My family trooped into church up the right-side aisle, genuflected and filled the entire fourth-from-the-front pew. I reached up to scratch my head, knocking my small curvette hat askew. Mom removed her white gloves and set them down next to her purse before straightening my headgear. I twitched and flounced my short, fluffy, Sunday dress, uncomfortable because my bare legs were sticking to the wooden pew.
A few minutes after the Mass started, I heard someone cough. It was a very strange, wet sound. Somewhere between a gurgle and a bark. From time to time throughout the next hour I heard the sound. Mom didn’t like my turning around to see who was coughing like that. She turned me firmly face-front.
In the car on the way home after church, I asked, “Who was that man in church with the…” I stopped to think what word described it best…“noodley cough?”
All my brothers and sisters laughed. “Noodley?” They questioned in chorus.
In my seven-year-old mind I could picture the cough sounding the way a plate of buttered elbow macaroni looked. Continue reading
I tossed restlessly. There was something not quite right in my dream. The kitchen I stood in had a clean black and white checkered floor, a clean table and counters, but a strange, grunting sound was coming from a closet near the entrance.
As I watched with horror, the closet door slowly opened, out lurched a broom monster. It turned toward me and swept quickly across the floor, grunting hungrily. I backed away, turned and ran. The kitchen suddenly became as large as a house. Broom Monster chased me up stairs and down, past the kitchen table and the closet again and again, all the while wheezing, “Ughnth…ughnth…ughnth!”
Feeling totally panicked, I opened my mouth to scream, but the second the smallest sound came out, I woke up and found myself in bed. Moonlight streamed into the room through a window. Next to me in bed was my big sister, sound asleep, breathing deeply. With each exhalation she made the sound, “Ughnth…ughnth!” Continue reading
Cold October rain pelted down from a leaden sky. Leaves, pretty only a week or two before, were now brown and sodden. Thursday and Friday were teacher’s conference days and I refused to allow rain to spoil days off from school.
After lunch I started making rounds to all my favorite places on the farm. Sadly, the haymow felt cold and empty without a nest of kittens in it. The barn wasn’t interesting because Daddy wasn’t there milking cows at this time of the day.
On rainy summer afternoons, Daddy liked to take naps in the garage attic sometimes. I often kept him company and played with old toys and a crank phonograph next to the horsehair davenport where he slept. Today, he wouldn’t be napping. Negotiating the ladder and trap door to the attic didn’t feel worth my time to find it felt cold and empty, like the haymow.
One place was left. Climbing the Old House’s porch steps, I pushed the door open and stepped inside. Although the kitchen was cold and silent, I knew I’d found what I was looking for, connection. Continue reading
At age ten I thought Mom ‘relaxed’ by working in her flowerbeds when the air was cool on summer evenings. It seemed she was having fun! The enthusiasm and enjoyment in her accomplishments were clearly evident. Looking back, I realize her fun was a labor of love.
Mom’s meticulously-kept flowerbeds and shrine were a source of pride. Visitors to our farm were always given a tour of the yard. As Mom aged, the number of flowerbeds she kept decreased, but she still enjoyed working in them when she could.
One summer day shortly after Mom had turned eighty-four and I was approaching my fortieth birthday, Niki, Tammie and I visited her. She said, “My joints ached yesterday, so I didn’t think I would get much work done in the rose bed, but once I started to dig and weed-all my aches went away. I worked all afternoon, felt good and enjoyed myself.” Continue reading
White, hot rage rose up from inside my chest and came out of my throat in a loud, horrible wail concluding in a shrill screech. I wasn’t getting my way and I hated everyone…especially Mom and my sisters.
When I was little, my family would offer to set my limp, fine hair. It never mattered to me if it was done or not. Then slowly as the years passed, I began to notice how much nicer I looked when my lazy-bum-tresses were curled.
At age twelve, my personality developed a new facet and the vain pussy-cat in me emerged. I rudely insisted my hair was properly dressed after every washing. The more I wanted it done, the less Mom and my sisters cooperated.
The Saturday morning that found me locked in our farmhouse bathroom, raging and howling, was the day my support staff, Mom and my sisters, flatly refused to set my hair anymore. In varying decibels, they each shouted, “You’re old enough to do it yourself!” Continue reading
My daughter gestured toward the tree in her front yard and exclaimed, “Eve is so messy! In the spring she drops thousands of seed pods. I suppose this fall she’ll drop a ton of leaves!” In a grumpy tone she added, “I’m not looking forward to raking them up.”
I nodded sympathetically and pointed out, “There’s a lot of yard work when a person owns their own home, even when their yard is as small as yours.”
In early November my daughter Tammie will be celebrating her one-year anniversary as a home owner. The day she took ownership and signed the papers, we met Susan, the former owner.
As we waited for the realtor to collate the paperwork, Susan told us, “When my granddaughter, Eve, was in third grade, she gave me the maple tree that stands in front of the house. She came home from school one afternoon with a sprouted maple seed in a Styrofoam coffee cup. I planted it and now I can’t believe how big it’s grown. In my granddaughter’s honor, I’ve named the tree, Eve.” Continue reading
My daughter lifted a tea kettle onto the stove, turned to wipe the kitchen table clean, slipped a fresh shirt over her three-year-old’s head and began to lift clean dishes out of the dishwasher. A stack of soiled ones on the nearby counter waited for their turn in the machine. I spotted a new painting I hadn’t seen before leaning on a side board. I inquired, “Niki, when did you paint this picture?”
She glanced at it and answered with a shrug, “Sunday afternoon. I was in the mood to paint. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I still have some work to do on it.”
I marveled at her work, “It’s beautiful. You are so artistic.”
Niki scoffed, “No. I’m not artistic! The work isn’t original. I get my ideas from the Internet and just copy them.”
Shaking my head, I disagreed, “Not everyone can copy ideas and make them turn out as well. Don’t be hard on yourself. You are very artistic.” Continue reading