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Friday, March 10, 2017

Neighbors




This was the little baby born at the time of this recollection
Really, instead of writing this I should be making various phone calls to make various appointments, but I am not.  I am drawn to the page to capture feelings of warmth and friendship instead.

Earlier this morning, my grandson and I went to visit our neighbor two doors over, and to bring them a present as a thank you for helping of us out of a tight bind several weeks ago. This is not the first time these steadfast, kind people have performed this gesture for me. Now it includes my grandchild as well.

 Thirty years ago, when we moved here, these neighbors had one son left at home out their six children. The eldest son had already passed away from muscular dystrophy at age eighteen, the four daughters that were born next were out in the world, this remaining son, also with muscular dystrophy, was the last in the nest.

Andy, who cheerfully rode past our house in his wheelchair with a tall flag waving was hard to miss. My young children would always run out to greet Andy as he passed  the house, and he would always stop and greet them with a smile. He was part of their life, and they were part of his, until he wasn't.

My other neighbor, Mrs. B called one day to share the news of  Andy passing away, she thought I would want to know. I did. I was pregnant  my third child, second girl, their loss seemed to hit me hard.  Making me aware of how hard it must be for Andy's parents.

So, we baked some brownies, picked some flowers, then together my three year old son, two year old daughter, I went over to somehow let her know how much we were feeling Andy's loss. As we handed over the brownies and flowers, my son said "my mom said you might be sad, but you don't look too sad to me". My embarrassment was acute, but Andy's mom laughed, being a old had with small children after bearing six of them, said, "I am sad, but happy to see you."

It wasn't too much longer before my daughter was born, and one day, Andy's mom walked over to our home bringing a gift for our newborn, with a shy request of could she hold our baby? As I placed the baby in her arms, my other two children requested my presence. (I wish I  could say the their request was made tactfully, but this is simply not the case.) Andy's mother said, you go on ahead, I'll sit here with the baby, not a problem. I'm not sure who was helping whom at this point, but nothing was said.

When she left to go home, she said to me, this little one helps to heal my heart. The truth of the matter Andy's mother has been helping to heal my heart for these last thirty years too.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trapped: like a rat in McGregor's garden

Clementine, our old dog


I am trapped by a situation of my own making.
I may be the only one who has the key that fits the lock.

but...
I am not sure I want out.

It is almost safe here.

Most certainly it is familiar,
and by that I mean comfortable.

I know the script,
very, very well.

The dance steps are well rehearsed,
and are performed without thinking.
(as all excellent dances are done)


After all, I am an old dog (so to speak) 
and this is a new trick.









Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Swedish Bakery or why I spend two hours waiting


Yesterday, I loaded my buddy into the car seat, and after buckling him in, departed for a nostalgic ride to the Swedish Bakery in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago.

Not my typical outing with a seventeen month old, nor even without a seventeen month old.

But...a institution was closing. A place where I have purchased cookies, birthday cakes, poppy seed pastries, cardamom coffee cakes and wedding cakes.

My fondest memories of the Swedish Bakery is of when my eldest daughter was in graduate school near the bakery. I would drive down early in the morning to the city, exiting on Cicero, heading south till I came to Foster.  Turning so I was facing the sun, I drove east to Andersonville, to care for my grandnephew so his parents could work.  I would circle the block hoping to find a parking space close to their home on Glenwood, then hustle in, so the parents could leave.
Poppyseed, something delicious


I would bundle the baby up in his stroller, walk
the morning away in the charming neighborhoods while waiting for my daughter to walk over after class. We would meet up at the bakery, get a "little treat" for later, find a bench along Clark street, sit and catch up while we indulged in our treat.

As the baby would gurgle and coo, We would look at each other and say, this is our future! Someday it will be my daughter will have a baby, we'll go to the bakery, walk these shady streets in conversation looking for the bench to eat our treat.






Getting another angle 
Those days we dreamed of will never come.  While my daughter is now with child, the bakery has closed it's doors as of today.  It had been feeding families for eighty-eight years.

SO, yesterday morning, my son's son and I went to the bakery to retrieve some "treats" to bring home to  enjoy the goodness one last time.  When we arrived, I knew it was going to be crowded, but I was amazed at just how crowded.  My number was C93, the number they were calling was B01. I had 192 people ahead of me.

Signs everywhere said, quantities will be limited. The cases were only partially full, very partially. There were people from all walks of life. I met a man who had driven in from Nebraska, another from Michigan, some from hours away, some from around the corner. One person I met had come three different days and had not been able to purchase anything before they were sold out, he was hopeful today. His number was one before mine.

There was a seventy-nine year old man, who had lived a block away from the bakery his whole life, asking people for computer recommendations, especially young looking people as he was sure they would know which would be best for him, as well as how he could retrieve his passwords. One elderly lady received a text from her daughter that her first grandchild was just born, unexpectedly early, and as a result was so overjoyed she was hugging other customers. (it was a girl, they named her Kaitlin Marie, incase you are curious)

There were hispanics speaking swiftly as only the native tongue can do with a language meant for speed. Japanese women, charmingly demure as they took their paper ticket.  Large burly men, shorter hipster boy/men with fuzzy beards and acne. African americans with long, long dreadlocks, my grandson waved shyly at this particular gentleman, who responded with a shy smile of his own.

Thin folks, medium folks, large folks, and even larger folks. A small boy, named Harry, who was wearing a green fake fur jacket that was lime green with matching furry pants and dinosaur shields on his head, who would randomly say to his mother, who was holding a small pink baby in her arms, "jump!" and she would jump as though this was the most natural action in the world while waiting in a bakery full of the international village.

My darling, buddy of a grandson, watched it all in awe. He watched in his stroller for one hour and fifteen minutes. Then, I released him from the seat and he walked underneath, between and on people's toes to get to the bakery cases to point out to me the muffins saying "EAT, EAT, EAT!"

One customer, who had just finished her purchase and was attempting to leave the bakery took pity on him (and me) and gave him a bite of a donut. Glee doesn't even come close to describing his delight at finding food falling from heaven into his mouth.

One customer, who was finally called to the counter for her turn, found her wallet was missing. The staff, a skeleton crew, all stopped to help her, as did all of the people waiting. After it was determined the wallet was not there, the police were called, the person next inline covered the cost so the line could keep moving. The police arrived, questions were asked, the next steps were taken outside, so we shall never know how that story ends.

I could go on and on for all of the amazing things that happened yesterday morning, but I  won't.

What I will say is; everyone helped each other, making sure no number was missed, doors were opened, people entertained each other's children to help pass the time, no complained, no one pushed, no one was crying out of frustration,(not even the small children and babies waiting) only out of sadness as there wouldn't be another morning spent in this bakery again.

And finally, after driving the hour home, my daughters, daughter-in-law, grandson, sons and husband all enjoyed a piece of the Swedish bakery one last time, and it was delicious.



Sunday, January 8, 2017

State of the World



1 hour old grandson


I could write about the snow that is said to be falling this week.
Or how it might be rain.

I could write about how the trees have gone to sleep,
Or how they will awake in spring.

I could write about how hearts can break.
Or how hearts can mend.

Instead, I will write;
snow or rain, broken heart or mended,
trouble or trifles,

Nothing is safe,
but all is well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

It is not a perfect world...


One of the golden curled babies.


Neither are we
as we dwell within it.

Though...
There are moments,


Tiny, delightful moments
when breezes flow through
the transomed windows.

Sun beams,
glistens off a baby's golden heads.
as unseen breezes ruffle their hair.





Slow smiles slip
into view
as recognition dawns,
while the wind  kisses
skin without leaving a mark.

Small heads bob
over the ends of pews,
while I watch,
the race,
of these little ones,
run with glee,
to get to the seat up front.

These moments of sunshine,
are shared by God,
through colored glass,
with all of us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Never too Late

Recently knitted chicken, which, as always seems to the case,
has nothing to do with anything.

It is never too late to love,
(or so I've been told...)

Maybe.

In order for this to be so,
the heart must be open
Willing to love,

While at the same time,
one must also be willing to love;
the fractured,
the difficult,
the challenging,
and last but not least,
the ones that seem to be totally unlovable.
(Which sometimes is me.)





Friday, June 17, 2016

Ode to Grandmas


Silhouettes of  some of my, now grown, babies.  Yikes!



Some women sit alone,
(of which I may or may not, be one)
all day in kitchens,
remembering the
sounds of the small voices
of those who played at their feet.

(Or fought, depending on the day or minute.)






Once crowded minutes
which were full of:
words,
noise,
squabbles,
housekeeping,
quick smiles, quick tears,
quickly emptied to stillness,
over the years.

(dog barking, is not the same, thought it does break the quiet, unfortunately)

Women working,
waiting, wondering where
other's babies,
who visit, are.

More;
small voices,
quick smiles, quicker tears,
which quickly enter into the heart,
and take up residence.

(glad these babies go home, to return, again)

Paradoxical by nature, love.

In order to truly grow,
one must give it away,
so it will return.*




* the trick of parenting, if indeed there is a trick, is to have your children grow up into adults that do not need you, but want you. Or as I like to say, could survive in the wild (of life).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Light Bulb: I do not mean a new idea.

 
Something I made long ago, and of course,
has nothing to do with anything I have written here.


It is true.
A light bulb has
eluded me for ages.

Metaphor?
Perhaps.

But, at this moment,
my forever friend,
is attempting to change it.

Love personified (as it it very late).

Tools:
Lamp
Mirror
Manual
Screwdriver (useless)

Patience along with---

Ingenuity at work.

SO far,
I am validated.
It may well be
impossible to remove,
and install a new one.

Which is,
kind of like most things
in my life that need repair right now.

All require patience.
All require ingenuity.
All have to be done with love.






Saturday, May 28, 2016

True Stories




The only events I have manged to be early for, listed in order of occurrence are:
One of my babies, all grown up. 

1. My own birth

2. My second child's birth

3. My third child's birth

4. My fourth child's birth.

The events I have been late for, listed in order of occurrence:

1. My wedding

2. Picking up my first child from nursery school on the first day of school.

3. Picking up my third child from her flight from the airport.

4. Taking my second child's flight to the airport

All of these have a story, which of course, now seem very funny, at the time, not so much, I will share the early events, and maybe at another time the late ones. The early ones, were totally out of my control, the late stories, well, maybe not my best moments.

1. My own birth: I was born on the front lawn of the hospital on a warm June evening, six weeks early. I was the fifth child, so that may have accounted for the speedy delivery (to borrow a phrase from Mr. Rodgers).  So my poor mother brought me into this world just outside the front door of the maternity entrance to the hospital.  When she received the bill from the hospital, listed on it was a charge for the delivery room.  My mother was incensed. The bookkeeper at the hospital response was, " but it was such a mess, and the clean up was awful, and there isn't a line item for that kind of situation so we just called the delivery room."  I do not know what my mother's response was to this as she has never  shared that part of the story with me.  What she did share was this: an elderly woman from our church, who called every one "kid", said to my mother the next time they met, "Kid, the funniest thing happened the other day. I was vising Gertrude at the hospital, and a lady was giving birth on the front lawn, imagine that!"  My mother's response?  "you don't say, how funny" never cracking a smile.

2. My second child was born six weeks early in September. After visiting the doctor in the morning with my husband, and the OB saying to my husband, it's okay for you to go into work, it will be a while, and my husband taking me to my mother's with a fifteen month old in tow, I waited.  I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally at 3:00 pm I dialed the doctor's office and said my water is leaking a lot, and the doctor saying, get in here, and not being able to reach my husband, my step-father drove me to the hospital.  When we got the front door and I let myself out of the car, my step-father waved and pulled off before I could hardly get the door closed.  There I was, a waterfall with child.  I walked into the hospital, walked upstairs to the maternity ward, dripping all the way, and was admitted.  Someone finally found my husband, which meant he arrived about an hour and a half after I was into this process of having a baby, and when the nurse looked at him and said, "it might be a while, maybe you should go get something to eat" interrupted by me saying, "if you go, don't come back." Maybe not my finest response, but, there you have it.

3. My third child was born twenty-five days early. It was the coldest day in January, so I felt the need to go shopping and get a few baby gifts to be sent to friends that had produce new progeny as of late.  I still feel sorry for the young girl in the local children's store. The reason is, as she was wrapping up the gifts, my water broke. I mean really broke. I had a sneaking suspicion she was the one that was going to have to clean that mess up. I paid for the gifts and left to find out that 40 below zero and your water breaking are not a good combination.

4. My last child was also born twenty-five days early. My husband still accuses me of breaking the water with my knitting needle, but this simply is not true. I had been to the local children's store in the morning to send a few baby gifts as our friends seem to be children progeny almost as quickly as we were, but lucky for them, my water waited until I was home.  (They just didn't know about the bullet they dodged).  The water broke so loudly on that very warm May day, my husband, who is a good person, while washing windows, putting screens up, heard it several rooms away.  The arrival was forty-five minutes later, and happily for us all, at the hospital, in a delivery room, not on the front lawn.



Monday, May 2, 2016

Open Window

Proof positive, things have changed


The curtains are open today.  A sight I have never observed in the thirty years I have lived here. Mrs. B is now in a cubicle home, in a town ten miles away. As it is morning, the sun must now be shining on a floor not use to seeing natural light.  I wonder, does the carpet plead for shade? For of course, the wood floors are carefully covered in wall to wall wool carpet, or does it revel in it, like a sleek cat finally finding warmth?

On her moving day, I walked over through the wet, rainy day to visit her one last time as my next door neighbor. Her carefully cared for living room was covered in boxes, papers, and used gift bags all looking like a tornado had arrived, and stayed without welcome.

She was perfectly coiffed. She was assuring herself, as well as me, this was all for the best, though it was difficult to leave, she wanted the place in town, but it was too expensive, so this really was best.

I reminded her of when we first moved here, her mother, her little dog, Pepe.  She remembered how her first home was above her father-in-law's grocery store in the next town, and they only spoke Italian. The building of her home, how happy she was to have a house to raise her children. A boy, then a girl.  Her hearing aids in today, allowed for the conversations that in the past had eluded us.

All the while her son and daughter-in-law packed boxes reassuring me they would find really nice renters for the house. This intertwined with how much better this will be as they are't able to be there all of the time, and ...

Mrs. B's erect body slowly folding into a chair, slightly shaking, causing me to fight the tears, as I said, I will come visit you, bring my grandson, all the while wishing somehow I had more to offer. Her face lighting up, while tears leaked out, saying how much she would like that.

As I took my leave, after carefully writing down the address, phone number of her new home, along with the son's number, I walked  home, slowly in the rain, which seemed only fitting as my tears were falling in the same steady stream.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fencing in Words>


Not glamorous, but the view I have had for thirty years...

April is coming to an end, May is around the weekend, and I am herding words onto a blank page. Baby is asleep, dishes wait, with no remorse, in the sink, with crumbs of  breakfast clinging, while I contemplate the silence of my sanctuary.

I have lived in this home for thirty years, while my neighbor, Mrs. B has lived in her home for fifty years. Today, she is moving into a new home, at least new to her.  Did she see this day coming or was the advance one of  stealth?

As I type this, I am able to see her solid brink house built by her husband with Italian hands.  Mr. B has been gone, though she has often said, she still expects him to walk in for a few words to bicker over, probably ten years. He was erect, walked with tiny steps on tiny feet, used a ham radio, groomed his yard with a manicurist care.

I think they prescribed to my husband's Irish gran's school of neighbors, "High fences make good neighbors.", though there wasn't any fence, just honeysuckle bushes, routinely trimmed one a year , with much care and a string to maintain the equal height as he cut along the row. He had an engineer's precision, and a temperament that did not interfere with his goal.

Sometimes, he would offer sage advice to our children, "wear shoes, missed a stripe with the mower, or clip the peonies after they bloom." Which, of course, surprised them as normally he was the silent one. Mrs. B on the other had, was the talker. She had worked in the bank where the children had savings accounts.When we would make our sojourns into that staid, silent establishment, to deposit money, but really to receive a tootsie pop, they were always surprised to see Mrs. B and always caught off guard when she knew who they were, for they, in their hearts, believed they were invisible to her when at home playing in the back yard. Funny how that is.


Anyway, she is moving, which for some reason, I find also moving. She was probably the age I am now, when we moved into this house with only two children, one on the way, no knowledge of the fourth that was to come after the third. Mrs B's  mother lived with her then, a white haired woman, and because she spoke only Italian, I never was able to communicate with.

As long as I have lived here, I have never seen the shades on the east side of her house open, even today they are drawn, closing out the morning light. I have only ever been inside her house a handful of times, though she has been in my home many times. I do know she has two kitchens, which I had never heard of before meeting her. I was in awe of this piece of information as cleaning one seemed like enough work for me. Since then, I have come to know many people with more then one kitchen.

(in fact, there is a house for sale not far from me that we call 'three kitchen" and can barely constrain myself from going to the open house to see exactly how this is laid out as it is small three bedroom ranch, not a mansion, which would seem a more likely candidate to house three kitchens, don't you think?)

These last few years with out her husband have been very trying for her. I know this for a fact as she has set off her burglar alarm with abandon at all times of the day. The difficult part is, she is very, very hard of hearing, doesn't wear her hearing aids in the house, and cannot hear the alarm when is it gong off.  Alerting her to the fact it is going off, after one ascertains it is an error is even trickier.

Then, of course, her house was broken into while she was at the Italian Women's luncheon, and fear has now won the day.  Nor can I blame her.

We are connected by time, proximity, and sentences, and I will miss knowing she was there.  









Thursday, April 21, 2016

Levitating

The Patient Man, I Love


I lie awake, levitating*,
while  you slumber beside me.


My annual respiratory distress,
thankfully,
is not distressing your sleep.

This unfortunate malady,
allows me the luxury,
of meditating on you.

Once again,
realizing how your life,
has made mine possible.




*Gotta love nebulizer treatments