The Woman Outside The Restaurant

The tiny woman peeks from behind a group of towering palms; the fronds a blowsy canopy offering shade from the searing afternoon heat. She is watching and waiting for the right moment. The restaurant patio full of people enjoying a meal, oblivious to the watchful eyes.  So much waste, she muses.

At first glance, the small woman fits in, looks like anyone seated outside a local burger restaurant. At a glance, she possesses a hip, fashion forward style.  The ball cap pulled down low on her forehead, tank top tight exposing thin, muscular, sun-kissed arms, board shorts falling to mid calf.  A pair of bright white tennis shoes, laced together, hang around her neck.  Why would a woman hang sneakers around her neck? At first glance she resembles a beautiful, blessed, and golden California girl.

Look again. The woman darts; quickly she rummages through open garbage bins, tipping discarded food bags, rooting out left overs, tossed scraps.  Carefully collecting discarded bits, she drinks from tossed soft drink containers. Her darkened, vacant eyes scan the bin’s contents. She is ready to scurry off at the first hint of confrontation. The shoes on her feet too large for someone so petite; they hinder her run. A sunken jaw; she is missing teeth.  This is not a blessed California girl. This woman is middle-aged, certainly homeless.

For a few moments, an uneasiness pricks as I eat; I have so much. Compassion twinges.  There is one who lives scuffling hand to mouth. Guilt simmers as I ponder; fear that the woman is any of us, someone’s mother, sister, aunt.  Shame that this country has so much suffering at its seams.

 

 

A Hug

“Ms M! Ms M!” the little boy’s voice calls out.  I turn and face a child standing at the end of the shop’s aisle, ball cap pulled down low to the brow, red tee and shorts, summer kissed skin.

“It’s me!” he says.  His big eyes twinkle, his smile wide and gappy; little fists clench together.

“It’s you!” I  gently reply.

He rushes forward, throws his arms around me, and looks up; sweet little rounded face.

It’s been three years since I taught him. I remember this child, a goer, always on the move.  Some mornings he shook me awake!  A thinker, a doer; building structures to navigate all across the carpet, surrounded by wooden blocks or hundreds of  Lego bricks.  Some days, castles stood lining the perimeter, other days building straws reached up, a tower to the sky.  Lego ships and rockets peeked out, partially hidden behind a book or from beneath a table, safe, waiting for another opportunity to play. Each afternoon as our time together came to an end, he’d pause on the landing, throw his arms around me; a hug good-bye.  Until the next day.

Some days, when it came time to work he would say, “I can’t,” or “I won’t.”

“Yes, you can and yes you will.” I’d reply, leading him to the table. Cross, the little head would lower, eyes narrow, as his small fist tightly gripped a crayon or pencil. Slowly, he realized, he would, he could.

“You did,” I’d say each time.  Our eyes meet; we leave each other with a smile.

He wanted to read and his excitement was to the moon when we finally found a reading series he connected with, the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems.

http://www.pigeonpresents.com/books.aspx

Teaching was a passion; every day an opportunity to laugh, learn, and play; to create memories. Truly, the biggest pay off is hearing a little voice call out,

“Ms. M, Ms. M, it’s me!”

Along with a hug.

It’s you, thank goodness! You made my ordinary day so much better. Your heart remains open; your sweet child’s face filled with joy.  Thank you for reminding me that it’s the positive connections we make with others that count most in life.  Lucky me, your teacher.

 

Strength in Struggle

 

 

Charles grew up working class poor. There wasn’t much money. Emigrating from England with parents and two sisters, settling in a small, bleak town. Land was available and his father saw an opportunity, the chance for more. The land harsh, unforgiving; the family scrapped on.

 

People living off the bleak land didn’t have much in the way of extras; if they did, they shared with another. They tirelessly toiled, hand to mouth, along with sent up prayers. Religion played an important role in their lives; they buried sweet babies in the local cemetery.

 

Charles lived respecting the principles of family, stay loyal and inclusive of one another. In later years, he dutifully went to his sister’s side to help a child she bravely and lovingly sheltered from an institution’s walls.

 

There was military service, an opportunity to travel and fight for freedom in the larger world. Charles believed in worker’s rights and fought to unionize railway workers. He stood alongside the great Tommy Douglas, a Canadian leader, carrying forth the hope and promise of social medicare.

 

My grandfather Charles was the quietest and gentlest of men. Through simple acts of kindness, small actions filled with compassion, I watched him and learned how to treat others. He watched over our mother, checking in on her; he loved us. His eyes could see the words we never expressed; his heartbeat strong when we faltered. We knew.

 

A fleeting presence in life, Charles was one of the first social responsibility role models I knew. Stand up, be brave, be kind, are actions he’d support. Sometimes, I imagine him seated at my table. Charles removes his felt fedora and pushes back a strand of hair; his starched white shirt, sleeves rolled to show just a peek of a mermaid’s tail on a forearm, a tattoo from long ago. I smile at the sight of red suspenders, a signature piece he wears clipped to the waistline of pressed khaki pants. Polished boots, the leather gleaming will rest for a spell.

 

We drink a cup of tea; Charles loved tea time. Sugar biscuits, Alice’s favourite, shine waiting on a floral china saucer. He sips and swallows the steeped brew. After a moment or two, I will update him on the comings and goings of life; he will hang his head. When he looks up, his misty eyes will focus upon mine. We know.

 

“It’s okay,” I say.

In that instant we both look away; we know it isn’t.

 

Charles will leave; time is fleeting. Life unrolls. One day I  open a newspaper to read an article about a brave action, a loyal stance; a union’s notice lending support for worker’s rights. I sit within the loving circle of family and friends, safe and valued. I’ve learned to listen to the pause between heartbeats; it is there in that fleeting space where he stands beside me.

We know.

It Was Love

Lately I awaken, the dream remnants lingering cast like a veil over form. An unanswered question hovers. Pushed aside, betrayed; shame surfaces. The frightened young woman deep within whispers, I must be flawed, something is wrong with me. The adult reasons, Perhaps not. Perhaps it was as simple as you didn’t fit in anymore.

 

I am his daughter, patiently holding silences. Chosen memories safe, I snug the precious moments, choosing to believe magical qualities endure. Perhaps not, perhaps fooled into believing an illusion of love.

 

I want to let him go; there are moments I turn and face the skies, a silent scream of anger for one who betrayed. Believing words that ring hollow. Never an illusion the memories stay, resurfacing at the moment between something to believe in and nothing. The unanswered question remains.

 

It is hard to trust. Pausing to view the world, once I ran to greet it, cautious now. Someone said,

“Find a way to let it go.”

When I find that way, it will be final. The world will darken a shade as I face the truth.

A hardened heart will alter. So you see, I hold on to him, cherish what I knew, all for a belief in love; I loved him so.

 

 

 

Broken Wings

 

 

The recently released Maleficent retells the classic fairytale, Sleeping Beauty, with a twist. The viewer gets to follow Maleficent’s point of view, step inside her complex mind and once tender heart to watch as she shows the events leading up to evil darkness. It is my all time favourite fairytale.

http://movies.disney.com/maleficent/video

 

In the beginning we see a joyful, spritely Maleficent, Princess and Protector of the Fairyland Moors, joyously winging throughout her kingdom. True to fairytale fashion, along trots a charming Prince. Maleficent possesses human qualities; she possesses an affectionate heart that she entrusts to a flawed Prince, a charming yet disconcerting combination of assets.

 

The pivotal, foreboding moment is the scene where the vulnerable Maleficent awakens upon the forest floor to discover her coveted dark wings cut off by the hand of the Prince, a man she loved. As her fingertips reach up to stroke the stump of a feathery soft wing, the reader senses impending doom. Betrayed, a haunting scream echoes throughout the moor, sending forth shivers of angst throughout the kingdom and beyond.

 

Betrayal

  1. Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship amongst individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations.
  2. Betrayal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal

 

The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies; it comes from those you love. There are degrees of betrayal, small slip ups to ever-increasing pulsations of anger, jealousy and rage. Greed is the deadliest betrayal and unfortunately too common a reason for a despairing action. Evil takes hold of mind and heart.

Of course light must trump darkness. Maleficent’s heart softens by a raven’s loyal friendship and enduring love from the child she betrayed at birth. There is madness. Our imprisoned Prince can’t escape the voices of his conscience or his yearning heart’s desire for Maleficent. Alas, the crown has tipped; it won’t be happily resolved for our doomed Prince.

 

As true to fairy tales, there is a happy ending.

Lana Del Ray’s hauntingly beautiful lyrics, “Once Upon a Dream”

We learn from fairy tales about good and evil, of how choice, especially greed affects another. We can choose to live from the heart.

 

Disclaimer

~ I know, I know. Stereotypes must stop; in life Princesses betray Princes. Hollywood are you listening?