Minus Two

31 May 2014

5/29/14

Minus Two

I killed two doves today. I was the way to the post office: driving faster than I should have been. I saw what I thought was debris, leaves or trash, lying in the road. I was going to straddle it. The doves were huddled together, and when they realized I was a threat and moved apart to fly away, I was on them. I saw what they really were too late to slow down or swerve to avoid them. I heard the thud under the car, and when I looked in the rear view mirror there was a cloud of feathers behind me. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” I whispered, but I kept driving on my very important errand.
On the way back I searched for the feathers. I prayed I wouldn’t see the doves; that they had somehow escaped my car. Then I saw one tiny body lying in the road. I pulled over to the shoulder and put on my hazard blinkers. I picked up the small body. It feathers were so soft and the body was still warm. The head hung loosely to the side until I cradled it with my other hand. At first I simply moved the body to the side of the road. The thought of cars squashing it into pulp made me sick. Then I came back and searched for a more fitting place to lay the body. Something more reverent than a ditch. There was a barbed wire fence on top of the bank with a cedar tree growing beside it. I laid the little body gently in the roots of that cedar. Then I went looking for the other body, half hoping I wouldn’t find it. But I did. It was on the opposite bank where my speeding car had propelled it. I picked it up and carried it to lie beside its mate. I had blood on my hands from each birds, both literally and figuratively, and by now I was crying.
“I’m so sorry,” I said through my tears. “Please God, forgive me for taking the life of two of your creatures,” I prayed. “Forgive me for this. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” I said to the doves.
I still grieve for my act. Humans are careless and unconscious. We think we own this planet. I am human, much to my sorrow.

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Wedding Day

29 May 2014

5/29/14

Wedding Day

Sixteen years ago today Nick and I got up. It was a Friday. We dressed and had breakfast as if it were an ordinary day. My mother was visiting. We got in our cars and drove off. But here’s where the day took a detour. Mom and I drove to the court house in Ellicott City (MD). Nick drove to the court house in Ellicott City. There we met his mother, Ann, and her boyfriend, George, and his brother, Tim.
We had a 9:00 appointment but the Justice of the Peace was running a little late, so it was about 9:10 by the time we were shown into the room where she waited for us. The ceremony was simple. Very generic. Within minutes it was over. We exchanged rings and we were married. We kissed. Everyone shook hands, hugged, and smiled.
Mom and I got in my car and headed down to Virginia to take her back home. I was going to spend the weekend with her. Nick got in his truck and went to work. Ann, George, and Tim got in their individual vehicles, and they went on to work.
Now you will probably say this was the most pathetic excuse for a wedding you’ve ever heard of. And so it was. This ceremony was only to satisfy the law that we planned to live our lives as husband and wife. It put our intent into the official documents of the government. It was a formality. But nothing changed for us.
On August 8 of that same year, on top of Catoctin Mountain in Maryland, under the open skies and the green trees, in front of God, our friends, our family, and most importantly, his daughter and my stepdaughter, we vowed with our own words to join our lives, our hearts, and our future into one. Nick’s brother was his best man. My stepdaughter from another relationship was my maid of honor. My ex-sister-in-law was our minister. Nick’s daughter and stepdaughter were a part of the ceremony.
We celebrated not only our joy and love, but the love and support of all the people who mattered in our lives. Ann and my mom each gave us a blessing. Nick’s daughter’s great-grandmother (from her mother’s side of the family) spoke. We jumped the broom together. And we laughed and everyone laughed with us. It was glorious! Finally we were truly married.

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Coming Home

29 May 2014

5/9/14

Coming Home

They say you can’t go home. Maybe that’s true. I returned to ODU after 42 years to find that the small ‘Norfolk Branch of William and Mary’, which I knew as ODC, has become a behemoth: a power to be reckoned with. The campus has expanded to become a small city. There are few buildings that are the same as when I attended. Only the Education Building looks the same and is still the Education Building.
What was once the library is now used for Foreign Student Services. The Fine Arts Building has been torn down and rebuilt. Web Students Center is three times larger with wings added on both sides. Surrounding the core of my campus are a dozen new buildings, both completed and in progress.
The mall has become a picture perfect vision with towering trees and emerald grass. There is a huge seal of the college seated in concrete and a fountain with the ODU lion in its center. It looks like something from a brochure, not my memory. It is truly a University now. I look at it all and remember the sense of comfort I had there back then. Now as a freshman I would be overwhelmed, and lost. It feels like my college has grown up, just as I have. I am filled with wonder and pride, and nostalgia. It feels like my home has died to birth a new being.

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My Blessing

29 May 2014

5/9/14
5/12/14

My Blessing

I am in awe of the life I’ve been given. By all accounts I should have not have had it. My great-grandfathers were farmers. They worked from sun up to sun down. My grandfather could do most anything using his hands, but he couldn’t stop his feet from roving from place to place. My father never had education from a school room. What he knew he learned working and from life.
My female ancestors didn’t have much schooling at all. There was no need for more than the rudiments of reading and some writing if you were going to be a wife and mother. My mother was the first to obtain a high school diploma, blazing a path for those who followed.
When it came time for me to decide what I would do, I told my mother I wanted to go to college to be a teacher, and to my amazement, she didn’t blink. She fought the battles to get me there and off I went. She, back at home, worked two full-time jobs to pay for my future. I didn’t stop with the Bachelor of Science in Education. I went back and got a Masters in Special Education. And then I taught for 35 years. I moved from my blue collar family into the world of white collar work; from a manual labor job to behind-the-desk job. Because of that, I never had to worry about losing my job and being homeless; not having enough money to pay the rent; my retirement being poverty plagued. My life was more comfortable and secure then my ancestors could have ever dreamed. I don’t know what made my step up and out possible. Maybe daring to dream I could attend college. Definitely my mother’s sacrifices to pay for college. Or maybe it was just luck and the right time.

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OCD

25 May 2014

5/23/14

OCD

That compulsion –
To touch, to order,
To avoid, to hide.
Controlling everything.
“I can’t breathe.”
“I’m going to throw up.”
“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t!”

Life restricted.
Fear coloring each breath.
“I must. I must. I must!”
“If I don’t, I’ll die.”
Doesn’t matter what other think.
The need overpowering
Rational thought, actions.

Perfectly sane. Perfectly
Perfect humans feeling
Crazy. And in some ways they are.
Except for one small quirk:
Which leads them to major
Irrationality.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

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5:45 on Sunday

20 May 2014

5/18/14

5:45 on Sunday

A touch of the chill of night still lingers on the morning, like the memory of a lover’s fingers trailing across your skin. The air is still. Not a ripple of movement anywhere. A three-quarters moon hangs in the sky, gauzy like some ghost of its real self. Birds are awakening, fluttering damp wings to flick off moisture. They flutter through the trees to seek out morning’s meal. Around me, Mother Earth comes awake.

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Storm

16 May 2014

5/15/14
Storm

A bruised sky, purple and black,
Like some abused lover’s skin.
Angry and painful,
It huddles low over the earth.
Clouds ripple like muscles:
Flexed to strike and fight;
Tense to flinch and flee.
Both perpetrator and victim.
Wind whips the tree leaves
In a parody of rage.
Thunder like fists to walls,
Tables, and flesh.
Then quick rain. Like tears
To sooth away the sorrow.

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Country Roads

06 May 2014

5/6/14
Country Roads
Country roads ride the ridges of hills, like they were some prehistoric beast’s spine. While city folk wonder why our roads are so twisty-turny, ancient travelers knew that walking the crests allowed them to see not only the bounty of Nature spread out below them, but also to see any enemies that might threaten danger. Those paths traversed by Natives and early settlers became first dirt roads for wagons, then gravel roads for cars, and finally paved roads for us.

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4/25/14 and 5/3/14
The Serpent in the Garden
I live in a rural county of Virginia. It’s a good place to live. Lots of fresh air; the stars visible in the heavens at night; no neighbors to hear, see, touch at every move. It feels safe and secure.
Two nights ago a young mother down the road died of a heroin overdose. Heroin. In my quiet piece of heaven. I know the kids around here drink more than they should. There’s an abundance of pot. But heroin? Heroin to me connotes gritty city streets, back alleys, and desperate shadowy people. It’s a death wish every time the needle penetrates. It’s nowhere else to go because this is as bad and self-destructive as it gets.
Now a husband and five children are wondering how and why? And what now? I’m sure the paramedics who answered the call at two a.m. wondered, “What the hell do I do for this? I’m not trained in drug overdoses!” And the community should be wondering, “How did this happen? How did no one see?”
It just brings home to me that no place is immune to evil. And no place is sacred as long as someone feels so badly about their life that they take it, albeit quickly or slowly with drugs.

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Magic Carpet

05 May 2014

5/4/14

Magic Carpet
If we but stopped and beheld the miniature beauty beneath our feet, we would be amazed. Each day brings some new plant into bloom. Tiny thought they are, their flowers are incredible. Today a carpet of miniscule purple blooms fill my side yard. Each petal so small it isn’t noticed until there are billions of them, all the same color, to draw the eye downward into the magic of their moment of glory. Humans should bend and marvel at the surprise beneath our feet. Tomorrow they will be gone.

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