Member Monday: I Saw My Mom Today by Patsy Parker

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Today we welcome first time poster, Patsy Parker.  Grab a cup of something warm and a tissue and enjoy Patsy’s poignant essay.

I Saw My Mom Today

by Patsy Parker

 

I saw my mom today, even though she’s been dead for eight years, two months, and nine days.  She rose from her bed in the late morning.  The aroma of fresh coffee tickled her nose.  The sounds of creaking and crackling filled her ears as she walked down the hall.  They weren’t coming from the floor.

When she reached the kitchen, she pulled her favorite coffee mug down from the cabinet.  It was the only one she used; it read simply “Mom.”  Her daughter had given it to her one year for her birthday.

I saw my mom today.  On summer days such as this she stayed in her loose-fitting clothes all day since she didn’t have to drive kids to school for three months.  She liked to read in the mornings while she sipped her coffee. Then she did some chores here and there – laundry mostly since her teenage daughter did the dishes for her every day.  Her son took out the trash.

Occasionally, she sat in the backyard to listen to the morning birds.  Then she walked around the lawn looking for a few weeds to pull.  If her neighbor was out, she waved hello.  She used to have a favorite neighbor many years ago.  Slowly the neighborhood became filled with younger women who had jobs and children in school.  It changed too quickly she thought.

I saw my mom today.  She went back to her bedroom to read which she often did in the afternoons before it was time for dinner.   She read mostly novels, but sometimes non-fiction such as short stories.  She loved any story that had a happy ending, always the optimist.

In the evenings after dinner,  she sat in her room with her whiskey and soda and watched her favorite shows or a good movie.  She made the trip down the hall a few more times before she turned out the light to go to sleep; instead she lay awake for hours tossing and turning.

I saw my mom today.  Her white hair fixed nice with the smell of hairspray freshly spritzed.  She stood in front of the mirror putting her make-up on.  Flicking off the bathroom light, she walked down the hall as quickly as she could to get her purse and go grocery shopping.

When she arrived home, she came in the door tired and sighing heavily as she put bags on the dining room table.  She put the groceries away, made herself a glass of iced tea, and went to sit on the couch for a few minutes.

I saw my mom today when I looked in the mirror.  Same color hair, reading a novel, lounging in my loose-fitting clothes.  Drinking coffee in the early morning from my sea turtle mug,  minus the nightly drinking and insomnia.  Not quite the optimist mom was, seeing the worst case scenarios first.  I went grocery shopping today, but I treated myself to a movie and a trip to the library first.  In addition to reading tonight, I thought…I wrote…I remembered.

I saw my mom today when I looked in the mirror, but mostly I saw myself.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Gusty by Larry Watters

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Today we welcome our beloved Writers Forum President, Larry Watters.  Welcome, Larry.

Gusty

by Larry Watters

It was a dark and stormy night in Beeville, Texas, home to a naval air flight training squadron during the early days of World War Two. Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Adel Schwartz was in the tower, and she was talking down Lieutenant Mort Feinberg in his T-2, a navy training plane. An experienced ex-civilian pilot, he was smart enough to know that he had to rely on her, since she was familiar with the winds that were gusting in from the gulf. Mort was so taken with her voice that the next day he asked around to find out who she was. While fraternizing was not allowed, he was determined to meet her.

Loitering between the WAVE quarters and the chow hall a few days later, he bravely asked others if they would point her out. Seeing the sturdy young woman, he excitedly rushed up to her, on the pretense of wanting to thank her for guiding his plane to a safe landing during the storm. He asked her to meet him for a cup of coffee off base later.

They hit it off and enjoyed each other’s quirky humor. He graduated from that flight school, and shipped out to the war in the Pacific. But they stayed in touch. In their letters they fantasized about what they, if married, nah, when married, would name their first child. After the war they hooked up and got married.

And they named their first child Gusty. After all, when they first talked, it was a dark and stormy night.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: One Finger Shaking by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature a poem by poet, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.  You can purchase a hardback copy of Linda’s newest picture book Boy and Poi Poi Puppy at All About Books.  Be sure to come and hear Linda speak about the importance of diversity in children’s literature at our September Writers Forum meeting.  Welcome, Linda!

One Finger Shaking

By Linda Boyden ©2014

The tipping point reached

nothing left

no time

no possibility of

renouncing the demon

grabbing the reins and

galloping toward new habits.

 

the old ones have you

in a chokehold

the familiar temptations

to live forever young

the way you want

without rules

You’re Pinocchio

choosing the easy life

drifting on a high

seeing vistas denied to

us lowly drones.

 

The demons whispered

You’re immortal

above it all

so you took on

that devilmaycare swag

that nothing can snare me

scare me

stop me

to live in

a YOLO state of mind.

 

But a little becomes

a little more

and a little more

and a little more

to ease the pain

erase the misery

drown the regrets.

 

You fly

You soar

in the crimson fog.

You don’t NEED it

you want it

the crave

the taste

the zing,

the ping

the rush until

you melt into the mire

stagger to the mirror

and look into

the face of a jackass.

 

One finger, shaking,

traces its outline,

“This is real.

This is all there is.

This is me.”

 

 A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Minnesota 2014 by Nancy Byrne

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature Writers Forum member and first time submitter, Nancy Byrne.  Welcome, Nancy!

Author’s Note: This was written in Minnesota in May of 2014, where I lived for over 29 years.  I call it “Minnesota 2014″

Minnesota 2014

by Nancy Byrne


I’ve known since I was young that I love long and hard and deep—it seeps into my bones and cones and moans and joneses on and on and on. The boys and men I’ve loved are very few—Tommy, Jim, John Byrne, Steve, John Byrne, Dan, John Byrne and John Byrne and John Byrne—mainly all my life I’ve loved John Byrne—through thick and thin, through romp and sin, through marriage and divorce, and in my dotage still, of course. It doesn’t change the life I have or want—apart we are and it’s OK—I couldn’t stay—not my way, to live in tight and coiled dreams.


My life needs to be widened beams of light and reams of open spaces—many faces; doesn’t change the love that races through my heart and through my veins for the man of then.  Now he’s tied to someone else—just as well—I cannot be tied.  I tried and tried and nearly died—my soul and body freedom breathes, but love speaks languages of other needs. Of other lives? Of other times and other trials, fierce denials—many riles and rails, and tales of woe and ‘go, go, go’ my soul would cry. My heart would sigh ‘I will die if I stay or if I go’ until the strength in me came slowly to the fro— and the voice said ‘when you know, you will go’…

Nineteen years it’s been since I left here, Apple Valley, Edgewood Lane—to stay sane, to stay alive, to even thrive—driving to and fro across the west, looking for the blessed best.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Best of Member Monday #1: A Little About Fall by Darbie Andrews

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Capturing the #1 slot is a piece by…drumroll, please… Darbie Andrews!

A Little About Fall

by Darbie Andrews

Oh, the battle between Summer and Fall!
Lingering hot summer days fight Fall’s need to pounce away the heat.
Fall tries with occasional cool winds and puffy white clouds, but summer fights back.
The short cool moment stolen…a tease.
Shorts and sandals fill the streets again, but sweatshirts and socks are nearby.
It’s nature’s menopause, Fall versus Summer.
Hot, cold, hot cold.
It doesn’t end with a wallop.
It’s gradual and fun to watch.
Fall takes over every year and forces Summer to leave and cry for Spring.
We carve happy faces in pumpkins, celebrating freedom from the hot flashes!

Best of Member Monday #2: A Mile in Their Shoes by Alicia McCauley

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #2 slot is a piece by Writers Forum member Alicia McCauley, who has just returned from another exciting summer of teaching writing and other adventures in Uganda.  You can read more about her most recent trip on Alicia’s blog.

A Mile in Their Shoes

by Alicia McCauley

After church on Sunday, I stayed at the school for the afternoon and hung out with the kids.  Sunday is their only full day off from school and it was great to spend a little time getting to know them.

These kids are so funny.  Laughter is like breathing here, bubbling out of the easy smiles of the students.  It’s the white noise of the campus.

It never ceases to amaze me what kids will share if you just spend time with them sans agenda.  After church I sat in the shade of one of the outdoor classrooms shooting the breeze with the kids, talking about things like rap music and soccer.

Then the conversation took a turn and the kids started talking about their experiences as night travelers during the terror-filled years when Kony rampaged through the north.

Each night they’d travel the dark road from their houses and huts and into Gulu.  You can’t imagine the pitch darkness of this road.  No glow of electricity.  No flashlights.  Only stars pin pricking the sky and the white face of the moon to watch over them.

The boys walked for miles with their cousins and siblings, an ant trail of children hurrying along the edges of the roads in search of shelter and the hope of safety in town.  One particular boy was ten years old at the time.

I think about my nieces and nephews who are around that age and I imagine them walking that dark road together and I use the corner of my skirt to wipe the agony from my eyes.

The boys talked about family members who were taken; uncles whisked away, fathers snatched out of the potato garden in the early morning hours.  They talked about family members who are still missing and about others who were mercifully released.

They also told stories of children forced into servitude for the LRA, walking for days with heavy loads balanced on their heads.  A single utterance hinting at hunger or fatigue meant a sure and swift death.

The boys told horrific stories that I can’t even bring myself to type because the malevolent inhumanity of it burns in my stomach and causes hot vomit to sizzle in my throat.

It’s fitting to me that the school is built in what was once one of the most violent and unstable areas in Northern Uganda.  The heart of the school is their dedication to love and justice and I can’t think of a more fitting place to make such a declaration.

On my way back to town that Sunday, I walked part of the road used by the night traveling children.  Two of the boys escorted me and I couldn’t help but sneak peeks at their faces, imagining younger versions of them making this walk in the dead of night.  We walked about a mile before flagging down bodas that took us the remaining miles back into Gulu.

Sunday night my heart was heavy, weighing me down in my sleep as the boys’ stories came to life in my nightmares.

Every good teacher learns from his or her students.  Here in Uganda, I’m eager to learn how these children walked the darkest road and arrived at this destination, to a time and place where laughing is like breathing, where love and justice prevail over land once red with the blood of their loved ones.

Best of Member Monday #3: Becoming A “Real” Boy by Terry O’Connell

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #3 slot is a piece by Writers Forum member Terry O’Connell.

Becoming A “Real” Boy

by Terry O’ Connell

I grew up an only child, raised mostly by a single, working mom. I was a quiet, gentle boy who preferred to read and stay home rather than go out and play with other kids on the streets and in the playgrounds. I didn’t like sports, wasn’t very coordinated, and I’d much rather avoid a flying ball than try to catch one. I have horrible memories of musical chairs – the pushing, the aggression, chairs toppling, people falling down. I would usually just remain standing and be eliminated. I was not a “typical” boy, and I fell far short of the playground standards of my working-class neighborhood.

In my fourth grade year, there was a big contest at my school – with prizes! I don’t remember the details, but somehow I managed to win first place. As the grand winner, I could choose one of two prizes. One was a bright red Radio Flyer wagon, and the other was a well-made Raggedy Andy rag doll. The wagon was the clear choice, and I started to imagine having it at home to play with and haul my toys around. Then I looked at the doll and thought to myself, “Everyone wants the wagon. Nobody is going to choose the doll.” And I started to picture the doll being ignored and left behind, and something in me shifted.

When the time came for me to make my selection, I chose the doll.

For the rest of the day, the kids chided me mercilessly. They called me names. They made up little rhymes about me and my doll. Boys and girls, friends and strangers, it made no difference. I had crossed a line and they weren’t going to let it go.

Finally, school let out and I was able to go home and get away from the taunting and disapproval. On the walk home, I kept replaying the day’s events over and over again, trying to bring the whole thing into focus and make sense of how I felt and what had happened.

A block before I reached home, I threw the doll away.