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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. (John F. Kennedy)

One dollar. I want to keep this one separate from the others in my wallet. Long enough to celebrate the moment. When I told my friend Ann that my sister-in-law needed serious surgery, she asked me to get a card and sign it for her. Ann is blind. She doesn’t know my family. She gives out of kindness.

Her dollar is a symbol. When I see it, I think of a simple woman’s generosity. Her borderless love. I could resemble a worn scarecrow or discarded carved pumpkin; she wouldn’t care. Our house could have dirty windows with bedsheet drapes. It wouldn’t matter. (Our windows are properly clothed. I can’t make false claims about their condition.)

I made a card for my sister-in-law. I will give it to her, signed with Ann’s full name. Ann can have the dollar back. Of course, I won’t be surprised if I see it again. Marked to be given for someone else. I suspect this is what real-world love is all about.

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The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. (Lily Tomlin)

I perform everyday chores as if they were time tests. As soon as I sweep crumbs, more arrive. My frustration mounts. Time to delve into writing or art appears, and an emergency barges through.

Visits to a nursing home and a funeral change my course, speed, and perspective.

A friend suffers from a disease that stole his mind and body. He was a kind professor who taught English and speech. Now he writhes in torment. I want to help his wife and can only offer my arms and ears. Another friend died after fighting cancer. I hear her voice in my head and don’t want it to fade.

Marie and I sit together at the funeral. We observe both past and present. Long-term friendship with divine influence appears as we share. Now. Then. The confusing interim.

On the way home my phone’s directional app leads us south via a shorter route than the one we took north. We laugh as Marie drives through unfamiliar territory. An adventure based on trust. Eventually we will know where we are.

She knows my strengths and weaknesses. Directions fit into the latter. She smiles and assures me I can go anywhere. I have the tools. Her voice is soft yet reassuring.

Extending boundaries. A non-rat-race possibility. November has passed the center line. Both December and old age appear as expected. I see a reflection in the mirror that doesn’t match the one I recognize in my spirit. The person who dominates my dreams, day or night, doesn’t have an age. Sun fades in and out. Kindness exists in both.

I pray to respond to negative growls with prayer, to misunderstanding with patience. To ignorance with acceptance. As autumn fades into winter, may I find gifts inside chills. May all those who suffer find peace—through as many free-to-be-kind people as possible.

(Illustration is a water color painted at least twenty years ago.)

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If we fail to look after others when they need help, who will look after us? (Buddha)

Pool water makes movement easier. Jump and kick higher. Play like a kid.

I make eye contact with others in class who find the same freeing mood.

One lady, somewhat younger than I am, splashes and laughs as she plunges through. “My fat doesn’t protect me from the cold.”

A shine in her dark brown eyes, contrasting pale skin, radiates positive attitude. At the end of class I introduce myself. Stories about my grandchildren. My books, The Curse Under the Freckles and Stinky, Rotten Threats. She tells me about her family.

“I’ve never met a writer.” She reaches out and touches my hand. “I can’t read. I’d need a dictionary to spell no. Dyslexic.”

And yet I can’t move from her spell, the enchanting kind. She speaks of a deep faith. A different style than I understand. I don’t knock what works. The divine appears in multiple forms.

She’s worked as a cleaning lady for the wealthy. “Don’t come back if there is one dust ball in my bathroom,” one rich woman had said. This gentle cleaning lady understood the metaphor, the implied identity of the dust ball. She chose not to come back.

Days later I remember her, a power she carried. Perspective. The love she had for her husband who died eight years ago. He was a minister in her faith.

Problems appear in my life. Again. They always will. I see both solutions and losses. Neither affect personal worth. Or love from family.

The pool water washed away in a shower days ago. And yet, the touch of one ordinary woman’s hand remains with me. I pray to offer the same.

 

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We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorns have roses. (Alphonse Karr) A Tour Round My Garden)

A Thing Or a Gift: a Poem

One living branch juts out from

our blue spruce between bare spaces where only

the scars from amputated arms remain.

I name the branch hope.

 

My portable beater whipped eggs

and created batters for more than

twenty years. Finally, it wobbled

with the heat of hot, boiled potatoes.

I call the beater faithful.

 

A slim, modern replacement waits

in its box. A tool. An object, a thing.

Or a gift.

 

A cardinal pauses on a half-alive branch.

I celebrate now.

 

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(photo of the two children taken by Alice Zeiser)

I choose not to place DIS in my ability. (Robert M. Hensel)

Buddy Walk Day. The Saturday after Labor Day brings

A sea of shirts in bright colors. Yellow this year. Thousands.

One day without any uninformed person

dropping both eyes and mouth into parallel

frowns and an I’m-sorry. Down syndrome isn’t sad.

Apologies come after simple happenings.

Spilled water—nothing a napkin can’t handle,

or an it-took-me-forever-to-find-a-parking place.

Smiles follow. My granddaughter takes her cousin’s hand.

Or does he grab hers? It doesn’t matter.

This group knows we are all one.

And celebration comes naturally

when our common space is love.

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If we have no compassion it is because we have forgotten we belong to one another.
(Mother Teresa)

 

The Neighborhood, Delicatessen, and a Baby Squirrel

 

I hold my delicatessen number as if it had first-class boarding-pass value.

No neat queue waits for meat and cheese sliced as if

a thousandth-of-a-millimeter difference per slice mattered.

Customers stand scattered.

The woman with the number before mine

buys one slice of bologna. I wonder if that is all she can afford.

Her cart holds one marked-down loaf of generic white bread.

 

My thoughts wander to a neighbor.

Yesterday he asked my husband for a small loan.

This man performs chores for sub-adequate fees.

I want to contact him, give him a small job,

call the score even, then give him a tip.

 

I know the cashier. She rescued a baby squirrel after a predator

snapped off his mother’s head. I ask how he is.

Died on Monday, she answers. She continues to scan my purchases.

I tell her she did her best.

 

And we agree we can’t save the world

yet can’t stop trying.

I notice her silent tears but don’t mention them.

A neighbor’s phone number

is pegged on my home corkboard. Earlier, when I called

to offer him a gift, some loaves of bread,

more than what we needed,

his number had been disconnected. I nod.

We can’t stop trying.

 

originally published in For A Better World 2015

 

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No matter how many plans you make or how much in control you are, life is always winging it. (Carroll Bryant)

One more dead branch needs to be removed from our blue spruce; I haven’t faced the loss yet. The naked branch stays—with no hope of revival. The cost of maintaining the top branches is no longer worth it. The cost of removing the spruce is both high and final.

The tree was planted for our older son, Gregory, when he was a toddler. He’s in his forties now. He’s an accomplished writer. Greg’s newest book, The Dream Thief, is available for preorder. I have pictures of my son as a toddler as he watered the tree. It, too, was in early development.

The blue spruce once took over our front yard. Now, it has huge gaps between branches, like thought lapses. Warnings. The empty spaces will expand. And win.

Loss is never easy.

When a person dies loss plunges into deeper places. Several days ago, someone we have known for years, died. It feels unreal. I recall this woman on one hot day as she volunteered for kids with Down syndrome. Her face sweaty, her smile unaffected by the heat. Her gifts rooted in the hearts of so many people.

I think about this beautiful woman’s family. Friends. Grandchildren. And ask what happens next?

I consider the tree again, the one planted for my son, when my husband and I were proud of him for recognizing every letter of the alphabet before he was two. Now, his words touch minds and hearts. The tree won’t last much longer. My son and his talents affect many.

The woman who died suddenly, left a beautiful legacy and precious memories. May all who knew her embrace them.

Life is always winging it—with a lot of help.

For now, I celebrate hearing and giving kindness, laughter, the chance to offer an honest compliment. Peace, may it touch all, especially those who mourn.

May the green in today appear brighter, embraceable. For as long as possible.

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