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Passions in Poetry

serenity's interactive journal

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serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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100 posted 02-28-2004 08:23 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

The first dead body I'd ever truly seen was the body of my father. I had, of course, seen many friends and loved ones "in state", but never had I witnessed death in open eyes like that, vacant and staring, frozen forever in what looked like wonder to me. He was gone.

Gone--that is such a hard-hitting reality. I understood in a split second that "hell" is absence. Absence of light--the absence of love... a sound came from deep inside of me, guttural and sharp, like an animal under attack, and I remember saying "Oh Dad..." as I went to him to kiss his forehead for the last time. Not sure of my intent, my uncle had tried to stop me, but the look in my eyes seemed to shove him back, and he let me go, nodding weakly, then looking down embarrassed to witness such an intensely personal moment. I had no urge to shut my father's eyes. I wanted them to go on forever. I saw the blood dried around his mouth and wept fully then, worried about the pain he may have felt. A thought crossed my mind then that has been plaguing me with guilt ever since--I was glad. Glad it was over for him, glad he'd finally escaped the prison of pain his body had become. To this day, I try to justify that thought--I tell myself that it may well have been the most unselfish thought I'd ever had--but there is a child in me that wants her Daddy, and she is still furious with the adult "me" that could look at the body of her beloved Dad and think "Good." The shame of that is so deeply ingrained, that this is the first time I confided that thought to anyone at all.

My father didn't want to leave. He told me once, after one of his many stays in the hospital, that "Life is good." He'd said it with conviction, too. The impact of him, standing there, voicing that, with his oxygen tank three feet away, gave me some sort of stubborn strength. There is something in me that just won't "give".

He was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after my parents celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. At that time, he was still a strong and robust man, with a big ole pot belly that I loved to smack playfully. I used to tell him that he had "great tones" there, and he would giggle--yes my father giggled--while I played "conga" on his stomach and sang "Babalou..."

Smile. My father delighted in me.

I could tell.

His blue eyes lit up so fiercely happy that I could feel the warmth of them on me as I would walk in the front door.

Part of my grief is the knowledge that no man is ever going to look at me like that again. My joy is that I had one man who did.

I'm a daddy's girl and I rejoiced in being that. I really wasn't prepared for the anger that followed when he died.


Duncan
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101 posted 02-28-2004 08:58 PM       View Profile for Duncan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Duncan

Have missed you and these...
Nightshade
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102 posted 02-28-2004 08:59 PM       View Profile for Nightshade   Email Nightshade   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nightshade's Home Page   View IP for Nightshade

I understand completely kiddo.

serenity blaze
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103 posted 02-28-2004 10:15 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

It's strange, so strange, the things you feel you have to do when there is a death in the family. Shopping for clothes, for instance. We're not the sort of family who keeps shoes and suits on hand for kids who grow two inches overnight. So I went shopping. And every step was heavy, and I felt like I was further betraying my father with every step and every breath I took.

Shock.

It's a sympathetic biological response, but I didn't and couldn't recognize that this feeling of disassociation--being underwater and detached--was a coping mechanism. "How can I be shopping?" Then the mixed emotions, seeing my son in a suit, looking manly, and my daughter prim and perfect in her veddy proper attire. I buried the burst of pride I felt with a shovelful of shame--it seemed so disrespectful.

and then there was this--


I thought of the burial of my beloved Dog as we shopped; (and yes, I felt more guilt for the comparison) My dog Bubba, was an adored dog. I won't say that he was "like a child" to me--because I don't dare tempt the gods of tempered understanding by being so offhand with such an analogy. I have become more cautious with what I "throw out there". Still though, I recalled the morning that Bubba died, and how I was glued to my chair, unable to comfort him. I'm still not sure if he would have known I was there, but I witnessed his death. That was the first and only leaving of spirit that I can say I was "there" for--and yet, I wasn't there. Bubba made that deathknell sound--the one I'd only heard about--it was loud and startling, but I knew what it was somehow. Me, being me, I later looked up medical reasons for that sound, and the tomes all theorized about gases and intestines and involuntary expulsions,  and I still think, that when you hear that sound, the dying is struggling to stay--nod, involuntary expulsion )they know the grief that will be forthcoming, and that bizarre sound (which I can only describe as an amplified bathtub fart) is the sound of the soul gripping the walls of the physical--trying to stay while being expulsed.

My husband had to work that day. I woke him and said, "Bubba died. Help me move him from the kitchen before the kids wake up."

So we placed his stiffening body on a blanket and carried him that way to a table outside--he was a big dog, and heavy. He'd require a big hole and we knew it. My husband told me to wait and he would come home as soon as he could to help me.

So he left, and I covered Bubba with the blanket. But I couldn't rest with him lying there that way.

I didn't even own a proper shovel, but I had a hand-shovel I used to do my "potted plant" gardening.

So I walked the backyard, searching for a spot that I could handle. I found it next to the shed, where the previous owners had made a "wormbed"--bait, for fishing in the pond out back. The ground gave easily, and I sat there, a cigarette dangling from lips, shoveling handfuls of earth at a time, to a mound beside me as I sat in the May sun, cross-legged and intent.

I had a beautiful garden then--and I was accustomed to the digging. Bubba used to lie beside me, watching intently, every shovelful. That dog loved worms. When I would unearth one, all twisty and alive, he would bark gleefully, and look at me, like, "well wouldja look at that?" Wagging his tail and doing that happy dog dance.

As I dug Bubba's grave, I found myself absentmindedly stopping and patting the growing mound of dirt next to me, warmed by the sun. I cried only with the realization that it felt like Bubba, alive and warm, faithful and curious, still somehow next to me.

It took me four hours, but I dug Bubba's grave with a handshovel.


This is what I thought about as I shopped for funeral clothes for me and my family. I wondered, too,  if we, as a society,  had lost something that was a healing when we began to pay others to tend to our dead for us.

And yes, I worried, worried, worried that something inevitable had finally begun--and I wondered if it showed on my face as I shopped.

(It had.)

The day after my father died I went shopping. That felt strange then and it feels strange now.

And still, even then, I didn't apprehend the inner explosion what was about to occur in me, and I didn't comprehend how deep it can go.

But the fact that I can only discuss bits at a time is an indication.

serenity blaze
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104 posted 02-29-2004 03:14 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

So we did the thing we do. We made the plans for the wake and funeral--we ordered doughnut "holes" and coffee. My mother had the pain of picking out his suit--something my father would have objected to--my mother is and always has been color blind. They chose a casket from the middle of the menu--he would have balked at an "El Dorado" but we couldn't, just couldn't give him that plain pine box he said was his desire. We wanted his head cushioned, and the insurance was there, and so we did, choose a discreet cautionary casket, draped with the flag of his loyalty to the country he served. I remembered while they argued this--he was a Legionaire--with the distinction of paying dues and never once attending a meeting. My dad was proud, but humble. He actually considered it an honor to serve his country. My uncle knew this well, and made sure that "taps" played at the closing of my father's tomb. (I took a picture in my mind--there was no band and no 21 gun salute--the navy supplied a tape of "taps"--and my uncle was proudly rigid, saluting my father as that dirge played.) My son stood tall in his new suit, and I whispered "help our son" to his father, watching the tears stream proudly, sadly, down my son's face. My daughter dug her discreetly painted  pink nails into my palm--she held my hand so tight she drew blood.

It was overcast that day, and the mist began as I watched the box that held my father slide into that opening--and once again I made that sound. That involuntary sound of pain had escaped my lips again, and I slammed my fingers across my mouth--determined that I wouldn't cry.

I was afraid that once I'd started, I couldn't stop.

He had told me once, before he died, that he wouldn't like such an emotional exhibit at his funeral--so I quaffed myself, for the sake of his dignity. That's what I told myself, anyway.

That sounds harsh, but my father knew me well. He knew, he knew, how easily I could "lose" it. He knew, too, how hard it would be for me to get "it" back. So I was a good girl, and held it in--I whimpered only at the "closings"--when the coroner's office placed my Dad in a bodybag--when the casket was closed at his "wake"--and finally, when his tomb was sealed.

I am not good at endings.


*   *    *

We rode home, through the now steady curtain of graydrizzle rain, and once there, we changed our clothes and breathed again. I didn't look at anyone much then--I was angry--furious and I didn't know it. But my kids changed into shorts and tees, and went out to play basketball in the front drive--and I collapsed upon the couch, rubbing my head that way that I do, until I heard them hollering and I jumped:

"Mom--Mom--please come see!"

I ran, alerted for the worst--I thought my family cursed by then.

I stepped outside and my children pointed to the sky.

There was a rainbow there in the sunny mist--wide across the sky, it had four bands of promise--and they told me it was "him".

And I was so blind in my grief that day, that I discounted that, but the truth is undenied--the day that I buried my father, a rainbow covenant arched the sky...

Thank you, Dad, for miracles.

Thank you for belief.
nakdthoughts
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since 10-29-2000
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Between the Lines


105 posted 02-29-2004 06:22 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

thank you Karen for sharing this...I needed it today.

hugs
M
vlraynes
Member Rara Avis
since 07-25-2000
Posts 9136
Somewhere... out there...


106 posted 02-29-2004 07:55 AM       View Profile for vlraynes   Email vlraynes   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit vlraynes's Home Page   View IP for vlraynes


Karen?...



Love you, lady...
Nightshade
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107 posted 02-29-2004 09:25 PM       View Profile for Nightshade   Email Nightshade   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nightshade's Home Page   View IP for Nightshade

...and when it seems that we can no longer go on....go on without the love of the one's who have parented us.... we do
serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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108 posted 02-29-2004 09:44 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

ain't that amazing?



thanks for reading.
Enchantress
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since 08-14-2001
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Somewhere in time~


109 posted 02-29-2004 10:01 PM       View Profile for Enchantress   Email Enchantress   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Enchantress


*nodding and whispering 'yes'*

Love ya lady~
Sunshine
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Listening to every heart


110 posted 03-04-2004 11:02 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

I have played catch up...and you brought several poignant memories back to me of both the human and the animal moments...and I will share them with you someday.

I promise.

But for now?  Just know, I know, and can't count the number of times my head bobbed up and down, in signature of moment.

serenity blaze
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Posts 28839


111 posted 03-05-2004 01:42 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Sometimes the best way to change the subject is just to say, "Let's change the subject."

It's my journal, dammit and that's exactly what I'm doing here.

Besides, I owe a lady a story, and she wanted it posted here, so if this seems confusing and out of sequence, I refer you all to the "collage" reference which appeared earlier in this thread and I am now too lazy to look for--

this one is for you, Kari.



I've had many incarnations, just in this one life alone. I'm an "all-or-nothing" sorta gal; and I'm more than a little moody too. So naturally, I'm prone to hop from extreme to extreme--it's a bit like playing chinese jumprope on a razorblade.

But anyhoo...

"Once upon a time" I was a student, majoring in English Education at the University of New Orleans. I also simultaneously worked with a local rock band--in whatever capacity seemed necessary at the time. (Kinda like PR work with a twist, yanno?)

Yeah.

You know.

It was during this time that I became addicted to a drug known as "angeldust", or PCP. (Leading a doublelife takes some kind of chemical fortification--and I would describe that to you all, but it is another story. Besides, my descriptions of the high would be glorification, or, at the very least, a glamour--and I prefer not to make Hell look like Christmas.)

Simple facts should speak louder than any sensual description of hedonism here--my grade point average dropped from 3.9 to 1.5.

("What???")

In a desperate attempt to salvage the numbers, I tried to drop Ancient Civ 102.
I went to the office, even before the required date, filled out the paperwork, and then a very strange thing happened to me--I forgot how to sign my name.

I'd filled out the paper, and all that was left to do was add my signature, and I simply couldn't do it.

NO--there was no moment of conscience, no inner steely strength of soul--I had simply forgotten how to sign my name.

(This is the first time that I can recall an attack of what I now term "the fog.")

It's like the chaos that occurs in an hourglass, not yet done with the hour, suddenly flipped over. One moment, all is well--sand flowing smoothly, and the next is a mad scramble of sand grains (thoughts) trying to compact in a perfection again.

Gravity demands a re-arrangement and dust can fly.

I couldn't even remember how to begin to form the letter "K", much less sign my name.
A nervous line of beady sweat appeared over my upper lip--I felt surreal and so displaced.

I looked up, and the previously bored eyes of the attending clerk had turned to curiosity, so I took that as my cue:

"I think I'm going to be sick."

I fled the office, and burst into a full body sweat, almost giggling with relief outside the building.

*   *   *

I'd gone too "high" for higher education.

Shortly thereafter, I transferred to a toney uptown business school--Soule' Business College, located in the lovely Garden District of uptown New Orleans.

(shaking my head)

It was a veritable mansion--located just a block off St. Charles on Jackson Avenue.

The minute I saw it I deemed it:

"Last Stop for Unwed Debutantes"

so?

'McMurphy' checked into the cuckoo's nest.

*   *   *

(and there ya go, slavedrivin' woman Karilea!)

chuckle

a prologue to a prologue....
Sunshine
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112 posted 03-05-2004 07:07 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Having been Peggy Sue's twin most of my life, only having witnessed very good friends and relatives veer into worlds I, for fear of falling into an abyss I would not creep out of, can only nod my head now in knowing how you have survived...and live to tell the stories.

I have long held if the stories are not given to us in one form or another, then those that come behind us are doomed to make errors with their lives that could have been prevented; those who know the stories and choose this road or that are then even more responsible for their choices...

and while we all have imaginations?  Until we see the edges of either extreme, our imaginations are not truly enhanced, and most will imagine only what is right in front of them, and still not know how to handle it, and everything becomes known by accident.

I applaud you, again, for all you have gone through, for coming through the fire, and for the courage to share it.

[This message has been edited by Sunshine (03-05-2004 09:03 AM).]

Nightshade
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113 posted 03-05-2004 06:52 PM       View Profile for Nightshade   Email Nightshade   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nightshade's Home Page   View IP for Nightshade

It takes courage to admit to some things, and strength of heart to carry on.
You have both Karen and then some.

Love ya kiddo!!
serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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114 posted 03-05-2004 08:52 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

nah...

It just happens to be the reason why I ended up at business college. It was actually therapeutic for me--yanno?

fff jjj ddd lll fjf fjf....

I'll see if I can get the rest of the story up here soon. That one is relatively drug free.



thanks all
Sunshine
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115 posted 03-05-2004 09:30 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Serenity's Interactive Journal....means others can join in, yes?  

I didn't "come of age" until my junior year in high school, so to speak.  My mother had me pretty well under her thumb until the summer before my junior year, and I think, as I look back, that my grandmother really had it in mind to do the godmother/fairy thing and transform me. Hee Hee...she did a good job...

She removed the saddle shoes, the insecurity, the shabby clothes with some patent leather slipons, a sharp haircut [that now reminds me of a Streisand movie] and the cutest forest-green T-skirt and all that was missing was the white boots.  She bought a pair of "look-like" pierced earrings, very slender and elegant, and took me to pick up my aunt at her place of work...when I went in, my aunt looked up, said "one moment, please," looked down, then looked back up.  She didn't know me, either.

A light bit of eyeshadow, a little lipstick, a brush of blush...a new girl.

We went to The Brown Derby for lunch.  I only remember two things...because if I were to fall back into that time, I would remember a whole lot more, and it was too much then for the shy kid who melted into wallpaper....

Milton Berle came by and shook hands with my grandmother, and aunt, and said "hello" to me...and my aunt put one of the Brown Derby menus into her [huge] purse.  But I saw a waiter go by and smile as he saw her move...apparently it was not anything out of place back then.  

I have that menu today.  I still laugh...One Hour free parking with $1.00 purchase.  Coffee, $.20; All beverages, with the exception of hot chocolate, was twenty cents.  Hot Chocolate...$.30.

Derby Burger...80 cents; The Derby Club hit the high of $1.60; Chef Salad bowl..$1.65 [and it was HUGE]...Most expensive Special?  Fan-Tail Jumbo Shrimp...$2.25...

the year?  1967.  Oh, I forgot to mention...Derby Breakfast, Top Sirloin Steak and two eggs w/hash browns, toast and jelly...$3.15.

A few poems ago, I said I saw something going all wrong...

Yep, I still think I'm right....something's gone wrong...and we need to take a step back, and look at where we're really taking ourselves.  Progress is a wonderful thing, but I remember the service, and the attitudes, and the guy out on the street right outside the restaurant...looking for a handout....

Yes, Ma'am, some things have changed...and a lot has stayed the same.  I gave the guy a quarter.  And back then...I charged $.35/hour to babysit.  Girls my age were charging $.50 to $1.00...but I had 3x the jobs.....

Good gosh...I'm old.
serenity blaze
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116 posted 03-06-2004 06:44 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Thank you, thank you, thank you, lady.

This is what I had hoped for in starting this journal--all of our stories are signifigant. Isolated, they seem self-indulgent, but it is when we can "spark" of one another that the greatest illuminations are acheived.

(Wasn't that the noblest self-justification you've ever heard?)

grin

(prolly not)

Heh.



but anyhoo...

I'll play.

(Forgive me now if I delay my arrival at Soule'--I think I need time to get in touch with my character anyhow.)

But in the spirit of the interactive journal, I'll bounce the ball that you bounced back--there's phrasings you used, that touched my memory, and these I thought I'd share:

"look-like" pierced earrings"

I just love those things.



Others are not so amused.

For those who don't know, there are two kinds of those false piercings that I know of--one is the "ball-and-magnet" type, the other a simple spring clip.

I once put one of those magnetized "doo-dads" up my nose--silver ball, magnificent, (or so I thought) in the cleft above my right nostril--the magnet carefully inside of my nose.

I wanted to greet my father that way. And that is exactly how I walked in the front door, er--'cept I was breathing carefully.

(I wasn't counting on the "laugh" factor.)

I walked in the front door (like I owned the place) and there he was, behind his bar (read office) beaming welcome, as he always did.

It must have been a play of light, because normally, it would have taken awhile for him to notice, but I saw him see the "piercing", and the distress on his face caught me off guard. It made me forget to "breathe easy".

I gasped. I wheezed. I feared inhale.

My eyes teared up, just from the twitching, as I protested, "it's not real" and I proceeded to sneeze my joke away.

(except for the magnet tile within my nose...)



My dad looked disapproving as he broke out the vaccuum cleaner.

"Not funny" is all he'd say about it.

*     *     *

When it comes to matters of piercings and such, I've a brother who proved to be a bit more demonstrative regarding his preferences.

I was blessed with two brothers--as different as day and night. The one that I refer to now, we deemed "The White Sheep of The Family."

He was and is loyal, upright, and fine, and I say that with all due admiration--but some of his ways leave me with more than a little bit of confusion.

He insisted upon family values (until his divorce) so his loved ones would gather 'round a huge family table every Sunday. Sometimes I was even invited.

I didn't attend very often.

But I heard later, that it was just such a gathering that my nephew was prompted to pull a similar prank to my own, using one of those spring-clip falsities.

He'd placed it on his ear and proceeded to pass the potatoes.

My former sister-in-law prompted the following non-event, by complimenting her son on his new hoop earring.

My brother's response was silent--he simply pulled the ring off of the boy's ear.

*   *    *

Later, I asked my brother,

"How did you know it was a joke?"

His answer?

"I didn't."

Sunshine
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117 posted 03-06-2004 07:20 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

OUCH! LOL...

When I returned home after my little vacation with my grandmother, who bid her little "cinderella" goodbye at the bus station...I arrived home quite late, and no one was at the bus station to meet me.  I had a very eerie feeling [I'm only 16, remember?] that Mom already knew of the transformation, and decided to start her "punishment".  

Actually, a huge job had come in that Sunday [we owned a letter shop, and it was established at home, more on that later] and I was simply "forgotten".  I had a very long wait after the pay phone accepted my dime and I got ahold of my brother who didn't tell my mother or dad right away that I was there.  He took another 'personal call' [he was rather "all about himself" during that time] so it was a long 45 minutes before he remembered to tell dad, who came to pick up his eldest daughter.

By the time I got home it was past 10, and I really, really had allowed the "devil" to talk to me and tell me that my mother was going to raise wholly, well, not be happy.   That was putting it mildly.

"What happened to YOU?"

I started to say, "Grandmother..." and she cut me off.  "Get to bed.  I'll talk to you in the morning!"

She hadn't even seen the look-like-pierced earrings yet.  She was wondering where my hair had gone.  I was not the child she sent to visit.  And the new bra grandmother had purchased for me certainly didn't return a child.

It dawned on me, grandmother was going to hear about it too.  As it turned out, Mom didn't talk to either of us for about three months, other than the cursory conversation needed to keep the home fires banked.  That was the first time I was on her "list".  

Grandmother just laughed, and sent money so I could continue to get haircuts, to keep the short look.  As it turned out, it was about that time that I learned to trim my own hair, and to this day, I still cut my hair.  From adversity, lessons?  LOL...


nakdthoughts
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118 posted 03-06-2004 07:26 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

first of all Karilea, are you sure we didn't grow up in the same  family...although I  have never been to the Brown Derby nor California...those fake pierced earrings made me smile..I think I still have mine.

and  Karen, I do agree it takes a lot of courage to  speak  out about one's past.

Hey and Karilea..I was  one who got  50 cents an hour but  was plenty busy..and that is also what we got paid as  a "minimum wage" if there was such a thing back then.

M
Sunshine
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119 posted 03-06-2004 08:13 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

So, Maureen...I think you need to tell the story...
serenity blaze
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120 posted 03-06-2004 08:15 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

yes...



we pass the baton.

please?
serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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121 posted 03-06-2004 09:27 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

While we're waiting for Maureen?

Note that I had plurals--and it wasn't just two earrings that sparked my heart:

"Milton Berle came by and shook hands with my grandmother, and aunt, and said "hello" to me..."

Now this?

It reminded me of one of those stories one marries into.



I'm speaking specifically, of "Maw Maw Blaise". I loved her dearly, she was all of five feet and perhaps an inch, and the only backbone of an Irish fighting family--she could command troops with the lift of one mere eyebrow--and she ruled with an iron dustpan.

The Power of the Broom--I think of her that way, because in the fable of family history, she gave birth to all of her children at home--and swept the floor of her kitchen while in labor, waiting for the doctor to arrive.

I used to hold her tired and wrinkled hand, and I promise you, I wondered at the strength of it. She smelled of talcum and someone's forgotten beer. (We weren't supposed to give her any, but hey? She'd paid her dues, so much more than I, and if I forgot a beer on the counter that she so fastidiously wiped-so what? I looked the other way.)



She liked me.

Entering that family was a long dive into a deep well--but that woman made me feel at home--we'd exchange whispers over spoons and pots, discussing roux and rhythms, and how it helped to tap a foot while cooking.

So it was with much amazement that I'd heard the following story, for I'd already fitted Maw Maw with a halo--pre-fabbed to fit my own design:

The entire family had gone to Vegas. Maw Maw was the Queen of Slot Machines--

Zip. Pull. Flutter. Shtiff.

She was losing lotsa milk money there.

So the family all took turns--heads together, they'd decided, they'd keep her busy at the shows. The crowning glory show of which was supposedly, "Sammy Davis Jr."

He was her Vegas "Mecca."

My father-in-law would tell this story, the same way everytime, always amazed at the same points--in retrospect, I should have noticed. In retrospect--I should have ran.

He told about the center table, how they all held court. Money was no object, everything was "comp". Uncle Bob had 'hit' that night--and passed the tickets on to them just so he could press his luck. Women (much too beautiful) waited on them, bringing bottles of champagne, and Maw Maw sat there, liking that, clapping, in that sweet way that she had.

Sammy Davis Jr!!! Triple spot-lights circling, and there was a path before them, where he groovy-danced his way, to her and sang--holding her poor tired hands.

Naturally, they all were thrilled.

Maw Maw was part of the show!

Then the punchline always came:

"Mama? Whatchya thinka dat?"

Grumpy, (as she was to them) she shrugged them off and said:

"A nigga came and shook my hand!"

She didn't even know--"Sammy Dave" was black

*    *    *

I suppose I should have run, hard and fast away from them. But I never did think less of her, she spoke as she was taught.

But after I had listened to the story told five hundred times--I'd walk outside to have a smoke--it bothered me to hear them laugh at the same old tired line.

I forgave them more easily than I ever did myself.

I knew better.

They did not.

(That's what I told myself.)

So I smoke my cigarettes and leave an offering of beer...knowing Maw Maw didn't know, knowing that somehow she did.

"Things confuse me too Maw Maw."

I stamp my cigarette, and go back to the family.
  
nakdthoughts
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Between the Lines


122 posted 03-06-2004 09:55 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

sorry for the delay...went back to bed.

I always thought my family "normal" and  boring but as I look back while aging, I don't believe anyone else would call it that.
And being one of 5 children and the middle of the last group, I think I always felt forgotten except for getting all those hand me downs my whole life. (My father saved my mother from a bigamist...my sister has maybe 35 siblings *s. But I never experienced her life of rejection)

I can only remember events when something spurs them. Otherwise I don't recall my childhood much and I don't know why. I was too much a "goody-goody" so I only got into trouble when  my brothers would  do something wrong and blame me...or would deny  doing anything and we were all punished at once.

And I regret being  so " good" now..seems I missed out on a lot of fun "memories" from the 60's.

I couldn't even be a "rah rah" girl so I joined the pep club...makes me laugh now. I never fit in or belonged anywhere ..instead was a bit of an "everywhere" friend of all...close with few.

See, Karen, I never "tried" anything...and other than taking medicine now when  necessary, still haven't.

B O R I N G
serenity blaze
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123 posted 03-06-2004 10:05 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

smile.

(I was a member of the PEP squad too.)

In the 7th grade I was so fat, I fell down the bleachers and hit the floor of the gymnasium, and bounced.

*chuckle*

guess that ain't a bad thing, huh?



love ya 'm'!
Sunshine
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124 posted 03-06-2004 10:07 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Maureen…you ain’t heard boring, yet…

Now, serene one, you reminded me of two more stories, but I’ll go with the second one first.  I’m backwards that way.

The little town we moved to when I was 9, Santa Maria, was about 18,000 population.  Centered in a lovely little agricultural valley, we had foggy ocean breezes come in from 15 miles away…and on a clear day, you could freeze from the moisture in the air, even when it was 50 degrees.  [You know what that’s like, right?]  A lot of Mexicans worked in the strawberry fields, and it was not uncommon to see quite the mix of kids in school, as we were also an airbase town, close to Vandenberg AFB.

Mom and Dad found a “new” home on the south side of town, well, on the outskirts, really, a little suburb of ranch homes, and we were “on top” of the crowned street, on the east side.  We kids thought it was a huge home, but we were still small.  We girls shared a room, my only brother getting his own [highly unfair, but oh well…]

We lived there about three years, and the house just to the north of us was a rental.  We kids had never met the landlords, but figured they must only take in really nice folks, because there was never any problem that we knew about.

So around 1964, the renters moved out, and the house was vacant for about two months.  Then a black family moved in.  Imagine my surprise…they had a girl my age!  I was thrilled!  And she would go to our school!  Now we’re talking!

Our house was pretty much open to our friends, but most of our immediate neighbors kept to themselves.  I didn’t know then, as I learned later, that we were considered “poor” by some of them.  I just thought they all had it a little better.  But I didn’t know we were “poor”.  Anyway, I tried to bring our newest neighbor girl into my little circle of girlfriends there on the block.  Somehow the other three friends were always called away by their parents to come do some chores when the five of us would get together.  So my new friend and I would spend some time alone, and later, I would spend time with the other three.

Don’t get ahead of me here.

Come to find out, this family owned the house.  They had been the landlords to the previous renters, all white.  [Anyone feel a small giggle coming on?]  And about this time, about two months after they moved in, my mom was receiving “guests” [not friends] into the home, not so much to visit, but to ask “what are you going to do about them?”  Mom was pretty game for anything, and offered to ask the new neighbors in for coffee, to join the klatche.

That was not what the neighbor women wanted to hear.  And they didn’t stay long after Mom made it pretty well known that she had no issues to take up with them, why, they were as quiet, if not quieter! than whom she was getting to know for the first time in over three years….

Not long after that, someone threw a rock into their garage window.

Then we heard about them getting some harassing phone calls.  Dad went next door and talked to the husband, and came back, shaking his head.  I do remember him oiling his shotgun.  And I knew it wasn’t deer season.

A week later, the neighbors to the north of us moved out.  About two weeks after that, the garage window was fixed.  And some new, white renters, moved in.

Two things…Mom and Dad never fought in front of us kids.  Mom and Dad had a lot of night-time conversations in the garage.  We were fairly well “protected” from a lot of talk…

Sometimes, I think of that girl, and feel that she must have grown up, and is making changes in our world.  That’s the thought I have.

I don’t think I’m wrong.

 
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