Friday, March 30, 2012

Fairies Unicorns and Mountain Sprites

Fairies come in the light of the moon to visit us here at Little Beaver Creek. They wear caps made from the bloom on the white lilac and dance in fairy rings. Their laughter tinkles like bells and goes splashing along the creek.
They are calling to the unicorns to come and play. Now cavorting about with fairies makes the unicorns tired, and hungry. The unicorns sip silvery water droplets as they splash up from the creek rocks and much daintily on the wild violets that are scattered like amethyst tears throughout the clover and grass.
 The Redbud stands sentinel all along the ridges and paths, keeping safe the mountain sprites as they lead the delicate beauty of Spring through the mountains and valleys.

Hey, if millions of us can believe that for the price of a loaf of bread we can instantly have all of our cares and woes vanish, replaced by millions of dollars, then I can believe in fairies and unicorns and mountain sprites. I think the fairies already know how to makes those cares and woes vanish, carried away on the back of the unicorn as the mountain sprites dance alongside.

But I did hedge my bets and get a ticket anyway!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

February 25, 2012

There are pieces of time in my life I wish I could freeze. Moments that are so dear, so anticipated, so vital they take on the air of the surreal. A waking dream. Like an out of body experience or a dream so perfect you simultaneously realize you are dreaming and fight to stay asleep because you know the dream will end and you will never be able to pick up that gossamer thread again.

The 25th of February was like that for me. 

It was only the third time I had seen my daughter. She was born 02/21/1985.

The first time I saw her was in the seconds after I delivered her. 

I would have named her Lona Marie, a tribute to her 2 grandmothers. 

I was sent a picture of her a few months after her birth. The adoption had gone through without a hitch, and a very kind woman from the law firm in New York sent me what would turn out to be the only picture I would have of my only child for the next 23 years. 

After we were reunited in 2008, there were pictures again. Not a lot, but enough to ease the hunger my heart held for her. I received a call from her during the week before Easter in 2010 and we met at a Logans Steakhouse in Bristol, VA. We spent the afternoon together, getting to know one another a bit better. Roger was with me, her then fiance and now husband was with her. 

Seeing her just a few days after her 27th birthday was different. I was more relaxed, felt more at ease. She was travelling with a friend from Rhode Island to Texas. We met up in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart and they followed me to my mother's house, about a 30 minute drive. We were there for about 2 hours. Being able to see these three women I love together in the same room - indescribable. Roger makes handcrafted items, necklaces and fetishes and carved animals. I brought some for her, her friend and her husband. 

Afterwards we returned to Lebanon, and ate at Applebees. We talked, a great deal. Easy, comfortable conversation over food and drinks. 

For those in this life who have always had their parents and children as a part of their daily lives this whole scenario is probably hard to comprehend. I understand. There used to be a cable show on Lifetime, maybe it was WE. The Locator. I only watched a few episodes, do not even know if it is still on. It ripped my heart out, and the reunions were always the worst part.

My daughter's biological father passed away in 2002 so she will never have more than second hand knowledge of him. She has a half-sister and a half-brother, two half-nieces.  Eric, her half-brother, has apparently expressed no interest in having her in his or his daughters lives. Debbie, her half-sister, has communicated with her but there is not a strong connection at this time. These are things I cannot change, relationships I cannot give or build. Gaps in her heritage I cannot fill.

I can give her my family, the Smiths and the Slades. Uncles and Aunts and cousins. We started this process on February 25. 

It feels good, it feels right.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My father would have been 97 yesterday ...

On March 12, 1915, Robert Ernest “Poss” Smith was born to John Robert and Mattie Mae {Ernest} Smith. He was the third of eight children and the second of three sons.

When he was born, the family lived in the Bluefield, Virginia, area where his father was a locomotive Engineer for Norfolk and Western Railroad. While he was still a small child, the family moved to Richlands, Virginia, and settled in an area of town known as Dalton Addition. The family first lived in a 2-story wooden framed house typical of the era. As the children grew and extended family began to visit more frequently, his parents built a new, larger brick home on their property.

Poss was an adventurous child, and would often go off on his own to explore and amuse himself. His sisters told stories later in life of how adept he was at disappearing on the walk to church on Sundays, coming home hours later with stained clothing and a sheepish grin. He was given the nickname “Possum”, later shortened to Poss, at an early age, an apparent reference to his tendency to sneak off on his own. Poss was very much his mothers son, in part attributed to his father’s line of work. Being a train engineer was a time consuming profession and it had fallen upon Mattie to shoulder the bulk of the instruction and discipline of the children. From all accounts he had a happy childhood, and excelled in his studies in school.

Poss had aspirations of becoming a teacher of history, a dream that did not find favor with his father John and a series of defining events in his life began to unfold. John would not willingly finance a college education for the boy, who graduated from Richlands High School in 1931, about 3 months after his sixteenth birthday. A compromise was struck and he attained a 2 year certificate from a business college. He declined to go to work for Norfolk and Western and follow in his fathers footsteps, opting instead to try his hand at coal mining.

As he grew older he developed an appetite for alcohol that would play a destructive role in his life over years, the physical affects would eventually contribute to life altering ailments. He married a woman who was slightly older than he, Evelyn Stallard from Wise County, Virginia, and they quickly had fraternal twins, Larry and Gary. His inlaws were farmers, owning good sized apple orchards. Evelyn soon made apparent her desire that they live on her parents’ property and expected Poss to work for her father and with her brother in the orchards. He was not keen on this, and the couple fought bitterly. Evelyn moved back to her parents’ home when the children were very small, and Poss spent the next years rambling about the world.

I am unsure as to what he did when, but know the general idea of those years. His sister Fay and her husband Farris settled in Florida, and he spent no small amount of time there. He told me once that he had a job at one point that entailed going out into the ocean off the coast in the Cape Canaveral area and retrieving the experimental rockets that were being tested by the precursor to NASA. I have no doubt he worked hard at whatever he did, and played hard as well.

He spent no small amount of time in the Merchant Marines, and was aboard merchant ships during WWII. He used to tell us about the various ports he had visited, and of being on at least one vessel that took enemy fire from German submarines while transporting supplies to Allied forces and crossing the Black Sea. He had been ashore in France, England, Turkey, and Egypt and sailed around the horn of Africa. He spoke of Paris, Cairo, Ankara and other cities. He sailed out of New York and New Jersey most frequently. He was recruited to attend officers’ school while in the Merchant Marines but declined. He had a few scars from minor mishaps and suffered from the effects of malaria for as long as I could remember, having tremors and sweats for which he was prescribed medicine. When he would return from a voyage, he would send part of his pay to his mother, part of it for the support of his sons, and he would drink and carouse until he was broke with the remainder. From time to time he would find himself on a train headed to Virginia, where his mother would lovingly nurse him back to health.

He developed bleeding stomach ulcers as a result of his lifestyle and was ‘home’ to get healthy when he and my mother met.

My father was the best read man I have ever known. There were few subjects he could not converse about with no authority. 

He was in his forties when my sister and I, and our younger brother, were born. He had developed diabetes by the time he was 50, and suffered from congestive heart failure. He spent the last years of his working life as a salesman and warehouse foreman for a wholesale grocer in our town. He gardened well, growing an amazing volume and variety of food.

My father was sarcastic, and had an extremely jaded view of mankind. He was kind and lenient with his three youngest children and a loving grandfather in his later years. He thought of those he loved first, always. He had close friends he talked and visited with often. He loved cherry pie, apple pie, Boston cream pie and pound cake. He had a weakness for Reese’s cups and Kit Kat bars. He drank hot tea with milk and sweetener with his evening meal and always had fruit and cottage cheese as well.

When we were small we climbed over under and on him as if he were a jungle gym. I cannot count the times my mother punished me as a child, yet remember with shame the times he did so.

I am a spoiled woman today because he spoiled me as a child, and my sister will tell you the same.

I could, and one day may, write a book about him. Even then there would be much untold.

He passed away less than a month after his 71st birthday in 1986. I can still hear his voice in my dreams, and would like nothing more than to be able to make him lunch one more time. Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and Lane cake for dessert. I think he would be pleased.

I love you, Daddy.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I'm Back!

Well. I imagine the scattered few that read my blog may have wondered where I have been. 

My mother-in-law has had a few health problems, and the task of securing her in an assisted living facility was already in motion. My sister-in-law and her husband came to visit and undertook the task of taking her to visit the facility she had selected. [ She had met with the director of admissions in her home, and seen a brochure but had not seen the facility. ] The following day she was hospitalized following the third ER visit in less than 3 months. She was in the hospital for 7 days.

{Aside} Roger was at the hospital, in the elevator. The floor her room was on is patients on one wing, nursery and maternity on the other. There a young woman on the elevator with him, obviously on the way to visit a new mother and baby. She asked Roger if he was a new Daddy. He told her no, but he expects for a baby to be dropped on our doorstep any day.

She was released from the hospital on Saturday, February 25, the same day my daughter came to visit. [ My next post will be about that visit - it went very well! ] From the night of February 25 through the afternoon of  March 5 one of us was with Ann. Often it was both. She lived in a 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment. My sister-in-law and her husband took the dining table and chairs, a bedroom suite, and numerous Rubbermaid totes of miscellany back to New York with them. Patricia {sister-in-law} listed some items on Craigslist, we were able to sell the washer and dryer. The remainder of her belongings were packed and went either to storage, assisted living, or here to our home. 

If any of you have older parents, or if you are getting to that stage of life, please please please consider how much of the stuff you hold on to is really necessary. Please don't overstock your food supplies.Ask your parents and children some hard questions about what they have, and where it is kept. 

When you shop for food or clothing, keep in mind what you already have. I now have at least 6 bottles of vanilla extract, 3 graham cracker pie shells, 5 blocks of cream cheese, 4 frozen pie shells, cake mixes, canned beans, a freezer full of frozen vegetables and meats, nuts, raisins, soups, chili mix, instant potatoes, ketchup, vinegar, I could go on and on. This is all over and above what we had on hand two weeks ago. 

We have cleaning supplies, mops, brooms, rugs sitting everywhere. And there is a storage unit packed to the rafters. 


Americans have too much stuff.

Now we are trying to get our equilibrium back. The moon was full this morning, the Virgo Full Moon. Mercury is in retrograde, which purportedly can mean chaos in trying to get anything meaningful accomplished. Spring is well on the way, the garden preparations need to get seriously underway. We 'spring forward' this Sunday, and evening daylight returns. I just want to hibernate, go to my mental happy place.

Roger is stressed to the max, and our cats are not happy because in the course of the confusion they have had their daily routines turned head over heels. Smokie  has been laying on me constantly. So onward we go....