cronechronicler

Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Meatloaf Mystery

I opened my refrigerator freezer and was startled to see a blue plastic Heinen’s shopping bag. True, I had just returned from the grocery store and had been in the process of putting things away. I had already arranged many Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine frozen dinners (there was a sale) in the freezer in my accustomed order. But what was a plastic bag doing in my freezer? And what was in it? I always take my groceries out of their plastic bags before putting them away. I looked inside the blue bag and found four frozen meatloaf dinners, that I did not buy and which were not on my receipt. Who put them in my freezer inside a blue plastic Heinen’s bag?

Each of my two sons has a key to my apartment. I thought I remembered that Bob’s wife is giving up eating red meat. Maybe she decided she did not want the meatloaf dinners and Bob brought them over as a surprise. I emailed him about my strange gift from either Santa or an elf. Or possibly him? He emailed back “Not me”. He suggested that the bag was included in my groceries by mistake when I checked out. This could be how it happened. But this did not explain how the meatloaf dinners still in the plastic bag got in my refrigerator freezer. I emailed my son Fred to see if he was my mysterious “Secret Santa”. “No ma’am” he replied. Well, it certainly wasn’t me. So I accepted that this was an
odd occurrence possibly related to aging.

Then I did the only sane thing I could think of and called the grocery store to report the frozen dinners that had accompanied me home. I hoped the customer service woman would tell me that the person who checked out just before me had contacted the store about the frozen meatloaf dinners she was missing. I envisioned a happy ending. But the customer service woman just told me to return the dinners next time I did my grocery shopping. I felt like I was acting as a model citizen. But still the person in me who put away groceries in a certain order, and had been doing so for sixty years, refused to believe I had put the blue-plastic-bag-enclosed boxes of meatloaf in my freezer.

First thing this morning I struck a match and lit my little red candle to burn cheerily while I drank my morning coffee – just as I have been doing for twenty-four years. Then I put on my warm sox and my bedroom slippers. Then I blew out the candle. Oh, dear. I hadn’t had my coffee yet.

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Wings

Once I flew on shiny wings of steel
Wings that bore me far away
To continents and countries new
To places where my heart was intertwined
With people and a life I learned to treasure dear.

Today I fold those steely wings and rest
My tired body bids farewell to travel days
Gently lifting new wings bear me home
To see beauty in the life that welcomes me
And joy in my beloved family.

Spring came the week I was away
Green leaves and flowers everywhere
Sound of birdsong in the early morn
Mind and my imagining are free to roam
Precious new wings expand my universe.

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Sea-scapades: Part One

The ocean was quietly rolling
Wonderful day at the beach
Memory of past times beguiling
I walked straight into the surf

Confidant I could still do it
I waded still further  out
Wave one and wave two I maneuvered
Wave three was a total rout

I landed flat backwards and splashing
Legs waving high in the air
My son saw me flailing, gave me a hand
Eventually I was upright

I cannot describe my sadness
To face up to this simple loss
I’ve played in the water since childhood
Now I am like a beached whale.

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Saying Goodbye

Belle died at noon on Saturday
She left in peace with family around
Her ninety-seven years a testament
To life well lived and loved.
A friend to us who knew her well
She left a vacancy not soon filled

This morning the swimming pool is blue
Sun and fair skies foretell a lovely day.
Belle loved the pool in Summer
And sunning on the patio in Autumn
When falling leaves transformed the color scheme
Before Winter sent Belle back inside.

We played our Scrabble-like word game Royalty
By the pool or in the Party Room upstairs
Belle was the queen who beat us all
At forming words some of her own creation
She seemed to pull letters out of nowhere
To fashion words sometimes bizarre.

Belle is gone and yet I see her everywhere
Dressed in her Thriftique classy clothes
Speaking out to bring justice to the world
Celebrating Seder with generations of her family
Including us as her adopted relatives
Teaching us the ropes to vote absentee

Belle has been freed from suffering.
It was a grief to see her bowed so low
My heart rises remembering the wonder
Of the very special person that Belle was
Now living on in vibrant memories.
I did not know loss could produce such gain.

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Deja Vu

Early in the month of May five years ago I had “the talk” with my husband that got the wheels rolling for me to be sitting here at my computer telling this part of my story. For a great while my heart had longed to move to Cleveland and live near my family. And so on that sunny May day I gathered my courage and asked my husband to help me figure out how to make my dream a possibility. Of all the ways I expected him to reply he surprised me by immediately saying he would help me. He was aware that I had not been happy for a while, and neither was he. I remember the tenderness of this moment when we both acknowledged we were ready to let go of our marriage. I think it was one of our finest moments.

The next months were a whirlwind of making the arrangements necessary to pack up and begin my life anew. It was three months and two days after that talk that I arrived in Cleveland to stay. My time here has borne rich fruit. I spend good times close to family members, especially my growing grandchildren. We share in celebrations and hardships as a family. It is a precious surprise to find I have a life and friends of my own here. I have even allowed myself to enjoy the gift of being my own person apart from family members. I consider myself settled in my new home in every way. The other day it was a real jolt to discover strong feelings I still have for my former home.

Recently a couple of my friends and I went to a Book Discussion Day. We learned that Virginia Woolf’s novels influenced the writing of the featured author. One friend decided to read Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and explore this idea. She invited me to read the book and discuss it with her. I remembered that Virginia Woolf was one of the Bloomsbury school of writers. I also thought I remembered that the small group of town houses I called home in Chicago was called Bloomsbury Townhomes. To check my memory I Googled the name Bloomsbury and my street address. Suddenly there appeared on my computer screen pictures of the sidewalk in front of my house and a low brick wall beside it. I could see the Jewish Day Nursery and its playground across the street from me. The sound of children always made me happy. Seeing these familiar scenes took my breath away. My chest tightened and I cried. I could not believe what I was feeling. I thought I had said good-bye to Chicago. I had packed up and moved the things that really mattered. My dream of living close to my family was a reality. So why was I overcome with emotion ?

I could leave my husband. I could let go of almost all my books, many household items – mine and some that were my mother’s, clothes and even furniture and never look back. What I could not erase was the sense of place that encompassed me and the home I inhabited for almost twenty years. I will never want to erase living through good times and growing pains that I experienced there. It has found its place inside me as part of my whole. I am grateful.

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Mom’s Pearls of Wisdom

Doing my Christmas shopping last year I was stumped at what to get for my son Bob and his family. They were going to California to be with my daughter-in-law Linda’s family and were planning excursions to Big Sur and skiing near Lake Tahoe. I didn’t want to add any large sized gifts to their luggage but wanted my gift to be special since my oldest grandson Bobby would be a Freshman in college next year. This was the last Christmas “as it always was” for them. Then a lightbulb went off in my head.

Buying a fresh Christmas tree and decorating it together was a huge tradition in their family. Over the years I had given Bob and Linda crystal angels, stars and snow flakes to hang on the tree. For Bobby and his brother James it was Fisher Price toys and Thomas the Tank engine train sets before their interest turned to Pac-Man and beyond and I had to ask their parents for suggestions. This special year I thought the perfect gift would be ornaments for everyone in the family. Part of the fun for me is shopping around for just the right gift for each person. Then I imagined how they would love the surprise as they unwrapped their new ornaments and decorated the tree. And afterwards cherish the memory.

This wasn’t to be. Getting off to California was quite a production and eclipsed the gift of Christmas ornaments. When my son and his family got back I heard how each person had experienced something uniquely suited to them and what a grand adventure the trip turned out to be. I was thrilled to hear their stories. Maybe next year when it is time to get out all the ornaments for another tree “my” ornaments will come to light.

I learned that you can’t make a memory for somebody else. Loved ones and children will weave their own experience from shared tales into a memory and then it becomes precious to them.

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Haiku: Serenity

Victory or gift?
Not to want what I can’t have
Accept what I can’t change

One who loved fine clothes
Necessarily content
Wearing what still fits

No grand travels now
Replaced by memories
Lots of time to write

Unintended change
Silver price of letting go
Golden gift of age

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Amaryllis Elegy

I’d never had an amaryllis last till Labor Day.
Twelve Christmas flowers of brilliant red bloomed
Then fell away. Three long green stalks and foliage
Lingered all spring and summer time
Then showed their age and needed help
As they leaned into their decay.
Two long-handled wooden spoons
Stuck firmly in the dirt
Supported them for a while
Till even this was not enough
To hold at bay the bulbs’ untimely end.

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Haiku: Elusive

Silvery, silken
Gossamer reminiscence
Of days now long past

Faded and precious
Distant from reality
It’s time to move on

Dreams spread before me
Future possibility
Rainbow in gray skies.

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Give and Take

Two big trips in one month have undone me.
I see in the mirror that aging’s o’er taken me
My bones creak with knowing, my gait is slowing
I certainly have been brought up short.

Mind set on perseverance I plowed ahead
Burned all my energy going the distance
Got home, collapsed and then I asked
Is this really worth it?

The answer calls for creative investment
Spending my energy on what I like best
Expanding, enriching life in my home town
Short travels with family icing on my cake.

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