Friday, July 27, 2012

Ay yi yi

I wrote the story "Ay yi yi" almost ten years ago when Lulu was a baby.  I cannot believe so much time has passed alreay!  Just yesterday, Lulu was holding her second niece in her arms.  She is now Aunty Lulu to Kaylee and Devyn and I'm a grandma!  Where does the time go?  I never published "Ay yi yi" on my blog because it was a story from my book and I haven't posted many stories from my book, but I was reading over this story and it reminded me so much of how life comes full circle.  I thought it would be a fitting story to illustrate the full circle of life and how we must cherish all the moments and remember that they are just as fleeting as they are precious.  So, here is the story of Ay yi yi - dedicated to Aunty Lulu and Kaylee and Devyn.  

Ay yi yi

Lulu is now nineteen months old and has hit the terrible twos early.  I commented to my friend the other day that I know why God in his infinite wisdom gives babies to people in their twenties and thirties.  It takes tremendous energy to endure the temper tantrum stage.  You cannot be cranky and going through a mid life crisis while dealing rationally with a toddler who is bent on having her own way.  When she throws herself on the floor and rants and raves, you have to maintain the stamina to “redirect her behavior”.  Lulu definitely keeps Bill and I on our toes.  I know that this baby is the one who will keep us young for many years to come. Amazingly, my knee still holds up during horsy rides and Bill can still figure out how to put the car seat in the car. 
The problem is that she requires so much attention.  You would think she is spoiled as everyone in this family constantly fusses over her.  Perhaps she does have her daddy wrapped around her little finger because he takes her to garage sales every Saturday and Sunday.  And it is true that her feet never touch the floor once her brothers and sisters are home.  Ok, I admit it.  She has the whole family figured out.  She knows that one “crinkly nose” will bring Billy to his knees or make Jennifer take her for a walk around the block.  When Lulu says, “What’s up” to Katie, she knows that the lollipop meant for Katie’s mouth will be in hers.  All she has to do is blow a kiss to Nurjahan and she can have her heart’s desire.  I have to say, it is a good thing she has a mother who has some backbone!
Right now I am typing on the computer while no less than 30 toys surround her.  She is not playing with those toys.  She is pouring her sippy cup on the floor and unrolling all the paper towels.  You would think with that pile of paper towels she would at least clean up the mess she has made on the floor!  Now she is hollering at me to pick her up as she bangs on my keyboard.  My resolve must remain steadfast even though she has resorted to lying under my chair; her big brown puppy-dog eyes have the forlorn look down to a science. Those pleading eyes are staring up at me as I type away.  It will not work.  I am not like the rest of the softies in this family.  
I know it is only a matter of time before she pulls out all the stops and starts doing that “thing”.  It is the one thing that makes total strangers in the store stop and laugh.  It is the one thing that makes all the soccer moms coo and fuss over her. It is the one thing that brings this whole family running to see her do it just one more time. Here she goes:  She is putting both hands to her face and making that little doleful expression.  Any minute now she is going to rock her head back and forth between her hands as she says over and over again, ay yi yi!   She is doing it right now as I type.  She sees me looking at her out of the corner of my eye.  She knows I am resisting the temptation to pick her up and snuggle with her.  When I was in my twenties, I did not have the willpower to resist such blatant manipulation.  But, I am much older and wiser now.   I know that if I pick her up she’ll just keep doing this all the time. I have her number!  I won’t crack under this pressure.  No sir!  I am in charge here and I will prevail.  
I know what she wants.  She wants me to pick her up and hold her close and rock her.  She wants me to bury my face in her hair as I sing, “Puff the Magic Dragon”.  She wants me to kiss her little body all over making her squeal and laugh.  She is going for the grand finale now.  It’s the “I am so cute you cannot stand it” look.  She’s crawled out from under my desk and is standing in front of me with one finger in her mouth rubbing her blanket between her other fingers.  Those gorgeous eyes are looking at me saying, “You’re the most important person in my world.”  
Well, maybe just for a moment I will pick her up and hold her. Maybe just for a moment I will bury my face in her hair and smell that sweet smell of baby shampoo.  Maybe just for a moment I will listen to her contented giggles while I whisper in her ear. Maybe just for a moment I will read her favorite story to her.  Then, I will rock her to sleep while I sing, “Puff the Magic Dragon”.  Finally, I will tiptoe into her room and tuck her in for her nap.  I will blow her a kiss and, as I do, I will thank God for this cherished baby and for moments like these. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pre-cradle; Post Grave

Most times, I try to use my blog for lighthearted stories and veer away from heavier topics, however I feel compelled to write about the sadness that has overtaken my heart - especially in the wake of the horrific videos showing Planned Parenthood representatives selling baby parts.  

When I was a kid, my dad and I used to have heated debates about the direction our country was going.  At the time, he was a staunch conservative and I was a typical teenage liberal defending none other than Jimmy Carter.  Of course, I argued for the “poor” little guy being trampled by the “evil” fill in the blank.

Back then, I wholeheartedly embraced what was being force-fed to me in school and only had my dad to counter my liberal ideations.  I fought him tooth and nail and, as any rebel with a noble cause would do, I declared victory every time.

My, how things have changed since those 70’s something days of squabbling.  I wish my dad could see me now!  I am a registered republican and I have even attended tea party events, but that is not why I am writing this story.  I am writing this story because I am, first and foremost, an American.

As an American, I am saddened to see the “fundamental transformation” of my great country.  I often hear the phrase “cradle to grave society” being bantered about by folks who decry the recent turn of events plaguing our nation.  I want to take it a step further; our nation can now be described as a pre-cradle to post-grave society.  

Think about this for a moment - In 1973, Roe vs. Wade made it perfectly legal to end a human life before that human even had a chance at life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.  Now, abortion is performed for any number of reasons including choosing the sex of the pre-born baby.  Our government even subsidizes such atrocities with funding to Planned Parenthood.  

Now, our government also wants to tax us upon our demise with a “death tax”.  Hence, we live in a pre-cradle to post-grave society.  Haven’t we come a long way?  We kill our unborn and tax the dead.  We even have a way of resurrecting our dead citizens at the voting both - another post-grave “benefit”.  

So, where am I going with this?  I cannot conjure up an argument that hasn’t already been opined by someone somewhere; I’m just sad because I think about my grandchildren and wonder what will come of the country they will inherit.  I never thought I would see the day when our great nation would roll over and play dead when school prayer was labeled “unconstitutional” and killing babies was labeled “constitutional”.  

This is a violent world we live in.  Our nation was always the beacon of hope for those seeking to escape the violence and oppression of their own countries.  Yet, now we have a burgeoning problem of our own with violence and depravity.  America has lost her moral compass.  We have allowed the few to rule the masses.  

Madeline Murray O’Hare fought to get prayer out of school despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans wanted prayer to remain in school.  Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, referred to blacks as “human weeds” and “reckless breeders” and espoused racial purification.  She was diabolical in her pursuit of eradicating “bad stocks” (poor, minorities, physically and mentally challenged).  Yet, today she is hailed as a great women’s rights advocate.  I believe Americans would be horrified if they truly understood Margaret Sanger’s extreme views and motives.  

So, how did it happen?  How did a great nation that believes in God, liberty, the pursuit of happiness for all individuals become a nation enslaved by the radical few?  I’ll tell you how - divide and conquer.  Margaret Sanger knew this.  She knew that she could never convince our great nation to engage in eugenics, so she divided us into two groups; men and women.  Then, she appealed to the women and made birth control an issue of “rights”.  She convinced women (especially minority women) that it was their “right” to end the life of their child.  Absurd isn’t it?  

Enemies of America fully understand that dividing a society into groups and subgroups (race, religion, political views, sexual orientation, age, gender, wealth...the list is endless) will eventually lead the members of that society to turn against one another.  Hence, the society will collapse.  That is what is happening to our country.  We are fracturing into a million pieces and no one will be able to put us back together again if we don’t wake up and stand up for what America has always been - a melting pot where individuals strive to become citizens of a great free nation founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs.  

The Constitution of the United States, a four page document, starts with the phrase, “We the People” - not “we the fractured”.  The goal of the constitution was to form a more perfect Union with the people ruling through their representatives.  

Our founders wanted to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for the people of our nation.  They even expressed gratitude to God.  In fact, a proclamation by President George Washington and a congressional resolution established the first national Thanksgiving Day on November 26, 1789. The reason for the holiday was to give “thanks” for the new Constitution. 

When Benjamin Franklin was leaving the constitutional convention he was asked by a woman what the outcome of our Constitution will be.  This was his reply: “A republic, madam. If you can keep it.”  

Can we?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Francis Singer

Who was Francis Singer?  I never met her, yet I feel as though I know her intimately.  You see, I’m the one that is called to erase her life along with all the other lost souls who don’t have family to take their treasured possessions.  I walk into what used to be and pack the memories in boxes marked “garage sale”, “Goodwill”, “auction” or “home”.  
I’ve become more thick-skinned about rummaging through people’s lives.  It’s just a job, I tell myself, but sometimes I allow myself to ponder who they were.  For some reason, I felt Francis Singer’s presence in every room I entered.  It was as if she were standing next to me whispering in my ear, “Tell my story.  Don’t let all of me be erased.  Don’t just hit the delete button of my life.  I was here...I was here.”
There was no time to listen to the little voice.  We had to have this place cleared out in one day.  So, I made my way into her bedroom and tore Frances’ lovely clothes off the hangers in the yesteryear closet and stuffed them in the bag - no time to waste.  I reached for another sparkling dress and noticed a tag hanging from the hanger.  In fact, every hanger had a tag. 
Why would someone put tags on every clothes hanger?  
I was intrigued.  I took a moment to read a tag, “Chinese Embassy, December ’93.”  Another was marked, “X-mas, 2001 at the Hunnleson’s”.  I tucked the tags into my pocket.   Then, I reached for the doilies and the crazy flowered hats that accompanied Francis on long ago picnics and I stuffed them into the Goodwill bag.  
I grabbed the folded cloth napkins, arranged so neatly in the closet, and took them to the kitchen to use them for wrapping the fine china.  Then, I continued to rummage through the few remnants of Francis Singer.  
I made my way over to the window seat in her bedroom and pulled up the cushion.  Under the cushion were three items: a folded child’s paper napkin with a picture of Noah’s Ark on it, four small hand-made doilies and a bunch of hand-written papers stapled together.  
Francis tapped me on the shoulder: “Don’t throw them away.”  She whispered.  
I placed them in my pocket with the clothes tags.  Somewhere deep inside of me I felt a sadness for the woman who used to be.  All that remained of Francis Singer were the few items I chose to help me tell her story.
Later, I picked up the paper napkin that clearly held some great meaning for Francis.  I pictured her sitting in her window seat staring out at the pond across the street holding the napkin and dreaming of a child - maybe her son or a grandchild.  What about the doilies?  Did they too remind Francis of of a long ago memory - perhaps of the days when she was able to crochet.  I started reading the stapled papers feeling like an intruder into Francis’ life.  
I learned that she had a fight with her son because of a woman who turned him against her.  Francis was concerned about her grandson (the paper napkin mystery solved).  I don’t think they ever made amends because Francis speaks of the broken home and broken heart of her grandson.
Francis’ husband had Alzheimer’s and died in 2006.  Francis wrote of shares of stocks that were worth in excess of $6,000,000.  I could not make out what she was saying, though, as her handwriting had become too difficult to read.  
I didn’t need to page through her diary to learn that she was in the US Air Force - there was evidence of her service and patriotism throughout her home.  I believe that she may have been an ambassador as well - judging from the lovely clothes marked with many embassies.  
I wish I knew Francis.  I wish I could tell her that I appreciate her service to our country.  I wish I could tell her that I will take care of her doilies, paper napkin and heartfelt writings, but I can’t tell her.  I don’t know where she is.  I don’t know if she died or moved into a nursing home.  I don’t know anything about where she is now because I am just the person called in to erase what used to be.
So, here I sit wishing I could bring Francis to life.  Truth is, I can’t.  All I can do is tell my readers to cherish their own lives.  Cherish the moments that take your breath away.  Embrace the heartache and reach out to those you love.  Know that your treasure is not in the things you own, but in the family and friends that surround you.  If there is someone you hurt, make amends before it is too late.  I know we all hear these words of wisdom over and over again, but it’s true.  
Someday, the things you thought were your most treasured possessions will be stuffed into boxes marked Goodwill, flea market or auction.  It happens to all of us, but we cannot stuff the people into boxes.  Like it or not, we all leave behind a legacy through the people we knew and loved.  What will yours be?