The Story of Ten

Today’s story is in response to the DP Challenge Prompt: Ten. 

My name is Hortensia Louisa Broadway.  Close family and friends call 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.

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Why Loving You is Killing Me

We are tightly wound together

Bound forever by the heart.

You’ve forgotten

How much you need me

And don’t realize

How much I have left to teach you.

You want to run,

But haven’t even learned

How to roll over onto your tummy yet.

You aren’t strong enough

To hold your up.

But you think you’ve seen it all.

You don’t understand

The process of letting go.

You still want to run beyond the gate,

While still clinging to the edge of my apron.

You think the world

Is a glistening marble.

Even thought I’ve tried to tell you

It’s nothing more than jagged rocks

And rough waters.

You want to jump into the deep end of the pool

But think you’re drowning,

When standing in ankle deep water.

You’re a baby in an adult’s body

Demanding that I let you be you,

While you are led astray

By every gentle breeze,

Or seduced by every turn of phrase.

You don’t believe that I once stood

Where you are standing now,

Ready to take on the world

And not even knowing how to spell the word.

But this is life.

Neither one of us knows how live

Something we’ve never done before.

We muddle  through it the best way we know how.

But maybe we can do it without

Ripping each other’s heart out,

If we remember that

We are tightly wound together,

And connected by the heart.

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The Situation

“So, what are you going to do?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?!”

“Why do I need to do anything?”

“But…well, don’t you love him?”

“I don’t know.”

“How could you not know that? Either you do or you don’t.”

“I don’t know. I never really thought about it that deeply.”

“But you kissed him!”

“So?”

” You don’t just kiss people you don’t love!”

“I kiss you.”

“That’s different. I’m your sister. It’s not even the same kind of kiss.”

“I give you kisses, but I don’t always love you.”

“Jerk.”

“Dope.”

“Don’t try to change the subject. The man asked you a question and I’m sure he’s expecting an answer.”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know what?”

“Anything.”

“Let’s try this from a different angle. What do you know?”

“I hate you.”

“Why? Because I’m making you examine your innermost feelings?”

“Yes.”

“Well, suck it up buttercup! Answer the question. What do you know?”

“I know I like the way he looks, and talks and smells. Oh my GOSH, that man smells wonderful!! And he’s hella sexy.”

“Yes he is, Pumpkin. But, how does he make you feel?”

“Like I’m the only woman he’s ever loved.”

“What does that mean to you?”

“It means if I say ‘yes,’ I need to be damn well sure about it!”

“Why aren’t you sure?”

“Because I’m not”

“That’s not an answer.”

“It is, too!”

“Stop being a two year old.”
“OK, here’s the thing: What if I do love him, but he doesn’t love me as much? Or what if he loves me now, then realizes what I’m like on my worst days and changes his mind? What If I realize what he’s like on his worst days and regret saying ‘yes’? I think I do love him, but his isn’t a light decision.”

“That’s deep, little sis. So, what are you going to do?”

“I think I’m going to tell him, ‘Not yet.’ We still have a lot to learn about each other.”

“And what are you going to do if he says, ‘Marriage or nothing.’ Then what?”

“I’ll come to your house and cry on your shoulder. Stock up on ice cream and wine, just in case. OK?”

“I got your back kiddo. So, are you going to call him and tell him?”

“Now? No way! I need to do this in person! I mean, he proposed to me in person. I at least owe him that.”

“When are you going to make that happen?”

“Why are you so pushy?! Tomorrow! OK? Are you happy?!”

“I need you to give me word for word deets on the situation.”
“You’re nosey, too!”

“That’s what sisters are for!”

“If I give you deets, you need to provide snacks.”

“I’m already buying ice cream and wine! What more do you need, Fatty McMatterson?”

“Pie. Apple pie.”

“You’re lucky I love you.”

“I sure am!”

20

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!

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Birthday Cake by Omer Wazir

 

Back to Life

It’s been two months since I posted anything. My focus has been diverted by all aspects of life. The last 60ish days have been a little bit of a downer. In times like that, it’s sometimes a good thing to be silent. There are things I wanted to write about, but I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready. I don’t have the right words yet. Some of the things that had my attention are:

  • The latest round of police related shootings. It’s heartbreaking. I’ll share my thoughts eventually, I just don’t want to overwhelm this space with my anger, frustration and pain.
  • My family started the 2nd half of the year by saying goodbye to my grandmother.  She was my last grandparent. Even though I mentally prepared for the day my grandparents would be gone, I wasn’t prepared for how it would affect the way I look at how much time I may have left with my own parents. The loss of an elder brings the next level of “adulting” into clearer focus. One day my brother and I will need to care for our parents like they cared for theirs. We need to prepare ourselves for when that time comes.
  • In happier news, I’m working on a project that is still something of a secret as of this posting, but I will be able to share details in the coming weeks! That’s all I can say about that, for now!

While July was the official start of the 2nd half of the year, the 8th month of the year (the number 8) is symbolic of new beginnings. I can’t let myself get stuck in a rut. I’m looking forward to blogging again. I’ve missed posting weekly. Not writing is frustrating and leaves me feeling grumpy! A grumpy Nike is not a good thing! So, I’m declaring this a new beginning for myself and coming back to life!

Pregnant with Hope

A good name is better than fine perfume and the day of death better than the day of birth.
Ecclesiastes 7:1, NIV

Pregnant
©2009 Thomas van Ardenne

Dear Baby,

You’ll be here soon, in just a few weeks. I can’t wait to meet you and discover who you will become. Your dad and I decided not to find out if you are a boy or a girl before you were born. We want to be surprised. I’m in awe that I’ve been chosen to shape who you will be. I’m a little scared, too! I don’t always feel like I have it all together. I mess up often! But here I am, about to be responsible for another life. I don’t want to fail you.

Your great-grandma pointed something out to me. She said that in the bible it says that the day a person dies is better than the day they were born. She said to me, “You could be giving birth to hell on wheels! You don’t know who that baby is! He or she is a blank slate, so make sure you put some good stuff in that child, even before they breath outside of your womb.” I’m going to give you my best. I don’t want to think about your death. That’s a long way off. But I’m going to make sure that everyday between your first breath and your last is good…better than good.

I love you and look forward to meeting you,

Mommy

Double Rainbow

My daughter had a challenging day at work today. She started this new job last week. This is her dream job, so when she doesn’t do things just right, she takes it hard. She isn’t looking at this as “just a job.” This is the beginning of her career, a learning experience. She is trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible and prove that she’s a valuable member of the team. However, a few personal inconvieniences prevented her from being completely prepared for training today.

She came home frustrated and ranted about the things that needed to change in her personal life, that would make focussing on her career and education a little easier. We really didn’t get a chance to talk about those things in great detail. Her boyfriend showed up and she dashed out the door. Ahhhh…to be 19 again! A few moments after she left, she texted me the picture below. She said it “made her day.” I’m pretty sure it reminded her that all is not lost! Tomorrow will be a better day.

Double Rainbow

 

Secrets and Shame

Thursday got away from me! So, let’s just call this a “Flash Back Friday” post! Yes, that is a fantastic idea! 😀

In today’s story, Aunt Delores is pulling the veil off of some family secrets.

“Nobody wants to think of their favorite relative as less than pure and holy, but we’re humans. We’re flawed. We make mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my share. Shame is a powerful thing, sweetheart.” ~Aunt Delores

Nikewrites Blog

Photo found on Black America WebMother nursing

As I helped Aunt Delores with restocking the kitchen pantry, I told her I wanted to document the family history. She was the last of her generation. She was in good health for a woman in her 80s, and would probably be with us a while longer, but I didn’t want to suddenly lose her and have no record of the family history. She didn’t respond, other than glancing at me, and continued to take non-perishables out of the grocery bags and place them on the counter for me to put on the shelves. I wasn’t sure if I should prepare myself for a good telling-off, or if I should break out my recorder to begin to document the next words she spoke.

There was always some task attached to Aunt Delores’ stories. Cooking, hair braiding, sewing, knitting, all had a story to go with the activity. She…

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#WhyILeft

Instead of posting the usual #FlashFictionFriday piece, I’ve decided to post a poem for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  This piece is a continuation of the #WhyIStayed hashtag discussion that was started on Twitter last month.  You can read my piece “Why I Stayed,” here.

Photograph: Johner Images / Alamy/Alamy As seen on: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/apr/27/save-money-holiday-costs

Why I Left

Because I was tired of being controlled and manipulated

Because I was tired being told I was crazy

Because I was tired of being told I didn’t measure up

Because he wouldn’t, didn’t protect my heart

Because being alone in the world no longer mattered,

Especially since I was so alone in my relationship.

Because the love was clearly one-sided.

Because I learned how to love myself more.

Because my child didn’t need to witness another fight.

Because I caught a glimpse of my strength

And his weakness was exposed.

Because it was time for me to go.

If you are a victim of Domestic Violence or know someone who needs help, visit http://www.thehotline.org/  or call 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

How I Became a Mom

She was not a part of my plan. She happened to me. Really, I’m not making it up! When I found out my due date, I was very upset. She was expected to arrive on MY birthday!! The nerve of that kid!! I prayed and prayed that she would be a few weeks early. I read the books! She could have been born in the 7th month and be a fully functional human being! But it didn’t happen that way. I went into labor 3 days before my birthday. I was glad!

My labor seemed to be moving swiftly, so I thought I would meet my child later that evening. But, as would become the trend for the rest of my life, the child had other plans. I was admitted to the hospital on the afternoon 14th, and didn’t give birth until the next morning. She had strong lungs. She started crying when only her head was out. I was glad to hear that cry. It meant she was healthy. One final push, officially made me a mom.

I brought her home on my 21st birthday. It rained that day. The thunder and lightening a seemed extra loud to me, but she slept through it. Not a care in the world…until feeding time! But I didn’t feel like a mother, yet. I was scared! God entrusted me with another human life when I could barely fend for myself! What was he thinking?!?! Did he know what he was doing? And then there was the curse my family put on me when I was a kid. The I hope you have a child just like you curse. I wasn’t certain about it before, but with a few years I found out that the curse was real. But, it made my kid predictable, so it was really a blessing. I knew what I was with and how to outsmart her…most of the time.

It took nursing and several diaper changes for me to feel like a mother. It didn’t happen when I first held her. I was excited when she said “Ma” for the first time. That declaration made it official. She gave me a title and in my 21 year old mind, that meant she trusted me with her life.

She is going to be 18 soon. I look back on her childhood and how well she has grown and I can’t help but smile. She survived ME! Lol! She’s smart, funny, talented, tenacious, thoughtful, fashionable (that matters to teenagers), and tough (but she is still frilly and girly when she needs to be). That little person, who is now an amazing young lady, made me grow up very quickly. I’m certain she doesn’t understand that as one of her super powers. She turned an innocent, naive kid into an authority figure and grown woman. I have learned a lot about myself through her, and she’s told me she has learned from me (which, thank God!! Because I was certain she tuned me out several times). I love my daughter dearly!

To all you moms out there, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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