Monday, September 3, 2012

My Marine

"Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most." ~ Siddhartha Gautama

What a whirlwind of a couple of weeks! Off to San Diego last week for Derrick's graduation from boot camp as an official Marine. His father, my sister, her husband and I were all there to join in the celebration. I can't even begin to dissect  the feelings and emotions I have!

The one thing I am is exceptionally proud of my son. He grabbed onto a goal several years ago and worked, waited, and never doubted his path. He was so certain. Other people could have given up, or at least become overwhelmingly discouraged. But not Derrick. He always knew he'd make it.

Make it he did! The days in San Diego were amazing. Seeing him after so many months with only letters to communicate. Seeing the entire company on the parade deck, marching in precision. Meeting his friends and knowing he is in good hands. The leadership we observed. I'm thankful of where he's been and where he's going.

Each day is a new day. Derrick has so many adventures in his days ahead.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Little Things

Enjoy the little things,

for one day you may look back and

realize they were the big things.

Four artifacts. Old pieces, family pieces. I feel they connect me through years with women I love and my heritage. All are simple sewing tools. The basic items that a seamstress needs to complete a task.

The first is a simple sewing thimble. Sterling silver, misshapen, I found it in an antique stand years ago. I’ve always used a thimble, can’t hold a needle without one, as a matter of fact. As I slipped it on my middle finger, it seemed as though someone had purposely shaped it to fit my particular, one-of-a-kind, finger.

The next is a thimble, but not a simple one. Housed in a leather case, sitting on a velvet lined pedestal. A gold thimble! Shinny bright and engraved with my great-grandmother’s name, Mrs. C. F. Showalter. I never met her; only know her through stories shared by my mother, aunt, and grandma. She lived with them at home until my mother was about five. An Irish woman, deeply spiritual in a magical type of way. I’ve seen her stitches. Fitting for someone who sewed with a golden thimble. Fine satin stitches made with silken thread that simply glows. The piece I’m thinking about has vivid purples, gold, and green. A thread painting of thistle flowers on linen. Exquisite stitching.

Great-grandmother's golden thimble

These next two pieces belonged to my grandmother. A seam ruler and thread scissors. I learned much about sewing by observing Grandma. She was never without her current knitting project. In fact, she did teach me to knit. I wish I knew all the stitches she was capable of making. What I learned about sewing though, has served me well. She taught me that measuring must be precise and equal. Hide the loose ends of every thread. Use the point of the scissor to turn a sharp corner. NEVER use thread or fabric scissors on paper. These pieces are also silver. Well worn due to use over the years. The scissor is much sharper than any newer pair I’ve ever tried. I’ve had plastic/metal seam rulers that either bend or break.

Simple sewing tools

I like to think of the similarities I have of these women. I’m told I bear significant physical resemblance to my great-grandmother. Grandma used to turn my pieces over to examine the back. She never failed to remark how nice it looked, even on the back. “Just like Mama,” she’d compliment me. When I bake something special for someone, I’m nearly always reminded of Grandma. Her specialties were fudge, chocolate cake, and caramels. She’d make them with the person to eat them in mind, as an act of blessing. I often do the same as I prepare a meal or make a treat to share.

The differences can’t help but come to mind, however. I would never be known as a Mrs. of the man’s name. Even when married, I kept my maiden name as my own part of the wedded name, unable to toss that part of myself away. Of course, she lived in a much different time and world than me. I don’t always have the courage to stand up for what I truly believe in the way Grandma did. In fact, sometimes I’m not even always sure what my stance is on a particular issue, too able to see both sides of the story.

These artifacts remind me of my connection to these special women. I think my interest in sewing as an art form is a gift from both of them. As I either sew or create something else I feel the connection through them to my spirituality. I hope I can continue to grow in both my artistic and spirituality as a way of expressing my gratitude to the legacy they gave me.

Just as Grandma taught me sewing, along with cooking, caring for animals, and the ways of being a lady, by example, she taught me from a very early age about God and spirituality as a way of living life. She took me with her to the Sunday school class she taught. I remember literally sitting on her knee as she led the teenagers in the lesson. Her study time during the day was sacred, not to be interrupted. She would, however invite me in to share that special time with her. A beautiful example, as it was a daily discipline, done not out of duty, but love.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunny Departure

"One day you will ask me which is more important? My life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life." ~ Khalil Gibran

Saturday was spent in the warm sunshine, watching Derrick as he prepares for his departure to Boot Camp with the Marines in one week. For as long as we’ve waited for this day, I find my breath catches every time I think about it. Which is always.

This is what he’s wanted for years. I am happy for him, reaching this goal. Proud of his choices. Proud of the way he’s pursued his dream, kept his sense of determination and optimism throughout the process of it all.

The stark realization that this is what it is like to be a mother. I raised him for the purpose of letting him go to pursue his own life’s path. I should be as happy as can be. And I am. But the emotions overtake me in waves. Because my life’s purpose all these years has been Derrick.

So I’m left wondering, what now? Just me and the cats for the rest of my life? My life is full of other things, too. My work as a teacher. My alter life as an artist. My family and friends. All that means so much to me, more than I could ever express in words. There are moments I wonder if I’ll even survive this, as if all life will be totally sucked out of me, as if a vacuum has swept my heart away.

I know other mothers survive the departure of their children leaving them. Isn’t that the way the world has always worked? Maybe I feel this so intensely because I’ve been a single mother for so long. It has been just the two of us for the most part all these years.

Realistically, I know I’ll make it. Especially when I think about the other things I’ve overcome in my life. And this is a good thing. I would never take a dream away from someone, especially someone I love so much. The feelings I have seem selfish when I think about it with my head.


Really, I am so proud of Derrick. The sunburn on my shoulders from Saturday hurt, but I know that will heal oh so much quicker than the heartache of his departure.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. - Helen Keller -

Door Ways

My little feet are running through the kitchen, through the back porch. I give the door a push and I jump over the step, into the backyard. The door immediately slams shut with a double bounce, so I hear it two times. Out I go, calling, “Grandpa? Where’s Grandpa?” A sense memory, complete with the smells of the garden, the sound of the door, the feel of the air on my skin, my heart filled with love. Now, this is but an echo of memory.

Doors are often transitions from one part of life to another. Once you go through the doorway, nothing is the same as before. Once you were out, now you are in. It is different. Sometimes you choose to go through the door into the beyond. Leaving behind what no longer works. Sometimes we stop to wonder at the difference. We say to ourselves, “That was then. This is now. Nothing is the same.”

We don’t always recognize the symbolic doors we pass through until sometime later. I think back to doors I’ve walked through. Leaving old jobs and colleagues behind. Walking out the door of marriage and a life ever altered for myself and my son. Walking through a school door and into a new career as a teacher. Doorways that I didn’t recognize as ended friendships. Thankfully finding new doors into fulfilling and healthy friendships.

I think of the doors that my son has already passed through. Doors that he will open without me in the days and years to come. Knowing my door, wherever it may be, will always welcome him home to me again. Yes, the door to my years as a single mother is starting to close as Derrick prepares to leave home in the upcoming months.

What doors I don’t yet recognize will open for me? One thing is certain, the door to my home now will be much quieter without the comings and goings of Derrick and his friends.

As I ready myself to enter new doorways, I think back to Grandpa’s door and do my best to realize that I’m always where I’m meant to be.

 When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.
– The Sound of Music