Gifting: Ten for Today

A day of gift giving, my family gathered to celebrate the holidays early. As usual, I was the master distributor of the 75-odd gifts (or more) to the anticipating gift-ees. The small children lent a hand.
 
My two adult children (or near) stared into their phones but were grateful and gracious, for the most part. They liked what I surprised them with this year–Totoro themed shirts and tiny ceramic hedgehog planters from the gift store at the Japanese market–the small gifts as appetizers to the main dish, the blue and white wrapped cash wad.
 
Some years I’m not as successful. I’m not good at giving or receiving gifts. I mean, I’m thankful in just the right degree, I’m sure, when given presents. But gifts trigger slight anxiety in me, a discomfort with the offering. 


First, I don’t want for anything, and especially material things. Second, the offeror anticipates my response. All givers want to know they chose well, or already know they haven’t but hope to be surprised, or just want to get past the whole ordeal.
 
It’s excruciating the subtle yet deeply cutting undertones, nuances and inflections inherent in gift exchanges. Always lurking behind the handing over is “Will he/she like it?” And the risk is “No, he/she has that overly thankful, forced corners way up smile with nothing behind the eyes.” Nope. Rejection.
 
Honestly, the best gifts I’ve ever received, I can’t even remember. My husband gifted me lovely, thoughtful treasures through the years, from fashion wear to Shiraz to diamonds, but my most treasured gifts were bestowed upon me un-offered.
 
I inherited a good sense of humor, and so many people happenstance’d into my days with a laugh and an irony for smirks. My mother’s logophilia seeped into my bones too, and I can’t measure that reward, that unearned prize.
 
I have long legs and patience, capacious passion and anger, boundless love and delicate touch, all ignited at the thrust of that last push and first inhale–at birth. My DNA, what a gift! And those who’ve spent their time with me, enjoyed my story, shit on me, broke my heart, and prayed for me, all presents: bow-less, ribbon-less and priceless clay-of-me potters.
 
I remember those gifts by name.

  

In Praise of Praise: Poem 9

Not a participation trophy fan, still, I believe in praise–fair props.

Praise the days, praise the nights, praise the accident that is us,

Our planet, our time, our space, our separate solitary worlds,

together and apart, unable to perceive reality let alone truth,

less a word than a gurgling gut full of sense and the sensible.

 

We commend, we lionize, we sing songs to the laudable, those

who earn their accolades in tributes, panegyrics and eulogies.

But who among us have not suffered the humiliating red ribbon 

Or the diagnosis despite healthy choices, good living, and grace?

Bits of luck, shame, misfortune, health and love–praise chaos.

 

Through the singeing piss soaked stain of soiled panties, sobbing,

Sitting beside the third grade boy crush and plum of my notice,

Shame burns indelibly, but the blush of recognition, heart-pump pride

in mastering a job well done, earned in doubt and fear, curtained hope,

A+, raise, high 5, and fist bump, all winking nod to gratitude’s birthright.

Two Years


 

Two years ago, life was as different as it was the same as it is now. While so much has changed, not much has either:

Two years ago, my mother could speak and recognize me fairly often. She does neither now, or rarely. But she is still here.

And both daughters were in high school then, the older just having turned 18, a senior and the younger a freshman. They both played soccer for their school, which took up much of our time between playing, attending and enjoying games, volunteering and fundraising, etc. Now neither does. One left home and came back. The other continues on without and now with her sister. We spend time doing other things now, like talking in coffee shops, shopping, bookstore browsing and eating. Sisters are still sisters, daughters, daughters.

And about that same time, I was teaching six classes and running–and not just exercising. Too busy to think about anything. Two years later, I teach two classes and refuse to run.

People have moved in and out of my life yet somehow all still remain, though the live connections grow more tenuous and infrequent. 

Stronger, thinner, and lighter then but calmer, wiser, and slower now, I am, all for the better and worse, in just a matter of days, weeks and two years.

Two years ago I started this blog with no other intention than to write, no expectations. That has not changed. And though WordPress reports hundreds and thousands of posts and views and followers attributed to this blog, which has grown in words, mine, yours, and others’, the daily writing discipline over the months has not changed–I write. 

I am still happy then as now to have shared words for all eyes who have cared to read–and am grateful for any morsel of insight, amusement, pleasure or education I may have bestowed upon a passerby here; touching another is the aim and hope. 

Peace and blessings.

Thank you,

Gaze    

Mornings

Morning quiet, 

the children and their father 

 are visiting far family 

–the other coast kin.

Silence woke me at 5,

in nature’s alarm,

floored by fleeting time’s passing.

So I padded through a dark kitchen

out the French doors opening

to trees, wall-ivy and cement.

Fog painted my yard early or 

late last night.

  
My morning treasure hunt,

gathering fruit like ancients before me,

I pluck a near ripe tangerine.

  
Dew muffles the circle’s slow awakening.

Only the witness and I ruffle the thick, cool air, 

she inside, me out–both dark of day denizens.

 

Inside, the brewed elixir–arisen–awaits 

the heat of my lips, warm breath

chicory and oily coffee bean permeates.

  

Drawn along softly in my wake, 

unprepossessing, anticipating

every  step and saunter, click

and rushing air precipitated by

daylight’s motion in muted tones,

she watches–just in case.

I feel her eyes and cast mine downward.

   
  

Patience–she sits center in wait,

eyes beaming a steady pinpoint plea:

Notice me. Give me hand.

And I do, bent over her supplication

until the toaster pops and

the noise straightens my knees 

and takes my face away.

  

 

A bite of breakfast timed to her arrival,

stirrings from rooms behind, 

the caretaker wheels her in,

the ritual rousing now complete.

   
  
My first meal companion–

brain-shut in stifled words

uttered inside an airy maze,

once an ordered, meter-mind    

sounding poetry and song, love

and laughter, the mothering kind.

“Good morning, Mom.

Another unpromised day greets us,

so let’s play the lottery with our luck.”

Her inward stare toward the window

flickers only hair trigger slightly.

And the powerful sun, 

still swallowed in mist 

nods assent.

   

In Gratitude…#Nanowrimo completed: 23 days, a novel

  
Seems befitting that on this weekend of gratitude, I conclude this huge though not impossible endeavor with the following:

While reintegrating to my life by inches, loving the smallest favors first like the grip of a long handled toothbrush or the pleasure of a private shit and shower, my own bed with more than two inches of mattress and a box spring in the quiet of my home, ragged as it was and is, snuggled inside the lefthand loop of a cul de sac; then appreciating bigger things like the love of a family that has been loving me–hard–more than I let myself feel, all this time. 

My family, blood and adopted, came through for me in a way that shocked me, even though it could not have been more predictable. They wrote, visited, and watched; they stood by and pitched in. They witnessed helplessly as I crumbled and paid enormous sums to secure my freedom, cried for me in my grief but did not pity me nor make themselves the heroes; they took care of me. 

JM stepped up for me and suffered like the brave and strong he never knew he was, taking up the mantle where I had dropped it. He came through for all of us, doing whatever he had to, and he proved to himself he was strong, something he needed to know but couldn’t since he had never needed to before. That was my job–ensuring that no one needed to be strong. I coddled them as organizer, unifier  and fixer. Now they took up the reins and showed themselves worthy of the task. And I received.

Happy Thanksgiving!

  

Once again, just like the last ten or more years, I got to host Thanksgiving dinner for my loud, wacky family, both immediate and extended. I spend days cooking and cleaning for this event, pulling a 14 hour day of non-stop cooking, serving and cleaning today. And the clean up will not be done for another couple of days, maybe three or four dishwasher loads on top of a few sink loads of dishes by hand and dismantling the serpentine table and chair arrangements wending through the dining and living areas. This year there were thirty of us, including the usual stranger who has no place to go for Thanksgiving. I am proud of my family members for offering a spot at our table–and there is always one or two each year. I love my family. They’re good people.

I have the great good fortune to belong to a family that can gather once or twice a year like this and break bread together, catch up on lives, loves and laughs. I take great care to provide them with a memorable meal and gathering, cooking two turkeys, one barbecued and one roasted, accompanied by apple-leek stuffing and cider gravy, the butternut apple cider soup they all love and rave about all year long, and pumpkin pie from scratch. And everyone else brings the wonderful sides: mashed and sweet potatoes, fresh asparagus in butter sauce, fresh cranberry sauce, honey baked ham (Dad doesn’t care for turkey), root vegetable medley, and pies, lots of pies. We love our tradition, and these foods make up our tradition no matter who has been added or subtracted from our gathering.

Though she stays in the back room now, unaware that her entire beloved family that she grew and raised and helped raise, my mom is still with us bodily, and sometimes mentally. But I am hopeful she knows with some other part of herself that we are here, senses it deep within her neurons, some vibrations. And I am so grateful to have her, have them, and have all that I have. I truly won the lottery. I hope I never take that for granted. 

Peace and love to you and yours,

Gaze

 

Today I am not…

  
1. Dying of cancer

2. A refugee

3. Mourning the loss of a loved one

4. Unemployed

5. Incapacitated by illness or loss of limb

6. Alone

7. Childless

8. Parent-less

9. Abandoned

10. Living in a war-torn country

11. In danger of losing the safety of shelter

12. Hungry

13. Unloved

14. Empty

15. Sensorily impaired

16. Born to the hordes of un- and under-privileged

17. Devoid of wonder

18. Unable to experience beauty

19. Unable to create or feel

20. Under threat of destruction by weather, natural disaster, aliens, calamity or death by natural causes.

…and so, I have already won the lottery.