Retro Tuesday 6-6-2023

Writing Challenge 101 Day 4 – The Serial Killer (Loss)

Everything I learned about being a mother I learned from my mother.  Simple, right?  Of course, I learned from her.  But it’s not so simple as that.  I was the baby of the family, the introvert, the dreamer.  The nonconformist.  I lived inside my head, inside the stories I was always telling myself, understanding those stories and their characters better than I could ever understand the real world around me. My mother was just the opposite; she lived in the real world and had no use for the daydreams and fantasies of her youngest child.

I always thought this was the reason we so often clashed.  Now, however, I think we weren’t so different after all.  She had to live in a reality that I had not yet known.  She had a husband and kids and a house to run.  Groceries to buy, food to cook, and endless cleaning of house and laundry.  When I grew up and had these same things come to me, I had to learn how to live outside my own reality.  There isn’t a choice when you have children. 

I have come to understand that being a mother comes from the heart and from the soul.  It is the greatest surrender any woman can make to put aside her life for 18 + years to focus on her children.  Not all mothers make this sacrifice, but my mother did.  There are no absolutes in a mother’s world, no true rights or wrongs.  Everything we do as mothers is in the Now, the eternal present. There is no past or future in mothering. Every word we choose leaves its input on our child forever. As a mother myself, I can now see the challenges and sacrifices that she made from both sides.  She did the best she could in the Now.  When she knew better, she did better.  What better mantra for any mother?

Somewhere in the turmoil of our relationship,  the truth of being a mother changed.  Maybe she learned that you can’t fix your children.  Maybe she finally saw me for who I was and not who she wanted me to be.  Or maybe she just learned how to stop being a mother and start being a friend.  Time and again, she stood behind me without questions, no longer trying to fix my life, but simply being there. She learned that I didn’t need somebody to fix my problems (though I may have wanted that),  but, instead, I needed somebody to hear me.  I needed to know that I had value as me and not just as the person others wanted me to be.  I needed somebody who would never leave.

But there is no permanency in motherhood. Eventually, mothers go away from their children, leaving behind an empty space inside that will never again be filled in the same way.  Sometimes this leaving is first mental, just as you have gone away into a world of imagination where I cannot enter, our roles switched in what seems a tragic irony of fate.  Eventually, however, it will be forever. This, too, is motherhood.  A letting go, a final freedom, the ability of a child to physically let go of their mother when the time is right and the knowledge that, in truth, motherhood never ends.  It is an endlessness that has carried women from the first moment of the world, uniting us all back to the first mother, that very first instant when a woman looked upon the face of her newborn and fell in love.

What better tribute could there be?

Retro Tuesday 5-16-2023


I came face to face with mortality today.  On my way to work, a deer jumped in front of my car.  I barely missed hitting her.  All I saw was a flash of brown. Unfortunately, the deer was not so fortunate with the car heading in the opposite direction.  The thud sounded like thunder.  At the next intersection, I turned around and found the doe lying dead on the side of the road.

Just so you know, the other driver was fine. His car, unfortunately, was not.

Whenever I pass a dead animal on the roadside, or in the road, I always feel a pang of loss and sadness.  But should I?  Am I sad for the death of the animal or for the loss it seems to leave behind in the assumed life of a buck or a fawn? Mothers? Daughters? Fathers? Will this doe leave an emptiness behind? Will she be mourned by some creature beyond myself?

Some animals killed on the roadways are pets, but most deaths are deer and opossums and raccoon, animals with which I have no personal connection. Am I then mourning the death I know will come to the human animals I know?

The difference between animals and humans is, according to most sources, that humans have the consciousness necessary to comprehend the concept of death. We know the final end, know it can come at any time, any way.  Animals don’t have this consciousness. Or do they?

Was the deer afraid at the last moment?  Did it realize the dead-endedness of the situation; there was no way for her leap to end but in death?

Animals are not dumb beasts.  Anybody who has had a relationship with an animal knows this. I know animals can mourn.  They can love.  They can feel anger.  They feel fear.  But do they see death coming? Could the doe have known that, in her wild flight, she was jumping into the end?

I don’t know.  I do know that I will mourn the loss of the doe, the clash between humans pushing out, cutting down the forests, and the animals who have nowhere to go but inward in an effort to coexist with the race destroying their world.  Is this then what I mourned?

Retro Tuesday 5-9-2023

Hello, Just A Little Mail For Your Box

My mother died this past October.  She had Parkinson’s for years and she was finally just ready to leave.  I found peace with her going before the fact so the pain inside was not as sharp as it might have been.  In fact, I felt a sense of relief that she was finally free of the prison of her body.  We knew the day was coming, had for years. It was just a matter of waiting for the right time.  There were times when I railed against the world for the cruel joke of making my mother, the woman who NEVER wanted to sit still (She was the housecleaning Queen) and NEVER wanted anybody to do anything for her, a prisoner in a jail of flesh and bone.

Before her death, I was cleaning out some boxes and came across many letters and notes she had sent me when I was away at college. Every week, at least two notes, often saying nothing more than ‘hello, just a little mail for your box’ or a note or two about what the cats were doing. By then, the disease had taken away her ability to write.  I realized I would never read anything again in her handwriting.  The letters took on a whole new meaning, lifelines to a time which would never return.  I kept as many as I could find, knowing one day I would want to look at her familiar hand-writing once again and remember.

Handwritten notes, cards, pictures, these are the things we should treasure instead of what money will we get from the will, which of her possessions would we like.  I don’t need, or want, her possessions to remember her.  I would rather look at my notes from college, the years of birthday cards, Christmas cards, cards for no reason at all. These are the notes from her heart to mine.

Retro Tuesday 5-2-2023


JSW Prompt 8-27-2015 response


That’s the curse of being a writer.  If I could show you the worlds inside me, the multiple dimensions all narrowing down to one single pin-head point – me – then you might understand.  Not that I hold out hope.  How can you comprehend a hundred worlds inside me, a thousand characters telling stories, clamoring to be heard.

I had invisible friends as a child.  Everybody does.  Friends with which I played and talked; friends who were inside me. But, I never outgrew my invisible friends.  They grew away from me, into their own, but never left.  Though many of them have merged and morphed into other characters or combinations, none are forgotten, not unless they have died in my imagination.  And, truthfully, even not then.  Some names of the dead have been lost, pushed out by the living, but the character is never forgotten.

Having a hundred characters inside my head, inside my body, is normal for me.  I don’t understand how other people live without them.  Stories are always spinning through my mind, one character or another settling over me as I walk or talk or work.  I see through their eyes, talk through their mouths, hear through their ears.  I touch through their skin.

Understand, when you talk to me, you are talking to both me and whatever character descends like a shroud over my being. Could I live without them?  Without their stories.  I don’t think so.  I would be too alone in the silence.

Would I want to live without them, those names and faces which have carried me through so many days.

No, not even for you.

Retro Tuesday 4-25-2023


Sunday Photo Fiction 6-17-2018


Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

He sat quiet, watching the coming and going in the park, Alfred standing to the side, staring off towards the pond.

“After we eat, don’t worry,” he said, taking a bite of his biscuit. Sipping coffee. Tossing half of another to his friend. Alfred ignored the sharing.

He shrugged. It was early. Alfred wasn’t a morning bird.

Neither of them were young. Maybe that was why they were such good friends. Both of them looking at the world from the wrong end of the telescope.

He hope Alfred went first. Who’d take care of him if he passed first? Alfred was a quiet bird, a reflective bird, set in his ways.

Taking his last bite of biscuit, he crumbled the bag and tossed it into the trash bin. Two points. He still had it.

Glancing down, he saw Alfred eating his biscuit, settled back to wait. Friends waited for each other. Friends accepted each other. Friends were friends.

Besides, he enjoyed the quiet. The pond would wait.

Retro Tuesday 4-18-2023


My Mother’s Shoes

One thing often forgotten in the confusion of a family death is the afterwards. The drawers and closets of socks and sweaters and shirts. Pants.  Dresses.  Purses. Hidden letters.  Trinkets bought and tucked away. And shoes.

I’d never thought about all these little pieces of my Mother’s life.  The shoes she worn and loved.  What did they mean to her?  Which were her favorites?  The ones she only tolerated? White Keds.  Black pumps. Soft suede casuals.  And what about the broken ones left abandoned on the closet floor?  Why did she keep them?  What did they mean to her that she didn’t throw them away.

She was a tosser, opposite to my Father, the Yankee.  If you didn’t need it, don’t keep it.  If it’s broken.  Toss.  How many of my cherished toys broke and vanished? But back to shoes.

My Father asked my sister and I to go through Mom’s clothes.  I can understand he didn’t want to make those decisions, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me.  They were just shoes.

My sister went through and tossed the broken and scuffed shoes, separating the trash from those good enough to donate, leaving those she thought one of us could wear. And so I found myself sitting before Mom’s closet, shoes spread around on the floor.  Memories of a life gone forever.

At first, I was interested. What girl wouldn’t be interested in new(er) shoes?  (Not that I’m a shoe freak by any means, but come on….)  My sister and aunt, both there for the great shoe distribution, kept handing me shoes.

“Look at these.  Almost new.  I bet they will fit you.”

“Are you sure you don’t want these, too?”

“You can’t have too many black pumps.”

And the heartbreaker – “Mom would want you to wear them.”

Skip to later.  At home, sitting on the floor in front of my much smaller closet, shoes spread on the floor before me.  Do I want them?  Yes and no.  Maybe she would want me to wear them, but can I?

I pick up the soft suede casuals, try them on.  I really like the style.  It’s me all the way but….I can remember her wearing them, loving them.  And then I can’t put them on again.

White Keds.  Still in the box with the receipt.  She loved Keds.  White. Blue. Red.  How many days did I see her in Keds? How can I wear them?

Black Pumps.  I remember her wearing them to Church and special events.  In fact, I remember her wearing them more than any of her other dress shoes.

Memories in shoes.  The boxes sit on my bedroom floor for weeks, pushed back and forth depending on the dresser drawer I need to open.  Then I toss them in the closet – in their boxes still – because I can’t bear to look at them.  On the other hand, I can’t bear to give them away.

I don’t need them.  Most of the time, I think I should donate them.  Somebody would love them.  In the end, however, I can’t bear the thought of anybody else wearing my Mother’s shoes.

Retro Tuesday 3-28-2023


Struggling With Reality –

“So: if you buy the notion that reality consists of the things in your freeze-frame mental image right now, and if you agree that your now is no more valid than the now of someone located far away in space who can move freely, then reality encompasses all of the events in spacetime.

-Brian Greene

I blogged the above as my “Quote For The Day” yesterday after reading it several times over, attempting to wrap my brain around the *reality* of Mr. Greene’s statement.  Something in my head keeps bulking at acceptance.  I know reality is not what we believe it to be, but is it “all events is spacetime?” Can one person’s reality be the same reality as a star so far away we don’t yet know of it’s existence?  Accepting that means accepting our reality is not really our own, but instead is the reality of the Universe.

Would that distance star’s reality be the same as my reality?  Does it accept the cars and 9 to 5s and the joy of the family?  I’ve always believed that everyone’s reality is different.  I don’t go so far as to insist that whatever I can see and feel and taste and know is the only reality available. I’m more of the mind that all people live in the same general reality, just as all stones live in the same reality, animals in their own, rivers and seas in yet another reality.  Parallel universes, maybe, overlapping and connecting at all points yet still separate.

Do I know the reality of a stone?  I can imagine, but I can never know.

Somewhere in all these separate realities, there has to be something, a spark of some unknown magic or science, that binds all realities together, bonding everything into one.  Where?  Is it invisible? Is it even really there?

I know I am made of star-stuff, so does that means the star is made of my-stuff?  What if we are all one? I am the star and the star is me. I am the river and the river is me.  Is this, then, all a dream? Is the star inside me dreaming or am I dreaming inside the star?

Or, maybe, the reality is both are true?

Retro Tuesday 3-14-2023


“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan

The more I think about this quote, the more I am fascinated by the awe-inspiring possibilities of the statement.  To think that the cosmos lies within us is contrary to everything we have ever been taught.  We are told that the cosmos is out there, beyond the curve of the horizon, beyond poor demoted Pluto, out somewhere in the Milky Way, trapped between the ever expanding ‘boundaries’ of the Big Bang.  Yet Mr Sagen suggests that all that infinity is instead inside of us? Our moral, boundried bodies? How can that be?

Is the tiny speck of the Big Bang hiding somewhere down in our souls, radiating out stars and planets and even black holes through ribs and muscles and lungs?  Or is the universe reversing inside us, growing smaller and smaller with each step we take to make this world a smaller place?

I can image my body filled with the ‘reality’ of blood and muscles and bones, but I have a harder time with the image of myself filled with star-stuff.  What exactly makes up this star-stuff?  Asteroids and space dust? Black holes?  Wormholes?  Matter and dark matter?  Or could it be all of these together just as in the vast unknown of the Universe?

I remember a book cover I once saw that has a person’s outline filled with the dark of sky and stars.  That is how I imagine myself filled with the stuff of the cosmos.  And this, I know, is only but a tiny fraction of what the words mean.  Maybe I will never understand the reality of Mr Sagen’s words, but I will spend my life trying.  That, after all, is the most anybody can expect.

Retro Tuesday 3-7-2023

Question of the Day 2-23-2018

Please feel free to answer these questions on your blog or in the responses. If you leave me a link to your post, I will re-post it on my blog. You can also feel free to forward these questions to anybody who might be interested. Thank you to those who have already shared their thoughts.

What are you waiting for?

What am I waiting for? In my life? My day? Moment to moment? Am I waiting for some assumed future event to make all things in my life right?  To be able to say, “Now, things are going to be okay.”

If I am waiting for those theoretical events in my future, then I will be waiting my life away. The time when I say, “Everything in my life will be perfect now,” will never come. The most I can expect is moments of perfection, moments when I can sit back and go, “Right this minute, I know what happiness means.”

I had moments like that this past weekend. Flashes of perfection. Moments of happiness. Moments when I was at peace.

Of course, I also had moments (or longer) of panic. Mainly when I had to drive home from my friend’s house in the dark and my phone wouldn’t connect with Maps. The reason I panicked was because I’ve had to drive without Maps help before and I got so lost and panicked and angry and…and…and…. so I came into this latest instance of driving home at night already nervous.

At that moment, I was waiting for Maps to help me get home. What I was really waiting for was somebody to take care of me, to tell me things would be fine, that I would get home fine, wouldn’t get lost, that everything was okay. None of that happened.

I finally drove back to my friend’s house and her husband got my phone working with Maps. They wanted me to stay the night and head home in the morning, but I knew I had to go. I had to overcome this fear paralyzing me. I had to drive home in the dark and not get lost, not panic.

Well, I didn’t make it without some panic. Maps and I don’t communicate well at times. Most of the times. Every time I go to their house, Maps tried to take me into a Military Base. Not where I want to go and not when I’d have to say, “Oh, sorry, Maps wanted me to come here, but I really didn’t want to.”

But, the bottom line is that I found my way to 64 and home. My panic was for naught as they say. (Hypothetical ‘they,’ whoever they are.)

But back to the question. There was a question right?

What am I waiting for?

Let me think on it.

Retro Tuesday 2-28-2023

This question cropped up in one of the Blogs I follow:

But what exactly do you earn if not money? Is there something else to being a writer?
Cristian Mihai

Good question. What does it mean to be a writer? There had to be a reward or we wouldn’t keep writing. Good ole Dr. Phil. How’s that working for you? I know my answer would be ‘while frustrating about NOT writing, it’s going well thank you.’ But that’s because I’ve always known deep in my heart that I am a writer. There has always been that voice inside saying ‘keep going. You’re going to get there.’ Then again, I keep writing those words, but how do you know what’s inside me? Hopefully, because you have that same driving, incessant, need inside of you.

So what do I earn if not money? I earn the privilege of becoming the person I was born to be. I earn the right to know and share the lives of characters that honor me with their stories. I win the wonderful experience of exploring a thousand worlds inside my own head, of being everywhere and every time at once. Now, if only I could bottle that scent, open the cork on a bad writing day, and take a whiff.

To me, being a writer means being open to the possibilities of the everlasting. Not that I think my writing will be remembered or even read a hundred years from now. Sure, it would be great, but I’ll be gone so what will I care? It is the stories themselves that are important; the lives, the loves, the hopes and fears and triumphants – and failures – of the characters. For it is the loves, the hopes and fears and triumphants and failures that make us human, that bind us all together.

I’ve often heard writers say ‘if one person reads my writing and is touched or changed, then I’ve done my job.’ Truer words and all that. I think, like most writers (and correct me if I’m wrong), I write for myself. I write to unfold the worlds within, to explore my own psyche and heal my own wounds, to be the person I was born to be. And what reason is more important than that?