Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Brand New Day: Untested Waters

My current Brand New Day dawned with the Recession of 2008. Within a matter of months  my oldest son’s  job was eliminated. He battled the turbulent tides of semi- or un-employment for almost ten years. He was managing to stay afloat financially with consulting jobs related to his expertise in his former occupation. After I moved to Cleveland six years ago he often dropped by to visit. The many conversations we shared brought new depths to us as mother and son. We developed a routine like a rudimentary Japanese Tea Ceremony.

My son called to see if it was a good time to visit. If I was home it always was. My son drinks iced tea and I prefer coffee so we settled on water. I kept bottled water in the refrigerator for him. When I knew he was on the way I got out a bottle of water and put it on the glass-top coffee table that was my grandmother’s. I set it on a glass coaster, one of a large set we used for water and iced tea when I visited her in the summer as a little girl. After a while we decided that water in a plastic bottle was not good for the environment so I offered him a glass of tap water. Before he left he always took his empty glass to the kitchen.

In the presence of my grandmother’s coffee table and a glass of water set on her coaster we have become friends – two adults talking about his problems and then ranging to past history between us and within our family. He feels safe telling me about his disappointments and serious financial problems which naturally make his wife anxious. I am there to listen and give support. Finally after a seemingly unending two-week-long interview process he was offered the job of his dreams last week. What they want is exactly the skills he possesses. After his first day of work he told me it was the fourth happiest day of his life, after his wedding and the birth of his two sons. He told me he would not be able to visit me as often. I knew that. I was so proud and happy to hear the joy in his voice that I couldn’t ask for anything more. This was the beginning of a Brand New Day.


Splashdown on a Snowy Day

Been orbiting in circumstance of motherhood
Bound in love to three sons now adult
With wives, children, houses in their care
Problems with mortgages, lost jobs and health
Now my time to listen and support
Share my hard-earned wisdom gained
When I was fifty as now they are

This orbit an amazing gift to me
To know my sons as men they have become
To tell uncensored struggles I battled through
Reveal their parents in stark honesty
To be friends with boundaries
Love exchanged and trust secured
I’m back home my muse returned to me


Score One For Mama

This week’s New England Journal of Medicine has an article about a scientific discovery indicating that dust in Amish cow barns is good for preventing childhood asthma. It seems to have something to do with a healthy immune system. My mother could have told them that seventy-five years ago.

When I was two years old I developed asthma that kept both Mama and me up at night with my wheezing. This went on for several years until my pediatrician suggested that I get tested for allergies. The test revealed that I was allergic to house dust and grasses. The doctor told my mother to remove curtains and rugs from my bedroom. He allowed no pets. Mama’s reaction was “bosh and tommyrot”, her favorite term for ideas she considered ridiculous. She believed if I were kept in an environment free of normal dust and pets I would never build up a resistance to asthma and outgrow it.

She saw to it that my bedroom had curtains and scatter rugs. It was no more dust-free than the rest of the house. On my sixth birthday I was given a puppy that I named Fuzzy after my favorite cousin’s dog. I played with my neighbor’s guinea pigs. I remember being taken to a rodeo – after all I lived in Houston, Texas. My mother wanted me to wear a surgical mask but I balked at being seen in public wearing one. We compromised by her spraying one of Daddy’s handkerchief’s with what I remembered as chloroform (but surely it was something else) that kept me from breathing in dust when I held it to my nose.

The article I read described asthma as “chronic and frightening”. When I was a child as far as I know children weren’t rushed to the hospital when they had an asthma attack. I do remember a time when Mama and I spent the night in a hotel during an extreme summer hot spell so I could breathe more easily in an air-conditioned room. What I remember best is having breakfast the next morning at the “Toddle House”. To me asthma wasn’t frightening. I never imagined I would die from it. I do think the asthma of today is worse that it was in the 1940’s.

My mother was right thinking that if I was not isolated from ordinary dust and pets I would build up my resistance and outgrow asthma. I don’t know how much science would see cause and effect in my mother’s actions. I do know that I outgrew my asthma when I was in my early twenty’s. Hurrah Mama!