Archive for the ‘waiting’ Category

I THOUGHT WHEN MA WAS GONE I’d finally pull them together, the scattered mess of stories, the memories that had paid me visits over the years.

I didn’t start out wanting to write any of it – was happy to just get out and away from it – but after I got out and away, and after some time passed, they came back to me at different times, the sights, sounds and even smells of isolated moments, brief exchanges, things I was witness to.

When they came, the memories, it was bag and baggage, whether I wanted them to or not. They moved right in and took over. Hovered. Interfered. Kept me from focusing on things that needed tending. The only way to get them to move along was putting pen to paper and writing them out.

Everything, as best I could. Leave nothing out. Put nothing in.

* * *

IT HAPPENED THE FIRST TIME in 1989. A memory descended, clear as day. I tried everything to ignore it, but it was with me day and night until, at last, I captured in on paper. Then it left me alone. I set the pages aside and moved on.

After that, whenever a memory came in that way – imposing itself – I wasted no time, but sat right down and wrote it out. Captured it. Threw a net over it with ink and reeled it in.

Some few have been shared, published under a pen name, told to friends or used as an illustration.  Mostly, though, they’ve just been piling up.

Every so often, I’d get to thinking about them and know I had something really important and that I ought to do something with them, but I held off.

After Ma’s gone, I thought. After Ma’s gone.

* * *

THE WEIRD THING IS once Ma was gone, so was my pressing need to tell the stories. Poof! Gone. The strangest thing.

And I’d be happy to leave it like that, filed away, all of it, except for one thing. The last day I visited with Ma in her apartment, the last time I talked with her while she was sitting up in a chair, the last afternoon before the series of strokes that led to the end….I told her I would do it.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a deathbed promise. Just a regular promise. We don’t need to get dramatic about it.

“Don’t worry, Ma. I’ll do a good job,” I said.
“I know you will.” She surprised me with this, a vote of confidence. I remember that, how it took me by surprise.

Next post: The Last Sitting-Up Conversation.

* * *

Feel free to email me, if you like. Your thoughts and reactions are important to me.

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WHY IS IT that the best writing ideas always hit when there is no time to pursue them?

and by ‘best’ I don’t mean
that which has potential to go viral,
but the thing about which
you realize
you have something to say
that needs to be said somewhere
and your experience has given you insight
and you have interest in the subject
and you have access to resources
and that you would find it fulfilling (albeit challenging)
to do the work?

WHY do ideas come when there’s no time to strike while the passion is hot?

Is it because the mind more open
when it’s easy to commit with words,
to say “THAT’s what I ought to write about!”
when certainly nobody will be expecting you
to do it, not at this time?

Or does the idea come at that time
because of that old saw
about busy people -
If you want something done, ask a busy person -
suggesting a body in motion
tends to stay in motion
and so it’s the heat of current activity
that’s generating creative sparks,
inviting inspiration,
asking to be used to the fullest?
Is that why the ideas popcorn out?

And one teeters dangerously close
to falling into “if only” mode?
IF ONLY I wasn’t  . . .
I could do it.

Thereby we are rendered deaf
quite often.

* * *

a lamp actually,
a lamp
just so high
just so wide
casting light in just such a way
giving me a certain feeling
when I see it,
a feeling I can’t describe
but I’ll know it when it hits.

I searched
then gave up,
called away by the need to tend to people.
Important, that.

And then just last week
in the middle of tending to tasks people,
running errands to fill needs,
I exit a shop,
laden down, hands full, arms full.

A lamp
across the street
in the window of a consignment shop
catches my eye,
calls to me.

But I’m not thinking about that now.
I’m not worrying about a lamp for that window now.
I have people needing this and that
and appointments to be here and there
and only a sliver of time today
and my arms are full.

Doesn’t God know
that finding a lamp
is not on my day’s agenda?

But, ah, I am not Zechariah,
failing to recognize an answer coming,
the very thing.

Why is it the best things come
not when we are free
but when we are deeply engaged
and the mere suggestion
that we consider it
makes us roll our eyes?

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning
– Luke 12:35

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Silly and serious stir together today as I do a little culling from recent thought-swirls.

I stood peering through the wig shop window,
fascinated by the rows of heads,
each one looking better than the one before,
until I caught sight of my own reflection
and saw how it paled in comparison.
WHAT? Am I competing with mannequins now?
Moving on! :-)

* * *

IN THE THICK of permission-to-touch decorating here.
Little hands coming.

Crystal and glass,
things with sharp edges
or delicate parts
being put up high
or put away altogether.

Count me out
of the “You can’t touch” set.

* * *

Waiting for discharge papers
the other day I stood
in the lobby of the rehab hospital
and listened to a school choir,
smiling broadly,
hermit by nature,
I don’t do often enough).

“Oh, what do I care about this?”
said the voice next to me.
“I don’t know any of them.
I’m going back to my room.”
And I let her go.

While I don’t know any of them either,
they all seem so familiar,
as if I DO know them,
and well,
and I love each one of them.

Children push open the gates to Memory Lane.

* * *

“WILL YOU PLEASE make me a sign for my playhouse?”
I was asked recently
by a boy who no longer likes to be kissed.

“Certainly. What do you want it to say?


I made the sign,
taped it in place,
then sat in a nearby recliner,
He, a great “imaginator,” played,
poking his head out periodically,
pointing to the sign,
reminding me.

“Don’t worry. I’m cool with it.”

I thought of the fort

my brothers built
in the trees behind our house
before the builders made another street of homes back there.

We little girls stayed down below.
Oh, they let us use it
…as long as no dolls were left behind.

And I thought of the tree-wrestling team -

the men of the family -
my father and two brothers -
that brought a giant blue spruce
home in a station wagon,
wrestled it up steps
to the cathedral-ceiling living room,
then held it steady,
my brothers,
while my father,
with the aid of a saw (and some choice words),
made the tree stand straight.

* * *

Sunday’s sermon, a pure treat!
Zechariah and Elizabeth
prayed so hard
and waited so long
that when the answer finally came
poor Zechariah
failed to recognize it
right in front of his face.
Discouragement can render one blind.
Avoid at all costs.

ADVENT is about waiting expectantly.

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