To Grandpa

I wish I’d thought when I was younger to ask you about the war.

You’d tell me stories from time to time. The same stories again and again, until I stopped listening. There was something about Guam, Iwo Jima, about the time you took shrapnel to the head and your buddy right next to you was killed.

Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I can only guess at what you might have heard and seen and lived. The constant pounding of machine guns and bombs. Sand, seawater, palm trees exploding all around you. The ever-present smell of blood sticking in the humid air. Young men flung in pieces across the islands. Their final cries, quickly silenced.

I think about the you I knew . . . the man with bushy white eyebrows who laughed little but smiled often. Who prayed with his wife every day. Who joked around with his grandkids and bought them lunch once a week. Who worked hard and loved his family and never lost his faith.

How did you survive the war? How did you survive coming home? Was your life really as normal as it seemed?

Did you secretly dread Fourth of July celebrations? Did you ever cringe inside as your family oohed and ahhed over each exploding firework?

Did the festivities of this season take you back to a place you longed to forget? Or did they serve in memorial to people and events you longed to remember?

I wish I had thought to ask you.

 

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Dad’s Story

I wish I could find the words to say.

The right words, not what sounds sappy or sentimental,

But what’s true.

Life is exhausting sometimes,

Especially when everyone looks to you for answers

Or a million different responsibilities are yammering for your attention.

I sometimes wonder

How anyone survives being “man of the house”

Without losing their head.

But you do.

Day after week after month after year.

Working long hours to pay the many prices of family.

Dealing with all our big and little issues.

Giving time and counsel and love most of all, and still finding time to help others.

Praying for strength to fulfill all your callings and all that they entail.

I’m sure you have struggles, worries, and fears,

More than you’ll ever admit.

Who doesn’t?

Yet still you do your best to be a haven of strength to the rest of us.

As a certain songwriter so eloquently said,

Make your life a song.”

And you do, Dad.

Sometimes the notes are all discordant and wild,

Each new stanza a mystery, a burning question:

What lies ahead?

But as you so often remind me,

This is God’s story.

He’s got things under control,

He’s working everything out.

And so your own life is a story he’s telling,

One of adventure, of twists and turns,

And a hero who turned out all right.

He’s brought you this far and he’s not done yet.

The music plays on,

Blank pages remain.

There are still many words to be said.

I’m glad he gave me a part in this story

And glad, most of all,

He gave me you.

Love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

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Dinkey Doodle

Once upon a time, a tiny gray and white kitten got her head stuck in a piece of wood.

Poor baby couldn’t even lift her head. Taking shelter in a cold shed filled with tools and wooden beams, she wore her piece of wood like a lead shackle until the shed’s owner discovered her. Very carefully, he cut the wood. As it fell from her neck, the little kitten tasted the sweetness of freedom and wasted no time seizing it with both paws . . . she shot out of that shed like a bolt of lightning, darted across the street, and somehow ended up on our front porch.

“If you feed her, she’ll never leave,” Dad said, which, for some reason, wasn’t too effective at discouraging us. Sure enough, she came back the next day, and the next, and the next thing we knew, she had a routine: each morning at 7 o’clock sharp, if her food wasn’t on the porch, she would loudly and tragically announce to the neighborhood that she was being starved to death.

Pretty soon, she had a name: Dinkey Doodle. Dinkey for short.

Little miss Dinkey had an acute phobia of humans: we would watch and laugh as the klutzy kitty tumbled over herself trying to stumble off the porch when we brought her food. At least once, she took a nose dive to the ground a few inches below and stumbled up all wobbly and trying to shake the fuzzies from her head.

Eventually though, she began to smarten up . . . if the humans keep bringing me food, maybe they’re not going to hurt me.

One day, she let me touch her. The next, she let me run my hand down her back. Before long, she wouldn’t even sniff her food until she had received her customary morning scratch-down.

We couldn’t bring her inside, due to a couple of old indoor cats who would hiss and scratch through the glass door every time they saw her on the porch. So, during the cold months, Mom got creative with a plastic storage tub and some old blankets. On the coldest mornings, not even food or attention would entice Dinkey from the nice warm snow shelter.

Oddly enough though, she loved snow. One wintery night, Mom looked out the window and saw Dinkey digging at the snow, pawing it into little balls. Then she started whacking the balls, batting them across the yard and chasing them as if they were a family of moles fleeing from hungry cat teeth.

Speaking of moles. It’s a minor miracle (or a testament to the size of our mole infestation) that she didn’t thoroughly exterminate them from our yard. We usually found them uneaten and in one piece on the front porch. Gifts for food . . . I guess she thought it was a fair exchange.

For five years, Miss Dinkey claimed us as her own. Five short years.

I think there’s an oversized swath of Heaven reserved for the animal kingdom; and if so, I imagine she’s chasing wisps of cloud like snow balls up there, living happily ever after as she loudly and dramatically demands attention from any resident crazy cat ladies and showers them with the gift of mole.

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The Worst Sentence in the World

From S.E. Hood: thanks to Joe Bunting of The Write Practice for inspiring today’s post. His ebook, 14 Prompts, suggests beating perfectionism and writer’s block by attempting to write “the worst sentence in the world.” It got me thinking, which got me writing. This is the result.  🙂

The worst sentence in the world is being a writer.

Seriously.

Writers are born with a life sentence. Our minds reel with the best way to string words together. Obsess about whether “about” or “over” is a better choice of words here. Debate whether a period or a semicolon should go there.

We conjure up people that have never and will never exist. Let them live in our heads like imaginary friends, telling us all about themselves, captivating us with their larger-than-life personalities. Yet we’ll spend hours dreaming up what kind of heck to put them through; trying to discover the most shocking or poignant ways to kill them off.

Ideas captivate us. Words fascinate us. Stories drive us.

Writers have to write. It’s hardwired into our DNA. There is no discussion. There is no argument.

But sometimes, we just can’t write. Words won’t come. Characters are silent. We stare at a blank screen or find other things to do because we just can’t do it.

You know what that’s like?

Imagine being dipped in boiling oil, then scrubbed down with sandpaper. Imagine swallowing a piece of cactus with all the spines intact. Imagine listening to an orchestra of scraped chalkboards and squeaky brakes.

No. More accurately, imagine a spectral sunrise. The music of rain and thunder. A soft wind rustling through pine trees. Rolling hills and undulating waves. A baby’s laughter, an old man’s smile. A hug shared between friends. Dreams hoped for, dreams realized. Dreams that will never be.

Imagine beauty that breaks your heart. Something divine, a hint of heaven. Your heart can recognize it, your soul can feel it, your entire being longs to express it.

But you can never quite capture the intangible with words.

Writers write, knowing words will always fall short. Knowing that perfection is impossible. And sometimes that knowledge overwhelms us, making us doubt our own desires and ask ourselves, “what’s the point?”

But writers find a way to write.

To see the beauty and paint some small glimpse of it with words.

It’s the worse sentence in the world, being a writer.

But somehow, some way . . . it’s also the best sentence in the world.

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Writer’s block

Once upon a time, there was a blank computer screen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End.

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Mom’s Garden

Mom….

If home is a garden, you’re the gardener.

You grow your kids as best you can,

Planting seeds, pulling weeds,

Making sure everyone has enough water.

You support Dad with love and prayers,

Helping him grow In the Light of the Son.

You nurture Grandma as a precious flower,

Tenderly, always putting her before yourself.

From warm, perfect bread just out of the oven,

To a hasty dinner on the run,

You satisfy need and desire

And grow everything with love.

You talk with us like you talk with your plants,

And you’re always ready to listen.

You pray for us like you pray for the harvest.

You pray for rain during the drought.

You pray for everything:

Because both mothering and gardening are hard work!

And sometimes your worries g row like weeds,

But that’s just part of it I guess.

You pull them up and give them to God,

Though sometimes you miss the roots.

But when the worries grow back you pull them again…

After all, a gardener never lets the weeds win!

Well, all this rambling’s just to say…

How thankful I am God blessed me with you.

I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.

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If You Forget

So this is visibility?

My life, displayed for all to see.

You eye me on the tabloid covers

All the lies and rumors,

And gobble up this fake me.

So you who think you know me

Since you see me on TV,

Who light on me like vultures

For wearing the wrong thing,

To every random stranger

Who screams out my name:

Can you forget that I exist,

And let me do the same?

So this, this is industry?

My life, on call for the company.

You see me show up early,

Go home late,

And still, you overwork me.

So you who think you own me

Since I answer every call,

Who appreciate my work ethic

Too much, demand my all,

To my superiors who expect

My world, my family time:

Will you forget that I exist,

And let me live my life?

So this is affinity?

My life, to love, and give it free.

I’ll be there on the good days,

On the bad days,

And still, you’ll turn on me.

So you who think you know me

From our days as little kids,

Life was simpler then, when we just played

And didn’t mind our differences.

To my friends who have forgotten,

My friends who cease to be:

Did you forget that I exist,

Do you still remember me?

So this, this is charity . . .

My life a bleak and barren thing,

I feel betrayed

When I betray,

Yet somehow,

Still, you love me.

To the One who sees my hidden heart,

Who truly owns this whiner,

How can I claim to know myself,

And all that I desire?

Yet, God, I’m weak, and may still curse

When You refuse my plea.

But if You forget that I exist,

Then I am lost indeed.

Categories: Uncategorized

That’s No Toy Boat

Kids love to scream.

Sometimes they actually have a good reason.

Sixteen kids and a couple younger adults were swimming in Lake Erie. It was a near perfect day . . . warm sun shining, a light breeze, gentle waves teasing the rocky beach where lifeguards watched and a couple of the kids buried themselves in the warm, damp pebbles.

As the hour progressed, a little surprise drifted closer to the merry party. From a distance, it might have looked like a toy boat; but as it reached the first couple of kids, they screamed like they’d seen a corpse and began thrashing back toward the beach.

In fact, they had seen a corpse.

A fish corpse.

Well, the advent of a dead fish finding its way into the swimming area produced a veritable choir of screaming kids; and with all the waves they made trying to get away from it, it’s a wonder that fish didn’t find its way back out to sea.

One of the lifeguards came to the rescue. Armed with a pair of sticks, she waded into waist-deep waves and nabbed the waterlogged corpse as easy as if she were using kitchen tongs. Crinkling her nose at the sight, the smell, or both, she carried it safely away and deposited it in some of the bushes on the shore a stone’s throw from the beach.

Naturally, the kids took right back to the water, the thought never crossing their minds that the dead fish probably wasn’t the most disgusting object filling these waters.

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Little Blue Circle

Round and round like a bathtub drain,

Tornado-ing on again and again.

The little blue circle spins and spins,

The webpage gapes at me . . . paralysis wins.

Come on, computer, I’ll punch out your screen,

Just give me the page and I’ll let you be.

Stupid page, just load already!

I don’t have time for your stupid stupidity!

Quick check of my email, then get on with my day,

Won’t you cooperate? Why must you play

This stupid game every blasted time

I turn on my laptop? I say, it’s a crime!

I know it’s early, you still want to sleep,

Guess what, me too . . . I don’t give a bleep.

Well, threats and abuse still don’t work.

Restart and shut-down can’t fix this quirk.

That little blue circle just keeps on spinning.

If laptops had faces, this one would be grinning.

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Hello Sun

The sun shone through my window that morning, for the first time in two weeks.

I love the sound of rain playing its gentle lullaby on the rooftop. But rain is for falling asleep, and a drizzly overcast at 6 AM makes it nearly impossible to drag one’s self out of bed.

That morning, as light filtered through my curtains, tinting my walls a glowing golden, it felt as though the earth were finally waking up again . . . as though it were inviting me to open my eyes and feel the warmth and beauty and promise of a new day.

Categories: Uncategorized

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