100 Word Song – I nearly lost you

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You left so quickly.  I didn’t have time to say goodbye and, in my misery and grief, I nearly lost you.  But your voice permeates my dreams.  The sound of your laughter echoes in my memory.  Those idiosyncracies that used to wear thin are now the moments I cherish the most.

A rider may have fallen, but the ghost of you still navigates those winding curves in my memory.  You will never cease to exist and, although I may have thought you were gone, you will always live on because I choose to remember you.

I hear your distant cry.

~

Written for the 100 Word Song Challenge – one of my new favorite challenges.  If you haven’t tried this yet, I thoroughly recommend it!!

Funny ha-ha or funny ridiculous?

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Oh Daily Prompt, how timely you are!!  I was sitting on my deck on Wednesday night and out of nowhere began to remember lines from this poetic joke I heard as a teenager.  I may have missed parts….but the fact that I could actually remember this much of it thirty years later isn’t so bad!!

Now listen very carefully,

it’s as simple as can be.

The place is Piccadilly,

the players, he and she.

I don’t know how to do it,

she said with fearful eyes.

It’s getting rather painful,

it must be quite a size.

Now calm yourself my darling,

his face beheld a grin.

Just open slightly wider,

so I can get it in.

Suddenly with a startled cry,

she gave a little shout.

Only a little blood was shed,

and then he pulled it out.

Now as you listen carefully,

it’s a dentist you will find.

It’s not what you were thinking,

it’s just your dirty mind.

I’ll never really say goodbye

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This post is written for my dad.

Seven years ago today I watched my father take his last breath.  It was a moment filled with, not only great sadness but, a small amount of relief.  The years leading up to my father’s passing were difficult.  The body of a once vibrant and gregarious man had been ravaged by the effects of  years of alcohol abuse and the subsequent illness that followed.  My mom became his primary caregiver and we could do nothing but watch as the disease progressed and introduced new complications.  My father began having seizures and, after several weeks, he was finally hospitalized.  My brother spent most of the night at the hospital with us but in the darkness of early morning my mom and I sat at the end of his bed during his last few hours and talked to him, telling him it was alright to let go.  And he finally did.

The image of my father lying lifeless in that hospital bed is still strong in my memory.  It wasn’t until several years later was I able to replace that image with thoughts of my dad as he was – full of life, always smiling and loved by everyone.  He oozed charm and was always the life of the party.

I knew from a young age that my dad had a drinking problem, but it wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that my dad confessed something to me that I will never forget.  He told me he didn’t think people would find him fun if he wasn’t drinking.  I had always seen my dad as a man brimming with self-confidence but the man who sat before me, confiding his truth to me, was a man so unsure of himself that he resorted to a habit that would eventually steal his soul.

The phrase “courage in a bottle” was thrown around by friends during our college years, but until that exchange with my father I had never conceived the weight of its meaning.  On the outside my father was the guy everyone wanted to be around because he made life enjoyable.  He enriched the lives of people he touched and left them with lasting memories of laughter, songs and love.  But on the inside he found himself trapped under the canopy of self-doubt and he quieted his demons with alcohol.

The memories of the good times with my dad far outweigh any negative thoughts about his illness.  The way his eyes twinkled when he laughed, the daisy covered speedo he would carelessly throw on the dock so he could suntan naked, the ballroom dancing in the living room and the blueberry muffins I would bake every Sunday morning so we could all have breakfast in my parent’s bed – those are the things I hold close.

Several months after his passing, our town council honored my dad with a plaque and a newly planted tree for his dedication and commitment to the Communities In Bloom project.  There was a small service at the park and I wrote this poem to read at the ceremony.

I miss you dad.  Your light will always continue to shine.

birch tree

As Seasons Change

We give these gifts of nature in your name,

to forever keep you near,

to take root in a place you kept close to your heart,

and represent the things you hold dear.

Your rock will remind us to always be strong,

and to remain solid in the lives we love.

And follow in the examples you gave us in life,

as you look on us from above.

Your tree will remind us to accept the changes,

of seasons that come and go.

As the tree becomes bare at times in our life,

new leaves will blossom in time to show

that nature is beautiful and life has a season,

but all things do come to an end.

And with each change and leaf that is lost,

family and friendships help mend.

Branches sway in the winds of time,

and your whispers will be heard in the breeze.

Your memory lives on in the nature around us,

the air, the rocks, the trees.

My wrinkles are a map to my understanding

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I don’t often stand and look in the mirror for great lengths of time.  Since I cut my hair short and I don’t wear much make-up there is really no need to linger at my reflection.  But this morning I did.  I made the usual faces one makes while looking at themselves and I really studied my face, each crease, each unique spot that has adorned my skin for years.

I followed the lines of wrinkles starting to appear around my eyes and although those fissures are permanent lines in what was once smooth skin, those lines created a map of places I had been in my life.  They are carved from life experiences that made me the person I am today.  Each of those lines tells a story and remembering some of those stories caused me to smile which only pronounced those lines even more.

Senior lady

(image courtesy of Google)

I like to think I earned each and every one of those laugh lines because I took the time to truly enjoy the good moments I’ve had.   The small lines on my furrowed brow help remind me of the difficult and sad times, but times I undoubtedly learned a lesson or a coping skill.  Those wrinkles belong to me.  I choose to own them because I know the emotions they embody.  They are imprinted in my psyche as much as they are etched on my skin.

My wrinkles are a map.  They have led me from my past and, with the myriad of directions I may follow,  they will help guide me into my future.

The best of Christmas

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Each year, when my father was still with us, he would phone at 6:00 am to wish me a Merry Christmas and get the day started.  This year, the lines from Heaven must have been pretty open because that phone in my head rang at 5:30 am and I was wide awake (thanks Dad!!).  But this, begrudgingly, is among the favorite of my Christmas memories.

There are many Christmas traditions we still follow, and although they become slightly modified as the years pass, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without them.  After we moved to our tiny little town, Christmas Eve was spent bundled in our warmest winter gear standing at the end of our driveway.  The sirens could be heard before the truck was spotted and the lights would crest the hill by our house.   Santa Claus was atop the biggest fire truck and would pass all of the eager children, bundled tight like we were, waiting for a glimpse of the big guy before we were hurried off to nestle in our beds.  There were no visions of sugar plums, and the wonder of how he fit his ever-growing frame down our very thin stove-pipe was enough to keep me awake for hours.

Santa on a fire truck

As the years passed we began to give back.  We would faithfully wait at the end of our driveway with a case of beer for the jolly man.  I mean, he had to have been frozen up there and what better way to keep him jolly than some beer?  I’ll never forget the eve of one particular Christmas when Santa told us that he didn’t drink beer, but instead enjoyed a Rye and Coke.  I guess everyone has a Christmas wish and the following year we granted his with a tall glass of whiskey and carbonated syrup.  My gifts were fabulous that year!!

We almost missed him this year, and I raced to the corner of the next street to catch him on his way back.  I stood in anticipation, forever in the shadow of the child I once was and with the smile of the child I hope to always be, and Santa waved and wished me a Merry Christmas.  My night was complete.

Each Christmas morning, we were allowed to open our stockings and then were forced to stare longingly at the big presents under the tree while we choked down some form of breakfast.  Complete and total torture.  That tradition should have been abolished, but still remains intact much to my nephew’s chagrin.  (although my brother’s Eggs Benedict makes the wait worthwhile!)  Paper flew, boxes were cast aside and we became buried in a pile of pure love.  Thanks to my mom, inevitably, one or more of the presents would still have a price tag on them and that became a much-anticipated tradition as well.  My brother followed up spectacularly this year by not only leaving the price tag on a gift for his wife, but the price tag was hanging outside of the gift box and not wrapped up inside.

My mother had become the David Copperfield of making presents disappear.  She mastered her craft so well over the years, that we would receive some of our Christmas presents in March when they magically appeared months after the festivities had ended.  It was always a race between my brother and I to see who would open the last present on Christmas Day.  We would skilfully hide a gift or two and casually pull them out an hour or two after the mayhem had ended.  My mom really upped the ante on that one and it was anyone’s guess as to whose Christmas present was going to appear at Easter!!

As I sit writing this, the dessert is in the fridge waiting to be finished, my brother has put the turkey in the oven and we will meet again in a few hours to enjoy our family dinner.  This is the best of Christmas.  It’s not the presents or the tinsel, it’s time laughing about the price tags and the long-lost gifts that is the most important to me.  It’s Santa Claus on a fire truck and being tricked by my nephew to play a Shepherd in church on Christmas Eve.  It’s a glass of wine with the people closest to me, the people who don’t care that I have to unbutton my pants after eating too much turkey.  These are my precious Christmas gifts and the best of my holiday.

To all of you and all of yours – a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Audience of one – I wish it were you

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It’s okay to get stuffed every once in a while

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The only thing I hate about a steak and lobster dinner is getting too full to eat any more. ~SS

There’s a lot to be said for the joy the holidays bring – or any celebration, for that matter.  Whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or a reunion – the ease of the conversation, the steady flow of wine, the melodic sound of laughter and the joy of being with a close-knit group of people is unequalled.  There is an undefined comfort level that allows us to become absorbed in the festivities that surround us. The fact that we can gorge ourselves and have an excuse to eat everything in sight with only a few fleeting moments of guilt is sublime.

The molecules change in the room when family and friends get together for a holiday celebration.  There is something intrinsically sacred about holidays and the memories that are created within those moments. Time has a way of strategically obliterating those precious seconds as it marches on at a frantic pace, but our memories have a way of stopping that clock, if only for a few moments.

Holidays are a portal.  They can freeze time and create a vortex that allows us to travel back and relive certain periods in our lives.  The memories wrap themselves around us like a blanket and soothe us with the warmth of the times that engaged us and truly breathed life into our lives.

Although many holidays have passed and are collecting dust in the books of my hallowed history, watching my brother “float” his dinner in gravy brings back a rush of nostalgia, and that, to me, is what the holidays are truly about.  Personal moments that, to any other person would mean nothing, but to me, define my holiday experience.

Our Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the time that I got to spend with my family is etched into my subconscious.  Glimpses of that night will replay themselves on the movie screen in my head and I will be front row, enjoying the show.  I can only hope the same fate happens upon my American family and friends, and that their Thanksgiving will leave them with the same lasting memories.

Embrace your family, enjoy the moments, and get stuffed with those memories.