October 22, 2007

Rox the Fox

Rox the Fox had no socks.
His friends all had a pair.
Tony the Pony, Lucky the Puppy
Even Claire the Mare.

Lucky had a single pair
He got from his dad Jack.
Black and white, they did not match
And he wore them front and back.

Tony’s socks were solid white
And made a clopping sound.
In the town or on the farm
No better pair was found.

Claire the Mare had two pair,
Furry like her mane.
Stepping proud she pulled the sleigh
Swiftly down the lane.

“I need some socks,” thought Rox the Fox.
So off he went to search.
In the barn he found a Hen
Asleep upon her perch.

“Oh, Mother Hen, where can I find
A pair of socks to wear?”
“Try the yard dear little fox.
I hope you find a pair.”

Outside the barn there was a Hog
As muddy as could be.
So Rox stepped out and asked, “Ms. Sow,
Could you please help me?

I need a pair of socks to wear
Upon my little feet.”
“I know not where to find your socks.
Did you try the wheat?”

With head hung low he wandered down
To sit beside the spring
And listened to the Farmer’s daughter
Lift her voice and sing.

When the song was over
Her smile was bright and gay
Until she saw the little Fox
Wipe a tear away.

Scat the Cat walked up to Rox
And with a swish of tail
Cried, “Hello. Good Day, my friend.
What brings you to our vale?”

“I look for socks to wear each day.
I’ve asked of all I’ve seen.
Can you help me find a pair?
Oh, please. Oh, please. Oh, please?”

“Why must you find these socks to wear?
What will they do for you?”
Scat the cat raised up his paw
And lo! His sock was blue!

“Farmer John will soon be out
From him I must stay clear.
I’ll have to leave, I cannot stay.
He does not like me near.

I see my friends who all have socks
Are all his favored few.
And I wish most to be allowed
To stay and live here, too.

So socks I need to wear each day
His favor then I’ll earn.
A home here with my truest friends
Is all for which I yearn.”

“Ah, my friend I want to help.
These socks I’m sure we’ll find.”
And off they went to search the farm
And left the spring behind.

The Farmer’s daughter watched them go
She’d heard their every word.
Her father then she did approach
To tell him what she’d heard.

Her gentle words and loving face
Did move his heart to tears.
He went in search of Rox the Fox
To set aside his fears.

He found the Fox with Scat the Cat
Out in the field of hay.
And told him if he’d like to live
With them he surely may.

“No socks you need upon your feet.
For love is in your heart.
You are welcome here to stay.
And from us never part.”

From that day forth on the farm
Did live the little Fox.
A happy life, though still he is
A Fox who has no socks.

October 12, 2007

First Romance?

I read a post on a romance forum recently titled "What is the first Romance you remember reading?" It got me to thinking back to my carefree teenage years. Okay, maybe not "carefree". I was after all a teenager with the usual teenage problems. But the first "romance" I remember reading is the Sweet Valley High series. The twins and their antics fascinated me. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else and where nothing exciting ever happened. So, to me, the adventures Elizabeth and Jessica had were, well, exciting.

There were so many differences between myself and the twins. They were beautiful, I was definitely not. They were popular. I had one best friend and few others I "hung out with". They had boyfriends. I had none. But I always seemed to put myself in the story. I fancied myself as Elizabeth. I imagined her stories and adventures as mine. When she fell in love, I fell in love. When she was disappointed in a boyfriend, I felt the pain. I cried over those books and I learned a lot of lessons right along with them.

Today, I read "adult" romance. I love to travel back in time and visit other worlds. And I still put myself in the story. I still cry at the happy endings and feel pain when the heroine is betrayed. Looking back on the experiences I had reading Sweet Valley and now with the "adult romance" I read, is it any wonder that I want to write my own romance novel?

October 09, 2007

My Broken Road

A light shines like a beacon into the night, calling me home.
Over a road paved with heartache & pain.
For years I’ve traveled through valleys & over mountains.
Around barriers placed along the way
There to guide me as I creep along.
I never stray far from the path
That leads me straight to you.
I reach out & take your hand.You are the end of my broken road.

October 05, 2007

The Tree

My grandmother will die today. I stand outside and look up at the giant old oak tree in the front drive and I remember how I used to play beneath its branches. I remember the old clapboard house with the porch along the front where my grandparents would sit each evening to watch me play. I remember the plum trees and how I used to eat all the green plums each year (Papaw never seemed to have enough red ones for Mamaw to make jelly). And I remember the shed out back where my cousins and I tried to dig our way to China one summer.

Every memory of my childhood derives its origin from that old place. I lived there with my mom, my brother and sister and my grandparents. All of my aunts and uncles and cousins were close by. There was always someone there to talk to or play with. My grandmother would tell us stories about her childhood and my grandfather would sneak us a piece of “Three Musketeers” candy when no one was looking (there were so many of us he’d cut them up into tiny little bite-size pieces so we’d each have a taste). And my cousins and I would spend our time outside beneath the branches of this old oak tree.

For years this tree stood guard on the little house and its occupants. It never once betrayed us during a storm. Never did we worry that it would crack or break as we went about our daily lives. It was strong and sure and always there; rooted deep, its branches reaching to the sky.
It’s my grandmother’s face I see as I stand beneath the tree, tears making their way down my cheeks to drip onto the roots. Like the oak tree, my grandmother stands tall and strong in my memories. Sitting on the porch beneath the tree, her family surrounding her, she would shell peas or beans from the garden. She would scold me when I needed it and encourage me when I felt down.

It’s good to be allowed to say good-bye. When my grandfather died it was sudden and quick and I couldn’t be there. I learned about his death in the middle of the night after it was over. We all expected him to live forever and with him gone this old place was never the same. But my grandmother remained. She was still here and I knew that there was always a place for me to go when I felt down. There was always a place where I could find the encouragement I needed to make my way in the world.

Now so much has changed. The house is gone that stood beneath this old tree. In its place is a trailer, moved there by my aunt and uncle who came to take care of my grandmother when she was diagnosed with cancer. I’m told the old tree is to come down soon, too. There will be nothing left now, but my memories; of a love between two people so strong it continued after my grandfather’s death, of a family where nothing you could have done would have made their love any less. Memories of a childhood rich in knowing someone would always be there to pick you up when you’d fallen.

As I walk back inside to face the reality that she’s gone from me forever, I feel the tears falling. I will miss her. I’ll miss this old place. But I will always remember what she’s given me. The knowledge I needed to form a strong bond with my own children, the strength I need to make my way in this world, and a gentle love I’ll always be able to hold in my heart.

The family is gathered around her as I make my way to my mother’s side. I think she will be the most affected by my grandmother’s death. She is the only girl out of 15 children born to this family. She was always so close to her mother, as girls usually are. I know they shared a special bond and I will do what I can to help her through this tragedy.

We have all spent the past week taking turns at her side. My mother and I never left. I knew when I received the call that this would be a chance for me to repay her in some small way for all she’s done for me over the years. I bathed her. I held her hand. I talked to her. I took what little sleep I needed by her side. And now the time has come. I take my mother’s hand and we both watch as she takes her last breath.

The grief is overwhelming. I know that she is in a better place, but I’m selfish. I still want her here with me. I kneel at my mother’s feet in the chair she has taken, holding her in my arms as she cries. I feel her tears mingling with mine. There is weeping all around us.

My mother dries her tears and rises from her seat. I rise with her and accompany her as she begins to make preparations for the funeral. Others must be notified and her final resting place must be made ready. My mother and uncles choose a simple, beautiful dark wood coffin with white satin lining. The body has been taken to be prepared. No one will sleep tonight; we’ll all sit around reminiscing about our favorite memories. Mine are many and I will share them gladly.

When my mother finally lays down to rest I sit with my own thoughts to keep me comfort. I pull out an old box of photographs from beneath my grandmother’s bed and fall back to days gone by. Here’s one of my mother when she was very young. And here’s another of my grandfather in the garden. A black and white of my mother holding me as a baby and several more of my brother and sister and me when we were small, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and some I don’t remember; all have been carefully kept in this box.

My mother has asked me to read a poem at the funeral. It seems everyone agrees that I’m the logical choice for I’m the one who is forever telling my tales to any who will read what I’ve written. This will be a difficult task for me, but something I will gladly do.

I fall asleep in a chair and though it does not offer much in the way of comfort, I sleep fitfully on and off most of the night. When I awake I know that I must begin to say good-bye and I put off the task as long as possible. But soon the noises pull me from my slumber and I rise to face the new day. My mother is already up and probably has been for some time. Relatives are arriving from far and near to pay their respects to the woman who filled all our lives.

I dress carefully; my grandmother always liked for us to look our best. It’s time to leave for the funeral, but I must find a florist before I can enter the little church. I want to lay a rose in the coffin for her to take with her. Her favorite rose is purple, but they are rare as she was a rare woman, so they’re not available here in this small town. I must settle for a deep red.

As I enter the church I walk down the aisle toward the altar where she is laid so peacefully upon the satin pillows. She looks as if she sleeps, dreaming of my grandfather and the wonderful life they had together. I lay the rose in her arms and a single tear falls to settle on the pillow next to her. I whisper “good-bye” softly in her ear and turn toward my seat.

The church is filled with family and friends. The service begins and I feel the tears begin to course down my cheeks. I thought I had cried all I could, but more seemed to be stored, ready to fall. When it is time I make my way to the pulpit and slowly read the poem.

I begin to cry midway through, but I stumble on and feel her presence as I finish. I know in that moment that she will always be with me. When the funeral is over I return to stand again beneath the branches of the old oak tree and run my hands over its rough bark. I know this is the last time I will see this old friend as well. But now when I look into the branches high above my head I realize that no matter where I go, I will always have the strength that my memories provide.

The Ideal Life

She sits on the back porch watching the sky fade from a brilliant blue to a soft purple as it sinks beyond the meadow. As she reflects on her life to this point, she wonders how she ever made it through. Only the love for her children and the hope in her heart for their future has kept her going.

The kids chase fireflies and squeal with delight when one escapes their clutches. There is no sweeter sound on earth than the laughter of children content in the knowledge that they are loved. Could it have really been so short a time ago that their laughter was often muted with pain and anger? No one, especially a child, should have to endure so much.

“Hi, Mom,” yells the oldest as he trots up and plants a kiss on her cheek. At 16 he’s beginning to show signs of the man he will become. She hopes and prays that the love she has given him will be enough to sustain him throughout his life. He has hopes of becoming a cartoonist and he has a wonderful talent for it. With any luck he’ll get into a good college and be able to fulfill his dream.

His temper often hides the fact that he’s so intelligent. But then anger has always been such a huge part of his life. Perhaps one day he’ll be able to cope with life without anger getting in the way.

His younger brother is still deciding what he wants, but no matter what he chooses, he will excel. He’s the tenderhearted one, the class clown. Everyone loves him. He’s never met a stranger and though sometimes he too has a temper, his natural zest for life and giving those around him laughter always pulls him through.

The baby girl is a true beauty. Blue eyes, blond hair, a bubbly personality. She’s a cheerleader through and through. The pain she’s had to endure in her short life has only proven how strong she is. She’ll be able to face any adversity that comes her way. Even though she’s been irreversibly hurt by someone she trusted most, she’s chosen to face life with hope and trust and love. Her faith in God and the love of her mother has shown her that not everyone is a threat.

“Come on, James. Help us,” shouts Hallie. She and Josh have been whispering, obviously planning something special for their brother. It’s hard to believe, seeing them today, that they are constantly at one another’s throats. It’s natural for siblings to fight, but she’s often wondered if it’s not the constant pain and anger that causes most of it. So much has happened that it’s hard to tell where sibling rivalry ends and true hurt begins.

As he runs out to them, they separate and tackle him. The three of them wrestle and laugh and hug until they are weak. As mom looks on, her heart fills with pride at the love they so freely express. Perhaps it’s been enough, the love they’re shown by their mother. She’s always been the one constant in their lives. Even when things were the roughest she never gave up on them.

A sound behind her draws her attention and she looks up into the eyes of her husband, her one true love in life. She knew right away that he was special. Her heart and her body both felt things they had never felt before. She never thought she’d be able to bring another man into their lives after the pain the last one caused them all. But this one was different. She knew it from the beginning.

Their life together has had its ups and downs, but their love is unfailing. She knows that no matter what the future holds for them, or what they have to go through in life, they will do it together. They both know that sometimes they will argue, but that if they believe in their love and know that together they can weather any storm, even the arguments will be beautiful.

“I love you,” she whispers as he leans down to kiss her. Her heart swells with pride and she thanks God for giving her The Ideal Life. She wouldn’t trade a single part of it. The pain and hurt and love that she has endured has brought her safely to this point. She knows that without those things, the happiness she has now would never have been.