Creating a Ripple

Racking my brain…

My family is at the stage now,

of counting my sweet mother’s breaths…

But I live so far away I could be in mars. At least it feels like it!

I want to be with her for all the last breaths and hold her hand.

She has given me so much, I don’t want her to go.

My mother turns 89 the beginning of Oct.

I want to celebrate her life while she is still with us.

HOW?

Then, I received an angel whisper.

An idea…create a ripple.

Every day for the month of September

leading up to her birthday on Oct. 1st

I am sending

all of her posterity

and brothers and sisters

a Fun Fact about her.

There are over 100 of us.

Everyone has LOVED it! 

Including my mother!

It allows me to do something for her

here on Mars.

It has allowed everyone to know facts about her

they never knew or remember back.

It has created a beautiful ripple

of her life which not only

encircles around her

but

encircles out

to all of us.

Here is a peek:

Grandma trusts all people!

At Ruth and Wade’s wedding reception Ruth told all of Wade’s friends where they were going to spend their wedding night, up in a little cabin in the canyons. That was a mistake! It was common in those days for friends to do a sneak attack on the new couple and knock on windows and yell silly comments. But Wade must have had a good friend who tipped him off. Wade got the last laugh when instead of going to the little cabin, he quickly changed the plans and went to his brother, Keith’s apartment. All his friends went to the canyons…but they weren’t there. Ruth wondered why they didn’t go to the canyons like they planned…

You can still have fun at the end of life….

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Who is your God?

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Who is your God?

What is He or She like?

Do you talk to Him or Her?

A friend and I were discussing God over dinner after she had offered grace before we ate. She had grown up Catholic and felt it was easy to pray to Mary because she was comforted by Jesus’ mother. But when talking to God as a child she used to feel intimidated like he was too omnipotent to be bothered by a little dot on the earth, which was her. But since then her relationship with God has changed. The discussion began.

Who is your God?

What is He like?

Do you talk to Him?

We both believe in a similar male God that looks like a man but contains all power over the universe, and we both believe that love is the first and most powerful law of the universe.

But what came out of the discussion was the influence our dad’s played in establishing a relationship with that “Father Figure” in heaven. It had a huge impact on both of us.

When she mentioned her first impressions of the scary God, I told her that I never ever felt that way about God. I explained that the reason was because my dad was such a kind, loving, soft-hearted father to me that I carried that father figure model clear up to the heavens, beyond the clouds to my God in Heaven. According to my belief He had those same characteristics as my own dad but on a grander scale. She agreed that her father had also been a positive influence in her own life and was also what influenced her new relationship with God as she grew older.

Isn’t that interesting. Our dad’s relationship with us on earth influences how we feel about our Father in the Heavens.

That is pretty powerful and a big responsibility.

We both enjoy talking to God every single day.

And we both believe he listens to our prayers and guides our lives.

Thanks dad’s who love their children so we learn to love GOD.

(I also ask God to give hugs to my dad and mom up there, too.)

I was a little Skunkneck

My father was wicked witty and claimed he did not have a creative bone in his body. You be the judge…

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He had his own vocabulary that would just flow out of his mouth such as

“Bushwa” which was short for “Bushwa-ishkabible-skyta-brute.”  (The whole thing was used mostly during a tease.) The word was used to disguise something usually ridiculous or not worth talking about. Like “Oh bushwa!”

Terms of endearment were not as you would have expected: lunk-plunk, angle-worm, nongin-plongin, skunkneck, angle-snangle, buttheads, plug-ugly or plug, squirt-neck or squirt, snorkel-dorkle, or little bugger,…

Most of us also had individualized nicknames. One of mine was “jayfer, nayfer, payfer, layfer, scayfer.”

His unique vocabulary mixed into regular conversation without a hiccup.

We looked “cuter than a bugs ear” or “peachy keen.”

When proud he would say it three times: I’m “Proud, proud, proud!”

For reassurance he would always say, “You’ll Do It!”

When we were sick his diagnosis was usually that we had “the “screamin’ scrud snuds.”

But when we were really really sick we had the “hydra-konda-bogus and triple…” I am keeping the rest out on purpose for a future children’s book!

Extremely frustrated or angry he would exclaim, “Oh horse manure!”  or “Amscray! (SCRAM)”

My father used his unique vocabulary to teach us, such as when he would gently remind us to: “Say lovin’ words.”

Or my personal favorite; his explanation for when day turns to night or night turns to day; “There it is sky-blue-pink!”

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My father was not perfect. He said his share of “damn- it’s” under his breath. That was his prominent swear. But he would throw in a “bass-akwards” or a “horses arse” to keep it “cleaner” for my mom. I recently realized that our favorite car singing song that he taught us as toddlers left out the word ass. I do remember my mother looking over at him as I stood in-between them in the big station wagon. (When he slowed he would put his right arm across my body to keep me from falling forward. )

He would mischievously look over at my mom and smile his straight across smile. And we’d all sing it loud and strong and even in a round.

Sweet Sings the Donkey

As he goes to grass.

If you don’t sing better you will be the…

Haw,

Hee-haw;

Hee-haw, Hee-haw, Hee-haw!

My last recording of him on my phone begins, “Hello lovin’ heart.”  I play it often just to hear his voice.

It is interesting to me how silly words and phrases unexpectedly turned into my father’s legacy of love and affection for his family.

It makes me smile my straight across smile just to think of this.

Happy Father’s Day dad.

I thank God every single day I got a good one!

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My dad taught me to love words

I have somewhat of a walk to my mailbox. This day was not particularly different as I trudged up the hill to get bills and junk mail.  A large envelope stuck out as the red mailbox door hung below. I jerked the stiff package to pull away its edges caught on the insides of the mailbox and dropped some of the letters on the ground. I picked them up on by one and then looked at the package. It was addressed to me.

‘A package!’ the thought thrilled me. Then in an instant the memory of my dad poured through my body like a warm comfy morning. ‘Dad’ I choked back his title inside my mind. I looked up into the blue sky. “I miss you.” I said out loud to empty space. The feeling of deep homesickness wrung like a knot in my stomach again. Will that feeling ever go away?

I clicked the mailbox closed and began the walk down the hill but I was not there.  I was instantly transformed to me as a seven year old little girl holding a package from the mail.  I let the memory flow because that now was the only way to bring my father back and make him alive to me.

“I got a package!” I yelled.  I traced the letters which spelled my name Jennifer Calvert. Inside held a treasure which would become an intimate part of who I am, but would also carry the potential of lessons to be learned throughout my life time. My mother always used a serrated knife to cut the tape binding then step back so I could tear open the box and peek inside.  I grasped the binding and pulled out Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. There was a distinct smell as I pulled out my book from the mail.  New paper mixed with glue and cardboard dust. But I did not open it.  That was a ritual that would be performed later.  I carefully walked over and placed it on the hallowed spot; not in grand central station in the family room where all six children congregated to watch Star Trek on afternoon TV, but on the special living room couch where we were only allowed if we were quiet and clean. Then I waited. I waited what felt like an eternity. I played with my Jessica doll. I rode my bike. I walked on the white fence that surrounded my house until I jumped off before I hit the ivy. I colored at the counter as my mom hustled around the kitchen conjuring up good smells while preparing supper for a family of eight. I would sneak in the living room to make sure my new book was still there on the couch.  It seemed also to be waiting anticipating its contents to be enjoyed.

And then I heard the familiar whistle. The creek-crack of the old screen as it hit a little too hard. And the heavy footsteps through the back hall where my dad always entered the house, jingling his keys and continuously whistling.  He did this to alert all of us that dad was home.  Everyone scrambled to give him a hug.  Well, the teenagers were either in their rooms or too cool to get up.  My dad always brought home something from the grocery store and he would set the bag on the counter then tousle hair, squeeze shoulders, pat the dogs and then continue to lift and squeeze kids. He then would walk into the kitchen and kiss my mom and snitch some food. I followed my dad back into his bedroom feeling too excited to wait any longer, spilling the news from my mouth.

“I got my book! It’s Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss!”  I began jumping on my parent’s bed. My Dad was sitting on his cushioned rocking chair and reached down to untie his brown work shoes. He stifled a yawn but then he answered with some mustered up enthusiasm.

“Let’s read it after dinner.” He said, just as he always did when my books arrived each month in the mail. We went on adventures together without even leaving the house.

He put on his brown slippers and he held my hand as we walked down the hall to dinner.

In a family of six children the house is rarely a monastery of silence. The family room and kitchen area were always in constant state of movement and  noise; the dogs barked; the television was always on; the food cupboards were constantly opened and shut along with the refrigerator. It was like pop corn kernels in a pot constantly popping.  But my dad always closed the two sliding wooden doors from all that noise and movement separating us from all the hustle-bustle.

I had my dad all to myself.  I sat next to him or on his lap on the fancy living room couch. It was then that we broke into that new binding with a crack. The hum of the first words, “Signed Mayzie, a lazy bird hatching an egg…” began to hypnotize us and the magic spell of reading aloud began. We were cloistered from the world in a little quiet bubble as we floated inside a book together.  We felt sad together as Horton sat on that egg in the rain and snow.  We felt frightened together when the hunters all pointed guns at Horton’s heart.  We hooray-ed together as the egg hatched and Mayzie the lazy bird suffered the consequences of her neglect. We voiced out loud in tandem the famous words repeated in the text, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant…An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent” (Seuss, 1940). Then we would close the book and sit; my dad and me.  Right there on that fancy living room couch. My dad felt warm and safe.   Something wonderful and powerful had happened.

“Oh Dad,” I whispered out loud as I stopped and looked at the sky coming back to the present. “That was a very long time ago.” ‘How could I know as a seven year old the powerful gifts you would leave lingering inside of me that would last an entire lifetime which began by a simple gesture of time, togetherness and the love of a good story.’  I allowed the memory to linger as I stepped quietly back into the house trying to feel him close once again.  He’s only been gone for four months now.  I walked to the silverware drawer and got out a serrated knife. I cut the tape binding and reached inside.

“Look Dad, it’s my text book for school!” I knew he would smile. Then I walked into my living room and placed it on the couch…and waited. Even though I knew he would not come. After dinner I sat alone on the couch, picked up the book and broke the binding. Then something warm flowed through my body and I knew he was there.

Will you come with me sweet Reader? 

I thank you. Give me your hand.

(The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle, 1883)

Delicately hand-picked

A little old man walks out a back door and slowly makes his way to the garden. The sun casts early morning shadows across the yard tended gently for fifty five years.

His eyes heavy and weary give inspection of simple yard tending needs that he still has strength to complete.

That needs a sweep.

The hummingbird feeder is low.

He shuffles over to the rose garden to scan each bud choosing an adolescent Tiffany Rose; peach with a touch of yellow. He carefully reaches, uncertain of his footing then balances. He ignores the buzzes of bees who wake up early to begin their gathering. He takes hold of the stem between thorns and with feeble hands bends it back and forth, back and forth until the flower breaks free from its life source. He shuffles back into the house placing the flower in a prepared vase next to his sweetheart’s chair of 67 years, where she will see it when she is wheeled in after she awakes. It was a ritual that was as ordinary as breathing.

The rose was still sitting in the same spot, in full bloom when I flew in for his funeral.

I had a romantic for a father. He left my mother love notes and roses from our garden my entire life. He would always bring them to whomever was close for a quick fragrance evaluation before he presented the delicate hand-picked flower to my mother.

It was always in the morning.

It was often propped up next to their bedroom door.

Parents do not always realize the small gestures they choose which teach volumes about who they are and what they love.

Roses always remind me of my dad…

Little Heart

I wish to share one of my favorite writings inspired by two mothers I cherish for mother’s day coming up. One was growing a tiny heart inside next to her own heart suffering from hyperemisis while the other was resting an old loving heart suffering from congestive heart failure. I wrote it with my own pleading heart in a fervent prayer that the hearts I cherish would never stop beating…

It will be one of my children’s books someday…

Written to my unborn grandbaby and my mom in the hospital                                                Dec. 17, 2011

Little Heart

 

Everyone gets a little heart with their body.  It is like your very own light bulb that turns on when you begin.  You can’t see it on your outside like your pinky finger, but you can feel it on your inside thumping.  Do you want to feel it?  On your body above your belly button you have two heart finder dots.  If you put your hand in the middle of the dots and hold very still, you can feel your heart.  What does it say?  thump  thump  thump… like a drum.

Hearts start like magic.  On one special day your heart turns on and begins to beat while you are growing in your mommy’s tummy.  It never stops while you are alive.  It begins when you are smaller than a little pea like this.

That is an itty bitty heart saying “Hello, I am here!”  thump thump thump…

Your heart can beat fast when you run or jump.  Do you want to feel it?  Hop like a rabbit; 5 HOPS.  Now find your heart finder dots and feel.  Thump!thump!thump!thump!  It will slow down soon.

Your heart can beat really slow too, like when you are sleeping.

Hearts can be different sizes. Even though you can’t see them you can see people with different sized ones.  Grandma has a huge heart even though she is not very big. She is nice. Bad guys who are huge have shriveled up small ones. They are mean. But hearts don’t have to stay one size, they can change anytime.  thump  thump  thump…

Hearts have lots and lots of pockets.  You can feel them on the inside.  All kinds of things get put inside the heart pockets.  Happy and sad things; good and bad things; mad and glad things. Some people hold too many things in their heart pockets and their hearts get very heavy.  You can feel that too.  To empty out some pockets all you have to do is cry.  Your tears carry away all that stuff you don’t need any more in your heart pocket.   thump  thump  thump.

The best thing about everyone’s heart is that they are all made from honey, and chocolate, and peppermint, and marshmallows, and caramel, and syrup, and cherries and sugar because everyone’s heart starts sweet when it is smaller than a pea.  Our hearts get sour only when we stop showing love.  Wrap your arms around me and squeeze—can you feel the sugar?

I love you!

Everyone gets a little heart with their body.  Keep going little heart.  thump  thump  thump.