Posts tagged ‘Family’


Her Mother

{by Gillian Marchenko}

photo credit

Last year in a Ukrainian court room, a stern looking judge asked me to rise. “Mrs. Marchenko, can you be a good mother to this child?” I had been coached beforehand by our adoption coordinator to answer ‘da,’ yes in Russian. Instead, though, I burst into tears.

My tears that day were a showcase of a medley of emotions: fear, insecurity, excitement, expectancy. The judge’s face softened as I stood weakly before her, sobbing. “Sit down, woman. The answer is in your tears.”


A year later, I am perched with my legs crisscross on scratchy gray carpet in an observation room with Evangeline, the little girl we adopted from Ukraine, on my lap. We just finished singing The Wheels on the Bus under the watchful eye of a social worker with a yellow pad of paper in one hand and a sharpened number two pencil tipped to take notes in the other.

Evangeline is being evaluated to determine if her behavior falls somewhere on the Autism spectrum or if what she does, stuff like eating dirt off the floor and rocking back and forth all day, are connected to her prior diagnosis of Down syndrome. I wonder internally, are these behaviors simply left over from being orphaned at birth?


A couple nights ago when all four of our children were tucked away in bed, I started working on a picture montage documenting Evangeline’s first year home. I scrutinized each picture we had of her and chose only the best: the ones where she looks happy, comfortable, content. While working on my project, I imagined friends and family commenting charitably. “Her hair is so long!” “She is so pretty!” And it’s true. She’s a beautiful girl. Her hair is as soft and shinny as corn silk. Her face is a plump, pink heart.

But so far, the montage falsely documents our first year together. I’ve left out the overarching theme; one of struggle and pain. Correct documentation would include a picture of me crying on my husband’s shoulder. “I can’t do this. She’s not who I expected her to be.” There would be another picture of Evangeline with a huge knot on her forehead from hitting herself on a crib bar at night to fall asleep. There would be a shot of me with scratches on my face from trying to hug her and probably another one with my back to her, my face blotchy and red from anger over her rejection.


Today at the evaluation, Evangeline surprises me by happily waving to the social worker when we first walk into the room. She bangs two plastic rings together, and flirts and laughs, this little girl who is typically suspicious of the world and traditionally closed off to me. Her actions both excite and anger me. I am overwhelmed to see her connect to her surroundings but I’m pissed off that she’ll wave hello to a stranger but won’t look me in the eye. If I would have seen these skills displayed earlier, we wouldn’t even be here.

“Give me five adjectives that describe your relationship with Evangeline compared to when you first brought her home” the social worker directs her attention to me after playing with Evangeline.          I did not expect this question. I thought the focus of our conversation would be Evangeline and her behavior. My mind folds out past me like a dry, cracked desert. I struggle to get words out. Finally I give her ten adjectives with little comprehension of what I am saying. I tug on the collar of my sweater in an effort to catch a breath.

“Do you feel like her mother?” The social worker asks, tapping her pinky on the pad of paper, blinking, her face flat and heavy looking, like a steel pan used to sizzle an egg.

The weight of Evangeline’s bottom presses into my thighs. I remember that she is sitting silently on my lap. My mind becomes a roman shade, flapping back to me, no longer a desert, but now a rolodex of memories from the past year. I think about the scratching and biting, about her hitting her head for comfort. I think about her moving away from the rest of us, finding a quiet place to rock while we watch a movie or play a family game.

But then, instances of connection emerge and intermingle with the painful memories: the time she came to me and raised her arms above her head so that I would pick her up. Her eyes locking with mine for a moment, before darting off to a distant land deep within her mind. Her high pitched laugh ringing out as her father tickles her under her arms.

I wrap my arms around her torso as a slow sob starts to form in the pit of my stomach. I am crying now, just like I did in the Ukrainian court room a year ago. I realize, unbeknownst to me, that a slow hum of trust has started to purr between us, as quiet and unidentifiable as white space.

“Yes. I am her mother. I feel it.”

The tears come hard now. I cry in front of the social worker not because Evangeline is being evaluated for a dual diagnosis. I cry not because at three-and-a-half years old she still does not talk or because the most recent scratch on my chin from her pointer finger still hasn’t crusted over.

I cry because I realize her gains. I cry because I realize our gains.

I cry because I’m the one who has farther to go.

As an adoptive mom, I cling to these moments of clarity like they are email from God. Today, in front of this social worker, the center piece of our puzzle, the one that gives me a hint of our future, has started to move to its place.

I am her mother.

Sit down, woman. The answer is in your tears.

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{by Ann Imig}

I just came from breakfast with my Fodder Father at his regular haunt—The Pancake House. We meet there often and each episode follows a similar script:

I drive in the parking lot to see his car already stowed in one of his three usual spaces, park my VW station wagon alongside his Ford sedan (he’s a labor arbitrator, he buys American).

Even when the waiting area is full, the proprietors wave me back “Your Dad’s waiting for you,” and I see him sitting with a cup of coffee, maybe working on the crossword with his reading glasses on, wearing a plaid flannel shirt or short-sleeved button down depending on the temperature. Regardless, he has his check book and a pen in the chest pocket.

After greeting me with a smile and a hug, he marvels over LTYM and this whole internet business. He inquires after my kids, my husband, or my girlfriends he’s known since we were actually girls, and then updates me with the latest casualties from The Saddies.

We often order the same thing; a half order of pecan pancakes and black coffee.

He peppers the rest of our conversation with not-so-quiet observations about other restaurant patrons:

“Is that baby Hindu or do you think that’s just a scab on its forehead.”

“I don’t want to ruin your breakfast, but I have one word for the toddler behind you: Drool.”

He relays moments from his recent work travels:

“These two guys behind me on the plane start singing—well, chanting–and so I ask them why are they chanting? Is it for fun? For religious purposes? What? And they say we just like to chant and I say great. Just what Madison needs! More chanting.”

I double-check “You actually said that to them?” and yes, most of the time he did actually say that to them.

Dad flirts with and teases the waitstaff. Once Mildred tickled his chin after warming up his coffee. This, right after my Dad told me way too much about a pair of 50-year-old women who tried to pick him up on a flight. I’m not sure whether the idea of two women trying to seduce my Dad, the likelihood that they might’ve been serial killer-dominatrices trying to lure him to his demise, or Mildred’s blatant coffee overture–troubled me the most.

He turns 70 next week on Thanksgiving. So odd considering he’s only 43. These regular pancake breakfasts, along with his spontaneous weekend 20 minute stop-overs to see the grandkids, feel like well-worn and dependable routes etched on the map of my life. But—like a childhood full of walks to and from school–the seasons, the time of day, and color of your tights vary. Sometimes my kids join us, sometimes my Dad chooses a half-order of Eggs Benedict English muffin well-done please, and sometimes he muses aloud how it’s tricky enough to recognize someone you haven’t seen in 16 years, but especially when they’re wearing a blonde wig on their head— all while said person may or may not be within earshot.

As much as I loved living in Chicago for 10 years, I always yearned to come back home and raise my kids alongside my family and friends on these familiar and metaphorical streets. We moved back home to Madison in 2006, but if you analyzed where I put the mileage on my car since then, a vast majority were probably spent on the 7-minute drive between my house and my Mom’s.

My Mom and my regular rendezvous also follow a somewhat predictable script. Instead of pancakes, we drink overpriced coffee-house drinks while Four eats more than his share of courtesy candy. We have a late afternoon glass of wine and process about life, while the boys watch Cartoon Network or play board games nearby–all set to the tune of an assortment of ridiculously delicious artisan cheeses. We laugh at ourselves, my mom apologizes again for all the traits I got from her. I compliment her on something I like that she’s wearing and within minutes or days she insists I keep it.

Last night Seven asked me “Mom? When I go to college will you draw me a map so I can get back home?”

I hope by the time my son becomes a young man, that map is already worn with comfortable and familiar paths. If I do my job well, he’ll want to explore secret passageways, and set out to chart his own course. Inevitably he’ll look for short-cuts (we all do). But like his younger brother’s auto-pilot to my bed many nights at 4 am, I hope home remains the true north on his compass—whether that “home” is here, someplace else he settles with his own family or friends, or The Pancake House. God willing it’s here.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Ann Imig is a humour writer and the the creator and National Director of Listen To Your Mother. Read Ann’s original post on Ann’s Rants, subscribe to her blog here, and click here to follow @annsrants on Twitter.

Featured by Story Pick Editor Amy Turn Sharp


everything has a last day

{by Amanda of Last Mom on Earth}

(photo source)

We went on a special date, just Louise and me. She crawled through the aisles of the bookstore and I slowly meandered behind her, reading passages from crisp, unspoiled novels I knew I wasn’t going to buy. Maybe someday.

She talks a lot, when she’s alone with me. She points to things and tells me about them in her funny, amazing language. When something surprises or delights her, her tiny hand flies to her mouth and she chews on her perfect little fingers.

We came home to an empty house and I sat a carton of blueberries on the floor between us. My hands were clumsy and imprecise, picking up toppling handfuls and eating them without discretion. Louise, with her dainty, pointed fingertips, thought carefully about each berry before she chose it with an attitude of satisfaction and ate it, all by itself, like it was the most special and singular blueberry on the planet.

So much thought and care goes into chewing and swallowing a single blueberry when you’re one years old.

Some children from my daughter’s school, their mother is dying. So, we swoop upon them with love, making lists and baking lasagna, doing things that don’t matter, but they mean something. They mean, “We are mothers, too and we couldn’t imagine how scared and sad you must feel, to be leaving your children.”

Lots of people talk about how a child should never die before a parent. I believe it’s true. It would be a grief so complete and unbearable, I have no way to fathom it. And, I also can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up tomorrow if I might die before the year was over.

Every movement my daughters make is holy. Little fingernails, they’re so small you can barely believe that they’re real. Tiny crescents of mud beneath them. What would my life be, if I understood that everybody dies. I pray they will be old and settled when it’s my turn, but still. I will never be at peace with knowing they will breathe and eat and think and move around in the world, when I can no longer see them. They need me for everything. Without me, they couldn’t survive. And the amount I need them supersedes their neediness by mountains and thunderclouds, by river mouths and inlets. The way I love them is the way rain permeates the earth, filling up everything that was begging, and the earth sighs.

“Everything has a last day.” I read this on a blog today. A little boy said this about life. I almost can’t take it, he’s so smart and right and beautiful.

So, I’ll be spending the week at the beach with my family. There will be restaurants and shopping and we’ll all be stuffed into a bedroom that was made for a single person. There will be book lights and bubble wands and special, sugar cereal, just this one week per year. But, there will also be salt on the wind and a fat moon dangling above us while we sleep. Our summer congestion will be healed, I hope, and so will my sense of feeling like we’re all too big for our lives. The ocean has a way of making me small and unimportant, like death and love are all a part of things, and that I know what I’m doing, just because I’m a person.

I’ll bake and cry into the pen’s ink when I write, I hope you all are making it, out there… and my children will reach for the glow of our doorbell while I’m rushing them inside and out of the heat. We will all die someday, and it’s probably the right thing to do.


Amanda is a mother of two beautiful girls living in Pittsburgh. Her writing is stunning, a visceral thing that moves you to your core.
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Featured by Story Editor: Heather King

September 29, 2011 | Featured 2, HeatherEO, Memoir, Thursday 2

A Moment Like Any Other

{by Mitchell Brown}

(photo source)

It was a familiar spot and a moment like any other. It may have been yesterday. It may have been last year.

My reflection in the window looked old. The light bulb above me and the absence of light outside worked together to show my face drawn and dramatic in the shadows. I hadn’t bothered to pull the curtains yet and I stared at myself for a moment. I laughed without a sound thinking of how much I have aged over the last four years. I barely resemble who I was then. My hair is long now and noticeably grey. The skin around my eyes speaks of late nights and early mornings. Wrinkles born of worries and joys I never before knew trace my mouth. I look old, but I look happy. And I look tired.

I pulled the curtains shut and turned on the water.

An old friend once taught me about reconnecting with myself as I travel through my day. He would stop as he walked through a doorway to be aware of his body. Feel your toes, he would say. Remember they are there. Wiggle them. Think for a moment what your pinky toe feels like. Then move up though your legs, through your hips, through your belly, your chest, your shoulders, your ears. Reconnect. Center. Then move on. I stood at the sink and thought of him, as I often do, and thought of my toes. My poor, neglected toes. Shoved into shoes because barefoot on my feet all day makes my old knees ache. I allowed my awareness to move past my entombed toes and climb through me, feeling every inch of my body. Every weary muscle and sore joint recalled a moment. My hips were open and loose from squatting down to speak with my girls on their terms. My belly felt empty because it was not the one I was focused on filling at the dinner table. My throat was dry from all of the stories and answers and explanations and singing.

I felt my body. It felt tired.

The steam from the water, now hot, felt like a warm cloth as it reached my eyes. I held my head still to let my face absorb the heat. This is my spa, I thought. Each moment is what you make it. The weight of the water gathering on the sink full of dishes caused them to shift and I grabbed the sponge, returning from my little vacation.

Some nights, standing at that sink with the sponge in my hand, were welcomed and even enjoyable. Agatha Christie once said the best place to plan a book is at the sink washing dishes. I liked that. I liked that there could be some other end in mind when accomplishing such a mundane task. I liked that I got to think about something other than how I would be washing these same dishes tomorrow. I liked that it allowed me to be somewhere else, doing something else.

Some nights, though, each pass of the sponge across a plate or a pan was done absent of thought at all. Some nights I was too tired to think of anything but what my hands were doing. Some nights those dishes were just the physical reminder of the mindless repetitiveness of it all. Sometimes all I was doing was washing dishes. Sometimes all I ever do is wash dishes.

Exhaustion is funny that way. At the end of a day filled with purpose and meaning, exhaustion can convince you that your whole purpose has no meaning. I try to teach and support and love and inspire. I try to cook and clean and wash and do. I try to be the best father I can be. I try to give everything I have. And I usually succeed, leaving me at the sink with nothing left. Nothing left to recall the successes. Nothing left to enjoy the simple beauty of being a father. Nothing left on which to build or create or conceive.

It was a moment like any other. I finished the dishes and did it again the next day.

Mitchell Brown writes at Thoughtful Pop. Read the original post here.
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Story Editor~ Heather King ::: @HeatheroftheEO

September 1, 2011 | Featured 2, Memoir, Mr Lady, Tuesday 2

Hands Upon My Heart

{by Melinda Wentzel from Planet Mom}

(photo credit: wolfgangphoto)

When I was nine or ten, I remember well my enthrallment with my mother’s hands. They were delicate and slender, sweetly scented and rose petal-soft—so completely unlike my own nicked and scraped, callused and chafed boy-like hands that were better suited for wielding a hammer and throwing a fastball than anything else.

Mine were distinctively earthy, too, largely because remnants of dirt and grass simply refused to be removed. Or at least that was the sentiment I held for much of the summer. It was a byproduct of being a kid, I suppose, literally immersed in a world of sod and soil from sunup to sundown. Never mind my fondness of forests and rocky places, which typified a deep and abiding bond with nature—one that I’m not quite sure my mother ever completely understood.

At any rate, my hands told of who I was at the time—a tomboy given to tree climbing, stealing second base and collecting large and unwieldy rocks. Everyone’s hands, I’d daresay, depict them to a certain degree, having a story to tell and a role to play at every time and every place on the continuum of life. Traces of our journey remain there in the folds of our skin—from the flat of our palms and knobs of our knuckles to the very tips of our fingers. As it should be, I suppose.

For better or for worse, our hands are the tools with which we shape the world and to some extent they define us—as sons and daughters, providers and professionals, laborers and learners, movers and shakers. That said, I’m intrigued by people’s hands and the volumes they speak—whether they’re mottled with the tapestry of age, vibrant and fleshy or childlike and impossibly tender. Moreover, I find that which they whisper difficult to ignore.

Likewise, I’m fascinated by the notion that ordinary hands routinely perform extraordinary deeds day in and day out, ostensibly touching all that truly matters to me. Like the hands that steer the school bus each morning, the hands that maintain law and order throughout the land, the hands at the helm in the event of fire or anything else that smacks of unspeakable horribleness, the hands that deftly guide my children through the landscape of academia, the hands that bolster them on the soccer field, balance beam, court and poolside, the hands that bless them at the communion rail each week and the hands that brought immeasurable care and comfort to our family pet in his final hours. Strange as it sounds, I think it’s important to stop and think about such things. Things that I might otherwise overlook when the harried pace of the world threatens to consume me.

If nothing else, giving pause makes me mindful of the good that has come to pass and grateful to the countless individuals who continue to make a difference simply by putting their hands to good use. For whatever reason, this serves to ground me and helps me put into perspective how vastly interdependent and connected we are as a whole. Indeed, we all have a hand (as well as a stake) in what will be.

Equally important, methinks, is the notion of remembering what was. More specifically, the uniqueness of those I’ve loved and lost. A favorite phrase. A special look. The warmth of a smile or the joy of their laughter. Further (and in keeping with the thrust of this piece), there’s nothing quite as memorable as the hands of those I’ve lost—like my grandfather’s. His were more like mitts, actually—large and leathery, weathered and warm. Working hands with an ever-present hint of grease beneath his hardened nails, and the distinctive scent of hay and horses that clung to him long after he left the barn. And although decades have passed, I can still see him pulling on his boots, shuffling a deck of cards and scooping tobacco from his pouch—his thick fingers diligently working a stringy wad into the bowl of his pipe, followed shortly thereafter by a series of gritty strikes of the lighter and wafts of sweet smoke mingling reluctantly with those from the kitchen.

Of course, my grandmothers’ hands were equally memorable. One had short, stubby fingers and a penchant for biting her nails to the nub. Always, it seemed, she was hanging wash out on the line, scrubbing dishes or stirring a pot brimming with macaroni—my favorite form of sustenance on the planet. By contrast, my other grandmother suffered the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis as evidenced by her hands. To this day I can picture a set of finely manicured nails at the tips of her smallish fingers—fingers that were gnarled and bent unmercifully, although they never seemed to be hampered when it came to knitting a wardrobe for my beloved Barbies.

Not surprisingly, I can still summon an image of my brother’s hands, too. Almost instantly. They were handsome, lean and mannish-looking—yet something suggestive of the little boy he had once been lingered there. Needless to say, I am grateful for such delicious memories—the ones indelibly etched upon my heart.

Planet Mom (or Melinda Wentzel, if you prefer) is a freelance writer, award winning columnist and Mr Lady’s new obsession. Her original post can be found about half-way down her page entitled “The Good Silverware”, and you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and at Melinda

Story Editor pick by Shannon / Mr Lady



The Witching Years

{by Amy Whitley}

It’s staying light a bit longer each day, but we still have a long way to go until spring. I can tell because I still have to switch my car headlights on driving the kids home from the karate studio or the soccer fields, still have to flip the porch light before calling them in from the neighborhood streets. In another lifetime (which wasn’t too long ago), I’d sit out these winter evenings indoors, the kids too young for unsupervised neighborhood roaming, my own motherhood too new to risk a public toddler meltdown or unscheduled nap after nightfall. From my watch at the kitchen window, the sun would disappear behind the city long before dinner was served, and something heavy and panicky would rise in my chest and sink in my belly as the outside darkness closed over me like a blanket, locking me into a fate of 5 pm until 7 pm with only my babies for company.

It would have been so easy to switch on Backyardigans and switch off myself, but most days, we resisted the lure of the TV. Instead, I’d play cars on the mat in the boys’ yellow-walled room, listening to the vrooom-vroooom vibrating against their lips, then to the bubbles blown in the bath, the run of the water from the faucet as they brushed their tiny, pearly teeth. I’d find Hidden Pictures, change diapers, press playdough between my hands. I’d pause to find blankies and binkies before scraping the dinner dishes and setting them on the sideboard to dry.

We were on our own most evenings back then, my husband needing to work late every weeknight, every weekend. (I still can’t believe we ever got used to that, but we did.) As the clock inched toward 7 pm, I’d finish the forgotten loads of laundry on the bed, each t-shirt and burp cloth and OshKosh overall cooled and wrinkled in the heap. The blackened windows would reflect my face—too tired for my twenties—and I’d wonder how to make it another hour. Another twenty minutes. Another ten.

This was my Witching Hour, but what people forget to tell you is how the hours add up, strung together end-to-end, day-to-day to become Witching Years. They commence in those first black nights of nursing a newborn, and they roll on and on until all your children are old enough to take the bus to school. Or at least old enough to wish they could.

And some mothers are great at it—love it, even—but not me. I floundered, immersing myself in my boys: their needs and their wants, their meals and their clothes and their toys. I waved the white flag and gave myself over to them completely, and this was how it had to be. On the surface, I even looked good at it. Underneath, I was drowning. My days were spent sinking and my nights were spent kicking my way back to the top, to where at least the waves slapped me in the face instead of swallowing me whole, arms stroking upward through the dark. I stopped writing. I stopped exercising. I stopped thinking, truth be told. Sometimes I wondered whether some secret source of oxygen had been cut off from my brain.

It’s clearer here, on the other side. In the light. With kids who brush their own teeth and do their own homework and get their own snacks. I know now that being a mom of young children, staying in the house day after day, parenting solo so much of the time…well, it is what it is. (Oh, is it ever.) I know that I did my best.

I also know I’ll never get those years back, as much as they often make me shudder: those years that passed so slowly as to nearly grind backward. Those years so long I measured my children’s ages in months instead. And that’s a travesty, because I left a piece of myself there. Something raw, and unmeasured, and instinctively maternal. Something sacrificial.

It was that something in me that gave way, that moved to the rhythm of my children’s sleep cycles, to the sunrise and the twilight, to the stirring of the oatmeal and the snapping of the car seats and the hefting to the hip, to the breast, to the mouth to kiss the lips.

It was that something that laid down arms. Set aside dreams. And that something was—there’s no other word for it—bewitching.

Amy Whitley writes at The Never-True Tales
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Story Editor~  Heather King ::: @HeatheroftheEO


An Inescapable Ruling.

{by Erika Wagner-Martin}

For so, so long it felt like we would never get here.

We smiled show smiles through home visit after home visit by social worker after social worker.
We steeled ourselves as we bundled them up for trips to the visitation center far too far away.
We held our breath, our hearts the frontline cavalry from the back row of the courtroom
anytime we attended a hearing.

I have knocked on wood — and by wood, I mean anything comprised of matter — thousands of times,
gasping for air as I’ve constricted and believed and constricted and believed our dream
of being a forever family with these precious, precious girls.

The beginning of this process is full of fear for people like me.
You’ll never get a newborn, they tell you. You want two together?
They will be damaged and you will spend a lifetime trying to save them
and love alone cannot save anyone, they say.

They give it to you in writing that the goal was, is, and always will be to reunify them with their biological family.

Well, today we went to court. Today, from the back row, feeling weightless and unworthy,
we listened as the court found both parents in default, as their parental rights were terminated on multiple grounds.
We listened, blinking back tears as the judge summarized the summaries provided by all the parties involved,
etching it into the record of law that permanent placement with us is an inescapable ruling.
Because with us, our girls are loved and thriving.

I will always feel conflicted about how I came to be a mom.
I will always wonder about that other mom, their first mom and whether their labors were easy or long,
whether she cares that they’re no longer with her.

Our adoption day is April 4, 2011 and I feel blessed beyond comprehension.

Erika Wagner-Martin blogs life, love and struggle here.
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Featured by Story Editor, Sara Sophia


the girl and the Genius

{by Amber of The Run-a-muck}

the girl
My firstborn, with a shoulder sunburn and radiating roses on his face, is not well acquainted with pain, so his big cousin coaches him with his thoughts.

Sophia is nine. She has known multiple hospital beds, scary chest sounds, needles and nurses, so she says, “Isaac, when you hurt, all you have to do is think of your mother’s smile. When I’m with my daddy and I hurt, I think of my mother’s smile. When I’m at my mom’s, I think of my dad’s smile. It works.”

Then she flits off like a dove.

I watch her all weekend, her unaffected art, the lack of desire for new clothes or a hair-brushing, the freckled beauty of a long, lanky child, and I turn my head more than once for what of her is lost in me. I behold her joy.

Most people carry their souls in a deep pocket at the pit of their stomachs, but Sophia lets hers slip out to her fingertips. Hers rides on easy lips and feathers out from her shoulders to fan air at the disappointed. It is innocence and how it shirks this world, how pain is transformed to beauty.

Maybe it’s the knowledge that her straight body will shortly turn to curve and that her imagination won’t so easily delve to the floor in character play that makes me awe at her on the cusp. Sophia’s arms reach at first guess, and she offers an honest smile to the sun. She sits with paper and draws, snuggled generously with my boys.

We say goodbye to the family, and as our hearts try to pull their hooks out, I look for Sophia and want to tell her how God is a genius in her. I want to hold her face and memorize it. I want to take pictures of her feet on tiptoes and of her hair in knots, how her face is already aiming sharp for envy, and there I find her at the door to the back-porch with her hands full.

She says, “Look! A bird!” And there she cups its heart-throbbing body until it calms in the bed of her hands.

My mouth wants to say “healer,” but instead I laugh deep from the pit of my stomach until it peels through my mouth, and my back, and my hands. Like children, we arch over and study the bird, reviving and forgetting ourselves in such a sacred moment.

: : : : :

Amber crafts beautiful words at The Run-a-muck
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Featured by Story Editor Robin Dance | @PensieveRobin

February 28, 2011 | Featured 2, Fiction, Humor, Mr Lady, Thursday 2

Romeo and Juliet Live, Have Children, And Bicker About Laundry

{Originally posted on Goody Bastos}

Juliet: I thought you were going to take out the trash.

Romeo: It’s your turn for the trash, my week to bag the recyclables. Look at the chore wheel on the fridge, for Chrissakes.

Little Tybalt (looking up from his Legos): Mommy, Daddy swore!

Romeo: A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents to be the best husband and father, I’m sorry, Little Tybalt. It’s just that Mommy and Daddy have been through a lot.

Juliet: I’ll say. There was a plague on both our houses.

Little Tybalt: Hunh? What’s Mom talking about?

Juliet: Never mind. Why don’t you go play Wii?
(Little Tybalt takes his Legos and sulks off)

Juliet (reminiscing while drying the Ikea china): Remember how in love we were?

Romeo: Do I! It seemed to me you were a rich jewel upon the cheek of night.

Juliet: It seemed to me that parting was such sweet sorrow, and now I can’t wait for girl’s night out.

Romeo (slapping his palm to his forehead): O woe!

Juliet: What is it, honey?

Romeo: I forgot to take out the clothes from the washer. They’ll be all mildewy.

Juliet: Again? Didn’t I tell you not to forget to take them out of the washer? Little Tybalt’s gym clothes were in there and he needs them for gymnastics tomorrow. O woeful, woeful, woeful day! Most lamentable day. Most woeful day that ever, ever I did yet behold O day, O day, O day! O hateful day! Never was seen so black a day as this. O woeful day! O woeful day!

Romeo: Is there no pity sitting in the clouds that sees into the bottom of my grief? I’ll rewash them.

Juliet (collecting herself): Good. I’m going to go upstairs and read. You coming up?

Romeo: No, I’m going to watch ESPN and probably fall asleep on the couch.

Juliet: Oh.

Romeo: Yeah.

Juliet: Well then, goodnight, hon. (Romeo gives her a chaste, long-married peck on the cheek. She returns the affection with a non-lingering rather limp hug.)

Romeo: We’re so lucky.

Juliet: Aren’t we?


# # #
Featured by Story Editor Shannon | @MrLady#

Elizabeth Bastos has been absolutely brilliant at Goody Bastos since November of 2009. Read her original post here.
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February 21, 2011 | Featured 2, Poetry, Thursday 1

Here’s How Stories Work

(By D. Smith Kaich Jones)

the ever-wonderful michael was telling me about this thing that happened, and that’s because, well, remember? he said, that she is married to that guy? and this happened?, and then a while back when that was going on, there was this kid who . . . and his grandfather bought him this toy airplane, and he was friends with another kid, and did i ever mention that they moved across the street from these people who . . . ? and all those stories were separate from one another, but not really, they just looked that way on the surface, they were really all tied together, because that’s how stories work, at least stories in conversations, stories told by real people.

that’s what i think i do.  at least that’s what i try to do.  i start out telling you the story of painting the front room at work, and that reminds me of what i felt when i was buying the paint, the paint was yellow, honey colored, and that reminded me of autumn, and i remembered what i felt when i was standing in the paint store, waiting while the paint was mixed, lots of time for thinking and looking out the windows at the leaves falling away from trees, at the different blue of the sky, lots of time for remembering last autumn and where i would have been on a saturday morning, lots of time for wondering if my need to paint a few walls was a working out the grief i still feel for maggie-the-cat, remembering that’s what i did when my father died, not comparing the two deaths, just thinking about how people deal with grief and moving on, which is not the same thing as “getting over it”, it’s just moving to a different place in the grief.  and i move from that thought back to autumn, which always gives me the blues, just not outside the window, and really it is late autumn that makes me feel this way; early autumn is just a phrase here in east texas, just a mellowing of summer, and i think about the leaves leaving, the turning away from the world that we all do; we go inside, even here where it doesn’t get all that cold ~ it gets cold enough ~ and i remember that that night is turn-back-the-clocks-night, an earlier darkness now, and i move from that thought back to maggie, back to my father, and i am filled with missing.  when i get in the jeep, i cry, still thinking about it all, all those separate stories, but ~ and here’s the thing ~ i stop crying.  i move on.  i get going.  i stop by my mother’s house and she feeds me homemade soup and i tell her my thoughts, and she tells me her dream, which is another piece to the same story, another feeling of missing, of melancholy, and when i get in the jeep to leave, i cry again.  but ~ and here’s the thing ~ i stop crying.  i move on.  i get going.  there is a newly painted room outside this door to prove it.

but i feel the need to tell you the story – tell it to you like we were sitting in my mother’s house, a bowl of soup in front of us, a conversation between us.  there are people who will tell you they painted a room, and maybe they’ll tell you the color, and that will be it, that will be their story.  it is not my story.

remember when? i will say,
and then this happened,
and that thing we were talking of?
. . . yes, yes, that too . . .

Read D. Smith Kaich Jones at Emma Tree
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Featured by Story Editor, Sara Sophia

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