Congratulations, Aidan * Water * News * Over Doing It * Home * Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss * Air Raids * Mom's To-Do List * Windows * My Book
To read A Mother's Diary from the beginning, click on the June 2017 archives in the right hand column and read "Before: Scenes from the Trenches."
FEBRUARY 22, 2014: CONGRATULATIONS, AIDAN
Aidan's done it again. His latest poem's placed in the student Chaparral Poetry Contest. An award ceremony will be held March 20 in the opera house in St. George, Utah. The top six winners, in each category, will read their poems.
by Aidan Mace
As we approach our landing,
I move toward the window to get a good look.
I see the beautiful landscape approaching,
This landscape is red and filled with little clusters of buildings.
Soon our ship captain calls for everyone to get off.
As I exit the ship I begin to float in the low gravity environment.
I look around.
What I see is amazing.
I see a civilization beginning.
I can feel the red dust blow past my cheek,
and envelop my pores,
Then I feel a strong breeze.
It seems to blow some sense back into me,
and I realize,
I have just set foot on an astounding place,
PATRICK'S FACEBOOK POST: Got a late Christmas present from my Dad. An all expense paid trip to Nashville to buy a guitar.
FEBRUARY 23, 2014: WATER
On this day in 1948, Mom gave birth to a little girl, Loretta Marie. She lived for four hours. I hope my little sister knows I'm thinking of her.
I'm on my walk. It's 71 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. To me, it feels like spring. My nose thinks so, too. It's itching and twitching.
Me and my nose aren't the only ones who're confused. Roses are leafing out. Yellow daffodils, blue periwinkle, purple pansies, crimson fringe flowers, and pink-blossomed flowering plum trees are bursting forth. Birds twitter and flit from tree branch to tree branch.
The National Weather Service reports there is a 1 in 1,000 chance that this season will conclude with average rainfall. Cuts in water allocations will affect rice, tomato, and corn production. Reduced rice planting also means less habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife. One climatologist observes that this winter represents a different world compared to anything since 1895.
In my own backyard, I've got some serious plant damage. I'm waiting to see if bottlebrush, podocarpus, citrus trees, and an African sumac tree are able to rally. They look pretty distressed from the dry, cold winter. All my potted plants have croaked.
Outside, my sprinkler system is turned off. Inside, I'm careful not to let the faucet run when I'm brushing my teeth. I run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads. A couple of droopy houseplants won't be replaced. I'm taking short showers and using a shower bucket to catch water as it falls. Small measures. Hope they add up.
FEBRUARY 24, 2014: NEWS
Pat calls. I ask, "How's the job?"
"It's going well."
"Thanks for the check, Pat." Pat mailed me reimbursement for the $40 I loaned him for gas.
"Did you cash the check yet, Mom?"
"Can you wait until Friday? I need the money for gas."
Pat laughs at himself.
"Okay, but I'm cashing the check Friday afternoon."
I laugh at myself.
"I talked to Dad. He says he's been thinking about a Christmas present he hasn't given me, yet. He's getting me an electric guitar."
"He says we should fly to Nashville and buy the guitar there."
"Really? When are you going?"
"I don't know. I have to get a few days off work. Meanwhile, some Tibetan monks are coming to the church. I'm going to ask them to call on GG for her 96th birthday."
"Really? Will you tell her in advance?"
"I'm thinking of surprising her."
"What will they do when they see her?"
"I don't know. Pray, I guess."
I hope the father-son trip to Nashville comes to pass. I hope the Tibetan monks are well-received. I hope, when they're praying, they say a prayer for Pat. And for me. I never know what the next news will be.
FEBRUARY 25, 2014: OVER DOING IT
While Deanne is on vacation, I decided to use my three-pound weights here at home and practice some of the exercises she's shown me. Yesterday, I worked out for half an hour.
Today, I can hardly move. The muscle in my lower back is unhappy and it's letting me know. It hurts to lie down. It hurts to sit. It hurts if I have to cough or sneeze.
Maybe I was too cocky thinking I'm getting myself in shape. This twinge in my back is a good reminder to go slow with my workout routine. I'll tell Deanne about this when she returns.
I hope, in a week, my back muscle will have relaxed. My body will say, "Okay, let's try this again. No bad feelings."
FEBRUARY 27, 2014: HOME
I'm at the vet's office with The Jazz. We're here for her annual rabies shot and general check-up. A woman pushing a stroller, with a blond, blue-eyed little girl in it, comes through the door. She's followed by a dark-haired, dark-eyed little boy. And, of course, by an animal on a leash — a tiny, wiry-haired, white terrier. We start up a conversation .
"The puppy's about 13 weeks old from a rescue center. My eldest daughter is 20 and she's from China. When she was small, she had a little white dog. Then an earthquake wiped out her home and her village. Someone ate her dog."
My reporter self kicks in. "How did you get connected with your daughter?"
"Through our church. We're in the process of adopting her even though she's legally an adult. She's in touch with her family in China, but it's a complicated relationship and it probably won't get better. My daughter's been through so much and she has major trust issues. She wants us to adopt her. She needs that kind of commitment."
The little boy gives a green squeeze toy to the little girl in the stroller. His mother continues.
"I surprised my daughter the day we went to see the puppy. She was nervous about the house where it was being fostered along with her doggy mother and four puppy siblings. She thought we were shopping for a dresser for her bedroom. She said, 'This doesn't look like a store. I don't want to go in.' I told her she'd have to trust me — that it was okay to go into the house. The foster mom handed the puppy to my daughter and said, 'This puppy needs a mother.'"
I'm never disappointed. Start a conversation with someone, anyone, and you're apt to hear an amazing story.
"My daughter began sobbing. She couldn't stop crying. She wanted the puppy and yet it brought back many sad memories for her. It was one of the most emotional days of my life."
The woman and her little group leave. A man and woman come in together with another wiry, little dog. A brown one. I smile and say, "Good morning."
The man says, "No, but I'm working on it."
As they disappear into an exam room, the receptionist explains, "They've been up all night. They came from an emergency animal clinic."
I wonder what their story is. It's our turn with the vet. The Jazz is good for her exam and her shot and getting her nails clipped. Afterward, she scrambles, fast as she can, into the blue cat carrier I had to force her into earlier. Like the girl from China and her little dog, The Jazz is adopted and wants to go home.
MARCH 2, 2014: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. SEUSS
Theodor Geisel was born on March 2, 1904. In recognition of his mark on kid's literature, the National Education Association has declared this day to be National Read Across America Day. In 2114, I predict Dr. Seuss will be as popular as he is today. His words and rhythms make you happy — even when you're out of sorts. Here are some of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes:
"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so get on your way."
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
And my very favorite: "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."
I rest my case. Even Dr. Seuss believes each of us is pretty darn great.
MARCH 4, 2014: AIR RAIDS
In grammar school, I remember air raid drills. Without warning, a siren would begin blasting. We'd dive under our desks, curl into balls, and cover our heads with our arms. As if this would protect us from bombs falling from the sky and exploding all around.
Whenever I heard an airplane overhead, I feared that the Russians were coming to kill us with their communist weapons of mass destruction. We didn't call them WMDs, then, but I knew that there was this very bad country, Russia, that wanted to hurts us. They would even hurt us little kids.
In high school, a friend's family dug a bomb shelter into the earth in their front yard. They kept it stocked with food, water, radios, flashlights, tools, books, and other things they'd need in the event of a Russian air attack.
Over time, other countries occupied US attention more than Russia. Today, Russia and the US are again butting heads. Obama has suspended military ties, port visits, planning meetings, and trade talks. If Russia continues to deploy its troops into the Crimean region of Ukraine, other sanctions may follow.
A fragile, new pro-Western government in the Ukraine is struggling to get a foothold. Russia wants Ukraine in its sphere. The US has economic and strategic reasons for supporting the growth of democracy in the area. Both countries believe they have a mandate to protect their own interests. Both countries distrust each other. The situation will undoubtedly get worse before it gets better.
I hope my grandchildren don't have air raid drills at school. I hope they're not afraid when they hear airplanes flying overhead. I hope the adults in the room have learned lessons from the past and find a way to get along.
When Pat was in sixth grade, I met with his teacher for a parent-teacher conference. The teacher said, "We had an air raid drill last week. All the kids hid under their desks. As I walked by Pat's desk he said to the boy in front of him, 'If this air raid's for real, you can kiss your ass goodby.'"
MARCH 6, 2014: MOM'S TO-DO LIST
I'm at Mom's with a tax accountant. Mom's ready. She has her income records rubber-banded together in one file. She has her expense records in another. She has explicit instructions for the tax lady.
"Be sure to deduct my expenses for the purchase of my hearing aids and the thirty-six dollars I spent on hearing aid batteries. Also, remember my sixty dollar renter's credit from the state of California."
With information supplied and collected, we're trying to find a return date for the accountant to come back with the completed tax forms. It can't be too soon.
"I want my money. I want a refund."
The accountant says she never promises anyone a refund. She has to cross all the t's and dot all the i's first. We settle on March 18. The tax accountant leaves. I stay behind to fill out some papers for a money market account we've opened. I give Mom the new attachments she wants for her electric toothbrush.
"How much do I owe you for these?"
"Thirty-two dollars? For toothbrushes?"
"Yep, thirty-two dollars for toothbrushes."
"Well, they each last six months. I guess that's not too bad. There are four in the packet, right?"
"No, there are three in the packet."
"Gads. Only three?"
"Only three. Anything else?"
"No, thanks for your help with the taxes and the shopping. After I get my tax refund, I need to get new eye-glasses."
Okay, Mom. I'll take you to the optometrist to get new eye-glasses. Maybe that's the secret to your long life. You always have a next project on your to-do list.
MARCH 7, 2014: WINDOWS
A little girl asked her mother about death. "What will it be like?"
Her mother thought and said, "Do you remember what it was like before you were born?"
The little girl said, "No."
The mother said, "That's what it will be like when you die."
But really, none of us knows what death will be like. A window of time. That's what each of us has — a window of time. My window is from May 22, 1944 to ????
In some ways, we have more than one window. My immediate window is my front kitchen window. I have a bigger "window" by telephone, email, and local activities to observe what's happening in my neighborhood. Through television, the internet, newspapers, and other media, I have windows to the bigger world. Through recorded history and family stories handed down, I have windows into the past. I have no window, except through speculation, into the future.
No one else, ever, will see, hear, and experience exactly what I do. That's a critical reason why I'm writing — to try to realize the life that is unique to me. I could be breathing but unconscious. My life is my one chance to be fully awake. Then, when I die, I can more peacefully sleep.
I mean this to be comforting. It is, to me, at least.
MARCH 8, 2014: MY BOOK
What a nice surprise. I check Instagram this morning for new posts. I see two posts from Marisa - a photo of my book, Contributions of Women: Medicine, is in one post. A photo of me, on the back page of the book, is in a second post. Marisa writes:
"When I was eight years old, my mom's book was published as a part of series on contributions of women. What a wonderful role model I have. Happy International Women's Day!" To the photo, in the second post, she adds, "My Mom."
As a parent, you never know what makes a lasting impression — good or bad. I know I made lots of parenting mistakes. I cringe thinking of some of them. But you have to hope that, on balance, your parenting turns out okay.
Writing that book was a life-saver. A life-saver because, as a young mother of four children, I needed something adult to wrap my mind around. Kerry was two. She'd sit in my lap at the typewriter. I'd punch a key. She'd punch a key. I'd punch a key. She'd punch a key. White-out everywhere. What a friggin' mess. It took me three years to write a one-hundred-seventeen page book. One-hundred-seventeen pages with big print.
I remember the day my copies of the book were delivered by UPS. I opened one of the books and studied its Table of Contents. I ran my fingers across the cover. And, yes. I checked my photo in the back.
I was in awe of myself. I'd actually written a book. I'd visualized the book in my mind and, now, I held a hard bound copy in my hands. I'd achieved a goal. I didn't know, yet, that my book would win their 1982 first prize for non-fiction books from The National League of American Pen Women, Inc.
Thanks, Marisa, for taking me back to that moment. I hope you read my book. I hope you liked it.
COMING UP THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2018
March 9, 2014 - March 21, 2014: A Birthday Invitation * A New Dilemma * Perspective * Empty Bowls * A Real Life Mystery * Of Ants and Me * No Invaders, No Dragons, No Trolls * Spring 2014 * Internal Drum by Patrick Ranahan * A Bout of Self-Doubt * A Paradox * What to Keep and What to Discard
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