Thursday, September 26, 2013

The travelers

I spotted them as soon as we pulled into the gas station. She had long dark hair falling freely along both sides of her petite face, with a jaunty dark hat perched on the top of her head. She let lose a beautiful full tooth smile, and I am pretty sure her eyes twinkled, even if it were slight. She had her knees drawn up to her chest, sitting on a bag or something like it, on the sidewalk to the left of the entry door. Her counterpart, with an equally unique black top hat on his sandy brown haired head, looked me straight in the eye when our van rolled to a stop in front of them. I liked him immediately, feeling some level of shared comradre all because he never shied away from a forthright look into my eyes. I trusted him. I noticed the star tattoos on his cheeks, his slightly dirty clothes and hands but I liked his smile. I rolled the window down most of the way before Mike Turned the key off to the engine and exited the vehicle to fill up the gas tank. He left the car as I poked my head out the passenger side door, and pointed to her cardboard sign. "Chicago? What's in Chicago?" I asked. She twinkled and opened her mouth to answer, while her companion spoke up first. "Fast trains. To anywhere! " I smiled. I told them, sincerely, that I was sorry I could not take them to Chicago. We were going a completely different direction. Although they smiled, I thought her shoulders slumped a little when I looked away. Someone else pulled in behind us, and the young man pointedly asked if he were headed toward Chicago? The answer was no, again. In seconds I had felt connected to these young travelers, realizing they had already seen more of the world than I had. They were eager, too old to be run-aways, but looking for adventure. I saw my daughter in her eyes. Guarded, but trusting, hopeful and determined. If my daughter had approached a stranger in a strange town, I hope the stranger was kind, like I hoped I was being to them. I had a huge chocolate chip cookie ,the size of a dessert plate, wrapped in plastic that we had purchased, unsuspecting, in the earlier part of the day. I don't know what prompted me, but i called out to the pair. "Would you care for a cookie while you wait?" Dual smiles confirmed it. Had it been a while since they had eaten or maybe treats were rare? It's all I had to offer and I was secretly glad they took it. They seemed so thankful for that cookie, I started wishing I hadn't eaten the other one so I could have offered them each one. They looked as if sharing was something they were accustomed to. I liked that part. They were on a mission to go somewhere, anywhere? Together. They were bonded together on their quest, partners to the finish. It was a brief moment in time. We pumped our gas and left. It took nothing from me, but I felt as if I had experienced something deeply that afternoon. Their smiles, their hope and excitement, their quest. The connection was made, albeit brief, I appreciated the spark I felt for them as we waved and pulled away. Young people, follow your dream. I hope you made it to Chicago. And beyond your wildest dreams. Your smiles will stay with me a long while.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When A Mom Is Sick

Having just experienced what may classify as the most horrendous stomach flu, I now believe there is a series of unfortunate events that occur when a mom gets sick. Things spiral over the course of time, albeit no one in the household quite understands what really happens when Mom takes a bucket, cold washcloth and Tylenol to her room. The flu. As mom tries her best to sleep off the hideous headache that keeps pounding at the backs of her eyelids, NO ONE is pounding on the very-out-of-tune piano in the next room over. Mom is said to be hallucinating during this time of duress as she lie in her chambers, and coming out of her room to correct the children who are possibly swinging from the livingroom light fixture probably are not really misbehaving nearly as much as mom supposes. Mom just has the flu. Just as mom falls asleep it is a sure thing SOMEONE needs to know just which vegetable would be perfect for dinner, even though, #1 - no one usually cares what vegetable is cooked because, no one will eat it, and #2- mother is sick and does not really care if anyone eats a vegetable this night or not. All mother wants is to go back to sleep and not hear the banshees In the next room practicing their tribal calls. Mom is not available, when she is sick unto death, to squeeze the toothpaste tube back Into shape, return the cap and place it back in the drawer, and further more, when Mom is this sick, she really doesn't even think about the children brushing their teeth. At this profound stage of illness, mother could care less if their teeth all fell out. Or if they miss the bus, join a traveling circus or marry a biker. Mom is too sick to care. If mom is sick, no one keeps the cats away from the fishbowl. It's every fish for himself when mamma has the flu. No one realizes how many times the rolls of toilet paper are taken away from fish-bowl-tormenting-cats either. Apparently mom will clean up the shreds of tissue all around the house once she crawls out of her stupor. No one dares bother mom when she is this sick. Except to borrow her cell phone, get the code for the Internet, or tattle on someone who is doing something that can not possibly, at all ,be worked out by dad. Moms sickness also seems to slow down the laundry schedule. Although dad is great at sorting and keeping it clean, he really has no clue how to sort it correctly, thus creating yet ANOTHER reason at least one or nine children must wake mother up to ask where their tights/favorite shirt/ undies/ pet snake are. Although the teens have been washing/drying/ putting away their own laundry on the same weekly schedule for the last three years, apparently mom is the only one who knows what that schedule is. So being sick, mom has to yell out of her illness to said teenagers to do their laundry on the scheduled night, or be woken up in the morning after a sleepless/sick night to borrow MY clothes/sweater/belt/ earrings. Obviously teenagers really miss mom when she is sick in her room for two days, because they can't seem to stay away. Especially if they were told to do the dishes/clear the table/pick up livingroom/ watch your baby brothers til dad gets home without making sure the other teens are getting just as many chores as they are. A very sick mom can not usually ignore what is going on in other rooms. Partly because the noise level is so intense it can not be ignored even if mom was asleep outside in the van down the road at a nearby park and also because a mom knows there may be something that she will have to jump out of bed and deal with (as she is holding wet cloth to aching head, and kicking bucket along in front of her so as to not make a mess on the carpet as she screams at no one in particular ). Meals will be cooked loudly when mom is sick, because her quiet room is directly off the kitchen. That way, she can tell no one is left in the kitchen when she smells the food burning and she knows immediately all the children are once again in front of the television and can not hear neither the smoke alarm or timer going off to alert them its time to call dad and have him pick up pizza for dinner. Of course the nine children decide to play Dreidle on the night mom is sick, LOUDLY so she doesn't feel as if she is missing out on family game night. When mom is sick, she really doesn't care about Dreidle, hopscotch or making moonshine, as long as the nine children (or 17 or 31) are playing quietly. Mom tries her hardest to get well. She prays, sips weak tea, and eats nothing for two days. The teenagers, however, decide to come talk to mom as she lies dying in her dark room whereas they had not spoken directly to mom two weeks prior to her illness except to ask for money and a ride to the game. When a mom gets sick, she usually gets back into action sooner than anyone else who gets sick. A two day illness can last a week to a kid who wants to skip school, until the neighbor shows up to play and the kid who threw up his gizzards all night long insists he was never really sick, just didn't want to take a shower. Moms really can't get sick gracefully. It's hard work to stay down and get enough rest to get well. It's harder yet to spend so much quality time with all the kids parading through your room to ask questions every 10 minutes when you are nauseous and just want to sleep. I have learned if I can plan my next bout with the flu, I am checking In at the local hotel and maybe, just maybe, a good nights sleep with no distractions will put me back on my feet much sooner! Mommas must stay well! They just can't live without us!