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
I’m straightening Mom’s room at the place which cares for her. She’s in year 10 of Alzheimer’s, healthy but unable to do a single thing for herself or communicate clearly. I’ve made her room pretty, but more and more I take things away and store them: the costume jewelry someone gave her to play with, the received cards she so loved to tear to pieces and then rearrange, clothes which are too difficult to put on her. If I bring a plant, she doesn’t notice it. I gaze at the things I’ve selected to comfort and define her. Without her zest and vitality, their definition is less and less clear.
Posted in Before Versailles, creativity, Dark Angels, family, George I, Karleen Koen, life, Louis XIV, memoir, mothers, Now Face to Face, romance, romance writing, story and family, story and life, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged Alzheimer's, costume jewelry, Karleen Koen, mothers, mothers and daughters, sadness, writing process
Another Christmas done. They’ve arced through a continuum of joyous for so many years that I thought such joy would always be mine to a lost wandering through the internal debris of the blast of divorce, hurt to children, loss of a first, dear, unexpected love affair. The landscape was bleak, desolate, incinerated, nothing green, only smoke, small fires, charred and ruined trees, writhing memory, hissing doubt. I thought I would never heal. It was unbearable this time of year. And yet… I’ve slowly created a Christmas I can bear, a Christmas which brings me small joys. I am content, grateful, humbled to have them. I celebrate friendship at lunches and Ann’s wonderful brunch. I go to a play or festive event. I watch my grandchildren at their music pageant. I buy too many gifts. I decorate, for me, not on the scale of my once-upon-a-time life, but on a scale which pleases the girl who thought she’d have what she wanted forever, that there was nothing that could overwhelm her. I cook and serve a homemade dinner, adding fine folks to family so that the ruin of all I once had isn’t the ghost of Christmas past sitting silent and pale and mocking at my dining table. There’s a saying from the Talmud: every blade of grass has an angel bending over it, whispering, grow…grow. Heal is what my angel whispered. Not possible, I thought. Surely when one’s psychic legs are cut out from under you, you never walk again, you always feel the ache of what is no longer there. First I lay weeping. Then I crawled. One day I stood and stumbled forward into my life. Green has reappeared in my once desolate forest, widened, reaches skyward again. I almost dare to hope, to expect, in the wild way I once did. Almost….but not quite.
Posted in character, creativity, Dark Angels, family, Karleen Koen, life, love, Now Face to Face, story and life, theme, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged angels, Christmas, loss, recovery, sadness
Listening to the liquid silver voice of Sarah McLaughlin as I drive along the freeway. Her songs are sad; they make me remember failed relationships. I think of that place with another where you stop trying. It’s before I don’t care, way before, but it’s a bad sign. I think, if I had any advice to give, I’d said, darlings, don’t get cynical with one another because once you allow that, it’s too hard to get back to where the healing sweetness is.
Are relationships harder to sustain than they used to be? Is romance real? You tell me.
Posted in character, Dark Angels, Karleen Koen, life, love, Now Face to Face, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged "Sarah McLaughlin", cynicism, relationships, sadness