Kellie Elmore, Free Write Friday

Leaves Turn

Leaves Turn (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

foliage – amber – wicker – aroma – sweater – cocoa

My older sister and I came home for Fall break to visit our parents in Vermont. We tried to come home together in the Fall when leaves were turning amber and red, and we wore thick wool sweaters with, of course, down vests over them. We didn’t do this often (or often enough as our parents continuously said) but it made them happy and I had to admit it was nice being home together. The four of us and our golden lab, Sadie. We sat around the  fireplace in our living room snacking on white cheddar cheese and Carr’s water crackers and sipped mugs of mulled apple cider. We were, mesmerized by the sparks of the amber logs and listening to the hissing of the fire, talking until our voices lulled like the ending of a softly sung lullaby.

Our mom told us to go upstairs, knowing we wanted to catch up on “sister talk.” We flopped on my bed and sure enough my sister who had questioned me for months about my ” so-called secret” just stared at me.”Oh fine” I’ll tell you, but it’s nothing, I swear.” It wasn’t a big deal at all but since I hadn’t wanted to tell her in her mind she had inflated it to be some sort of romantic mystery. I knew though, she was NEVER going to stop asking me even if we were in an old age home together gumming tuna salad sandwiches when we were 85 and 90.

“UMMM” my sister asked impatiently, “continue!” “I sighed, older siblings can be so bossy…”okay, okay I had a huge crush on Robert.” There, are you satisfied?”  “No, she said, ” THAT’S IT?, Why didn’t you go out with him?” I just starting laughing, I knew she would be disappointed and I was enjoying myself.

Luckily our mom came up to our bedroom with the aroma of hot, homemade cocoa with marshmallows wafting in the air carrying a tray of two steamy cups of hot cocoa and a plate with her famous butter cookies right out of the oven. She looked at us with that Mom radar and said “What’s going on in here?” We both laughed and at the same time said our usual response, “Nothing.” She sighed and we yelled after her, “Thanks, Mom.”

As soon as she closed the door behind her my prosecuting attorney aka my sister demanded details, I said firmly “Look there is nothing to talk about, you dated him and after I met him last time we were home he stayed after the Thanksgiving party and helped me clean up and we talked for a long time” “That’s great! she said, You would be perfect together, date him, he meant nothing to me”. “Oh no, I said, not a chance in hell. You dated him, remember? NO WAY. “Oh get over yourself, so what, it was a fling, I have NO interest in him at all.”

Apparently my sister had a lot of “experience” but it just wasn’t my style. There was no chance I was going to date anyone who had dated my sister first. She rolled her eyes at me and said “You’re just being stupid,” and then I simply nodded to signify the conversation was over. I paused dramatically for about 10 seconds on purpose and then said slyly with a devilish look, “besides, I could never date a guy who pronounced foliage as foilage, could you?” We both burst out laughing hysterically, holding our stomachs. Some things we could stand for, others, like mispronouncing words, we could not. We must have laughed for ten minutes until our mom, called us down to help with dinner, even then, it was hard to keep a straight face.

Photo credit to photographer

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Plinky Prompt: When was the ( FIRST) last time you really stood out in a crowd?

  • Horses

    Horses (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER)

  • When was the last time you really stood out in a crowd? Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork? See all answers
  • The Cactus Rock Lodge, AZ.
  • I was one of those painfully shy children with a bold and charismatic mother and my sister who demanded all the attention. But, deep inside me there must have been a spark, a tiny little spark just waiting to be ignited. It’s a story that changed my life forever.
    My family and I were on a vacation to a Dude Ranch in Arizona for the first time. It was NOTHING fancy back then but they called milk “moo juice” and pancakes were “hotcakes” and it was the first time I had ever eaten them, soft and sweet with syrup.  They had a few horses, I remember a white one named “Granny” that I would take care of and eventually ride. Everybody was friendly and homey and like a big ol’ family.
    The owners’ names were Helen and Mac, one night they passed around a microphone to everyone in the room so they could introduce themselves, say their name, age and where they came from.
    Soon enough they came to our table and after my mom, dad and sister introduced themselves, my mother spoke up and said about me “oh no, she’s too shy.” I can feel that moment now as I felt it back then. A split second life changing moment. Should I or shouldn’t I?
    I grabbed the microphone from my mother and marched my six-year-old backside to the center of the room. I remember Mac said something encouraging to me, with admiration. I was a little pip squeak with a very short pixie cut and twinkling blue eyes. I said “I’m Laurie, I’m 6 years old and I’m from New York.”
    Wow, what a response!! Everybody clapped and hooted and hollered and Mac looked as proud as can be and he asked for another round of applause for this “brave young lady.” The look of shock on my mother’s face was worth every second and I’m sure that was half the fun at the very least though I am not sure I was conscious of that at the time. That day changed my life or rather, I changed my life that evening.
    It definitely lay dormant for many years but in the back of my mind, I always knew that deep down was a little girl just waiting to state her independence and to show people she could dazzle; in her own time, when SHE was ready. To this day, never, ever, tell her what she can and cannot do because she is a stubborn woman!

  • UPDATE: FWF
  • Through the years, I realized what my mother and father had always said about me was true. Sure, I was emotional and sensitive and could cry at the drop of a hat, at anything sentimental, old photographs of her children, a crayon drawing she had kept for fifteen years, an old birthday card from her dad. But, deep down, I knew, as my parents had always told me, beyond the emotional exterior, I was very, very strong. Like steel. That has helped me in so many ways I have lost count. My sister who had all the false bravado is no where near as strong as I am in these things, she is strong in other things. But, my parents, as if giving me the greatest gift of all, gave me the knowledge of confidence when I needed it most.

Plinky Prompt: When Faced with Confrontation , do you head for the hills or walk straight in?

Zodiac sign of Libra in a 15th century manuscript

Zodiac sign of Libra in a 15th century manuscript (Photo credit: e-codices)

  • When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction? See all answers
  • Fight or flight?
  • When I was much younger I hid when faced with any confrontation, especially since my mother and sister were so confrontational, loud and strong. Being older and having gained much more confidence in myself, if I really BELIEVE something is true, I will definitely head right on in to the argument BUT, it needs to be something I am passionate about. I don’t seek out confrontation for sport. I’m a Libra, we need things to be FAIR, well-balanced, equal. If I feel anyone is being wronged, I will stick up for them as much as I will stick up for myself. I generally go for the under dog, and not the snotty, stuck up person. Go, little person, GO!!! You can do it, I believe in you.
    I follow my gut-instincts and if I stick to that, I am generally never wrong. If I don’t follow them, and feel something weird in my stomach, that is a sign that I am doing something that doesn’t feel right or natural to me. A few times I have ignored the signs and I have always regretted it.

    Mandala - Tierkreiszeichen Waage - Signs of th...

    Mandala – Tierkreiszeichen Waage – Signs of the Zodiac Libra (Photo credit: Gerlinde Hog-Aden)

M is for Mom (Kelle Elmore, Free Write Friday)

Mother and Infant Bond

Mother and Infant Bond (Photo credit: Steve Corey, O.O.T.)

I was six weeks premature and the first words out of my mother’s mouth were “she looks like a plucked chicken.” Not the kind of bonding experience you want to brag about but while she held an important role in our lives I wouldn’t call her the “nurturer.” In a different time, in a different place I have no doubt my mother would have been a CEO of some Fortune 500 firm. But, in the 50’s that just wasn’t done. She had my sister first and five years later she had me. Being premature meant I had to stay in the hospital for four weeks or so and the touching stories really came from my dad, who visited me, on his way home from work. He was the one who stopped by the hospital every single night, knocked on the glass, to see his baby girl.  My mom was home with my older sister, about six blocks away, it wasn’t like it is now, what could she do? She couldn’t touch me or feed me, “there was nothing she could do.”

My mother, to this day, shares too much, has no boundaries and is sometimes incredibly blunt, she has no filter. At her age, we don’t expect her to change. I held a lot of resentment towards my mother when I was younger because she wasn’t the “motherly” type whatever that means. I know she would rather have had a career, she used to call my sister and me her two schnauzers, now her two ducklings. I’m not sure when the name changed or why but I think my sister was the one who promoted us.

At parent-teacher meetings in grade school she would walk with her European flare and sense of style that made me want to crawl into the nearest locker while my friends, their parents and my teachers just cooed and complimented her charm. Me? I wanted her to be like Julie’s mom, wearing an apron and baking cookies for me to share with my friends after school. So not my mom.

But all that matters really, is that she would do anything, ANYTHING for my sister and me. That she loves us completely and would save our lives before her own. She would gladly give up her life without thinking to help my sister, me or our families. She didn’t bake cookies or bake bread, she hated to cook, she never knit or sewed ( guess where I got that from?) and she didn’t want me to go to Girl Scouts because she would have to be a Troop Leader one day. I became more like her than I thought. However, I do bake a mean banana bread with chocolate chips and raisins and nurturing really is MY thing.

Was she a bad mom? ABSOLUTELY NOT. She was an independent thinker and taught both her daughters to be the same way. Funny enough both my sister and I kept our last  names and while there is not that much money in the accounts, she taught us early on to keep an account of our own, something I have already passed on to my teenage daughter. My mother is a great mom, not a mushy mom for sure, but she loves us just as much if not more than any quilting bee/Suzy Homemaker mom. She was just ahead of her time. I needed to grow up and once I did I’m delighted and proud to call her MY mom. I love her to pieces just the way she is.

The Soul Twin

English: aima n baby boy

English: aima n baby boy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My son, please sit down,  I need to tell you something. Nothing is wrong, dear, please do not worry. It is something that happened before you were born, I have carried it in my heart, my secret heart for many years. I am old now but I wish for you to know something of our past.

You know your father and I tried for over two and a half years to get pregnant. I was so sad thinking I could never have a baby. Yes, I went to a big city and had all kinds of tests and shots and drugs and procedures but I would have done anything to have you and I knew someday I would. Now, you, Dad and your sister are atheists but I am certainly not. One night I had a dream and God looked down at me from Heaven and He said, “It will take a little more time but you will have a baby and it will be a boy.” God’s message to me was all I needed to keep going and I believed in  this completely. I still, as you know, do.

Months later I got the call. Two nurses were on the phone telling me I was pregnant. There was not a happier person in this world. I remember I closed the door, dropped to my knees, said a prayer of thanks and sobbed with joy. I was in a daze the rest of the afternoon. Immediately my hand cupped my tiny belly like a fluttering butterfly. I told your father in person and he was in shock; I had to repeat the joyous news three times before it sunk in.

Three weeks later, and still I had told no one about my pregnancy except our families. After two and a half years of trying to get pregnant we wanted to wait three months, in our culture that is what we did. One day, I went to the bathroom and as I pulled down my underwear I saw spotting. I was very calm, I called the doctor’s office and they told me to come in immediately.

I got in my car as if I was in a dream, “be brave and strong, be brave and strong” I whispered to you as I headed to the clinic. By the time I got there they rushed me into the ultra sound room but this time there was a lot of blood in my underwear.  I remember saying calmly “this does not look good.” I was still in the room and then the senior nurse spoke up and said  “Wait, look right here, it’s a heartbeat, your baby is fine.” I was so relieved, so happy to see your little heart beating that I thought of nothing else. You were alright, safe inside of me. After a few minutes I asked what happened? They told me that my hormone levels had been very high so that could have been an indication of a twin or perhaps another unhealthy fetus, they were never sure.  Apparently this happens to women all the time many not even noticing the passing of an embryo.

I tried to feel sad and guilty but I couldn’t. You were still inside me and you were safe. I went home to lie down and take it easy. I tried to have feelings if it had been a twin but I couldn’t force myself to feel loss when I didn’t feel it. I had you, my baby, still inside me and that meant everything to me. We were born to be with one another. Your father and I would finish our sentences always saying: “If we should be so blessed” and we were, with you, our first son.

The only reference I have to this is a pair of small twin purple bears that I keep hidden in my bedroom closet. A psychic once said I had a baby floating in the universe that could not go to heaven because he did not have a name and out of my mouth and hers, the name Steven came. His soul was then at peace.

You were in my arms and we were a family. Twenty one months later your beautiful little sister was born, naturally, meant to join our family. Now our family was complete. I needed to tell this story to someone and it belongs to you. I had everything I wanted, a boy and then a girl but my love story is just about over, yours is barely beginning. Take with this what you want and now we can bury the past and only look to the future.

Leaving Us, Lost

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children will always leave you, from the minute you cut the umbilical cord until the day that you take your last gasp of air. When your child is born you are swept away with joy. Is it a boy, a girl?  You cuddle that dear baby close to your body and cover its head with sweet, soft kisses. Your life has now changed forever. You try to inhale the smells and remember them. Unfortunately, like everything else, we hold precious in our hearts, memories fade.

Babies turn into toddlers and their first independent steps they take away from you are greeted with great excitement and applause.”She’s walking!!” we say proudly to anyone who will listen but we don’t think about this as a step of independence, we are merely celebrating a milestone in our brilliant child’s life.

I can say, with confidence, that as much as you want that uninterrupted night of sleep, it comes with a price. You will miss those sticky grilled cheese hands and arms around your neck and those sloppy grape jelly kisses a lot when they stop. One day you are swinging hands in public, the next your child is muttering “that’s embarrassing.” and they pull away. The rules have changed, your children have changed, now you have to change, quickly.

Childhood is so important and then comes middle school and high school when your children are tweens and teenagers. Groan, I know. It is important for them to grow up and for you to let them. You will go through, as my husband called it “the teenage tunnel of darkness” hang on tight, folks, it will be a bumpy ride. The arguments, slammed doors, taunting, fighting, will probably make you feel like you wish you had the money to send your kids to boarding school, but they need to go through this to become independent and their own person. This is their way of leaving their comfort zone, by fighting and doing things you probably don’t even want to know about and they will lie as well. Your kid? Never! I said that too. Believe me, I don’t condone this behavior, but it smacked me in the face. Once, when I asked my son how he would describe high school he said : high school is one big lie.” I will never forget that. Ever. I was so stunned that I was speechless. Wrong time to be speechless, believe me.

I am grateful that my two young adults, 18 and 20 are so independent and comfortable with other adults.  For that, I thank the strong sense of confidence we instilled in our children and sleep-away camp. Our children begged to go to sleep-away camp where their cousins went, we agreed to give it a try. They LOVED it and so did we. When it came to college, it was easier, for all of us, having been separated before.

How we feel doesn’t matter in this equation anymore. It’s true and we need to accept it. My husband and I like being alone, together. It reminds us of the days before children without all the anxiety and stress. Staying home and watching television is date night, we don’t feel the need to go out, we can relax at home. Our babies are not babies anymore, they are young adults. Do we miss the love that they used to show us? Yes, I know I do. Things change, we have no choice but to adjust. It is not always easy; sometimes it takes a little longer than it should and yes, sometimes I cry in private.  Children will always have you in their hearts but they will leave to find and follow their own lives. When they leave, they are looking forwards to their new lives which leaves us, their parents, looking backwards for sweet memories.

PFAM- The Stress of Having a Chronic Illness- Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Awareness

Fibromyalgia Awareness (Photo credit: Kindreds Page)

When you have Fibromyalgia stress is part of your life, it’s your face staring back at you next to the definition of “stress” in the dictionary. Wait. What? What were we talking about? I don’t remember, it couldn’t have been too important. It doesn’t matter. I had a good morning, the pain in my arms only woke me up twice during the night and it wasn’t bad at all getting out of bed if you don’t include the dizziness that happened when I tried to get up.  I actually was able to go out and do an errand, even two. My energy level was okay for an hour and a half to two hours! Then, the boat that is my life, sank like the Titanic. There were no survivors. That always happens. I should get used to it but I can’t. Maybe it’s Fibro Fog or pure denial but when I crash in the afternoon, every afternoon, I crumple like a rag doll and need to lie down. I can barely make it up the stairs on my own, the stair rail helps me up as I plod along slowly. It happens every single day. Maybe Fibro Fog and forgetting are better than acknowledging my sad, interrupted life.

My stomach aches, It’s probably IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome as we Fibro patients know, we get pain THERE too, it’s a classic symptom. Stress only makes it worse, where did it come from? We are not exactly sure, some say it’s from Fibromyalglia, some say it’s a gastrointerology disease, other say stress. No matter what, we can’t win.We can run to the bathroom with stabbing pain or basically not go at all. Pain all around. You can’t help it, there is nothing you can do but wait it out. Just an added bonus of Fibromyalgia, just one more question mark that will never be answered. It limits where we can go and when, which in itself is stressful. We have to plan or not plan at the last moment. Friends who understand call in the morning and ask “are we still on?” or “let’s see how you feel in the morning.” For every friend like that, there are two friends plus family members thinking or saying, “you should just exercise/eat gluten free/lose weight/gain weight/go holistic/ try acupuncture, get a massage etc. They are so strong in their feelings and I know it is out of love but I have stopped trying to defend myself and just let them talk as much as they want. Since it’s the 100th time, I don’t fight anymore, now I just pretend to listen.

This insidious illness has not only interrupted our lives, the lives we once had, but for me, divided it into two. Before Fibromyalgia and After. We mourn our old selves to a point, some people still hope for a cure, but I don’t. I need to focus on my new reality, the pills, the pain, the realization that I cannot do many things that I was able to do in the past. That sometimes I feel like half a mother, half a wife, that I have the energy of a cockroach, let me correct that, the energy of a nearly dead cockroach because those things can be feisty.

I am not feisty anymore but I once was. Those were the early days when I could describe myself, without hesitation, as HAPPY but also young. I remember saying that, though conjuring up the feeling now is so much harder. Luckily, when I had my children I did not have Fibromyalgia but they don’t remember all the running around, playing, swinging and rough housing on the floor we did because they were so young. That to me, is heart breaking. Ask them now, as young adults and I’m sure they will remember “Mommy is in bed, she doesn’t feel well” or “Mommy is sleeping.” Ask any mother who has Fibromyalgia if that’s not the tipping point for her. It was for me.You want to help your children until you become old. Fibromyalgia makes you old, makes you feel old and useless a good deal of the time. The stress of life continues and it waits for no one especially us. There’s not only physical pain with those of us with Fibro but emotional pain too. We are not who we used to be. Does anyone ever think of that?  We are half of who we were. People with Fibromyalgia don’t get a “do-over” we don’t even get a chance.

Yellow Magic Madness #3 Candle

Candle-flame-and-reflection

Candle-flame-and-reflection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love candles, always did. I used to collect candles when I was young. My father, for many, many years before he died, would buy me a candle every Christmas. It was a tradition. Now, my mom, my sister, even my son have given me candles as presents. Not only do I love them, but it keeps the memory of my father alive. I think it’s sweet that my family is trying to hold on to a tradition I dearly loved.

Life is too short to work so hard. (Carry on Tuesday)

English: Throughput Accounting Chart

English: Throughput Accounting Chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Oh my God, Mom, Dad, I’m trying, I told you like a hundred times but the only advice you give me is to find something I’m really interested in. I have no idea.  Oprah, every talk show host on television says “Life is too short so love what you do.”  Well, I don’t KNOW what I love to do, not everybody in the world knows, right?  I mean, I can’t be the only one, can I?

Look, you don’t think I’m envious of Jimmy down the street who knew at age nine that he wanted to be a doctor? Sure. But, it was easy for him, his father and mother are both doctors and he just followed them. Besides, there was never any question that he wouldn’t. Jimmy never had a mind of his own. I mean, really. Both his parents are podiatrists, gee, guess what field Jimmy is going to go into? Yup, feet. Dirty, smelly, old feet. Believe me, I’m NOT jealous, geez, why would I be? He’s always been a serious loser. C’mon Mom, you used to say that too, admit it.

Just because I don’t agree with you guys doesn’t mean I am being a “fresh mouth” and I don’t know what TONE you think I am using with you. How about let’s ALL take a deep breath. Okay. Do you think I like living with my parents at age 23? No, I don’t. But, what are you gonna do, are you gonna kick me out? YOU ARE? THAT IS SO MEAN. Oh, not yet but soon. I know the temp jobs I have been working at aren’t stable but like I said, I don’t know what to do and you guys said graduate school is out of the question.

I have said many times that I don’t want to be an accountant like Dad or a substitute teacher like mom. Dad, please listen and don’t get mad, I flunked every math class I ever took and you know I’ve always switched numbers around in my head, like dyslexia but not with words, with numbers. No, it is so true, my teacher told me it was a real condition. Anyway, I know you have been doing it for forty years and it makes a good salary but Dad, you don’t love what you are doing. Right? I mean honestly? I know you have the responsibility of taking care of the family and feeding us and all that and I admire you for that, but do you really want me to have the same life you have? I mean, really? Life is too short to work so hard that you dread going in every single day. Daddy, I thank you for doing this but I don’t want to do the same thing.

Maybe you can help me figure out what to do? Mom? You too. Please? I know I’m 23 but that doesn’t mean I’m all grown-up. It just means that I’m lost and afraid and older and believe me it makes me feel horrible and stupid. I still need you guys. A lot. It’s nice of you to say that I’m very smart and talented but I don’t feel that way at all, I feel insecure and stupid. So, yes, I would appreciate if we could all sit down and talk about options. Oh that? I knew you wouldn’t really kick me out the door. But, thanks for saying it.”

Carry on Tuesday: Life is a flower of which love is the honey

Indiana Farm

Indiana Farm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most mothers will straight out lie to you. Or just won’t talk. Fathers pretty much just stay out of these things, at least here they do.We’re just folks living a simple life. I tend to the house while my husband tends to the farm.

I’m going to talk to you straight about my daughter, Kylie. She’s 18 and for the life of me I don’t know where she comes from. I don’t get the child. We love her the same as her brother but we don’t get her, never did. She’s been different since she was born, whopping and hollering  just as soon as she came out. She looked angry at the world. Her brother, born in silence, I was scared he wasn’t breathing, but he was, just smiling. Our girl, screamed every darn day for a couple of years. She wouldn’t take naps any more, and by the afternoon she was cranky as all heck and nothing would calm that child. I tried it all. When her daddy came home I would stand at the door with my arms outstretched and her in them and I would hand her over and I would leave to go to Walmart to clear my head and get the groceries done, alone.

When she was older, she was real shy and I was her everything. It was a miracle. She would hide behind my legs and cling to me. If there was someone she didn’t like she would lift her arms up and whisper into my neck, soft like a kitten, “up, up.” I was her world, she only wanted me. Nobody else.  She had those big blue eyes and hair the color of love, sunshine and honey, long and straight, she looked like a  princess. I was the love of her life, like bees to flowers, that’s how much she loved me. Never been happier in my whole life.

Now she’s 18 and he is 20 and this is what no one tells you. “Motherhood now, is a thankless job.” Plenty of people will disagree and say “no, it isn’t” but for us, these teenage years are hell. I know it’s kind of boring here on the farm but that’s not our fault. We’ve all grown up in Indiana. That’s not a reason to disrespect us. They think they know everything better because they are going to  college but they have fresh mouths. It’s no fun being a parent any longer. But did anyone ever tell you that? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Nobody ever told me, that’s for sure. It would have been nice to know. Maybe I could have prepared myself.

My daughter treats me like the dirt that’s in our backyard. She steps on me and only is happy when I do something for her. That’s just not right. When she is in a bad mood her blue eyes get cold and icy and they stare through me like I was a ghost. She has attitude too and a fresh mouth. Oh, we’ve talked to her about it plenty of times, but she just can’t look inside herself. I swear, her feelings are so deep down it would take one of those big trucks to dig through her or maybe one of them rich, fancy doctors in the big city.  I’m the opposite. I cry like a baby, I can’t keep stuff inside me. My daughter can make me cry something fierce with her coldness and her being so mean, she doesn’t even seem to care. If I had acted that way with Mawmaw, she would have slapped me across my cheek until I learned better and I would have learned.

I’m telling you the truth here. They may love and adore you when they are little but that’s not a guarantee for the future. Not even close. Love them while you can. Cause you are not gonna have them forever. And the love you held so precious in your arms will be just, a memory, one that fades fast with time. Some people say “maybe she’ll come back to you when she’s older.” “Well”, I say, “Maybe but we’ll see, I’m not counting on it, that hurts too much”. But, I’ll be here, anyway, she’ll know how to find me.