Un-Hallmark Mother

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Un-Hallmark Mother

While I gifted icon carnations
and Hallmark lines, “Mother” to me
smelled of duty and mothball wisdom.
She my root of conscience, scruple

permission to pursue the chaotic
then, like her, to sort and label.
I lived for her sideways compliments
overheard in conversations with her friends.

Her widow-grief broke down walls:
She was fellow-woman.
Our friendship rooted, blossomed—
she was always so good with flowers.

At the end when she needed help
even to get dressed
my heart pinged for her
like she was one of my kids.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

***********

Store-bought cards do express a sweet dimension of motherhood, but the real thing is always much more complex. I would be lying if I said my relationship with my mom was all good. We clashed sometimes during my teen years—and beyond. But we worked through our rough spots and became more than friends. It was a relationship that changed with the times and seasons. Mom died ten years ago this June. Does a daughter ever get over not having her mom around?

The photos are of one of our last outings in May 2006. Hubby and I drove her down to White Rock Beach, took her out for lunch, walked to the bear statue at the end of the path, went to the end of the pier, and posed her under the spring blossoms she loved so much.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday hosted today by Sylvia Vardell at her blog Poetry for Children.

Mother Speaks (NPM ’16-Day 19)

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Mother Speaks

Do not
throw it away,
we’ll use it for patches.
We can always eat bread—and eggs.
Na-yo.*

Are you
reading again?
Still not done the dishes?
You could always weed the garden.
Homework?

Early.
So much to do.
I’ll be in the garden.
Don’t be listening on the line.
Felt pens!

Can you
make some supper?
First you work, then you play.
We’ll have a picnic—I’ll make it
special.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

*****************

Yesterday’s prompt at NaPoWriMo was to:

“… write a poem that incorporates ‘the sound of home.’ Think back to your childhood, and the figures of speech and particular ways of talking that the people around you used, and which you may not hear anymore.”

I read the prompt in the morning and dismissed it. But then as I was making dinner last night, all these sayings that my mother had started coming back to me.

My mom was an amazing woman. As a mother of many children, she worked hard and expected me, as the eldest, to do my share. Mostly I was a pretty compliant kid, though I did choose inside jobs where I was routinely distracted by whatever was happening in the book I was reading at the time. I chose a counted syllable cinquain form to give the poem some ‘bones.’

*Na-yo is Low German expression that communicates a resigned “well yes.”

Delight

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child-818438_640Ben_Kerckx

Image: Kerckx /pixabay.com

A week ago, waiting in the doctor’s office, I spent some of the time people-watching. A mother and her 18-month-old caught my eye. The little guy, still in his foot PJs, was full of sauce (he was obviously not the sick one). He kept wriggling from Mom’s lap and wandering off into the nursing station and down the corridor that the nurse used to fetch the patients. The busy nurse gave Mom more than one sharp look as she jumped up to recapture toddler at least a dozen times. But never did that mother lose patience.

At one point the little gaffer toddled across the waiting room (in the opposite direction from the corridor) and I had a full view of Mom’s face. The look on it as she followed the movements of her little man was pure delight. Us onlookers may have felt other emotions as we watched her youngster, so determined to explore his world. But in her eyes he was all cuteness, precociousness, and wonder.

I love Irene Latham‘s word “delight” as a one-little-word choice. It speaks to me of looking for and finding the kind of joy, pleasure, and enchantment in the things around me that that mom saw in her little boy. She could have reacted to his continuous wanderings with annoyance. But instead she reacted with delight. I imagine she saw in her little boy’s actions not an inconvenience to herself but signs of growth, a healthy curiosity, and developing self-confidence. And of course he was hers and she loved him.

There is so much to see that is delightful around us in people, in nature, and in circumstances if we would but open our eyes and choose to view things that way.

Spiritually, I believe God looks down at us, His creatures, with a lot more delight than we realize. A verse I love in this regard is Zephaniah 3:17. It even has motherly overtones:

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love
he will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)

Let’s revel in His delight today.

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This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning.

 

Converting to Childhood

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“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven…'” Matthew 18:2,3.

When Holly, host of Spiritual Journey Thursday, mentioned that she was intending to write about CHILDLIKENESS in her SJT post today, I immediately thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 18. I also remembered a poem I wrote a few years ago. “Converting to Childhood” has some of my ideas of what Jesus may have meant when he talked to his disciples about being converted and becoming as little children. What do you think He meant?

P1020203

“… Daddy is nearby.”

Converting to Childhood

Jesus: “… unless you are converted and become as little children
you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3

You lose sophistication and veneer
and become clear
sing, skip and play
easily laugh and cry
then fall asleep without a care
for Daddy is nearby.

No longer do you worry
about whether there will be
food to eat, clothes to wear
how to get from here to there.

You’re malleable clay again
learning your family’s ways and graces.
And once again you fit
into small places.

© 2007 by V. Nesdoly
******************

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

Join us each week for Spiritual Journey Thursday

This poem is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

 

Without Proof (review)

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Without Proof (Redemption's Edge, #3)Without Proof by Janet Sketchley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two years after her fiancé Gilles died beside her in the cockpit of the plane he crash-landed on a Nova Scotia highway, Amy Silver is getting back on her feet emotionally and physically. She has even taken off the gold chain that held Gilles’ engagement ring. Then comes the day reporter Troy Hicks makes an unwelcome appearance at the Stratton Art Gallery where Amy works.

He is full of questions. Despite that the police investigation concluded the crash was an accident, is Amy sure? He’s heard rumors of foul play. Will she help him dig deeper?

Troy’s snooping around followed by his article in the paper starts a series of events that make Amy more suspicious than ever that the plane malfunction of that awful day was no mishap after all. But should she try to prove it? At what price?

Gilles’ good friend, artist Michael Stratton now Amy’s boss at the gallery, begins acting strangely too—protective, even possessive. Trouble is, she has begun to fall for him. So what do his actions mean? They’re probably loyalty to Gilles, big-brotherly care, or even emotional instability—surely not a sign of the deepening relationship she hardly lets herself dream about.

In Without Proof, the final book in the three-book Redemption’s Edge romantic suspense series, author Janet Sketchley introduces threats, danger, and mystery into the homey tranquility of Stratton Gallery, the gallery / residence Amy, Aunt Bay, and Michael share. Soon the sinister lurks behind each phone call and text message.

We view unfolding events through Amy’s eyes and wonder, is art buyer Ross Zarin the considerate gentleman he appears to be? Why is Gilles’ sister Emilie so desperate to get Amy out of the way? Is Michael’s concern for her genuine or the first sign of a stalker-in-the-making?

Without Proof addresses many important themes including fear, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. Through the unflinching Christian faith of Aunt Bay, Amy faces her own feelings of unworthiness. Through the testimony of Ruth Warner (from book 1 of the series) Amy realizes she needs to forgive her absent father. There’s also the sweet, but never cloying, romantic side of the story that had me cheering for Amy from the first page.

Sketchley’s skillful way with words kept me spellbound until the story’s last action-packed scene. Though this book ends the series, let’s hope Sketchley has some more romantic suspense brewing in her Nova Scotia study!

I received Without Proof as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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Let’s Pretend We’re Normal (review)

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Let's Pretend We're Normal: Adventures in Rediscovering How to Be a FamilyLet’s Pretend We’re Normal: Adventures in Rediscovering How to Be a Family by Tricia Lott Williford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Mr Responsible died, suddenly and tragically. He was sick for only twelve hours. … A thief named sepsis stole his breath and his heartbeat, and his spirit slipped right through Curly Girl’s fingers, even as she tried to save him on the floor of their bedroom only two days before Christmas.”

This grim scene from the Prologue is the background of Tricia Lott Williford’s memoir Let’s Pretend We’re Normal—Adventures in Rediscovering How to Be a Family. You’d expect the story of how Williford and her two young sons, Tucker and Tyler, get back on their feet after their husband’s/father’s death to be a bummer. But it isn’t.

That’s because Williford is a great storyteller and fabulous writer. Though there are lots of sad times, she never melodramatizes them or milks them for sympathy. The only way we know she cries a lot is because her boys mention it in their conversations—of which she has wonderful recall.

In Let’s Pretend we see a mother trying to explain to two little daddy-less boys where God is in all this. We observe the three of them working through stages of grief. And Williford lives parenting before us in ways that I, if by some miracle I found myself parenting young children again, would want to copy.

There’s lots of humor too and scenes that any modern, busy, technology-blessed North American family can relate to. Plus there are stories that tug at the heart.

One of my favorites is of Williford buying a homeless man, Dave, a Happy Meal—and him coming back at her with encouragement from the Bible. Her conclusion:

“… I wondered if perhaps I had just had lunch with an angel sent on a mission” – Kindle Location 1180.

Another is the conversation she has with her boys one night after reading the story of God testing Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. Discussing their family’s test of losing husband/father, her older son asks:

“’But Mom, do you think God has an important job for you to do? And that’s why he asked you to give up my dad? … Mommy, do you know God has picked you to write these books. He made you a writer to tell stories. And so maybe God had to know you would trust him no matter what” – Kindle Location 2275.‘”

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends will gain insight, compassion, and wisdom from Tricia Lott Williford’s faith-saturated story of family, grief, and recovery.

I received Let’s Pretend We’re Normal as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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Sorry—I’m Not Sorry (review)

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Sorry I'm Not Sorry: An Honest Look at Bullying from the BullySorry I’m Not Sorry: An Honest Look at Bullying from the Bully by Nancy Rue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When twelve-year-old Kylie, the leader of a posse of bullies, is summoned to the principal’s office of Gold Country Middle School one morning in June (along with her parents, her friends, and their parents), she’s not even nervous. That is, until she sees who else is there. Besides the principal, there is “Gingerbread,” the girl she and her friends have been bullying, and Lydia:

“…the Dwarf. Lydia Somebody. She was a weirdly short woman with too much hair who thought she could come in and stop it all” – Kindle Location 105.

The meeting that day begins a summer like no other for this privileged tween. Grounded from her cell phone and computer, she quickly loses power over Heidi and Riannon. She must also do weekly study sessions with Lydia and satisfactorily complete a project if she is to have any hope of returning to Gold Country and its cheer leading troupe in the fall. Part of the project turns out to be teaching a summer school dance performance number to a half-dozen klutzy elementary-aged girls—a real challenge for someone who is all about coolness and image.

Author Nancy Rue seems well informed about modern methods of bullying. She has the voice of a cocky tween down pat (Kylie tells the story in first-person). As the story unfolds and we work through Kylie’s issues with her, we begin to understand some of bullying’s dynamics. Kylie’s parents, with their permissive and inconsistent parenting style, may be part of the problem. And she also has some well-buried hurts and fears from early childhood that she hasn’t faced. Toward the end of the story Kylie has her own experience of being bullied, helping us experience bullying from both sides and making Sorry—I’m Not Sorry a great choice for pre-teen girls.

The Christian message is subtle. It mostly comes through Lydia who mentions, at one point, how she prays for wisdom before each session with Kylie, and models the listening ear, the love, and the firm direction that helps Kylie go from being a bully ringleader to an ardent member of the “Bullying is so not okay” movement.

I received Sorry—I’m Not Sorry as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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