Magic Words Can Lead to Magic in Deeds

Magic Words Can Lead to Magic in Deeds

Uruguay Amethyst Geode

It’s happened to you. You are reading something and you come across one sentence, or a paragraph–WORDS that hold you to the page or your screen. Words that have revealed a thought you’ve had, but expressed in a way that  jumps off the page–like magic.

Consider:

It was a nice thing for her to say. In her way. With Greta, you have to look out for the nice things buried in the rest of her mean stuff. Greta’s talk is like a geode. Ugly as anything on the outside and for the most part the same on the inside, but every once in a while there’s something that shines through.

I love this passage, because it relays the thoughts of fourteen-year-old June Elbus who tells us the story of her relationship with her Uncle Finn, an artist who died of AIDS. But the “Greta” in the quote is her sister, a few years older, the one she now tangles with on a regular basis. Can they make it right by each other. (The novel is: TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME by Carol Rifka Brunt.)

June’s words, her reflection is on page 52 of a complex story, but it leaped off the page for me, not only because it’s an insight that will come back to complete the story, help the troubled relationship between the two sisters. But also because it is TRUTH.

In our lives, the people that make us crazy, who we sometimes wish we had never met–they are the ones we must acknowledge as human and in the most surprising moments they can say things or do things that reveal their humanity: something that shines through.

Do you know a person who talks a line that starts to give you hope? And then they turn around and annihilate that hope in what they do. THINK: some politicians!! or a friend, even a family member. And think: what did our mothers or fathers tell us when this happened?

  • Oh, she didn’t mean it.
  • Give the guy a break.
  • Tolerance, could we just have a little tolerance in these situations.

Those are all good suggestions, and as June in the novel learns–and we all learn–some people you give space to, hoping they’ll come around and HAVE YOUR BACK–don’t fail you. They wake up. They arrive when you need them. They cement a bond that might have been broken.

But there are also those that never do come around. They are:

  • the salt in a wound instead of the salt of the earth.
  • Their first thought is of themselves and you can go blow in the wind.

Or actually I might be wrong about both those evaluations. Sometimes we just don’t know why the love we sail over to them, the phone calls, the emails, the attention–falls flat. They might arrive in your life years down the road and think nothing of it. But you do, because you wanted to keep that relationship alive. You wanted to be there for them and they wanted to disappear.

Ironically, great thinkers and leaders know that’s not the way to go. If another human being reaches out to someone, a response should occur. It cannot always be commensurate with need, but one dollar, one meal, one phone call, one smile–is better than none.

So if there’s a person in your life, right today, who you are trying to reach, trying to love or help–listen for the magic words. They might be there–and you’re so angry you can’t hear them. Or they might be disguised in bravado or sorrow. That happens ALL THE TIME. But if you keep on giving of yourself, the right words just might come shining through. They won’t be MEAN. They’ll be the KEYS to more communication.

At the end of the novel, Greta helps June to accomplish an enormous task. She’s her support, she provides encouragement–which is something we all need:

“It’s all going to work out fine…I’ll keep an eye on you.”

Here’s hoping that someone in your life RIGHT NOW will open up, keep an eye on you, give some magic sign that they know you need them and they NEED YOU TOO.

Photo credit: The Crystal Rock Store Uruguay Amethyst Geode

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WINDOWS–One Mother’s View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Dear Boomer Highway Readers. Happy Summer, a great time to kick back on the porch or patio with a glass of lemonade or something with more of a jolt AND READ A BOOK. It’s truly a summer necessity. In a future post I will be sharing some of my favorite reads for summer 2015–and I better get started before the summer is over.

In the meantime, here is one of the stories from my collection of short fiction A Mother’s Time Capsule which was published in May. This is the absolute shortest one, and if you like it, I’ll share more. Comments and questions? Greatly appreciated. So whether you have a rainy summer day, or a hot mid-afternoon break or even a porch lit with soft lighting on an evening when the fire flies are chasing the sky–please enjoy.

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Windows

Kate is on the ladder. She’s got a roll of paper towel tucked under her arm. She’s permeating the film of old winter dirt with a thick spray of Windex and then wiping across and down in a definite pattern. She’s slipping into something familiar, the hot sun on her arms, the jiggling of the ladder, the tops of the evergreens brushing her bare legs as she leans over to swipe at a corner. Her position on the ladder allows her an abnormal height as she looks down into her daughter’s bedroom through the now clean pane.

She pauses to take in all that is there, thinking that maybe it’s her position, her being able to see the room from a totally different angle that makes the looking so interesting. She’s a voyeur seeing the rug running a different way, seeing the bed from the headboard down instead of the usual footboard up. And there are other things leaping into her vision.

On the bed, three books, a stack of notebook paper sliding into an arc over the side and a pile of rumpled clothing. Kate presses her face to the coolness of the glass. Brinn’s underwear rolled up, piled and scrunched and then on the floor, almost kicked under her bed but not quite, a box of Kotex. Kate pulls a clean towel from the roll. She gives the top pane another squirt and works her hand in a circle. They’ve talked about keeping these things rather secret, not secretive-scary, but reasonable.

Jody is only five and doesn’t need to be asking a lot of questions. Brinn could learn to put her private things away. But then it is all new to her. She’s had one period and Kate guesses today is the start of another, though Brinn seemed her usual crabby self, the one that can’t find time to pack a school bag, dress and eat breakfast before the bus. Kate looks back into the room as if to find another explanation. There is only one. Brinn doesn’t have her period again, the box simply got kicked out from under the bed.

Kate starts down the ladder, but something else moves forward in her mind, something she feels more than thinks, like a shiver to signal that she’s about to topple from the ladder—Brinn has her period and doesn’t need to mention it to Kate—ever again.

On the ground she lifts the light aluminum ladder and moves it down the side of the house. She’s almost done. She wipes her forehead and sighs, because it feels good, because that’s been a response to a lot of what she’s heard lately. And yet the sighs are often pleasurable.

Her mother: I’ve become a modern thinker. Well maybe not modern, but I think you do entirely too much for that man and always have. I think it’s time you stop it.

Hot sunshine on Kate’s arms, the contentment of staring at a clean window, the pull of the wind at her back, the caress of air on a sweaty forehead—yes, getting things done. She backs away and looks at the house, sees so much about it that is hers—the newly painted red door, the dug-out flowerbed around the tree.

Entirely too much for that man.

She wants to laugh aloud. Her mother doesn’t even watch soap operas, that she knows of, but the line is so perfect.

She climbs the ladder to do one more window. She is careful holding the sides, but distracted by the bird in a bush beyond that sings a song, wee-who, wee-who, like one note up, one note down, like the squeak of an old porch swing—the bird on the swing.

Other women have time to shop, I mean shop for parties they’ll attend—or they meet for lunch or play cards. Other women–” 

“God, I don’t want to play cards. Spare me that.”

Her mother was smoking a cigarette, the ashtray on the floor near her feet “so the smoke won’t bother anyone.” She’d just had her hair done, and though Kate is never really sure what that means, it looks okay, always the same. Her mother seems pleased.

“He’s been out of town, right?”

“Mother, my husband’s name is Ted and yes there was a business trip this week.”

“Well—when is it your turn?”

Kate has trouble adjusting the ladder for this last window. The ground is uneven and the ladder wobbles and there’s no one around to hold it for her. She could wait until Brinn is home, but she has to pick up Jody from Kindergarten soon and it would be great to finish.

She climbs, inching her way up. This is Jody’s bedroom window, the rumpled bed inside, stuffed animals everywhere. There’s never enough time.

And your children should do more. Delegate. I learned that from your father, God bless him. You don’t know how to delegate. Believe me, I’d never do some of the things you do.

She balances carefully, works at each corner where a thick layer of grime has settled. Kate on the ladder, sunshine on Kate. She’s good at pushing away things her mother says. Of course she had better not fall, her mother would explode in front of Ted. And then Kate gasps, the roll of paper towel slipping out of her grasp and falling. She holds on tightly. She’s at least a story and a half up. Her mother would have to nurse her, watch the children—she’d get to hear about the fall every five minutes.

She finishes by turning the soaked towel over and over until the window is clean enough. The bird is still in his swing. She starts down.

You have to say the right things to your mother, be tactful, but point things out to her. Then she’ll see that you’re not my slave. Ted’s take on equality—they discussed what he does, what she does. Think about the life your mother led when she was raising you. She didn’t do her nails and shop with friends. She worked like a Trojan. I’ve heard some of those stories.

Kate drops the Windex to the ground, grips the ladder, walks carefully to the shed to put it away. She worked like a Trojan.

And the story of stories comes circling back: “When you were just a little girl, I got locked out of the house once. I was hanging the washing and the door blew shut and I was locked out. You were asleep in the upstairs bedroom and the windows were open to the breeze, so I pulled a ladder from the garage and climbed it high onto the front of the house. I prodded you with a broomstick to wake you up. I knew you were old enough to go down and open the front door for me. I was just frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.”

So how was it really, that day. She hanging laundry. Working like a Trojan. Was she panicked thinking that Kate’s father would be angry, locking herself out of the house, leaving the child alone? And what was she wearing, going up the ladder—a long-skirted dress, or maybe shorts and a blouse. Or was she in high heels, her hair done, smoking a cigarette, her perfect nails clicking on the metal of the ladder. Or was there an apron, the cling of soft fabric that is warm and scented like nothing but spring air. Or a worn apron with food stains, her feet bare, the wind tossing her about, sun on her arms, drafts catching her precariously.

Was she agile, was the ladder shaking as she hurried up it? In the room—a child napping and how old, four or five, tossing in nap-sleep, drooling on the pillow. A hot day and her mother leans over to the open window and calls softly Kate, Kate and then prods her child gently with the end of a broom. And the edge of Kate’s dream becomes a stick, becomes poking and the voice outside an upstairs window calling her name—but her mother’s voice, like a song.

Back inside the house, the phone rings.

“I’m lonely today. Could you just drop all those chores and go out to lunch with me?”

“I’ve got Jody. Have to get her from morning Kindergarten.”

“Of course you do. She eats, doesn’t she.”

Kate looks out the kitchen windows. She can’t hear the bird any more, can’t quite remember its song as the memory of her mother’s words lingers. I was frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.

Thanks for reading WINDOWS. If you liked this story, there are 12 more in A Mother’s Time Capsule, available in soft cover and ebook.  www.elizabethahavey.com

Photo: ourvintagehomelove.blogspot.com and somavida.net and all you.com

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Mother's Time Capsule by Elizabeth A. Havey

A Mother’s Time Capsule

by Elizabeth A. Havey

Giveaway ends August 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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Autumn: A Time of Atonement and Bounty

Autumn: A Time of Atonement and Bounty

Autumn is finally here. In some parts of the country and the world summer’s end was wet, with incessant rains that felled leaves early, smashing grass and crops with a blanket of soggy vegetation and shorn tree limbs. Such weather patterns contrasted with the drought and dryness other parts of America and the world continue to experience. What does nature know that we do not about the length of our days? Why do some regions have bounty and others experience loss? Is there something we need to atone for?

Probably. But though in my town we yearn for rains, I’m still determined to enjoy autumn once again. I have pots of yellow and burnt ocher mums nestling by pumpkins on my front porch. My autumn welcome sign is hung and a wreath of yellow leaves blazes on my front door. This is my time. For me autumn is always a beginning.

A Clearer Picture 

When things fall back toward the earth, the outlines of garden and lawn, of walkway and road become more apparent. This precise definition creates a sense of order and organization. In fall there are memories of wild vines and riotous summer flower color. But now it’s best to be more satisfied with quieter denser things like clipped boxwood and evergreens, like bare tree trunks of grey and soft brown. The air is cool. The skies seem swept up too, presenting swathes of crystal color. Cold air outlines things so definitely, you can almost see each leaf and branch.

Order Brings Time for Contemplation 

Definition and order soothes the soul. I lean toward putting things away in their proper place. I lean toward knowing that everything sleeps quietly waiting for a reawakening. This is a time to store energy, to store knowledge. It can be a time to read and contemplate and make decisions.

If you seek solace and quiet, this is your time too. For as we move inside to do our living, placing things we love like a bright pumpkin or a sheaf of leaves on table surfaces, or brightening a room with a flowered pillow or candlelight, it can also become a time to move inward in our thinking–to meditate and determine more and more exactly who we are.

Autumn decorations can remind us of endings, yet good endings that are resolute and leave us feeling blessed, not sorrowful. Autumn is the time of atonement for the Jewish people and how appropriate to tidy up one’s soul as the earth is preparing for sleep and hibernation, as winter winds are soon to come and humans are stocking up on food energy and light energy and the ability to survive.

Atonement 

But no matter what the season, we should atone for the hurts we have caused; we should try to mediate our expressions of anger. And certainly if we have hurt someone we need to ask for forgiveness; and if someone has hurt us, we should try to find a way to forgive that person, to lighten the loads we often carry. And we must forgive ourselves.

Settling In

It’s a little early, but there will come a time as the days get shorter that we will want to settle back into our brains and examine who we are, where we are going, and how we might improve. Life cannot be lived like the riot of spring where nature blows her wad and lets everything grow and rush about. We enjoyed that fertility. But now it’s time to be more judicious in our use of harvest fruits; we need to carefully use and share our bounty.

Certainly in the spring, when life comes back, we have no fears of the future. But in the autumn, we need to count the jars in the cellar, the apples in the basket, the sins on the soul. We need to tidy our lives and draw within to discover how we will survive, how we will make it through the dark times of our life. And how we can help others through their darker, harder times.

Final Thought 

In each of us is a light deep within. Sharing that light draws bounty, brings good things to us whether the world is hard-packed snow or dry desert. Autumn can provide a time for  atonement. Winter and beyond can be full of the light of love as the grace of forgiving someone brings the warmth of reclaiming love. If you are feeling like all the days of your life are hard, cold winter, then it’s time to open up to those around you, to share the light within you. IT WILL BRING YOU HAPPINESS.  As a wise woman once said to me: “Feeling sad today? Then go out and help someone else.”  She was so right.