Moment Dwelling

Last night a physical sickness hit me and I couldn’t sleep because of it.

I crept out of the bedroom leaving my husband and EK snoozing soundly, grabbed a down comforter, my robe, and headed to the couch where I still couldn’t sleep.

I got my laptop and for a reason unknown,  I began looking at pictures I had stored on it.  For three hours, I looked at my baby’s pictures and videos from way back.

Oh my heart.

My cheeks began to hurt and I realized I’d been wearing a smile for a very long time.

You tried to tell me how precious, beautiful, adorable, etc., etc. she was and boy, were you right.

Now that I’m a bit removed from that baby-baby stage, I can’t hardly believe how wonderful she was.  And she still is, just bigger.

It’s just that when you’re in the big middle of it, sometimes you see through a glass darkly.  Or as J-Dub would say, your tail lights are brighter than your headlights.

But last night, everything carried a new light.  The way her hair grew.  The dimples on her hands, her budding teeth, the way her rolls of fat lay upon one another,  her grins and her frowns.

I sat and watched each little video from before she was born where I videoed her kicking in the womb, to her cooing, to rolling, to her wounded soldier crawl, to sitting, and all the beautiful steps in between.

After breakfast this morning, I sat her in my lap with the computer and continued my nostalgic trip.  She knew that was baby Emma on the screen and her face wore the most proud expression as she watched herself growing up and doing this little things that we praised.

Our movie watching didn’t last long.  She wanted to read a Monkey book, and color on the TV with a blue marker, get in the clothes I was folding, eat fish and peaches, then play with the dogs and chickens.

Now she stomps around in too big play shoes, puts Cheerios in her ears,  and throws a mean temper tantrum.

We’re just doing life over here.

I have to remind myself that these mundane, day-to-day chores are the little things that become the big things.  In another year, I’ll be watching the videos and studying the pictures from this season of our life together and realizing how precious, beautiful, adorable etc., etc., she was.

 

Then……

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And now….

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I must tell myself to live in the moment.

I’m trying.

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One tough camera

For nearly 9 years a disposable camera has been cruising with me in my car.  A disposable camera all filled up with mystery pictures of which I can’t remember taking.  What? you say.  Nine years?!?!?!  It’s short of a miracle I know.  Never mind that I’ve had a car for 9 years, 12 to be exact, and I’m pretty proud that I’ve had a vehicle for 12 years in this day and age, but the fact that I am so huge of a procrastinator that I haven’t had filmed developed in 9 years is mind-boggling, no?

How many times in the past 9 years have I been to “The Walmarts”?  To CVS?  To Walgreens?

It is not due to lack of opportunity that I haven’t taken this camera into a photo lab and had it developed.  The opportunity presented itself thousands of times, yet there the camera sat, in the little cubby hole underneath the factory stereo with a cassette player.  What you say, is a cassette player?  Well, boys and girls after 8 tracks they invented this music recorder called a cassette.  You had to make sure you always had a pencil handy too when your cassette player ate your tape and you had to wind it back together…….  

But I digress…..

This disposable camera has traveled more than 100,000 miles with me.  It has toasted in the triple digit Texas heat locked in a car that a poodle wouldn’t last 5 minutes in,  and it has froze in the below zero wind chills of winter.

At this point, there is no point in getting it developed.  I am sure the film is ruined.  But it is one of the cameras we bought for our wedding nearly 9 years ago and curiosity and maybe a bit of motivation got the best of me.  Secretly I was hoping there might be a picture of my dad tucked away waiting to be unearthed.

I got a wild hair and took the camera to “The Walmarts” not knowing if they even still developed film the old-fashioned way.  I had to ask an associate, a young girl, who looked at me as if my face had gone green, obviously clueless to what I was asking of her, and got an older lady associate to help me find the dillymebob where I drop film off.  Using the word dillymebob will often cause people to look at you as if your face has gone green.  You should try it.

7-10 days I waited.  It’s nothing like 9 years.  I actually forgot about it and received a call telling me my film was ready to be picked up.

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And there they were.  Pictures from 9 years ago.  They actually developed if you can believe that.  The Panhandle Texas weather aint got nothing on a 35 mm Polaroid disposable camera.

The only wedding pictures happened to be of my sister and I getting our hair fixed for the wedding.  The rest were just of life.

Like this one, which I just love.  My younger, moustached husband bottle feeding a calf while  a sun bleached Ash sits astraddle.  The look on her face is priceless.

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Here’s my sister, who probably is going to kill me.  She’s smiling big, isn’t she pretty?  I’m not sure whether she was sun bleached or just bleached, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her blonde.

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My mom who despises getting her picture taken, but in my opinion, there’s just not enough pictures of her floating out there on the internet, and this one is good.

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Then there were dune buggy riding, 4 wheeler riding, and ballet dancing pictures as well.  Most things I don’t remember even occurring.

I’m glad I have these pictures to remind me.

Birthday Letters

On January 16, 1943 my dad was born.  I don’t know anything about his birth.  Whether he was born in a hospital or at home.  Whether he was a good baby or a tyrant.  How much he weighed or if he sucked his thumb.

Today if he were still living, he would have turned 70 years old.

He wrote himself a birthday letter a fews years back.   I happen to have a copy.

Jan-1998

Happy Birthday, Bob—–Happy 55 years.  A real milestone.  I feel like celebrating this b.d.,  unlike my 30th, which went by unnoticed.  Unlike my 40th which went by with hardly a ripple or even my 50th, supposedly the biggie, hardly made a dent on my psyche.

But 55 is the short side of the century mark.  So that makes it a milestone in my books, and I’m finally at the age where it makes not a tinkerers damn about anyones books but my own.

A brief synopsis—–I was born into a family of five siblings, a bootlegger father, and my mother was a housewife.  My family was mildly dysfunctional to say the least, my parents divorced when I was 11 and my mother struggled to keep her brood together.

I went to High school here in town, finally got laid, got drunk and enlisted in The Marine Corps just a few days after graduation.  Spent four years in The Corps, traveled around the world, went to work for various construction companies in West Texas and never once let college cross my mind.  Made a lot of parties—-a few friends and generally went around with my heart on my sleeve.

Anne, my wife and I had a wild, roller coaster, wonderful relationship from day one when we met in The Crystal Lounge bar, a downstairs dark, dank place where people drank, fought and loved with equal fervor.

Anne had two boys from a previous marriage that I was too young and dumb to see the joy in.  We later had two daughters that have remained the light of my life to this day.  The boys have forgiven my shortcomings and remain friendly toward me, too.  Thanks boys.

55 years—-that must seem like an eternity to someone in their 20’s or thirties, but to me it has been but a short journey on this meandering train we call life.  Meandering, wandering, everlooking for the path of least resistance, just like the nameless creek near Hoover, Texas where I gathered clover blossoms to plait into a braid for Anne’s hair.

                                                                                                                                                  ~1998~

Happy Birthday Dad—-happy 70th.  Two birthdays have now passed since you left us.  And lots has happened.  I miss you, but it does get easier with time, but there are still days that sadness is all around me, thick as fog.   I love you more than I ever have, and I’m so thankful for your writings that you left us.  I feel I know you better now than I ever did in real life.  I wonder why we feel like we can’t open up to others, and especially the ones who love us most?  I know I’m just as guilty.

You were a good dad.  That’s probably all  you  wanted to hear while you were living, and I don’t know if I ever told you.  But you were.   I wouldn’t change it for anything.

You tried your best, I know that now.  It’s certainly not easy being a parent, I know that now too.

I never realized just how tender you were.  You were always so tough and big and strong, that I guess I didn’t think about your feelings much.  I’m sorry for that.

Thanks for being a number one dad to me.  Thanks for supporting me in everything I ever did.   Thanks for taking time to spend with me, even if it was laying in the floor taking kissing bets during a bowling tournament on T.V. or skipping rocks on the Illinois.  I have fond memories, and those are what I carry with me now.  It’s all I’m left with, the memories and your stories.

You’d really love Emma.  Sometimes I imagine that you are here and see you laugh at her or hug her close.  She reminds me of you sometimes.  Especially now as she’s learning to walk.  She’s got this stumble about her, that’s very Grandpa-esque.  Or sometimes they way she lays while she’s sleeping or a look on her face makes me think of you.  You are a part of her.

I know you’re in Heaven and I’m going to be there someday too.  It’s good that this life isn’t all we’ve got, isn’t it?  So, until we meet again Dad, enjoy yourself, and I’ll do the same.  There’s much happiness here still, and memories to make with others.

I love you bigger than Hog Eyes and Sauerkraut Mississippi.

Until then……

Love,

Angel

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11 months

Dear Emma Kate,

How did this happen?  I blinked twice, maybe only once, and you have been with us now for 11 months.  My goodness, this is zooming so fast.  It makes my mama heart sad knowing your littleness is gone forever, and knowing that the next 18 years will fly past as well, but it makes my mama heart happy each and every day as I watch you grow and learn.

You are quite the little girl!  And you have so many people who just adore you.  There is no other way to say that.

This month you are standing alone really well and have just begun to take one or two steps as long as you have something ahead of you that you can grab onto.  I know as soon as you get the courage to go, you will be all over the place!

You are talking up a storm too.  You attempt to repeat many words when told what something is, but you can plain-as-day-say mama, dada, ash, night night, horse, ball, bye-bye.  You can almost-plain-as-day-say Grace, cat, I love you, bath.

You love music, singing, and dancing.  You sway back and forth singing a precious little “la-la” when its a soft song, and you bounce up and down and throw in some Elvis legs when you really want to get down.

You are a serious child mostly, and only let loose around people you feel comfortable with.  In a strange place around unfamiliar people, you study and watch and observe.

Climbing is your thing.  You climb on anything you can easily reach, and you think it’s great fun to get in small spaces like cabinets or to sit on things like boxes.

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You celebrated your first Christmas and learned pretty quickly what that was all about.  Of course it took a while and you wanted to stop and play with all your toys.  You loved each and every one, except the pony we got you!  It is a bit scary to you for now.

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Sleeping.  It just isn’t happening still.  You my dear, will sleep when you’re old I guess.  Its a struggle; not to get you to go to sleep, but to get you to stay asleep.  We’ve tried it all, and the best I can figure is you do best with a routine and  lately that isn’t happening with the holidays and traveling and moving to a new state.  I hope soon it will all settle down and become normal again.

We went to see your favorite book, Pete the Cat’s author at a school where I used to work and you are all but old enough to start going to school.  You loved the children and when he started reading “I Love My White Shoes”, you crawled towards the stage and sat attentively.  It was so cute!

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Even though you are super cute, setting limits is our next job with you it appears.  You have started doing some things that mama and daddy don’t think are so cute.  Like throwing fits and food.  As much as we’d love to let you have everything you want, it would turn you into a brat, and brats aren’t any fun to be around.  There will be times when it seems like we’re being mean, but we’re only loving you the best we can.

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I love you so much!  The past 11 months have been a joy for me.  I’m trying to take it all in.  I can’t slow down time, as much as I wish I could, but each day I’m trying to make last.

xoxo,

Mama

 

Just Because

Just because it’s Tuesday (I think).

Just because she’s 9.5 months old (tomorrow).

Just because she hasn’t pulled her hair bow out or her socks off (yet).

Just because she’s been under the weather and today is the first day in nearly a week that she is back to her old self (almost).

Just because before I know it, she’s going to be walking (or driving) (or both).

Just because she’s adorable (totally).

Just because.

Picture Perfect

After we buried my dad February of last year, I drove back to Texas basically with a pickup, plants, and a photograph.

The pickup still sits in front of my yard, longing for a spin around town.

The plants, I’m proud to say, are flourishing.

And the photo sits on a shelf in my dining room.

It was one of his favorites.  At one point, being technologically disinclined, he asked my sister to put it as his profile pic on his Facebook page.  I don’t know how he expected her to do that, as he had the picture in a frame two states over, but nevertheless.

It’s a tiny picture, maybe a 3 X 5 in a cheap brass frame with parts of the frame chipped.  It displays a much younger us.

I remember the day.  Thanks to a generous landlord aunt, my sister had recently scored a cheap one bedroom rent house, albeit in need of some TLC.  I was helping her paint, when our dad showed up to check on our progress.  I’m covered in paint.  He’s not.  The hat I’m wearing leaves me to question.  Was I painting in that hat or was it on his head and I put it on mine?  I don’t recall the detail.

On the back, he’s written, “me & ang, yukking it up in ’91”

I can’t remember the exact conversation, but I know it went something like this:  my sister holding a camera, my dad draping his arm around me, my sister telling us to say “cheese”, and right before the camera snapped, my dad sucked in his gut, and I busted out laughing.

“Yukking it up in ’91” he called it.

If I’d  known then that we had only twenty more years together.  Twenty years.  It sounds like a long time when you say it, but it sure goes by fast. What would I have done differently?  Anything?

Throughout those years, we had many more times of “yukking it up”, and I’m grateful for every one of them.

But I can’t help but wish we could have one right now.

Miss you dad.

In Memory of my dad—number forty something

The green spiraled journal draws me in.

It belonged to my dad.

The very first thing I bought when I became an adult was a storage building.  It sits on my mom’s property (once upon a time it was my grandmother’s property) and my dad put a few boxes of belongings in there nearly twenty years ago.   In one of the boxes was this journal.

On the cover he has printed:
The Journals of Robert Lee—-soldier, statesman, author.

It is filled with his thoughts, his hopes, his disappointments, his memories.
Stuffed between the written pages he has a few cards from loved ones, pictures of my sister and I, and bills from the IRS.

I love this journal, although it is mostly sad.  He wrote when he was going through a very difficult time, of which I was completely unaware, but heck I was a kid then, barely out of high school, and completely wrapped up in my own life.

I discover that I didn’t really know my dad.  But who really did?

He hurt more than I know, and I don’t mean physically.

Today is the 15th of April, 1996.  Tax Time for most folks, but to me it is different.   Today I join the ranks of the homeless.  I haven’t learned a lot in my 53 short years aboard this planet, but I’ve learned this, we are just a short journey from this predicament that I find myself in right now.  It’s a feeling that I don’t wish on friend or foe, but I’ll come out of the water bushed and gasping of air, out of breath and hoping for a low hanging limb from which this wrecked body needs just a minute to catch it’s breath.  Then I’ll fight onward, searching for new friends, looking in familiar haunts for a few old compatriots, who’ll say—welcome ol’ shoe, come sit awhile and rest.

April 18, 1996—
It’s not good being homeless, but I have been getting reacquainted with my mother.  Before I was always in a  hurry when I went to see her, but now we are taking the time to talk to each other.  Today we spoke of my grandparents, the last who died in 1975.  I wish that I could have gotten to know them.

As I reread this journal, no as I pore over his words, I get the “missing my dad blues”.   The “If only’s”  The “I wish”.  It doesn’t help that its a rainy day in July either.  Much like my dad wrote on the page he titled, “July or is it June 27?”

I moved into my new digs yesterday.  Went to the store and bought boloney and beer.  It’s a cloudy, dismal day, in fact I’ll call this place “The Dismal Swamp”  It’s a dump, held together with spit n’ glue, but at least the neighbor’s are nice—which means that they don’t bother me or even come out of their own hovels.  I’m into Charles Bukowski, poet, short stories, novels, drinker extraiordinairre.  Life is good as we let it be.

He was phenomenal with the written word.
Dawn comes on a silvery black flash that gently turns to a pale blue as the sun makes it’s ascent into the morning sky.  Departure time is steadily approaching and I feel a twinge of excitement as the clock ticks onward toward the time of making my exit.  My brother warned me about this happening, he said, “don’t let one year turn into ten” when I first moved here for just a year.  Well, June marks the 10 year span that I’ve spent here in Green Country.  I can see the changes here in Okla.  that have occurred since coming here.  Mainly, traffic flow, the driving here is atrocious.  But that does not take from  the few close friends that I have made here.  I’ll always appreciate them.

He was funny.
“Guess I’ll go by leon’s house and see if he wants to go fishing with me n’ doc tomorrow—-it is the fourth of July and we do live in the bosom of democracy, so why not fish.  Uh Oh.  Outta beer.  So I’ll take to task the advice of my ol’ mentor and friend, Horace Greely—-Go West—-about 2 miles—–the have Busch on sale.” 

11-19-96
Keeping a journal and trying to keep sounding interesting is so boring.

Yes, dad I agree with that one whole heartedly!  He continues…..

My life is boring, but the mundane way of life is peaceful.  Living quiet has it’s own reward.

He got lonesome and had regrets.

Nov. 24, 1996
I dreamed of Jo and Angel night before last.  They were small and cuddly and we laughed and played.  I awoke all discombobulated and out of sync.  It’s good to dream old dreams.  I miss the girls so much.  I hope Angel is doing all right out there in the west.  She is so private it’s hard to find out anything from her.  Joley has John so I don’t worry about her so much.  Joley is my little mother.  I know that she will see to it that I am taken care of.  I hope that I never need it tho.  I’m sorry now that I didn’t know how to love the girls’ mother.  Hindsight has perfect vision.  But I just didn’t know, and for that I am sorry. 

Jan. 13, 1997
I’m lonesome and being broke don’t help.  I’d visit an axe murderer if he’d stop by my digs. 

Although these notes are sad and some remorseful, I receive peace when I read them.  I know how much my dad loved me.  There was never a time I doubted that.  He wrote of it many times.  His heart was full of love.

I am the proud father of 4 children.  Two boys and two girls.  How this mixed blessing came about, I’m not exactly sure.  It just came at me out of the blue, kinda like a fighter with a good left hook.

I also receive comfort knowing I’ll see him again.

Feb 7th or 8th
I know God is my friend and I hope he lets me hang around for a few years.

Thanks God for the years.

There’s more.  There’s lots more.  But I’ll leave you with that for now.  I don’t think my old pop would mind me sharing this.  It helps me, and I know there are family and friends who miss him terribly.  I hope it helps them too.  Sometimes we just want to hear from our loved ones one more time and this is the way that I do that.  When I read these words, I hear his voice.  I see the twinkle in his eye.  I see him throw his head back when he thought something was funny,  yet keeping his laugh inside and quiet.

I see him in my baby girl too, little bits of him.  There are times I wish he could see her, but then I remember…..I’m pretty sure they’ve already met.