We lived in an older neighborhood when my brother and I were growing up. One summer day I found myself left to my own devices. I was in the backyard and our neighbors’ grandsons were visiting. They called me over to the chain-link fence between our yards.
Smirking at each other one of the boys challenged me to a fight. I was only a girl, he said. I didn’t stand a chance. Surprised but up for a challenge, just not a fight I noted I was standing next to a small tree, maybe 6″ around, so I said he’d better not mess with me, I could pull that tree right out of the ground!
When they finished laughing bully boy put on his game face again and balled up his fists. Grabbing the tree I yanked with all I had. I landed hard several feet away, tree in my hands.
Little tough guys stood gaping at me a few seconds. They practically knocked each other down running the other direction.
I’m still looking at this tree that, for its size was amazingly light. I walked over to where it had come out of the ground and saw it was crawling with ants. Completely rotted.
Laughing, I looked up to yell, “hey, it’s a dead tree!” knowing the joke was on me.
They were gone. My bravado worked and no fists were flung.
Just as well. They never bothered me again.
There seems to be an increase in doomsday predictions. Naysayers. This is terrible! Focusing on something no one knows anything about except that it will happen loses sight of what’s important.
The here and now.
No one knows the future. When people get all in a twist about something nobody knows will happen they make chaos.
Lulu dozing in the shade
Being grounded takes a lot of effort for me. I am easily distracted. But doomsday people have never held any interest for me. Staying focused on what’s important matters. But the end of the world? Why stir everybody up over something no one knows?
Maybe this is why I love flowers so much. And trees. They just are. Day after day, season after season, year after year. They are what they were created to be. Some become diseased and die. So do we. Some grow old. Very, very old. So do we. We have seasons. We change. But nature doesn’t freak out over an ice storm. It endures it. Or a hurricane. Their leaves are blown off, they may get drowned but if they live they put out more leaves.
We replace siding, or shingles, or whole roofs, or whole houses. But mostly we face whatever disaster or trouble we get. We have to. Jumping the gun, skipping to the end when the end isn’t here yet, when we don’t even know when the end is, doesn’t make any sense.
Lily staying safe under a bench
So I have to take the end is near people lightly. The end I don’t take lightly, but I have no idea when that will happen. So I need to keep on keeping on and trust God. He knows.
That is all that matters. It’s His business, mine is to trust Him.
I can’t remember who decided to make Mom breakfast in bed but my brother and I would wake early on Mother’s Day morning to prepare a breakfast surprise. Sundays were good days because our parents either attended or hosted a party Saturday (and Friday) nights. So nobody but us ever woke early.
These breakfasts were generally not messy! No attempts at pancakes a la eggshells, or half-cooked scrambled eggs. Neither of us ever even thought of trying something that involved dangerous appliances like stoves or blenders. No, our breakfast for Mom consisted of carrot strips, burned toast dripping with butter. I don’t even think we tried to make coffee. Back then Mom ground coffee beans every morning. But juice and probably milk or at least water, which sloshed over the tray and the plate making her toast a sodden mess. She always gave us a big bright smile and oohed gratefully.
And we were so proud of ourselves!
My mother had served her country. She graduated Smith College 1943 and enlisted in the Navy. Her father had served in WW I, Army, in France. Her uncle was Navy, serving again in WW II. Mom was responsible for a psychiatric ward in San Diego. She loved what she did. She was deeply patriotic. She never spoke of her time in service.
My mother was one of the strongest people I have ever known. She survived my childhood, the loss of a child, life with my difficult Father, and cancer. She kept busy. In addition to raising my surviving brother and me, she volunteered in Junior League building a Nature Museum at a popular park, complete with planetarium, was member of a DAR chapter, even participated in a sit-in with other moms when the local government planned to take part of our elementary school playground away for a nearby college parking lot.
Having worked in advertising where she met my dad she was fashionable and confident. I was shy, and shunned fads and fashion.
She lived for golf, and though she was in a garden club she killed any plant she touched. She was in a book club, and second only to golf was her love for bridge. Something she once told me I wasn’t smart enough to learn. But she was so smart, and very funny, and she had many friends who were so dear to her.
She and I were close in a love-hate kind of way. I argued about everything. She called me a maverick. I had trust issues. Nobody’s perfect (least of all me), but Mom had one failing my brother and I still disagree over. There were many nights when Dad was not home (he commuted weekly to New York), where I would help Mom to bed, and lock the house. From the age of about 6. My brother and I called it her mood, but she drank. I once told my father who I suppose confronted Mom, who likely denied it, or maybe he didn’t and just assumed I was being the height of disrespectful. Whatever, I got a spanking I will never forget.
So I never said another word.
And I wish I could forget.
When Dad’s company finally moved us up north and we spent actual evenings home at the dinner table together everything changed. No more ‘moods’. We all became closer. Well, inasmuch as any dysfunctional family can. We did try to find a church but it was a ‘high’ church and swung incense so we didn’t go back. To any church.
I don’t remember when I decided that she never liked me much. After my divorce she could not understand why I grieved. She and my father had disliked my ex-husband and could not understand that my sadness was not so much for not being married to him as the death of my marriage which I had wanted so badly to work. The distance became greater when she told me my struggles as a single mom were no different than her raising my brother and me when Dad commuted.
I guess the real sadness was I never tried to talk with her about any of this. She has been gone for 30 years and, with all the tides that have ebbed and flowed and all the time that’s passed, I still miss her.
Or maybe I miss the relationship I always believed we had because I wished so hard for it. So this is a facet of my brokenness. A critical aspect of who I am, but it stems from who my mother never was. And I do try to focus on the happy memories but they are few.
Kind of like these two boats rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I watched coming down the river this week. Mom and I were never quite together on things.
But I suppose we can find grace in the chinks of light that shine through our brokenness. These flowers greeted me early this morning. They are from my sweet son. He lives several states away. He’s grown now, successful in his work and friendships. I am so proud of him. There are many regrets though that I have from when he was growing up. I had to work so hard to pay bills and buy food. He doesn’t remember it like that, mercifully. He doesn’t remember my frustration, or what I always thought he lacked.
Grace. What we receive and do not deserve. And mercy. What we deserve but do not receive.
God is so good.
To any Moms who may be reading this, Happy Mother’s Day.
Nerves of steel. Iron willed. Rock solid. Unflappable. So many images to describe someone who can withstand adversity. Even capricious betrayal.
Someone convinces me that s/he is sincerely in my corner, only wanting to help, but instead of my normal step back to consider the thing I jump right in, believing this person is actually the genuine, concerned, true clear thinker that I am not at the moment.
Mistake. At rescue dog Lulu’s expense.
As a person said, after the altered-universe nightmare was over, hindsight is 20/20. Yes. And I know this. I have known it since I entered into a marriage that should never have happened.
When does one finally learn? When do I get to look back and not say “hindsight is 20/20”?
Sure, she likely needed the treatments she received, but I needed to make that decision. I am old enough to know better. I need to remember it is almost never that anyone else has my best interests in mind or even at heart. Certainly not when s/he is insisting I do something their way. I need to not worry oh gosh what will s/he think of me if I make a different choice.
Lulu mattered. Not the controlling person.
Mercifully Lulu is none the worse for the experience. The same cannot be said for me. It was not the expense. It was visiting my little dog and seeing her collapse in exhaustion because she cannot sleep in a tense environment with 24-hour noise, prodding of needles and not eating, receiving fluids because she is too terrified to drink on her own.
It was seeing her wild-eyed, cradled in my arms unable to relax until she slept. It was being home without her, my other rescue dog, Lily greeting me when I came home from visiting Lulu sniffing every centimeter of my arms and hands, going to the back door to look for Lulu, who was not there.
It was going to pick Lulu up on my appointed day to bring her home to be met by the ICU tech telling me, no, Lulu is not going home, and me replying Yes, Lulu is coming home today, and bringing her home.
Thank God Lulu is fine. But now I have another person to put on my “Not to be trusted” list. A person who encouraged me to do a thing and resolved issues vicariously through my experience.
Whatever. I’m just glad it is over. And Lulu is home. The lump on her throat which appeared is still there but not a bother to her in any way, and an emergency vet experience made her no better than her own vet would have. She did need care beyond what I could offer, but not dire.
But then I will never know. And I have trust issues. The person who told me Lulu needed to go there may have meant well but I know enough to know that people also can have an agenda. So I can remember, if such a thing should ever happen again to say thank you, I will consider the suggestion. And think about it.
And pray that there are no other dire circumstances at the same time, like a broken tree falling in the backyard …..