Posted in Jeanne Marie

The Table & Chairs

My old table and chairs have been freshly painted and they’re adorable, but that’s not all there is to it.

They have traveled a long, rough road to land pretty on my front porch.

I’ll start with when I first remember seeing them in my mom’s living room. They were brand-new white.

I was thirtysomething with three young kids and my sister, seven years younger, had four younger kids.

My mom had a small basement apartment underneath my aunt’s house, but she had one closet full of blankets and pillows that we would use when we slept over. We would just spread them all over the tiny living room and it would be wall-to-wall kids.

Mom never cared how small her place was, she always had room for all of us.

We would cook huge Sunday dinners in her little kitchen, and then we would all stand there together doing the dishes.

In the evening, after the kids would settle down, my sister would put a table-cloth on the little table and a candle. She would say we were in a French bistro.

Then she would ask me to read some of my poems, which I always just happened to have with me.

For an hour so, we would all be transported to a little café in France and I was the entertainer.

My mom was my first reader and fan, but they were all my very first audience and their love for my writing carried me on waves of encouragement.

I didn’t find out until many years later that my sister also wrote poetry, and I was stunned when I read it because it was so much better than mine. She always gave me the spotlight.

My mom passed away in 2009, and I don’t know when my older sister acquired the table, but she graciously gave it to me when I asked her for it last spring. She also gave me the round cushions.

The little set traveled eighteen hundred miles with me to my new home.

My husband spent days painting it and repairing the metal binding around the table. Butterflies surrounded him as he worked, even landing on his hands.

I scrubbed it down before it was painted and butterflies were landing all over it then too.

My mom is a butterfly, so I believe the restoration made her happy.

Now that it’s finished, just looking at it makes me smile, overcome by the flood of memories it invokes.

I had my coffee at it this morning and as butterflies flitted by, I could feel my family, young and unscathed by the heartaches yet to come, unburned by the tragedies and the pain we would all go on to experience.

Those were innocent days. I just didn’t know. I am thrilled to have the table to remind me.

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Posted in Jeanne Marie

Remembering…


Christmas is the time of year for remembering.
I feel my mom all around me because Christmas was my mom’s favorite time of the year. She is the spirit of Christmas to me.
I’m not sure why it was her favorite because it was also her hardest time of year, with my dad drinking and crazy and hating Christmas.
But, it was and she always made sure…somehow, someway, that there were a few presents and a lot of love surrounding her kids. I will always remember rolling hundreds of Italian Cookies with her, every year.
Sometimes we had family over for the holiday dinner. I always considered their presence a Christmas miracle because Dad would stop his ranting and raving for just a few hours. He would smile and talk like a normal person and it always amazed me how he could turn it off and on.
I guess he must have known the insane screaming was wrong. Why else would he have stopped the moment people came into our house?
Yes, Christmas is a time for remembering and as I move on from my childhood memories, I remember my own babies and how I felt like a child myself when they were young.
I try not to think of where I fell short.
I try to remember where I succeeded.
I miss them. I miss those babies who grew up before I was ready to let them go.
Pampers and pacifiers, Cabbage Patch dolls and Lego’s. Hot Wheels and Strawberry Shortcake. Little hands rolling Italian Christmas cookies growing into teenagers hanging KISS posters.
Far to soon, my children were in the driver’s seat,  grand-babies and weddings and great-grandchildren.
My best chance to be what they needed has been dissolved by time, time I thought was mine.
If you have babies and children still at home, remember that Christmas is a time for remembering.
Create the good memories now, not next year. Next year is not promised.
As the snow is falling outside your windows, and the Christmas lights are blinking on every porch, live the day you’d like them to remember.
When you look back to now from someday in your future, you’ll smile and your heart will be filled with joy instead of tears and regrets.
Christmas is the time of year for remembering.

Posted in From My Newsletter

THINGS I WISH I’D NEVER SAID TO MY DAUGHTERS

You have to wear a bra!

You’re too young to shave your legs and I don’t care if all the other girls your age are doing it!

I read your diary. We need to talk.

Yes, there are microphones hidden in your barrettes!

If you didn’t take my green eye shadow, then why are your eyelids green?

I’m gonna kill you!

I’m your mother and your father!

Take down those rock posters or I’ll tear them down!

I don’t believe you.

Never let your husband see you without your make-up on or your hair a mess!

Don’t ever let him see you in the green face mask!

You have to try harder and look better, after you’re married.

Cook him a big breakfast and have his supper ready when he comes in from work.

Are you gonna let him get up and make his own coffee?

Tough luck, life isn’t fair!

THINGS I WISH I’D SAID EVERYDAY

I love you.

Let’s all go out and play.

I don’t care if you make a mess!

Go to college and get a degree, before you have kids.

 

Posted in Jeanne Marie

Memory Clutter

I was finally in the mood to start some spring cleaning and I decided to begin with my office.
As  I cleaned, I realized why I held on to so many mementos and gifts from the people I love.
It wasn’t the actual notes or the drawings, it wasn’t the colorful gift bags with ribbons and bows that captivated me.
No, what I was struggling to fit into this small room, aside from computers, printers, writing, books, CDs, tapes and boxes of pictures were the moments when the gifts had been created and given.
I wanted back the happiness and the love in each child’s face when they had handed the gifts to me.
The pride in my mother’s eyes when she handed me her handmade crafts and the warmth of my sisters hugs, the memories remained in the gifts.
After so many years, these items still triggered every emotion imaginable.
The metal sculpture my twenty-five year-old grandson welded for me when he was twelve, a green pipe with a bowl.
It had made my teenage son laugh so hard because he said it looked like a bong.
“Bong?” I’d asked. He’d laughed some more.
The toys from McDonald’s that my grandson loved to give me for presents. The man who spun like a top but could never stand up, the mermaid that he took for me when he could have had a GI Joe, into the Goodwill bag they went, but my hand hovered over a miniature Blue Fairy.
I remembered watching Artificial Intelligence over and over with my grandson and he was so proud when he found me the Blue Fairy.
The movie was about a little robot boy who wanted to be a real boy and he searched for the Blue Fairy to help him.
I couldn’t drop the Blue Fairy in the bag. Four out of five is pretty good, right?
The huge finger paintings with crackling paint. My once tiny granddaughter’s handprints with mine certainly had to stay.
The plastic sunflower my toddler grandson had presented to me…running up to me with his little fist closed tight around a treasure, he had opened his little fingers to present the treasure. “Flower,” he’d said, full of pride. When I saw it was plastic, I knew I’d keep it forever.
The poster created by pain and love that my baby sister presented to me the day after my suicide attempt twenty-eight years ago, that did go into the trash.
I pulled off the pictures, but the memory of that day and how much I’d hurt my family still burned.
Huge envelopes and boxes for each of my four kids and boxes for half of my fifteen grandkids.
What should stay, what should go?
Would they remember the objects and would the objects mean to them what they meant to me?
Would my son and daughter clean out all this junk after I was gone, moaning at my eccentric, hoarding habits? I didn’t know.
I set the bag of donations aside so I could repack it. Another box to be saved.
I just couldn’t part with any of it right now, but I could clean another room tonight.
Who knew spring cleaning could be so emotional?
Posted in Jodie Lynne

Jodie Lynne and Me

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August 23, 2016

I sat on the front porch of a sober-living house this morning, doing morning group meditation with amens for everyone and everything.
I was surrounded by grateful, sober-living women. I am so proud of each one of these miracle walkers.
As I sat there today, I was reliving throwing my hands up to the sky in complete surrender and handing my daughter to God, so many times, but most of all of the day I started to plan her funeral as she lay unconscious in a bathtub in a dope house, 2,000 miles away, being held under the water in an attempt to either kill her or to revive her from an overdose.
That day, I wept with earth shattering grief as I felt the extreme reality of the pain that her loss would deliver.
And still…I was afraid that he would not save her anymore, because of all the miracles that he had already delivered to her and to me, but God does not give up, he does not falter, he does not say, “Oh no, my child! You blew it last time!”
My heart was so heavy and for the very first time, I was afraid to ask for yet another miracle, but I stuffed my pride and on my knees, I raised my hands to him.
“Not my daughter, not my daughter,” I sobbed.
I asked, I begged and I pleaded, sending my legions of angels to lift her from the tub.
Called my sisters so that they could send out their angels and prayers too.
God was waiting patiently for the exact moment to lift my daughter from the water, to fill her lungs with air, to stand her on her feet, to restore her life, to teach her how to walk again.
The same way I taught her to walk when she was a year old, one step at a time.
I could not save her but he could and he did.
I am extremely grateful for my daughter’s life, for the fact that she is one of these sober-living women, so very grateful for her sobriety, so very grateful that I dragged up the strength and the courage to hand it to him once more when all I wanted to do was jump on a plane and race to save her.
She would have been dead before I could have even packed a suitcase.
I am so very proud of you my daughter for grabbing on to his hands as he lifted you from the water and for holding on to his miracle with all your might.
So very grateful for the woman who obeyed God’s call to open sober-living homes and walked into the prison a few weeks later and shouted, “Where is Jodie Tiger?”
The very next day, she took my daughter’s hand (with the judge’s permission) and led Jodie to this sober-living house.
Thank you God, from the depths of this mother’s heart and God, I pray that you have a blessed day today too.
Love, Jeanne Marie

Posted in Gracie's Glimmer, Poetry From A Woman Who Thinks Too Much

I See You

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When I look in my mirror, I remind me of you.

I see the pain you couldn’t hide.

I see the weariness in your soft brown eyes.

I see your careworn face beneath my disguise.

I see your strength as you faced each day.

I see the sadness that colored your ways.

I see the exact same streaks of greying hair.

I see your courage even though I’m aware

of times when your load was so heavy,

it was far to much for you to bear.

I see your wrinkles, I see your lines.

I see your shadow behind my eyes.

When I look in my mirror I remind me of you.