Category Archives: family relationships

Separate Vacations

 

Separate Vacations

I guess it was inevitable that there’d be a breach 
with you wanting the mountains and me wanting the beach.
We’re broken into moieties, with one kid choosing you
the other choosing me so you know what we’ve gotta do.
You’re fierce in your decision and my determination
to have my way as well in terms of this winter vacation
means we’ll relax in different climes—you snow and me the sun.
Then we’ll get back together once our holidays are done.
Marriages find ways to work in snow and sunny weather,
but sometimes it works for the best when they’re not faced together.

 

Prompt words today are beach, inevitable, fierce, moiety and holiday.

Heart of the Matter

Heart of the Matter

My family’s only easygoing when it isn’t moody,
and dealing with the moody times seems to be my duty.
If I were only liberated and in better shape,
I’d clamber out the window and down the fire escape
and find some other people easier to bear,
investigate the wider world and see how I would fare.
The solution to this problem you are likely to construe
if you interview my family, but I hope you never do,
for the truth is that the discord that you otherwise might see
is likely to have vanished when they’re not dealing with me!

Word prompts today are easygoing, construe, moody, liberate and escape. photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash, used with permission.

Bearings

Bearings

“I’ve lost my bearings,” she said to me, perplexed. She was sitting alone in her room, surrounded by piles of clothing on the bed and floor around her—the collapsed small tents of abandoned full skirts, the shards of scarves and small mismatched clutterings of shoes.

She had been abandoned in a daydream world that only she lived in, but that she seemed as confused by as she was by those of us who tried to visit her there. For her, even changing clothes had become an insurmountable obstacle—a challenge that rivaled childbirth, an unfaithful husband, an addicted son, an autistic grandson. It rivaled the war she’d staged against her much-younger sister—the power she held over that sister by her rejection of her. It rivaled her efforts to enter the world again as a single woman and to try to win the world over to the fact that it was all his fault. It rivaled her insistence that it was the world that was confused in refusing to go along with all her beliefs and justifications.

She had barely if ever left a word unspoken when it came to an argument. It was so simple, really. She was always right. That everyone in the world, and more particularly her younger sister, refused to believe this was a thorn in her side. The skin on her cheek itched with the irritation over the unfairness of the world. She had worn a path in it, carving out a small trench so that the skin even now was scaly with that road traversed over and over again by one chewed-off fingernail. “Are you she?” She asked me, and when I admitted I was, she added, “Oh, you were always so irritating. Even as a little girl. Why could you never be what anyone else wanted you to be? You were always so, so—yourself!”

It was my chance, finally, for an honest conversation with this sister 11 years older—more a crabby mother always, than a sister. A chance if she could keep on track long enough to remember both who I am and who we both once were.

“So what was wrong with how I was, Betty? With how I am?”

“Oh, you were always so . . . . “ She stopped here, as though struggling for a word or for a memory. I saw her eyes stray to the floor between the door and the dresser. “There’s that little fuzzy thing there,” she said. I could see her eyes chart the progress of this creature invisible to me across the room.

I hung on to the thought she had so recently abandoned. “But me, Betty. What do you find wrong with me?”

Her eyes came back to me and connected, suddenly, with a sort of snap that made me think we were back in the same world again as she contemplated by last question. I tried to keep judgment out of my own gaze—to keep her here with me for long enough to connect on at least this one question.

“You were,” she said, and it was with that dismissive disgusted tone she had so often used with me since I was a very small child. “You were just so mystical!”

I was confused, not sure that the word she had used was the one she meant to use.

“What do you mean by mystical, Betty?” I sat on the bed beside her and reached out for the static wisps of hair that formed a cowlick at the back of her head—evidence of the long naps which had once again taken over her life, after a long interim period of raising kids, running charities and church prayer circles, and patrolling second-hand-stores, traveling to PEO conventions and staying on the good side of a number of eccentric grandchildren.

“Oh, you know. All those mystical experiences! The E.S.P. and all those other stories you told my kids. And Mother. Even Mother believed you.”

Then a haze like a layer of smoke once more seemed to pass over her eyes, dulling her connection to this time and reality and to me.

Her chin trembled and a tear ran down her cheek. She ran one fingernail-chewed index finger over and over the dome of her thumb and her face broke into the crumpled ruin of a child’s face who has just had its heart broken, the entire world of sadness expressed in this one face. I put my arms around her, and for the first time in our lives, she did not pull away. We rocked in comfort to each other, both of us mourning something different, I think. Me mourning a sister who now would never be mine in the way that sisters are meant to be. Her mourning a self that she had not been able to find for a very long time.

“Oh, the names I have been called in my life,” I was thinking.

“Oh, the moon shadows on the table in the corner. What do they mean?” She was thinking.

The last time I gave my sister a fortune cookie, she went to the bathroom and washed it off under the faucet, chuckling as though it was the most clever thing in the world to do. She then hung it on a spare nail on the wall.

When I asked her if she needed to go to the bathroom, she nodded yes, and moved in the direction of the kitchen. Then she looked at the news scroll on the television and asked if those were directions for her. If there was something she was supposed to be doing. And that picture on the wall. What was it telling her she was supposed to do?

In the end, I rubbed her head until she fell asleep, covered her and stole away. I’d fly away the next morning, leaving her to her new world as she had left me to mine from the very beginning.

Prompt words today are hang on, contemplate, daydream, bearing and surround.

Dear Diary, Aug 20, 1958

IMG_7035

I recently found my old diary, pictured above. I was eleven years old when I wrote the entry below.

Dear Diary

August 20, 1958

Dear Diary,

After I got up I started to clean up living room and finished after dinner*. Then I read, played cards and watched t.v. Patti and I just had a fight. She wanted to listen to her radio and I was listening to t.v. or I should say watching it. Anyway, it causes a little static when the t.v. is on too so Patti turned off the t.v. I kept turning it on and she off. Well, finally I shut if off for a while and went up to listen to her radio. She didn’t like that either because I was humming, so she told me to read a book.  I wanted to watch one of my favorite programs so I turned on the t.v. She started crying and I can’t bear to see a woman cry so I turned it off and told her for a girl of 15 who thinks she’s a lot older, she sure was a baby sometimes. For that, she hit me with a book hard.

P.S I’m writing the part about our fight outside.

………….

*We called lunch dinner back then.

Love the last line. Ha!!! Sorry, Patti, but this was too funny not to share. She now lets me watch TV whenever I want to plus she pays my land taxes and signs my income taxes for me and performs all sorts of other generous sisterly duties.  xooxox

Easy Street

daily life  color018 - Version 3

Easy Street

Her wishful dreams did not include the latest Paris fashions.
Pedicures and facials were not numbered in her passions.
Being a wife and mother was what she loved the best.
It’s said that wild horses couldn’t drag her from the nest.

If they held a World Olympics of mothering and wifery,
she’d excel in matches such as ironing and knifery,
and her family members no doubt would all concur
that she’d capture golden medals in the wash and bake and stir.

If you questioned her contentment, you’d hear her lilting laugh
as she dished up cornmeal muffins, buttering each half,
thawed out frozen orange juice, avoiding the debate
as she hurried us through breakfast, afraid that we’d be late.

When the fifteen minute warning bell was rung across the street
in the school bell tower, we beat a fast retreat.
She drained her cup of coffee, then poured another cup,
put fish food in the goldfish bowl and fed the cat and pup.

She filled the sink with wash water and scrubbed and dried and listened
to her morning radio until the glasses glistened.
She’d make the noontime casserole and put it on slow bake.

Sometimes make a cherry pie or a chocolate cake.

She’d sweep the floors and make the beds, polish, dust and mop
until the noon bell sounded and she had to stop.
She’d make a hasty salad of lettuce and tomatoes
and serve what we called dinner— ham and scalloped potatoes,

meatloaf, hamburgers or a ring of cooked baloney,
Spanish rice or navy beans or cheese and macaroni.
Spaghetti, ham and cabbage, goulash or steamed steak—
whatever she could fry or steam or boil or broil or bake.

My dad would come in from the fields and eat and leave again.
With just an hour for lunch, we kids were always in a spin
to get back to the playground and lay claim to the best swings
or be first in line for tether ball or other schoolyard things.

Then she lay down on the sofa with our little terrier curled
right up close beside her as she learned about the world
through books, papers and magazines, reading there until
the let-out bell was sounded and kids bolted down the hill.

Time enough for supper preparations to be started
as one by one she was rejoined by her dearly departed.

Tales of school spats, teachers’ stories, what our best friends said.
From four to five, our childish raves and rants swirled through her head.

Then my father home again to wash up at the sink,
his mouth up to the faucet for a little drink.
“Use a glass, Ben,” She would say. A rather tardy rule
as he sank into his chair with feet up on a stool.

Supper at six, then radio, or later the T.V.
Dad in his favorite rocking chair, teasing my sis and me.
Mother in her usual place, prone on the divan 
reading “Redbook,” eating stove-popped popcorn from the pan.

Did she wish she’d gone to college and had a different life
than just being a mother and a rancher’s wife?
She would laugh and say to us, seemingly undaunted,
“Girls, basically I’m lazy. I’ve had just the life I wanted!”

daily life  color073 (1)

daily life  color073 (2)

Word prompts for today are horses, wishful, concur, laugh and nest.

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mother.

scan114

My mother, whose maiden name was  Eunice Lydia King, went by the name of “Pat” Dykstra for all of her married life. She died at the age of 91 in 2001, which means she would have been 109 this year. She kept her youthful sense of humor, her keen wit and her independence for her entire life. I thank her for all of the meals cooked, white blouses pressed, animals trained, constant support, laughter, for creating such a beautiful and secure home and for instilling within me a love of books and rhyme. I would give anything to be able to spend this Mother’s Day with her, floating in the pool and drinking frozen daiquiris, which if I recall correctly, she called “Daktaris!”

Early Bird

Early Bird

The party got much better right after you walked out.
You would have really liked it, I can say without a doubt.
The cornucopia of desserts you brought was a definite hit,
but as we enjoyed its bounty, we wished you hadn’t split.

The baby took his first step and Grandma came alive
as though for this Thanksgiving, her memory she’d revive.
Cousin Shirley was a panic and the kids performed a play—
the whole family there to see it (if you had chosen to stay.)

So, the freeway was in gridlock from five o’clock to eight?
Negotiating lane changes was hurry up and wait?
By the time the party ended, traffic was flowing freely.
Uncle Arthur breezed right by us in his classic Austin Healey!

Everyone got home okay. We were in bed by nine—
about the same time you got home from waiting in that line.
Hearing old family stories may not be your favorite thing,
but versus overheated engines, they have a certain zing.

Splitting out on family may not be a  crime,
but did leaving three hours early save you any time?
When you’re in the biggest hurry, you’re  most frequently delayed.

You might have gotten home faster if only you had stayed!

 

Word prompts today are cornucopia, hurry, negotiate and delayed. Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/25/rdp-thursday-cornucopia/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/04/25/fowc-with-fandango-hurry/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/04/25/your-daily-word-prompt-negotiate-april-25-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/delayed/

 

Family Reunion: Final Spin

Family Reunion: Final Spin

The first couple on the dance floor were surely insignificant.
Bent-over spines and frosted hair made them less magnificent
than all the younger dancers who came out to surround them—
making them invisible as they grouped all around them.
The music started and the pairs all commenced their waltzing—
with glides and dips, extended arms, and all that fancy schmaltzing.
Soon, however, they backed off from something in the middle.
Voices hushed throughout the room until only the fiddle,
piano and the clarinets were heard in the night air
as all the others dancers watched a central pair
of waltzers gliding o’er the floor, eyes wrapped up in each other,
once again that little girl just dancing with her brother,
magically suspended in those steps taught by their mother.

The prompt words today are frosted, pair, insignificant and waltzing. And, the cat bit me on the tip of my little finger today and I’m wearing a bandaid, so forgive any typing errors. Especially regarding ‘”[{}]or/?  It may have been a very aggressive love nip or a hurry up and feed me nip or an excessive response to a really good ear scratch/neck rub, but whichever it was, it was very naughty and brought blood. Perhaps vestigial remains of the blood moon of a few nights ago.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/rdp-saturday-frosted/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/01/26/fowc-with-fandango-pair/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/your-daily-word-prompt-insignificant-january-26-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/waltzing/

New Father: Dec 3, 2018

New Father

He imagines well the cradle and a new mother bending
over the small infant that she would be tending.
The baby’s arms reached up, his young wife’s arms extending
out to lift it up, so tender in their fending.
The eager father wending
home from his day of vending,
his yearned-for entrance pending,
each mile closer mending
their separation’s rending,
more satisfaction lending
toward their  happy ending.

 

Up at 5 to catch a plane to Acupulco. The prompt was “pending”

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/12/03/fowc-with-fandango-pending/

Family Reunion, Off the Grid

Click on first photo to enlarge all.  

 

 

 

Family Reunion, Off the Grid

We find the key to the lake cabin
there where it always was above the eaves trough,
enter that family space deserted for so many years
and claim our old rooms.
Bring in firewood piled on the porch thirty years ago
and draw together at the trestle table
over dinners gathered
from the ice chests in the trunks of cars.

Dependent for so many years
on cell phones, e-mail and Facebook,
we grow listless over the loss of cell tower and wifi,
fall back on family videos from the far past,
and having exhausted that sparse shelf,
resort to family albums, dusty with accumulated years.

Over those cryptic signals from the past,
we begin to remember more,
and recall scraps of ourselves
that give a meaning to the name of scrapbook.
With no single screens possible,
we draw together over simple common images.

Dad in the neighbor lady’s hat,
sis in diapers and my mother’s heels,
my tea towel sarong and doily hat,
Mother, young enough to be our granddaughter,
in a stylish hat tipped down over one eye,

Middle sister standing triumphant at the top
of the slide she later fell from the top of—
a past truth I might have never known
if not sealed up, like this,
away from the wider world
and those parts of ourselves
that keep flying off to it.

I take her hand, grateful for her survival.
Just the two of us, now,
everyone else sealed up in this peeling album.
We put them to sleep again as we close its cover.
In the morning, restore the key,
nestle the “For Sale” sign more securely
into its mooring place and divide to our separate worlds,
the box of videos under my arm,
the family scrapbooks under hers.

The prompt words are past, video, listless and dependent.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/ragtag-tuesday-past/
https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/13/fowc-with-fandango-video/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/listless/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/your-daily-word-prompt-dependant-November-13-2018/