Crazy Quilt of Memories

Dear House,

We’ve been together a long time, you and hubby and me. We’ve opened our hearts and doors to family and friends, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and abandoned pets. We’ve made happy memories, sad memories, and memories I’d like to forget.

Like the time my niece tricked me into inviting her and her fifteen-year-old son and their dog to live with us. We hadn’t heard from her in forever. Didn’t even know where she lived. But when she needed a place to stay due to a failed marriage, and having used up all her other options, she knew exactly where to find me. All her silky-smooth promises to get a job and a place of her own slid off her back the second she and her obstinate kid and their untrained dog waltzed through our door. I was never so relieved to kiss two people and pat one dog goodbye in my life.

Then, there was that time my half-sister’s half-brother called me. My sister had a brother? When did that happen? After all these years why am I just now finding that out? My sister had passed away years before that phone call; still, we wanted to meet each other. So that following fall we anxiously awaited their arrival as they made the three-day trip from Colorado to North Carolina.

He had my sister’s baby blue eyes, short bowed legs, and curly gray hair. The four of us embraced like long-lost friends. From the moment they walked through the front door the week-long visit was filled with chattering into the wee hours of the morning, eating out and shopping and laughing till our sides hurt. We enjoyed each other so much that we invited them back again for a two-week stay. Even paid for their plane tickets. But, somewhere between that year and a half wait and absence makes the heart grow fonder, something went haywire.

The first three days, He and his wife were at war with each other. When that war ended, he started a war with me, which was a very bad idea. I told them to leave. My husband, the peace-maker asked them to stay. So the four of us, plus two of my grandkids and a dog, trudged through his grumpy, complaining, sarcastic, rude, insufferable attitude for the next ten days! When the day of good-riddance finally arrived, we rushed them to the airport, making sure they got on the plane, and haven’t heard from them since.

And remember that cold, early morning I got up to find my youngest brother sitting on the porch swing shivering? Though it had been a while since I’d heard from him and his mischievous, little boy grin tugged on my heart-strings, I couldn’t say I was happy to see him. Oh, he was playful and charming laced with a Bob Hope sense of humor. But I knew too well what lay beneath that innocent, enticing mask. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol and crime. He spent most of his life behind bars and leaving a trail of broken promises, bleeding hearts, and confusion.

The white van parked in the driveway wasn’t even his, although he tried to convince me it was. And why was he driving without a license? Foolish of me to even ask. So with a faint, apprehensive smile and hoof-pounding heart, I invited him in wondering why he was here, what he wanted, and when was he going to leave. Hours later, and fearing the inevitable, can-I-stay-here-the-night plea, I kindly sent him on his way. But it would be days before I could shake off the flabbergasting disturbance.

And let’s not forget this summer’s events when our strong-as-an-ox Whippet mix jerked me off the deck making me fall and hurt myself. She liked doing it so much that she did it again when she broke from her leash and again when I tried to catch her. Between over-doing it with the yard work and falling one too many times, sent me to the emergency room with severe back pain. A few X-rays and four painful hours later, I was released feeling like I’d been hit by a bus.

Still recovering from that, hubby’s sister came to stay with us for a month. Never saw that coming! I’ve had many goals in my life, but at the age of seventy-one, none of them consisted of caring for a seventy-six-year-old twenty-four-seven with short-term memory loss and other frustrating annoyances. But when she was abandoned for three days without food or water or electricity, we opened our doors yet again. Finally, after weeks of collecting and getting documents signed and notarized and being put off and lied to by one care giving facility and another, she is finally in a nursing home where she is happy and safe.

After weeks of having our lives turned upside down, we are finally getting settled. I don’t have a strong urge to choke someone anymore and I can finally enjoy sitting on the back porch with my husband, our two dogs, and a hot cup of coffee without interruption. The cool mornings are peaceful and quiet. Hubby and I play with the dogs and laugh at some of the crazy stuff we’ve met with over the past few months. We share our intimate feelings and thoughts with each other. We read our devotions and thank God for the many years we’ve spent together in our house.

But, sadly, House, I’ve been noticing some drastic changes in you. Like me, you are showing signs of wear and tear. Your handrail on the front porch is loose, one of your steps is sagging and the cedar siding is faded. You need new windows, and doors and grass planted in those huge bare places in the front and back yard. And you’re old and outdated. You really need a serious face lift!

But these are just minor things compared to the thirty plus years you have served us. You’ve sheltered and protected us from hurricane winds and rain and ice storms snapping massive tree limbs that fell across the driveway. And somehow within your crowded space, you always make room for large gatherings of family and friends and for lots of rowdy kids to play.

To the world, you’re just a little house that needs a lot of work. But to me, you are my mansion on a hilltop, my castle in the clouds, my sanctuary of learning and thriving and growing and pushing through some of the most difficult times of my life. I’m looking forward to spending many more years within your walls, sharing your warmth with family and friends and continue making a crazy quilt of memories.

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For the Love of a Canine

Passing cage after smelly cage, dog after sad-eyed dog,

My hopes, like fat droplets of rain splattering to the dingy floor,

I thought we’d never find the one. I wanted to leave. Then we spotted her

Curled in a ball like a lonely forsaken fawn on a thin ragged blanket

In the middle of the large, cold and desolate cage.

When she saw us standing there, she sprang to life and came running,

Her tail wagging furiously. Oblivious to the deafening barking

And howling echoing throughout the heart-sickening kennel, she jumped

Up and down like a bouncing kangaroo as if auditioning for the role of a lifetime.

Unable to resist her persistent charm, we cracked the cage door, and barely

Clasping the leash to her collar, she pulled my seemingly drunken husband

Through a crowd of bystanders straight to the doggie playground outside.

Squinting against the bright sunshine, we unfastened her leash and like a flash,

She raced around the playground, sniffed a few tattered toys scattered around,

Then like a playful cheetah came charging full speed towards me.

Unable to stop, she slid completely under my chair, backed out,

Snuggled close beside me and plopped her head on my lap.

That’s when I decided that having a Greyhound mix won’t be so bad.

However, since adopting her that day, I’ve questioned my sanity,

Wondering if I would survive this long-legged, faster than lightning,

Over-active, sassy, jittery, destructive chewing, hard-to-potty-train canine.

Now, nearly a year later, Bella has become the absolute funniest, most adorable,

Loveable, playful, snuggling, heart-melting, four-legged joy of our lives!

Click on a picture to start slide show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites Attract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He sees his man cave as orderly as a doctor’s office

I see the aftermath of a hurricane

He wants it done tomorrow

I want it done yesterday

He sees the bucket half full

I see it half empty

He’s cool calm and collect

I’m as nervous as a jack-rabbit

He thinks before he speaks

I spew it out and think about it later

He loves a crowd

I’d rather have a tooth pulled

He likes being on center stage

I hide behind the curtain

He likes sleeping late

I like seeing the sun rise

He likes to cook

I’d rather clean the toilet

He thinks country music is soothing to the soul

I think it’s like fingernails raking across a chalkboard

On and on I could go

But there’s no point

Because with all our differences

Like a crazy quilt of many colors and patterns

Our hearts have intertwined as one

Creating a beautiful

Sometimes crazy marriage

That has not frayed or faded in forty-five years

So I guess opposites really do attract!

 

 

 

 

 

Never Give Up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord

I’m just going to be honest with you

I don’t like myself today

My leg feels like a gang of Ninja Turtles

Is stabbing it with knives

My house is draped with cobwebs

The laundry is piled to the ceiling

My flower beds are crawling with weeds

The dog needs a bath

The car needs washing

And I’m too tired and depressed to care!

Could I please have a new body

And a new brain

Because I’m not feeling the joy right now

Maybe I will tomorrow

Or the next day

Or next week . . .

What’s that you say?

Get off the pity pot?

Not what I wanted to hear

But you’ll have to help me up

Because of my leg and all

And you’ll have to help me to keep

Trusting you because you know

How easily distracted I get

Like when I walk into a room

And start doing something

And walk into another room

And start doing something else

Till the whole house is torn up

Driving my husband nuts

And keeping the dog confused

So help me to stay focused

And to remember the countless times

You have helped me in the past

Through harder times than these

And give me strength to endure the pain

Because mine is all used up

Give me a heart of thanksgiving

Because sometimes the darkness overshadows

The beautiful blessings that surround me

But most of all when clinging to the edge

Of the jagged treacherous cliff

And my fingers are cut and bleeding

And my hopes plunge to my toes

And help seems miles away

Help me to trust and believe in who you are

And the things you have done

And the promises you have kept

And help me above all else

To never ever give up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for Our President

 

 

 

 

 

 

I kneel before you, Lord,

Appalled at the vicious attacks

Made against him every single day.

Put a wall of protection around him.

Give him peace. Give him grace.

Give him wisdom and strength and courage

As he continues to do what is right,

Cleaning up the sloppy messes others so

Greedily and carelessly left behind.

Our country has been invaded with so much evil,

So much hatred and slander and murder.

And our President needs your help

To get America back on her feet.

Bless him, Lord, and may all your people

Pray, and keep on praying for him

And his beautiful family. Most of all, help him

To see his dire need of you as he continues

On his rocky, twisted presidential path.

Help him to know that you are the One

Still in control, and that you are the One

Who will see him through.

Thank you, for President Trump.

Thank you for his courage and his bravery

And his undivided love for his country.

Shut the mouths who slander against him!

Grasp the hands who wish to harm him!

Close the ears who feed on filthy lies to disgrace him.

Let justice be served and let America be great again!

Let her be victorious in spite of those

Who are so doggedly working to destroy her.

Lord, Help us all to stand behind

And faithfully pray for our President!

And thank you, Lord,

For hearing and answering my earnest prayer.

 

 

 

Blessings from Above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord

What a pleasant surprise when our next door neighbor

Joined my husband and me on the back porch,

His face beaming, pen, and paper in hand.

Sitting in the rocker across from us, and as if

The words could hardly wait to jump out of his mouth

He pronounced, “Okay. This is what we’re going to do . . .”

And true to his word, the very next day

Two, happy-faced fellows from his church

Bravely crawled under our house with the bugs

And cobwebs and spiders and snake skins

And replaced our broken down leaky water heater

With a brand spanking new one. Paid in full!

We are still speechless, Lord.

Only you know how truly grateful we are

To you and our neighbor and his church

And the two young men who donated

Their valuable time to help us in our time of need.

It’s no surprise, coming from you,

But we’re accustomed to helping others

And not the other way around.

And you know how I despise being the one in need.

But this time, you tied my hands behind my back

opened my eyes and helped me to see the blessing

Your people received from you by obediently helping us.

The pond in our front yard is slowly drying up

And we now have the hottest water we’ve had in weeks.

Thank you, Lord, for always being faithful to your Word

And for putting people in our lives who are willing

To be your feet and hands to shower us

With blessings from above.

 

 

Real Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the worst argument ever!
My husband, sitting in his big black
Fake leather recliner, suddenly
Metamorphosed into the Incredible Hulk.
Not to be outdone, I parked my broom,
Plopped on the couch
And began shaking my long,
Crooked finger from across the den.
The battle of the wills was vicious.
Like being in a house of horrors,
Angry words went flying around and
Screeching like a bunch of demented bats.
Even the dog ran and hid.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
I grabbed my broom and flew out the door.
I almost went back, afraid of driving
Without a license, but I didn’t.
Stupid wasn’t out of my system yet.
I needed to run away. Be by myself.
Just like I did as a kid when the screaming
And shouting began at home.
Run and keep running till I collapsed
Under a tree and cried a puddle of tears,
Wishing I never had to go back home again.
Since it was too hot and I’m too old to run,
I hesitantly took the car.
There was no place in mind I wanted to go,
just away. I wasn’t liking my husband
Very much right then, and I even wanted
To crawl out of my own skin.
I pulled into a vacant lot surrounded by trees,
Under the shade, far away from people
And cars and cops. And there I finished
Spilling my guts to the glaring windshield,
The dusty dashboard, the trees dancing in the wind,
And the birds flying by. I think God was there too,
Reminding me that life is too short
And we’ve been married so long
And the argument was completely fruitless
And that I push too hard, expect too much,
And my husband can’t take it anymore!
“But I need more help with the yard,” I bawled.
“Pulling weeds and trimming trees and bushes
Are too much for me now. And besides,
He’s the one who wanted that gigantic yard!”
Three hours and a million tears
And unanswered questions later,
I turned on the ignition and slowly
Drove back home. The long way.
Through the winding country roads
Where cops seldom tread.
I pulled into the long, tree-lined driveway,
Parked the car, and grabbing my broom,
I flew back into the house.
“Do you know what a chance you took?”
Mr. Hulk flared.
And jutting my long pointy chin toward
The popcorn ceiling I screeched,
“Jep! But right now I don’t care!”
Before the sun went down like we always do,
We talked things out, going through the I’m sorry
Scenarios and how much we hate arguing,
The shame and regret that we felt,
The hugs and kisses, reassuring one another
That we will get through these hard times of
Running short of money before the end of
Every month; that God is and will continue
Taking care of us; that the VA is going to help him
With his PTSD and the horrific nightmares,
And that I will try to be more understanding . . .
And talking and working things out
Is why we’ve been married forty-five years,
Why we haven’t left each other,
Why we haven’t killed each other,
Why we understand each other . . .
So life is short and it’s tough and unfair,
Married or single, rich or poor, young or old.
But real love always wins out in the end!

The Truth Will Set You Free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seek to live in my love, which covers a multitude of sins:
both yours and others’ . . .

You always know, Lord
The words I need to hear when I need to hear them;
Especially this morning as I look back
And see how hard and foolishly I labored to cover up my ugly flaws.
As a child, I remember soaking cucumber peelings in cold water
And putting them on my face to bleach out my freckles.
I remember how it hurt pinching the end of my nose with a clothespin
In high hopes of making it smaller.
When I was finally allowed, I drew on some eyebrows,
Painted my eyelashes, and smeared makeup on my face.
Everything in my world had to be perfect:
My dolls. My shoes. My roller skates. My performance . . .
I wish someone had taken the time to lead me in the right direction
Before my twisted brain told me I had to be perfect to be loved;
That the world around me doesn’t accept rejects.
I wish Someone had spoken the truth about God and His unconditional love
Before I conjured up a false face, stuffed my sensitive feelings deep inside
And wore a neon sign around my neck that shouted to the world:
Cut me, I won’t bleed!
I was young, naïve, and a Christian.
And Christians have a whole different set of rules
From the rest of the world to follow.
Christians are slow to anger,
Quick to forgive and never ever question God.
Christians turn the other cheek,
Shake the dust off their feet and suffer in silence.
Christians love their enemies and bless those who curse them.
But what my delicate ears heard was:
Christians are not human.
They never mess up.
Never get angry, never tell anyone what they really think and mean.
Christians bury their hurts, anger, and disappointments deep inside,
Let it fester and blow up in their face one day, make them lose complete control,
And forget to be careful little tongue what they say.
Christians let shame and regret scream in their ears what a failure they are,
That God is terribly disappointed and sorry He ever created them.
Christians let their failure to be perfect cast them into the arms of depression
Self-loathing and hopelessness.
At least that’s the time bomb of belief’s that blew up and shattered my world . . .
Tired of living a lie and what it was doing to me,
I sent God a whirling smoke signal of distress.
He came to my rescue, and ever so slowly and gently,
He opened my eyes to His love, His truth,
His footprints across the blazing desert of life.
He released my heavy armor of perfectionism.
He covered my naked, trembling body with his cloak of righteousness.
He bathed my tarnished heart in His forgiveness.
He lifted the world of guilt and shame off my shoulders.
He told me that I don’t have to be perfect for Him to love me,
That it is fruitless to even try.
He told me that He created me in His image,
That I am the apple of His eye,
That all the wrong in my life He can fix and make it right . . .
He’s been my daily, faithful guide ever since.
We have coffee together on the back porch.
We have long intimate talks together.
We walk together, laugh together, cry together.
But what I love the most about this amazing relationship
Is that I can lean back, kick off my shoes, and just be me!

Emergency Room Horrors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because I could barely move and felt as if someone
Was bludgeoning my back with a baseball bat
My husband called for an ambulance
No sirens
No breaking the speed barrier
Just an ambulance
Didn’t want to alarm the neighbors
During the bumpy twenty-minute ride to the hospital
Visions of angelic faces and a big happy
Giant painkiller danced through my mind
I could just see the nurses and doctors rolling out the red carpet
Rushing to my side
Covering my writhing body with layers of warm fuzzy blankets
I could almost feel the pain ebbing away as I floated off to la la land
Finally
We arrived
But worse than the persistent pain radiating from my hip down to my toes
Was the ear-ringing slap of reality across my face!
As if plagued with leprosy
Or something even worse
I was whisked away into a cold
Isolated room with flimsy curtains for walls
Rolled onto a rock-hard bed
Covered up with a skimpy heated blanket
And left there
For hours
No angelic faces
No painkillers
No hope that I would get out of this alive
Just me
And my husband
And my pain
Finally
Three hours later
And upon my husband’s threats to gouge out someone’s eyes
An x-ray technician rushed to my side
Nearly jerked me out of bed and rushed down the hall
With me limping a mile behind him to the x-ray room
Suddenly
He turned around and asked
Do you want a wheelchair?
I nearly bit off my tongue to keep from screaming
Do you want a punch in the face?
And as if he hadn’t tortured me enough with his first set of pictures
Making me stand on a cold floor
Half naked
Writhing in pain
Posing in positions my body couldn’t remember ever doing
He rushed back into my room
Told me to lift my rear and shoved a board under my back
And in spite of all my groaning and crying and pleading
He shot a million more pictures
Well
Maybe it was two
Then he left and it was just me
And my husband
And my pain
And my tears
And my wanting someone to cut off my head!
Another hour and a few more bloody threats from my husband
And a nurse charged beside my bed
Stuck a plastic cup under my nose containing one little lonely pain pill
And whispered, “Chew it up, It’ll work faster.”
The minutes dragged by
Like a one-legged old man running a three-day marathon as I lay on my side
Waiting for the stupid slothful pill to do something
Anything
Just do it!
From another curtained room I heard a man’s pitiful cries for help
Louder and louder he cried
Then came a nurse’s flippant retort,
Tell him to take a deep breath!
Now things are starting to roll
The x-ray technician came bouncing back into my room
And with a big fat smile on his face, he beamed
No broken bones!
And I wanted to pull out my long sharp pointy horns and say,
I could have told you that, Einstein!
Then came the nurse with a long needle dripping with steroid
A few crippled apologies that needed a wheelchair worse than I did
And sent me home with a chewed up pain pill that got lost somewhere
Between my mouth and my brain
And a few prescriptions that I swear were laughing at me!
Limping beside my husband down the long dark depressing hallway
He helped me into a pathetic looking chair beside a paper-cluttered desk
And hustled out the door to get the car
But Hell’s fury wasn’t done with me yet!
In front of me towered a heavyset woman wearing a brazen-faced glare
And with a resonate whip-cracking voice
She demanded that I move
Because someone else needed to sit there!

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay daddy
Since we never went on a coffee date before
Or even shared an intimate moment anywhere together for that matter
I’m taking you out
Just in my mind of course
You’d never come any other way
So
How about Starbuck’s?
No?
Coffee too strong?
I forgot
Instant Nescafe’
Hot water straight from the spigot
Creamer and sugar
In that nasty coffee-stained cup
You yelled at me for thoughtlessly washing one day
Okay then
Let’s just have coffee in the kitchen
In the old house where we used to live a long time ago
Doesn’t matter to me
I just want to talk to you
And tell you that I miss you
That I love you
That I’m sorry for rebelling against you in those troublesome adolescent years
I was just a kid and didn’t understand your moody silence
Your distant stare
Your dry wit
I just thought you were picking on me
Because you didn’t like me for whatever reason
And that hurt me and made me angry
And I wanted to hurt you back
I just wish that one time you had held me in your arms
And said you were sorry for making me cry
That you had poked your head into my shattered world
To see how much I needed your encouragement
Your quiet strength
Your love and protection
Instead
You closed your eyes
You crawled into a cocoon of apathy
You wrapped it tightly with barbed wire
And I knew better than to try cutting it down
There’s so much you didn’t know about me
Like how I wanted to be a daddy’s girl
For you to tell me that I was beautiful
And smart
And funny
For you to meet my first date at the front door with a shotgun
And beat my X to a pulp the first time he hit me
When my baby was born too early and I thought he would die
I wanted you to hold me and tell me everything would be okay
But you never did
That’s okay daddy
I didn’t invite you here to condemn you
I’ve done enough of that throughout my life
No
I just want you to know
That in spite of not having you emotionally in my life
I learned to stand on my own two feet
I learned to not depend on praise from others
And rather drew from the well deep inside me
I learned that life is not always fair
That bad things happen to good people
That we don’t get to pick our parents
And that I didn’t need to grow up in a Mary Poppins world to find
Love
Strength
Peace and contentment
So
Thank you for meeting with me today
For allowing me one fragmented moment of the rest of your time in eternity
God will continue taking over from here
Just as He has the past seventy years of my life
But
Before you go
I just want you to know that I’m glad you were my dad
That without realizing it
You made me determined to love my son the way I wanted you to love me
To encourage and support him
To protect him
To always be there physically and emotionally for him
And because of that
We spend precious moments together
Growing old together
Laughing
Crying
Cutting up
Drinking coffee at Starbuck’s together
I couldn’t ask for more
So
Thanks, Daddy
Happy Father’s Day!