Posted in Jeanne Marie, Jodie Lynne

Time and Distance

 

story

I remember the pain I felt the first time I realized that my mom had grown older.
My heart broke that day, as I realized how frail the strongest woman in my life had become just since our last visit.
Today, at a newly turned 63, I fly to see my middle child, Jodie Lynne and she hasn’t seen me for two years.
I look good from 1800 miles away with the perfect lighting and a smart phone pose, but up close…
It will be the first time that she will realize that her mother is older. Much.
Human, not a super woman who can save the day…
Well, usually, I just mess up whom ever I’m trying to save, so that might be a good thing, LOL.
But she’s not going to like her mom’s newly acquired wrinkles.
It’s almost like the stamp of an expiration date upon my face and neck.
Not now, the wrinkles whisper, yet their very existence shouts out the reality that time is more valuable, limited.
My baby sister swears that I still look 17, so maybe Jodie Lynne will be wearing the same love shield.
I hope so, because no woman should ever have to watch her mom grow old.

P.S. We had an incredible visit. She kept telling me that I was “so little” but that’s another story.

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Posted in Fiction

There Goes The Bride

1

Once upon a time women stayed at home. They took care of the kids and the house. Men went out to work, made money and supported their families. Then things began to change. The shift in power had been gradual, until the year 2025 and then change had advanced rapidly. Women had been essential in the work place for many years and the men just hadn’t noticed what was developing. Females became the stronger sex. They became more self-assured and with their newfound confidence, they grew powerful, assertive and aggressive. Yes, aggressive, just the way men had operated for centuries.
Now, a man was lucky to find a job that paid minimum age, if his wife would even let him go to work. Jake’s father had told him stories about how it used to be, stories that his Dad’s father had told to him, old husband’s tales about the way things had been in the Twentieth century, before the takeover. For over seventy-five years, men hadn’t possessed the independence, or the financial
freedom, items which the male species had once claimed as their birthright. They didn’t seem to mind. It was a woman’s world now, and the men had learned to live with it.
What choice did they have?
“Niki, you forgot your lunch!” Jake ran out the front door after his daughter, just in time to see her bus pull away from the corner. He threw her lunch after the bus, and tramped back into the house. He plopped down at the kitchen table, and took a sip of his lukewarm coffee. Getting his wife, Michelle, out to work and the kids off to school each morning, was like running an obstacle course.
“Where’s my math book?”
“Dad, the dog threw up on the sofa!”
“Hon, is my red dress back from the cleaners?”
“Dad, Niki won’t get out of the bathroom, and I gotta go!”
“Jake, for crying out loud, can’t you ever control these kids?”
After he finished his tepid coffee, he took a roast out of the freezer for supper. Maybe if he cooked a nice meal, she wouldn’t be so cranky tonight. Ya, and maybe after the kids went to bed, he’d take a shower and splash on that new after-shave. He could wear the silk boxers she’d bought him. She was always complaining that he was never in the mood, but what did she expect after he cooked and cleaned all day? She thought that all he did was sit in the recliner, watching football and drag races, swilling down cold beers, while she was at work.
He heard music outside. It was the Snap-On Tool truck! He ran upstairs and fished under the mattress, feeling around for his stash of money, precious dollars he’d saved from the grocery allowance by clipping coupons.
Hank and Pete were already standing at the truck as Jake hurried across the street.
“What are you gonna buy?” Hank was asking Pete.
“I dunno. Last week, I bought that nice eight-piece screwdriver set and I got lectured for an hour. She said I was wasting her money. I told her it was on sale and she laughed in my face. Said I’d buy fleas from a dog, if they were on sale!”
“You think that’s bad?” asked Jake. “Michelle cut up my Master Card cause I ordered a fishing rod from the Sportsmen’s home shopping channel! She said, “You’ve got enough to do around the house and you can forget about going fishing with a bunch of unshaven house-husbands!”
“Come on guys! Quit the chatter. What do you want today?” Cindy asked. “How about a power drill? Or this nice metric socket set that I have on special?” Cindy climbed down out of the truck and stood there beside them, as they huddled around the merchandise, trying to decide.
Suddenly Jake said, “Let’s go guys. Come on.” He seemed panicky, and his face was flush.
“But, I’m still looking!” Hank insisted.
“I don’t care, I said let’s go, now!” Jake demanded.
Cindy winked at Jake, as she said, “See ya next time, boys.”
“Jake, what’s wrong with you?” both friends asked, as the truck drove away.
“Cindy rubbed her hands all over my butt and whispered, ‘Come for a ride with me big boy and I’ll show you how to use these tools,’ Jake answered.
“Wow! Are you gonna tell Michelle?” asked Pete
“Are you kidding? She’ll just say it was my own fault and ask me what I was wearing! And maybe it is my fault. I should’ve thrown on a decent shirt before I came out.”
“Well, that’s true, but after Michelle is done yelling at you, she’ll beat the nuts and bolts out of Cindy!” laughed Pete.
“Just forget about it.” was Hank’s advice.
“Hey, you guys wanna come over, and have a beer? We can watch the wrestling until the kids come home from school,” said Jake
“Sure, but don’t let me get drunk this time, guys!” said Pete. “Last week after we had a few, I tied Jimmy to a tree in the backyard because he wouldn’t clean his room. Margie was pissed! She took the kids out to eat that night and took away my car keys before she left. I’m still walking!
I told her this morning that she needs to make an appointment to go see my therapist with me. I asked her to go months ago, but she’s always too busy. I told her that we need counseling, so that we can learn to communicate and establish intimacy. That always calms her down. She hates going to therapy! I bet she gives me back the keys tonight!”
“Ya, well at least the boy listens to you now,” Hank joked.
“My father did worse than that, believe me!” added Jake. “Women have no idea how hard it is to stay home with the kids. They go to work, have friends, a social life, fancy clothes that we have to wash or take to the cleaners. They have control of the money, all of their meals are cooked for them, sex when they want it and what do we have?”
“Come on Jake. Cheer up. After all, we have housework that never ends, kids who don’t listen to us, unless the wife is home, ESPN and all the beer our allowance can buy!”
“I hope you’re not trying to cheer me up,” Jake replied.
They all laughed, as they tromped over to Jake’s.
The guys flopped down on Jake’s sofa and Jake sat in the recliner, flipping through the channels, until he found the wrestling. “Where do they find these huge mama’s?” he wondered aloud.
“I dunno,” said Hank. “But I bet they all take steroids!” They all snickered.
Jake passed cold beers around and opened a giant bag of potato chips. The three friends sat there, munching and enjoying the wrestling matches. The kids got out of school at 3:00 o’clock, so Hank and Pete set out for home about 2:00.
After they left, Jake flew into action.
He gathered up all the dirty laundry from the kid’s rooms and stuffed it into the washer. He added a cup of Tide\w Bleach and shut the cover. He went back to the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher and then he popped the roast into the microwave.
Next, he went into the living room, and turned on ESPN, so he could watch the Dallas Cowgirls play the Chicago Bunnies. His dad had told him that men used to play pro-football, but Jake had a hard time picturing men slamming into each other as furiously as the women did! He got out the vacuum cleaner and ran it around the furniture, while he watched the game. Michelle griped at him cause he never moved the furniture, but he just couldn’t see a reason for cleaning in places where it wouldn’t even show!
Tonight, Michelle would be glued to the colossal image screen, watching her favorite soaps, “These Are The Days of Her Life,” and “All His Children.”
His dad had tried to warn him that marriage was no picnic, but did Jake listen? No, of course not. Michelle had swept him off his feet, and now look at him. Just another middle-aged, overweight househusband, a man who couldn’t even support himself and his kids. If she ever decided to leave him…just thinking about it gave him an anxiety attack! Of course, divorce was outlawed now, but she could still leave and live with someone else.
Sometimes he woke up in the middle of the night, shaking and shivering, his body in a cold sweat. He had the same nightmare, over and over. Michelle was walking away from him and the kids, arm in arm with some muscle-bound man, a boy really. No beer belly, no receding hairline. Jake would throw himself in front of her, begging her to stay. She would step over him and just keep walking. It was every man’s worst fear. The guys in the neighborhood had all watched it happen to Mike. And Mike was still in that “hospital.”
Jake thought about how decent Michelle was to him; how she supported him and the kids. He remembered the worthy intentions he’d had that morning. He shut off the vacuüm and dialed their baby sitter’s number. “Hey John, could you pick up the kids at school and keep them for a few hours?” he asked.
“Sure, I have to get my three anyway. I’ll pick them up and we’ll all go to the park. Maybe get some pizza for dinner. Just give me a call when you wanna pick them up.”
“Thanks a lot, John, I owe you one.”
Jake shoved the vacuüm cleaner into the closet and ran upstairs to take a shower. As he toweled off and pulled on the silky green boxers, he glanced at the clock. If he hurried, he’d have just enough time before she got home to bake her favorite carrot cake. Then, he’d put the roast in the oven to brown; serve it with some potatoes and onions.
When she comes through the door tonight, he thought, I’ll stop running around the house and I’ll really listen to her when she tells me about her day at work. That always puts her in a great mood!
I’ll give her a back rub while she relaxes with a cup of cappuccino and after we eat; I’ll turn on some soft music and ask her to dance. I’ll hold her the way I did when we were dating. We’ll dance close and slow, my hands massaging her back, he fantasized.
Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but he had it better than most of his friends. Michelle didn’t hit him, she didn’t go out and get drunk with the girls, and he didn’t think she cheated on him. Of course, Mike had been the last one to know! Anyway, Jake knew it was up to him to keep the marriage strong, to keep the passion and the tenderness alive. Well, he was ready to rekindle that flame when she came home tonight!
The End

I must confess that the seed for this fable grew from a casual conversation my husband and his friends had at work, about what the world would be like if men stayed home. When my husband told me what they had said (himself included) I knew I’d have to cultivate this seed, and nurture it into a full-grown man-eating plant. (Sorry guys!) I hope I did your concept justice,
embellishments and all! Jeanne Marie

Posted in Jeanne Marie

Mothers and Daughters

harrietgracejen

A Few Disorderly Thoughts From A Daughter Who Became A Mother
What are “the ties that bind,” what forms the substance of the invisible umbilical cord that flows between a mother and daughter? What joins us together even when we’re apart? Why does my daughter’s heartache bruise my heart, why do I feel her pain, how do I know before she even tells me?
A mother loves her son, but she knows from the day he’s born that he’ll only let her nurture him, hug and kiss him, until he starts to become a man. His first day of school, he tells her, “Don’t walk me up to the door Mom, I don’t want the kids to see me with my mother, they’ll laugh at me.” And this is kindergarten! She walks home in tears; he has begun to cut the cord. It hurts, but she realizes that he only wants to grow up and be “a man.” I think boys possess the urge to be “a man” the day they’re born. Women know the rules. We let our boys cut the cord; pull away, be tough, be strong. We let their fathers tell them, “Don’t cry when you fall down; don’t be a mama’s boy.” As soon as he can walk he’s warned by the grown men in his life, “Don’t be a sissy.”
So why do daughters stay bound to their mothers, strengthening the connection developed in the womb?
I was thirty-eight years old when I drove to my mother’s house one night, at three in the morning. I could barely see the highway through my tears. Exhausted and grieving, I collapsed on her porch. I made it! I was safe! Why did I feel better just because I was close to her, before she even opened the door? She tucked me into her bed as I sobbed and she said, “Honey, I feel your pain.” I knew she was telling me the truth because I could see my agony reflected in her eyes. “Just go to sleep,” she said firmly. “Everything will look better when you wake up; you’re just exhausted right now.” Then she went out to sleep on the old sofa in the living room. I closed my eyes and I felt the weight on my aching heart lift; my mother was taking care of me. I slept like a baby. Why? Nothing had changed, my mother couldn’t fix the situation that had traumatized me, why did I feel better? When I awoke the next morning I could hear her tiptoeing around because she was trying to let me sleep late. I could smell the Folgers* brewing in the pot and her love and concern covered me like an electric blanket. She smiled as I staggered into the kitchen. She handed me a cup of hot, fresh coffee. “Sit down, sit down,” she said, as she rushed to get the milk out of the fridge.
My cigarettes and lighter were placed in my hands before I even hit the chair. As I drank my coffee, she bustled around her tiny kitchen making crepes. “Oh, shoot,” she exclaimed as they cooked too fast. “I have the heat up to high; I’m out of practice.” We ate the almost burnt crepes with butter and sugar and the taste of childhood returned to my tongue.
Thomas Wolfe once wrote “You can’t go home.” I guess that means that once you’ve grown up, you have to stay that way. However, you can always go home for a visit or have your mom visit you. You can be a little girl for a few hours. Your mother will always find the spot that hurts and put her love around it. Then you part, feeling strong enough to walk away from her protection and you can let the world back into your life.
I don’t always take my mother’s advice, but I always accept her gift of love. Unconditional love. All I have to do to earn it is be who I am. Her daughter. I try to show my gratitude and let her know how I much I appreciate her love and support. I didn’t understand how much of herself she gave to me until I had children of my own.
During the birth of my first child, I begged the nurses to go find my mother. I wanted to tell her that I was sorry for every unkind word that I had ever spoken to her. (And I didn’t even know that the birth of my baby was the easiest task of motherhood!) On that day my mother became a different person in my eyes. A daughter never knows the full extent of her mother’s love until she holds her own baby in her arms.
She will even forgive all of her mother’s mistakes, when her own first child is born.
The ties that bind are stretched to a thin strand with sons; boys learn young to reject emotional intimacy. Meanwhile, mothers and daughters strengthen the invisible bond; they never cut the ties that bind, not even if they trip over them and fall down a flight of stairs. I’ve tripped my own daughters, without meaning to. The fall was just as painful as if I had deliberately tripped them!
We leave our husbands when they hurt us or hurt our children, (unless we’re codependent, then we go for counseling for ten years and try to figure out what we did wrong) and although husbands can be replaced, the tie between mother and child is forever. Even when it hurts. When my mother felt overwhelmed by my behavior she’d remind me, “I don’t always like you, but I always love you.”
One of the greatest tragedies a woman could ever experience would be the loss of her child or her mother.
One last thought: mother-in-law jokes abound, but why did they become so popular? Are they a true picture of his mother-in-law or are they the sarcasm of an insecure man? When a mother-in-law is resented, not for what she does, but for who she is, maybe it’s because a husband feels threatened by the unbreakable bond that connects her to his wife. He is never sure of his position between mother and daughter. Even worse, a man will sometimes be jealous of the emotional bond between his wife and their child. Perhaps from his point of view, he has reason to be concerned. After all, a woman often divorces her husband, but she almost never banishes her mother or her children from her life.

Posted in Jeanne Marie, Jodie Lynne

Mother’s Day. Thank You For The Mother’s Day Gift (2007)

Image (161)
When you were in the first grade you pressed your tiny hands into finger paint. I still have your red handprints on the faded yellow construction paper. Your teacher helped you to paste your picture beneath the handprints and you gave me the gift for Mother’s Day. The gift hung on my wall for so many years and then I tucked it away in your box.
There are mementos of each year we’ve been together in your box. Your pink cotton prairie dress which was your hippy mom’s idea of suitable attire for a christening, the crafts you made me at summer camp, the yarn rugs, the pot holders, the blue pottery teddy bear that Nana helped you make for me, the Christmas ornament with the picture of you that you hate (you were in that awkward stage) and just about every card, note and gift you’ve ever given me, they have all found their way into your box.
The gift you gave me this year overwhelmed me, caused tears to pour down my face, the face that you tell me is still beautiful and I know in your eyes it will always be no matter how old I am.
This year’s gift cannot be tucked away in your box. No one can see it but you and I and I don’t even know if you realize just how enormous this gift is, although you created it. You might not even know that you already gave it to me because Mother’s Day is another week away.
My gift was a simple phone call. You asked your husband to call me because your phone wasn’t working and you knew that I’d be worried about the things going on in your life if I couldn’t reach you today.
The gift had multiple facets, as many as a diamond or a kaleidoscope.
The phone call said much more than his words, “We don’t want you to worry today.”
Maybe I heard between the lines, but to me it said–you are sober, you are responsible and that you can look beyond your own needs. It said that you have enough respect for yourself that you know that you deserve to be with a good, hardworking man who respects not only you, but also your mother, no matter how crazy or ditzy we can each get.
The gift reminded me how very far you have come from that day when you walked into a treatment center with drugs hidden in a private region sixteen months ago. It was too late to save custody of your other four babies, but it was not to late to save you, my middle child, my baby. Everyday that you are clean and you are alive is your gift to me.
The gift said that you are fighting the odds and the system to embrace the second chance God has given you, your tiny baby boy and the rather tall teenager whom you gave birth to when you were but a child yourself, the two that you hold so close to your heart as you miss the babies that you can not hold, can not see, can not mother.
This gift will never be put away in your box, that’s true; but it will be alive in my heart and soul long after my bones have turned to dust.
Love, Mom

Posted in Jeanne Marie

The Head Exam

Last night I examined my husband’s head. He put his finger on his head and said, “What is this?”
“It is your head,” I replied.
“No, no, what is this bump?”
I have had no medical training and do not possess any particular medical skills, but I felt more than qualified to examine his head because I have been rubbing his head while he falls asleep for 30 years.
Hmmmmm. My first diagnosis was that it was a bug bite. Or maybe an allergy to shampoo. Maybe a spider bite. Hmmmmmm. Wait a minute. Another spot.
“Two spots. This is serious now,” I said. “I think you have been in the sun way too much and this may be skin cancer.”
I described the bumps to him.
“They are raised and looked healed, but they are red. Could be eczema or maybe lesions. Maybe it’s those worm bugs that get under your scalp like we saw on the Discovery channel. The integrity of the skin has been broached for sure. (I learned that phrase when I saw a dermatologist who cut out a piece of my ear last week.)
“I’m not sure. I can’t look if you won’t hold still.”
I parted the hairs over and over but couldn’t be sure of what I was seeing. He almost fell asleep.
Until without warning, I dumped his head out of my lap and went running from the bedroom.
I shouted back to him, “I really can’t see so I’m going to go get the Magnabrite.” I was so excited that I even had a Magnabrite!
By now he had changed his mind about having his head examined, but it was too late. I was on a mission. I came bouncing back with the Magnabrite and a flashlight.
“Now, you’re going to have to hold still,” I warned him, “because I have to balance the Magnabrite and the flashlight while I part your hair and you don’t want either one to smack you in the head. They are heavy.”
I was giggling at the thought of solving this mystery and he was for sure trying to sneak back over to his side of the bed, but I grabbed his hair, flipped my knees back under his head and held on tight. I had a job to do and I would diagnose these bumps.
Balancing all my instruments was difficult, but then I tucked the flashlight under my left arm, held the Magnabrite in my right hand and used my left hand to part his hair. I looked down into the Magnabrite.
I was shocked and I started to scream. “Oh my God,” I hollered. “Oh my God!”
He hollered back, “What? What? What’s wrong?”
“Wow,” I said. “I can see every single hair on your head! This Magnabrite is so cool!”
“You’re crazy,” he said, as he moved away from me. “I’m going to sleep.”
“Okay, but I’m making you an appointment with the dermatologist,” I threatened. “This could be serious.”
With a pout, I set the Magnabrite and the flashlight on the bedside table.
Jeepers. I would have been happy to have someone examine my head for free.

Posted in Jeanne Marie

The Writer’s Husband

“I got it! I got the P.O. Box, so we’re in business now! Let’s go out to eat. I’m starving! Let’s celebrate!” she said, as she exploded into the bedroom.
“I almost didn’t go to the post office, cause I couldn’t find my keys right away and I said, ‘Oh oh, it must be a sign’ and then I found my keys, but when I got to the post office I couldn’t find my checkbook and I stood outside the post office for a minute thinking, if I don’t have my checkbook, then it’s not meant to be cause it’s almost four-thirty!”
“I kept telling myself that I’m stupid to try to start a business based on my writing. It all seemed so right last night after you read my newsletter, but when I woke up this afternoon I was afraid that I really didn’t have anything to say and who would buy my newsletter and I’m just wasting money on a P.O. Box, but I knew it was just anxiety so I ignored myself!”
While she paused for air, I asked her, “Where did you want to eat? I’m really not that hungry.”
“I don’t know, maybe McDonald’s or that chicken place in Tulsa. I’m starving. I burned up huge amounts of energy, writing all night and sleeping all day!”
She was still talking. “Let’s get pizza or subs then, if you’re not hungry. I’d like a great big Italian sub.”
“Do you want me to go to Subway and get us some subs then cause I don’t want anything big like a meal, but are subs okay?”
I envied her enthusiasm as she flitted through the conversation, answering me with a childlike delight, “Ya, I’d love a sub, you know how I like them to make it! Tell them to put only a little Italian dressing cause even though it’s low-fat, I hate when it drips! Will you really go?”
“Ya, I’ll go. Did you see your car? It’s all clean.”
“Ya, I saw it, thank you. It looks nice. I hate when it’s all dirty. Did you see your truck?”
“No, why?”
“Well, I put a big dent in it today.”
“Where?”
She paused and I feared the worst and then she said, “In the rear quarter, on the left.”
“Oh well,” I replied calmly, because I could see that she wasn’t hurt.
“Ya, some guy didn’t stop at the light and he plowed right into me! It’s a real big dent.”
Maybe it was because of the smile that tickled her voice, but I told her again, “That’s okay. It doesn’t matter.”
She asked me, “Will you go get the subs now? I’m starved!”
As I refused her offer to pay for the subs and got ready to leave she said, “Thanks baby and I didn’t really dent your truck. I was just testing you!”
Later that night, after she had disappeared into her computer room to write, she called out to me, “Hon? Hon, did you know that I really didn’t dent your truck or did you believe me when I said I dented it?”
I paused there in her doorway and answered, “Yes, I believed you.”
“And you weren’t mad at me,” she asked in a silly voice.
“No, as long as you weren’t hurt, that’s all that mattered.”
Before I could leave, she said, “Come ‘mere honey and see what I just wrote.”
I leaned over her shoulder and looked down at the computer screen and saw my own words stare back at me, “No, as long as you weren’t hurt, that’s all that mattered.”
“You wrote that before I said it,” I stated.
“That’s because I knew what you’d say,” she said with smile.