Half and Half

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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My writing desk sits smack in front of a big window. I pause as I write to peek out on life as it moves on in front of me. On a beautiful sunny day such as this, I sit in the warm sun. The light is so bright, I happily don a baseball cap to keep the sun out of my eyes to continue to enjoy the sun’s warmth.

I haven’t written on this blog for a while. My heart, and my soul, seems to have been on strike since November 8, 2016.

I am and have always been grateful for the millions of immigrants and their families who made the difficult journey to this land in the North American continent. Our lives are more full and blessed in so many ways. Language, ideas, and ideals. Inventions to make life grand, written words to awaken our souls, works of art broaden our horizons. Together, we toil each and every day, educating children, caring for families here and abroad. Doctors, nurses, teachers, service providers, physicists, politicians, road workers, writers, musicians, neighbors and friends. Good people. Upstanding people I call my friends; friends and strangers who never, ever pose a risk to me and my security.

I, and almost everyone I know in this country, come from a family of immigrants.

I am so ashamed of the new federal leadership. I ache for the souls who could very well be punished by an evil, narcissistic, mean-spirited and mentally unstable man who was elected president this past year. His followers and supporters are no less guilty in the travesty they are planning, and the results that could come.

The world is watching.

Thank goodness for the resistance of our local residents across this land and around the world. We will never stand idly by. This is not an easy task ahead of us. We cannot rest.

When I sat down today, the sun shone on one half of my face. It’s just how I feel. One half of me is proud of everything we all have brought to this world. The other side lives in a dark place, fearing where we are going.

Each day I sit in the sun revives me for another. Just one word came to me to close this short tale.

Help.

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…and the Cubs Win!

I was over at my daughter and son-in-law’s house this morning, keeping an ear out for my 4-year-old grandson playing in the next room. My fingers paused on the laptop keys as I waited for the creative juices to kick in. Please kick in. I wanted something fresh and funny for the upcoming open mic.

Problem was, I wasn’t feeling fresh and funny. I was feeling worn, torn, and battle fatigued with the overwhelming election coverage this year. The Cubs’ World Series win brought me much needed relief and excitement — even if it was drawn out over and over again. That high didn’t last near long enough. I was missing that consummate Cubs fan who killed himself ten years ago. The big win was just one more in a string of life events he’s missed out on.

An hour later, I was still looking at a white screen without one string of words to be seen.

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You know why?

Well. My friend had some studying to do, so I suggested she bring her 4-year-old daughter
over to play. The more, the merrier is my motto. She dropped off her daughter along with the best of offerings — doughnuts, coffee, and hot chocolate. Woo Hoo!

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Twenty minutes later, it was time to wash and dry those cute little hands and faces. Time
to chase the dog back out after she knocked one of them onto the floor. Time to put that laundry in the dryer. I checked my email. Ah hah! A personal note from the Clinton campaign. Please, would you donate just one dollar? Sure, here’s 5. Would you like to double that? Sure, make it ten. Get out the credit card and load up the webpage with all the necessary information. Thanks – want to give more? No. Not today.

Then I checked Facebook. I peeked at a bit of online campaign news. I clicked around youtube and listened to a couple of tunes. First there was Bob Dylan, then John Lennon. I felt better. Kids were playing nicely. They were chattering away and giggling in their own little world.

So, anyway, I got back to business. It was a sunny day outside and I glanced into the living room. My eyes landed on Mollie’s memorial corner. Three framed portraits hang over the aging upright piano.

Lowell: strong and courageous father of three sons, dressed in his lifelong beard and glasses. Mollie’s husband’s father, he died just last year, after a tough battle with aggressive metastatic melanoma. He was such a wonderful man, full of love and passion… a man who would do anything for his family.

Katie, my beautiful grand-daughter, gone from us much too soon. I look at her smiling, in her pensive way; I wonder what she was thinking when that picture was taken. Our hearts broke the day she died, leaving behind her baby boy Jack. Her laughter had filled our world. We miss her so much.

And Matt, my former husband, father of three, baseball fan extraordinaire, former Stratamatic player and political junkie, a voracious reader who died before Mollie even knew she’d be marrying Matt, her new boyfriend.

Each of them gone now from this world for widely different reasons, each one of them leaving a big hole in my heart. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t imagine Katie or Matt or Lowell standing with us in the sunshine, laughing at a birthday party, playing with the kids, or repairing something or other.

Cheering the Cubs.

Damn. Pass me that doughnut.

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Him Puts You on the Naughty List

This morning, all before 8:30 am.

“Mimi, I can’t find my shoe,” Peyton, 6 years old, tells me, moaning, while standing in the dining room twirling the one shoe she does have round and round by the shoe laces. A perfect example of gravity if I ever saw one.

“Keep looking, Peyton. It has to be somewhere,” I answered, right before I walked into her bedroom to see the elusive shoe sitting all by itself, minding its own business on the top of her bed.

Brooklyn, 9 years old, just had to have my cell phone,”I swear I won’t play games, Grandma. I’m ready for school, like you said. I need to use the calculator.”

“What do you need to calculate?” I asked.

“What’s half of fifteen?” she said.

Oh, man, I thought, turning my head so she wouldn’t see my laughing face. “Oh, let’s see — seven and a half.”

She sighed loudly and gave up on the phone idea.

Driving to school a bit later, we saw three deer grazing leisurely on the lawn at the intersection of Coombsville Road and 4th Avenue.

The car burst with exclamations.

“Deer!! Deer!! Deer!! Mimi, Grandma!! See the deer??!!”

Yep.

After I dropped his sisters off at school, 3 1/2 year old Micah and I drove past the deer in the grass again.

“Deer! Mimi, see the deer?”

“I do, that’s so cool, Micah.”

“That’s Santa’s house,” he told me, very seriously, “Really, it’s Santa’s house, with  reindeer.”

Laughing inside, I asked him if he was sure.

“Yes, if you’re bad, him puts you on the naughty list.”

“He does?” I responded, eyeing him in the rearview mirror.

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“Yes. And if you’re good, him gets you on the good list.”

“Yes, you’re right. He sure does.”

A few minutes later, still in the car, he announces, “Mimi, last time I called you Mom.”

Evidently letting me know he called me by the wrong name, and he really does know the difference.

Still in the car…

“Jyles’ mom says I look like my dad,” he said, giggling, “I look like my dad?!”

I can just imagine him thinking about how his dad really looks – to him – and how in the world can he look like that?

OMG.

The rewards I bank for being able to hang out with grandkids every day of the week.

 

Jack’s Suit

Do you see him there? The little guy in the dark blue suit.

Carried into church by his Mama for his Auntie Karen’s wedding

Fall breezes quietly tickling his cheek

His bright speckled blue eyes missing nothing.

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Katie’s got him right there in her lap of dreams

Her little boy, full of wonder, in church again

Sitting close, so sharp once again in that cute little suit

Here in the winter cold, at his Mama’s Grandma’s funeral mass.

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A few months later, Katie’s gone too, much too soon

Gone with her smile that brought the sun up in the morning

Her laughter that rippled the waters

Her bright blue eyes that she shares with little Jack.

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Little Jack is firmly in his Papa’s arms now

Sitting still and quiet on the dark and hard wooden pew

Wondering eyes topping his cleaned and pressed suit

Searching the sunbeams for his Mommy.

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Katie’s off onto a new journey now

Taking with her the love of a million memories

Leaving behind a world of hurt full of love

Sprinkled with shattered pieces of hearts.

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Written in loving memory of my wonderful grand-daughter, Katherine Patricia Green Broder. With gratitude, “Jack’s Suit” was recently published in the California Writers Club Literary Review, October 2015.

Batter Up!

First Game, World Series, 2014

Ball 1. 

Before we met, long before he was my husband, when he was just a kid, Matt was a bat boy for the Cubbies.  My heart often wanders to him during baseball season.  He was the super baseball fan – stats, hits, runs, errors, he knew them all.  Until the last inning when he shocked his fans.  When he decided he wasn’t going to take another hit.   He grabbed a foul ball and walked off, leaving the infield torn and wondering, even now, after years of tears.

Strike 1.  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA.

Ball 2.

If his heart was still pumping, Matt’d have a hard time choosing where to watch the game tonight.  I can still see the picture of our oldest son, 6 weeks old, on the front page of The New York Post, October ’81 in his baby Yankees warm-up suit.  ‘Still hate the Dodgers. Now the kids are San Francisco Giants Fans – Always October.  Would he partner up with the guys?  The youngest one, he definately inherited Matt’s sports fan genes.  Glove in hand, they’d catch every minute – breathless for the win.

Strike 2.

With our daughter?  In her black and orange, cheering sparkling wet eyes on the game, sorrow in her heart, rubbing her abdomen, ever so gently, grieving for the baby we all thought would show up just in time for spring training.  Struck out with no chance to suit up.

Ball 3.

One out of 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

Full Count – Homerun!

Giants take the lead!  Everyone on their feet!!  Cheers and beers!

Batter up.

Grab your hat.  Grab your glove.  Wait for the next pitch.  And hold onto your heart.

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