Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Window

A young woman looks through me.  Her skin is smooth, her smile bright.  Bubbles float up from the sink as she washes the last of the dishes and stares out at her children racing about the driveway on scooters and skates.  She can hardly wait to join them.  The daily chores and I are the only things that stand between parent and child.  My rail and casing are strong and sure. My glass is clear and bright. I am the window above the kitchen sink that looks out into her world.
A sleepy woman looks through me.  It is dark outside and shadowy trees move in the distance.  Her entire world is under one roof, each child tucked safely in bed.  Nothing in the dark calls to her.  She wakes to check on her children and be certain of the security that wraps around her like a blanket.   My locks are secure.  My framework is strong.   My family rests peacefully until I let the light back in. 
A loving woman looks through me.  She watches the early morning snow falling gently to the ground.  She leans close and her warm breath meets my cold glass, painting it in a ghostly fog.  She smiles and readies herself for a day full of sledding and snowball fights.  That night, she will look through me again and see her children’s art, the snowmen that stand outside glistening in the moonlight.  My view is good and is filled with love.
An older woman looks through me.  She wipes a smudge from my pane and watches for the distant glow of headlights returning young drivers home.  The clock counts the minutes until midnight as she continues to stare through me.  Worry lines have replaced the smoothness of her skin.  My frame has shifted and my blinds are faded in color.  She pulls them taut as she keeps her midnight vigil until all children have returned home.
A lonely woman looks through me.  With hands that are no longer steady she pushes and pulls at my lock.  She is in search of fresh air.  I creak and sigh and give way to the bindings that have secured me in place.  Through my screen comes the smell of Gardenia, filling the room with memories of that which is no more.   Her reflection has faded.  Skin weathered and dry.  Smile subdued.   She watches for her children to return.

A young woman looks through me.  It is a different smile and a different face.  Standing where her mother had stood for so many years, she wipes my pane and secures my lock.  Lights fade and empty rooms echo the sounds of departure.  Both women, young and old, walk hand in hand towards the drive where they will leave together.  In my panes are the reflections of a life well lived.

Written by M. Brodnax
Sep 14, 16
First Assignment, Creative Writing Class

Friday, September 9, 2016

Anyone's Child

Anyone’s child did not like grapes.
It had been a very good day.
The teacher passed out grape suckers to all her students.
Anyone’s child quietly handed his sucker to another child.
The little boy with two suckers smiled.
Anyone’s child smiled.
He knew the joy in sharing.

When school ended, happy children with suckers ran to their parents.
Parents smiled.
A little boy named Chip showed his mom his treat and beamed with pride.
It had been a good day.
Chip’s mom noticed that one child had two suckers.
The day was no longer good.
She tossed Chip on her shoulder and steamed out the door.

She brewed.
She steamed.
She plotted how to right this wrong.
Chip just wanted to enjoy his sucker.
But how was this possible when someone’s child got two.
Words flew like bullets.
Aimed at hurting those who had been unfair.

Chip’s mom called her friends
She called the Bureau of Fair Candy Disbursement
They sent out more words
And more words
All filled with anger over this candy injustice
Teams were formed
Committees gathered
Helicopters came
Dogs circled in patterns searching for candy leads
Someone yelled, “Ban all suckers”

Anyone’s child was unaware of any unfairness
It was his choice not to like grape
He knew the right thing to do when he gave his treat away
Someone’s child enjoyed his sucker and gave his extra one to his sister
They both smiled with grape colored smiles
The act of sharing still filled children with joy.

Chip’s mom cringed when she saw the color purple
It was a painful reminder that her child had been given less
Chip wanted his mom to smile
He handed her the sucker the teacher had given him
She needed a good day

Chip’s mom snatched the sucker and showed the teams
They cried, “Woe!”
They cried, “How?”
They gathered all their words and wrote a letter
The letter was filled with bitterness and one grape sucker

A sign was posted on the school door
"No treats allowed"
No one at the school knew why
No one ever stopped to ask the teacher why one child had more
They never asked the simple question
That would have come with a reasonable answer
Instead, the mom with Chip on her shoulder
Assumed the worst and let hateful words guide her

A good deed was twisted and turned until it was no longer good
Good days would no longer come with treats
When there was a chance someone might share and anyone’s child might get more.
Sharing was frowned on and the children did not know why
They cried, “Woe!”
They cried,  “How?”
Their joy in giving was riddled with doubt
Anyone’s child did not want to get in trouble for sharing
Someone’s child learned that a good deed may not be so good

The teacher sighed
She cried, “Woe!”
She cried, “How?”

She wrote her own letter
It said…
Dear children and parents
There is a basket of grape and cherry suckers on my desk
Take what you want, but no more than you need
To make your day good.

And with that simple act, filled with kind words, fairness was restored.

                                    By M. Brodnax, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pokemon Go

In a playroom, no longer used by children who now sit on the cusp of adulthood, sits a box with hundreds of Pokemon cards inside.  There are first edition cards, cards with baby Pokemon, evolved Pokemon and even rare and wonderful Pokemon.  The trading card collection was once grand and brought much happiness.

There was seldom a trip to Wal-Mart where we didn't bring home a pack of Pokemon trading cards hoping to find a Charizard or a Mewtwo hiding inside.  The love of Pokemon grew and we purchased Pokemon backpacks, notebooks, t-shirts, bedding and more.  My son treasured his Pokedex, a handheld computer used to catalog his Pokemon.  The kids battled with friends for Pokemon as they exchanged trading cards.  It was great fun. And then it was over.  The cards, once treasured, found their way to a box where they sit today. Then, with no warning, Nintendo gave us back the joy we once had, with their release of an App called Pokemon Go.

Oblivious to the new virtual Pokemon world, I was caught off guard when my 21 year old son called to tell me he caught a Pokemon. With great excitement, he explained how he and his friends were all over the city hunting Pokemon with their phones.  Those old familiar names came back to life. Charizard and Pidget were running amuck outside and were just waiting to be caught.  You can only see them if you download the App and set up a character to hunt Pokemon. Once online, your phone uses your camera and a GPS system to place hidden Pokemon on top of the real world around you. There are creatures and floating, spinning objects all about that only a Pokemon avatar can see.

Unable to resist a good treasure hunt and thrilled to meet up with old friends from the past, I created a character named Cera5. Not being a gamer, I was stumped when I had to enter an online name that all could see.  I knew I shouldn't use my real name and anything containing the word Mom just seemed lame.  Mom64, Supermom, Tired Mom, all fitting names, but not for Pokemon Go.  I spied a bottle of Cera-Ve face wash sitting on the counter and it was from there that I stole the name Cera5.

Moments after I had suited up Cera5, the camera on my phone turned on and I could see a baby Charizard standing in front of me in my kitchen.  I smiled as we both stared at one another.  He jumped about and I quickly tossed a virtual Pokeball at him, catching him and keeping him for my own.  I was thrilled to have Charizard back in the family again.   

Riding through town I turned on the App and saw a completely different world outside the car than the driver did.  There are Pokemen everywhere! My favorite restaurant has a gym floating over it where I can collect coins and special items, but not until I reach level 5.  It sits and spins in a virtual reality over unsuspecting diners enjoying their chef salads and corned beef sandwiches.  At the post office, a wild Pidget flew up in front of my car and I snagged him and put him in my Pokedex.  While standing outside my mother's house, I turned on the game and just as she walked out, a group of Pokemon descended upon me.  I aimed my phone at her garage and told her to watch out as Charizard was running around in the corner. She jumped behind me as I threw Pokeballs and spun about to catch an incoming Pidget.   We both looked into the Pokemon world through the screen on my phone and laughed as these characters from so long ago brought back memories of great fun! 

This morning, I have to stop by the local museum because I saw a Pokemon gym floating overhead yesterday and I must go see what is there.  Off the couch and into the world.  What a fabulous new gaming concept! Thank you Nintendo for breathing life back into old friends and inviting us to come out and play once again. 


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Beach Chair Madness

   It's 5:30 a.m. and a single beach chair sits alone on a long stretch of beach.  Peaceful?  Not at all. There is craziness behind this picture.  It is sudden onset beach chair madness that drives me. If one waits a minute too late, the entire beachfront will be covered with rental chairs and umbrellas.

   When my alarm went off this morning, shortly after five a.m., I fell out of the bed and landed feet first on the floor, much like a cat.  Wide-eyed and focused, I went straight to work.  My goal was to arrive at the beach before the rental chair company and secure a place in the sand for a family of ten who will follow later with towels, floaties, speakers, a cooler, tropical drinks and maybe a kayak or two.  Space is a hot commodity here and those who wait will take back seat to the ocean front seating.

   By 6:30 a.m., the beach will look like this...

   In the early morning hours, there is a race amongst grandfathers, young men working for the beach chair rental company and one crazed mother.  The grandfathers can be seen setting up large tents and toting multiple chairs at once.  The distance between youth and old age becomes blurred as these family loving men crisscross the beach weighted down with outdoor furnishings, driven by a newly returned strength from their younger days. They look at me. I look at them.  We smile with respect for one another.  It's an early morning acknowledgement that we understand the principles of finite space. Tents and umbrellas pop up along the water's edge as we all work to secure the proper amount of shade for tender skinned babies and those smart enough to stay out of the sun.

   Why do we do this?  For these people...

   It is important to have front row seating to watch your children play.  This photo was taken just before one child took a paddle to the face while the other tried to retrieve a jelly fish from the sea. One bloody nose later, I was able to step from my shady spot by the water, assure my child that no stitches were needed and send her back out for more fun in the sun.  Had I been a few rows back, I would have missed it all.  



Saturday, March 5, 2016

Me Time

    As my family members announced that each one had plans for the weekend, I realized that I may actually be home alone for two days.  I'm not sure that has ever happened over the course of the last twenty-one years.  It was probably hard to hide the sparkle in my eye as the gears turned deep inside my head, conjuring up thoughts of all the things I could do with 48 hours of free time.  So many choices.  So many possibilities.....

    Friday night was full of wild abandon as I filled the washer with clothes clearly marked hand wash. I threw out all of the half-open products in the refrigerator that someone wanted to save, but would never return to enjoy.  Out went restaurant style salsa, bean dip, a half-eaten pizza and what may have once been an icee.  

    I tossed out clothing that had not been worn in years and would never be worn again.   I emptied drawers and filled trash cans and danced about the house like a woman on a mission. 

    Saturday morning began with a cup of coffee and mile high whip cream sculptures floating on top. I ate them with a spoon and without, feeling confident in my suddenly found barista skills.  Earth, Wind and Fire played at full volume in my kitchen as I danced around, throwing out disco moves not seen since that Kappa Sigma party in 1982.  I Googled "How to Regrout a Tub" and stripped the grout from the wall like a card-carrying journeyman.  I planted flowers, pulled weeds and paid bills, all to the 120 beats per minute of "Let's Groove" that set the tempo for getting things done. 

    At the end of the wild day of "me" time, I collapsed into a tub of hot water to relax, not the one that no longer has any grout. Later I sat on the edge of my bed, in my PJs, looking about the empty bedroom and I remembered the time the kids would fly in and spring upon the bed in wild acrobatic moves. We would laugh and scream and giggle and covers would go everywhere.  I saw the baby books on a shelf that we once read together, the one about the kitten with red shoes and the other about babies like mine who are soft and warm and cuddly. I miss those days.  But a stronger and bigger emotion is the happiness that fills me when I think about those times gone by.  What a wonderful time it has been giving my children all my "me" time that I could.  It has been the greatest joy of my life. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

In Search of Christmas

Many a message has been spread about seeking the true meaning of Christmas which most know has nothing to do with Black Friday, piles of packages under a tree, or the overeating that comes with holiday gatherings.  Each year, I come up with a plan to finish my shopping early so I can lead my family towards the real reason for the season.  As the days pass and Christmas quickly approaches, my shopping is still not complete and the many Christmas events I’ve attended still leave me searching for that one clear moment where I can look my children in their eyes and say, "Yes!  This is Christmas." But, it doesn’t come.  It’s never that clear to me.  And sometimes, it comes with a heaviness of failing to make things perfect.  Perhaps I’m waiting for a bright star overhead to lead me to a place that I can’t find on Google maps.  Christmas day will soon pass and as I collapse on my couch in a living room full of torn wrapping paper and empty boxes, I’ll fault myself for never showing my kids that clear moment that I believe is Christmas.

Maybe Christmas is more than just a single event, place, or time.  As I woke this morning knowing that my family was all home under one roof, my heart filled with joy.  As I saw the empty cups and plates on the kitchen counter, I knew that the night before had been filled with fellowship, laughter and a few tasty treats. The stack of wrapping paper in the corner with its bright foils reminds me that I still have packages to wrap and may never actually get to the end of my Christmas list.  A sleeping cat rests underneath our Christmas tree that proudly displays ornaments that tell the story of our lives, some ornaments dating back over 100 years.  The gentleness of mornings like this is part of the bigger picture that makes up Christmas.  While I’ve been looking for that one defining moment, it is actually all around me. 

When we go to church Sunday as a family and sneak candy to each other during the sermon, it’s because Christmas brought us all there and those moments are far better than anything wrapped under my tree.  The laughter that echoes down the hallway late at night when my children’s friends gather here, that is Christmas.  Hearts returning home in celebration of the birth of Christ, that is what makes the season joyous. From foil wrapping paper to Christmas choirs, movies with friends, and laughter around the dinner table, that is my Christmas.  Removing the cat from the Christmas tree, trying to build some gift that came with no instructions and making yet another trip to the grocery store for more food, these are the things that all come together to make Christmas grand.

Christmas, today, is not a single moment of pure joy that rises above everything else.  It is a series of blessings that come quietly at times and loudly at others.  That single perfect moment occurred many years ago when a young woman caught the attention of the world with the birth of her child.   That gift came quietly in the night and is the reason for the many moments of joy we find now as we gather with family during the holiday season.  Christmas cannot be wrapped up, contained or plotted on a map, as it is a blessing that has carried forward for over 2000 years.   It is a season of love that comes with perfection already built in.