cronechronicler

Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Breathing Myself Home

When I put months-away travel dates on my calendar, it’s like throwing bread crumbs into the future that lead me to a new adventure. I gobble up the possibilities of being nourished into new ways of experiencing the world. I pull out all the stops when I reach my destination. It costs a great out-lay of energy in exchange for the things I learn. Traveling makes ageing irrelevant to me. But traveling is no respecter of age.

When my journey is over I’m stuffed full from the banquet I’ve devoured. I’m weary in my bones. I’m breathless from the day-long sprint on the plane that sped me to my door. I put my key in the lock, open the door, breathe in and feel myself revived by the simple smells of home.

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Language Lessons

The other day at a family event I asked my fifteen year old grandson Bobby if he wanted to get together for lunch the following week. He said, “Sure. Tuesday’s good. I’ll give you a call.” Tuesday came but no phone call, though I waited at home for one most of the day. I left the ball in his hands thinking that was an appropriate response to respect his growing independence. (Or maybe my not calling him was leftover from all the stilted phone calls I attempted with my grandchildren when I lived in a different city.)

More of the story came to light later in the week when I was talking to my son on the phone about something else. He told me that on Tuesday Bobby had tried to call me on my cell phone a couple of times and even left me a message, but I never responded. He and his brother James were worried that “something had happened to Grandma” when Bobby couldn’t reach me. My son assured them that I was fine. “Grandma keeps her cell phone off and only uses it when she is away from home in case of an emergency.” My son suggested that I call Bobby on his family’s land line about our lunch date. He planned to give Bobby a message to call me on my land line when he got home later in the afternoon.

I was relieved to learn how Bobby’s and my individual choice of communication was the culprit in our failure to connect. We were speaking different languages. More importantly I learned something endearing about my grandson. He did not forget our conversation about lunch. And when he didn’t reach me he was concerned that something had happened to me. It is great to know that he is so dependable and responsible But that is not the end of the story. My lesson was just beginning.

I waited until evening for Bobby to call me. When he hadn’t I decided I would text him since I know that is his preferred mode of communication. The problem was I had only sent two or three texts in my life. I messed around with my cell phone – no frills and on a basic Senior $29.99-a-month plan, texting extra. Finally I managed a mistake-riddled message asking him to call me on my land line and successfully sent it. He texted back, “No problem.” I was elated!

The next day when he still hadn’t called I texted him again, briefly asking which day next week was good for him (I was learning that texting requires few words.) He texted back his choice of days. I replied with a few words giving instructions where to meet me, what time, and where he could safely leave his bicycle. He responded “Alright.” Bingo! Communication completed.

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Friends Along the Way

I’ve never had just one best friend.
One single person to companion life’s long way.

Faces and moments of connection deep
Lodge rich in memory.
We shared awakenings, transformations, transitions,
And then moved on to be another’s muse.

Times when silence said it all,
Or tears and laughter spoke the words required.
Glances between strangers
Healed, acknowledged human need.

A closest friend would be a lovely thing.
For now I’ll travel on my gypsy way.

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Who Will I Be When I Grow Up?

I remember being a child living in a safe and not very large world. I knew about World War II because my neighbor put a chicken-wire pen in her front yard to collect scrap metal. I remember ration books and my older cousin coming to visit looking handsome in his white Navy uniform. We children were not aware of adult conversations about the horrors and fears of war. We were incubated. I never thought about what it would be like to be an adult. I understood that it would naturally occur.

I grew up removed from reality. I learned to tell stories that skated on top of any situation, covering up anger, pain and disappointment. It was part of the Hollywood-inspired culture of the time that people got married and lived happily ever after. When it took me almost thirty years of marriage to see the impossibility of that myth, I created another story to rationalize my decision to get a divorce. Telling “stories” is not what real grown ups do.

I repeated this when I abandoned my second marriage. I felt it was not polite to tell the truth to people in my apartment I was meeting for the first time. I created a story out of a half truth. Eventually I told my true story.

This blogging enterprise has brought out a “real me” that I did not know lived deep inside. It began when I named my blog Cronechronicler. I didn’t think twice. It seemed a natural choice. Several years ago I went to a workshop about crones. The definition of a crone we were given is “an archetypal figure, a wise woman marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle.” We took part in a “croning, a ritual rite of passage into an era of wisdom, freedom and personal power.” My writing and the comments of other bloggers uncover these attributes in me. My wisdom has accumulated over the years. I gave myself freedom when I moved to my present home. Power is increasing with living my truth. I could never have foretold who I would grow up to be. That’s part of the fun.

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Alternative Vision

When I was in junior high, my friends teased me. They said that  I saw this as “the best of all possible worlds “, like the character in Candide.  In South Pacific Mary Martin sang that she was “a cockeyed optimist.” I preferred that comparison. And then came Monty Python’s movie The Life of Brian with its  sublime ending and the song “when you’re chewing on life’s gristle, Don’t grumble, give a whistle–and always look on the bright of life”. This I took to heart. I certainly no longer (if I ever did) think this is the best of all possible worlds but I’ve stuck with looking at the bright side of life – eventually.

About seven years ago I suddenly lost most of the sight in my left eye. I had glaucoma in that eye which did not respond to pressure-lowering drops. In the same eye, I had experienced two minor episodes of  blockage in the central optic vein leading to my retina. Both had healed on their own. Then came a perfect storm of eye pressure through the roof and a blockage which left me with severely impaired vision. My right eye still worked fine, though  I’ve slowly lost all sight in my left one.

At first I was stunned. It took a while to get used to the idea. I was fearful and hesitant about walking around outside. I had no depth perception now and stepping off a curb was an iffy proposition. Walking on uneven surfaces, like the bumpy grass patch in front of my townhouse,  was a challenge. I thought about it and realized that neither the curb nor the grass had changed. Only my vision was different. I decided to trust  my feet to know where they were going. I’ve learned a lot about muscle memory. Another problem was I now had a  blind side on my left. Driving on the freeway was out, though I still felt safe driving around my neighborhood. Walking on the sidewalk presented a new lesson to learn. I wasn’t aware of people coming up on my left side. Sometimes I drifted into their paths. Then aha! I discovered on a sunny day with the sun at my back I could see people’s shadows approaching an act accordingly.

Life went on much as usual. I began to like the new world I lived in. I discovered that not being able to do everything myself meant I had to rely on other people. One day I took the bus  down town. I had learned to trust the yellow painted railings to guide me down the steps and off the bus to the sidewalk. On this day I didn’t get off at my usual stop. I made my usual safe, if not graceful, descent from bus to sidewalk and was on my way. Except that this stop had an unexpected little step up to the sidewalk level that I tripped over. With a sinking feeling  I felt myself pitch forward. And before I hit the ground two men waiting to board the bus caught me by my arms and set me back on my feet. Another person who had seen my near fall and rescue commented “That didn’t take long.” And we all went our separate ways. My life intersected with those people that afternoon in ways not possible when I was a solitary person driving my car.

I am connected to the world in new and surprising ways. I trust that I can open my front door, walk out into the universe and have awesome adventures that teach me new things. I like “chewing on life’s gristle”.

 

 

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Memory Marinated

I thought I’d make a memory.
Thursday, my two grandkids and Boston Market out to lunch is now routine.
But not today.
Grandchildren six in all were coming in a bunch
For Boston Market lunch and time for games.

My imagination saw a happy day for long recall.
A “Do you remember when?” for everyone.
But Grandma was a role soon left behind.
Abandoning the luxury of being present on the side,
It takes a mom to herd the crowd.

We had our lunch and all went well.
Good food and hungry kids left little time to chat.
It was an ordinary meal.
Nothing long remembered, so I thought.
But memories are elusive things.

As we walked home I trailed behind grandkids.
I looked at them and something stirred in me.
As I write this I feel again the tears.
My mother gone for forty years
Would love to see her daughter, now Grandmother of these six.

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Daily Prompt – To Procrastinate or Not

Procrastination is not in my DNA. As a first-born, seriously nice, Southern girl child molded to meet expectations it never occurred to me to rebel. I did things on time. I don’t know if anyone reads the Elsie Dinsmore books anymore but they are partly to blame. Elsie was good to a fault, and a chosen role model for me. I did my home work on time, minded my parents, etc. etc. etc., and grew up to be disgustingly responsible.

When I left home as a young bride, my intentions and habits went with me. I made, executed and checked off to-do lists with glee. I have to admit I like to check things off, even now. This behavior went on until it collided with real life. Even in the 50’s when I, like most women I knew, didn’t work (it didn’t occur to us then to stand up and declare that house work is real work) we found that we couldn’t “have it all.” I wasn’t very good at procrastination so I re-catalogued my work tasks.

It was OK to get things crucial to daily life done on time, but I reserved a few things to remain pristine and untouched by my to-do lists. Number one was gardening. I gardened for the love of it. When a glorious day came along I headed outside to smell good dirt and enjoy the tug of pulling weeds – the more resistance they gave the better. I planted spring flowers and tomato plants, and fall bulbs. Pruning bushes was a whole day affair. It’s hard to know when you’ve pruned just enough. And then followed the good muscle-tiring work of dragging the cut-off branches to the curb and building a huge testimony of my labors for the garbage truck to cart away.

In winter another of my un-to-do list things was the silvery task of sweeping snow off the flat roof of the airing porch. The porch could be accessed by a door on our second floor and had a low white railing enclosing it. No one quite knew what was aired on the porch, but supposedly bedding. When snow got deep in the winter I swept the roof to avoid leaks in the sun porch ceiling below. I waited for a brilliant sunshiny day and, broom in hand, went out to play. I swept the powdery snow skyward and watched the sun transform flakes into diamonds sparkling against the blue, blue sky.

As years have passed I have mellowed and can manage to put off until tomorrow what I can do today. I still reserve a few things for joy, untouched by any list. Writing is one of them.

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Mind Frame – The Old Leather Chair

It is early morning and the others are still sleeping. The sky is a wash of gray. No early light breaks through heavy clouds of Mississippi June heat. Leaden gray humidity soaks the human spirit. The faded tan of the old leather chair I’m sitting in is the only hint of color in the day.

We are here for the last time. My sisters, my brother and I have come back to clear out our old home after our father’s death. This is the day the movers come to take what few things are left of a patchwork quilt of life, bright squares and dull. I am sad and full of unshed tears, like dull rain clouds in the sky. I remember well the old leather chair. When my mother died two years ago early Christmas morning, my father sat in this chair, talking to friends arrived to console, drinking wine as he would have on more festive holidays. Later we discovered the empty bottle of Bourbon under my father’s chair. He wasn’t drinking wine. We laughed. That bright spot brought color to the day.

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View From the Bottom of the Sea

The sea’s a mystic thing,
From ancient time the mother of us all.
Her children sailed abroad to search new lands,
Braving waves, wild storms and thirst of deadly calms.
Becoming students of her ways,
Receiving wisdom – fee paid in full.

Once I knew living’s Sturm und Drang,
And passion’s steamy dream
By love inspired.
Three times held new-born sons in wonderous joy.
Watched as lessons learned they wandered off
Beginning age-old cycles of their own.

Surprised, I learned new cycles, too.
With hours and days to savor things
Remembered yet unplumbed in younger years,
Charmed gift of words revived.
I am transported to another realm
Where I can create life anew.

I had not thought that calm and comfort lived
In lines I write, and stories told, as I have heard.
The seas above are challenging and rough.
I sailed them once upon a time.
My home lies now beneath the waves on quiet ocean’s floor.
And words I write reflect the view from here.

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Educating Grandma : Lagniappe

It was Thursday and they came again. They brought their backpack-full of the day’s necessities – I-pad, I-pod, books and bathing suits. I met them at the door of the building and we made our way up the elevator to my floor. We admired the peculiar bubble-shaped imperfections on the wall of mirrors across from the elevator door. I explain that’s how I know it’s my floor when the elevator stops. Only the fourth floor has such an artistic touch. We stepped inside Apartment 412 and settled in for the morning.

We were getting into a routine. Remarkable, I thought, for only the second time my grandchildren Aidan (11) and Mia (8) spent the day with me while their dad was at work. I checked my morning email while Mia read and Aidan played a game on his I-pad. Aidan has been instructing me in games since Mario’s Cars (?). He is kind enough not to give up. The morning looked like rain which would interrupt our plans to swim in the pool behind my apartment in the patio garden. We still had lunch to look forward to, in any event. And then the sun broke through the clouds and down we went to go swimming.

After pool time we walked over to Boston Market for lunch. Again. There were untried sides on the menu we wanted to order. We haven’t yet made our way through the whole menu so we’ll eat there again next Thursday. After Boston Market we headed to Baskin Robbins in search of new flavors. It will be a while before we exhaust the Baskin Robbins possibilities I think our lunch time routine is set for the foreseeable future. It’s funny that we are all three creatures of dependable habit.

But life has a lovely way of sneaking in something different. After lunch we returned to our own interests. Aidan went back to his I-pad, I worked word puzzles, and Mia wandered around investigating things. I had told the kids that no place was off-limits in my apartment and was glad that Mia accepted my invitation to explore. My old turquoise blue brocade-covered jewelry box caught her eye. She brought me a couple of things to inquire about. My jewelry box contains a multitude of stories I yearned to tell a granddaughter someday. And things I wanted to hand down. I sent Mia home with a locket she can put a small picture in and a turquoise birthstone ring given to me by my mother on my 6th birthday that is just her size.

And the Lagniappe thing? In Louisiana lagniappe means “something extra”- a gift. I have long felt sad, and a little guilty, that I did not have a true “grandma’s house” to welcome my children and grandchildren into. The townhouse where my second husband and I lived was basically the office for his practice of psychotherapy. I and any family guests had to work around the days and times patients were there. Not like any grandma’s house I had heard of. In the two years since I moved to be near two of my sons and families I have often visited them at their houses. This summer for the first time it’s just me and the grandkids in my apartment with my old things and good food, albeit provided by Boston Market and Baskin Robbins. I have discovered that Grandma’s House is truly here – because having grandkids in it makes it so. Lagniappe!

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