Thursday, December 4, 2014

MAMA I CAN'T TAKE A BATH THERE'S A FISH IN THE TUB


In honor of Dad's Birthday.  He has since gone to Glory and I'm sure in Heaven, the big ones don't get away!

 

 


Fishing with my father was anything but boring, but my mother dreaded every fishing season.  “Your father is a veritable Mr. Hyde when he fishes,” she would say, generally including an emphatic gesture like hitting Dad with the newspaper, pretending a fly had landed on his shirt. “It’s safer to cuddle up to a rattler than be stuck in a boat with your father.”
But over time, my mother learned the wisdom of patience in dealing with my father’s idiosyncrasies. “When you’re married to a man for over sixty years, you forgive these sorts of insanities. Your father’s done a lot of crazy things that challenged my patience, but the craziest thing was the day he brought home that trout he caught at Butternut Creek.”
Dad squeezed Mother’s hand. “I suppose she’s right.”
They shared the tale that symbolized their sixty plus years together.   
“Butternut Creek is probably the trickiest place I ever fished in,” Dad said. “Why it’s so narrow you could toss a stone from one side to the other. And the trees like to hold hands across the creek.”
My father first cast got a hit. “By the force of the pull, I knew he was a big feller.”   
Downstream, Eddie, Dad’s fishing buddy, was about to cast when he saw Dad struggling to hold his line. “Looks like a keeper, Cal,” he shouted. “Better use the net!”
“I left it in the truck!” 
“Your father is always forgetful,” Mother interjected.    
Dad could see the truck in an open field about a quarter of a mile downstream, but it might just as well have been two miles away. As Dad battled the beast of the stream, Eddie splashed his way toward the truck. Long minutes later, he plunged into chest-high rapids. For an agonizing second, Dad thought his amazing catch of the day would become catalogued with the other trillion stories of the one that got away.
“Got him!” Eddie shouted as he emerged triumphantly. They stopped at the water’s edge and shared that kind of emotional moment between men sans tears and embraces. Eddie simply stated, “Got to have a picture of this one, Cal.”
“Well, I don’t own a camera,” Dad moaned.  
            “Cal, we’ve got to have proof. Nobody’s going to believe we actually caught this fellow.”  
            “Well, neither one of us has one. At least we know what we caught.” The men trudged home with no lasting memento to herald their deed. 
As much as Mother despised fishing, she understood what this catch meant to my father. “Put the fish in the tub,” she said. “I’ll find us a camera.” The next day she borrowed one from her employer, and the picture found its way into Dad’s brag book.
When I think of what true patience in marriage embodies, I am reminded of this story. How my mother’s love transcended my father’s child-like need. I believe that human quality is but a shadow of God’s perfect patience. Knowing our foibles, His Patient Love surpasses the worst of our human frailty. 


Friday, November 28, 2014

REMEMBERING DUFFER



 

 

A friend posted a picture of a kitty hidden in a Christmas Tree. It brought back memories of our cat, Duffer, the reason we reduced our tree to a table top. We miss him. He was named by Steve's mother, now in Heaven, too, probably rolling golf balls for Duffer to chase. So, I dedicate this blog post to my friend.

 

Duffer’s First Christmas


There is a reason I do Christmas with a small fiber-optic tree.
I hold my now twelve-year old cat and reflect back to that day when I surrendered my will to a bundle of fur.
Six-month-old Duffer, our adopted orange and white kitten loved the excitement of the six-foot tree as I adorned it with my Christmas memories. He batted away, believing the tree was his new toy.
I tried to explain to him that these ornaments he had knocked off the bottom limb were very precious to me. My husband laughed. “Do you really think he understands?”
I tossed Duffer his favorite catnip mouse. Diversion had always worked for my two-year-old. When I plugged in the lights, he bounded in, sniffed at the tree, stretched his torso three branches up and batted on the relocated ornaments until one by one, they plopped to the floor.
Like my GPS, I decided to recalculate.
I sat by the tree with a water pistol. Duffer stared me down, stretched his torso as far as he could reach. I aimed and fired.  
“I win!” I said as he scooted.
Not for long. He sauntered back in, and stretched to full measure yet again, this time merely blinking when I sprayed him.  
“We’re not finished, yet, Cat.”
Next I tried aroma, a cat-deterrent spray that smelled like ammonia, highly recommended by cat trainers everywhere. Unfortunately, the spray was equally offensive to humans. I admired my undisturbed tree amidst coughs and gagging.  At least for awhile.
 “Get down from there,” I yelled. I’d never screamed at my kitty before. He looked at me with sad eyes as if to say, “Now, how could you possibly talk like that to someone as cute as I am?”
He stayed away for a few hours. When I went back to the living room later that day, Duffer had managed to find another napping place near the top of the tree.  
“Duffer!” I yelled.  He jumped. Like Jack and Jill, the tree came tumbling after.  
The next day I bought a three-foot fiber optic and the rest is history.
Christmas is now enjoyed by all.





Saturday, November 22, 2014

REMEMBERING MOM

AS WE HELP WITH ALZHEIMER'S AWARENESS DURING THIS MONTH OF NOVEMBER, I THOUGHT I'D DEDICATE MY COLUMN TO MY MOTHER'S MEMORY. A GOOD WOMEN WITH A GREAT HEART, ALTHOUGH ALZHEIMER'S ROBBED HER OF MUCH, SHE HELD ON TO WHAT WAS IMPORTANT TO HER, HER STRENGTH TO ENDURE, HER LOVE OF FAMILY, AND HER SPECIAL BRAND OF HUMOR. I MISS YOU MOM. I KNOW THAT YOU ARE KEEPING THE ANGELS IN STITCHES, HELPING THEM KEEP IN LINE, TOO!



SANTA’S RELUCTANT HELPER


Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I saw her squatting and looking eye to eye at the packaged item standing under the Christmas tree. It was four in the morning, and I had no idea how long she had been there.
            I was grateful for the toys and clothes Mother had bought for my children. She had set a few unwrapped items under the tree before retiring to bed, doing her bit to keep the fantasy of Santa alive for another year—a magnanimous gesture for one who so despised the myth.
             If it had not been for her, my children would have wondered if Santa cared about them. Divorced, unemployed, and with a scant amount of support money, what little allowance I received from the government barely paid for rent and food. Outside of crayons and coloring books, Christmas, as I hoped it would be, was out of the question.
            Mother understood my heartache. She herself had known many disappointing Christmases, and hoped to provide better for her own children; but, it was not until Christmas, 1948, that she first began to actually despise Santa. “Santa Claus is a cruel hoax for poor children.”
The years following World War II were difficult for returning vets. Jobs were scare and finding shelter for their families a daunting task. The only housing my parents could afford was in the south side of the Syracuse, New York. They rented a cold-water flat, the euphemism given to apartments with no running hot water. Rats often found their way into the cleanest of these dwellings. The adaptive rodents would eat anything, even gnawing their way through aluminum garbage cans. They thrived in cold-water flats. Fearful that the rats would bite her children, Mother spent many sleepless nights vigilantly listening for any sounds that might indicate danger. 
A child of the depression and a wife of a World War II veteran, Mother was grateful for her surroundings, grateful that her family was all together under one roof even if money was scarce. My father’s factory paycheck paid the rent and bought food—leaving little for luxuries of any kind, especially events like Christmas. I was still a baby, unaware that there was a special day to be excited about. 

My brother, on the other hand, had been looking forward to Christmas and to Santa’s showering of presents for all good boys and girls. 

At first, my brother was thrilled when he opened the holster gun set and cowboy hat under the tree. “Oh, boy! I’m a real cowboy, now!” He flitted about the house shooting bad men that lurked behind the couch and chair. Then he took his treasure outside. It was not long before he rushed back into the house, his countenance forever changed. “Have I been good, Mom?” my brother asked. 

“Of course, you have,” Mother reassured him.
“Then why did Santa Claus only bring me two presents? Santa brought my friend ten presents and a new bike.”

How could she explain poverty to a four-year-old, an innocent who didn’t know he was poor? Mother took the fall for Santa.

“Well, honey,” she ventured to explain. “Moms and dads have to pay Santa for the presents. We didn’t have very much money to give him.” She watched helplessly as her child faced the brutal realities of social inequities for the first time in his life, knowing the experience would be repeated many times over.  
Yes, I knew Mother understood the heartache I felt that Christmas.
My three-year old turned to look at me, eyes filled with tears. “For me?” she asked, not quite believing it might be true.
“Yes, honey. Santa brought it for you.”
I helped her remove the cellophane wrapping. She hugged the treasured gift so tightly, her little fingers turned white.
 “It’s just what I wanted! He remembered!”
 “Yes, he remembered.”
In my heart, I was grateful to a mother whose memory reached from her pain and gave comfort.


Cancer survivor, author, sometimes speaker but always a wife and mother, Linda lives in Jacksonville, Florida where she is able to golf year around with her more than patient husband of 37 years. She has won a few awards in life but her best achievements are her three children and nine grandchildren. Life is never as we planned but with God at the helm, always an adventure. Linda’s books reflect how God transforms our worst past into our best future. She is always available to speak to your groups on God’s surpassing Love.
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Linda’s Blog: This Daily Grind       Linda’s Website:  www.lindarondeau.com