Monday Memoir: The Matriarch

 

ONE FINAL GIFT

Scatter me not to the restless winds
Nor toss my ashes to the sea.
Remember now those years gone by
When loving gifts I gave to thee.
Remember now the happy times
The family ties are shared.
Don’t leave my resting place unmarked
As though you never cared.
Deny me not one final gift
For all who came to see.
A simple lasting proof that says
I loved and you loved me.

(by D.H.Cramer)

 

 

Not many days pass that I don’t think of my grandmother. I’ve always considered her a kind of matriarch for the maternal side of my family.  Geraldine Anna May Hart Furnia was a slight woman, but her size was quite deceiving because underneath that smallish frame was tremendous strength and courage.

She was born on December 20, 1920.  Her young life was hard as I’ve been told.  She married my grandfather, Paul Furnia who was six years older, when she was sixteen. She married young so she could get out of an abusive family situation.  I never learned what went on though.   Life with my grandfather wasn’t much better,  but she loved him and the family they made together.   Early in the marriage they had four children; then World War II began and he enlisted in the Army and spent part of the war up in Alaska (Kodiak Island). She was left to care for the four children in a home that wasn’t much more than a shack. After the war, three more children were born; one of them my mother.  Grandfather became a logger which he worked till his retirement at the age 67.

They bought a house on Grove Rd next to the Ausable River.  For many years, they grew their own food and didn’t have plumbing until my mother was a girl.  They still lived in the same house while I grew up.

I spent much of my childhood with my grandmother.  I often considered her my surrogate mother as my own worked full-time.  They didn’t have daycare centers during the seventies so family members or friends were often the ones called upon to help watch me (and eventually my brother and sister).

Most of my fondest memories as a girl involved my grandmother.

She was a great storyteller and a self-taught musician.  I literally spent countless hours listening to tales of the past or to the tunes of the banjo or accordion.

She was a devout Catholic and would take me to the Saturday mass each week.

She loved spending time outdoors tending to her large garden, or filling buckets of juicy blueberries.

Most of all, she loved having her house full of family members.  No matter how scattered her children or grandchildren were, we always found our way back to her house a few times a year for huge gatherings.   Storytelling, music and games were the highlights, and each time she was the center of them all.

She was the magnet that kept drawing us back, the glue that bonded us close together, and the heart that continued to beat in all of us while we were apart.

It was heartbreaking to see her pass away on February 22, 1988.   She was only sixty-seven.  Her body gave out long before her spirit wanted to let go.  Emphysema may have claimed her life, but the memories of her will always live on.  Even though we don’t gather together as often as a family, we will always be linked no matter where we are because her heart still beats within us.

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Friday Favorite: Captain Kirk (Quote)

 

I’ve long been a fan of the Star Trek television series and films, and out of all the Captains, James T. Kirk has always been one of my favorites.  Although I do enjoy the version by actor Chris Pine, the one portrayed by William Shatner will forever be the best.

The most memorable quote by Kirk (Star Trek V The Final Frontier):

(The full quote: “Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!“)

This quote resonated with me on so many levels both personally and as a writer.  Our painful experiences deepen and enrich our lives, and make us the individuals we are.  Without painful experiences, how else are we able to sympathize and empathize with others?  They make us human.  Our painful experiences also enable us to be better writers.  To create real characters that our readers can identify with.

For me, on a personal level, I’ve decided to keep my pain instead of seeing shrinks to help ease them.  Not (just) to punish myself (yeah, morbid), but they help me craft better poetry and disturbing stories.

Sounds so Stephen Kingish, eh?

This is probably one of the reasons why I write dark stuff although lately I’m attempting to write Romance (but of course they’ll have some dark qualities in them).  Life is real, and it’s hard.  Life isn’t all roses and sweet.  But, it does have moments of hope and love and laughter.

Being human is complicated.  Full of layers.  Both good and not-so-good.

Like Captain Kirk.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite quote that resonates with you?

 

 

Story Sunday: The Moments Before

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

 

 

The fire is consuming the world.

Yet, here I stand, in a place still untouched.

I inhale the sweet breath of nature.  Not a scent of smoke or sulfur…for now.

The sun rays dash between the gray billows of the reddening sky.   I spy a pair of sea gulls interweaving with one another near a calm lake.

It’s the silence before chaos.

My legs are quivering.  The need to flee filling my essence.

To where?

Flames and oceans of lava are bludgeoning everything, and soon even this tiny haven will be claimed by their instinctual desire to burn all to ashes.

Of all the ways to die…

Oh, to fly high like the birds, to outrun the hell that’s swiftly coming my way.

It’s not death that I fear.

No, it’s the thought of the agony of my flesh melting and sliding off my bones while I’m still alive.

For days, I have tried to outrun this terrible destiny, but now there is no where else to hide to.

A gentle breeze caresses my wet skin, cooling on contact as I stifle a shiver.  Closing my eyes, the melodious cries of birds drift through me.

Have mercy…let it be quick.


 

 

 

 

Monday Memoir: Darren

 

I learned how fragile life could be at a young age.

Darren and I were born one month apart.  As cousins, we were constant playmates. I can remember us spending a lot of time running around in the back yard of our grandparents’ house.  In their back yard was a fairly large garden that they kept planted almost year round; usually full of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. On a particular overcast day, we were playing near the garden when Darren started to yell, “Snake! Snake!”    I looked and sure enough, a shiny black snake was squiggling its way through a patch of tomatoes.  But, wait a minute, it wasn’t alone as I started to see another one emerge, another one, and yet another one.  There had to have been at least a dozen black snakes slithering through that garden.  With the sight of so many slimy snakes, I froze.  One particular snake writhed towards me; but, Darren saved my life (from a kid’s perspective, mind you) by grabbing my arm as he dragged me back to the nearest porch of the house.  We were about five or six years old.

This memory still makes me smile, and chuckle.

That incident was the last real memory I have of us playing together.

My next memory was being at his Daddy’s (my Uncle Harold’s) funeral. I remember as I watched the adults congregated among themselves when someone said that it was probably for the best that he died suddenly.  I couldn’t understand why they could say such things.  My aunt was now left alone to raise three girls and a boy.  I couldn’t possibly see any good in that.

It wasn’t too long after that I noticed Darren falling more and more often.  Then, he needed help to get back up to his feet each and every time.

A short while later, he was confined to a wheelchair.  At first, we made good use of that wheelchair as I enjoyed zooming him all through our grandparents’ house like a car in a NASCAR race.   It was a cool race “car.”

We would spend hours sitting at a table, and play card games such as Go Fish and Slap Jack.   At some point, he wasn’t even able to do that as he grew so weak he could barely lift up his arms or hands.  Then, he couldn’t even keep his head up.

The wheelchair was soon replaced by a hospital bed in his own bedroom.  He could no longer go to school.  All he had to look forward to was watching the little television on a dresser in front of the bed.  I can remember how depressed he would get; especially since he could no longer play or go to school with kids his own age.

I can remember Darren lying in that bed, his body full of tubes that were connected to all kinds of machines.  Machines that helped him to breathe, to pee, even to eat for him.   The only things that he could still move were his eyes.  Heck, he couldn’t even talk anymore.

Mom would take me to visit him every Saturday.  I would go right into his room, take out his collection of Star Wars’ action figures (other times it would be race cars) and spread them out on his bed. Since he couldn’t play for himself, I played for him as he watched.

Eventually we didn’t go over to his house anymore.  His mother had placed him in a hospice.  A few months later, he got sick with pneumonia, and died one night in his sleep.  One month shy of his fourteenth birthday.

His funeral was held on a cold, rainy day.  It’s still a blur to me.  I can remember hearing my cousins crying for their brother beside me.  I don’t think I cried at all.  I just felt numb.  Empty.  And, lost.

He was my best friend.

Now, he was gone.

He had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

WEP – The Crossroad

Click on image to go to WEP original site

 

Here’s my entry for this Challenge:

 

The Crossroad

 

 

I believe each of us come to a crossroad at some point in life, And at that junction, each must make a decision as to which road to take.

The chosen path would set the tone for how well you’ll live your life.

Or, how poorly.

I came to such crossroad at the age of twenty-five as I sat on the bathroom floor, leaning against the toilet, with an opened medicinal bottle in hand, its content mostly emptied.

How did I get to this point?

I experienced death time and time again.  Not personally, but through people whom I cared a great deal about.

A cousin whom I considered a best friend, one who truly understood me for me.  We were born a month apart. He never treated me differently even with my hearing impairment as he was dealing with a far greater condition. Over time his body atrophied, and death paid a visit just before our fourteenth birthdays.

A grandmother, also a surrogate mother, whom I spent much of childhood with, her lungs were too weak, as my last memories were of her sitting in a chair, next to an oxygen tank, fighting for every breath.   She left this world just as I turned seventeen.

Then came the man whom I married.  His face was like an angel whose sweet disposition drew people to him.  Instead of being his help-mate, I offered only cruelty.

I could blame my behavior to recently receiving a diagnosis that I was going blind.

Also to resentment.  Anger.  Even immaturity.

But, those were just excuses.  Cop outs.

When on that fateful day, an unmarked car pulled in to the driveway, something within me sunk, and a dark void entered.

And I knew he’d gone on, and was now truly an angel.

Remorse and regrets raged as they tore my heart to pieces.  Pieces I felt could never be put back together again.

So, there I was, sitting on the floor, staring into the toilet bowl.

I was at my crossroad. 

The house was quiet.  Everyone’s asleep.  I dared not wake them.  They’ve already suffered enough.

Such stupidity!  The ultimate act of selfishness on my part.

I stood up, set the now closed bottle on the back of the toilet, and went up to our… my bed.

And lied down.

If I should wake in the morning, I promised to be a different person.

 

*Author’s Note:  Although this Challenge was geared more towards fictional pieces, I felt I had to write my story since its title spoke to me.  I’ve never shared this particular incidence in public before, and it was difficult to find the right words.  Perhaps in time the words will flow more freely.

 

 

The Unknown (Micro-Story)

Creepy eye and road-3298889_1280 Pixabay Free Images

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

 

Somewhere down that road, is the unknown.

The heavy mist conceals its true nature.

All I know is that anyone who enters, never comes back.

What lies in there?

My mind races with possibilities.

None of them, good.

Morbid curiosity now getting the best of me.

Without consulting, my feet begin to move…towards it.

The threshold nearing, my heart’s racing.

A part of me doesn’t want to go in there…the words raging in my mind like a siren:

No, no, no!

Yet, there’s this quiet voice, beckoning me on.

Why do you think people don’t return? Perhaps they did NOT want to.

Yes, that must be it.  I want to see what they’re seeing.

I’m standing in front of the murky barrier.  It’s cool breaths radiating over my body.

Just one step, and I’ll be there.

But…

Like a plant, I’m rooted to the spot.

My chest hurts.  My head, throbs.

A hand reaches out as I watch my fingers disappear into the whiteness.

Icy cold as a shiver pulses through me, rattling my teeth.

I close my eyes and a gentle tug on the hand slowly propels me forward.

This is it.  I will soon see what’s on the other side.

I notice the voices are now silent. I should feel relieved.  At peace.

Why don’t I?

My body now completely immerses in the mist, its wetness trickles over the exposed skin.

I hear sounds.  Loud muffled sounds.  They drum through my chest like a separate heart beat.

Music? A thunderous water fall?

My ears popped as if the plugs are pulled and the sounds grow clearer.

Screams.

Not music nor a water fall.

Something’s creeping up my body.  They feel like hot tendrils with claws.

Every outward sound melts in to a deafening silence.

Until…

All I can hear are my own screams.

 


 

Want to see this in a video format?  Click HERE.

 

 

 

 

#Poetry: Desolation

 

Desolation

 

Even tho the sun shines,

I feel no warmth

 

While the moon rises at night,

my eyes are shuttered against its rays

 

My heart’s hard and

the red fluid of my flesh runs cold

 

I long for the quickening

of my essence once more

 

But all I see is darkness

and the way back now forever shut

 

 

Even After All These Years (a day of remembrance)

Photo credit: Midwest Living

 

Even after 22 years, today’s date still affects me.

The day my first husband died.

Even though I’ve gone on with my life…

with a family of my own…

You are still with me.

In memory.

And in spirit.

Even after all these years

I’m still filled with regrets and pain

mainly for the way I acted, and treated you.

There are days when I still wished I could go back

and change those things

even just to say I’m sorry

but…

here I am still in mourning and missing you

and regretting how I’ve treated you

and wishing I could take it all back.

Even today, after all these years.

Has This World Gone Mad?

Photo Credit: Pixabay, Creative Commons

 

Yesterday was Valentine Day.

Hubby gave me not one beautiful necklace, but four!  My teen-age son was in on it as well.  It pays to be the only girl in the household 😉

Then, I heard about the shooting in Florida.

A Valentine Day massacre.

So this morning, I took an extra few moments with my son to let him know how much I loved him.  As I watched him go out the door to meet the bus, I couldn’t help but to feel anxious for this day to be over with already so I’d have him back home.

Safe.

I’m sure this was the case with parents all across the country.

I know we’re not promised tomorrow,  but gosh darn, these were children.

In a school.

Once again, the words “mental illness” are being tossed around all across the news and social media.  And “gun control.”  In my mind, there is no ONE culprit behind these mass shootings.  In my mind, there are too much hate and violence all across this country.  And throwing around “mental illness” will only hurt more people (innocent ones) rather than help them.

I suffer from anxiety and depression.  My husband, brother-in-law, and mother, PTSD.  My sister, Bipolar.  We’re all law-abiding citizens who may or may not have guns.  We’re shouldn’t be penalized or punished from not being able to own a gun just because we suffer from a mental illness.

That leaves “gun control.”

Owning a gun should remain a subjective decision, and a protected right for all citizens.

Banning guns altogether, in my mind, won’t stop certain people bent on committing mass murders.  They will find other ways.  Look at China for an example.  There have been instances where ax-wielding individuals have entered schools and killed.  With an ax.

Others used bombs made from ordinary house hold items.

There are no easy answers.

Which means as parents, this makes it all the more difficult to try and understand these sordid acts as we worry and pray for our children’s safety in a world that seemingly have gone mad.

Thus ends my rambling for today.

Have an input or thought on the matter?  Do so with kindness please.  🙂