Mother’s Happiness

I know little of what my parents thought about any deep subject such as a philosophy of life or their world view. I managed no more than hints or rare tidbits. Regarding my father, I remember too much of the bad and little of the good. The opposite is true of my mother.

I remember more in Mom’s case, and most of it good. The few bad memories were usually not her doing. Mom may have had her share of bad days, but I can’t remember one that was her fault.

My clearest memories are the pleasant ones about our overall relationship. We were close. Not in the best of friends sense you may hear some parents brag about. Mom was my parent – not my friend.

As a teenager or young adult, I would have railed against being called a “momma’s boy.” I now look back on our relationship with pride.

My mother protected me, mostly from Dad, but also from a few other things. Oddly, not from bullies. If I developed an early skill in dealing with them, it was avoidance. Later in life, my approach was more direct. Conversely, she liked telling people how she often broke blood vessels in her hands spanking me. I don’t recall any of that.

She and I argued our share. I was a momma’s boy – not a good or obedient boy. There were times when I was disappointed in her for not coming to my aid. Looking back, I now realize how right she was.

When she did help me, she did it her way. She helped me in a manner that permitted me the dignity of learning difficult lessons the hard way – which was apparently my preference. When she felt like I needed to learn a painful lesson, she gave me the space I needed. I now realize how difficult that must have been for her. My mother’s love for me, and mine for her were never in question.

When Dad’s health was declining and she felt like she needed to help him, she postponed action on the lump in her breast. After his death, she moved on to her own health care. Everything she did during the period of that treatment, she did with the occasional assistance of her sister. My sister and I lived too far away to be of much help.

While Mom was a long-term breast cancer survivor, the invasive disease brought on her death only after she decided to end most of the treatment.

But years before that, the spot on her lung had been removed and she was recuperating in the hospital the day my flight from Texas arrived in Pennsylvania. Walking down the hospital hallway, the sounds and smells were unique. I would know where I was had I been awakened blind.

As I walked down the hall following the directions I’d been given, I knew I would take the next right into another hall, then right again into her room. I anticipated walking in and finding her groggy and sore from the surgery. I envisioned her smiling up at me, weak and tired. I turned the corner.

The window at the end of that hall looked down on the hospital’s parking lot. Its sill of hard tile was about a foot deep. My recovering mother could easily sit there and gaze down to the parking lot, watching for me.

When she heard my voice, she turned her head and saw me walking toward her. The day after surgery, my 70-something mother jumped off the sill and started running toward me. Mom drove her five-foot-tall frame hard against me, wrapped her arms firmly around me, and then pulled my face down and kissed me.

After I suggested that she get back into bed, we walked to her room and she slid back onto the sheets and pillow. Mom was excited and chatty. She was always happy to see me. But on that day, her response was overwhelming. The doctors and nurses kept Mom alive. All I had to do was walk down the hall at the right time. I became the star of her show. I will always remember how happy she was to see me that day. I’m glad I could help.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere.
Look both ways and mind the gaps.

Y – Yolonda, To Our Life (NaPoWriMo #28)

Yesterday was Yolonda’s birthday. I wrote this poem for her, to her, and about us. Lordy, we were so young the day we married; a long time ago on a planet far, far away.

 

Age 19

 

To Our Life
by Bill Reynolds

You’re at the core of my life, the blood of my love.
Together for years, we performed so many acts
With so many roles we’ve held as a pair, line upon line,
We’ve both been there, one with the other,
searching for truth.

Unknowing what another play might’ve been,
We know what this was; and now we see what it is
Like pearls on a string, between two people in love
Our years remain, foundations of that same love,
And discovery of truth.

We built this world, one moment at a time.
Moments we recall; and some too long forgotten,
Our time together, creations of a living world,
The past is our present, our present the future.
And pacing our life, acting on truth.

Burdens of life did task our endurance
As humanity’s frailty tested our love.
All while building great passion and strength,
Nothing in the future can bring change to our past.
Stumbling on stones, finding more truth.

Love is not work, not a great task
While true work of the universe, it just might be,
Not as a choice we make, nor a feeling we have,
Love is just that, love is simply love.
Love never dies, nor shall this truth.

Happy Birthday, My Love; blessings to you,
A toast to your life, how happy you’ve made me
By being my wife. I’m glad I found ya.
We all love you., my dearest Yolonda.
A love discovered is finding a truth.

Road Trip Ready

 

Live long, love well, seek truth and happiness. Keep looking both ways, and mind the dangers lurking in the gaps.

X – Xu and the Gong (NaPoWriMo #28)

Why do we have x-words, if they sound like they start with z? I’ve discovered the word formerly used to denote a Vietnamese sum of money. The xu (pronounced soo, as in moo, you, or too) is one-hundredth of a dong. Can you see where I went with this? Enjoy!

***

A Xu for You
by Bill Reynolds

I found a lucky Xu
I wanna give it to you.
Ninety-nine more, you kin get a dong.
What’s wrong? Duncha wanna a dong?

With yer dong, ya can get along.
That’s right. You can have a long dong.
A long dong with a song, all…
For a measly, simple xu.

So, wacha gunna do?
First a xu, then a dong.
With yer dong, get a gong.
Bang a gong with yer dong!

So, let’s sing the song,
Let’s bang the gong
You got a dong, so…
Let’s get it on.

***

 

 

Look both ways, then sing the song and bang the gong.
Let’s get it on, but mind the gap in yer dong when you sing the song.

A-to-Z Reveal (2017): Poetry of Words

A-to-Z Reveal (2017): Poetry of Words

I like dictionaries. Did you ever look for dirty words in a dictionary? I am not sure kids still do that. Everything is on line. I still use some of those words; but not today, not in my blog. At least, not those words. I plan to find new (to me) words for this challenge. You may find them interesting. I need one per day. Toss some my way, if ya be so inclined.

Words are the bits, pieces, and colors writers use to craft the art. When we tell it as the writer, we use words. We may enhance words with pictures or sounds, but we write with words.

During April, I want to immerse myself in poetry. I want to read more poetry, learn about writing poems, and discover my inner (wannabe) poet. I want to do that by writing them – to piffle out one poem each day for the month. I’m not (yet) a poet. I’ve never finished a poem that I considered ready for others to read or hear.

To that end, and in typical self-abusive fashion, I’ll write as many poems in April as I’m able. I will then post them for all to see. My goal is one a day for the month. To further ensure my personal embarrassment and pain, I am asking you for feedback – “Don’t quit your day job.” This may backfire, but I want (by example) to encourage others to put their work out there, to take the risk, to allow us to share in their efforts.

For each letter of the alphabet, I’ll attempt to use a word within a poem, or make it the subject of a poem, or I will somehow engage the word with the poem. I’ll create a piece that involves my chosen word (maybe more than one), and then proceed in alphabetical order, beginning on April 1st (Oh dear me, the fool’s day).

I will post every day. I plan to piggyback this A-to-Z challenge with the National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo) challenge. NaPo requires posting all 30 days. I welcome your suggestions. For both challenges, a poem will be posted to my blog and linked to the challenges.

I tend to have logophilia, an emotional attachment to words. My vocabulary is no larger than average, but it should be. My spelling should also be better. I’m not much of an orthographer, but some of my readers are correctors of spelling and grammar, especially mine. Feel free to pile on with them to highlight my blunders so that we learn (my poetic license is up to date).

I want to use this opportunity to learn more about poetry. Will you help me? If you provide feedback comments, other readers see your comments, and thereby grow poetically. I’m willing to hang it out there. You can tell me about it, and we can all learn from the experience — if you share your poetic wisdom with us in the blogosphere.

“A poem should not mean/But be.” ~ Archibald MacLeish

Interdependence, Knowledge, and Belonging

Knowledge and Science

From the tiniest thing to the vast secrets of the universe, what will humans ever know? Will anyone ever correctly proclaim that all knowledge has been discovered and may be known or available to everyone? I doubt it.

Our galaxy – one of many

Science helps us understand our natural world better. But, science provides information only through descriptions from observations. With science, we may understand better what an earth quake is, or how to grow more soy beans, but ultimately the answers we receive from research are observations.

Microscopes, telescopes, laboratories, and other equipment for tests and measurements are among the tools used to make these observations. Yesterday’s scientific conclusions lead us to today’s information, and then to the changes we will read about tomorrow. It was scientific observation that convinced us the sun, stars, and planets revolved around the earth. It was also science that convinced us that was not the case.

The discoveries of science change. Does truth ever change? When I look around at our natural world, I see is what humans have done. Everything I see, while either part of nature or taken from it, was placed, caused, or permitted by humans—to a point. Other life forms may make their mark, but that will last only if humans permit it. When we don’t allow nature to progress or we interfere, it can be disastrous due to our limited knowledge. It may be science, but we don’t know everything and we can only explain so much.

Sensing and Nature

 

The spectacular trees

While nature is everywhere, my senses respond more strongly outdoors, in unfamiliar surroundings. I notice things less in my usual, everyday world. Change awakens my senses, whereas routine numbs them. Walking along a forest trail during a gentle, but persistent, rain provides stimulation that rejoins my surroundings with my own basic nature. It feels so right.

Seeing the trail, the roots of the magnificent trees, the green vegetation bouncing and dancing with falling raindrops, I feel aware and connected with the essence of life. It’s all here with me: sky, water, rich aromatic soil, and scree giving softness to my footsteps. Nature paints portraits of life and movement. I see how moisture mingles with the soil to send nutrients of life to plants and to quench thirsty animals, of which I am one.

Hearing the rain mesmerizes me as it falls where it will, on the leaves of trees and brush, onto the boulders and earth, and into the growing puddles and flowing streams. This is the sound of natural life – earth as it should be. The rustling sounds of birds and animals is alerting, as life deals in with nature’s wet gifts. And the rain. The glorious rain.

Feeling the soft, spongy earth beneath each step, I look down to see how the lovely wet soil now clings to my touch. I feel the rain pecking at me as it does upon the flowers. Animals respond to the natural bathing as a refreshing cleansing.

Touching the soft moss on a tree

My touch to the soft moss hugging tightly to the trees is a pleasant reminder of life on life, the natural interdependence within nature’s home. Against my face, and over my entire body, the rain penetrates cloths to caress my skin. I become one with the flora. I am refreshed, another being, pleased with our universe.

I can taste the freshness of the day. While rain on my head and face washes into my eyes, other drops find their way to my mouth, adding salt to the taste – the salt of the earth. I belong here.

A forest petrichor is the most pleasant of scents following rain. As the sounds and sights change with the gradually ceasing rain, and the forest begins to release the magical and glorious aroma of nature at work; life flourishes. If there is a heaven, it’s right here, right now, with me. I feel completely connected to nature. I yearn for this life, as it should be. I know this is life.

Awareness of Belonging

I become aware of the cosmic interconnectedness of everything. I know I have my place, fitting in with everything in the universe. The vastness of the cosmos finds the path and weaves its pattern through space, through time, and through me to the tiniest speck of galactic dust.

While science can provide words, descriptions, and explanations for everything that I sensed during my inspired walk in the forest rain, nothing can explain the deep, soulful feelings I experience when the vastness of nature communes with me. Conscious awareness.

Our senses perceive the environment as we discover nature and life.
Our sixth sense is that of belonging to the Universe.
Look both ways, discover the gaps, feel where we fit in.

How Important is Trust?

“Relax, Stevie, this won’t hurt.”

Early in his memoir, On Writing, and in his life, Stephen King described an experience with a doctor and his mother. King had an ear infection, so Mom took him to the doctor, who said the cure won’t hurt. The lying taker of the Hippocratic Oath (do no harm) busted King’s ear drum with a needle. Then it happened again, and again the child believed the doctor that it wouldn’t hurt. It did. A lot. Both times.

trust-7The third-time little Stevie acted like I would have. From the get-go, he raised holy hell before ever leaving home. Alas, young Stephen was over-powered and for a third time, the Prince of The Inquisition drove the needle through the boy’s ear drum. Over 40 years later, King wrote of the incident, “In fact, I think that in some deep valley of my head that last scream is still echoing.”

My daughter had a similar (one time) experience with a dentist. Unlike King’s mom, I let the dentist know how we felt about such lies. He apologized, so I let him live.

In God We Trust has been the official motto of the USA since 1956. The motto doesn’t identify any specific god and is singular; thus, it’s safe to assume that it refers to the God of Abraham. But, the phrase is still generic enough to apply to anyone who believes in a deity that:

  1. created the world,
  2. rules over the universe,
  3. and is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent, and omnipresent.

trust-9

Yay, God! Congress said we trust you. Who wouldn’t trust all that? But the concept of trust does not begin and end with any god. Our trust is a belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something in our real-life world. It begins to develop before we have any concept of a god.

We’re social animals. Our trusting nature begins forming at birth, along with a conflicting mistrust. We are taught to trust (or not) by others. I agree with Erik Erikson that our first few years of life are crucial to what follows. Erikson theorized that during those first years, we are uncertain about the world around us. We look to our primary caregivers for stability and consistency. If the care is good, we develop a trust that we may carry to other relationships. We feel secure. How this goes leads to either hope or fear (or both?).

trust-5

Of course, if you’re reading this, you have the experience to know the outcome. We learn that trust and love make us vulnerable. Those we trust and those we love can cause us the greatest pain. We keep learning about trust, discernment, and that nasty (not-so-politically-correct) word: judgment. I’ve walked the halls of the school of life for seven decades and I’m still learning. I want to trust. Even more, I want good discernment skills. I’m skeptical, but only as precaution to disappointment, pain, loss, and suffering. Learning that I was mistaken to trust someone sucks. Lesson learned, but better to learn it allegorically.

Much of what we learn about trust and mistrust, we learn through stories, such as the Aesop’s Fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The intended moral lesson of which is, if we lie enough, we may not be believed; even when we tell the truth (hence, trust lost). My daughter (yep, the ‘dentist lied’ one) recently found herself explaining why she misled her eleven-year-old son about Santa Claus.

Julie wouldn’t lie to him. But she knew that someday she’d be busted on the Kris Kringle myth, right? Wolf! Like most parents, she seldom lies, if at all, but how’s that trust thing working here? I told her we all go through that because our social tradition overwhelms us, so we play the Santa deception game until it’s time to fess-up. Everyone seems to be saying that the fat man in the red suit is real, who are we to say that it’s a big lie, but a cute tradition?

trust-8Note to my grandchildren: There are things I’ll not tell you, but I may confirm or deny what you ask. There are things I will tell you only if you ask. There are things I will defer until I think you’re old/mature enough. But I will not intentionally deceive you without just cause. Sometimes, I’ll defer to your parents, other times, I will not. I’ve earned the privilege to be either cooperative or difficult. ~ Love, Opa

When someone teaches us, we usually trust that it’s what they believe, and that it’s correct. We assume that people who teach us (teachers, parents, family, ministers, others in authority) are experts and know the truth, or at least what they are talking about. Initially, we seldom anticipate deception, which would be intentional. But it happens. When it does, we learn from it.

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” ~ Bob Marley

The US has passed laws and made rules regarding truth in advertising, news reporting, responding to law enforcement, and testifying in court or before congress. At least one president was impeached for lying. At least one admired celebrity was jailed for lying. If we need laws and government rules to protect us from the constant lies and deceptions, especially since we almost expect to be lied to in many cases, why even be concerned about trust?

The answer seems to be that from birth, we need to trust. We also need a balance of hope and fear, or of acceptance and skepticism. We are here to learn, but we should be both questioning and wondering. We should be curious and wanting to learn and to know. We should want the truth, like it or not. And that truth should be supported by ample evidence or proof. We must understand the good and bad (dark) sides of human nature. We should all be students of the human condition.

From Bob Marley’s song, Three Little Birds:

Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Learn to trust. Demand evidence and proof.
Be skeptical when deception appears present.
Look both ways and mind the gaps.

NaNo Rebel – One Week Done

Telling my story

Telling my story

In the first five days of NaNoWriMo, I’ve written 11,000 words toward the goal of 50,000 before midnight of November 30th. Since my personal goal was 2K words a day, I’m ahead. I have picked up on several things about my writing.

  • I am not isolated. My wife comes and talks to me routinely, and I go talk to her. I have vacuumed the house, gone to meetings, and done shopping. I answer phone calls (not doing surveys or talking to telemarketers, and I voted early), and I go for walks.
  • I have time available to write. Being retired, I could write all day and night. But I can take time for a football game, and maybe some NCIS or Blue Bloods. I read about what I am supposed to be doing: writing memoir. I talk to people, often about things having nothing to do with writing.
  • I think my weakest writing skill is the art, the creative parts, the telling of the story. I blame my experience with technical writing for part of that. But for this memoir, I continue to work on my skills to show and tell from my POV at the time. Can I be both protagonist and antagonist?
  • If I read a sentence that I wrote last week, I will change it. It will be better, but the challenge is to write, not to re-write and edit. This slows me down, but it looks like I can semi-comfortably write a maximum of about 3-thousand words a day. I did 2,800 twice last week.
  • I made an outline, a spreadsheet, and a memory list. The list has turned out to be the most valuable. I never look at the outline or spreadsheet. My only problem with the memory list is that I write in chronological order and the list random.

img_0833-1

  • Here are examples from my list:
    1. Working to pull out coal stove and put in gas hot water heater and gas stove for cooking.
    2. Looking up at Dad realizing I was looking at a drunk man who didn’t care. I had eerie feeling that he resented me. I was not seeing my father.
    3. Helen Hxxxxn (Whitey) BB gun. Tomatoes.
    4. Peggy Rxxb and the Rxxb family.
    5. Carol Mxxar and Joe Mxxxxen
    6. Dog named Rusty and my treatment of the dog
    7. Age 5 birthday party
    8. Danny
    9. Raised by both bio parents…first in fam….Linda was second, but hers divorced (he left) right after Linda graduated high school
    10. Mom’s relationship with my half-bro, Danny, and my view of it.
Write. Just write you must.

Write. Just write you must.

I will be writing this memoir for a long time to come. I’ll win the Nano challenge and complete this memoir, but not anywhere near at the same time.

I miss writing this blog, but I choose not to do both.

If you ever consider writing memoir, I suggest it. For me, it’s not about the book, it’s about me. I still have a lot to write and things to decide. Do I want to write about something or make it available for others to read? Those dark “things” about me? I work at keeping the words and stories on my intended spiritual track, but in my mind, everything relates – particularly during my formative years.

The following excerpts from my memoir are from two more dramatic events, both relate to a nun who taught me. Context is that I had just learned that the same nun who taught 7th grade will be teaching 8th next year, then we jump to what I was worried about.

Blues Brothers movie, my fav part

Blues Brothers movie, my fav part

….“Mom, Coughlin is 7 to 12th. Can I go to 8th grade there? I’ll go next year anyway.”

“Now, Billy-boy. Why wud ya? Jist graduate St. John’s. After I see ya graduate, God can take me. It’ll never happen again.”

“I’ll graduate Coughlin, Mom.”

8th grade was worse than 7th. Even Father Burns was afraid of Sister Mary Siena, and for good reason. She was the tyrant of the school.

Gerry Dxxxxe sat behind me. As I was turned around explaining something of extreme importance to Gerry I heard, “Mister Rxxxxs, what is the answer?”

“The answer to what, Sister?”

“Young man, you better know the answer to the question I just asked the class.”

After I suggested that she asked one of them, the anger-crazed dark shadow in black habit grabbed her instrument of torture and death. As she stormed down the aisle heading at me, in her hand was the yard long wooden pointer. It was round, about the circumference of my thumb. She yelled for me to standup and turn around.

As it turns out, blows to the flesh behind the knees with such a pointer are not soon forgotten….

At times, how I saw it.

At times, how I saw it.

Life is interesting,
look both ways and mind the gaps.