A Child’s Tea Party

 

Sitting in the large Victorian parlor with its high ceilings and antique furniture, was my grandmother and four of her dearest friends. Being a part of such classy women with their braided buns and hair nets and ankle-length dresses was the highlight of my growing up years. Sometimes I would sit at my table and color, listening to their hushed tones echoing through the room. Other times I would sit quietly, my eyes bouncing from one face to the other wondering why old people get so wrinkled.

But this day, I didn’t want to color or just sit and observe. This day I wanted to be as sophisticated as the Queen herself. Not that I didn’t enjoy having tea with my dolls. They were always willing participants. But this day I wanted real live people at my tea party.

Cup after cup made its way around the circle of women, each one swallowing the cool, clear liquid and smacking their lips with delight.

I felt so proud.

Suddenly, wondering where I was getting the water since I couldn’t reach the kitchen sink, my grandmother followed me and watched in horror as I dipped my dainty little teacup into the commode!

I think that was the last tea party I ever had at my grandmother’s house. Come to think of it, I think that was the last tea party ever!

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Secrets in the Attic

I can still hear the distinctive scraping sound of the board sliding across the opening in the floor and see her creeping down the ladder. She only came down to empty the slop jar and replenish her food and water supply. How long had she lived up there, a week? A month? A year? I don’t remember. But I will never forget her dark, glaring eyes and wrinkled frown when she turned and saw me standing there. I’ll never forget the cold-steal blade of anger and hatred piercing my soul or the hurt and confusion I felt.

It was a makeshift bedroom daddy half-heartedly put together for the two of them when my grandmother came to live with us. Mom laid a carpet remnant across the plywood floor and somehow, daddy maneuvered a full-size bed through the narrow opening. Then came an old dresser, and a couple of makeshift night stands and TV. Mom added some personal touches with a few lamps, a pretty bedspread and setting pictures on the dresser. There were no windows or walls or ceiling covering the exposed, unsightly wiring. No heating or air. Just a temporary, cave-like room for my parent’s privacy.

Now, mom made it her permanent home; her escape from a disgruntled mother-in-law; an emotional strike against a family who didn’t seem to care or appreciate the sacrifices she made. Let them fend for themselves. Let them do their own cooking and cleaning, washing and ironing and dealing with the bill collectors banging on the door.

But that’s not what drove her to live in the attic. That’s not what pushed her to the brink of insanity.

For years I hated her foster-mother and the abuse my mother suffered at her hands. I hated my grandmother for putting her in an orphanage and my alcoholic grandfather for molesting her. I hated that my mother was too afraid to run away from her foster home and get help. I hated that she was never able to recover; that she never experienced freedom from her horror-filled childhood. And I hated that the aftermath of her abuse ricocheted through the family poking holes in our souls.

Even today I still wonder how it feels to a child to be held and kissed. To be praised and loved unconditionally. What does the world look like through their fearless eyes? What does it sound like without cruel and condemning voices shouting in their ears?

Looking back, the attic is as dismal today as it was decades ago. Secretly, it holds my mother’s tears, her broken soul and raging screams against an unfair world and a God who would allow bad things to happen; especially to a defenseless child. It holds the secrets of a little girl longing to be loved so that she could know how to love her own children; to be less critical and more patient and understanding. Only the attic knows how she longed for her husband’s physical and emotional support; to help lift and carry her heavy burden and to prove the words of love he spoke to her. And only the attic knows what led her to climb down that creaky ladder that day, put away the slop jar, and join her family again.

I wish I could say that things got better after that, that my youngest brother stopped getting into trouble, drinking and doing drugs. I wish I could say mom never had other breakdowns and that daddy got a job and mom didn’t have to work three jobs to keep our heads above water. I wish I could say that we learned to communicate without screaming and yelling and hurting one another.

But I can’t go back and change a thing. I can only keep pressing forward with a better understanding and perspective than I had as a child. I can appreciate the loving family God gave me through my husband and my son and his growing family. And I can accept that I live in a broken world and bad things are going to happen. It’s not my fault. It’s not God’s fault. It’s just the way of a fallen world. We all have a choice in how we play the cards we are dealt.

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!

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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.

 

 

Twas Best for Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord
Remember when my husband and I first moved here
How I cried for weeks on end
For reasons only you could understand
Remember how trapped and isolated I felt
How uncertain and afraid
How utterly disappointed
Now
Decades later
Sitting here on my back porch
Embracing the cool morning breeze
Watching the birds
Joy skipping through my veins
I can’t imagine living anyplace else
Thank you for making me tough it out
For locking all the windows and doors
Making it impossible for me to run
Thank you
That in spite of my kicking and screaming against you
You continued loving me
Fixing me
Teaching me
Exposing the ghosts from the past
Unveiling the woman you created me to be before I lost my way
I know I’ve been a brat, Lord
Stomping my feet
Demanding my way
Pounding my fists when I didn’t get it
But thank you for not caving in
Thank you for not striking me dead!
Thank you for your tough love
Your sense of humor
Your strong arms
Your tender heart
And thank you
That in spite of everything I thought I wanted and demanded to have
You gave what was best for me

“My precious child, It’s not for you to understand what I am doing in your life.
I just want you to trust me.” 

He Loved Me to Death

God gazed from heaven upon the earth

Through tears of remorse and disbelief,

His heart was pierced by transgressions of man

And was broken by sorrow and grief.

He cried to His Son, “What shall I do?

My children can’t go on like this,

For when it comes time for them to die,

My kingdom, they will surely miss.”

So, Father and Son both lovingly agreed

As they fathomed what must be done;

In order to save all the world from sin,

The Father must send down His Son.

So, Jesus came down as a tiny babe,

God’s perfect, loving gift to mankind;

In hopes that one day His words they would heed

And their eyes would no longer be blind.

Jesus was tender, so patient and kind

As He spoke of His Father’s love;

But many were they that refused to believe

That He was God’s Son from above.

After years of teaching and healing the sick,

The Savior’s hour had finally drawn near;

Fo the time had come, God’s will to be done,

Though the cup brought forth bitter tears.

He willingly gave His life on the cross

And bore much suffering, sin, and shame,

But many today still don’t understand

That is the reason He came.

But I believe with all of my heart

And want to give the Savior my best;

 It was for me that He shed His precious blood

For you see, He loved me to death.

Sandi

The Downside of Getting Old

old-people-4

Not only is it inconvenient

Old age comes at a bad time

With little or no benefits

And lots of aches and pains

Doctor’s appointments

And drugs

And BenGay

And laxatives

Most of our friends are either dead

Or in nursing homes

Or just don’t remember us

Teenagers think we’re from another planet

Middle-aged people wish we were on another planet

And the rest of society just doesn’t care

Bit by bit we lose our independence

Our eyesight

Our hearing

Our mind

We pine for the good old days

Pray for another day

And hope to get through the day

But I’m thankful that I’ve lived this long

I really am

I just wish I could have done it

Without getting old

~ Sandi

Paw Prints

Bella Rae

Bella Rae

We’ve never owned a dog like her before

And it’s a wee bit nerve-wracking

Okay it’s a whole bunch nerve-wracking

She’s feisty

Sassy

Strong-willed

Like me

But she’s a dog

And I’m the boss

She’s supposed to listen

When I tell her no

To get in her bed

To pee and poop outside

To stop jumping on the furniture

And charging through the house

And bouncing around like a kangaroo

To stop biting

And scratching

And licking

That constant licking of herself

Like a cat

Lick

Lick

Lick

And she snores

And she farts

And she eats like a pig

  We’re old people

We like things calm and quiet

We like a clean smelling house

Pee-stained-free carpet

And slobber-less tile floors

At least she’s potty trained now

I thought

Till this morning

When she peed and pooped in the living room

And threw up in my bedroom

 I wanted to wring her little neck

Take her back to the pound

And bring home a droopy-eyed over-the-hill bloodhound

But I cleaned up the mess instead

Because I love her

Because she brings more joy than chaos

Because she has left paw prints on my heart

Forever

~ Sandi

Dee Dee Voltron

voltron

When I’m jogging I’m thinking. Thinking about the good old days. Thinking about the movie I watched last night. Thinking about soaking my feet when I get home. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Sometimes I’m in such deep thought that I can’t remember jogging up the hill I just came down. Now that’s scary!

Today I thought about Brandon, my first grandchild and how he picked out names to call all his grandparents, except for me. For some reason, he couldn’t decide on a name for me. Maybe, because I was the youngest, in his mind I didn’t fit the typical granny image. Maybe he just couldn’t figure me out, I don’t know. Whatever his reasons, he didn’t have an endearing, grandmotherly name for me.

Then, one Sunday afternoon my daughter-in-law smiled and said, “Brandon’s picked out a name for you. It’s Dee Dee. He was trying to say Sandi but it came out Dee Dee instead.”

“Well okay then. Dee Dee, it is.”

Brandon loved for me to tell him stories. In the car, at the mall, in the grocery store, on the porch swing . . . everywhere! All I’d hear is,”Tell me a story, Dee Dee! Tell me a story!”

Now, there’s just so many stories a granny can make up about the two of us riding on Mrs. Eagle’s back over the highest mountains or talking to Mr. Tree in the enchanted forest or creeping into a really dark, really spooky house deep in the woods. But if I didn’t make up something he’d drive me crazy until I did. That’s the way it works for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet. 

His most favorite story was when the two of us teamed up with Voltron and battled all the bad guys. We’d wield our shiny swords, conjure up our magic powers and fight till the bitter end. Then, we’d crawl into a cave where we’d regroup and strategize our next sneak attack.

 Suddenly, in Brandon’s eyes, Voltron was no longer a plastic action figure. Voltron was me, his hero, the one who came to his rescue, who bandaged his wounds and killed all the bad guys. Never again would I be just plain old Dee Dee. I was Immortal. I was invincible. I was Dee Dee Voltron!

And after all those battles I had to fight, and all those stories I had to conjure up, I earned that title and wore it well . . . at least in Brandon’s eyes.

Brandon’s now grown with a family of his own. And, although he no longer begs me to tell him stories, he remembers them all so well and still fondly refers to me as “Dee Dee Voltron!”

Gone, But Not Forgotten

rascal-3

As we stood looking down at him

Laying on the cold stark table

Our hearts were broken-in-two

In spite of all our efforts to save him

From the monster invading his body

The heart-wrenching moment came

To say our last good-byes

To kneel by his freshly dug grave

To mourn for him

To miss petting him

To miss walking him

To miss playing with him

To miss cuddling with him

To miss the most loving

Most gentle

Most forgiving

Most beautiful friend we ever had

Now

Two months later

We still miss him

We still grieve for him

But we will never forget him