVonnne, two years gone

The last thing you did before
I left you and said goodbye,
the thing that one never knows is the last -
You borrowed my sunglasses while driving me to Miami airport
because you had
 misplaced every other one you had.
(this would not work if they had been prescription)
I left them there with you in Florida, my cheap sunglasses, my only pair.

You in your work truck, driving the easy macho way you always had
laid back, in control.
Just like you drove your Mom's maroon '65 Impala in high school,
 even sometimes when we played hooky from biology.
Flipping the steering wheel effortlessly, me watching with awe,
 I had not even applied for my permit.

You always knew where you were going,
you always had a  plan or 2 or 3.

On that last visit we floated in the warm Atlantic (my first dip in that sea)
We sat in some neighbors swimming pool telling our funny stories and drinking cheap beer.
We got to hang like girlfriends of 37 years.
We got to laugh and yell on a jet boat ride
to watch illusive alligators to which one was never supposed to feed marshmallows
which your odd boyfriend had.

We got to sit at night and talk about our parents.
You loved my parents, especially my distracted Dad.

I was your maid of honor, we got stoned while we dressed,
after I helped you arrange the somewhat awkward head piece you had bought,
and then I held you and talked you down when you cried
about how your brothers were treating you on you wedding day.

Now you are gone, a sudden heart attack,
you fell and left us just like that.
It was so like you. No fancy explanations needed.

I can't believe it isn't possible
to call you up and gab like we did every few months
to keep in touch.
No facebook crap, we did the real thing
We talked on the telephone.

Thank god I took the east coast Amtrak down to Florida in 2010.
Thank god we had the last laughs, and I got the last chance
to loan you - my romping wild friend - my sunglasses
to help you see better on the wide freeways.
The last thing I could do for you in person,
for the last time.




Sunday, August 14, 2016

August Saturday at the Mollala River

The weekend heats up, 97 degrees yesterday. The house so hot I feel as though I can barely move. Cool waters await somewhere: I call my gal friend, Marilyn. She knows a nice river spot to swim. We drive East on Hwy 213, past the point where I have been before. The land reminds me of the Lower Elwha, where I lived so long ago - 25 years now. Rolling grassland, mountains in the distance, rural countryside dotted with small towns.

The Mollala river has swimming holes and is warm and clean. I stand in the waist deep water on the slimy rocky rocks staring into knotted tree branches on the bottom, watch little fish dart away from my legs. On the shore we munch cheese and crackers, sitting on big warm river rocks. We talk about all that has gone on in the past year, lots for her. She has been in a new relationship which has been emotionally difficult, and it is probably not working out.

"Margi", she turns to me, "I signed up for the Peace Corps!" It is something she had always thought to do, at the point when her kids were well on their way and she could take 2 years out of her life to live far away from her current home.
"I realized", she says, "That time is now!"
 South America is her goal. Her Spanish is excellent, and she has true life experience. I feel so impressed, so deeply happy for her, and on the side know I will miss having her near to hang with. She is one of my most uncomplicated friends. Those are worth more than gold.
My thoughts go to my own wish, from so long ago, to visit South America. It turns out that between the time I wished that, and now, I have developed an extreme dislike of flying. Ah, fate. I should have traveled to South America in college before I went through motherhood, then widowhood.

We pack our things and head west down 213. The game we play is to look for real estate and fantasize. We pass an old 1910 style school house and I say, "I would love to take a building like that, fix it up and use it for a yoga studio."  She is all in support.
Silly ideas, dreams more fun to dream than do. At this point I have 'done' 10 different homes. Why does the new project always seem exciting even after knowing how dirty, expensive and hard the real work is?

We pass the Horseshoe Bar and Grill. We stop. Horse and motorcyle motif, a patio bar, a place where the locals go. We laugh and talk over beers and snacks. The readerboard on the highway says 93 degrees. We are wearing our still wet swimming suits. We are happy.
When she drops me off at my house she says that we played hooky. I agree, yes, we played hooky from life today, and it was a great relief. I am 60 and I still want to play hooky. I will probably always be this way, fantasizing about projects, but resenting the feeling of being tied down.

Before I die, I must figure that struggle out. Maybe, slowly, I am.



Thursday, August 11, 2016

Boulevard -Granola Bar

Two and a half year old Kaitlyn and I are riding home on the MAX. The voice on the intercom announces "Bybee Boulevard" .
Kaitlyn listens and looks at me, "What is bovard?" I pronounce bull-a-vard slowly as she repeats it. Finally she just turns it to "granola bar".

Her Dad and uncle had these when they were little:

The Spokane (ferry)  -smoked ham
A Coast guard cutter - a post card cutter
a garage sale - a garbage sale

more to come....

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Comfort of Clarity

When the morning sun back lights the petals
of  your pale lavender iris blooms while we have coffee
in your garden
I slow down into the day, surrounded by your place
Your work, your love, your creation born of a long and loyal
connection to a place.

I drink in the beauty, the light, the
love.
Like a mellow tea
infusing my own despairing soul-
so that one more time I can
drive down the dirt road, back into the fray
and find my way.