Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some things are worth repeating

Stop me if you've heard this before...

If you are around me anytime between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day you will probably hear me before you see me.  Like a bird-lover’s cat, I wear a bell on a chain around my neck so I jingle when I walk.   The bell really has no significance to me, but it adds a bit of whimsy to the other charm on the chain they share.  Plus, every time a bell rings… so says Clarence.

I’ve written many times before of my sister, Barbara, who died in 1995.  I’ve never known anyone who loved Christmas more than Barbara.  She loved holidays in general, but Christmas was her favorite.   She had a decorative Hallmark pin for every holiday; hearts for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, eggs for Easter, etc.  But I think she probably had a different Christmas pin for every day in December. 

On Thanksgiving Day 1993 she presented my sisters and I with a small, silver Santa charm.  She had one for herself too, of course.  It was a happy she wanted to share with us early so we would have time to wear it for Christmas that year.  That was the year my first son was born, so I was too wrapped up in my own life to pay much attention to anything else.  I never imagined that only one year later, Thanksgiving 1994, she would be in a coma. I wore my Santa charm that year when I went to the hospital to see her.  I’ve worn it every year since beginning on Thanksgiving Day.  

When Barbara died, part of the feeling I had for Christmas died with her.  I think it was the feeling of innocence.  Never in my lifetime did I think anything so tragic could happen to my family.  When it did I lost something about myself.  

I wear her Santa to keep her with me, to remember things.  I remember that feeling of old when Santa visited me and I heard his footsteps by my bed.  I remember that one Christmas morning when she was so excited she vomited.  I remember the year she was pregnant with her son and having a hard time of it, and she asked me to come over and help her decorate her Christmas tree.  I unwrapped the ornaments she had so carefully put away the year before, as she sat in a chair and directed me where to put what.  I obliged because she was my sister and I knew how much it all meant to her.  I remember the Christmas Day in the cardiac ICU when she roused from her coma long enough to smile at us as we wished her a Merry Christmas.  A true Christmas miracle if ever there was one outside of the virgin birth.

Friends and strangers have commented on my necklace, “Cute Santa” or “What an interesting necklace”.  I usually reply with a simple thank-you, and leave it at that.  But sometimes, on occasion, I’ll tell about it, and in the telling I can feel her standing next to me, correcting my grammar but proud just the same.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happier dreams

photo of farmhouse by Julius Csaszar

By now it should be obvious that I have vivid and imaginative dreams.  The kind you have when you sleep, at least.  There is one dream theme that reoccurs, and one kind of dream that I’ve only had a couple of times.  The first is based around the subject of the farm where my daddy grew up, and the latter is a phenomenon where I time travel.  Last night I had both combined into one.

The actual farmhouse is a four-room cottage with a kitchen house in the back.  Legend has it that the place is haunted.  Daddy never said it wasn’t true, so it must be.  It is no surprise then that the majority of my farm dreams are frightening dreams about ghosts and secret forbidden rooms you dare not enter.  The unusual thing is that in most of my farm dreams the house is fantastic with large rooms and modern amenities.  The house in my dreams is never as it really is.

In my dream last night the farmhouse was big and pleasant.  The rooms were large and spacious. I was outside with Daddy.  He was younger and doing some kind of work in the yard.  Grandpa appeared to me, first as a ghost, but then he was real.  He asked me to go for a walk with him. I was so excited to see him and so proud he wanted to spend time with me.  Through our conversation I came to understand that Daddy was supposed to inherit the farm when Grandpa died and he was to move there and become a farmer.  Grandpa was disappointed that he didn't. 

We were walking through the house and I saw a picture of Grandma in her wedding dress.  Then I realized I was back in time so I asked Grandpa if the dress was in the house because I wanted to see it.  He said there was only a piece of it left.  Then I started crying and said, “Grandpa, I have something to tell you”.  Through my tears I told him how someone had broken in the house after he died and had stolen everything.  The thieves had dumped out all of the dresser drawers onto the floor and everything had ruined over the years.  This is all true, and it hurt me so bad to have to tell him about it. 

When we made it back to where Daddy was working Grandpa disappeared.  Then somehow, magically, I went back in time and history changed.  Daddy did become a farmer after Grandpa died, and he moved all of us kids to the farm, and that's where we grew up. 

I was looking at the scene from the outside and I saw myself as a 5 or 6 year-old, snaggle-toothed, little girl standing barefoot on the hardwood kitchen floor.  The house was not scary at all.  It was warm and inviting.  Grandma was there cooking, and some unlikely cousin was at the table watching me.  There were two men at the table too, and I took them to be farmhands.  Actually, I wasn't standing, I was dancing!!  I was doing a clogging/tap dancing jig, and I was so happy my feelings could only be described as joy.  Even though I was observing I could still feel the emotions.  I don't remember ever being that happy.  My life had completely changed because I had grown up out there. 

What does it all mean?  Are dreams just memories that get jumbled up and play through our brain when it is at complete rest?  Are they our secret wants and desires we dare not share in waking? Or are they premonitions our psyche reveals when our inhibitions are down?  Whatever they are, my life would not be as rich without them.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Worrisome dreams

For the past several days I have had an anxious feeling about me.  It's a nervous feeling like butterflies in my stomach.  Maybe that's why I have been having restless dreams.

I had two dreams last night; one left me unsettled because it was sad.  It reminded me of times in my young teens when I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic.  I would think I was alone, maybe abandoned, and I would run through the house in a state short of hysteria and turn on all the lights to make sure someone else was there with me.  
My first dream last night was within a dream with the same feeling, but a little different.  I dreamed I was dreaming I was at my parents' house and I had that same feeling of panic.  But this time the panic was more specific; I was looking for my mother.  I was crying and calling for her over and over.  I remember running into the kitchen and turning on the light and saying, "Mama, please be in here cooking,"  and she wasn't. Then I went room to room saying similar things and calling for her and crying.  In the outer dream my husband was trying to wake me up because I was crying out loud in my sleep.  I don't know if i was really crying out loud or not, he didn't say anything about it this morning.

The other dream I had last night was a recurring dream theme for me.  I had a huge house but my family only lived in a few small rooms.  There was big unfinished family room with a fireplace that we never used.  It still had contractor's white paint, no furniture and it was filthy, like we had been storing outdoor furniture or gardening tools in it.  I asked my sister-in-law, the decorator, to help me finish it after the holidays because I was tired of having a room I couldn't even use.

In this same dream my husband came in the room with packages one of us had ordered from  There was so much stuff in the order!  I realized that I had used my shopping cart as a wish list (like i always do) and forgot to remove the wished for items before the order was placed. So all this stuff that I really didn't want, nor could I afford, was piled in the unused room, adding to the clutter and frustration.

The first dream is a little obvious to me.  It's Christmas and I miss my mother.  I've been struggling with some personal things, and she is not here to tell me it will all work out.  That's what mother's do best, make you believe everything will be alright.  I guess these things that have been subconsciously making me anxious have come to a point where I just need her to tell me not to worry.
The second dream is just plain aggravating.  The houses in my dreams are so fantastic, but I never get to fully enjoy them because of the forgotten rooms.  I read once that the dream of finding extra, unused rooms in your home symbolizes God's blessings you have not yet realized.  If that is true, then what is it in my life that is causing all of the clutter, blocking me from receiving God's blessings?  What needs to be done to clean out the rooms and use them to my benefit and enjoyment?  I wish my mother was here to tell me.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Beep beep, beep beep, yeah

I was never the kid in school who couldn’t wait to drive.  The thought of commanding a machine on a road with all those other machines on the road wasn’t my idea of a good time.  Anyway, I knew my parents could not buy me a car, and my friends did have cars, so there was no pressure on me to drive.  When I finally did get my license when I was sixteen I either drove my mother’s giant green car, whatever it was, or begged and borrowed my sisters’ and brother’s cars.

One of my first trips on the road alone was to the Pizza Hut to pick up an order.  I got to drive my brother’s green, 1970-ish Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with its white roof and white interior.  Maybe I was so dazzled by all that funkiness, or maybe I was nervous to be on my own, but whatever the reason I left the food on the roof and drove off.  Luckily I didn’t go far before realizing it so my food was saved, though my dignity was bruised.  

My sister, the pesky one, drove an old car from the era of fine cars of the 1940s (or was it 1950s?) with the shift on the column, so she never had to worry about me wanting to drive her car.  I wasn’t embarrassed by the car by any means, but the shifting was too intimidating.

The oldest of my family, my dearly departed sister, had a 1967-ish red Chevrolet Malibu.  Its steering wheel was as big as a bicycle tire, and it only had AM radio, and like the song, it was “as big as a whale”.  There was no power steering so to turn the wheels took some muscle.  Needless to say I loved that car and I drove it whenever and wherever she allowed.  I remember driving it in high school to the fire hall where my class met to decorate our homecoming float. There were about six of us in the front seat.  Great car.  My sister always told me she would give it to me one day, but then she had a baby, and for some senseless reason she thought her little girl should have it instead.  Sheesh.  I make a habit of reminding my niece about that as often as I can; like right now.

There was one more car I sometimes had a chance to drive.  It was like the icing on the cake when my sister, the middle child, would generously grace me with the pleasure of driving her 1980-ish dark red Honda Prelude.  It had a sun-roof.  What an invention!  It had a stereo system!  It was a two-door dream machine with a tiny steering wheel.  I could do a U-turn that would make any momma proud.  Once, whilst driving it with my oldest friend and travelling partner in the seat next to me I didn’t turn quite sharp enough and I almost hit a light pole in front of John’s Car Care, but shhh, don’t tell the middle child.  What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

I credit the joy of driving that Prelude, and Just What I Needed blasting on the stereo, with filling me with courage and decision to get my ears pierced.  Come to think of it that might have been the night of the light pole incident.  The excitement of it all was overwhelming.

Alas, I was not to own a Prelude, or a Cutlass, or a Malibu.  When I was a freshman in college my parents finally did buy me a car of my own.  It was a 1973 blue Mercury Comet that reeked of cigarette smoke. “Oh, we can get that out”, my mother said (or something like that).  No.

 My daddy paid $500 for it in 1985, and I drove it for about six years until a paving truck hit it and bashed in the side door.  I got $600 retribution for the door and a dealership gave me $500 for a trade-in.  That was probably the most productive financial investment my daddy ever made.  Well, actually if you call it a financial investment then it was the ONLY financial investment my daddy ever made.

I traded the Comet for a Mitsubishi Mirage which was a joy for me, but my baby son hated to ride in, then to a Chevrolet van which my baby son loved to ride in, to a Toyota Avalon, which my baby son now drives himself.  So here I come full circle, needing a new vehicle of my own.

I truly enjoy my Toyota, so I’ve been looking at them, but the memories of that Honda Prelude have lingered all these years.  I want once again to sit in the seat behind that tiny steering wheel, and feel that feeling only a Honda provides.  It’s a feeling of self-assuredness, clear thinking, and the ability to make important decisions as quickly as it takes to make a precise U-turn in a single rotation of that tiny wheel.  

Toyota or Honda.  Decisions, decisions.  

Today I offer thanks and appreciation to my husband, who nudged me into a decision by telling me to go drive a car he had been watching at a dealership where he does work.  After five minutes or five miles, whichever is shorter, behind the tiny steering wheel, I said, yes, sure, I can drive it and be happy.  Whatever (yawn, sigh).  I had to play it down, you know.  Cool on the outside, singing The Cars on the inside.  The ink is dry, and I am now the title holder of a Honda of my very own.  It’s a family friendly CRV, not a devil-may-care model like the Prelude; practicality won out over reliving my youth.  Nevertheless, it is Just What I Needed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


It is the day before Thanksgiving, and since I am hosting the meal tomorrow I have spent the day making preparations.  I’ve been cleaning and cooking and listening to music to make the work more pleasant.  I’ve also been thinking about what I am thankful for, so I thought I would make a list.  So, here are a few things, more like several things, for which I am thankful.  These things are not listed any particular order, just the way they pop into my head.

My family.  I have a husband who is kind, loving, and has stuck with me even if sometimes I’m not; my boys for not complaining too much when I play my music too loud, sing too loud, and drive too fast.

My house. I have a roof over my head, a floor under my feet and a comfortable bed.  Millions of people in this world don’t have even these things.

Books. I’ve met some of my favorite people in the pages of books.  To paraphrase Dumbledore, just because they are in my head it doesn’t mean they aren’t real.  I count that sentiment towards the characters in books, too.

Music. It keeps me going when I want to stop.

Words.  I may say few, but I think many.

Spandex.  I need the extra stretch now and then.  Mostly now.

Tide Pods.  Just throw it in.  You don’t even have to measure.

iPods.  See “Music” above.

Chocolate.  See “Music” above.

Vacuum cleaners.  I hate sweeping.

Sparkly things. They make me happy.

Back scratchers.  I especially like my metal fork-like one that has a telescoping handle.

My cats. They remind me of my Daddy.

My dog. She loves me more than life itself.

Sisters. They remind me of my Mama.

Brothers. They make me laugh and toughened me up.  And despite their best efforts they remind me of my Daddy.  They’re like cats that way.

Cole Porter. Without him there would be no Night and Day.  See “Music” above.

The Holy Trinity.  God the Father who created me, God the Son who lived like me, and God the Holy Spirit to whom I need to pay more attention.

Jimmy Daniels.  He didn’t mind the kid sister hanging around, and if he did he didn’t show it.

My closest friends.  They know me the best and accept me as I am.

My friends who have drifted in and out over the years.  They may not know it but I carry a bit of them with me always. 

This list could go on for pages and pages, but that would be boring and no one would read beyond about 500 words.  So I will leave it here, but know I am thankful for life, and in my heart of hearts I do not take one day for granted, even if it seems like I do sometimes because I like to take naps.  I’m like cats that way.