Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Flowers Don't Bloom in January, Do They?

January’s a bleak month. It seems to have no purpose – unless it’s to give us an excuse to do nothing except what is absolutely necessary – to rest up from the exhausting holidays.
Intermittent sunshine makes today tolerable, but yesterday was so dreary, I wanted to pull the covers over my head and not peek out again until I saw sunshine. But I didn’t.
As always, the day passed and another one dawned, bringing with it – for me – memories of another bleak January day.
Many years ago, on this date, my father died. It was a Saturday. A day much like today: Cold, with a light covering of snow on the ground and a few snow flurries. I remember it as if it were yesterday.
It was also my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary. My dad shopped all day for just the right gift for my mother, but had trouble finding it. He phoned me three times throughout the day to ask my advice about things he was considering. I’ve wished a thousand times I’d gone with him! Perhaps I could have lessened the stress and changed the outcome. Probably not.
But I could have spent one more day with him!
When he returned home, it was almost dark. My mother had a nice dinner ready for them, but he didn’t feel well and told her to keep it warm for a short while so he could rest. She fixed him a glass of tea and as he sipped it, he became sicker and had trouble breathing. She called 9-1-1.
He had been taken out on a gurney several times before, but this time was different. On the front porch, he looked up at the next-door neighbor, who had come over when he heard the ambulance, and said, “I won’t be back this time, Buddy.” I’m told he then smiled and shook the neighbor’s hand for the last time.
My mother phoned me. A son-in-law, who was visiting, took me to her house. She hurried to the car and we rushed to the hospital. We knew it wasn’t good when a nurse led us, the family, to a “private” room to wait. I phoned the rest of my children and they were all there shortly.
Daddy Dan, they called him.
Everyone loved him! Not one would have refused to come and not one eye remained dry when a nurse regretfully told us he was gone and asked if we wanted to see him.
The first words from my mouth were, “I haven’t seen him for two weeks!” At that moment, I felt so ashamed. We lived only 15 minutes apart. How could I have let that much time go by without seeing my parents? We talked on the phone almost every day, but I had children, a husband and was working part-time. Life got in the way of what should have been devotion to my wonderful parents.
Some things hurt forever.
On the day of the funeral, I clearly remember passing huge piles of dirty snow along the sides of the road as the long, black, salt-stained limousine carried our family slowly toward the cemetery. It was quiet inside the car.
It’s odd what the mind retains at stressful times. When we got out of the car at the cemetery, I watched as dozens of beautiful flowers were carried inside by funeral home personnel. I thought, Those can’t be real! Flowers don’t bloom in January, do they?
It was almost like a dream - a depressing scene that will live in my memory forever – only to repeat on dreary January days.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bad Days and Little White Dots

Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Lately, it seems I never have a good day. I’ve had a short fuse, too. I’ve been less than “nice” to those I love as well as to some I find impossible to love. I thought I was making progress in that department, but the past few days, I’ve given up altogether and slidden all the way back to “couldn’t care less” on the love ‘o meter.
Why is it when we’re having a bad day already, everything seems to go wrong?
Every time I cook, I either burn myself, spill something or forget to put something in. I’ve never liked to cook, but was forced to because I didn’t want to be accused of not taking good care of my family.
Mr. H. and the children always said I was the best cook around. According to them, my pie crust could not be duplicated! And the same went for my biscuits! I guess, if they’re telling the truth, you can be good at something even if you don’t like doing it.
Wasn’t true for my grandmother though. She hated to cook, too. It was rumored that when the hands on the clock moved around to the time she had to start dinner, she became so agitated that nobody wanted to be around her. So everyone found somewhere else to be needed while she banged the pots and pans around in the kitchen all by herself and rang a dinner bell when she had the food on the table.
I don’t remember ever eating much at her house. Guess I didn’t like what she literally “threw together.” There were lots of fruit trees in her yard and I always loved fruit, so I suppose I ate enough of that to keep from starving when I visited. That and the popcorn my Grandpa popped at night.
Shame I didn’t take after my maternal grandmother, who was a wonderful country cook. Her kitchen was “open” all the time – night or day. Her children could come in at any hour bringing a friend and if she didn’t already have something ready for them to eat, she’d tie on her apron and make whatever they wanted. I’ve seen her cook a virtual meal in the middle of the night when one of her sons and a friend arrived hungry and a little unsteady from too much carousing.
I thought my bad days were almost over; nothing lasts forever! But then, I washed a load of clothes today. Good clothes. Not the ones you reserve for wearing around the house or yard. When I took them out of the washer – all of them dark – they were covered with tiny pieces of white tissue.
Thousands of little white specks!
I blinked a couple of times to make sure my cataracts weren’t getting worse at record speed. Nope. There really were little white specks all over the clothes!
What now? I asked myself. Wash the clothes again? Put them in the dryer and hope all the little white dots end up in the lint basket? Take them outside and shake them really hard?
Or just throw them away and buy new ones?
Before I decided, the landline rang and my cell phone signaled that I had, not one, but two texts and I saw Mr. H. rummaging around in the kitchen with that “What’s for dinner?” look on his face.
I was suddenly too busy to worry about the clothes. I couldn’t even pull a Scarlett O’ Hara and worry about it tomorrow.
I have an important appointment tomorrow.
Everyone says getting out of the house will make things better.
But I’m not gonna count on it!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Alien Ornament Number Eight

Well, here it is, folks. My alien ornament of 2014!
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long while know that every Christmas, some mysterious family member or friend leaves a surprise on my tree. It is hidden among the branches so well that Mr. H. and I never find it until we take the tree down. We now have eight alien ornaments. We put them away with the rest of our decorations each year and hang them on the tree the next year just as if we always had.

The picture doesn't do this little snowman justice. He's really quite handsome with his black top hat, blue scarf, orange nose and mischievous smile. The broom he's holding gives the impression that he is about to sweep the snow off the doorstep.

If you'd like to see the other alien ornaments, you can see them one at a time and read their stories.

Aliens On My Tree

Another Alien Surprise

Alien Ornament 2013 

Alien Ornament 2015