I went digging in the archives and found this post from a year ago! I wonder what Ray is going to do next?! Photo credit: Julie MissButterflies Ray sat in the booth sipping his… More
Today’s post was inspired by The Daily Prompt’s one word prompt: Youth.
Our air conditioner unit is on the fritz. It tried to give up the ghost a few nights ago and the temperature went from a comfortable 72 degrees to a rather warm 82 degrees rather quickly. My daughter wondered aloud how people survived prior to the invention of central air and window units.
I chuckled as I thought back to my own childhood. It could be 95 degrees outside with the heat index making it feel like 112, and as kids it didn’t seem to bother us one bit. We lived a an old row house in Brooklyn, when I was a kid. We didn’t have central air, a window unit (until later), or cable or an Atari game system, like some of our friends. During the summer, mom didn’t allow us to stay in the house all day. While she was at work we had to do school work. Actually, I had to do school work. My older brother got away with murder! I had math workbooks and penmanship workbooks. I hated both! Once my mother got home, IF she was satisfied with my work, I’d be allowed to go outside to play. Sitting in front of the TV was not an option. We ran from the backyard to the front. My brother was allowed to go over to his friend’s house or play with them on the street, as he was older and deemed capable of handling himself if trouble were to arise. Summers in Brooklyn had a smell. On the hottest days you would catch a whiff of tar as it softened under the blazing sun coming off the streets and some of the rooftops, exhaust fumes from the busses and cars, and depending on which way the warm breeze blew, you might even catch the fragrance of stale urine and trash that lingered around the El just one block away.
You could see the heat, rising in waves, off the pavement and parked cars. It’s amazing how much heat the roads, sidewalks and concrete structures hold. Kids used to open the fire hydrants and play in the water to cool down. My mom wouldn’t let us get in on the fun when the hydrant was open. We lived on a one way street. Cars were always parked bumper to bumper on either side, but the boys (and even some of the men) would get out in the middle of the block and play stickball, the city variation of baseball. It didn’t matter that Highland Park sat at the end of our street. They could have had a proper game of baseball/stickball in a more open space. But no, right there in the middle of the block was where the games happened. I don’t recall any cars being damaged or the windows on anybody’s house being broken during these games.
If we weren’t outside in the sweltering city heat, we were hanging out in the basement where it was cool. On the main floor of our house, my dad had the windows at the front of house open, and an olive green metal box fan in one of the windows in the dining room at the back of the house. The back door in the kitchen was usually open, too, allowing for more airflow. Knowing what I know now, it was probably still 80- or 90-something degrees inside, with the fan swirling the warm air around the house. Dad constantly warned me to stay away from the fan. He was afraid I would stick my finger between the slots and lose an appendage. I liked to sit in front of it and make funny noises, and giggle as the fast moving metal blades would chop the sound of my voice up, making me sound like a robot.
Older people don’t tolerate heat as well as kids, it seems, because the olive green box fan was soon replaced by a wood paneled window air conditioning unit from Sears. Windows were locked, doors to other rooms on the main floor were closed and blocked with draft socks in an effort to keep the cool air contained to the living room and dining room. (Side note: My mother made a draft sock that looked like an extra long dachshund. She named him, “Struggles.” He was accidentally kicked down the basement steps as my grandmother was heading to the basement to do laundry. Struggles slid down the side of the steps like a snake and scared THE CRAP out of my dear, sweet, grandmother. We both got a good laugh out of that moment!) Dad even installed and accordion-type room separator between the galley kitchen and the living room/dining room area. During the summer, the temperature in the kitchen seemed to always linger somewhere around 10 degrees past hell. The only relief was to open the back door and turn on the exhaust fan over stove, which brought the temperature down to a more comfortable 3 degrees past hell.
But somehow, we survived the heat. Our bodies acclimated to its environment. I don’t recall hearing about heat-stroke and dehydration until we moved out of NY, then again, I was very young. Someone else was responsible for worrying about such things. Thankfully, my A/C unit is displaying some “act right” about itself and my daughter and I won’t have to figure out how well our bodies (and attitudes) would acclimate to existing in 80 + degree inside temperatures plus humidity.
I’ve reposted this story before, but came across it on my Facebook page today. I actually forgot about this story! (I know, I should know ALL my stories, right?!) Empty Chairs takes a look at what happens to the families of criminals and victims. They both lose something, but the way most of us see justice, is that it has to take as much away from guilty as possible, their livelihood, even their life. I can’t say whether that is right or wrong. Take a read and share your thoughts. Who lost more? Who deserves to mourn?
I was angry. Even though two years had passed, the pain was still deep. I understood her attempt at an apology was meant to bring closure to me and my family, but I felt like she was just trying to ease her conscience…
Source: Empty Chairs
Yes, it’s still a thing!😀
The Post-A-Day Blog Challenge is almost over and I am patting myself on the back for keeping up with it! So, just in case you missed it, I am going to recap and list what I’ve posted so far. Here goes!
- I started this challenge a day late with my first post in 3 months, Back To Life.
- If you are into Science Fiction, you might enjoy Ripples. (I plan on continuing this story! Part 2 is coming soon!)
- I’ve been trying to write a story to the picture featured in this post for AGES! It finally came together! If you are into Women’s Fiction, Sound Sleeper is for you!
- I shared a link to a vlog about a saddening incident that occurred in my community. It’s worth hearing what this vlogger has to say about being Black In America.
- If you have a writer, painter, singer, or artist of any type in your sphere, you NEED to understand how to care for them! They are fragile creatures! Take a moment to read The Care and Feeding of Your Creative One, then apply the lessons learned. They will thank you.
- I haven’t written a poem in a while. Step by Step was inspired by a scripture that says, “don’t despise a day of small beginnings.” Take a read! Be inspired!
- The Painting is a story about a budding romance. The image selected was the inspiration for this story.
- So far, Hell Hound, is my favorite post in this challenge! I let my hair down and let my twisted sense of humor come out to play!😀 This was inspired by two writing prompts. Take a read if you are looking for a laugh!
- Another post inspired by a writing prompt that asked a simple question: When was the last time you said, “I love you.” You may need a Kleenex for this one.
- I needed to vent. So this post is about how Tired I was. I was having a challenging existence and you all are great listeners. Thank you for being there!
- Dear Vonnie was last week’s Throwback Thursday #TBT post. It’s a snippet of a larger story. In this tale, a mother is seeking forgiveness from her estranged daughter.
- Peace is a post that is all about you. Protect your emotion space, friend.
- 20 is a reflective post about my daughter crossing the threshold into a new decade.
- It’s Not My Time is my philosophy on being content with the season you are in. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this piece!
- Carry My Burdens Away was inspired by another writing prompt. This story touches a lot of things: The danger of keeping traditions of tradition’s sake, sacrifice, shunning, assisted suicide…
- And finally, The Most Wonderful Time of The Year…no…not Christmas, but the first day of school! Congrats to all you parents who survived the summer!
The Challenge continues! Be sure to tune in tomorrow! I have NO IDEA what I am going to write, yet! But I’m sure I’ll come up with something interesting! Until tomorrow, good night!
The end of summer is upon us! Not the weather, necessarily, but having the children return to school! Parents are celebrating all over the country!
The end of summer no longer has the same impact on me since my daughter is now a college student. But, I do fondly remember the joy that came with dropping her off at the school and then peeling out of the parking lot to come home and crawl back into my warm bed to catch the remaining portion of my 40 winks. Good times….goooooooood times!
So, I raise my coffee mug to you parents who are getting prepared for (or whose children have already had their) first day of school! Happy 2016-17 school year!
Today’s Flash Fiction piece is based on a one word writing prompt from the Daily Post. Today’s word is: Carry.
My mother had me when she was young. She and my father never married. That was a great scandal in her day, to be found with child and unmarried. Though my mother and father loved each other, his family would not allow him to marry her. Any girl who would behave in such a way to get pregnant before marriage was not a suitable match for their son. They sent him off to live with another relative and made sure he attended university far away. Mother tried to abort me but her methods failed. My father’s family told him my mother died in childbirth, and that I was stillborn. He met another woman, fell in love, married and started a family.
Mother bore the burden of the sin, as did I to some extent. She never married, not for a lack of admirers, but because she was considered “damaged goods.” Father, however, was free to love again. Shame never touch him, but it etched fines lines of sadness around my mother’s eyes and mouth, and broke her heart. I believe she was hard on me when I was child because she didn’t want me to be the type of man that hid from his responsibility. “It took two people to create you, but only one is here to raise you. If you love a woman, fight for her! Don’t let anyone make you ashamed of her.”
She took ill about three months ago. The doctors said she had a year to live. They wanted to schedule treatments and keep her in a nursing home to live out the rest of her days, but mother said no.
“I’m tired. I lived to see you grow to be a successful man. You studied hard and built a career for yourself, you married a lovely woman, and have raised 4 beautiful children. They have children now. I’m happy and blessed, but now it’s time for me to go. I won’t live my last days in a strange place with strangers looking after me. I want to die with the ones I love nearby. At the point that I can’t feed myself and you have to change my diaper, that is the day I must leave this earth.” We had discussed this over the years. I knew what to do. She told me which herbs to use when the time came, but I didn’t want to kill my mother. Even there, she assured me there would be no blood on my hands. “My life. My choice. I will just need your help.”
The day came. She hadn’t eaten much. She was weak and tired. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren came to say good-bye. Even a few relatives that shunned her when she became pregnant with me sent messages offering and seeking forgiveness. They waited until the end of her life to show her the love she need so much earlier in her life. They were selfish as far as I was concerned. Their olive branches were as good as a pile twigs. But Mother was gracious. “My son,” she said, reading my expression, “I cannot carry hurt and anger to the other side. I forgive them and trust God to deal with them fairly.” As the family gathered to pray and thank God for the time we had with her, I lifted her from her recliner and carried her to her bed. She felt like she weighed no more than a sheet of paper. I thought of all the times she carried me in her arms as a toddler, or in a sling on her back when I was just a little boy. As petite as she was, as frail as she appeared back then, she carried me with little effort and never a complaint. I made sure her room was prepared ahead of time. She had fresh white linens and pillows on the bed, and lavender and white roses by her bedside. When she was comfortable, I fed her the berries and put out of my mind the thought that I was feeding her the thing that would take her from me. She chewed slowly, taking sips of water in between. Just before she closed her eyes and drifted off to permanent rest, she reminded me, “My life, my choice. This is not your burden to bear. You’ve been a good son. I’ll be at peace because I know you will continue to do well. I want you to be at peace that I’m not in pain anymore.” Then, she closed her eyes and slept. I couldn’t speak. I just nodded and cried at the thought of her taking the burden of guilt off of me and carrying it away with her.
I made that statement to a friend this weekend as we were discussing relationship and personal goals. “But that’s a negative way of thinking,” she said. But it’s not. This is how I explained it to her:
At the start of every year people declare, “This is MY year! This is MY time!” We talk about the things we are going to get and goals we are going to achieve by the close of the year, and we mean it!! We put a great deal of value on the attaining and achieving, but not the process. We become disappointed if it takes longer to achieve our goal than the designated time, and we often give up when it does. If your process ends up taking 730 days instead of 365 (or less), it means that the 365 day window wasn’t your time, and that’s ok.
What happens if you take the time to bask in the process? What will you learn about yourself? What you gain in the end will have greater value because you took the time to go through the process without letting the expiration date on the dream become the mark of success.
Don’t be afraid to say, “It’s not my time.” Learn how to appreciate the process instead.
Tomorrow will be my daughter’s 20th birthday. Twenty. The BIG 2-0. I’ve been a parent that long! Two decades! I have the gray hairs and fine lines to prove it! (And she survived my parenting tactics! Ain’t God good?!) In three days I will be celebrating my Annual 35th-and-change birthday! (Ask me no questions and I won’t have to tell you lies.) I was just a kid when she was born. I knew nothing, and here I was holding this new life in my arms. The truth is, we grew up together. I think we’ve grown up nicely.🙂 We still have a way to go, but I’m proud of who we are.
Happy Birthday Kiddo!
Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive.
This has become something of a personal statement for me as I manage my health. If a person, situation or thing is going to disrupt my peace, and in the process, my mental and physical health, IT MUST GO. It’s not easy, because sometimes that means letting go of people, things and projects you care about. But if it’s not growing you, or otherwise having a positive or beneficial impact on your life, it needs to be eliminated. Your peace is that valuable. Guard it.
Seeking forgiveness is a tricky thing. Your history is examined; your track record, post-offense, is doubted; your motives are questioned and the risk of rejection is great. But sometimes, to be welcomed back into a loved one’s good graces is worth the risk.
Dear Vonnie, I have to live my life in such a way that makes you feel a sense of pride, in spite of my brokenness. My imperfections are like a scarlet letter on your chest. Everyone can see how mu…
Source: Dear Vonnie
I’ve taken on a challenge to post something every day for the month of August. I’m wondering why I did it. I know why I did it, why I need to do this, but I’m tired. I was tired when I started. Somehow, I always end up doing this to myself: biting off more than I can chew. But today, I’m giving myself permission to take a break. (I’ll be honest, it feels like I’m cheating on the challenge.) Creating a fresh and engaging story, or finding something interesting and though provoking to discuss is tiring! Be not deceived! Writing ain’t easy! I’m going to take a few days and mentally rest. Rest, will do me some good, right now.
I’ll be coloring in my pillow fort, if you’re looking for me.