His Lucky Day

I’ve been holding my breath for a week now. Sleep (and bliss) has been tortuous with a million “what if’s” invading the space between hitting the hay and dawn’s early light.

I have exhaled. Finally. But this moment of bliss is sure to be a fleeting….

The saga with my son continues.

So, he has not been to a dentist in more than fifteen years. 

I knowright? Your head must be popping!

My head certainly did when I heard this months ago not long after he arrived on my doorstep pretty much destitute, in the middle of the night.

Since that evening, on and off, he’s been complaining about bleeding gums and swears some teeth are ready to fall out.  With everything else that seems like a train wreck … now this.  Of course I’ve been through the whole drill on the importance of dental hygiene.  And, for the record, lest you think I’m a neglectful mother, I did this throughout his childhood, maintaining regular dental visits from his first one at the age of three until he was nineteen…not to mention braces for two years.

Since he won’t floss, I bought him a Waterpik® this past Christmas.  “I know flossing can be a hassle…and yeah….you’ve got this lazy streak….so do this.  It’s easy and it’s the next best thing to using dental floss.  But, you must be disciplined and use it everyday.”

“Maybe,” is his reply.

ARGH!  Was he dropped on his head when he was a baby and I don’t know about it?!

“You’ve got to get a job with health and dental benefits!,” I all but scream at him in complete frustration as I contemplated sprinting out of the house (still in my morning robe) in search of peace and sanity.

“I did have dental benefits at the one job, he said. “I just didn’t want to go to the dentist.”

I stop in my tracks.  SAY WHAT?  You mean to tell me that you had some dental coverage but didn’t take advantage of it?! Are you nuts!?

“No one likes to go to the dentist mom,” he says to me in  that tone…the one that suggests I have just fallen off a turnip truck.

Weakened by weeks of head-banging frustration over my son’s inability refusal to launch, The Purple Minion erupts once again.  I’ve had far too many of these visits in these last few months.

Sigh.

Honestly, I cannot wrap my head around his refusal to take responsibility for himself.   I had thought by his 36th year he’d have learned to manage his white-coat syndrome, to some extent at least.  Dentists and doctors make him nervous.  It’s understandable: I’ve had my fair share of negative experiences with less than stellar doctors.  Still, I try to reason with him telling him that there are plenty of good doctors and dentists out here and that he must take responsibility for his life, starting with better lifestyle habits.  But I may as well be talking to a brick wall.  It’s another in a list of reasons of why–IN MY HUMBLE OPINION— he needs to agree to counseling.

“So wait, why don’t you, until all your teeth rot out; sounds like a plan to me,” I erupted in Vesuvius fashion.    I’ll admit that for a nano second I thought of the silver lining in losing all his teeth; he wouldn’t be able to eat the crap food he purchases with what little pennies he has left.

“And oh, by the way,” I added as I slammed silverware into the dishwasher, “your grandmother did just that and by the time I was able to force her to get to a dentist (after some thirty years) she needed thousands of dollars in dental work.  How are you going to pay for that son, WITHOUT A JOB?”

The next day however, we have a fraction of a step forward, which means that something must have reached him.  Frankly, it shocks the hell out of me as other matters of critical importance (e.g.  GET A JOB…GET COUNSELING) have been summarily dismissed.

“I made an appointment with a dentist mom, for a cleaning. It’s the dentist you recommended….your dentist.”

I’m sure my mouth fell to the floor in disbelief.

So, for the past week, waiting for that appointment to take place, sleep has eluded me more than usual.  Images of gum disease, rotten teeth, solidified tartar, systemic bodily infection, not to mention dollar signs, have ruled the night.  I’m sure he’ll have the worst news possible regarding the state of his chompers.  How can he not have full-blown periodontal disease with never flossing or having routine dental visits for fifteen years?!

It’s no surprise that I was a nervous wreck for my son the day of his dental visit.  To get myself out of my anxiety-filled head-space I actually made it to a yoga class at a studio some thirty minutes from home.  It was my first time at this studio and my first time back on a studio mat in ages.

As I sat on the mat with eyes closed I listened to the instructor’s opening guidance for the class.

“As we begin,” she said, “set your intention for your practice this morning.  Perhaps its prayer for someone who seems to have lost their way or someone in your life who needs extra loving today.”

It’s like she read my mind.

And so, I carried my son with me, in my thoughts and movements, throughout the 75-minute class.  Each inhale and exhale I asked the universe to see my man-child through the day…and yes, to give him a knock upside the head to listen and act upon the loving guidance that his family is giving him in order to get his life on track.

How did it go, you ask?

Let’s just say for once, it was his lucky day.  He came home with a smile on his face.

“Mom, I actually liked the dentist.  He was cool.  Nothing major is wrong.  A ton of plaque build-up that made it longer than usual for the dental hygienist and one filling that needs to be addressed sometime soon.  And of course the dentist advised that I not go another fifteen years because I wouldn’t be so lucky then.”

No shit I muttered as I exhaled in one long breath after a week of holding it in.  In fact, I dissolved into a puddle of relief for my son.  I gave him a big hug as I praised him profusely for taking what was obviously a very difficult step.  You are extremely lucky son.  Don’t blow it.  Start taking care of your teeth from here on out.

Relief was just as visible on his face, although I am not sure he took my words to heart.

I killed the moment, I am sure, as I said, “Now apply similar action to other parts of your life; get a job and… schedule a counseling visit.”

“Ya well, counseling is never going to happen,” he said as he headed back down into the basement.

Told you so; the moment of adult-child-bonding bliss was fleeting.

While images of gum disease won’t keep me away tonight a hundred other things will.

Two steps forward but 1- 3/4 steps back.  It’s a struggle, to be sure; still I will call it my moment of bliss for the day.

 

Baby Steps?

I could not get him to add caramelized onions or peppers. Baby steps….

It is another rather dreary winter day.  Damn that Punxsutawney rodent I am thinking as I drag The Poodle out into the cold of the early morning.  I’m not in the mood for six  more weeks of this winter nonsense.  I’m trying to be brisk about things despite the cold and my increasingly cranky knees.  As we walk down into a large wooded area with paths to several man-made lakes I am trying to keep The Poodle from stopping at literally every single tree.  Hmm. I am puzzled by what seems to me unusual activity: the ground, covered by heaps of dead autumn leaves, has come alive.  Everywhere I look there are little birds skittering about from underneath the ground cover.  The Poodle seems oddly uninterested as birds fly from ground to tree.  Have I been this distracted in thought that I haven’t been aware of all these birds?  I walk this path nearly every morning and have never noticed so many them foraging on the ground and under piles of leaves.  Well regardless, it seems we have interrupted the breakfast plans of these little feathered vertebrates.

I stop for a moment to watch eight to ten cardinals flit from tree to tree.  Their red “coats” adds a cheerful pop of color to an otherwise dull brown landscape.

As I continue the morning walk I am lost in thought to a couple of nights ago.

I am in my comfy chair in the basement watching the Superbowl.

Say what?!

I know. Totally uncharacteristic of this gal and yet, I watched the entire game. Even I am floored with myself here!

Not only did I watch the game but I was quite vocal, hooting and hollering in support of the underdog, as If I’d been following football for years!  I even got my groove on during the half-time show.

(Clearly this is not me sitting here. That gal was abducted by aliens.)

And yet folks, far stranger things happened that night. So unusual in fact that several of us are still scratching our heads in stunned amazement two days later.

So….It’s no secret that we’re not thrilled with the stagnancy of the man-child in the basement. His issues are numerous and, though there is resounding agreement among all of us who love him dearly as to what he must do to jump-start his life (GET COUNSELING), he refuses all advice to address his issues which would undeniably (IMHO) help to set himself on a more productive, independent path. It’s that classic general truth: You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.”

For four and a half months now, my adult son has effectively been a hermit in our basement.  Some days we don’t see him at all which is thoroughly uncomfortable, because, well…he is in our basement and we aren’t always sure how he ticks, if you get my meaning.  Obviously we are at our wits end on how to get through to him some fundamental life facts: 1) You must work to earn money to, well…SURVIVE… and 2) At thirty-five you cannot expect your parents to bail you out anymore.  And lets add a third one shall we: All relationships require an effort.  Substantial effort!  There is give and take.  Sometimes that balance leans more heavily to one side than the other but the general goal (again, IMHO) is to work at giving a little more of oneself, rather than expecting the world (and then some) in return.  Just saying.

But I digress.

The day before the big game my man-child made an out-of-the-blue request.  He sent me a text message (yes…from the basement): “I want to learn how to make a cheese steak sandwich.  I need a rib-eye steak and a french loaf.  When are you going to the store? I’ll come along because I want to make sure you get the right stuff.”

This comes from the same guy that won’t eat anything that requires any effort to prepare.  You know…foods that require pots and pans or things that need rinsed, boiled, chopped or sautéed.  Yes…the very one that survives on frozen foods with a list a mile long of words I am convinced even scientists cannot pronounce…as well as Chef Boyardee and canned chili.

Oh DO stop me before I gag!

OK…I’ll admit that I did grit my teeth and bite my tongue at his request.  Given my increasing angst over my man-child’s wacky way of thinking and living (and the fact he has been mooching off of us for four months),  I could very easily have erupted into a purple minion at this request.  It’s happened on more than one occasion since his return on my doorstep.

But folks, these days I find myself seizing the most unlikely, seemingly negligible tidbits of hope I can.  I could have replied that cheese steak sandwiches are not my thing (indeed, they are NOT) but hey, given our situation…here was a potential bonding moment that I wasn’t about to pass up.  Understandably, Rocket-man wasn’t as keen.  He’s mighty fed up with my man-child.  Truth be told he’s not entirely alone in that sentiment.  Still, I am THE mama and he is the step-dad; I would be remiss to not capitalize on a kitchen moment.

I called my sis to let her know about the request.  She, like me, is grasping at straws to help.  “He could make cheese steak sandwiches for everyone for our Superbowl night tomorrow.”  “I know…right?!” I replied.  With that, we made a date to all meet up at Wegmans to shop together.

It takes a village.

So, with the understanding that my man-child would be helping to prepare Philly cheese steak sandwiches not only for himself but for my sis and her family as well as Mom and “Ogre” step-dad, off to Wegmans we went in search of  rib-eye steaks and just the right bread.

Though Wegmans was crazy-packed with people shopping for Superbowl goodies we managed to get my man-child through the experience without a blow-up.

Later, there were six of us in the kitchen.  I had music blaring in the background and there were not one, but four cooks at the stove!  My man-child managed to keep his OCD tendencies mostly under wraps in the chaos of the meal prep as I tried to teach him how to cut the steak into thin strips as well as basic kitchen hygiene to avoid cross-contamination.  He complained at one point about how much work it was all taking (YOU HAVE NO IDEA shouted my brain).     “But look at what you are creating, with your own hands,” I replied, as I sliced onions and garlic to add to the pan.   “Son, you are so accustomed to the instant gratification of everything…even microwaved junk food; it boggles my mind how you got this way.”

His only response: “Hey, no onions mom….I don’t eat onions; they look like worms to me.”

Just roll with it was the mantra in my head.

“Well, it’s really not an authentic Philly cheese steak sandwich without onions son, but hey….this is your sandwich. ”

And so went our kitchen moment.  He made his sandwich and then… he helped us fry up our sliced steak.

Say what?!

Holy Cow. THAT WAS TOTALLY OUT OF CHARACTER FOR THE MAN-CHILD.

Not only that, after he ate his sandwich, he sat with us and watched the entire game!   In fact, he was in the same room with us for nearly six hours!  He hasn’t done that in almost twenty years.  My man-child actually engaged with everyone.  He even smiled, more than once.  And during half-time, he disappeared into the kitchen returning some fifteen minutes later to present us with a plate of Pillsbury-wrapped little smokies (his food, from the freezer) that he prepared to share…with everyone.  I’m sure dumb-founded was plastered on my face.

It’s all a dream and I am going to wake up any minute…right?

And though it has been two steps forward and ten steps back over and over through the years with my man-child, we embraced the moment, basking in warm, fuzzy feelings of love, family and hope.

Bliss over baby steps, if only for a day.

(p.s.  And how about the Eagles winning the Superbowl?!  Yee-haw!)

No White Flags…yet

I tried–and was unsuccessful– to get some Headspace before coffee this morning. Note to self: Some habits are too entrenched. Coffee first, before all else; it is how my day must begin.

So then I try again.

I’ve got my favorite shawl–a lovely teal one– around my shoulders against the chill of first light.  I’m not, as customary, on my little red pillow, but rather in the kitchen, in a chair. Sitting with legs crossed is not an option this morning. My knees are swollen, more than usual –the residual effect from a workout days ago I’m afraid.

I sit with eyes closed, focusing on my breath. The guided meditation instructs me to bring, for a moment, an awareness of the sounds around me.

Ah, that is not difficult!   This new old house seems to emit groans of all sorts–like laborious sighs of lament– too many in fact, that invade the quiet of the early morning. How I would like to be enveloped in noiselessness (is that even possible?), especially as I struggle with this morning’s Headspace meditation. I’d prefer to be able to hear a feather drop to the floor and not the thunderous whooshing sound of the HVAC system, nor it’s clinks and clanks as it cycles on and off. The wood floors too seem to constantly talk–like my perennially aching knees– in the dry winter air. Could it be they are saying: We are in much need of a good sanding and refinishing!  Ironically, true for both wood floors and my knees!

Even the subtle hum of the refrigerator seems to annoy me this morning. What is up with that?

Back to the breath…..

I manage to stick with it and when done twenty minutes later I open my eyes to see that the sun has made its way into the kitchen.  For a moment I am buoyed by the cheerful ray of sunlight through the patio door.  I smile as I look at The Poodle curled up in his bed.  As I head for my second cup of java for the morning  I’m thinking about what I should accomplish before the day is up: finish up Italian homework, the never-ending laundry, errands out and about, and there’s that book that I’m trying to get through….

I hear the shower start in the basement.  A sigh heavier than a thousand sighs combined pours out of me.  My man-child, still living in our basement, stirs.  He has a boatload of troubles and cannot, even with the help of family, seem to get this head together.

A quote I read recently online by B.D. Schiers, comes to mind: “If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.”  I cannot seem to find any information on this person but If I met him or her I’d ask: “Um…what made you come to that stroke of wisdom…and how did it work out for you?”

Ah, it bubbles up again.  The past. Feelings of helplessness and utter failure.  And therein lies the source of my angst and agitation on this particular morning.

I know it is a tired cliché, but I want to throw in the towel and be done…or at least, wave the white flag in surrender.  Once again, I seem to be failing miserably in getting through to my man-child.

Yet there is still a kernel of hope deep within me.  Don’t all mothers feel this way?

It is a new day. Do not focus on the many miles ahead. It’s what I do today that matters most according to The Buddha.

So, as I’ve done countless days before this one….let’s try one more time, shall we?

No white flags, yet.  Never give up.

“Winter Is Coming”

I put feet to the floor later than usual today. Not sure why other than perhaps wanting to remain under the contentment of my down comforter. After seeing Rocket-man out the door I take The Poodle for his morning constitutional. I’m lost in thought, this time without a Spotify playlist.

I think about my man-child in the basement. It’s been almost two months since he arrived on our doorstep, penniless…a general train wreck of a life.   We are bending over backwards to help him sort things through but he’s not really into cooperating much…because, well, he doesn’t think there is a problem.

[Enter appropriate expletives here…..]

And, despite our best efforts otherwise, we think he’s gotten comfortable in the basement.

Winter is coming, my son.

Is that a vague Game of Thrones reference you ask?

Hmm.

So this morning it was: “Mom would you get more of those meatballs you bought last week. I really liked those.”

Just breathe, I say to myself.

He’s asked me for these damned meatballs three days in a row now. Yes, I bought a package last week (which I don’t normally do)  in a attempt to get him to eat my pasta recipe.   In that moment, I want to tell him to buy his own #*!&@# meatballs.  Besides, I have a pantry and refrigerator bursting with fresh and healthy fare.  But my 35-going-on-13-year-old will not eat any of it.  He much prefers stocking up on canned chili and Chef Boyardee.

“Son, you’re supposed to be getting back on your own feet financially! You’re gonna buy this crap with what few pennies you have left when I can provide you real, wholesome food, at no cost?”

Mind-popping.  By the way, gag me with a spoon….this here Italian mother refuses to buy this Chef Boyardee stuff.

With no intent of offending anyone out there in cyber-land, IMHO Chef Boyardee and chili-con-carne in a can is not real food!   Worse yet, my son will only eat white bread. He will only eat a salad without any added veggies and only with a certain brand of dressing and it MUST have croutons or he cannot possibly eat it.  Seriously. He will not eat lettuce unless it contains a half-a-bag of croutons. I could go on with a list of his thoroughly unhealthy habits but it sets my brain in a tizzy and gets my knickers in a twist in no time flat.  Suffice it to say he has rebuffed all efforts to learn to cook for himself or adopt even a few healthy lifestyle changes.  His sister says it’s just him being OCD.  I think it’s a mixture of laziness and pure stubbornness.  But what do I know?  I’m just the mom.

My man-child loves this stuff. Gag me with a spoon!

So, in my sweetest, nurturing-mother voice I say. “OK…Just starve.”

Sigh.

I know.  I am his mother.  But…he cannot possibly be my son.  In fact, I think my son was abducted by aliens at some point–from Uranus or Neptune perhaps–in the dead of night.  Or maybe things snapped when I kicked him out at age twenty because all he wanted to do was smoke pot and not go to school or work.

As for meatballs request, I bite my tongue and say nothing because I don’t want yet another purple minion moment before 7 a.m.

I’m nearly home from my walk with The Poodle.  As I round the corner I see my neighbor Sayeed. I’m not sure what country he is from but I know he’s muslim. His wife, a family practitioner, works long hours. It’s usually Sayeed who sees his kids off to school in the morning as mom is already at work.

He’s just seen his two young boys onto the school bus. As the bus pulls away from the curb he waves and blows them kisses.

I’m touched by the act and I tell him so.

“Sayed, you’re such a good dad!”

“Really, why?” he asks.

“You’re blowing kisses to your boys. That’s a lovely thing.”

He smiles. “Well, you know time is flying. It won’t be too many years where they will be out and on their own.”

Naturally, I laugh at this. “Don’t be so sure! My 35-year-old son is back home and camping out in my basement. I do love him but this is definitely not an optimal situation by any stretch. I’m trying my hand at meditation to get me through this.”

“Wow. Yeah. That’s tough,” he replies.  “Well, just try to not to think about negative things. There are just too many of them.”

“Yes indeed. You are absolutely right Sayeed. Thanks for that. Wise words for the day.”

And with that, off to the gym I go to blow off some steam. Nothing like a leg work-out day and time on the rowing machine to help put things into a brighter perspective.

The sage advise of good neighbors definitely helps too.

There is bliss in that.

 

Autumn Leaves and Letting Go….

I love leaves….until they wind up in the house.

It’s a beautiful morning in the neighborhood. I love hearing the crunch of autumn leaves beneath my feet as I walk The Poodle. He is lagging behind until he sees his best four-legged buddy, Miss Nica.  They cavort for a few minutes before I head home to a list of things to do.  I look at the mountain of laundry and decide that IS NOT on the list for the day!  Let’s try tackling one of my love-hate things instead.

So yeah….I’ve got several love-hate relationships going on.

I suspect I am not alone in this.

Today’s ire is about one in particular.  Trees.  Well…specifically, their leaves.

I suppose you know where I am going with this.

Yes, it’s that time of year…raking season.

It wouldn’t be so bad if my front doorstep wasn’t a constant vortex of leaves. I’ve never had to deal with so many leaves piling up on my front porch!  It is supremely annoying as a good many of them wind up INSIDE the house thanks to my four-legged love. The Poodle may as well be 33 pounds of Velcro; leaves attach to ears, legs, tail and torso, as well as to the top of his handsome little head.  I find leaves in the most unlikely places in my house.  Sigh.

I actually don’t mind raking leaves. The “love” part of this relationship is physical activity. I love being outdoors.  Yesterday I spent several hours out with the rake, making it my workout of the day. Alternating between using a leaf-blower and the rake I bagged six large paper leaf bags to the gills and hauled out of the yard more than a dozen heavy branches that had fallen from the trees during a particularly blustery night. As I raked under a beautiful blue sky and a happy mid-morning sun, I listened to a Spotify playlist of piano and cello pieces. Usually for this kind of workout I’d be jamming to something decidedly more contemporary and upbeat but I was in a contemplative mood. The soulful music made the task before me almost meditative.

I was lost in the leaves when a rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria began playing.

I stopped raking.

My mother so loved this piece.

I let my gaze drift up towards the beautiful blue sky. White puffs of clouds drifted in languid fashion as a flock of birds in their neat V-formation headed southward.

Before I knew it I was crying, right there in the middle of the front yard. Nothing dramatic mind you.

Images of mom as she lay dying in the hospital bed were stunningly vivid…again.

And, as she took her last breath sis and I were holding her and saying The Ave Maria….

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

 

 

Wow, that came out of nowhere!

A torrent of emotions once again…

The good, bad and the ugly.

Sigh.

For a split second darkness filled the space around me. Ah, it’s nothing but a cloud passing overhead, blocking the sun. It’s over in a flash. A sudden breeze kicks up the leaves that I had raked into a large pile before me.

The leaves are calling my name:  Cristina, we have let go…you can too.

Life is the moment we are living right now (Paulo Coelho). I close my eyes and take in a deep breath.  Exhaling long and slow, I open my eyes.  So…. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

I pick up the rake and begin anew but not before turning off the music and calling a good friend to catch up.  It’s good to hear her voice as I continue bagging leaves.  It makes the time fly.

Later I recounted the episode with my sis.

“They say time heals all wounds,” she began. “But I don’t feel that is ever going to happen for us.”

Sis, you may be right but let’s fight tooth and nail to keep our hearts happy and souls reasonably at peace. Let us find something to laugh about every single day.

So, the “hate” part of this tree relationship?

I’ve got to do this blowing and raking thing all over again for weeks to come.
Excuse me while I go in search of Tylenol…..

Yep…That’s Me: A Halloween Late Bloomer!

This morning began later than usual, by at least an hour.  So in fact, those proverbial chickens were already up and well-past crowing to a new day.  As I put feet to the floor I was already aware that something wasn’t quite right. Every bone in my body ached and my head was pounding.  I made my way to the bathroom and stood before the mirror. Oh my.  What a fright, to be sure. My hair, crazy wild, looked like I had stuck my finger in an electrical socket. Then, on closer inspection, I note a bruise on the corner of my mouth.

Hmm? That’s strange. How on earth….?

Ah, yes!  The light bulb in my head is instantly on as I recall the events of last night.

AHEM….now folks, this is a G-rated site….just saying.

I’m talking about trick-o-treating with my nephew here.

My body is responding to a night in a neighborhood that really knows how to do Halloween.  Who knew that I had to make it to sixty before experiencing real Halloween fun?  Better late than never, eh?

So there I was meeting up with my sis and family well before the fun was set to begin.  Sis was busy putting the final touches on her nine-year-old’s costume.  This year he chose to be a mummy.  Sis had wrapped him from top to bottom in white gauze.  Ever the artist, she had also made up his face and spray-colored his hair jet black.  He looked fabulous.

“Where did you get all that gauze?” I asked pointing to a large bag with a few more rolls of gauze left in it.

“On Amazon,” she replied.  “In fact, this whole get-up cost me less than $15.”

Just about that time my nephew’s friend arrives with his mom in tow.  Patrick is dressed as the Halloween Scream character, complete with a mask that fills with an impressive amount of fake blood with the squeeze of a trigger.  We all exchange gushes over costumes and us moms catch up for a few minutes.

Halloween Scream

We are just about ready to step out with the boys for their trick-o-treating fun when my brother-in-law stops us.

“Wait.  You lovely ladies need a refill before heading out,” he says with a big smile.  We had been enjoying a glass of red wine with chips and salsa while the boys had hot-dogs (after all, trick-o-treating requires sustenance.)    It only takes him a moment to hand us each a paper cup filled with a generous pour of red wine.  “You are the greatest bro-in-law!” I all but sing.

The cold night air took us all by surprise.  Just an hour before I had been raking leaves in short sleeves!

We crisscrossed our way up and down neighborhood streets, scurrying to keep up with an excited mummy and his Scream sidekick as best we could without spilling our wine.  The normally quiet streets were alive and bustling with throngs of costumed kids and parents everywhere.  I was surprised that so many parents dressed up.  I was equally impressed by the spooky Halloween decorations; so many houses were seriously decorated to the hilt with ghostly eerie music to add to the theme of the night.

Incredulous, I wasBoy have I been under a rock for too long or what.  I hadn’t seen this much enthusiasm about Halloween in many years.

Following the boys, we made our way up the sidewalk of one particularly interesting house.  Among other spooky things planted in the yard, there was a gigantic inflatable character, Jack, from The Nightmare Before Christmas swaying to and fro on the second floor balcony just above the front door.

Nightmare “Jack”

Naturally we were mightily impressed.  The presumed owner of the house was dressed entirely in black sporting a well-made up, thoroughly frightening face. I’ll forever think of him as Mr. Scary-face.  He beckoned the trick-or-treaters (including us moms) to step forward closer to the door.  Literally six seconds later Jack swooped down from the balcony above us–coming up from behind–to give us all a fright, laugh.  Mr. Scary-face however had a partner-in-crime.  A positively ghoulish character jumped up from behind me, startling me so that I my left hand flew up–that would be the one carrying my cup of wine. In fact, the edge of the cup hit the side of my mouth just as I was attempting to take a sip.  In a flash I was covered in wine.

Side Note:  So, THAT folks is how I got this bruised lip!

“Hey, that was a good cup of wine that I just lost,” I cried.  Really, I was laughing hysterically, as was my sis.  I was drenched. But worse, my cup was um….empty!

Mr. Scary-face was genuinely concerned.  “Well, just wait a minute.  I have a good Malbec for a refill.”

“No, no.  I’m good,” I replied still laughing.  “Really. No worries.”

Mr. Scary-face insisted.

Before I knew it, my cup was full again.  What a terrific neighbor, don’t you think?!

As we made our way to the next destination–The Haunted trail–another neighbor commented on our cups in hand.

“Good for you gals. That’s the way to do this thing…trick-or-drink!” she said.

“I’m just learning about this at sixty,” came my bubbly reply. I raised my cup in a toasting gesture. “What can I say…I’m a late bloomer!”

A few hours later I made my way home.  Rocket-man had been holding down the fort.  He sees that I’m shivering from head to toe from running around the neighborhood in thin tights and a wine-stained top.

With a raised eye-brow and a twinkle in his eye, he asked: “Well. Well. Well did we have fun?”

“Oh, I had a blast,” I gushed and giggled as I recounted the night.  “The Haunted Trail was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!  I’ve never had this kind of Halloween fun, even when I had young kids.”  I couldn’t stop laughing as we went through the neighborhood haunted trail.  I got my feet seriously stomped on, I lost my wine….twice… I’m dog-tired, wet, and chilled to the bone…but OH what fun!”

Rocket-man is happy to see my school-girl happiness.  It’s a much-needed respite in a sea of otherwise.

So…It’s not surprising that I’ve got bruises from top to bottom today.  Ridiculously, I’m thinking about next Halloween.  Sis is concocting plans for our own Haunted Trail.

BLISS, at least a hundred-fold.

Plus…there is a ton of candy left.  Life is good.

Haven’t Got A Clue…..

There is a community of the spirit.

Join in, and feel the delight

Of walking in the noisy street,

And being the noise.

…..close both eyes,

To see with the other eye.

Open your hands,

If you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel

The shepherd’s love filling you.

Excerpt:  A Community Of The Spirit by Rumi

In the quiet of this morning, my second cup of espresso grows cold as I read a page or two out of a collection of poems by the Sufi poet, Rumi.  The words above catch my attention.  I haven’t even finished the poem in its entirety!

I get it:  I need to get out of my current head space which is bogged down with a million and one worries.  Perhaps I should cast all expectations out the window… though that would be damned near impossible at this writing.

I look out at the still-dark sky and reflect on what to do next. I don’t have answers…In fact, I haven’t got a clue.   What is certain though is this: This time, I am not alone as I walk through hot coals yet again. This time there is a life-line of sorts. Sis and family won’t let moss grow under these tired bones, no siree!

So, yesterday officially marked sixty years on this planet. The day began with an exuberant hug by a nine-year-old carrying a bouquet of flowers and a musical birthday card.  Kool & The Gang’s Celebration made me dance a jig across my kitchen floor. The Poodle jumped up in confused delight to the racket of his human love.  Perhaps my nephew thought: What silliness!  I’m not sure.  I do know that a degree of silliness will be the only way to navigate uncharted territory.  What could that be? you might ask.

A thirty-five year old son returning home, indigent.  A train wreck of seemingly limited possibilities, at this moment at least.

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, right?

Sigh.

He needs to sit down in the circle; smack dab in the middle of it I say!  He needs to give it all up to a higher power.  He needs to quiet his mind long enough to truly feel the love (both tough and gentle)  of those who want to help him find a better path in this life.  He needs to be open to the heavy task of change in front of him.

Alas, my man-child appears not to be ready for any of this.    The reality of this cuts deeply.  My heart is heavy and weariness overwhelms.  It significantly impairs any excitement that I can muster for entering a new decade.

I mustn’t lose hope. I must not quit. Not yet anyway!

Never lose hope….never quit.

I must keep the home fires burning one way or the other.

Prayers appreciated.