The Marriage Gene

30 Apr 2014

4/21/14

The Marriage Gene

Do people who are married 50, 75 years realize how blessed they are? To choose a mate, someone to spend the rest of your life with, and make it work. That is a miracle!
I come from families that were steeped in infidelity, divorce, desertion, abuse, and neglect. I grew up in a single parent house, so I never experienced the give-and-take dance two people in a successful marriage have. I didn’t know how to make a relationship work.
I’ve always been curious about the relationships around me. I was voyeur of my friend’s parent’s marriages. The easy ebb and flow of their interactions fascinated me. The solidness of each person’s place in the family: the unspoken rules that governed all interactions were puzzles to me.
Now that I am a senior, I look at the sure way my married friend’s children chose mates, and start their own families. It seems almost arrogant, the ease with which they undertake something that terrified me to the extent that I choose to never have children.
How does it happen that a girl meets a boy in high school, goes off to college, comes home, gets engaged, gets married, and has a baby so easily? I have a co-worker who did that. The steps were as sure as if she was reading from a script. How does one get that sure? And for her, it will be the perfect life with the man she adores. Some day she’ll watch her son fall in love, get married, have a child, and make her a grandmother. That simple.
I envy those people who live lives so sure that all this is what will be, that it all will come their way. I want to know how does that happen. Is it luck? Is it genes? Is it fate? Whatever it is, those people with their wonderful sure lives, are so lucky!

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A Tale to Tell

30 Apr 2014

4/12/14

A Tale to Tell

I read the obituaries each day. I look for people I might know, and for former students within their families. But mostly, I love the stories of people’s lives. Some people had such rich lives, with travel all over the world, or jobs with varied companies all over the US. I love the array of names I find: today there was an Othelia Cowherd and Sophie Flaten Dahleen. How those names roll around on the tongue!
I have been awed, as I observe the men and women of WWII pass out of this world, at how often their lives began in humble circumstances on a farm in the Midwest. Then from the world’s stage the war appeared, beckoning young people to stand up for their belief in freedom for all. They enlisted, and went off to fight or fly or nurse. The pattern I’ve begun to see is that these young people returned to this country to become doctors, lawyers, professors, physicists, ministers. These were ordinary people, who in ordinary times would not have gone to college; would not have become national leaders. But their service in the military during WWII opened up higher education to them because of the GI Bill. They gave so much to the war, by the government gave them a chance at a new and better life when they returned.
I don’t want to discount the hundreds of thousands who gave their all, their lives, during WWII. Most families of my generation in the US can count at least one member who did not return to a better life. I honor them above all else.
But isn’t it interesting how the boys and girls of WWII became our vaulted leaded, and the boys and girls of our present wars come home wounded physically and emotionally, and don’t even get correct medical/emotional care?

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Peaceful

24 Apr 2014

4/21/14

Peaceful

Sun is warm on my skin.
A breeze tickles my hair.
Somewhere, a lawnmower
Races across green grass.
Otherwise, all’s quiet.
A dog lies at my feet,
Tongue hanging in pleasure.
We are waiting for Nick
To return home. Day’s end.

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Outside

24 Apr 2014

4/21/14

Outside

Sitting in the sun.
Content with my life.
Creative juices
Flowing mind to pen.
Brother Breeze brushing
Against my warm skin.
Tickling, teasing.
A butterfly flits
Across the still yard;
Seeking bright blossoms.
A spring afternoon
With Mother Nature.

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4/15/14

There But by the Grace of God

My mother and father were children during the Great Depression. They came into adulthood during WWII. Their lives were steeped in the brew of poverty and loss, compassion and caring. Into this atmosphere I was born. I understood that but by the grace of God, it could be me homeless or in the welfare line. I accepted the fact that because God had blessed us, we had a responsibility to give back to those less blessed than we were. I was taught that was the way it was supposed to be.
These days I read statements about the number of families who are homeless; the number of children who go hungry each day; the number of adults whose only source of food is food panties or soup kitchens. It breaks my heart. But then my heart becomes hard when I hear those who are blessed, those with jobs and houses and food, looking down on those without. They seem to blame the poor for being poor. As if they choose to be in the state they are in. It wasn’t so long ago that vast numbers of people in this country stood in welfare lines, waiting for a cup of soup and a piece of bread. I remember the stories of my mother, my aunts, my mother’s school mates: stories of hunger and hopelessness. Gradually things got better, and many of us today were the beneficiaries of that improvement. In the future, we could find ourselves back in that tough of a depression. And I could be homeless and hungry.
I believe what goes around, comes around. The generosity of my mother and father to neighbors in need bought prosperity to them in their later lives. And that trickled down to me. So, it is my responsibility to share my blessings with others. For, but by the grace of God, someday I may be in need, too.

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A Child’s View

23 Apr 2014

4/12/14

A Child’s View

“A woman without a man is a travesty,” Mrs. Richard Pace said firmly.
“Especially if she has children,” added Mrs. Horace Loving.
“Then she is a canker sore on society,” Mrs. Pace stated.
I sat in the dining room, one room away from the Garden Club meeting, listening to their conversation. They were in the formal living room, the parlor, a place I had never been. Didn’t the ladies of the Garden Club know I could hear every word they said? I hoped my Momma fixing their ‘tea’, whatever that was, just another room away, hadn’t heard them. Momma and me had got there at the crack of dawn to bake for the meeting of the Garden Club. We made Lady Fingers, Sea Foam candy, and Petite Fours. All fancy foods I’d never seen, or tasted, before. Now Mamma was making tiny sandwiches, with the crust cut away, of chicken salad and ham and cucumbers.
“Like Lillian Cox,” Mrs. Loving said.
“Yes. I don’t know why that woman came here with all those children. What, ten of them?” Mrs. Pace snorted.
“Twelve, I think,” Mrs. Farrah murmured.
“Who has twelve children?” Mrs. Pace snorted again. “Twelve children!”
I knew most of those twelve children were welfare kids. My momma picked up about half of them every Sunday to take them to church with us, the younger ones mostly. They seemed a happy group. We sung songs all the way to church, rocking the car with our voices. Mamma didn’t mind. She sang with us.
“Comes here expecting the community to give her a hand out. To take care of her and her twelve children. It’s scandalous! She should never have been allowed to rent a house!” Mrs. Pace said. “A woman should be married. Have a man to take care of her. And her children. Not expect everyone else to care for her. Just trash, that’s what she is!”
My throat got tight and I couldn’t breathe. Mrs. Cox didn’t ask for nothing. She’d even offered to pay Momma to carry her children to church. Of course, Momma said no. Said it was her pleasure to help out. And then I thought about Momma and me. About six months ago my daddy walked off, and never came back. Momma didn’t choose that. That was Daddy’s doing. And then I thought about Mrs. Johnson. Her husband got killed at his job. Left her with six children. What was she going to do to support those children if no one helped her out? Was she trash, too?
Momma had taught me to not judge people. “Don’t judge someone unless you done walked in their shoes, Cassie,” she said. “You can’t know what’s going on in their life. So don’t add to their burden with your bad thoughts.”
Momma taught me one other thing. She said, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say nothing at all.” Didn’t these ladies’ mommas teach them that when they was little girls? Seemed to me they’d forgot it, if so.
They were judging me along with my Momma for the things we had no control over. And my momma didn’t expect any handouts from anyone. Wasn’t she working in the kitchen now to make them a tea? She always worked for the money she got. She wasn’t asking for anything for free. She worked for every penny.
Even though these ladies had the nice houses, and successful husbands, and fancy clothes, I knew they were wrong in what they’d said. Even the one in there who had been my Sunday School teacher and who I was suppose to respect and listen to. She was wrong, too. A woman without a husband was just a woman who had to work twice as hard as any man to survive. The realization blossomed inside me that a husband didn’t make a woman who she was. It was what she did on her own that showed her character. Those rich ladies sitting in that fancy parlor were just Mrs. Richard Pace and Mrs. Horace Loving, wives of rich men. My momma was Mrs. Clarice Payne, beholding to no man, and her own person.

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Song

21 Apr 2014

4/1/14

Song

I step outside into
A symphony of song.
Birds voices trill in joy.
A cacophony, yet
Somehow blended together.
All heralding Spring’s birth.

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Fleeting Time

21 Apr 2014

3/31/14

Fleeting Time

Another month wings away.
Gone at the end of this day.
Time is fleeing like frightened deer.
Flash of white, then disappear.
Try to hold but cannot grasp.
It slips away from our clasp.
Count not hours slipping by.
A waste of time when you try.
Instead, live them as they pass
No time to watch hour glass.

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To Be Loved

03 Apr 2014

4/3/14

To Be Loved

To be loved is a blessed thing. I celebrate love between two people in any form. But I think love refound in later life is special. I know several couples who knew each other in high school, but drifted apart after graduation. They went on to marry other people, have a family(ies), and have successful careers. The original marriage didn’t work, for whatever reasons. And then one day, they run into that old boyfriend/girlfriend.
Both people have learned that the white-hot love of youth doesn’t always translate well into a long-term relationship. Sometimes it ends as lukewarm ashes. They find that a relationship of twenty, thirty, sometimes forty years ago feels warm and comfortable. They have both learned that being who they are, is more important than who they want someone to think they are. So they watch as what once was a friendship or a casual romance, translates into something they never could have dreamed of all those years ago. They find they fit each other. My friends tell the story of their reconnecting with laughter and love. They never seem to grow tired of the wonder of finding each other. They have been granted a special gift: a second chance.
Yesterday I attended the funeral of a cousin’s husband. They were one of those couples. About eleven years ago they remet at a community dance. Both had traveled to other places in the state, and were newly returned this area. They were delighted to renew their friendship. Eventually they decided to marry. For them it was a new lease on life. They shared many interests: camping, car racing, dancing, music, love of family. They were at ease around each other. Anyone who met them for the first time would never guess they were newlyweds.
Now my cousin is alone, again. But she was blessed with those wonderful years together. Years of joy and love, of sharing and caring. God gave them a second chance, and memories to hold on to forever.

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