Friday, September 20, 2013


“Memory lives longer than what it remembers.” 

This quote from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Cycle is stuck in my head. The entire work has been stuck in my head lately, but this quote may as well be lit with neon and hung right behind my eyes.

I remember hopping up behind my dad on his motorcycle. He used to pick me up at grade school and that gave this very un-cool girl some appreciation, let me tell you! More so than when he would pick me up in his police cruiser.
I remember that, because he did shift work, Dad was able to come to my daytime assemblies at school and watch me square dance in my blue-swirl frock with the pink velvet ribbon, or listen to my flatulent French Horn rendition of “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”.

I remember when Dad had us stay up half the night looking for money my step-brother claimed one of us had stolen, but which he had actually spent at See’s Candy that day. At the time, it seemed like a symptom of insanity to have five kids searching each other’s rooms to find money we all knew wasn’t there. But in retrospect it was a pretty good lesson about accusing people without proof.

I remember my Dad’s fits, I remember the cross-country trips he took us on when we were kids, and the motorcycle trips he & my step-mom, and my cousin and I took as adults. I remember sitting with him in front of the stereo and taking apart pieces of music, sharing what that piece said to each of us. I remember him playing guitar and eating Filippi’s Pizza and Winchell’s Doughnuts.

And I remember him walking me down the aisle, which was really a path in a garden. I remember he said, “It’s okay. You don’t have to hurry. He’s there waiting for you.”

I can remember all of this and more. But he cannot. He knows I’m 55, but says he remembers me as 12. He knows he is forgetting, but doesn’t know what he is forgetting. He says that he doesn’t like it, but he can accept that this is what is happening to him, but then cries, ‘please, please, please don’t take my memories.’

Does memory live longer than what it remembers?  It must. He does not remember, so the memories are in my keeping. Not to be held, but to be shared, so someday my children and grandchildren will tell the stories to their own kids : that my Daddy was a motorcycle riding, horse-loving, pizza eating cowboy.

And I love him.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I’ve been thinking a lot about choices lately. I’ve been reading that our lives are what they are because of the choices we make and while I want to shake my head and shout, ‘no! no! no!’ the fact is, it’s true.
We make certain choices for a lot of different reasons. We are influenced by our Faith, by our families, by what we want at the moment, by what we want down the road a piece. We make choices based on our relationships and friendships and what we want those to be. We choose for security, for happiness, for money, for health. But make no mistake, I am where I am because of the choices I’ve made, and only by making other choices can that change.

I hate my job. I despise it. It keeps my brain active but my body stagnant. I am surrounded by hate and discontent and a management that seems to thrive at making snap decisions, snap judgements and snap criticisms. But I can’t leave my job. I am trapped, right?

Many years ago I read a foreword to a book in which an old Ozark woman explains Free Will. She said that if you give each of 50 quilters in a room the same material, you will have 50 different quilts in the end. 

Lloyd Alexander explained it in his book Taran Wanderer like a piece on a loom : If you are not happy with the design, you are the only one who can choose whether to continue with the design you’ve chosen and wear a cloak you hate, or whether to unravel it and start again.

And Mary Stewart’s heroine, in the book, Touch Not the Cat says : “We forge our own chains.”

So am I trapped?

Of course not. I can leave my job any day. I make good money and chose to use that money to help pay for my husband’s medical bills. To make up that kind of money in this area I would need two or three jobs. The job I have has generous vacation and sick time, and a not over-burdensome health care offering. That is not the case of most employers in the area. 

I choose to stay. I stay because I feel that the need to get these medical bills under control is important. I choose to stay because I would have been fired from many other jobs having to take off the kind of time I’ve needed to care for my husband, mother, uncle, brother. 

That doesn’t mean I can’t work on pursuing my dreams still. Not enough time? Pooey. You choose to watch TV. You choose to hang on FaceBook. 
And I hear the buts. I say the buts often enough myself. In the end, when I take apart every one of those buts, I see the choice within. There are sometimes great challenges and certainly walls within which we must make our choices, and I am not trying to belittle that. We all live within our own gardens and our choices are made within our own set of circumstances.
But make no mistake, the things that make me unhappy are often situations that I’ve chosen, or chosen to accept. 

Knowing this, understanding this has been liberating. Right this minute, I choose not to leave this job. I have begun taking steps to move my life in a new direction. I need to continue to make the choices that will see me into my new life, rather than just wringing my hands and saying how much I hate how my life is. 

I have forged my chains, and I am the only one who can break them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


And so it begins. The march into Fall. 

The black walnuts begin the parade as always, dropping their leaves as quickly as they gained them in the Spring. How odd, though, to see the ground littered with brown bodies when the temperature is as hot as it got all season. The air cries “SUMMER!”  But nature whispers “fall”.

Friday night I heard the “gabble ratchet” of wild geese. They were there again last night and this morning, so I am thinking they are gathering in the field by the river, waiting for their friends to join them before they go further. The birdsongs have started to slip from their summer tunes to their travelling tunes. The poison ivy and poison sumac are beginning to blaze red, and Orion is tracking his prey to the south.

 I’ve always loved fall, but this year not so much. This year it feels more like I’ve ticked off one more year without accomplishing anything worthwhile. 

The geese are gathering, the songbird tunes shifting, the leaves changing and dropping and I sit in a trap of my own building and watch the teardrops fall.