Lima beans was a food frequently served at our house. Simple yet good. Who knew at that time that starchy with foods were not so good for you. Mama was working again and it was Sandy's turn to cook. Oh yea! it was always Sandy's turn to cook. She set about preparing the Lima beans which she had seen mama cook at least a million times before. Everyone knows they have to be soaked prior to cooking. I did notice that it was taking her a little longer than usual but what did I care I was about my daily business of playing. When we sat down to eat that night set before us was a delicious pot of lima bean soup. As I discovered what took her so long was the added step of peeling each and every bean prior to cooking. I vagely remember my brother David making fun of her which ended with her running to her room crying and David having his first experience at dish washing. He learned to love anything she cooked from then on especially lima bean soup.
A few years ago I worked on a reservation in Montana. While I was there the chief medicine man died. Ceremonies were held. Colorful clothes were blessed by the other medicine man and tied to a pole which they had erected in the mans pasture. It was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen. Each day I drove by this monument and noticed that the horse remained. Through the wind and rain, snow and sleet, sun and moon, everyday he was still there making me wonder if he ever left. Whether he ate or drank I don't know but I know by his display of affection and dedication to his late owner, his friend and companion that horses know. Horses know when someone they love has gone to another world. A better place. They wait without falter for them to return. They remain faithful because they know.
Entrapment is when you set someone up to fail, get caught or punished. My brother David and I were best buddies. That is unless he decided to be buddies with my sister Sandy that day. You see we could not all three be friends or even civil to each other on the same day. This day in particular was like any other except David and I had a plan. We would trap Sandy in the bathroom and keep her there for as long as we wanted. So we sat and waited. Finally she went into the bathroom and we sprang into action. The bathroom had two doors and while he held one door tightly shut I held the other. There was only one problem which we really hadn't considered. She had just received a brand new pair of go-go boots for Christmas, white ones complete with pom-poms which jiggled when she walked. They were her prized possessions. As we held the doors shut tight she became wild like a caged animal, kicking, and screaming, clawing and mauling the doors. We were strong and did not give in one little bit. Then to our utter disbelief we heard kicking and then something that sounded like the breaking of wood. Finally we let her out and she was mad as a wet setting hen. It was then that we found out what the noise had been. With those brand new go-go boots our darling sister had kicked a big gaping hole in the door. Boy was she gonna be in trouble. I don't remember what mama and daddy did but I know that the hole remained in the door for years as a reminder of what happens when you lock your sister in the bathroom and she turns into a raging beast.
The Hideout was a secret place. A little niche cut out of dense hedge. It was close to civilization yet a million miles away. It was another favorite childhood place, close in proximity to the Mimosa. I don't think my mom and dad knew that it existed. We would run and play day after day and find solace in the hideout. When our friends would come over only the most trusted ones were allowed in for a peek. I smoked my first cigarette there. One puff was enough for a lifetime. One of the other important memories of the hideout was the time my brother and sister combined our spending money. Now days referred to as an allowance and bought a newspaper so my brother could teach me to read. I must have been in the second grade. I don't think the venture was successful at that time. I didn't learn to read overnight but I did learn what it means to stick together. To combine efforts for a common goal. It was then that I learned about love. What grater love can there be than giving up your break money to help your baby sister learn to read. As I recall we hid the paper there overnight. A night that it happened to come a big gully washing rain storm. My paper got ruined but nothing could destroy the love shown between siblings during the joyful days of summer spent in the hideout.
Tinkerbell. a name I chose for my childhood cat. In fact it was a name I chose for every cat which I had during my childhood which totaled about 4. One good thing was that I didn't ever have to worry over what to name them. It just kinda came naturally. Tinkerbell was a good sound cat name. All the cats liked it. At least I guess they did, they all came when I called them. They would rub against my legs and purr nonstop while digging their sharp little claws into my soft skin. I didn't care cause I loved them, I loved them everyone. If you ever get a cat and can't decide on a name for it, please feel free to use this tried and true name. It is a good sound name and believe me. Cats just love it.
In the midst of our front lawn stood The Mimosa, with its airy leaves and those blooms of pink. Fragrant wisp carried along on the gentle breeze. A hideout just perfect for someone like me. The libs were strong and amply supported me as I climbed up, up as high as I dared. It's blossoms provided beautiful decoration for my curly blond hair. How bold it stood with branches low to the ground. Branches which welcomed me to come and play there among the greenery. I could see everything while secluded from the view of others. I felt safe as I inhaled the natural perfume which tickled my nose. I find a smile just creeping across my face some 45 years later at just the thought of that old tree.
Tadpoles. Little black things that are squishy and have short wiggly tails. They are found in still waters of swimming places and fishing holes. they have new contraptions these days to catch them in but really they prefer to be caught in old timey mason jars. Of course you must poke holes in the lids so they can get fresh air to breath. How do they breath? Well! I don't know but I am sure they must breath somehow. I had tadpoles as a child. Black ones that are oh so fun to watch, but I also had some, one in particular that was a giant. He started out black and squishy like the others and then he turned see through green. You could even see his guts. He grew larger, and larger, and larger then the funniest thing happened.He grew back legs. He still swam and swam. He lived in my fish aquarium. One day my mom decided we needed to put him in a shallow bowl with a rock just in case. I don't remember his name but it was probably Tinkerbell. Anyway, one day when I got home from school the frog had lept, jumped ship. He was gone. I learned on e thing that day. That things never stay the same and above all you can never trust a tadpole.
Fishing. The handling of slimy icky creatures from the depths of the waters. Worms and crickets are their food of choice. Catching them is quite the challenge. That is unless your father has taught you to be sly and avid at this sport ever since you were in diapers. And so it was with me, my dad would often take me out to catch the big one. I baited my own hook, with worm guts under my fingernails, crickets squirming and kicking but in the end I would come back home with a prize catch. I can recall once when he took me to a location in south Alabama which the locals called Dead River. I was quite young I don't remember how old. We took a small aluminium boat and paddled it to a secluded cove. There in the water was a menagerie of felled Cyprus logs and drift wood. I could just imagine the snakes which lurked underneath. As I cautiously scanned the area I could see blackish green turtles with their long necks sticking out while basking in the early morning sun. They were agile and would slide effortlessly into the water at the least movement perceived as a threat. What my dad forgot to tell me was that this day would be different. This day we would be fly fishing. Fly fishing is an art in itself. You take an artificial fly or a popping bug which is what we used and with one fluid motion you flip the fly to the back then to the front making it land in the exact position where the fish are. Horrified I sat as that little boat lurched and rocked back and forth with each flick of the rod. I knew that any moment we would surely capsize. I screamed and cried and I am sure my dad was ready to tie me up by the end of our trip which ended long before he wanted it to. I don't think he ever took me fly fishing again. To this day I am a little leary of the water and I attribute it to my day spent in a small aluminum boat at a place called Dead River in the back woods of southern Alabama.
She was there even before I was born. She was only two years old as she waited for me, her competition to arrive. And so it began. The rival, as children I can remember when we fought like any other children. We played imaginary games, she took my toys. She bossed me around and was really quite the bully. But that was then. She was strong spirited and free as the wind while I was always the timid one. She always said that I was mama and daddy's favorite. Mama gave me kitchen utensils to play with which she promptly took and sometimes even hit me over the head with them. I had a beautiful Thumblina doll which I loved very much but somehow I kept finding her with her arm ripped off. Mama would always get needle and thread and with the precision of a surgeon sew it back on. Our mama worked full time and we were home a lot to tend the house, cook, and clean. I will admit that it was She who ended up doing the most. I would get a whooping any time she thought it was necessary, then somehow she always talked me into being her best friend before mama got home. Of course no one tells on their best friend. And so was our life as children. I remember the day she married and left me. I was crushed. I was happy for her but I missed her terribly. It was then that I realized how much I loved her. I loved her for who she was. It was then that I really noticed that she was not only my sister but she was my best friend. Through the years we both have changed. She is still strong and beautiful, while I am still the timid one. Not quite as timid as I was as a child because age does things to people. It makes you different, it softens you rough edges yet makes you bold. I grew up and had children of my own. I can remember how very much she loved my firstborn. She bought clothes for her and treated her like her own. She was still strong any time I needed a shoulder to cry on. She was there when my life had difficult twist and turns. She gave me advise and helped me along the way as I became an adult. Yes she was only two years older than me but her wisdom far exceeded that. I depended on her. When my husband had a heart attack at age 45, She was there. Holding my hand, wiping my tears, and helping me go on with my life. When I decided to go to nursing school during my thirties it was She who stood by my side and said you can do it. When I wanted to leave the town I grew up in and work as a travel nurse in Montana she said go ahead. I didn't realize that as I drove away tears were in her eyes. She was there when I was ready to return home, she and her wonderful husband came and helped us move back. Through the years, when life dealt me hard times on one thing I could depend, She was there. And now as I sit here thinking of all my happy memories there is one common thread in all of them, She was there. Not to long ago I received a gift from her. As I opened it to my surprise there swaddled in the tissue paper was something of great value to me. A Thumblina doll with arm intact. As I write this today one thing in my life is still sure, one rock still stands, someone still loves me. She is still here. And so is my bond with my sister, my friend, and her name is Sandy.
What I want. What I want is to get up one day to a peaceful world. What I want is to turn on the television and hear how someone helped someone. Headlines, not pushed to the bottom somewhere hidden among the trash. What I want is a smile from a stranger, and for me to give a smile in return. What I want is to help someone without wanting something in return. I want to do this without even needing the acknowledgement of a thank you. What I want is to see children run and play freely without a thought having to be given that a pedophile might be lurking somewhere close by. What I want is to be neighbourly to my neighbors. What I want is to be the friend someone needs, to be the hand that helps, to be the ear that listens. What I want is to consciously be better at giving the people I meet each day something they want. What I want is to do my part to make this world a better place to live. What I want is to be a peace maker. What I want is to be like Jesus.
Where is Gambia, Africa? I don't know but I know that it if far far away. I had never heard of that place until I met someone who over the last 2 years has become my friend. His name is Sistern Jabang and he is from Gambia. He is in his 20's but has wisdom far beyond that. I have truly been blessed by getting to work with him. He is an excellent co-worker but an even better friend. When did he become my friend? Well! I don't really know. It just happened. We work together and are some what similar. We are calm. If you know anything about ICU nurses that is not the norm. We work 12 hour night shifts. During the long hours when we are not so busy we have become friends. I have learned a lot from him like when you sit down to eat, you really should eat from the same bowl. You also should not talk while eating but we always break this rule. It is his culture so I eat with him. People passing through do give us a funny look but I am oblivious to that. He talks of his village where he grew up. He tells me of his mom and dad. The mom who still worries about him being so far away, the son who according to her has become nothing but skin and bones. But her son will be rich when he returns, and he will return. He will be rich because they are so poor. Poor according to our standards but rich in life, rich in happiness, rich in family. He tells me of when he was a boy and walked or rather ran 12 miles to school. He went to school not because he had to because most of the people in his village never finish high school. He went to school to become better. He talks of running through the forest and hunting monkeys for food. He tells me how they did not have guns but were agile with sticks and stones. They were held by an honor system and respected the other members of his tribe. He shares stories with me of how he played in areas where the orangutan play freely and how they will whip you on the bottom like a child if you get to close to them. I hear of how to trap food, of how it is to watch a village execution of a man for stealing some else's cow. Of how he watched as a large spike was driven through the mans head. I said to him "Sistern, you don't steal do you?" He looks at me and assures me that he doesn't steal. Not that he would anyway cause he is just a good guy. He tells me how to get snakes out of a tunnel and how to outsmart the wildlife that will soon be lunch. From him I have learned so much, but most of all I have learned what it is like to have a friend. A friend that crosses age, and gender, and race. A friend to be valued forever. He has invited me to kill the cow at his wedding. Kill the cow when the only thing I have ever killed is a mosquito. Oh course I will travel to Gambia to kill the cow. After all, shouldn't we do anything for a friend, my friend, the one from far far away, the one from Gambia, Africa.
This is about my daughter Lacy. My baby, even though she is 26 now. She is such a gentle soul. She is kind and sweet. It was she who gave me my first grandchild. I always said I didn't want grandchildren but she showed me differently. All her life she has been a peaceful being. She never caused us much grief even in her teenage years, and now when she is all grown up those qualities still remain. I watch as she allows others to go first in the grocery line. When I am riding in the car with her behind the wheel it never ceases to amaze me that no matter how big of a hurry we are in she will stop and allow the cars needing to merge to go ahead of us. I am not so kind. I tell her sometimes "Lacy you don't have to let them all in." She just smiles and says "I know I don't have to, but I want to." I never hear her complain even in hard times. She is steady like a rock. I am proud of her. When needed she takes my elderly mother and father to the doctor or shopping for groceries. She never complains. I often wonder where did she get such a gentle spirit, when I am so impatient, when oft times I may not be so kind. Then I just look sitting across the table from me an see my husband Benny, who is also gentle and kind. Who also allows other to go first at the grocery store, and allows cars to merge even when we are in a hurry. Then I realize where she gets it, and why I love them both.
A man of valour resides somewhere in Iraq. Resides there until he is needed elsewhere. His name, well I don't know that. He is a brave man but one of modesty. He doesn't brag about his conquest or accomplishments. He isn't boastful. He is sober and strong. He is a Green Beret. If you were to meet him on the street you would never know that he has a Bronze Metal, and a V for valour. You would not be told that he was awarded the Silver Star in recent wars. He would not mention that even as a young man he has seen death. He is a survivor. I do know this, that sometime in his career to defend our country there was a battle. A battle in which there were 15 Marines with the enemy count of 600. The fighting was fierce and this same Marine received a shot to the face and arm. Of course that would be enough to make most men run, most men lay down and give up but bravely he stood with his troop, facing death for you and me. Honoring his fellow men and helping to keep our country free. In the end 15 were left standing while 400 of the enemy perished. 200 more surrendered. Thank you sir. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is because of people like you that I can own a home. That I can walk safely down the streets of America. It is people like you who are there on the front line when I sleep safely at home. I salute you and feel humbled by your gift. The gift of life. The gift of freedom. Thank you for making our world a better place to live. This story was told to me by my daughter who now is somewhere in Iraq.
Back during the Vietnam war there was a song and it went something like this. "War, War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing." Whoever wrote that song didn't understand a few things, like that sometimes we must fight for what is right. That sometimes freedom isn't easy. They obviously did not know my Julie. Julie is and always has been a beautiful girl. She has always been strong willed and fought for what she wanted. Like the time when she was about 2 and wanted to pick up a large jug of clorox and move it. It was way to heavy so she stood there red faced and screaming until we moved the object. No sir, she did not give up, she did not back down, she did not relent. And so it has been most of her life, always reaching for the things she wanted, but not only reaching, she has been obtaining. From the time that she still lived at home where we did not have much even though others around her had plenty , she had the necessities but not much more. She went to work and then to college, striving for a goal that would be unreachable to many. I will never forget the day she came home and told me she had joined the Marines. That she would be serving our country. Of course like many mothers who have daughters my thoughts were, let someone else go, let men be in danger, not my little girl. Then I looked and realized that she wasn't a little girl but standing there where my little girl had been stood a full grown woman. A woman with hopes and dreams, a woman with sure ambition. A woman with a purpose. And so she left , Paris Island, SC was her first destination. I was never so proud the day we went for the ceremony of her becoming a United States Marine. The raising of the Colors made me cry and made my heart swell with pride. My daughter was a honorable woman. She did many things in the next few years in the Marines. She ended up in San Diego,Ca. She graduated with a bachelors degree from the University of California ,San Marcos. Nothing can compare to the day we went to see her sworn in as a officer. I can't even describe that feeling. Such an honor. I knew that one day she would make a difference in our world. And she is, serving our country, putting others first, risking her own life, and for who. For you and for me, for your children and mine. For people in foreign lands who she will never know. All of this seemed good as long as she was serving in the states. Julie has two little boys Paul age 2 and Logan 1. She found out in October that she would be going to Qatar and made arrangements for them to stay with relatives while she would be gone. We kept in touch via email and infrequent phone calls. Then today an email. Mom, I am going to Iraq. Not much more, just those somber words. My heart dropped, tears welled in my eyes but I can't cry. I must be strong. And again I am proud. How many millions of mothers have felt what I feel? Proud yet with pain, strength yet weakness. Many I would guess. Well if I could talk to her (which I can't) I would say remain strong, the prize will be worth the pain. The goal is honorable. The risk worth taking. I realize now why the saying The Few, The Proud, The Marines. And so I say be safe and return home to me unharmed. Fight for the weak, the homeless, the shamed, the millions who have been murdered by dictators. Fight for those who can not fight for themselves. Fight for your brother, your sister, your children, And fight for me, the one who has loved you even before birth. I love you , come home safely.
Today is Sunday a beautiful day. It is raining, sleeting, cold. The wind is whipping through the trees. A winter chill is in the air. I of course being curious when I got out of bed at 6am just had to open the door. Quickly I shut it. Chilled to the bone I retreated back into the comfort and warmth of my home. The warmth that I can depend on. The comfort of knowing that I have a husband still in bed lost in slumber. With my two dogs also asleep, I find time for myself. Time to think and enjoy the quiet of an early Sunday morning. My thoughts go back again to the fact that really, I do love the rain. I lived in Wyoming for a while and one of the things I missed the most about living in the deep south was the scent of rain. Isn't it funny how you can remember a scent? The smell of fresh baked apple pie or grandma's cookies, but neither of these can compare with the smell of rain or fresh cut grass. My thoughts return now to a day not so long ago. I was at work and went again to start and IV on the medical floor. It was a elderly man no one had been successful at getting an IV on. As I entered the room I was unprepared for there in front of me was a gentleman with no nose. Only two holes remained where his nose had been. I wanted to cry. Just so you know I don't just go around crying all the time but I am touched by many things that I encounter. Many different people from many different walks of life do touch my life. On my way home that day I said a prayer for something that each day I take for granted. I prayed and thanked God for my nose. I want to live each day to the fullest. I want to pray daily and tell God how thankful I am for all he has given me. For the home I abide in, the clothes I wear, the food I eat and especially for letting me enjoy the scent of rain.