The last place my Mom and Dad lived in before he died was out in the country, near Lake Fork, Texas. There was a big plate-glass window in front of which Dad had hung bird feeders. Among the many birds who winged in were cardinals, crimson feathers startling, vivid, unforgettable. Whenever I see cardinals, real or otherwise, I think of Dad, I think of that place, a home place for him, a vision he’d worked toward all his life. And I think of my mother, too, acquiescing to him, sharing his dream. What was hers?
In Pier One yesterday, caught like a magpie by all the Christmas glitter and glow, I saw LED candles with tiny red cardinals on them. I had to stop and touch the glass. My throat got tight as I thought of my father, but also of my mother, 13 years down with Alzheimer’s, bedridden, incontinent, unable to turn over or ask for what she wants, able only to croak sounds and smile her occasional but still lovely smile. I didn’t buy the candle. I bought five small, red clip-on cardinals, glitter on their tails and shaken like salt in among their color. Foolish, I thought as I checked out. She won’t see them.
But today I go to place them in her room, among the bits of holiday tinsel I put up even though she doesn’t know. My heart hurts, my throat is tight. I think I summoning Dad to bring her on home.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, Christmas, creativity, Dark Angels, family, fathers, George I, historical fiction, history, mothers, Now Face to Face, spirituality, Texas, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, Uncategorized, vulnerability, writing
Tagged Alzheimer's, birds, cardinals, Christmas, holiday sadness, Karleen Koen, Pier One, sadness, Texas
Last week, I listened to Houston’s Brene Brown talk about vulnerability. Among its bright attributes are its necessary place in joy, creativity, adventure, joy, belonging, authenticity, and love, which I hadn’t thought of. Among its shadows are feelings of fear, shame, and uncertainty.
Certain behavior of mine—around the reluctance to write, around days when I can’t force myself to sit down in the chair because fear jumping-beans in my pulse—came into clearer focus.
I am vulnerable when I write. I am vulnerable when I am published. I am vulnerable when my work is read and people comment upon it. The dread I carry inside is the dread of being vulnerable.
Brown also quoted Teddy Roosevelt about daring greatly–that the man or woman who attempts something in the arena of life, even if he or she fails, will have dared greatly. So I balance these on unseen scales inside myself each day that I write fiction: vulnerability and daring.
Interesting. I wonder if having defined the feeling will ease anything. And then I am reminded of some redneck advice that I like: The world ain’t even honking at you. You just think it is……….
Posted in Before Versailles, creativity, Dark Angels, fame, fear, fiction, historical fiction, history, inspiration, Karleen Koen, life, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, love, Now Face to Face, Through A Glass Darkly, vulnerability, writing, writing process