For my grandfather on his memorial day

Some people would say my grandfather was eccentric.  However, to my daughter Lexi, he was a kindred spirit — intriguing in his nuances, which included spontaneous serenades, read-alouds of business signs as you drove by, and the ability to fall asleep whenever, wherever, and no matter the company or what might be happening (such as Twizzlers being placed in his open mouth as he snored).

One of my favorite photos of him was a much younger version, yet old enough to have the standard grey grandfather comb-over, standing me as an infant on his lap at Christmastime.  After Lexi came with my mom and I to Seattle in 2009 during spring break, my new favorite picture is one of Grandma, myself, then eighteen month old Lexi, and Grandpa sitting on their couch.  In this one, however, Grandpa is looking at Lexi as he points to the camera trying to get her to look in that direction.  Lexi keeps looking at Grandpa, a slight smile on her face, as if she’s thinking, “What is this goofy man telling me?”  She looks at him, enamored with his slight awkwardness, the qualities that endeared him to most people.  I wonder just how many sweets he slipped her during our visit that week.

The sweetness about Grandpa is that no matter the distance between us, he was constantly slipping “treats” to us.  People at Trinity, my dad’s parish and the school associated with it, where I work as an office assitant, expressed their condolences by reminding me of the lucky sweet my cousin Stephanie and I share — he was at our weddings.  People told me over and over again, “oh, I remember he and your grandmother dancing at your reception; they were so in love.”

In recent years, it has been a treat to be able to visit him and my grandma in Kent and to share moments with Grandpa as he talked about his mother, who we often heard, “was a Remington,” kin to the western scenery painter Fredric Remington.  Other treats were photos of his roses in every birthday, anniversary, thinking-of-you, and holiday greeting cards.  Lexi has taped on her wall — all on her own — the many flower photos we have received through the years.

When I received the phone call about Grandpa’s death, Lexi and my son, Emry, gathered around me and asked “why are you crying mommy?”  I told them my grandpa in Seatlle had died.  What four year olds know of death, I don’t really understand, but Lexi simply teared up and said, “Oh no, Seattle grandpa, I loved him.”  It was a treat to know him and love and be loved by him.  Those actions were the best sweets he gave us.

Screaming children and at them…

I visited my sister this weekend in Houston with my husband.  Actually, it was my husband’s Valentine’s gift to me…an overworked man promising to his overwhelmed wife that they would get time away if they just endured the next couple weeks of overtime…he as an employee and me as a mother.  It was an incredibly useful time away.  Saturday afternoon we visited Books-A-Million and each went our separate ways.  My husband to the tech department to find books for work, my sister to the Feminist Action section to find books for work, and I to find books for pleasure that I want to read, but haven’t “found the time” (which is my favorite excuse).

I stumbled upon the “Listography” series by Lisa Nola which I immediately fall in love with over and over again each time I see them, but never actually buy them.  I convince myself that Seth needs the Music one, but once I show it to him, he shrugs like it’s no big deal – but I just thought I had him pegged.  Guess not.  Then I fall in love with the “I’m an English major; you do the math” journal and convince myself I need it, especially because it’s 50% off and 10% more with my BAM discount card.  Yet, I also shelve that one back to it’s prior spot.  Then I find the most perfect, perfect-exactly-because-I-need-it-because-I’m-so-it journal that screams “I’m a Parent? A journal to ponder the circumstance that I somehow have offspring…” etc. on the front cover.  It’s got neat quotes about parenting all in the insides and each new journal entry page prompts me to enter “Why I’m a Less-Than-Perfect Parent Today:”.  OMG, this was made for me!  I do end up shelving it, knowing that I “won’t have the time” to write about the horrible things I do as a parent, but man…it would save me from the guilt trips I run through my head on an hourly basis.

So, I decided that I would buy the Knock Knock book (the company that publishes the “I’m a Parent?” journal) as soon as I get paid.  I will write in it about how my screaming children almost always get screamed at in return, and how the vicious cycle keeps going, because you know, I just still haven’t learned that they get the screaming FROM ME.  However, my hope is that that journal will help me censor myself before jumping on here to publish the horrible-no-good-very-awful-bad things that I do as a parent.  However, I might actually get followers if I do post those things…

Utility Room and Living Room

I’ve been extremely hesitant to share my poetry online; I guess mostly out of the fear that it will be stolen and published by someone else.  However, I feel like I need to share two poems that are only separated by the years in between that they were each written.  Besides this, I feel they are intricately woven into one another and if I ever do truly publish them beyond this medium, they will have to be writen alongside eachother.  Okay, enough introductions; I am sure some New Criticismists are annoyed already….

“Utility Room”   Spring 2004

I put Jesus in a box

labeled ‘Utility Room’,

and even after the move,

He’s been there for years.

Among the “As Seen On TV’

carpet cleaners and bags,

upon bags of nails, He lies.

Does Jesus ever get claustrophobic?

I never thought to ask.

I continue to forget He’s there,

trapped by duct-taped flaps.

Sometimes I remember to

take a peek, to see if He’s still there,

among the broken things I’ve

owned, the unused things I keep.

“Living Room”     Winter 2012

I took Jesus out of the box

labeled ‘Utility Room’

and moved Him to the “Living Room’.

He holds up the Fireplace,

supporting the red bricks, grey mortar, and

wood with the cross he bears.  The fire

rekindles.

I do not get claustrophobic.

In the “Living Room” He sees us

as we enter and leave,

moving to other rooms in This house.

But at the hearth, we know we’re never alone.

I like Him in the ‘Living Room’,

He endures beyond the trappings

of boxes and hardened uses.