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.

Posted in Jeanne Marie

My Old Pizza Pan

As I stood scrubbing my old pizza pan this morning, I studied the thousands of cuts that ran across it.
I realized that the thousands of cuts equalled thousands of memories from family meals.
As I scrubbed my old pan, I wondered if I would even pick it up at a yard sale.
I thought, well now that I know what all the cuts mean, maybe I would.
It’s not a dirty pan, as it appears to be, it is a much loved family heirloom.
I dried my hands and sat down with my notebook.
I thought about all the times I almost threw this pan away because of the cuts and I thought of how many times my husband had ordered me to throw it away.
I always said, “No, I won’t.”
I had already learned my lesson when he talked me out of my Guardian Service pans because he hated them.
I gave away some of my newer GS pans and he’d bought me a very expensive set of Faber Ware.
Six months later, I sold that set at a yard sale.
I was so grateful that I had at least held on to Mom’s and Nana’s GS pans.
He tried to cut the same deal when he promised that he would buy me a new pizza pan.
I told him that hadn’t worked out very well in the past.
I said, “You can buy me a new one and I’m willing to try it, but if I don’t like it I’m keeping this one.”
Over the years, he tried to bribe me with many new pizza pans and none lived up to the old one.
The day even came when he couldn’t find the old pizza pan and he panicked.
“Where is our good pizza pan?” he shouted from the kitchen as he tossed shiny ones aside.
I let him panic for a few minutes and then, I found it for him. I always keep it in the back of the pan cabinet in case he gets a notion to throw it out when I’m not looking.
As I handed it to him, I asked him if he remembered how many times he’d told me to throw it away.
I’m that kind of woman.
He’d laughed and said, “Just give me the damn pan!”
He’s that kind of man.
Originally, I had two old pizza pans.
When I was moving from Oklahoma to Florida and getting rid of stuff, my daughter Jodie Lynne said, “Mom, give me the pizza pans. Please?”
I looked her right in the eye and said, “You’re going to lose them, so I’ll give you one.”
She couldn’t have been happier if I had given her the moon.
“I won’t lose this!” she promised, and I had the familiar flutter of hope that she would learn to hold on to things that mattered to her.
That was ten years and many heartaches ago.
I know she no longer has the pizza pan and yes, every time I scrub my pizza pan, I’m glad I kept one, etchings and all.
This past summer, I gave her some of my grandmother’s and my mother’s antique Guardian Service pans.
I didn’t give them all to her, even though she had been sober for over a year.
Nope. I told her she has to prove that she can hold onto something before she gets the rest.
After she gave me the finger with her eyes, she laughingly agreed.
Before you judge me, this is my daughter who has repeatedly lost custody of her six kids and her freedom because of drugs and alcohol.
She has lost everything she owned, over and over, including all her baby pictures, the baby books we made for three of her kids, the handmade crocheted blankets that me, my sister and mother made for them and a box full of Christmas decorations that my mother had made through the years.
I’m not materialistic, but I’m obsessive about holding onto pictures, moments and memories.
In fact, I would give away everything I own and walk in rags with bare feet in the snow just to see my daughter stay happy and sober.
And when she is sober, this daughter loves every little bit of the good memory articles that I do and I guess that’s why I give them to her slowly and hopefully.
I’m always hoping, always praying, that this time will be different, that this time she’ll stay sober.
This month, with over a year sober, she quit the job of her dreams, could lose custody of the only child she has left to raise and yesterday, she called to tell us that the car we bought her a year ago, (so she could get back and forth to work) has been impounded.
Given the signs I know so well, my heart is freaking breaking.
I have four boxes in the attic for her.
They are filled with my own special Christmas decorations, knickknacks, doilies and doodads from Nana, Mom and me. Crafts that my daughter made for me when she was growing up.
She gets the stuff either way when I die and I just pray that she doesn’t die before I do because I know I will not be able to handle losing my precious daughter to the family curse. I will burn those damn boxes full of memories.
From washing my old pizza pan to sitting with my notebook, writing, hoping, praying and believing, “Dear Jesus, please save my daughter. Again. Thank you and amen.”
Update: Thank you Jesus, for my daughter’s life, for her strong faith in you and for her renewed dedication to sobriety. 
Posted in Gracie's Glimmer, Poetry From A Woman Who Thinks Too Much

I Unwish The Wish…

My mind is clouded with thoughts
but none that I can speak.
The words have all been spoken and
thoughts disintegrate as I attempt
to form words that I could say.
My mind is burdened with memories
but I have no more sentences for you.
I wish I did.
My words will not make sense to you
as your’s make none to me,
we said everything that we could say
the silence is deafening
as we stare at the damn TV.
I wish…I wish…
I could just show you my heart
and that I could see yours
so that we could understand.
Then I remember how hard we
struggle with each other’s reality
and we don’t have a backup plan.
So I unwish the wish and
I write words that are my truth
over and over again.
Hoping my head will believe
the words that my soul writes.
Posted in Gracie's Glimmer, Poetry From A Woman Who Thinks Too Much

Self-Destruct

I ran into a summer life
I tried it on
I tasted it
I loved it
I lost it
and I ran back to snow.
Why I didn’t keep on
tasting
loving
finding
I’ll never know.
Fear grabbed the wheel
drove me quite mad.
Panic navigated, flying
through mountains
sliding across icy roads,
dumped me back here
freezing in the bitter snow.
Posted in Gracie's Glimmer, Poetry From A Woman Who Thinks Too Much

Inside The Picture

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Sitting on a porch swing
at her country home
I never saw a face
that looked so all alone.
She gazes into space
her eyes are far away
I wonder where she is
she isn’t in today.
I see a little girl
in the woman’s eyes
a hurt and lonely child
I hear her softly cry.
The pain of dreams now lost
the scars that still remain
when I look at her picture
all I can see is pain.
She captures my heart
I want to hold her tight
I run to save the woman
the girl hides in fright.
The girl plagues the present
with all her musty fears
if I could console the girl
I’d end the woman’s tears.

by Jeanne Marie