Snippets

The age spots on my arms and legs and how I am reminded of my mother and how I would lay my head in her lap as she talked on the phone.  She would play with my hair and stroke my arm and I would take in all of the details of her skin.  My skin is now hers.

How he raises his arms and shakes his fists when he’s tired, the only time he’s really fussy.   I am bowled over by his primal knowledge, his simple way of communicating.

Awakening to the sunlight streaming into my living room and the cool sensation of tile beneath my bare feet.   This place, this moment, this now.

I’ve come to a decision, had an ah-ha moment:  I want to write.  I don’t have time to write, really.   But I don’t have to write long sagas.  I can write snippets.  I can capture the way the thoughts bounce around in my head like ping pong balls.   I don’t need to be deep.  Stories are what move us, what connect us, what remind us.  And stories don’t need to be grammatically correct or chapters long. Stories can even be told in a sentence or two.

So I will be writing my stories in snippet-style.

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The girls browsed their school’s “Mother’s Day Shop” to purchase little gifts for me.  I don’t know why, but the act of them carefully considering and selecting gifts always brings me to tears.   I think it’s about the way they ponder the items for days and how they say “I hope the gift I want for you is still available when I go shopping!”.

This Mother’s Day, I carefully unwrapped the tissue paper from each item.   Kaia had chosen a large Lavender candle, exclaiming with soft eyes: “Mama, it’s lavender and I knew you’d like it….”.   And then a necklace with a peace sign.  “It has wooden beads which reminded me of natural things like you love”.   I knew the tears were coming, popping up from some reservoir deep inside, because the sting comes and my vision starts to cloud as if I’m swimming underwater.   After each gift, I held her and looked into her tanned face and said “How did you know?”

Indigo waited almost a week for me to open her gift bag.   Her sunny face lifted when she smiled and waited for me to unwrap the gifts she’d chosen.   A chocolate-scented candle, in the shape of a heart.  A plastic, single-stemmed yellow rose.  And a pen, wrapped in a slick print of minions from “Despicable Me” with an origami flower on top.  Each of them led me to cry, because I knew exactly what they were thinking when they picked them out.  “A beautiful rose that will never die. It’s always in bloom, just like you”, I lean in to whisper to Indigo.

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My desk, right now:   A half sipped glass bottle of Cherry Limeade.   A vintage Avon glass sachet filled with my Calendula Rose Cream. A burnt orange (remember that Crayola color?) tea mug gifted to me by Jason for Mother’s Day emptied of its hot Chai.  A cordless phone.  A pair of children’s safety scissors.  A lid to one of my herbal salves.  Two stray legos.  An old Nintendo Gameboy. A rubberband.  A plastic IKEA kid’s cup.  A bracelet Indigo bought me for Christmas.  A fan remote.  Handmade mother’s day cards.  A gift box and some burlap bags to send to a customer.   A desk calendar.  And a sleeping baby strapped on me in the Ergo carrier.   Two kiddos waiting for me to finish this sentence so I can do a treasure hunt they set up for me.

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Lyric May 2014Treasure hunt completed.   Sharpie drawings on folded construction paper; the best kind of treasures, really.  And the first time he’s drawn eyebrows on his stick figures!

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From the carseat he blurts out “Mama, we know lots of people that have two mommies.  Dylan and Peyton, Julianna and Bella, and even Noah and Sage!”.  I look in my rearview mirror and take in his messy, curly hair and his apple cheeks.  I am so grateful he is growing up in a world in which two mommies or two daddies and everything in between are not out of the norm.   A household in which my children know (all children know) that love is love is love.   When we discuss relationships and marriage, we don’t specify a gender-specific pronoun.  My kids have all mentioned marrying girls and boys.   May they never be defined, boxed in, caged by convention.

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My phone has been MIA for two days. It’s in this house, trapped under some pile I imagine.   But I’m considering going all 1980’s and just giving it up for a while anyways.   I want to buy the kids disposable film cameras for summertime so they can learn the art of capturing a memory without instantly seeing the results.    I want to write more love letters and send more cards.  I want to sip more iced tea in the shade of the trees and laugh at my kids as they do the “spider” on the swings.

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A few months ago I sat on a wooden bench at our local outlet mall and watched my children play on the playground.   I noticed an older couple padding towards another open bench.  The man was tall and burly, his middle thick and belly plump like Santa’s.   Sitting above his stomach was a wide canvas belt, looped just once at the side.   The tail of the belt hung low along his leg.   It was an odd placement, not holding up his pants and I continued to wonder about it.  His wife, in her thin patterned muumuu, followed closely behind him as he shuffled slowly with his walker; one foot in front of the other.  I noticed his brown slippers and the way she held his arm.    She firmly, but tenderly, chattered with him about the watch they wanted to get fixed in the jewelry shop.

They stopped just in front of me and smiled at newborn Julien tucked into my carrier.  The man’s eyes were soft and kind behind his thick-rimmed spectacles,  full of memories that I am sure included ice cream cones on the front porch, dancing the Lindy, and coupes trailing dust along a dirt road.

His wife left him to go back to the shop, moving rather quickly as she fiddled with the watch in her hands.   He sat on the bench and stared contentedly at his grandchildren romping.  “Let me tie your shoe”, he called out to one of them.  Slowly bending down over his belly, his fingers methodically tied the tiny shoes.     A bit later, she emerged from the shop again and stopped in front of him.  “Okay, now it’s time to go.  Come on now, get up.”  I detected some East cost in her gravely and assertive voice.   The man started to gently rock back and forth, in an attempt to give himself enough inertia to get to his feet.  “Alright now, come on, you can do this”, she insisted.

And then she grabbed the loose end of his belt, stabilized her feet, and began to pull at the belt as he rocked.

I smiled as I watched the tug-of-war.   He would rock, get his rear off the bench, and then plop back down into his seat.  Three or four times I watched this dance, her coaching him in a dignified but hasty tone.  “Ohhh, now. Come on.  Just get your feet steady and hold on to the walker and DO IT.  Quit messing around. Now ONE…TWO…THREE!”, she would say as she tugged the belt..  The exchange was one I could tell they’d had a multitude of times before.   The man never complained, he just kept trying in unison with his wife’s chants.   It was rather charming to watch but after mulling it over for a few moments I finally offered “Would you like some help?”.    I knew they’d likely decline and his wife said “Oh no, thank you.  We’re getting it.”.   

“Yes, I figured but I wanted to offer just in case. Looks like you know what you are doing!”.  I smiled back at them.  Finally their collaboration was a success and they meandered back to the shops.

Being witness to them, to their way of being together, was a gift.  It reminded me that there is never one way of Doing or Being.     I was reminded of the joy of just watching and allowing and letting.   That “together” can mean alone and “alone” can mean together.   I fell in love with this couple and their efficient navigation of life.   Watching them just made sense.

Sometimes we just need one person, one thing, one moment to make sense.

 

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