Visiting Hour

The blue-uniformed tech pushes an oversized chair through the crowded waiting room to make an extra place for us. We sit down, my son next to me, his dad across. It’s the visiting hour. He’s been here two days. Just settling in. Last night he was weepy. No sleep and no meds. Transparent to the bone, he spoke his truth and we listened with Buddha eyes.

Tonight he’s livelier. More like himself. Even happy I think. They got ice cream sundaes today, he says. With fudge sauce and whipped cream and sprinkles.

He tells us of a character he met.  A man who calls himself “A Weapon of Mass Destruction.” We laugh at his stories of the man, not at the man. The man is interesting, his truth his own, just different from those of us who wear the civilized veneer of normalcy.

We talk of our cats, of current politics, tell funny stories to each other, while close around us others are telling theirs. It’s cozy really, almost like a party. Tonight the loony bin doesn’t seem all that loony.

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The Vernal Equinox and a Baby Brother

I’m so full of memories these days. A sure sign I’m getting up there.

Today is the vernal equinox. My older son, TJ, just sent me a photo of the rising sun from his car.

It took me back to an afternoon thirty-three years ago. I was waiting for  him and his sisters to come home from school. The bus would be letting them off at the end of the street any minute.

Their three-day-old baby brother, fresh from the maternity ward and cuddly as a bunny rabbit in his fleecy outfit, was sound asleep in his white wicker bassinette in the living room, ready for display.

I could hear youthful voices coming closer to the house, yelling “Hurry up, TJ!!”  In flew twelve-year old Jennifer and eleven-year old Amy, in their blue plaid jumpers, ready to adore this little bundle of joy they’d been waiting for almost as expectantly as I.

And then, in came eight-year-old TJ, not accustomed to running long distances, his gangly legs carrying him as fast as they would go. I can remember, as if it were happening right this minute, how his face lit up the room when he looked into that bassinette.


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The Last Child

Creak creak creak, old rocker speaks,
slowly I stroke a silken cheek,
nestled close we quit the day
and boundaries seem to melt away.

This child who fills my heart so full
has late begun to feel the pull
of other things, and other dreams,
so soon, so soon–too soon it seems.

Creak creak creak, old rocker speaks
to tender, melting night,
for now I’ll keep tomorrow out
and hold my wanderer tight.

mother and child

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It’s 5:30 on a warm and breezy March day in my Florida backyard. The air is clear and mellow with that slightly golden look it gets between afternoon and dusk, when the sun begins to lower.

Lying back in my lazy yard chair with a book in my lap, my attention is stolen by the greater story all around me and I’m content to let it unfold.  Just a few inches to my right, a lizard holds perfectly still in its vertical position on a tree trunk, nearly invisible against the bark, while on my left, another one rustles through the leaves.

And here comes a fat, gray neighbor cat, just passing through, not even stopping to say hello. I wonder why my tabby is allowing this transgression–she must be off somewhere on business of her own.

Over there on the fence post a squirrel perches as if holding a pose, until another one approaches–and they’re off and running, like Loony Toon characters.

I hear a jay pierce the air, announcing himself before freshening up in the birdbath, feathers fluttering every which way. And overhead, against the milky-blue sky the lacy tree limbs and twisty branches of skimpy old oaks come together in a protective canopy with birds weaving in and out.

The sounds of man are also near. Children, car doors, a mower, and farther off, the dull sound of rush hour picking up. Above, I hear an airplane and then another–smaller and rattly. I never noticed before just how many planes fill the sky. These are pointed south.

And, always, the mockingbirds and jays and bright red cardinals. And the small-headed doves. And was that a woodpecker that just flew through?

Now the air feels cooler, no longer mellow and golden, and the trees are getting a shadowy look to them. So I close my unread book and call for my cat. Time to go inside.

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A Chorus of Crows

A cacaphony,
a convention,
a chorus of crows!
Crow cries everywhere.
All the day long.

Spring migration I guess.
Do they crow for the sheer joy
of this flawless day?
Not too hot, not too cold,
just enough wind to play in.
Looking for a date?

All I know is they
sound like they’re having
a helluva good time out there.




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Rain Lily Boy

I have this memory of a boy. A bittersweet memory more than 30 years old.

It’s my son. A skinny ten year old, crooked-toothed before braces, with a thatch of light brown hair and calm eyes. A tender child not given to tough boy play, more given to cats and books and a giggly prank or two.  A boy who read the entire World Book Encyclopedia from A-Z.  Pre-Google.  

I stood at my kitchen window watching him at work in the back yard, still in his Catholic schoolboy uniform–navy pants, white shirt. Kneeling on the ground, bent to his task with garden spade in hand, transplanting some rain lilies he’d carried carefully from a neighbor’s yard to ours.

Rain lilies spring up wild every year in our part of Florida when the rainy season arrives. Usually in late spring. They’re a delicate flower with long, slender throats brushed with purple. He wanted to grow some of his own.

This gentle scene took place before his world and mine were taken by surprise. A surprise neither of us wanted. The upheaval would come in just a year, and this sweet boy’s life, and mine, would change forever.  But just now, as I watched him, life as we knew it was still intact and he was just a kid melting his mom’s heart.

The memory always comes to me when I see rain lilies.



Posted in adolescence, beauty, children, emotions, family, human interest, love, mother, nature, nostalgia, poetry, psychology, relationships, sadness, spirituality, women | 3 Comments

Puttering Away

I love to putter. Very relaxing. I don’t know what Google says, but my definition of puttering is “catching up on chores at a leisurely pace while singing along to music, sometimes including a little happy-dance.” And if the weather is nice and the windows wide open, so much the better.  Throw a nap and a Klondyke Bar somewhere in the mix and you’ve got a perfect putter-day.

For 23 years, I was chained to a desk five days a week and couldn’t putter unless I took vacation time to do it. My work week-ends were crammed with a million things not conducive to puttering. Puttering has to be done without rushing. That’s why it’s called puttering.

Now that I’m retired I can putter all I want. But a day or two a week is enough. And it’s not like I’m in love with housework. As a matter of fact, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a husband and four kids I don’t remember digging housework all that much. Cleaning house when a husband and four kids live in it is like pissing in the wind.

But now I just clean up after myself and there’s plenty of other neat stuff going on in my life.  So puttering is just one slice of a big ole delicious pie called retirement.

Gotta go. Time to mop the kitchen floor.  And there’s a Klondyke Bar in the freezer with my name on it.


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