Archives for posts with tag: memory

Every bird out this morning. Blue birds. Chickadees. Robins. All singing their chorus, flitting from tree to tree. Somehow it reminded me of recess in kindergarten, carefree, happy. Running around, playing, smiling, greeting the day. The birds remind me that the sweet song is still within.

I sit here at the laundry mat, propped up on one of the swivel chairs, looking out the window, homework spread out, diligently writing out the questions that I will later fill in the answers for. Music plays in the background, I have caffeinated myself with a decaf mocha and though it has less caffeine, it still packs just the right amount of zing.

A group of pigeons…the movement in the tree brought my gaze back outside. I look out at the hills, the variety of tree species, one beginning to show its autumn foliage. And I think to myself how much I love trees, how amazing they are, how vacant I would feel without them. I think of my childhood pine tree that I used to climb and sit comfortably atop its large trunk-like branches; that tree is still there, and its also inside my heart. And the beautiful palm tree that shot up so tall, the large palm branches that jetted out; and the large umbrella-like tree that offered shade and a place to read.

The pigeon settles himself on a branch, his gray tones stand out against green and splashes of red. There one moment, gone the next.

It’s a busy laundry day…I see a mother walk by with two toddlers–a little girl entertained with a wad of newspaper, she walks by on her tippy toes, peering in, giggles.

Amongst the chores, the homework, a peaceful start to the morning–the mountains and trees a welcome backdrop.

(Photo was actually taken at sunset yesterday, November 12, 2015)

“Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep.”
–Carl Sandburg

I woke up to the rain, and just as the clouds broke, I felt a certain release within my soul, as though the debris within was being washed away with the rain. When I sat at the kitchen table to begin my morning ritual, the scent of eucalyptus brightened my mental space. The pale yellow carnations from last Sunday, that remind me so much of the ruffles on a child’s dress, share the vase with fresh eucalyptus stems–those fragrant stems take me to my grandparent’s home, to the backyard with the tall eucalyptus trees, that familiar scent of one of my favorite trees, the scent of comfort and childhood–the scent that fills my space this morning.

Two nights ago on September 1, 2013 at 1:36 a.m., it rained for less than 60 seconds.

I had just gotten out of bed to brush my teeth. When I laid back down, I heard pitter-pat pitter-pat. I kept listening in disbelief. Raining? It was so hot today. I listened for a few seconds more, then I rushed out to the living room to tell M. He was about to come wake me up to tell me the same, but he said he wasn’t sure he should wake me.

We looked outside together but couldn’t see the rain. We couldn’t even hear it. I told him it was a good thing we didn’t paint the table and benches today–the old weathered table and benches we found at an estate sale two Sunday’s ago. That table in its weathered state reminded me of my grandfather and of the outside tables and chairs that he used to make with his own two hands–the chairs I used to sit in. I wondered if they were still there or if my uncle had thrown them out.

Then–the rain was gone like it never happened. I went back to sleep with a smile on my face. A few moments, right after I laid back down, I could smell the faint smell of wet earth. What a wonderful smell. My smile grew.

Two nights ago, I dreamt of my mother. I rarely dream about her, which I told my uncle recently when he told me that he had dreamed of her. He said, “My sister looked really happy,” as he choked back a small rise of emotion.

Her memory is entwined with my existence.

For a great stretch of my life, I tried to live in a way that would give her spirit a second chance at life, to live in a way that would bring her the peace that she didn’t seem to have for the short period of time I knew her. I still have that on my mind, but it has become more embedded within my soul, and in some ways I feel as though both of our spirits have come together in harmony, and now I don’t focus on her peace any longer because I think we reached it together–her peace.

When I look into the mirror, as the years have gone by, more and more, the reflection looking back has glimmers of her; when I see certain pictures of myself, I see her smile; when I cry after reading a short story, I think of her; when I witness certain acts of kindness, I remember the things my mother did for others; when I think of how sometimes it’s easier to open up and reach out to strangers more so than family, I think of my mother; when my temper gets the best of me, I am my mother. The positive and the negative are within me. I accept that. I work on and nurture what I can.

It’s comforting to know she’s with me and within me–that I recognize her.

Two night’s ago, I dreamt of my mother. I was in a hospital looking for her. In the dream I think she may have been in an accident. I don’t remember. I went to one room–room 103. There was a sign in the hall leading to the rooms that said for staff only. I tried to go down the hall, but I was cutoff and somehow the nurse knew where I was going, who I was looking for. My mother had been moved into another room. She pointed to the next hall of rooms and told me I would find her in there. I was hoping she was alone.

As I walked into the room, I saw her resting. She had a glow around her and her salt and pepper hair was mostly dark brown and glistened. She immediately sensed me, opened her eyes and gave me the warmest most peaceful smile. I went to her, beaming with a smile of my own, I bent my head down to her and rested it in the crook of her neck in her nest of hair and breathed her in as though I hadn’t seen her in forever.

She smelled like the rain.

When I was a young girl, I was, in a way, my mother’s doll. I was an extension of herself–an extension of all of her hopes and dreams; it wasn’t always easy for many reasons, for the choices she made in life long before I was born and had to live with, for the anger she held inside and acted out on. I think she felt trapped; in many ways, I became the only thing that made her feel free, so all of her time went into me, even if it was haphazard at times.

When I search and search for words…I don’t remember heart-to-hearts, except once in the conveyance of a smile from her being at her most uncomfortable hour awaiting her exit from this world. I remember going to her sickbed at my grandmother’s home, two houses up. She could no longer care for herself; the pain was worsening, life was escaping her.

I had just shaved my legs for the first time ever. I was 13. The other girls were doing it. I showed my older brother; proud I was. He was 33. He yelled at me as if I had committed a crime, trying to stuff my womanhood back down into a black box. It was too much for him to bear seeing his baby sister grow up too fast.

I ran out of the house and up to my grandmother’s house to my mother’s side and told her what I had done and explained about my brother’s reaction.

All I remember is the loving smile that spread upon her face and made it glow, as she lay in bed, reaching her hand out to bring me closer. This moment seemed to make the pain go away. I had never seen her look as radiant and peaceful as in that hour.

It wasn’t until my adult-self had the opportunity to look back. I imagined that she somehow knew her girl would be all right without her mother; that in a way, she was at peace knowing she would not be here to watch her girl blossom into a woman.

That look–the love and tenderness in her eyes–is one of my fondest memories of mother and daughter communicating, not through words, but pure emotion, through the windows of our souls, as she lay on her deathbed.

I cannot be certain of the exact timing, but her cancer did worsen; she had given in to it. I believe she was ready to take leave, to end her pain and suffering.

She had to be taken to the hospital soon after that day. I had seen her in the days after with an unfamiliar and painful look in her eyes, and I don’t think she wanted me to see her–but this other peaceful look, it brought balance and far outshines the pain in my memory.

I remember being in my brother’s room, watching television late at night while he was talking to someone in the other room. When the phone rang, right as I heard my brother pick it up, I knew. She had died.

I know she continues to smile down upon me; and she was right–that look in her eyes, the way I read it now–she knew her girl would be fine.

We went to Carmel on Saturday and it was a wonderful time. After checking into the hotel, grabbing two sandwiches, our blanket, and a bottle of wine, we headed straight to the beach. It was slightly windy and cool. I had to go back to the car to get our sweatshirts, but it was still wonderful visiting the beach.

**
Little bits from the road (3/23/13)

Seagulls
circling together–
a sea of musical notes.

**

Time doesn’t always make
sense to me. It speeds by. It
stands still. I don’t notice it until
I start counting backward, back
to when mom died. Then, it sinks
in–just how much time has
passed.

Right now–I’ll experience
today again and again for as long
as God allows me. Time really is memory–
nothing more, nothing less. This is the
time that matters to me.

**
Last night (3/26/13)

The moon looked glorious last night,
almost full. I saw it low and round, the
color of warm honey. That’s when I went into
the grocery store. When I came out and started
driving home, the moon was nestled between clouds.
The faintest bit of pink hugged the right edge–I wanted
so much to paint what I saw.

I saw an abstract
whimsical clown in last night’s moon.

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Silly squirrel, climbing up the telephone pole. I see you hop to the wire with a shake of your busy tail. You skitter across in a punctuated frenzy, taking me back to memories of my old home where you greeted me in the mornings like my own personal alarm clock.

I could hear you scurry and race around the great pine tree. I could hear you–the bark under your scratchy feet and your little voice–chirp chirp whirr. We’d fill the water bowl every morning for you. We’d hear when you’d tip it, metal against concrete, as the empty bowl would tip back, sounding the bell.

I would open the door and you’d scurry up the tree, sit there at a close distance watching me watch you. I’d put your bowl down and you’d wait for me to step back. I watched you from the screen door, right there; that screen between us was enough for you to feel secure. I’d watch you with your little hands, gripping the bowl. You’d shove your head down then bob it up real quick to make sure I wasn’t going to catch you, and sometimes you’d keep one eye on me as you drank your water.

Silly squirrel, I miss you.

More at one with the knife, no longer tentative in how I cut through the flesh, I’ve grown to welcome the mornings that I cut melon. I take that round of juiciness, scoop the seeds out of the center; juices trail down my hands, the aroma rises in sweet explosion, I cut it down to manageable slices. When my slices have been cut, I take the knife, hold each slice tenderly in my palm, cut the melon flesh away in two motions: first slice–toward the center; turn, second slice toward the center, release. Chop to size.

As I was slicing through the melon, I thought of how my grandfather would slice an apple at the table, or rather skin an apple. He would end up with one perfect peel all in one piece. I liked watching him manuver the knife carefully and gracefully around that apple. He had time. No rushes. No other distractions. Just him, the apple, smiles, whiskers–and his granddaughter watching intently–part of the moment.

As I finished up with the melon, I was also breathing deeply and intentionally, as I am now. I could tell that the day was going to be filled with bustle. I needed more calm. I selected a CD that I usually play when I need to relax even more, to take my energy down a notch. And so I breathe. The music plays. I hear a chime in the distance that causes me to feel the stillness within; the instruments lull me toward a balanced day. I relax. I breathe…

I would never have imagined myself in a million years taking an early childhood education (ECE) class. Two classes ago we walked through the different day care rooms at night on the community college campus to get an idea of how the environments were set up. The infant room brought an instant calm to my being. There were soft toys, books, organization, neutral colors, and pictures up high to look at. As we walked through the different rooms, notebook in hand, I felt that I could see myself in a setting like this one day. I especially liked the pre-school room. There was so much to explore, inside and outside.

I have to admit that I’ve always been more of an animal person. Children brought up fears in me–with infants, there is a fear of how fragile they are. With the older children, there is the fear of how honest some of them may be, and how well brought up they are to know what’s nice to say and not so nice.

On the flip side, that’s what’s so great about children: They are totally honest.

Somewhere in my early thirties I was in a Safeway and I’ve always had tendencies toward shyness and insecurity. On this one day I had stopped off at Safeway on my way home from work. I used to bike to work then. I had my bike helmet on my head. It was a hot day and my face was hot and sweaty. I walked by an older child sitting in the shopping cart. she must have been five years old or so. As I walked by she pointed at me and said, “she’s ugly.” I just kept walking. Her dad was near by and I think he walked over to her and who knows what he mumbled to her.

All I know is that I felt about one inch tall. Even though I didn’t know this child, those simple words fed into an insecurity that I felt. From a rational perspective, I could talk myself around it or better yet ignore the comment. But emotionally, it planted a small seed–and not that I had considered working with children then–I think I told myself I never would.

I can tell that a shift has occurred in me, and at this stage in my life, my relationship toward children has changed–is changing in positive ways.

I’ve said it before, and I don’t mind repeating that I believe we all learn and grow at our own pace. In looking back at my childhood, there are many instances where I’ve had to battle with self-esteem issues. It feels good that as I continue going through life, the layers continue shedding, being replaced by new ones–stronger ones.

We’re never too old to learn and grow.

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The past few mornings, I have delighted in the birdsong that I hear stream in through the slim opening of the bedroom window. It is music to my ears and spurs my body to smile all over.

Yesterday, I allowed myself one small indulgence. I was in the stationary store to see if they had any interesting postcards. As I have been in search of postcards lately, I am reminded of how scarce they actually are to come by, and when they are there to be found, they are often of the touristy type. I was pleasantly surprised to see several lovely and some wonderfully strange postcards.

But the postcards were not my one small indulgence, though I did end up buying three and they added to my purchase.

While I was browsing, my eyes were caught by a brown bag splashed with three dollops of color: pink and red. I circled around the small table and saw that what I was looking at were “grab bags” and the red and pink dollops were hearts. I was immediately transported to a time in my childhood when my mother would buy me grab bags from the Hello Kitty store. She had a friend that worked in one of the stores and she would ask her to make mine extra special. I looked forward to receiving the lovely bags filled with a variety of Hello Kitty trinkets, pens, lip gloss, and other goodies.

So when I saw this simple grab bag knowing it would contain a pad of paper, a pen, and stickers, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve always enjoyed the surprise of opening up the bag; and even though I knew generally what would be inside, that didn’t stop me and it didn’t take away the feeling of allowing myself or rather still having that childlike wonder deep inside of me. I had to chuckle to myself as I read the sign near the bags that said, “good for ages 5 – 8.” I suppose they could add: “and the young at heart.”