Thoughts inspired by MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY

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This is the third book I’ve read by Fredrik Backman. Not sure if this or A Man Called Ove is my favorite.  This one is story with lots of characters, which gives me hope for the book I’ve written that all is not lost. It’s main character is a child, but every character is a rich part of the story.

“…. because the people who reach the end of their days must leave others who have to live out their days without them.” — Frederick Backman

There is death in this story, but it it necessary for the story, just like in our lives. I am living out my days without a number of people who I wish were till here. I wish Cathy was here because her sense of adventure and love of music matched mine. I wish Debbie was here to leave me long, drawn out messages on voicemail. I wish Betty was here to enjoy watching me eat Key Lime pie and to tell us that “Larry says Hi!” And that Larry was here to say Hi and listen because he was always interested in everybody. I wish Charlie was here to teach E how to fish.

I wish Mamaw was here so I could ask her about what happened in 1938. I wish Great-Aunt Marie was here because where she was love was. And I’d even like to hear her burp again. I wish Dad was here to teach his great-grandkids all his nonsensical sayings. I wish Mom was here for so many reasons, I can’t even begin. So I’ll just say she was the one who always asked how Loretta was doing. And she would have liked Ruby just as much.

So I live out my days without them. I take Ruby now on my adventures and listen to lots of music with my husband. I think of Betty every time I have Key Lime anything. I’ve reached out to other relatives, some of whom I only recently met, to ask about 1938 and many other things. My brothers and I carry on with Dad’s sayings, and Mom’s jokes. But my voicemail still stays pretty empty.

 

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Family Reunion

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On June 22 we had a Bryan/Bailey reunion. It was the first one ever for these two groups, but it turned out to be all Bryans – the Baileys were all interconnected to the Bryans as we had no Baileys in attendance outside my grandmother’s line. This was also the first reunion in 10 years and the first one ever for my grandchildren and daughter-in-law. It was a wonderful time of connecting and reconnecting.

Aunt Betty, at 92, was the oldest one there. She is still very much “with-it”. She gets around remarkably well, has no hearing loss and little memory loss. I visited her this past March and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. We talked about a lot of family history as I was full of questions. We also, along with my cousin Melanie, worked together to finish a puzzle she had started of the state of Georgia.

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Aunt Betty, 92, with her nephew Johnny

My cousin, Susan, had the most descendants present at the reunion: her two sons and three of her four  grandchildren. Her son, Randall, who is a pastor, asked the blessing before we dug into what was a vast amount of food. Cousin Linda’s Pecan Chess Bars were to die for!

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I met cousins Kathi and Kim for the first time. They flew down from Illinois. There just wasn’t enough time to spend getting to know them better, but it was wonderful to hug them instead of just messaging via facebook.

 

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Kathi, Kim, me

Cousin Johnny, his wife Mary Lou, and granddaughter Sarah came the farthest – all the way from San Antonio, Texas!

I realize this post may not interest anyone outside the family. I just wanted to share a little. If you have Family Reunion experiences, please share in the comments.

Letter to Dad

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Dear Dad,

You never knew a father who sat you down to give you instructions in life. You bellowed because you didn’t know how to express your love. Yet, I knew that you loved me. I would get so angry when I had to do things that the boys weren’t expected to do. My heart would boil with the unfairness of it. How naive and spoiled I was. I didn’t see the hard work you did for us. Without a college education you still rose in the ranks of your company and did your job well. We were well provided for, without a care for our daily needs. We never knew want of any necessity.

The night you held my hand in the car during a thunderstorm was so out of character, and I let you because I sensed it was a real attempt at closing the gap between us. It seemed to be your way of holding on to me so I wouldn’t grow up and away from you.

Your question on my wedding day – “are you sure you want to do this?” was your way of showing your love and concern. The practical way you enunciated “Her mother and I” filled me with tender amusement. I didn’t understand then the feelings you had for your little girl who thought she was all grown up. As a teenager I thought you were callous to mom and that I would not want a man like you for my husband. Yet, a few short years later I chose a boy/man who was like you in many ways. He is a good provider and sometimes awkward with his daughters. He likes sports and doing yard work. And, like you did, he has mellowed over the years. You and mom had over forty years together and I saw how your union was strong until the end. I saw that you were a part of each other, a whole together, one flesh. I thank God for His mercy to me.

Love,

Puncie

PAD 2019 – #4 April

PAD is drawing to an end for another year. Today’s prompt was to remix a poem from earlier in the month. I decided to remix my poem from Day One. You can read both below.

 

Can’t Fool Me

 

April first brings ice on the windshield

to try to fool me

to say it isn’t spring in Alabama

But I’ve seen azaleas in bloom

and green shoots springing up

between winter’s dead blades

I’ve opened the front door

felt the breeze flow in

then out the back

being thankful for the screens

though they can’t stop all the pollen

from creeping in

to coat the porch in yellow

Longer days make me lose track of time

as I savor the sunshine

and postpone supper

All this says spring

You can’t fool me, April first

 

Not Fooled

April tried to fool me

with ice after azaleas

but now the lawn is green

the air a sweet perfume

mornings are cool

afternoons balmy

when the roses said hello

the pollen said goodbye

spring is loud and lovely

I listen to her and smile

yes, April tried to fool me

but May is on the way

 

 

 

Betty

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday. As an awkward 20 year old newlywed, I didn’t know what to call her. Mrs. Bell felt too formal. Didn’t know if I should call her Mom. So I didn’t call her anything. It took me years to be able to call her Betty.

She loved me and loved on me. As a mother of three boys, I think she was glad to have a daughter. She always remembered birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day. She bought Key Lime pie when I visited. When she hugged me she would tell  me I smelled good. This poem is for her.

 

August 21, 2017

 

The phone rang early in the murky sleep-state of morning

Packed a bag, boarded the dog, headed home

Into the day-darkness of that solar eclipse

Alabama to  Florida

Ominous shadowed light dimly glowed all around me

Driving home to say goodbye

To someone who loved me unconditionally

Pulled off at a rest stop

Where a stranger loaned me his glasses

To behold this obscurity of the sun

As I looked through bleak eyes

To a future without her

 

Mom

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April, 2016

 

Mom was born April 9, 1936. She would have been 83 today. It’s been 14 months since she died. So many little things happen throughout the days that knock me back, that remind me over and over that she isn’t here. I wrote the following poem in April, 2010. It was the first year I completed the PAD Challenge. I never really shared my poetry with her. Haven’t really shared it with anyone much in my family. Perhaps I should apply these words of Ray Bradbury…

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art.”

 

Mother

There at the end of the line
The hand of my dear mother
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Never a woman so fine
There is not another
There at the end of the line

Her spirit, gentle, kind
None else would I rather
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Growing round her like a vine
Myself, my brothers
There at the end of the line

So lovely, so divine
No, there is no other
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

For days of old I pine
Yes, one after another
There at the end of the line

Pre-PAD Poetry

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I look forward to April every year. It’s like a magical month that kickstarts my poetic creativity, thanks most especially to Robert Brower over at Writers Digest.  This week I was subbing in a middle school class that had to complete a metaphor poem. I tried my hand at a writing a few. Here’s the first one…

Tightrope

Motherhood is a tightrope walk

Between birth and death a mother balances,

shifting her weight just slightly

to accommodate the ever changing tension

Swaying on her soft shoes, she grips with all she’s got

Trying to maintain her center, she walks

high above in terror and love,

without a safety net

 

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20