Posts Tagged ‘family’

Friday, September 12

Moving along with more love…  I’m feeling indulgent.  There are all kinds of examples of love that can really surprise you, examples that show you a different kind or side of love, or even yourself.

Take for instance my change in plans this evening.  Initially, I was going to meet the girls for a game of tennis and then dinner and a movie.  But, for different reasons, changes in plans opened up my evening. 

I got home, changed and then drove over to the driving range.  I hit a large bucket of balls and I was having a blast.  I was hitting each club consistently well as I worked through the drills I picked up when I took a series of refresher lessons at Triology Golf Club when I lived in Redmond, Washington last summer.  I loved my teacher – a pro who was originally from Oklahoma.  For our last lesson, he went out on the course with me to play four holes.  It’s not very often that I get to go out and play with a pro.  He had me hitting like an LPGA pro.  I kept telling him I wanted him to be my caddy/coach, and I’d start entering some tournaments.  He made me feel that confident in my game.  And it’s not that I can’t feel confident without him, but I really did rely on his expertise to coach me into taking the right kinds of shots.

So, I was having a nice practice session.  The weather was perfect.  The cute guy I had met at the driving range on Sunday was there, practicing his game, as well.  He happened to mention his girlfriend was driving out cross country to move in with him.  That wasn’t a surprise.   I wasn’t even disappointed.  I’m not exactly sitting around waiting for my prince to show up with a seven iron in his hand and a bucket of balls.  I’m busy playing my own game, thank you very much. 

And the point about my love relevation this evening wasn’t about meeting another golfer at the driving range.  Rather, I was having an awesome evening playing my own game.  When I left, I called my parents to share my gratitude for the series of refresher lessons they paid for last summer.  I wanted to let my dad know how much better my swing is, and how much better I hit the ball.  I wanted him to know how grateful I was for everything he and my mom have ever done to make my life better.  And that’s a long list.

After we got off the phone, I pulled into Pacific Breeze.  I ordered a pot of tea and the seafood and pork rice noodle soup.  It was delicious.  As I ate my dinner, I overheard the table next to mine.  Two couples, presumably in their late 80’s, were enjoying dinner while one of the gentleman was pouring the remainder of a bottle of white wine in his friends’ glasses, then his wife’s, then his own as he joked about who was going to be the designated driver.

I wasn’t eavesdropping, but because of the way the tables were set up, my ear was right in their space, and I overheard the man talking about his time serving our country in WW2.  He had been stationed in Japan.  And my ear dropped out of the conversation, but I managed to hear some sound bites about Washington, DC, visiting the war memorials, their respect for Senator Bob Dole, and then their appreciation of Tom Brokow for all of his work toward recognizing the WW2 generation.

Just before they left, I had to say something.  I am my mother’s daughter, after all, and when I am moved by someone or something, I have to share my feelings.  I am a sap, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  Anyway, I talked to them briefly about my Great Uncle Jimmy, who, when stationed in Italy, met his sweetheart, my Great Aunt Carmella, who, back in the 1950’s won a Sofia Loren look-alike contest, and how a few years ago, when the WW2 Memorial was unveiled in Washington, DC, I got to accompany them to a ceremony that was just for the men and women who served in the war.  I told them how I treasured that day, how it meant so much to me to get to experience that memorial with my Great Uncle Jimmy.   As I relayed the story to these strangers, I got a little choked up.  In part, I felt like an idiot, but on the other hand, I could see they understood what I was feeling.  And that was gratitude.  I smiled at them and told them they were truly part of the Greatest Generation.

Before we parted, I also mentioned my father, and proceeded to get teary-eyed again.  I told them how he was stationed at the Pentagon, which is why I grew up in the Washington, DC area.  I told them about his rank and how he served in Vietnam, and what an honorable man he is.  They were tickled, I think, that a young woman would even bother to connect with them on something like the military and those who bravely, dutifully and honorably served our country.

On my way home, I called my parents again.  Thankfully, they were still up.  I got choked up all over again when I shared the story of my dinner conversation this evening.  My mom put my dad on the phone and I lost it.  I know it sounds crazy.  But I am so proud of my dad for serving our country.  He is the epitome of honor, respect, dignity, courage, and the true grit American hard-work-ethic.  He doesn’t give up.  He stands for what he believes in, and he is such a good person.  He is kind and fair.  Reasonable.  And a shining emblem of brilliant-smart.  He graduated magnum-cum-laude from the University of Oregon back in the 1950’s, working three jobs to put himself through college.  My father is a kind of stoic, quiet Scandinavian man.  He doesn’t say much, but when he does, people listen.  In one word, he’s my hero. 

It’s easy to forget sometimes how wonderful our loved ones are.  Or, it’s easy to take them for granted.  I have always felt blessed for having such a solid, good family.  It is everything to me.  And while I have spent much of my time on this blog contemplating all kinds of loves, truly, my greatest love is for my parents.  I know that no one on this planet will ever love me the way my parents love me.  I have never questioned or doubted that love.  It has been my true birthright.  Their love for me is my strength, my happiness and my one true thing. 

As they grow older, I often worry.  I live clear across the country from them, which was a painfully hard decision to have to make.  I never imagined I would ever live more than a couple of miles away from them.  And here I am, in my father’s home state of Oregon, while they’re still in my home state of Virginia, and I do my best to talk with them once or twice a day – maybe more.  We’re on a Verizon family plan, thank goodness.  I pray for them daily.  I always think of them and wonder what they’re up to, so then I call…again.  We talk so much, that it sometimes give the impression of nearness.  And it’s a relief to feel like we’re not so far apart.  I get to take in the laughs, the tears and the usual rapport of what’s going on with this cousin or that neighbor.  They perpetuate that feeling of home for me.  And then I get a little homesick.  I can’t help it.

I am in awe of their unconditional love and support – it’s never wavering, it’s never exhausted, and it keeps pumping like the strongest, biggest heart humanly possible.  And I know I am not alone.  I know I not far from home.  And I know I am not unloved.  It is the greatest gift I will ever know.


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Thursday, May 22

Cleansing.  That’s the ultimate route to change.  Good change.  And possibility.

I woke up to a cloudy, overcast, gray, cool day with drizzle.  It’s Portland.

And I started my workday at the winery helping out with cleaning before the big Memorial Day weekend event.  My job was to clean up the commercial kitchen.  So, my co-worker an I scrubbed the oven, the stainless steel countertops, the wood cabinets (inside and out), everything.  It was pretty filthy.  When we were done it sparkled.  We then went to help plant some flowers in some pots around the winery.  There’s something grand about planting something that’s going to grow and thrive, something that’s beautiful.

After work, I had an appointment with the director of the Writer’s Dojo in the St. John’s neighborhood.  I have been desperate for a space to work, where I won’t get distracted from the television or the mundane of my world.  I am on track.  First, the Sitka Center for Arts & Ecology workshop with Kim Stafford.  Then, my relationship with the editor/agent.  Then, the partial scholarship to the Fishtrap summer workshops and gathering.  And now, the Dojo.

I met the Director, a kind fellow from New York.  He gave me a tour of the Dojo and then we went upstairs to a writers room and got acquainted.  I got a good feeling about the place.  It’s a wonderful idea, really.  A writer’s center where real writers with real projects and real deadlines congregate to work, to network, to share, to read, and most importantly, to write.  I decided to become a member on the spot and will start out on a daily basis beginning in June – or maybe over this holiday weekend.

The director invited me to join his writer’s group, which is even better.  I feel elated and relieved as I am confidently and competently following this path toward my dream.  I have been longing for a real community in my literary efforts.

It feels real.  I feel like a writer.  I am a writer.  And this is the greatest affirmation, declaration and proclamation. 

I think of No. 21 in Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” in his classic Leaves of Grass:

I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.

The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell
are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself…..the latter I
translate into a new tongue.

I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.

I am the poet.  I am the novelist.  I am the essayist.  Yes, I am a writer.

While many of my friends are becoming mothers to children, I am indeed becoming a mother to my precious writing.  Yes, it is that important to me.

As I drove home, I felt every fiber in my body radiate with confirmation.  Yes, I am a writer.

I turned on the radio to sing out loud.  The song “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel, with Kate Bush, was on KINK-FM.  I turned it up and sang along.  At first, this was only because I knew the song and loved it.  But as I crossed the St. John’s Bridge and made my way down Highway 30, it had dawned on me, as I watched a sunbreak tear through the western gray-blue sky, the rain clouds now gone east, it dawned on me that this song was a sign.  Intended.  Divine.  The song:

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

No fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
Ive changed my face, Ive changed my name
But no one wants you when you lose

Dont give up
cos you have friends
Dont give up
Youre not beaten yet
Dont give up
I know you can make it good

Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that wed be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Drove the night toward my home
The place that I was born, on the lakeside
As daylight broke, I saw the earth
The trees had burned down to the ground

Dont give up
You still have us
Dont give up
We dont need much of anything
Dont give up
cause somewhere theres a place
Where we belong

Rest your head
You worry too much
Its going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Dont give up
Please dont give up

got to walk out of here
I cant take anymore
Going to stand on that bridge
Keep my eyes down below
Whatever may come
And whatever may go
That rivers flowing
That rivers flowing

Moved on to another town
Tried hard to settle down
For every job, so many men
So many men no-one needs

Dont give up
cause you have friends
Dont give up
Youre not the only one
Dont give up
No reason to be ashamed
Dont give up
You still have us
Dont give up now
Were proud of who you are
Dont give up
You know its never been easy
Dont give up
cause I believe theres the a place
Theres a place where we belong

And something powerful happened.  I felt my family’s presence.  My dead grandparents.  My parents and siblings on the east coast.  My sister and I had talked earlier today on the phone.  She said she wanted to help me pay for my summer writer’s workshop.  As did my mother and father earlier in the week.  They know I’m struggling, financially.  But they believe in me.   They are supportive of me.  And they are proud of me.

Many times I have struggled and wondered if I had any real talent.  I have even given up many times more.  But then I’d start up, again.  Something in me rattled.  I had this burning tenacity to finish my damn book.  Then again to keep up this blog.  The same tenacity in me makes me stretch myself with two jobs, my day job and this dream, this writing thing, this other job.  I am constantly at work.  I have missed relationships and lost loves because I’ve stayed the course.  And, for once, for the first time, I actually believe this work is actually going somewhere.  Every fiber in my body tells me I’m almost there.  I’m on my way.  I’m on the right track.  I can’t give up.

I breathed in deep and full of hope on my way home.  This song, this Peter Gabriel anthem, seemed to speak to me.  Interesting timing.  It’s a song of hope after despair.  My life isn’t so dramatic, I mean, I’m not living on the streets.  But I am struggling and I am tired.  And, I am desperately trying to make this dream a reality.  I had felt so alone with my writing, but the course is taking me in a direction where there is support and community.  For this, I feel hope and elation.

And as I was nearing my way home, following that evening sunbreak, the sky had opened and I witnessed the most beautiful sunset – radiant in gold, salmon pink and nectarine taking over the smoky slate sky.  It was a magnificent, glorious, heavenly sky.  I took this as another sign like the voice of the Holy Spirit whispering to me, giving me a blessed affirmation.  Nudging me, don’t give up.

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