As Freud Would Say…

January 24, 2012


In 2005, I finally took my Christmas Tree down just before the deadline for taxes on April 15th. Yes, it had been up for four months. I think I was attempting to extend the Christmas season through February and March until Spring arrived and with it, the crocuses and daffodils – my multihued assurance of a resurrected life. For me, Spring flowers are that promise.

My mother died that year in the early morning hours of December 26th. I spent that Christmas Eve by her side, watching her chest rise and fall with diminishing breath, the morphine having done its job to eradicate her pain. I spent Christmas Day, watching the color of her skin change from pink to pallid gray as her life slowly ebbed, then ceased. It seemed as if I breathed in and when I breathed out, she was gone. Her death was like her: a gentle whisper, a hush. I could almost see her hooked arthritic finger poised in front of her lips, gently reproving my grief with a, ”Shhhhh…it’s OK.” It was 2:10 am and the vigil was over.

Death is a busy thing. There are people to call, documents to peruse, bills to pay, arrangements to be made; all of it done in a state of mind that would resemble catatonia if it weren’t for the sobbing spasms that grip your gut and pitch your body into contortions at the most inappropriate times. Her dying had been the focus of my life for close to a year. Her dying had become my life. Now that she was gone, I stood there in the empty house and didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. And so I did what anyone else would do under the circumstances: I checked the water level in the Christmas Tree stand. It was empty.

Seven feet of Scotch Pine laden with hundreds of lights and tens of ornaments, requires frequent hydration. It’s a thirsty organism and this one had been, understandably, neglected. I filled the teakettle with tap water and poured it into the base of the tree, then because I had been awake around the clock for days, tried to get some sleep. The next morning I checked the tree again and noticed it had already consumed the water from the day before. I watered it again and kept watering it until the days turned into weeks, December turned into January, January into February, February into March and March into April. For some reason, I couldn’t allow the thing to die. I needed to keep it alive.

The tree had become my mother.

I don’t know what Freud would have to say about that, but most of my friends thought it strange, as did my family, as did my co-workers and anyone else who happened into my living room where the tree stood, dwarfing my furniture. Some asked me outright, what it was still doing there. Some pretended to ignore its existence, as if to mention it would disturb my fragile relationship with reality. Others found it eccentrically interesting, like pasting shoes to one’s forehead would be interesting. Still, some found it fun.

As the first crocuses of the season that year peeked their purple and yellow flowering heads through the soil, and the April 15th tax deadline loomed, I finally took the ornaments and lights off the tree, carted it through the house, down the steps and out to my car. Then I tied it atop the roof and brought it to the landfill. By that time, the Christmas Tree section was no longer accepting trees. On the drive home, I left it in the woods.

This year I bought my first artificial tree; nothing to keep watering, nothing to keep alive. Maybe I am becoming healthier?

But…today is January 24th and my tree is still up…

Hmmm…

As Freud would say, “Ziz girl needs TREEtment.”

We Are Our Prayers

December 24, 2011


This past year, I’ve submitted a few prayer requests to Grace Prayer Community, an online prayer line.  This prayer line is free, where some require a minimum ‘love’ gift before you are even allowed to press the submit button. I always found this practice disturbing, especially since the majority of the prayer requests are regarding finances. It’s always felt to me, like paying God to answer prayer or Divine extortion.

Once I submitted my prayer, I was given the opportunity to reciprocate praying for others by being sent the log of daily prayer requests.  There are literally thousands of them.  Thousands is good if you’re requesting prayer because as far as prayer is concerned, the more the merrier and the greater the intrinsic power. Thousands ain’t so good if you’re sincere in praying for others, because try as I might, I can only get through the first few pages. Usually, I’ll skim through them until one or two catch my eye, and then pray as the sprit leads. Some concern calamitous circumstances, their urgency dripping from the page like sweat; while others are less dismal. Some are so amusing; that if you didn’t know it was an adult writing, you’d think it was a 12-year-old writing to Santa Claus. All reveal, to some extent, the character and heart of the sender. It’s become glaringly evident to me, that we are our prayers. This particular one caught my attention today:

I ask for prayer for my dear friend, Jennifer, a divorced single mother who has been unemployed for more than two years and struggles every month to find a way to support her family.

We met this year & quickly found a friendship. Our love for each other that has deepened.

Please pray that Jennifer finds a steady job that provides enough income for her to support her family.

While I have struggles of my own, my only wish for Christmas is for the Lord to give Jenifer what she needs.

Please pray for her.

-Ron

Today – this Christmas Eve-  my prayer is that Ron has his prayer request answered.

And as that famous little Dickens’ character said, “God bless us, everyone…”

www.graceprayer.org

Angels in Subarus

December 22, 2011


There’s a famous line in the Christmas movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ staring Jimmy Stewart, that says, “Every time you hear a bell ring, an angel gets its wings.” When I first heard that line decades ago, it made me pause. Implicit in that statement is the question, “How did angels get from place to place before they had wings?” If they used their celestial minds to transport them here and there, why the need for wings to begin with? It wasn’t making much sense to me. Recently, I had an awakening of sorts and solved this angelic transportation conundrum: Angels drive Subarus. I know this because my friend Linda drives a Subaru.

Linda has been my dearest friend since 5th grade when, still vaguely smelling of manure from my morning stable cleaning routine, I stood up during ‘show and tell’ class clutching a horse’s bridle and reins. It was friendship at first sight. Horse people are a different breed; pun intended and embraced. Finding another horseperson, especially during the hormonal storms of adolescence, can be a saving grace at a time when peer pressure tends to squeeze prudent decision making processes from our brains like toothpaste from a tube and leaves us virtually immune to adult guidance. You have to be sensible around horses, simply because they can kill you. That’s why it’s called, ‘good horse sense’.

Linda had and still has more of that ‘good horse sense’ than me. She graduated from college with a degree in Fine Arts and married afterward; I pursued a degree but dropped out to marry. We both divorced our first husbands but not before I had birthed two children into an unwholesome situation. She remains childless by choice but has mothered enough foreign exchange students to have her own zip code. She purchased a respectable and lucrative Auction House; I worked for her. She remarried and purchased a home; I rented an apartment and remained a single parent for a time, struggling to make frayed ends meet. She and her husband Jack played polo and traveled to Europe while I watched Little League games and attended PTA meetings and counseling sessions. Her art studio is larger than some places I’ve lived. Her second husband adored her, and she him. It was a phenomenal partnership and a lengthy one based upon respect, devotion, compassion, understanding and true love; something rarely experienced in this disposable world where relationships and prescriptions share a similar expiration period. My second huband? He left me for some nebulous something else, yet to be discovered. It happens. He didn’t want to hurt me he said, but felt it best if he had to do it, to do it quickly like, ‘removing an adhesive bandage’. Somehow, I’ve erred in appreciating the bandage analogy. Yes, Linda’s life and mine have taken divergent paths over the years. Furthermore, we live states apart. Miraculously, these differences have made little difference in our friendship, but only enhanced it.

This Christmas, she’s driving her Subaru from Maryland to Massachusetts for a visit and I am as excited about that as a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. She’s bridged the miles with compassion, wired me money, cried with me when I couldn’t cry for myself anymore, pulled laughter from my gut when I thought all hope was lost, and shown me nothing but grace…angelic qualities made flesh, bone and blood.

Someone once said that friends are angels without wings. It’s true. I know because my angel drives a Subaru.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

December 21, 2011


I was watching a televangelist on TV last month as my three-year- old grandson toddled into the room. “Is that a God show, Nana?” He asked me.

“Well, yes he is talking about God, Chaz,” I replied not quite sure what was going to come out of his mouth next. Was he going to ask me some weighty question about life, something profound which required an equally profound answer that I’d have to revise over and over in my mind in rapid succession before offering him something that had the potential to change his view of existence? Or would he toddle back in to his room, disinterested in anything other than his cars and trucks.

And then he asked it: “If he’s talking about God, how come he’s so angry Nana?” He stood there in front of me, patiently waiting for my answer.

I couldn’t answer him, not in a manner that gave his penetrating observation the corroboration it deserved. “I don’t know Chaz, some people are just angry and it has nothing to do with God,” I said. This seemed to satisfy him for the moment and he toddled back to his room.

I turned off the volume to the TV and watched. The non-verbal language of the preacher pacing the church, pounding the podium, veins pulsing within his neck, held little resemblance to the lowly carpenter that saved my soul and whose emergence into the world we are to celebrate in three days.

None.

I silently brewed a cup of tea and watched Chaz play with his trucks while words of Matthew 21:16 reverberated throughout my soul: “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”

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