It happens every holiday. The holiday thieves come out of the woodwork to steal your happiness and enlighten you as to why you need to be as “woke” (meaning enlightened, mentally and spiritually evolved) as… More
If you know about me, you know that (like many women) I lust after Idris Elba. Me and my cyber girlfriends fight over him like a bunch of schoolgirls all the time. (Seriously, he doesn’t even know we exist. We’re not even friend-zoned. We’re fan-zoned!!) The competition to be his imaginary boo has been increased by his latest promotion to win a date with him. (It’s a great cause – raising funds to help educate girls in Africa. Contribute if you can!)
I reposted a video of my future-baby-daddy consulting the experts on how to make our date special, and one of my girlfriends asked if I’d put my name in for consideration. I just tossed my name in the ring (but could still use a few sponsors). But her question inspired me to write a poem about what a date with Idris would be like. Fellow writer Elisabeth Velasquez inspired the cinquain format. (Check her out!! She’s AWESOME!)
On fluffy clouds of joy
My Valentine’s Day date and I.
Photo credit: Tina Franklin
The challenge ends today. This was intense, but well worth it! A brief battle with the immune system took me out this weekend, but I’m back! Today’s post is a recap of all the posts I’ve written for this challenge. I’ve placed a star beside each of my particular favorites. Feel free to back blog, like, and comment!
- Happy New Year!
- Writing is Easy
- One More Time**
- The Move
- Due to Inclement Weather
- Snowy Road Ahead
- The Well
- Broken Hearted**
- There is Always One More Time
- Breaks and Breathing Room
- Out of Time**
- The Situation***
- Why Loving You is Killing Me**
- Lucid Moments***
- I Wish I’d Thought of That**
- 1000 Words***
- Behind the Scenes
- It was a Dark and Stormy Night
- The Story of Ten***
- Untitled #012617**
My name is Hortensia Louisa Broadway. Close family and friends calls me Ten. My seventy-five year old mother lives with me. She is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and I am her caretaker. Since I take care of her, I don’t have time to take care of myself. I know. It sounds like a cop-out, but I really don’t. I don’t work so I can go on vacations, or have nights out on the town with my friends and maybe meet a nice guy. No, I work and schedule my time and finances around caring for mama.
I watch a little more of her slip away, day by day. One minute, she knows my name and that I’m her daughter. The next minute, she’s telling me to get out of her house – my house – or she’s going to call the cops. Sometimes, I can make light of her outbursts. Most times, it absolutely shatters me.
It would be nice to be one of those women who have a meltdown and goes traveling to a foreign country to do yoga and find herself, or go hiking in the dead of winter and lose a few toes to frostbite, just for a change of scenery and spiritual enlightenment. But I can’t afford that life. I stay up all night to make sure mama doesn’t leave the house and get lost.
My workday starts at 11 pm and ends at noon. The nurse shows up at 7am to tend to mama. I sleep between noonish and 6pm, while the nurse is there. This is my life, seven days a week.
While I long for the future, mama lives in the past. Most of the time, it sounds like a happy place. Then there are the days she goes room by room, calling for him, the one that got away, only to end up on the living room floor crying for Winston. He was her first love. She loves the man who broke her heart more than she ever loved daddy. I think daddy knew it, too. He loved mama the way mama loved Winston. I remember the last thing my father said to her. He said, “Honey, I love you more than all the sand, on all the beaches.” She said, “I’ll see you when you come out of surgery, baby.” He didn’t survive the surgery.
When I was about fifteen years old, she told me she married my father because she didn’t want to be lonely, but that she grew to love him over time. But, Winston would always have a special place in her heart. There are some things a fifteen year old doesn’t need to know.
Shortly after daddy’s death, she went searching for Winston. She found out from a mutual friend that he married the woman he’d left mama for, and they had seven kids. All girls. He’d passed away the year before daddy died. It wasn’t too long after daddy died that I noticed the signs. She’d forget my name, or that she was ever married, even though she still wore her ring. She’d get dressed to go out, but only have her underwear on. After she left food cooking on the stove for the third time while she went out to grocery store to buy something for dinner, her landlord told me she had to go. He begged me to put her into a nursing home.
Sometimes, it’s not clear to me if I resent mama or her illness. But I’m angry that the day I brought her home to live with me, is the day my life stopped. I don’t have any siblings or other close relatives to spilt the responsibility of her care of with. At the same time, I wasn’t ready to put her in a nursing home. So, I deal with this burden and guilt quietly. I save my tears for the moments when I’m alone. But I think it may be time to let her go.
This weekend was a wash. As you notice, there were no blog posts on Saturday and Sunday. I couldn’t pull myself together enough to finish a post. I was mentally tired. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t write anything. I took the time to plan what I would post next (including this). At least one piece will be posted over on Medium, and I’m working out the kinks on the other stories.
So, stay tuned! There is more to come! I’m not done with this blog challenge, yet!
Last May, the official White House photographer, Pete Souza, shared some of his favorite pictures of the Obama family and staff, taken over the last eight years. Some of the images that touched me the most, were the pictures of the president interacting with children. He didn’t just hold and kiss babies for the photo op. He engaged them. He ignored the cameras and got down on their level. He spoke with kids like they were people – because they are people.
There are two pictures that stood out to me the most. Pete Souza didn’t just capture a moment in history. He documented legacy.
Below is a picture of little Clark Reynolds meeting the Barack Obama. This is the first president Clark has ever known, a man that looks like him. He probably doesn’t understand that the man touching his cheek is the first American president of African descent. But for the relative standing behind him, this moment is so much more. She brought Clark to see a possibility that used to be something she didn’t think would happen in her lifetime. They are standing in this moment together. Barack Obama gently touching Clark’s cheek seems to say, “You’re next,” and there’s no reason for him to doubt that one day he can be the president when he grows up.
The second picture (below) is one of Souza’s more popular captures. This picture of Jacob Philadelphia was taken in 2009, shortly after Barack Obama took office. Jacob was five years old at the time, and seemed to know there was something peculiar about this particular man being the president. His classmates told him he looked just like the president. He had to investigate this notion. So, when his family visited The Oval Office to take a picture with the president, Jacob took the opportunity to ask the president if their hair felt the same. The president bent down to Jacob’s level and allowed him to touch his hair. This picture could easily be titled, “Are You Real?” At that time, most Americans were still surprised that we really had an African-American president. This image expresses the shock and wonder many of us felt in the days following the 2008 election.
Author Jamila E. Gomez says about this image, “When possibility stands so close, you can literally touch it. And it looks and feels just like you.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
Every now and then, I find myself in awe of what someone else has written and say to myself, “I wish I’d thought of that!” This usually happens when I’m listening to a song.
Three songs in particular come to mind:
- Let My Love Adorn You by Miguel
- More Than Words by Extreme (NOTHING beats that original version!)
- Break Even (Falling to Pieces) by The Script
With Miguel’s song, the spiritual concept of covering (protecting)/dressing someone in your love. Think about it. How beautiful you must be if you are covered in pure love. This is my favorite verse from the song:
Baby, these fists will always protect ya, lady
This mind, oh, will never neglect you, yeah baby, oh baby
And they stay trying to break us down, but don’t let that affect us, no, baby
You just gotta let my love
Let my love adorn you
SIGN. ME. UP. FOR. THAT!!! How intense is that? This guy and pretty much begging to be the girl’s knight in shining armor! I wish I’d thought of it!
Now, I’m telling my age, but More than Words was a HUGE song when I was in high school. It’s a simple song that says, “Don’t just tell me, show me how much you love me.” No heavy band in the background, just the guitar and voice, which adds more impact to the what the song is saying. The words are perfect:
I could have written the lyrics to Break Even by The Script, but I didn’t. That line at the end of the verse, “‘Cause when a heart breaks, no it don’t break even.” Those are the truest words ever written and I wish I’d thought of it first. The entire goes through everything she gains in the break-up (none of them tangible items) and he loses. One person is usually a little bit more accepting of the end than the other. That’s the one that moves on with his or her life a little faster. It sums up the pain of heartbreak perfectly.
One television show has this affect on me, and keeps me coming back for more because it stirs up all of my emotions. They don’t have dramatic plot twists like Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder (two of my other favorite shows). No, this is what I call, “Gentle Drama.” This show is like an onion. It has layers and it will make you cry. Every week. I’m not exaggerating. The show, This is Us, is a story about a family. That’s it. Do you really need more drama than that? The three main characters are siblings, all born on the same day. The story follows their lives from the moment they were conceived, into their adulthood. What’s awesome is that they flashback to the early years often, so you get the back story and insight into what shaped each character. But they do it in such a way, that it doesn’t feel like information overload. Everything they show you is important. I can’t say that I wish I wrote this particular story, but I want to write with this much detail and thoughtfulness! I want to tell this type of story! I want people bawling and completely wrapped up in their feeling every time they read some thing I write, the same way this show has me all in the feels week after week!! (I really want to be a fly on the wall of their writing sessions for this show! I can’t even imagine how many boxes of tissue they run through in one sitting!)
Mama had good days and bad days. I was grateful for the days she remembered my name, or her wedding day or any part her childhood. I started to record her voice on my phone. I didn’t know how long I would have her with me, so I made it a point to capture her moments of clarity. I tried to record her on video once, and she cussed me out! She called me everything but a child of God!
Sometimes, she talked about daddy. But mostly, she talked about good times with Winston. What I learned about my very proper, buttoned down mother during these moments of reminiscence was, she was a freak. She and Winston enjoyed each other every chance they got, everywhere they could. Not that I wanted these details, but she didn’t speak of daddy so passionately. She spoke of him fondly, matter of factly. For the first time in her life, she removed the filter and spoke her truth.
“It bothers you, doesn’t it?”
“What bothers me, mama?”
“That I wasn’t in love with your dad.”
“I’m fine with it mama. You had a life, a past. It’s not a bad thing.”
“We were good friends. But that was all. You were an accident. I didn’t want children. He did. Now, I’m glad I had you. You weren’t too bad as a child. You were a good kid. You turned out to be a good woman. And now, that I need someone who knows me, you are here. I’m not entirely alone.”
I pretended that her words didn’t sting. I pretended to appreciate her disease driven candor. Somewhere in that moment, I found myself wondering how much longer she would linger. Then, I quietly admonished myself for thinking such a thought and not enjoying her lucid moment. There were fewer moments like this, lately. My feelings would mend, eventually. She didn’t realize that being unfiltered was not her natural state of being. She used to be more diplomatic. At this point, I settled for any moment that brought my mother back to me over the stranger who didn’t recognize me most days.
Today, she felt like talking about the love of her life, Winston.
“Did I ever tell you about how Winston and I met?”
“No mama,” I lied, “Why don’t you tell me?”
“Well, I was young. Maybe about fifteen, if my memory serves me right. I received and invitation to go to Tiffany Jackson’s birthday party. She was the rich, snooty girl at school. I’m still not sure how I ended up on the invitation list. But I heard that Winston was going to be there. I had to be there! It took a lot of convincing for my parents to allow me to go. Daddy was dead set against it because boys would be there. Back then, boys were considered more dangerous than street drugs are today. No parent wanted to lose their precious little girls to some fast-ass boy. Being seen in the company of a boy with no chaperone, was a BIG no-no. Anyway, after much debate, Daddy agreed to let me go, under the condition that he attended as my plus one. Embarrassing, to have your parent as your date! You just don’t know!
“Anyway, I was surprised to see a number of fathers had the same idea when I arrived to the party. Some of the dads sat at the bar watching their daughters like hawks as they danced. A few of them walked up to their daughters while they were on the dance floor to warn the boys not to let their hands slip anywhere below the waist line. They followed their daughters around the hall, and stood outside the ladies room to make sure the girls weren’t trying to sneak off with the boys. My dad intended to dance every dance with me! I drew the line when he tried to Walk the Dog. I went and sat down in one of the seats along the wall. Daddy didn’t leave the dance floor. He and Mrs. Jackson tried to do all the teen dances that night to demonstrate how silly they thought we looked. He wanted to make sure he embarrassed me enough that I didn’t dance with anyone. He succeeded! All the girls laughed at me until their fathers noticed my daddy’s tactic worked, and began to follow suit.
“Winston noticed me sitting along the wall, pouting. He brought me a drink and sat beside me.
‘Hey there, Wallflower,’ he said. That became his nickname for me. He sat with me until the party was over. He tried to look aloof and uninterested in me to make my father feel good. Daddy came over a few times to make sure I was ok and that Winston wasn’t bothering me. That Winston was so smooth! He was exactly what every parent wanted for their daughter, the perfect gentleman. But when he got me alone, ooooowheee!! That boy was fire!”
Mama gazed into the distance wistfully, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. I watched she retreated to that place where Alzheimers hides her away from me. I saw the light leave her face, as she turned to me.
“Have you seen Winston? Did you make him leave? Winston! Winston! Where are you?” She stood, and began to wander through the apartment, searching for her first love. I remained in the living room, wondering how long it would be before I got to speak to my mother again.
Photo Credit: Wallflower by Bunky’s Pickle
Inspiration for this post came from the Daily Post’s word prompt: Invitation