Monday, August 28, 2006

The 28th of August

Today is my birthday. I have not liked birthdays for a very long time. They are a painful reminder of happier times when I was nourished and loved by my mother who died when I was 21 years old. The thing about my mother that strikes me as so tragic, is that for 21 years I took her for granted. Suddenly she was gone. Oh, she'd been sick, but when you are 21 years old, the death of a loved one is not a reality that you readily understand. At least, I did not. She has been gone for 38 years now. I turned 60 today.

I have outlived my mother by 18 years. She was relatively young when she died at 42. My mother had her hands full with my father, who was diabetic and given to terrible mood swings. She deserved better. She was a sweet woman who did not speak badly about anyone, ever. I never heard a cuss word come out of her mouth. The worst I ever saw her, was invariably, when my sisters and I would be laughing late at night and would wake her, and she would come frowning into the room we were in saying, "this has got to stop!" As soon as we saw her coming, we would mock her, cause we knew what she was going to say, so we said it right along with her. "This had got to stop!"

My sisters and I would always say that Mom had eyes like a hawk when she would see something we were trying to hide. She had ears like a hawk if we were trying to do something we did not want her to hear. And if there happened to be something we were up to that involved the sense of smell, well, you guessed it, she had a nose like a hawk.

My faith in God was shaken the months my mother was sick, dying of cancer. If ever there was someone who did not deserve to die a painful death, it was my mother. And yet she suffered far beyond what anyone should suffer. When she died I was somehow comforted in the thought of heaven, a place where she would not have to suffer anymore, but the devastation of losing her was far beyond comforting thoughts.

Being a mother myself, I wondered today, if my own daughters take me for granted. I wondered if I should die, would their lives be impacted as much as my own, and also my sisters' and brother's lives were also impacted by our mother's suffering and dying. I don't know. But I am finding this day, this day that I have turned the milestone age of 60, that I am thinking deep thoughts. Maybe they are dark thoughts as opposed to my usual cheery and positive outlook. I don't show that side of me very often, but maybe it will have a cathartic influence on my mood today, if I get it out and roll it around here where I can say whatever I have a mind to.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Moon Flowers

I could not let the day pass without mentioning that tonight when I walked in my yard as it grew dark, the moonflowers opened up, and although I have seen one or two by themselves so far this year, the recent rains caused a growth spurt that brought out the blooms.

Now for those of you who do not know the moon is an ugly plant, with gorgeous, huge, trumpet shaped white flowers whose spicy smell lingers on the night air and makes the air smell downright exotic. The blooms last only one night, and droop in the morning.

Farmers consider them weeds. I got my moon flowers from a former custodian at school, Rick Colson, who kept telling me how nice they were. He brought me a few tiny plants and it took a year or two to get them growing good, to where they would reproduce I hoe off the bunches that come up, cause they are a pain to clean up in the fall. Each one of those incredible flowers will create a seed ball about the size of a ping pong ball, covered with stickery thorns. They are aggressive! When the seed ball breaks open it is full of feathery silky strands with a seed attached. They will come up by themselves, and could probably take over an entire property if allowed to.

There is nothing comparable to walking either by the light of the moon, or at dusk, down the back yard fence, where the moon flowers are growing profusely. Their stark whiteness in the dark is a lovely sight. And their smell is like no other flower I have ever smelled. I have tried in vain for several years to get them to grow under my bedroom windows. I have three puny little plants growing there now, but it is getting late in the season already, and I have my doubts if this dry summer will produce much more growth in them.

Right now, flowers and weeds are growing side by side in my garden, bearing testimony to the busy-ness of my summer. At least when I am out walking in the moon flowers, it is too dark to see the weeds.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Uh, there was a time lapse....

I had intended to blog my little heart out here. Didn't happen! Too much stuff going on to distract me. Mainly, my summer job!

Let me just expound a bit on why that is significant. I have been working in the USD 364 school system for 14 years. I work primarily with women. Most of you women reading this will understand the implications of that statement immediately! Working with other women is the hardest thing I have ever had to do! Why? Women are why the term, 'bitch' was created! And all the terms from that original word, such as "bitchiness." It is hard to work with women. Sooner or later, every woman has to be bitchy. Sometimes it is just the moon and it's influence on the female cycle. Sometimes it is just that it is easier to take it out on someone you don't like very well.

I have always considered myself to be a friendly person. I will go out of my way to speak to strangers, smile at children, pet animals, I am friendly! So explain to me please, why I can name three out of 12 co-workers, who in one way or another, simply cannot stand me. This has jolted my view of myself as Ms. Friendly, believe me! I began a campaign to win over those disliking me...I went out of my way to be friendly, cheerful, compassionate, caring...blah blah no avail! The three still disliked me. And my boss had remarked, perhaps innocently, that at times I annoyed the entire place with my know-it-all attitude...oh no! The whole place??? This was not something that someone with a fragile self worth should hear. Thus began my questioning whether or not I was truly a friendly person, or if I was simply kidding myself, and was an obnoxious know-it-all.

I took a summer job as a custodial assistant in the school system. My job was to work at a different school than the one I normally work at, with three janitors (they prefer the term, 'custodian'), who I knew somewhat, but had not worked closely with before. Larry, Donnie, and Glenn. I had no idea what kind of situations I might be getting into, but figured an adventure would be worth it. Basically, we cleaned the elementary school from ceiling to floor. The first endearing thing I found out about my three co-workers, was that they were addicted to a couple of soap operas...we dragged a tv with us from room to room, if that room did not have a working tv. So now, I know all about The Young and the Restless, and can name all the judges holding court on tv throughout the day.

I was also exposed to the special services employees, those who work year round with handicapped children, and also the office staff, the staff of Kid's University, which is a child care facility at the school, and a number of teachers who were there on and off throughout the summer. Did I find anyone who disliked me? Anyone who thought I was an obnoxious know-it-all? Not yet!

My last day was last Wedsnesday. My three guys told me how much they appreciated me working with them and they hoped I would be back next summer. I ran into the principal, Mr. Lord, out at Walmart a few days ago, and he told me how much he missed me being around already. I was touched! I came home and boohooed a little cause it dawned on me, that I was having a kind of epiphany of how I saw myself. Flawed? You bet! Obnoxious? Only when I want to be, not unintentionally! A know-it-all? Wellllllllllllllllllllllllll...perhaps someone as all around knowledgable as myself could be seen in a negative light as being a know-it-all, but I much prefer thinking of myself as a good candidate for Jeopardy!

This week I go back to work amongst the ladies. I will need the grace of God to help me continue to be nice to someone who truly doesn't like me. But I am no longer going to view myself as so flawed that no one could possibly like me. My summer job has proved to me that I am likable and dare I say it? Friendly!