God’s Choice?

God’s Choice?

I have been remiss in contributing to my group’s page, but the election this week has brought me to my knees and to the need to cleanse my writer’s soul.  I have gone back and forth about whether to deactivate my Facebook account, but a true friend pleaded with me to not silence my voice and get back to writing.  Also, I am finding solace in the Pantsuit Nation and did not want to lose interaction with that group on Facebook. 

The reason being given for Donald Trump’s election that I am having the hardest time accepting is that he is  God’s choice; Christians  prayed for our country to be faithful again, and God  sent Trump. I can understand that some feel left out and forgotten from the mainstream. They live in economically struggling areas where factories are closed or where their skills are no longer viable. I can understand that some people feel threatened by immigrants coming in and taking their jobs. I understand those fearful that terrorists might slip in among refugees and cause another 9/11.  I even understand that the pro life people want to save unborn children. But, I cannot understand voting for a man so vile, so dishonest, and so narcissistic and then say he is God’s chosen one to right all these wrongs. Why would God send such a Godkess man in answer to prayer? 

None of us are perfect and can change, but I have seen no indication that he feels he has any need to change.  He thinks he is smarter than the generals, he and only he can defeat ISIS, and he will stop women from yanking out babies in the ninth month of pregnancy. He seems to think he is God. But, being raised a Christian, I was taught that “by their works you will know them.” What I see is a man with five children by three wives and who had numerous affairs while married to his wives. Is this the answer to prayer? Is this God’s choice? I don’t think so! Has he indicated a change in his heart or in his behavior?  I haven’t heard or seen it. 

Trump has incited hate and division all across this country, and now he thinks he can just tell everyone to kiss and make up. He says he wants everyone to come together. Well, try and put all those feathers back into the pillow, Mr.Trump- it can’t be done. So, give me all the reasons you want to, but don’t tell me that Donald Trump is God’s choice and the answer to prayer. Please don’t insult my God with such rhetoric! 

The man that I see demonstrating Christian values is our outgoing president. After all the hate-filled words directed at him by Donald Ttump, president Obama invited him to the White House and treated him with respect.  He turned the other cheek and displayed true Christianity. President Obama strived for all of our citizens to be treated fairly: gays, Hispanics, Muslims, disabled; and women. Never did I hear the disgusting language that Donald Ttump uses come from his mouth. I have seen him treat his wife with nothing but love and respect.  We have had eight years of a classy and Christian man and family in the White House.  Is he perfect? No. No one is. Have all his decisions been right? No. No one has ever made all the right decisions. However, he has represented our country with dignity, intelligence, and compassion. We have seen him cry with families who lost loved ones in mass shootings. We have seen him dance with his wife and look at her the way all women yearn to be looked at. We have seen him snuggled up with his daughters and beam with pride when he speaks about them. President Obama is the one I prayed for. A Godly man who went high when others went low. A man who turned his cheek 7 times 70. A man who laughed, cried, and wanted everyone to be treated with dignity. I will miss president Obama, and I think a lot of Christians who think that Trump is God’s choice will miss him too before much time has passed. 

Finally, I think God’s choice was Barack Obama. I don’t want to appear that I know God’s mind, but “by their works you shall know them.” If that scripture is true, then president Obama was God’s choice all along.

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28/68

28/68

This week brought back a myriad of memories. Several weeks ago, My neighbor asked if I would care for their three children (6 years, 4 years,  an 10 months) while they went on a cruise.  I am 68 years old now, but I think of it as the new 38, so I said, “Sure, it will be fun!” Last night their parents returned from their trip, and today I sit in my recliner reflecting and recovering from the week with three small children realizing that 68 is really 68.

The children came on a Friday evening ready for bed. That sounded easy enough until the parents left and the tears started to flow. I spent thirty minutes comforting the girls while their baby brother slept blissfully in his crib (pac and play). Since my bed is very high, I had designated the living room as the dorm. The girls were on each end of the sofa, and I was on the loveseat. However, the first night, the girls needed my on the sofa next to them with their arms clinging to me. LESSON one: children need security.  They need to know that someone loves and cares for them. After a few minutes of hugs and lullabies, they were asleep, and I was on the loveseat.

LESSON Two: Children still love lullabies and music. When my children, an then grandchildren, were small, I always rocked and sang to them. “Jesus Loves Me” and “Over in Kilarney” were there favorites, and now at 68, they still worked. I know I sang each of these songs at least a hundred times this past week. There is nothing more precious than having a baby fall asleep in your arms as you sing  “Jesus Loved Me”.  It was true at 28 and still true at 68. 

The next morning we were up early so we could get the oldest to a baseball parade and preseason celebration by 8:30.  LESSON three: mothers need to know how to organize.  The ball uniform was laid out on the bed ready for a sleepy child to get into. While she and  her sister were dressing, I was dressing  and feeding the baby.  I was determined that breakfast would be healthy so we had scrambled eggs and toast. The checklist began: breakfast finished?Check! Everyone dressed? Check! Diaper bag packed? Check!  Everyone  in the van? Check!  Seat belts on? Check! We were on our way to drop off the oldest one to join her team. Sister, baby ,and I stood on the sidewalk and watched the parade and took pictures to send to mom and dad. We were back home about eleven and just enough time for lunch and a nap before we had to be back at the ball field for a 2:00 game. LESSON four: always choose a nap over doing chores when you can at 28 or 68. 

Thank goodness for the nap because it was a long afternoon with a preschooler and a 10-month-old on my hip. LESSON five:  mothers at 28 or 68 have to have eyes in the backs of their heads in order to keep up with children at a ballpark.  Don’t let the three-year-old wonder off, and don’t let the baby eat a discarded potato chip.  Also be ready to  cheer and to take a picture of the oldest when she gets her very first softball hit. I must add that when you are not organized you forget the stroller which would have been a big help with these things. Stroller? Unchecked!

Of course by the time you’re ready to go home, the children are all hungry again.  Healthy food is no longer on my mind –  what will be fast and require no preparation is now the criteria. So, off to the local fast pizza establishment we go. We are home with hot pizza and breadsticks and everyone is happy. 

Then it is bath time. Again  organization. Have the pajamas ready, bubbles in the bath, and detangler for the girls hair.  Ater their baths, as they are wrapped in their towels, I remember that nothing smells better than a freshly bathed child. Now the girls are on their bed /couch, and I’m cuddling  the baby as the TV is broadcasting cartoons. LESSON six: children make the decision on what channel the TV is turned to. It was true at the age of 28 and still true at the age of 68. However, parents still have veto power, and I used my veto power on SpongeBob SquarePants. We find My Little  Pony makes us all happy: cute little colorful horses that teach life lessons about being friends and being kind. In an hour we are all asleep.

In the middle of the night I remember LESSON seven: all mothers live in  fear that something will happen to their child. I wake up and look over at the baby.  He is still in the same position that he was in when I placed him in the crib and my heart stops. I reach over and touch him on the top of his little head and he moves. My heart begins to beat again. I wondered how many times I had done this with my own children – Gotten  out of bed to check and see if they were still OK.  Part of this lesson is not  to allow this fear to rob  you of the joy of the moments you have  with your child. 

The next day is Sunday and anyone who takes children to church knows you need to refer to lesson three – be organized!  Clothes are laid, out breakfast is served, and the checklist begins. When I arrive at church with my new little family, everyone is amazed that at 68 I am doing this. I just smile and say, “Oh, they are no problem.” In  reality I don’t quite feel 28 inside anymore – maybe pushing 38. The oldest child chooses to sit on the pew in front of me next to a friend of mine. The three-year-old is glued to my side,  and the baby is in my lap standing up and checking out everything and everyone around him smiling. They all three love the music and the singing. Of all mornings, I have been scheduled to stand and read a scripture. I wonder how I am going to handle this. Take the baby with me or hand him off to the friend on the front pew?  I choose option two. As  I hand the baby over to her, she asks, “Will he cry?” I smile and say, “I don’t know.”  Thankfully, it is a short passage, and baby looks straight at me smiling as if he think I am reading revelation chapter four just for him. I pick him up on the way back  to my pew and thank my friend. LESSON eight: don’t be afraid to ask for help. I don’t think I did that as well at 28 as I do at 68.  Friends take the girls to children’s church and baby sleeps contentedly in my arms.

After church we drive an hour to my daughters house where I apply rule eight some more. Everyone wants to help and play with the children, and I am thankful for the help. As we return home that evening, I stop at McDonald’s for happpy meals -once more throwing healthy foods to the wind. I know why they ate called “happpy” – children are happy for the silly toy, and mothers are happy they don’t have to cook. Baths, cartoons, and sleep. 

The dreaded Monday arrives. Back to lesson three – organization. Dress, breakfast, and now add on lunch boxes a book bags.  Do the checklist and be at school before 7:55 or you are late; we are there at 7:30. Drop off child two at pre school and then back home. Clean and do chores – baby gets lunch and then we nap. When we pick up child one, I am swept back to 28.  She comes running out so excited and her long brown hair flying.  The same way my little girl did except with long blonde hair. My heart aches a little. 

Monday through Tuesday  the schedule is the same except for a softball game thrown in on Tuesday night. Thursday night the children’s parents return to hugs, kisses,  and squeals of delight. I’m not sure who missed whom the most, and It is a sweet reunion.

This morning I woke up at six ready to start again,  but I could stay in bed as long as I wanted to. I chose to stay in bed until 10 o’clock – I couldn’t do that at 28 but I can at 68. I’ve cleaned up the dorm room,  fed the animals, and chosen to write. My legs and arms are little sore from carrying a 20 pound baby around all week and picking up a three-year-old who also needed to have a hug or two now and then.  I am happy to have some peace and quiet and to be able to do what I need to do, but I do miss them. keeping three children for six days at the age of 68 has brought back memories from 28, and reminded me of the words, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” I may think I am still 28 but my arms, legs, back, and knees are reminding me loudly that I am not 28; I am 68. I love children and respect parents today who are juggling children, jobs, and marriages. This week has reminded me of how much energy and patience parenting requires.

I was also reminded this week why my children were not allowed to have pets until they were older and able to help take care of them. My 13-year-old beagle Annie was so overwhelmed by three children in the house, she laid in her bed most of the time looking at me with sad eyes as if to say, “What about me?” I also have an inside cat with a litter box.  Litter boxes and dirty diapers are not a good combination. And the cat really hates to have his tail and whiskers pullled.  Add two outside cats and 20 chickens, and I would have been overwhelmed even at 28. 

It reminded me that mothers sometimes forget themselves in the midst of mothering. The first school day the children were dressed, fed, and ready to go when I looked down and realized I was still in my pajamas. I have never cared to see mothers out in public in their PJs,  but as I quickly pulled on a pair jeans, I realized how that might happen very easily. Several times after feeding the children, diapering and feeding the baby, I would sit down and realize I hadn’t eaten yet. I also realize that maybe now I have a dog, three cats, and 20 chickens because I miss caring for my own three children who are now grown. I love planting flowers and watching them bud and blossom.  Maybe that is a metaphor for raising children and watching them bud and blossom. It goes so fast from 28 to 68. LESSON ten: don’t wish these exhausting days with children away. Take time to rock, sing, play, and nap. Sixty-eight will be here before you know it.

Vanity

Vanity

Although I know it is 2015, there are times I feel like I am still stuck in the sixties.

At the age of sixty eight, I wonder why I am still so vain. I never leave home without all my makeup on, and even at home the minimum requirement is lipstick and mascara just in case someone drops by. Why can’t I just be the natural me and not worry about it? Why do I refuse to ask for the senior discount although I am entitled to it? Why do I feel so good when someone says I don’t look sixty eight? I don’t think I am alone with this vanity issue. My mother-in-law is ninety one and has never wanted to tell her age. A few weeks ago some ladies she had just met told her she didn’t look a day over eighty, and she was thrilled. I thought to myself, “no matter how old women get, being guessed 10 years younger is always a compliment. Younger women love being carded and asked to prove they are twenty one. Where is the line between taking pride in the way we look and vanity? Why aren’t we proud to be sixty eight and eligible for a senior discount? Why do we love being told we look 10 years younger than we are even at ninety one?  Why do we enjoy being carded to prove we are twenty one?  Well, I think it is because of men like Donald Trump!

When Mr. Trump made his insulting comment about Carly Fiorina’s face a few weeks ago, I felt I had left 2015 and was back in high school during the 1960’s when pretty was all that mattered.  I had thought I had reached a time in history when women were now being judged by their character, intellect, and accomplishments and not by their looks. Apparently I was wrong. Women can now be lawyers, doctors, and even possibly the next president of the United States, but we are still being judged by our faces. Mr. Trump’s question was: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? Well, yes, I can! I will not be voting for Mrs. Fiorina, but it won’t be because of her face. 

As a child, I can remember that being termed or called pretty was the highest compliment a person could give you. Being smart was never as good as being pretty. Mr. Trump’s words brought that memory back and angered me. How could a man living in 2015 and running for president of our country say anything so insulting and ridiculous to or about a woman? Does he think his wealth and power gives him the freedom to insult women? In high school it was the popular boys who could decide which girls were pretty and which ones were not. His words took me back to those days.

I believe that men like Donald Trump are why I can’t leave the house without all my makeup on and why I don’t like myself in my mirror unless I have on at least lipstick and mascara. What if someone sees me while I am out and thinks I am not pretty? How horrible! Donald Trump and those boys in high school are the reason I can’t embrace my age and ask for my senior discount. What is worse than being an older woman? Mr. Trump and men like him are why women want to look ten years younger.

Mr. Trump says he loves and respects women, but apparently only if they are beautiful and 20-30 years younger like his three wives. Thankfully all men are not like Mr. Trump – my husband being one of them. But when was the last time someone described you as being smart and accomplished? When was the last time you would have preferred that description rather than being described as pretty or ten years younger than you are?  Can I really blame Donald Trump and those boys in high school or is it my own vanity that is my worst enemy?

***I wrote this essay somewhat tongue in cheek blaming Mr. Trump for my vanity, but I do believe we pay our daughters a disservice when we allow the descriptor “pretty” to be the ultimate compliment. And, men do still evaluate women on their looks. Why do we accept that evaluation?

Sweet Annie

Sweet Annie

Although I know Zac Brown’s song “Sweet Annie” is about a girl, when I hear it, I think of my ten-year-old beagle, Annie. From the first moment I saw her big brown eyes, that white-tipped tail raised in the air, and that prissy walk, I knew Annie was special; it was love at first sight.

Annie is my constant companion. She comes running when she hears the car keys because she knows that means a ride. She naps with me in the porch swing, and she is also my walking companion. When I walk, I like to power walk – no strolling or ambling. However, Annie prefers a more leisurely pace. At times I become impatient when she slows that pace, and I tug at the leash to make her keep up.

     One morning, Annie could not stand up on her back legs, and she was in extreme pain. An x-ray revealed a vertebra that was fusing, and the vet gave her a steroid shot and recommended rest. I decided that she would no longer be allowed to jump up and off the sofa. I purchased a pink, fuzzy bed and brought it home thinking how much she would love it. Annie hated it; she sniffed it, turned up her nose, pranced to the couch, and stood looking at me with her big brown eyes asking that I put her on the couch. I said, “no.” She turned around, walked to her old crate and pouted. I also decided that Annie would no longer receive any treats or food from the table; losing weight would help her back. She was not happy.

     After about three weeks, I decided that maybe Annie was ready for a walk. She was lying in the pink bed with her chin hanging forlornly over the edge; she was so bored and depressed, but when she saw me lacing up my walking shoes, her head popped up, and her tail began to wag. I decided to let Annie set the pace on that walk. I did not power walk, and I did not tug at her leash or admonish her to keep up.

When we returned, she headed straight to the sofa and again turned those big brown eyes on me. I said “no” but picked her up and put her beside me in the recliner. She snuggled up and went straight to sleep.

     As I watched her sleep, I realized that she is getting older. I also realized that instead of taking Annie for a walk, it was the time to allow Annie to take me for a walk. She has earned the right to set the pace, the right to stop and pee every twenty feet, and the right to sniff anything and everything that she wants. When she woke up, I put her on the sofa where she has earned the right to rest, and I gave her treats from the table; she has earned those too. She is my sweet Annie!

This is a previous narrative I wrote about my sweet beagle friend, Annie. It appeared in the December issue of Dog Fancy. Thank you Ashley for encouraging me to send this writing in. Without your encouragement, it would have remained on my computer.

October Fire

October Fire

Our group met for fellowship and writing this weekend at Henry Horton State Park. We participated in a pass around poetry writing exercise where each person writes four lines, folds their paper over with only the last line showing, passes it to the person to their right who then adds four more lines and passes it on until the poem is back to the person who wrote the first four lines. Here is the poem that started with me.
October Fire

October fire glowing brightly and warming the hearth

October fire glowing and shining  in the trees 

And then falling like burning embers to the ground

October fire glowing bright and warm 

It may be getting chilly

But October fire keeps the house cozy

The faintest smell of smoke and cedar

Flames dancing against the bricks

Smoke trendils finger out from the grate

Marking the mantle with their dirty prints

Licking, curling toward the ceiling so white and pure

While the coals glow slow and low below

I see the face of a ghost that speaks out loud

In hisses and tones of anger telling me

Put on more wood to fuel the fire

He smokes and blazes taunting me to stoke the October fire

  
Carol, Ashley, Tamara, Heather

The Baby

The Baby

She had never been one of those women who yearned for a baby. She had never ooohed and ahhhed over her friends’ babies, and she for sure had never asked to hold any of them. The idea of a wet and dirty diaper almost made her sick, and when they cried, she wondered how their mothers could actually love the creature that was so loud, ugly, smelly, and so needy. Needy was the operative word – they always needed so much: hold me, feed me, change me, try to guess why I am crying. So she had said “no” to Jake about having a baby for the first five years of their marriage. Why couldn’t he be happy with things just the way they were with the two of them? He was enough for her. Why couldn’t she be enough for him? Finally she had relented but only after he had agreed to sign the baby contract which stated that he would be at least 75 percent responsible for the baby, and he would not expect her to give up her career as a lawyer. As a lawyer, she knew the contract was worthless, but it was symbolic and made Jake see how serious she was about giving in about the baby.  Then, she was also 33, and maybe she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant; she could always hope for that. She could say to Jake that she had tried, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

The first missed period she blamed on coming off the pill and her body adjusting. The second missed period sent her to the corner Walgreens for the home pregnancy test. She had almost dropped the little stick into the toilet her hands had been shaking so violently. She sat on the toilet seat waiting to check the sign that would change her life forever as she knew it. When the plus sign appeared, she wanted to cry but was just numb. How could she be pregnant so quickly and easily? Maybe the stick was wrong? Only three months off the pill, and she wasn’t ready for this. She knew Jake would be over the moon, but she felt like she was smothering and being crushed by a huge boulder. Could she do this? She was happy with her life just the way it was. What if she didn’t love the baby? She had never felt maternal, but she had promised Jake she would try, and she did love him. Surely, a woman who could graduate at the top of her law class and handle the corporate world, could handle a baby.

That night she suggested to Jake that they eat at their favorite Thai restaurant; she never cooked. She tucked the contract into her purse and snapped it shut. Already the baby was making demands because she knew she wasn’t supposed to drink alcohol with dinner, and she had to order water. After they had ordered and shared the events of their days, she pulled the contract from her purse, and laid it on the table. “What’s this? Jake asked with a smile. Have you added some more provisions for me to look over?” She had said “no” but she wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into because in seven months, he was going to have to make good on his promises. Jake looked at her and broke into a smile that answered it all. He grabbed her into his arms and announced to the entire restaurant that they were going to have a baby. She had almost melted into the floor with embarrassment. She snatched the contract and put it back into her purse, and pretended to be as excited as Jake was.

The months had flown by, and the baby had made its presence known. The first four months were filled with morning sickness and fatigue that left her so weak that she sometimes nodded off at her desk. She skipped the usual lunches out with co-workers to take a nap in the employee lounge instead. Her stomach expanded to a size she never felt possible. Already she did not like the changes the baby had made to her life and body. How could she ever accept the changes that would come later? Jake had kept his word, however. He had been with her every step of the way, and she never had to remind him of the baby contract and his promises. He rubbed her feet every night and lathered her enormous belly with cream that was supposed to keep the stretch marks away. Even on her worst days, he told her she was beautiful. He did more than his share of the housework and served her breakfast in bed every Saturday and Sunday morning. His attention and care had sometimes bordered on the boundary of being irritating. She had wanted him to be attentive, but she didn’t want to be treated like an invalid. At times she was even resentful of the baby because she wondered if Jake was doing all the right things because of the contract and the baby instead of his love for her. At times she snapped at him and would tell him to back off. He would look hurt for a while, but it never lasted for long. She would curl back up next to him on the sofa, enjoy his hugs and kisses, and wonder if this would all end after the baby.

The day the baby came, she had felt great. She had skipped her nap and walked out for lunch. She had craved a big juicy hamburger and milkshake, but she was five pounds under the maximum weight she was allowed to gain and settled for a nearby salad bar instead. When she stood up to leave, there was a warm trickle flowing down her legs, and then it was followed by a gush of water that puddled at her feet. People asked if they could help, but all she wanted to do was run from them in total embarrassment. When she reached the sidewalk, she felt the first pain and decided to call Jake. He said he would be right there, and she made it the two blocks back to her office. She smiled at the receptionist as if everything was normal and rushed into the employee restroom where she removed the wet panties. She held onto the edge of a sink when another strong pain hit. When it passed, she started to the employees lounge and fell onto the couch.  She tried the breathing techniques from the prenatal class, but they weren’t helping. She had not expected the pains to come so suddenly and so hard. In what seemed like a lifetime, Jake appeared by the sofa, took her hand, helped her to her feet, and guided her to the car he had parked illegally on the sidewalk in front of her office building. As they exited, a policeman approached Jake and started to write him a ticket, but then he saw what was happening. They had ended up with a police escort with lights flashing and sirens blasting; this would be something to tell the baby. The pains were already five minutes apart and intense. During that ride she hated Jake and the baby. She had no control over her body, and there was no type of breathing that could take away the horrendous pain. Of course, she could not have the promised epidural because she was too far advanced into her labor, so the baby was born naturally. The doctor and nurses said she had done beautifully, but all she knew was she was exhausted and sore. When they laid the baby on her chest, she had taken one short glance at her newborn daughter, nodded, and fell immediately asleep.

When she woke up, the room was bathed in a dim light, and she could hear Jake’s voice and a slurping noise. As her eyes adjusted, she could see him holding the baby, feeding her, and talking to her in a voice she had never heard. It was almost a coo. He was telling the baby how beautiful she was and that she needed to drink all her milk so she could be big and strong. He sang to her, and then they both fell asleep in the hospital rocker. She had never felt so alone. She had no desire to hold the baby, and only resentment that her husband had called another woman beautiful. She fell asleep again with tears on her cheeks knowing she would never be the mother the baby would need and feeling as a total outsider.

Two days later, the three of them walked into the apartment that she and Jake had shared for six years. Jake was already talking about buying a house, but she did not want to talk about that yet; she loved their apartment. Their home office had already been converted into a nursery, and the kitchen  and bathroom were cluttered with baby things everywhere.  Jake seemed not to notice, but she hated it. She resented that her beautifully decorated apartment was so cluttered and changed. Why couldn’t things go back like they were before the baby?

Jake had two weeks vacation time, and he loved taking care of the baby. Occasionally she would feed her, but was always glad to hand her back over to Jake. Even though they had named her Amelia Irene (after Jake’s mother her grandmother), she still thought of her as “the baby”.  The first day Jake went back to work, she was terrified. Jake reassured her that he was only 30 minutes away, and the retired nurse next door would be more than glad to come if she needed her. Jake had written down the baby’s schedule and all the emergency numbers and almost cried as he kissed them good-bye at the door. She had almost cried too and screamed for him to come back, but she had shut the door behind him determined to do what she had to do.

The baby was sleeping peacefully in its crib when Jake had left, but almost sensing he was gone had started screaming fifteen minutes later. She looked at the schedule and knew it was too soon for a feeding. She gingerly picked the baby up and laid her on the changing table. She changed the diaper even though it was dry and clean, and the baby continued to scream even louder. She was on the verge of calling Jake, but instead she wrapped her in a blanket the way Jake did and sat down in the rocker and started to rock.  The baby screamed louder. Jake always sang to her, so she tried that. The baby screamed even louder. Finally, in sheer exhaustion and fright, she reached over and turned the CD player onto her favorite classic music and hummed along. The baby’s screaming turned into small hiccups, but the screaming had stopped. She looked at the baby, and the baby looked at her. Instead of being relieved and putting her back into her bed, she began to look at the baby more closely. She saw Jake’s chin and forehead. She saw the baby’s  nose and the shape of the baby’s eyes were hers. She was beautiful! She unwrapped the blanket and looked at her feet and hands; they were perfect! She was marvelous, and she had changed Claire’s life forever. What if the apartment was cluttered, and her body was in need of some serious exercise? Claire knew at this moment that she would do anything for this baby. After an hour of rocking and humming to her as she slept, Claire was at peace and laid the baby back into her crib.

She went to her purse and pulled out the baby contract. She stood by the crib and ripped it into pieces and then threw the pieces into the trash can. As she touched the baby’s forehead and lips, Claire said, “I don’t think we are going to need that contract anymore. I love you Amelia Irene.”

*This is piece is fictional but written for women who may have experienced a similar reaction to motherhood. Carol

The Smile

The Smile

Every year it is the same – my husband Jerry asks me what I want for Christmas, and I give him a short list of two or three items I need or want: a trip, perfume, or a piece of jewelry.  It’s not the most romantic of ways to receive a gift, but I have found over the years that it works well for us. When Jerry and I first married twenty-eight years ago, I refused to make a list or even tell him what I wanted. I felt that if he loved me, he should know what I wanted. Shouldn’t the love of my life be attuned to my needs and desires? It wasn’t just Christmas, it was the same for any occasion that involved a gift. 

I changed my way if thinking after our first Valentines Day together. Jerry asked me what I wanted, and I answered with what I thought was obvious sarcasm that I probably needed some bathroom scales since I had put on several pounds since we had married.  When I opened the beautifully store wrapped gift on Valentines Day, there were the bathroom scales.  I looked at Jerry in disbelief and asked him what was he thinking?  Did he really think I wanted bathroom scales?  He answered that he thought u was serious, and he had given me what I had asked for. 

I have never forgotten the hurt look on his face and the conversation that followed . Jerry had been raised with three brothers and by a mother who always put her needs last and never asked for anything. He felt totally inadequate trying to read  or guess what I might want. He was a facts and figures man who loved science and technology – he worked with numbers and was totally lost when it came to reading emotions.  He did love me and wanted to make me happy, but he felt I had set him up for failure and was very upset.

I decided from that day forward I never wanted to see that stricken and hurt look on his face again, and if I had to make a list, I would. So, over the past twenty-eight years, I have made the lists, and they have worked well. I get a gift I really want, and Jerry is happy too. Also, after twenty-eight years if marriage, I have come to realize that gifts do not make a marriage – being together and making memories make a marriage.

I thought there was nothing I could ever ask for that would make me happier than just being with Jerry until my sweet husband was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2012. There are many side effects that people associate readily with this disease: the slow gait and movements; the shuffling feet; the tremors; and the slurred speech.  One side effect not so well known is the one that I have come to hate the most  and what is known as the mask or frozen face. The person affected loses the ability to make facial expressions and to smile.  The person seems to stare straight ahead and to be in another world. One of the first things my family and I noticed before Jerry was diagnosed, was the change in his face. When people would ask me if something was wrong, I would give different reasons: he was tired; he was depressed over the loss of his daughter; or he was really busy at work. After his diagnosis, I learned that this mask was part of the Parkinson’s.

Now I consider the best gift I can receive from my husband  is his very rare smile. The day he held our great-granddaughter AbbyGrace, she made him smile and that was a gift. The day his best friend came for a visit, and he smiled that was a gift. When I take the family picture for our Christmas card, I take a multitude of shots trying to find one where Jerry is smiling.  When I find that one, it is a gift.  Now my gift lists are very short: I want to see Jerry smile.  There is nothing that can be wrapped in a pretty box that can bring me as much happiness as that rare smile. It is the most previous gift I can ever receive.