Once Upon A Dream

 

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The tumble of breaking waves are summoned in an instant. Although miles from an ocean, I still hear their sound. Water rushes forth. The notes settle, music one can’t forget. Pounding, rushing, and rolling. Mesmerized, I entangle with a force stronger than any I know.

Long ago, in those moments of nature and youth, we stood on a sandy beach. Under the light of the stars, we were bewitched by the moon. La Luna charmed us into believing that magic happens. Through childish eyes, we imagined sailing away in an old salvaged boat. Mermaids frolicked in sea-foam while King Neptune navigated our voyage. We hummed the ocean’s lullaby as the wooden boat was gently rocked by waves. It was a beautiful moment in time.

The sea’s melody plays round and round my head. Such is the glory of the ocean. Like an orchestra, the heavenly musicians mesmerized us. The haunting notes begin slowly, rise to a rumble. The push and pull gathers frenzied momentum, until finally crashing to the shore. Then the crescendo repeats. Driven by passion and power, the ocean sings for the moon. I remember.

 

For several years of childhood, we’d vacation at a rustic resort on Vancouver Island. To our way of thinking, the winding roads to Kye Bay stretched forever. “Are we there yet?” Familiar words to parents of young children and we were no exception to the rule. It felt as if we passed too many bays from Oyster to Fanny until the car finally came to a full stop.

Those were joyous moments. We had our father near. On the mainland there were always projects to complete, gardens to plant, and places to go. Life was a scramble. On the island he was ours. The pace slowed, the workload lessened, and time paused. It was more than enough.

~Lana Del Ray

 

 

 

A Gentleman

“Grandfather, Great Spirit,

Once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.”

~Black Elk

It wasn’t a fancy car but it was reliable. My Grandfather drove an aging Valiant Wayfarer utility wagon. This was in keeping with his humble style. A simple man, my grandfather had his own brand of street style. An aura of authenticity hovered over him. I imagine that it pleased him to note that the Valiant was manufactured in Australia.

A plaid wool blanket was folded across the Valiant’s back seat. This gentle touch offered soft comfort for a snuffling Boxer named Mitzi. In the winter months it provided warmth from the chill. Along the road of life, Mitzi and Grandfather traveled as true companions.

I recall Grandfather tidy in a crisp white shirt, sleeves rolled to the forearm. Look again and you’d glimpse a tattoo; the lower half of a mermaid’s fin. Overtop of his shirt, he wore leather- tabbed suspenders. They attached to buttons hidden under the waistband of his pressed woolen pants. His low boots appeared oiled. The leather had the sheen of rubbed chestnuts. A copper bracelet encircled his right wrist. He believed that the power of this element bewitched and tamed the demon called arthritis.

Understand, my grandfather needed the full use of his hands. They were his tools. An oiler by trade, he knew the most intimate parts of a boiler’s engine. His intuition understood every hiss, puff, and pause of machinery. His strong hands worked the land. Muscled arms heaved soil, necessary to build shelter for family. Born on the land, he was a descendent of carters and farmers.

My grandfather was a gentleman in more ways than one. A trademark felt fedora graced his head. This was the only fashionable touch of formal style he held to. It recalled a time of common etiquette and classy formality. He practiced simple courtesies such as opening doors for women. When a lady entered the room, he stood and removed his hat.

When I learned to drive a car, we would meet in the country. Grandfather had a precious sister that he visited each week. It was their ritual yet they made room for me.

Together we’d cruise in the Valiant. His favourite spot was a nearby provincial park. Gravel crunched under tires as the car wound along the rough roads. Finally, Grandfather would park the Valiant in a clearing. “Time for some fresh air,” he’d say. As we walked into the forest, my grandfather would pause to point out the trees.

“That’s a cypress. Notice the small, woody cones,” or whisper, “Look up. Find the tallest tree. Over there.” He’d stand stone still while my eyes followed skyward from the point of his finger. “There’s an eagle’s nest in that fir tree.”

When our time together ended, grandfather walked to my parent’s car and opened the driver’s door. He waited as I settled behind the wheel.

“Drive carefully,” he’d caution. “I’ll go on ahead. Follow me along the highway. I’ll lead you back to the turn off and then be on my way home.”

The dark two- lane highway was dangerous to drive. Evergreens rustled and swayed. Sometimes, I’d lag behind in speed and when that happened, he’d pull over to the shoulder of the road and wait for my car to catch up.

Up ahead, I’d see my grandfather’s car stopped and waiting. The car’s lights shone upon the Valiant. A man wearing a fedora stood tall. As I passed by, my grandfather doffed his fedora. It was our signal. We could both carry on into the night and find our way home.

A staunch fighter for worker’s rights and health care for all, he believed in bettering community. As a younger man, he rode the train from Alberta to the West Coast. At the city’s terminal station, he stood strong with the other unemployed and desperate men. Beat up and ordered to leave town, the men stood stronger together. Those were the meanest years of the Great Depression. He took whatever work he could find.

A loyalty to Queen and a new country shaped his nationalist spirit. One World War had been enough for his scarred body and gentle mind. In search of family and the opportunity to own land, he emigrated from England to Canada. The familiar grassy hillsides and vast farmlands would become a memory. His tender heart coveted memories of childhood and family left.

It was the tilt of his head that I recall. The way in which it tipped ever so slightly left. It was as if he had purposely paused a beat in time or stalled the moment. I sensed he felt the need to fully appreciate whatever was before him. Perhaps he knew too well how quickly moments vanish. A shy smile and twinkling eyes lent him humble, boyish charm.

This unassuming man possessed a gentle spirit and a watchful eye. At certain times in our life, he suddenly appeared. I believe he sensed the need to connect and guide. In those moments we exchanged few words. It wasn’t necessary. He was loyal and protective.

To me, he was known as grandfather. In his presence I felt the buzz from the purest magic, sent forth by an unseen hand. The magic came from a place beyond reason and beyond us. It felt real and true. In youth, I did not appreciate the gifts he gave me. They weren’t material in form, yet they were significant. These invisible gifts shaped me into the woman I have become. When I forget who I am, I close my eyes and remember.

Occasionally I drive along the stretch of highway that we used to travel. Whenever I do, I think of him. The winding road is now straight. Two lanes of highway became four. The ancient trees that rustled in the darkness are gone, long ago clear-cut. Behold an expansive housing development that continues for miles. Now, endless light shines from a stretch of apartment windows, illuminates the darkness.

Up ahead I see him. He is patiently waiting. Passing by, he tips his hat.

We wonder if the smallest actions matter. They do.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

A Dream

Her words written on an email~ I had a strange dream last night.  Tell me more, I wrote back.  These are her words.

I was sitting on a beach, tracing shapes into sand, watching as the grains shifted, the sand bits refusing to stay put, rearranging themselves, she wrote. A man came into view.  He looked to be in his early seventies and was wearing a navy cloth baseball style jacket; the same style that he used to wear.  Do your remember that jacket, Grace? The man stood and watched, met my stare.  I saw compassion in his weary eyes.  The man did not speak, merely stood in front of me.  It was surreal, as if time had stopped.

There were no words exchanged between us, no need to check the reasons, expose the painful events and emotions that tore us apart.  There were no scores to settle.  We simply met on a beach and faced one another. Then he turned and walked away toward the sun’s rise.

Dad came to say, “good-bye” to me.  He waited twenty years. 

December’s Words

Your last, whispered words spoken were, “I love you, honey.” It is as if the words floated through the air between us and found their way inside, under my skin, pumped through my blood stream until they found their home.  The four little words tattooed on my heart. Those four little words have a surging, pulsating power of their own.  The power to reassure me when I doubt, the power to comfort when sadness seeps in, and the power that allows me to offer a hand in forgiveness when I find myself in the midst of anger. Questioning. Just words spoken.  Still, words hold such colossal power over our mind.

On the anniversary of your passing, I take comfort in those four little words for I was wandering lost in a forest of uncertainty and doubt.  Frightened and fearful.  To walk away from a loved one, one must reach a grey place.  For there is no joy in this act. Then, one must switch off a piece of heart cell, much like one switches off a light.  Click, done, off.  Only then, is it possible to turn around and walk away.  Well, almost possible for it never gets easier, just possible.  The scar thickens, providing a protective barrier. For this is what happens when hearts break, something penetrates deep inside, thickening and scarring the core of life.  Just words that hold the power to pull us together, reconnect us, healing our brokenness.  Bits and pieces fall away from our shell until I imagine us finally gone.  As you are now, gone from my life.

I love you, dad.  Just four little words sent forth on a winter wind to you.  Catch them,  tattoo them on your heart.

x

The Treasured Book of Words

This morning, I discovered a scrapbook containing snippets of poetry, phrases, and words.  My Grandmother, Alice’s little bespoke Book of Words. Wise words, words to ponder, words to inspire. Words that caught her eye.  I’m assuming that these words spoke to her.  From the poems depicting gardens of pansies, injured birds, rolling kittens, little boys, struggles and hardships, lowly rats, and the evidence of whimsy that I recall, I have been allowed a deeper, sliver glimpse into the reflective soul of the woman I called, Grandma.

Judging by the many clips, Parenting, was a topic that caused our Alice to pause and reflect.  I often wonder about the relationship that she had with her son, my father.  Judging from the poems scrapped carefully into the, Book of Words, Alice, as so many mothers before and after her, was filled with a spirit of hope and promise, at times disappointment, sadness, worry, and longing. Evidence of a dear and precious love was locked in her heart.

I’d like to share this poem from my grandmother’s Book of Words, with you and I wonder if Alice was feeling some regret over family words spoken that once set free, can not be taken back.  It reminds us to celebrate our children’s individuality and their successes, reminding us that success is personal and goals will and should differ. Unconditional love and meaningful praise feeds the soul and the heart.

Which Parent Are You?
I got two A’s, the small boy cried.
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very bluntly asked,
Why didn’t you get three?
Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said,
Did you sweep the floor?
I’ve mowed the grass, the tall boy said,
And put the mower away.
His father asked him with a shrug,
Did you clean off the clay?
The children in the house next door
Seem happy and content.
The same things happen over there,
But this is how it went:
I got two A’s, the small boy cried.
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very proudly said, That’s great;
I’m glad you belong to me.
Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said,
Each day I love you more.
I’ve mowed the grass, the tall boy said,
And put the mower away.
His father answered with much joy,
You’ve made my happy day.
Children deserve a little praise
For tasks they’re asked to do,
If they’re to lead a happy life,
So much depends on you.

~ Badger Legionne

(approximate date~1930)

The Daily Prompt~ Junk

MirrorDaily Prompt: Clean House

by michelle w. on September 29, 2013

Is there “junk” in your life? What kind? How do you get rid of it?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us JUNK.

A clean and tidy house calms me, assures that all is right with my world. Clean as in floors washed, dishes scrubbed, trash contained and clean as in visually calm and pleasing to the eye, everything in its place, ship-shape, serene.  There is an order to the spaces and pieces in my home, purposely placed to show their function, use, or aesthetic beauty.  Artful placement.  Nothing mumble jumble. It has always been this way for me, a comfort comes in knowing and visualizing where everything is and why it is.  Addicted to order and beauty, addicted to calm.  I fear chaos.

I am addicted to order and beauty yet I can not pass by that one-off chair sitting by the curb, discarded, worse for wear.  I can see possibilities and beauty.  A project.  Junk to you, treasure to me.  Lately, I am drawn to shades of blues and greys, reminiscent of oceans and skies, the shades changing with the hour and the light. Moody shades.  Addicted to shape.  I touch all that is round, smooth, and cool.  Rocks, chestnuts, shells, pottery bowls, and glass are heaven in my hands.  Lately, I am addicted to words, those prolific, simple quotes that complete a thought.  I selectively search them out, books, notecards, posters, pillows, words grace my space.  Junk to you, treasure to me.

Junk challenges and over the years I have attempted to deal with that aspect in my life.  Recycling when I can, discarding if I must, choosing with a selective  eye, finding a home for each item, or walking away.  When I see an item of beauty, it is the history that captivates me, the memories evoked, the stories.  I am addicted to the stories that the pieces whisper forth as they sit in the thrift shop, or beside the curb.  Sometimes, I falter and bring them along home, lovingly restoring and coaxing new life to the damaged shapes. Finding a place for the old.  Junk to you, treasure to me.

Junk can clutter a home; it can clutter a life.  Lately, I have decided to deal with the debris in my soul, sweeping it off and dusting over the scratches.  Polishing up the shabbier pieces, illuminating the beauty and shine, finding my voice. It requires one to be brave, take a risk.  It is difficult to let go and scatter the broken bits, the memories we frantically cling to.  Some of these memories will find a place in a story, some banished, others will be forgiven, planting the seeds of hope and promise. Junk to you, treasure to me.

Oh~ and I will purposely leave a cup out-of-place.  I will walk away.

Building Bridges

There comes a time when you realize that some matters can’t be figured out, that over thinking a situation is futile, answers aren’t forthcoming.  Sometimes you just have to listen to your heart.  Thus, it came to me.  I decided to change the story. The one that I had lived, the one that I had told myself for far too long.  I decided to build a bridge to Promise.  Not that I didn’t ever try.  Previously, I constructed a ramp.  Before that, another attempt, many attempts, in fact. Always, my efforts created a temporary, precarious structure that offered an opportunity to cross over to a hopeful promise, from the abyss to solid, level ground, to the promise of belonging, the promise of forgiveness.  Always, I would start the precarious journey, gingerly stepping away from the safety of the zone I had created.  Always, I would make it to the half waypoint where I would falter, afraid to push on.  The voices whispering, Go back. I would listen.  First came fear, stealthily overtaking my head, moving downward to tangle my heart, finally paralyzing my movements, until my body ached to return to the safety of the land called, Limbo, the place where action isn’t required, where one waits until another day, a maybe later place. A place where indecision becomes a comfortable existence. Where we take missed opportunities to the grave.  Where I wait for you to offer your hand.

Limbo Land is a dangerous place to exist. Within the walls, too much thinking occurs, not enough action.  Limbo time fools one into believing that there is always enough of it. Maybe later is the brand chosen to announce this place.  Someone is wrong, I am right, maybe later, are the mantras.  Individuals walk around smiling, holes in their souls, constantly seeking to fill themselves up with anything, anything that numbs the pain and allows one to accept, maybe later.  It is a land that allows reflection time.  Just be aware, it does not require one to take action. After all, actions speak louder than words.  You can exist in Limbo Land; you just can’t live there.  Fear is the ruler and like a despot, Fear will always silence that seedling voice inside of you, the one that whispers, What if? Maybe now?  Stay awhile, just be aware nothing is ever accomplished and nothing will ever improve when you are lounging in this joyless place.

Perhaps, the saddest souls inhabiting Limbo are the  drifters, ones that have turned their backs on one another, so-called, family.  Ones connected by similar DNA, shared blood lines, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. Our sisters and brothers, our mothers and fathers.  What on earth is worth more than those sacred relationships? We cry the same tears.  Doors close, wars rage on.  In the silence of the night, as we prepare to sleep, do we find a quiet calm? Or do we mourn for an open door, acceptance, forgiveness, and restored peace in our world? We are all connected and when one link of the chain breaks, we are each weakened by the snap. Forgive, reach out, come back, are the sorrowful, yet, hopeful words that whisper from beyond Limbo.  Be still and listen, you will hear the whispers on the back of the winds that blow across the deep abyss that separates Limbo from Promise. Perhaps you will hear my voice.  I sit beneath the stars and pray.  Maybe later.

We have waited long enough. Sometimes you just have to listen to your heart.

Writing Contest Stories

I’ve been testing my wings.  Writer and Educator, Luanne, from the blog, Writer Site, recently hosted a writing contest.  The story entries will be posted on Luanne’s site, writersite.org  throughout the week.  My story, The Lady’s Coat, is posted today!  Please take some time to read the judged entries.  Writers can appreciate the process of writing and the brave spirit necessary to “publish” one’s “darlings!” A special “thank you” to Luanne and the esteemed judges,

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

for offering this exciting opportunity to the writing community.  With my amazon.com award, I have ordered a hard cover version of the Newbery Medal Winner, Where The Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin http://gracelin.com/.  I chose a hardcover, paper to touch book as a gift for my “dear” one and my hope is that she will treasure this gift through time.  I want my dear to enjoy print and words as much as I do.  Follow your dreams!

My entry, The  Lady’s Coat, is posted onto writersite.org

I hope you enjoy, The  Lady’s Coat.

Thrift Store Coat
Grace’s Thrift Store Persian Lamb Coat

writersite.org

Sincerely,

“Grace”

~ Lynne

x

Topsy

Topsy

Alice ‘s treasured parti-colored cat, Topsy, would sun on the stone path that wove around the pansy garden.  Toffee markings with a touch of chocolate, black around the paws, Topsy was a fine specimen of cat.  A bit of a tortie, Topsy was the exception to the rule that parti-colored cats were usually female. A bit of a Tom, Topsy ruled the lane ways in search of a feline to prance around cat town.  Oh, the stories he could tell.  Perhaps he shall.

A giant specimen of cat, Topsy would guard the back door, much like a sentry.  One eye open just enough to take a peek, the other ignoring the world.  A flick of the tail, thud, thud, thud.  Counting the seconds of time, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting bee or bird.  Perhaps, a mouse or rat?

A fine mouser, Topsy ‘s whiskers knew every nook and every cranny of the small house from the dank, darkness of the crawl space to the clutter of the knick knacks that adorned his mistress’ home.  Just the sound of her voice and old Topsy came a running.  There was always food~ a tidbit or two from the tabletop.  Perhaps a touch of salmon?

Topsy was King of the Place and he lorded rank over the creatures that frequented the pansy garden.  Even the dog in the neighbouring yard knew better than to mess around with Topsy.  After all, one should never underestimate Topsy’s scratch.

Such an unusual name~ Topsy!  Who names their pet, Topsy?  Why not, Prince or King Leo?  Those are fine names, fit for the likes of a calico mix.  A calico like myself.  A fine mouser.  A loyal pet for dear, simple, Alice.  After all, my ancestors herald from Spain.  Spanish royalty, symbol of good luck.  Perhaps a talisman for Alice?

Topsy contemplated these questions as he lay sunning himself on the stones that wove around the pansy garden.  There was much to watch as he noted the comings and goings from house to house.  The stories I could share, thought Topsy.  People are such fools; they assume that no one is watching, no one sees their deceptive ways.  Who is this child that watches me, shying away from my stare?”

When I met Topsy, he was older and wiser with many stories to tell, pleased to inform you that he shared quite a few.  You might be surprised at the information I have.  Perhaps, I shall share.  A tid bit or two.

I regret to inform you that Topsy’s final days on earth were disconcerting, filled with struggle, hardship.  Unable to stand, Topsy literally became his namesake.  Many a day, I would right him off the ground, until one day it was all too much for Topsy.

Topsy is in Heaven above and Alice has joined him.  They are happy to be reunited.  After all, they were loyal friends and comrades, traveling side by side since the beginnings of time.  Topsy continues to lie on the stone path that weaves around the pansy garden.  Topsy keeps one eye open, just enough to take a peek, however, don’t be fooled into thinking that he isn’t watching the comings and goings.  Oh, the stories he could tell.  Perhaps he shall.

There is a stray Manx that has appeared just outside my garden gate, sleeping, one eye open, just enough to take a peek, on the stone path that winds through the roses.   A bit of a tortie, this stealthy beauty appeared one winter’s morn and has returned nearly every evening since.   It has been several years.  Hidden under the hedge, the cat waits for my return, rolling over to greet, snuggling up to meet.  It waits like a sentry, guarding my home.  Is it a sign from Alice? A reminder, she is watching from the heavens above, a symbol of good luck?  I have no answer to your comments yet I sense a presence watching the comings and goings of the house, gathering up stories to tell.   Perhaps we shall.