1955-2010

Every time I hear Jerry’s
voice
I think of the hours we spent
driving around
soaking the sun into our
fair
and
freckled
skin.

It seems we went
everywhere
in the Jeep.
The sun filtering into our car,
baking me,
as my eyes droop
in the ultimate serenity of it
all.

I sit beside you with my window rolled down,
the wind tangling my
brown mop
for your lack of one
as we reach 85.

Your aged hands, thick and healthy
beat the steering wheel
in rhythm to the drums,
keeping you in the song
infinitely.

It’s something I got from you,
you know.
To find beauty in sound.
To find beauty in what others considered
small things.
Because really,
they were all we truly needed.

And each other.
And that remains.

When the dancing bears
pass me by
I think of our adventure to get tickets
to a concert I was too young to see.
Your strong, tough, large hand
enveloping my tiny one
that was so untouched by the world
you wanted to keep it that way,
protecting it
and me
as you held tight.

One swift movement
and I could easily be in your arms
against your warm
chest
with your heart thumping loudly into my ear
away from anything too scary
for my innocent
blue eyes.

I was able to see then
that smiling,
enjoying other peoples company,
and wearing long flowy skirts with anklets that
made music when you walked
were what
it all seemed to be about.
A simple truth
I easily understood,
standing less than five feet tall.

And that remains.

Glancing at my bookcase,
always resting
is the giant red book you gave me
from when you graduated college
as your way to encourage me to get there too.
Barely able to see my face in the bathroom mirror,
it was too big to handle
with too many words I did not know
and could not pronounce
even if I tried,
and only lately
is it manageable.

A book found in every home,
but special
because
it is worn
and it was
your gift to me.

I see many new additions;
all familiar
and
some I know that are older
than me.
When I take them down
-always gentle-
I rustle through the pages
looking for a place to crawl
into,
where you’re just awaiting
my company.

And sometimes
when I find your
scribble
here
and
there it reminds me of
myself
and
how we are
truly
one of a kind.

And that remains.

When I sink into the couch
and watch the History Channel
you take the remote and change it anyways.
When I’m sick with a fever
you still check in to make sure
I’m not really faking it.
When I get a good grade
you’re still all ears
forever replying, “Not bad.”
When I wake in the middle of the night
from the worst
nightmare a person
could ever have
you’re there to put me back to bed.
When I’m on the train
doing homework
you sit down next to me
so no one else will.
And when I feel alone I just think back to
Jerry’s voice
and all the years we
had
knowing that they remain.

Even if all that remains now are remains.

The Power of Music

I am a big believer in the power of music. I believe it can heal in every way. Check out this video to watch Henry, a previously introverted man in a nursing home, come to life through music. Some may say it’s magical. But I say it’s better than that. It’s real.

5 Things To Do On Any Day

Hello all! I normally won’t be posting on Sundays but I had the special honor of writing a guest post for the blog 5 Things To Do Today and would love if you’d check it out! Follow the link below to my post and check out the other great posts on the site as well; they’re really wonderful!

http://www.5thingstodotoday.com/2013/01/21/5-things-to-do-on-any-day/

The Gift of Grandparents

Most kids get raised by their parents. Mom and Dad come to school concerts, drive to basketball practice, and make dinner. But then there are the special few who have their grandparents help out when parents fall short. I am a member of this select few.

In elementary school, I lived with my mom despite her behavioral-emotional disorders. Living hours away, and completely unknown to me, my dad battled in the courts to have me live with him. In his physical absence and my mother’s mental one, my maternal grandparents picked up the slack.

Every Friday night, they would drive an hour from their house to the apartment where my mom and I lived just to order a pizza, have dinner and then take me back to their house for the weekend. (When my sister was born, she also came along.) During those weekends, I was able to exercise my imagination by creating fantasy worlds of my own with dolls, costumes and stories I would tell. I became the first female child usher in the church my grandpa attended. I learned how to swim. My grandpa would take me to the park and let me run wild, going up and down slides, swinging on the monkey bars, and rolling down hills until my clothes were covered in grass stains. I saw a real live elephant at the circus, sang along to musicals and ate more ice cream than should have ever been allowed.

At ten, I finally moved in with my dad and began to collect memories with one of my parents. Despite the move however, my dad made sure to keep my grandparents an integral part of my life. Every weekend instead of my grandparents coming to pick me up, my dad would drop me off at their house on his way to work as a private nurse where he would be for the whole two days and then pick me up each Sunday night.

If the weekends weren’t my oasis already, they certainly were now. Living with my dad was a new experience altogether and being able to return to the place I was so comfortable with-if only for two days-helped me adjust to the change by providing me with a time and place of routine and familiarity. Every Friday night when my dad would drop me off, my grandma already had marinara sauce bubbling away on the stove to make my favorite dinner: a giant plate of her pasta. These weekends I went ice skating, pretending I was an Olympic gold medalist. My grandma took me shopping for school clothes and let me wander around Barnes and Noble for hours at a time. They continued to let me grow, even when the path through adolescence was bumpy.

Slowly, I became more adjusted and comfortable to living with my dad and began to create a sense of familiarity and comfort in our home. I began to visit my grandparents less, but still kept them integrated in my life with daily phone calls and occasional visits.

But when my dad passed away when I was only seventeen, I had to move in with a relative. It was difficult coming to terms with leaving the home I had established with my dad behind, but after all the years with my grandparents, I knew I had a place to go where I would be welcomed. Where I would feel safe, loved, and taken care of, like I always had. I moved in with them and instead of their house being my oasis, it became my home.

Over the last couple of years, things have certainly changed. I now know the challenges my grandparents faced on a daily basis with my mother when I was only a little girl and the challenges they still face with her today. I see the difficulty in their old age of simply getting around the house and making those delicious Italian suppers I have grown to love. Things are certainly not as perfect as I remember them in my childhood, but I appreciate all they have done and will do for me as I get older.

This past August, I left my grandparents to move into my college town. When I return home, I feel that sense of oasis yet again as I return to all that has been familiar to me. There are a few changes, however. Now, my grandpa teases me incessantly about the food I like to eat-which does not include a giant plate of pasta anymore-while my grandma loves to have breakfast with me each morning before my grandpa even wakes up. It’s just the two of us, with the sun streaming in through the dining room onto our plates of cut up fruit, muffins, eggs, and mugs of juice and tea. We talk about everything. Sometimes, it’s the weather and how gray or blue the sky is outside; sometimes, it’s about our plans for the day; sometimes, it’s about the latest family gossip; and sometimes, it’s nothing at all as we sit in each other’s company knowing we don’t need to say a word to know that the other person is completely, and totally, understood.

The Soul

I live within a safe, warm, and comforting house.
It is not made of
straw,
sticks,
or
bricks
like the little pigs’ houses
but instead,

I am protected by
bones that bend,
organs that pulse,
eyes that flicker,
muscles that flex,
and skin that binds.

But this shell is not what defines me
because

these bones will turn brittle;
these organs will wither;
these eyes will cloud;
these muscles will soften,
and this skin will sag.

My house will fall apart
and I will not be able to stop it.
It will hurt when I have to move out

but

then I will find another body
to borrow
and maybe it will be a little
furrier.