You are not like them. You should be living in the city with interesting  people…people with ideas and open mindedness! YOU are funny. YOU are interesting. YOU could talk to anybody at a hockey game or a Jewish circumcision. THAT’S Amazing! YOU are a ray of sunshine, drowning in that dark family.

-An honest friend

I grew up in a small rural town in the middle of a midwestern state. We had more bars than churches, unless it was Sunday, then we acted like we had more churches than bars.  There was one public and one parochial school. Most everyone lived on a dairy farm or was a townie and though there were railroad tracks running on the south side side of town there was no division of the populace as simple as living on the right or wrong side of the tracks, but instead we relied on some factor I never figured out; not what you had or didn’t, not who you knew or didn’t but a more elusive trait probably defined by whether people knew if your dad drank every afternoon away at the corner bar, the sign outside actually read THE CORNER BAR, and some defining decibel level measuring system that categorized the volume of your mother’s voice when she was screaming about something you had done wrong, the middle name usage included.

Small town minds, small town rules, small town gossip, small town labels. Apply whatever pecking order you wish, the truth was I grew up with a loud mother, a father who couldn’t carry on a conversation with anyone unless he was holding a guitar in his hand and had a case of Pabst in his belly and was asking for a request and the five o’clock church bells ringing at from the bell tower to remind me every single day that I simply was going to hell for the impure thoughts I had to keep at bay every night when I pulled the covers over me and waited for the neighbor boy to sneak in to my yard at night at rap on my window and offer me a cigarette in exchange for some french kissing and patience with his fumbling to open my bra strap while he’s acting like freeing my budding breasts is not what he’s up to at all.

There’s not a lot of self-awareness in a small town, not until you leave, if you look back, if you look back and have any sense of comparison, if you are wiling to step just one foot into the future that doesn’t involve the rules of the small town think tank. Suddenly, one semester of college and your world opens up. You recognize the guidance counselor at the high school tells all the boys to go to technical college and all the girls to enroll as an administrative assistant program, that is, if they weren’t pregnant or already engaged to be married in the next year or two after graduating. Small town schools prepare you well for following the instructions of the authority figures in your life to their faces at least and for spending time drinking at road parties and getting felt up at every opportunity which loosely translated means after dark whenever there is or isn’t alcohol involved.

And there’s this thing called the age of 18; a simple rule that means the male teachers at your school, some of who are fresh out of college themselves, the male teachers know they can look at a few of the graduating seniors as potential wives, and maybe he leans in a little too closely during instruction and brushes fingers along backs of some pretty little hands during lessons and then write a hall pass for extra homework help in 7th hour and counts on some young girl’s teacher fantasy to deliver just enough of a dose of angst that she’ll let her little ass, wearing a pair of tight fitting Levis, saunter into a classroom, almost innocently with that hall pass in hand and a petulant look of surprise when he doesn’t just sweep he into his arms and take her head to the stars and instead he holds her off, telling her he wants to but it wouldn’t be right, and making her think for the rest of her adult life that all relationships have to start in the darkness of impropriety, risk and naughty denial because she is wanting teacher to touch her, touch her everywhere.

So there’s also a bit of intervention from the goodness, the teachers who have a little conference and decide to bestow some opportunities on a family or three with potential. The little girl with hair that smells like cigarettes but is eager to please, reads like books will all be banned tomorrow and has a mouth on her that spits out vocabulary words at a volume learned from her mother’s rants about whatever piece of furniture was now ruined from kids using it as a launch pad for olympic gymnastic routines. She’s the girl who stops wearing the knee-length dresses on Good Fridays, who picks out a pair of 3 inch heels in seventh grade to wear with pink pants and the one who who is clearly on the wrong path if there is no intervention. That kid. The kid that is absolutely crying out for some sort of adventure that will steer her to some life bigger than aiming for the Miss Smalltown crown and get her to see that she could answer to her own story, write it any way she wishes if she will just take a minute to pause and see that something bigger than where she’s been is waiting to meet her, introduce itself and ask her to slip in the front seat and drive.


Keys, please. 

#for Reticent Mental Property. Images from personal collection. 4/23/2017

Pfft. She did all the fighting. Not me.

I did not live in those moments. I lived through them.

I was not the patient. I had no right to sympathy. I took the easiest route.  I powered through. Ignored the pain and realities. And was strong for every one else.

It is what we do.

It is called mothering.

Even today, 1.5 years into remission, into Her remission, we are reluctant to feel the strain, the pain. We did nothing really.

We may have hurt our children, more.

We let them pick and poke and prod.
We told Her to let them pick and poke and prod.

We put on a happy face.
We told her to put on a happy face.

We woke in the night, held a feverish head, supported an emaciated body as she walked to the toilet in the night.

We let the nurses move her, turn her, time her, palpitate her abdomen, press her wrist, adjust her lines.

We mothered, more.

We faked patience, feigned indifference to another delay of release.

We colored easter eggs in hospital gowns with vinegar the custodian brought up from his cleaning closet.

We made excursions in wheelchairs and raced it down hallways and up hills and over terrain that was not supposed to be traversed by wheels.

We welcomed resident doctors, and nurses in training and repetitive inspections of heart, and lung and bowels. We laughed at fledgling bedside manners.

When we could, we participated in study drugs, research protocols, tests on our own child, to further the treatments; simply to save another child this pain and ridiculousness.

We were stronger than we knew we had to be. We were fakers. We faked it full-on, with blatant disregard for truth, we lied, outright and straight-forward and with conviction.

We were heartbroken takers of a moment of peace,  of a minute of pain-free time.

We cheered for CBC results, we rejoiced at nutraphil increases, we celebrated the beating back of gram negative rods in her gut.

We made joyful noise with hugs and knowing glances. We laughed at the repetitive day to day of the hospital bed.

“How are you? Can we get you anything?”  Yes. You can fucking get my kid healthy and out of this damn, sterile unit.  What? That is what you were offering?

You asked. Jeezuz. You fucking asked my kid. Stop. Have mercy. Just stop. 

#for Reticent Mental Property. Images courtesy of life. 





Our Hours


At the karaoke bar near the lakeside resort, she sits facing him, her legs apart, draped over his, comfortable in the closeness, her toes dangle, kick out, keeping time with the music.

The bartender delivers on the Irish Car Bomb and laughs when they make a mess and they give it right back, teasing her, tell her they will lick it up rather than let it go to waste with the wipe of the bar rag.

They sit. They dance. They play.

They joke about anything. They talk to anyone. And they talk with each other.

Strangers come in to their space. Men touch her hair, high-five her to feel her skin, lean in. Women remark on their energy, take notes, ask for history and stats and try to soak in their heat.

They don’t see the magic around them. They don’t see much at all. They feel. They feel it. They blatantly deny they are husband and wife, insisting on lovers, a far better claim than the title the rule-makers tend to admire.


The hours pass. They look up, disturbed, rather bewildered, upon hearing last call. 

#for Reticent Mental Property. Images courtesy of the web.




Daily Prompt- Craving



Twisting around inside this self, turning heads and steering sights, I’m wandering in the words and ways of the everyday. There’s a longing and a restlessness that doesn’t require action. Simple awareness of the moment, a desire to be seen but not always heard. I take it in. I take you in. I take in what finds me.

A grandfather walks toward the coffee shop with his young charge while noting the beautiful woman wanting to cross the same threshold. The younger version of himself, both the one he is inside, that young boy who never leaves his ever-aging body and the tow headed grandson spending the morning with him meet at the doorway.

The young woman, hair up, heels on, summer dress flowing remains unseen until Grandfather’s wisdom and manners step forward into the day.  These two young men cross paths in the few seconds it takes to open the door wide allowing her to enter before them.  With effortless ease, a simple smile and a nod to the young woman, the simple act of pausing becomes a learning moment across generations.

It is the same morning. It is the same coffee shop. It is the same sun shining down onto the day. She is taking in the learning. She has her eye on the entry. She sits at the littlest table, next to the window, her bottomless mug refilled, swirling the cream into the darkness of the cocoa infused roast.  She craves the opportunity to seize perspective, to perhaps validate the notion there is something to be gained in the present moment. She is hopeful.

Another car pulls to the curb. The woman driving is white haired and tinier than she was years ago, her eyes are not as blue, her shoulders are not as wide. Her hands, still steady, hold the jumble of keys needed to access their current world including car keys, the silver one that opens the front door of the cabin, the post office box, the copy of one that opens the back door to their daughter’s house.

The sedan is parked curbside. The passenger door opens and a man with hair not as dark as it once was, with hands not as steady as they once were grips a cane that supports legs not as strong as he’d like them to be. The gentlemen steps onto the sidewalk, turns to her, watches her make her way to the cement beside her and without fanfare, turns to the cafe entrance and deftly, expertly, hustles hips that function just as they once did, just a step ahead of his still beautiful partner and gracefully opens the door for this treasured woman in his life.


She is open to the lesson of the moment.

#for Reticent Mental Property. Participation in Daily Prompt August 4, 2016.



Her Truth

hanss ontattoo

I’m in a time of great change, Dear Reader.

My priorities remain constant- my children, my mind, my authenticity.

My growth causes pain; my heart is larger than my frame; my choices force choices where none were thought needed.

I am learning so much…things I didn’t want to learn, things I didn’t want to teach.


She grabs her mat and goes to her practice. 


#for Reticent Mental Property. Images courtesy of the web.



My friend tells me all the most important things in life are learned through painful experience, her suffering necessary before the enlightenment. Hours of crying, raw awareness of failures, deep sadness and brutal truths.


The contrast of missing someone makes us appreciate the return; absence makes the heart grow fonder…

Many believe someone comes across hard times, pain, illness and loss because a higher power has something to teach them.

I reject it all.


We learn in hard times because we strive to pull something good out of the mess. The good is always there, the mess, fleeting.

We learn from hope- that belief in something good, something so far beyond pain and sorrow.

The human spirit tells us today will be a better day. When we listen to those internal, often silenced voices…when we give our heart’s response the credit,  cut off the attribution to pain we feel the sunshine, hear all the music, balance atop our spinning world. Let’s stop glorifying pain with a capital P.

Yes, sometimes we have to sit in the middle of the mess and feel, and own, and accept the great sadness- and then be still – so we can hear the lesson.


It’s not the sadness that is required for the learning; it’s the listening.


#for Reticent Mental Property. Image courtesy of the web.



Live in the moment; try to be present.

The meaning of life – the reason we are put here on earth, the secret to happiness – is to live in the moment; to be fully engaged in that.single.moment…

And to learn from those precious moments we are given. -Ret

And in our time together I am shattering the philosophy while at the same time adhering fully to it.

I’m enjoying my day to day here in the present, in the doing what I do, while having the conversations I have, while immersed in the big projects from sunrise to sunset; every little observation enhanced because I filter each through the music I strive to pull into my life.

And at the VERY same time, I’m only half-here, half-present in the meaningful moments.  I’m only half-enraptured with the eruption of spring, only half-laughing at the antics of friends and family, only half-entranced with the starlight and moonbeams and the riffs I hear in the wind. Your smile is carried through its chorus, moves my hair across my cheek, my collarbone, tangling it into the eyelashes of these wizened and wondering hazel eyes.

Only half of me is here, present.

And half of me, is gone, a little lost,  living in the day to day of feeding your body, feeling your hunger for my limbs, letting my heart beat match yours while fingers play the length of forearms and across shoulders, tracing slowly the muscle and bone of your back.

Ours is a simple love in a complex structure of loving. And I am so grateful for the learning.

There you are! There you are.You have found me, all of me. Where have I been wandering all of my life?  

#for Reticent Mental Property. Image from the web.