Siren Call

I’m transfixed by the sight.  They loom over me.  I want to reach out to them but I’m tiny and insignificant with arms too short to traverse the space between us.  They rise over the horizon tall and majestic, varied in hue and shape and size.  There’s an imperiousness to their grandeur and their heft.  They are immobile yet changeable with the shifting cloud’s caress.  Some reflect the dawn’s pale pallet and the end of day’s bright glare while others remain dense and stark, unfazed by any movement of light.

I envision hope and determination and purpose swirling around them not unlike multiple lanes of traffic crisscrossing over and under and around on elevated highway exchanges.  And I’m drawn to them, my spirit and soul pulled closer and closer, wanting to join in, to let the swirling wash over me until I am one with the flow.

My spirit rises with anticipation of their mystery and I feel alive just to be in their shadow.  They call to me with some indefinable promise of unknown adventures; unknown paths to take and challenges to be conquered.

When I see them at night, they confuse the senses.  Their shapes are both intensified and vaguely indefinite against the night’s backdrop.  A backdrop punctuated by neon, taillights, headlights, lamps on tall streetlight poles and the erratic checkerboard of interior lights left burning after the five p.m. exodus has left those tall structures empty.

My memory takes me back to the days I did touch them; the days I stood in their halls and breathed their air; the days I braved the frantic pace that engulfed them in life each morning and the weary escape that left them behind each evening.

I had been drawn in by their promise and it was a full life that took strength and verve if I wanted to scale their heights.  Eventually, though, it all became not much more than office politics.  I felt no further promise there and tired of the heights, I merely wanted to emerge whole.  I left those highrises behind and set out to discover the me I would be apart from them; apart from the siren call of big city living.

image:discoverlosangeles

image:discoverlosangeles

These days my life’s tasks generally take me speeding past those behemoths, those skyscrapers that appear to me to be like sentinels guarding the way.  But I never pass without thinking, I know how you feel, those of you who enter their domain daily; I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there, I’ve lived that life.  I know what it’s like.

The intervening years between then and now have taken me other places and on a different journey and while I wasn’t looking, time ebbed away and now there’s a part of me that feels incapable of scaling their heights once more.  That is, until I see them again and then the old flame ignites.  There’s life here, it signals to me.  There’s excitement and purpose here, it whispers in the rush of air flowing past my speeding car.

But I don’t detour.  I continue along the concrete path that winds past downtown and the business centers, past the shopping centers and the factories and industrial areas and off the freeway’s paved canyon into suburbia’s land of houses and gas stations, churches, schools and grocers on the corner.  Into the land that was my Father and Mother’s life; into the alley behind their house and into their garage and on into their house I go, closing the door behind me.  This is my life now and I determine to continue here, to engage in this journey, this challenge.  But down inside, the flame is still lit and its warmth reminds me that I can be in both worlds.  The choice is mine.  There will be time once this task with Mother ends.  There’s a journey still ahead.

“You made it safe?”  Mother calls from her island of sameness at the dining room table, surrounded by familiar things, some treasured and some worthless yet hoarded rather than tossed out.

“Yes, Mother.  I’m here.”

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Some days are like that…

image source: www.mindpluming.com.au

image source: mindpluming.com.au

Some days my ears just can’t take it.  The sound of Mother’s voice hitting them feels like a loud, clanging gong that reverberates through my brain, threatening to blow the top off of my head.  Today is one of those days.

I try to have some time alone at the start of the day.  Time to take the supplements that help balance my endocrine system, time to talk to God and breathe in His rest for my spirit and soul; time to get to the computer to write in my Journal before the sound of the TV or the radio or Mother herself.

If I wake and she isn’t up, I listen for a few minutes to see if she’s stirring and about to head for her bathroom.  If I hear anything, I lie still, eyes closed, playing possum until she’s come down the hall, adjusted the thermostat on the Heat/Air unit and gone into her bathroom.  Once she’s done that, I have anywhere from one to two alone hours before she emerges, fully dressed, hair combed and sprayed, her diary writing done, her Bible readings done.

I mistimed it this morning.  I’d been dozing and thinking about getting out of bed for about forty minutes, the house still totally silent when I decided to get up and get into the home office and on the computer, usually another good way to avoid first thing in the day contact.  I’d done stretches and taken supplements and was turning up the heat when her bedroom door opened.

She emerged in her pale lavender robe, her hair mussed, her insulated cup in one hand, the other hand on her footed cane.

“You’re up?”  She began as she walked down the hall toward me, the sound of the clunk of her cane on the floor in front of her with each step.  “Did you turn the heat up?”  Clunk.  “Is the sun already on that side of the house?”  Clunk.  “Did you sleep cold?”  Clunk.  “That heater blower fan just doesn’t work right.”

“Uh huh.”  I answer to each thing she says, my brain reacting to each of her comments by zooming off in a dozen directions, leaving me irritated, frazzled and angry.  I’d lost a pill under the bed, so I lean over and pull up the bed dust ruffle, but still I know she’s coming closer.  She’s moved into my open bedroom door.  I keep looking for that pill, not talking; anything to discourage interaction; anything to keep me from saying something rude or caustic.

Fortunately, the house is cool enough at 68 degrees that she can’t stand there long and she goes into her bathroom, turns on the ceiling heater and closes the door.

I breathe deeply, my ears and mind immediately less stimulated, I move around the room, making the bed, tidying up.  The easier days when I lived by myself and had all the alone time in the mornings that I wanted are gone.  I used the time in the same way I try to do now, spending time with God, listening to the Bible on tape or to Christian music.  By the time I left the house for work, I had been reminded of who I was: a child of God.  Loved by Him and with His grace and power, I could tackle the day.  I was ready.  Not that my days were simple or easy but by spending time with God first, I went out prepared.  Those days with the luxury of being alone and making choices that suited me best have changed.  Now all decisions are shared and I find myself in the pressure cooker of most of my waking hours in the same space as the person who gave me birth.  Most adult children know what a challenge can be.

Tuning her out nags at me.  I need distance from her but I’m torn by needing time to be myself, time to develop a writing skill to prepare for the future I will have once she is gone versus the need to be available to her as her caregiver along with the need to give her respect.  Help me, God, is my thought as I breathe in and out.

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes,” pops into my brain.

image source: GodVine

image source: GodVine

Ah, yes, Proverbs 119:71.  Yes, it is good for me to be here with Mother, good for me to have to learn to deal with the differences in our personalities, good for me to learn to react in love, in graciousness.  Good for me to have to throw myself back into God’s arms, to drink in His love and strength, to depend upon Him for this challenge.  Good for me to know that I can’t do this on my own.  Good for me to know that depending upon myself only leads to semi-solutions like tuning her out or playing possum.  Those drain me of energy and vitality.  They do nothing to ease the irritations.

“It is good for me, God, to lean on your strength, to rely on you.”  Good for me to be reminded, Victoria, God knows the journey you need to take before you do.  I breathe deeply and feel the love and peace of God float across my frazzled nerves and fractured thoughts.

As Mother emerges from the bathroom some time later, I turn to her and smile, “How are you today, Mother?”

Blog Dragon slayed! (or at least wounded)

Everyone tells you to do it.  All the experts and seminar teachers and convention speakers and writing gurus.  You must write every day and you should be blogging and driving traffic to your work.

If not simple, it at least sounds doable, right?  Somewhere in between doing the washing, cleaning the house, doing the shopping, putting food on the table, picking up prescriptions, trips to Mother’s doctors, managing my own health needs, calling repair men, praying for Mother, paying the bills, exercising, managing my rental properties, feeding my own soul through prayer and Bible study, keeping up with family and friends on facebook, sending out family birthday and anniversary cards, house rehab projects, trying to fix Mother’s ailments and getting to the church on time; somewhere in there, while tuning out the ever present TV noise of cooking or gardening or painting or travel shows; somewhere in there, is time to write.  And blog and comment on discussion threads and enter contests and read the latest writing magazines and do rewrites on my novel(s) and write a short story for the next contest.  Somewhere, there is time.

At least at this time of year I can blissfully ignore the yard but that extra time won’t last for long.  Another few weeks of cold weather, if I’m lucky, will delay what’s coming but a few days of mild temps and then Mother’s litany of yard projects will start – transplant the strawberries, water the gardens, plant some flowers, chase the feral cats out of the yard so that the birds will come to the birdbath, water the gardens, buy tomato plants, chase the cats away, water the gardens, put out flower seeds, water the gardens, chase the cats away, manage the sprinkler system, put up the hummingbird feeder, water the fruit trees, chase the cats away, pick the fruit and get it canned or frozen or given away, water the gardens, chase the cats away, feed the plants, and on and on until next winter when it gets cold enough to not be outside every day.

But I digress into the swirling morass of all the stuff to do and away from the goal: write, blog, write, enter contests, comment on discussion threads, develop my writing craft and build a following, get my novel(s) out there, find an editor and get published.  It’s a good goal and one that gives me an escape from the Pomona mundane to a glimpse of the world outside these walls and to a possible future where this life and these walls no longer require so much of my attention.

The goal, however, can loom ahead like a towering dragon: somewhat at peace until you even think about disturbing it, at which point it rears its head and growls menacingly.  And overwhelmed, I back off to a lesser goal.  Yet, somehow in the last few weeks, through the grace of God and prayer of my creative encourager, Julienne, I broke through the dragon’s lair and started journaling every day which led to starting my BLOG!  With links to two social media sites, I even had some comments and just getting feedback made it all exciting and inspiring.  I want to write and write and blog and write and figure out all the details of managing my blog and my website and take those initial baby steps towards the future: becoming recognized as a writer.

I’ve seen how all this is beyond me and I’m aware I need more than my human power to get it done.  The best news of all is that I’ve also seen how by God’s grace I can learn and grow and be more than I was before.  That includes the peace of trusting Mother and her needs and personality into God’s care.  It’s not my job to “fix” her, it’s my job to love her and see that the needs she can’t meet, but that I can, are met.

And that frees up my soul and spirit to find the creativity that is God given and that has been hiding somewhere inside.  Find it and set it free.  I will Blog!  I will write!  I will keep pushing forward because the outcome will lead to surprises of joy and probably some pain and disappointment but definitely to a life worth living.