Sunday, May 29, 2011

The House That Built Me

My sweet Dad
It's almost three years, June 20th that  I've been without my sweet Dad.I find myself needing to remember our little family in "the house that built me".  That house was on Fisk Lane in Redondo Beach.

Won't take nothing but a memory......

Middle class family, with a hard working Dad and a stay at home Mom.
Forty some new born foster babies called this house home, two at a time were part of that family.
Always a cousin, Uncle or friend living with us, also part of  that house that built me.
It's where we learned to love, it's where we became a family and grew up together.
A waterfall in the back yard, often with gold fish and polliwogs.
A garage with several saws, permanently scented with freshly cut lumber, its where I learned to sand the right way.
Our back yard, Mom and her twin.
A pool table where he taught me to play pool.
The kitchen cabinets, they were built with my Father's hands.
I learned fractions one late night sitting at that kitchen table with him, exhausted from the days work, yet he took the time for me.
The same table I first drank hot tea with a splash of milk with my Mom.  It's the reason I love tea pots today.
A family room with ceiling to floor display cabinets, also built with those hands.  Displaying his love of decorative liquor decanter bottles, over a hundred I'm sure. Some I am lucky to have today.
His over sized desk where he sat to pay the bills, where he diligently made files for everything one should have a file for.
Off to the side is where my sister's and cousin Donna Dee would set up our Barbies.
The pocket door off one side of their bedroom, it's where my sister's and I often could make a complete circle chasing each other through the house.In one door and out the other.
There was an over sized photo in the hall way of Jesus praying near a giant rock. That photo magically provided comfort. I could sit and stare at it for a long time.  Someday, I would think, I will get to meet the real Jesus, wondering if He would look like our hallway Jesus.
My everything blue bedroom just across from Mom and Dad's room. Carpet, curtains, bedspread and walls all a shade of blue.
How many times he had to come into that room to demand my sister Donna and I stop laughing :-)  Bad case of the giggles, and a Father needing sleep.
My bedroom where Donna first cried over a reassuring her he's not worth it if he won't wait!
It's the same room Dad more than once brought me oranges already peeled when I was sick.
My water bed....the one I wasn't allowed to have.
 Sister Deanna's bedroom, covered with photo collages she made to include he favorite artists, boy friend, magazine quotes cut out an put in just the right spot.

The living room, where my friends would meet me every morning to walk to school.
Grand kids in our living room.
Sister Donna with her baby and my Mom. Taken in front of
the wall where she fell and cut her head.....

The over sized picture window that we would dance in front of  while lip syncing to our favorite songs.
The same window I lay in front of  watching for Santa in the sky.
The heater I would lay next to daily after school, the warmth of home.
The corner of the wall where my sister Donna fell and cut her head open.
Our console stereo that played, Elvis Gospel album, Tammy Wynette, Tennessee Ernie Ford,  Andrews sisters.Occasionaly the Four Seasons, Beatles to Beach Boys..... Playing the songs that still today take me home.
It's the room where my prom photos were all taken.  The same room we said good bye to many a foster baby.

Sister Deanna, husband Mike.  The picture window (we moved on to a real tree!).
Our silver foil like Christmas tree with the revolving color wheel, red, green, yellow and blue.
Just off the living room was a room that was originally to be a dinning area.  It's where my piano sat and where I practiced more times than I wanted to.
The carpet in that room, it's where my little brother Tony rubbed a cube of butter in one large circle.
Our brick front porch, where the milk and paper were delivered.
The porch I sat to put on my roller skates. The porch where I  learned to play Gin Rummy with a friend on a summer day.
It was on that porch I first saw a cocoon and learned it would one day become a butterfly.
The front yard with brick planters on each side filled with my Father's roses.
The flag pole where our American flag flew daily, where I learned we to be full of pride when that flag is viewed..
The perfectly manicured lawn my Father so enjoyed and took such pride in.  He would cringe if he came home and saw a blow up pool on a hot summer day, and he did....several times.
It's the yard we and the neighborhood kids played tag and Mother May I.
My Brother Tony in the front yard.
It's the yard we took our Easter photos, capturing our new dresses, our hats, shoes and purses.

"Wont' take nothing but a memory, from the house that built me."
I hope you will again, take the time to listen to the words of the song I have playing.  It can really take you back.  Back to the house that built you. Enjoy the memories!  This is what echos from my heart today....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wings ~

I was on a break, standing out front of my office building years ago .  Across the parking lot I see an older gentleman trying to cross the roadway.  He was wearing a prosthetic leg, one that he had not yet become too familiar with and was lacking the confidence to trust it in route to his destination.  I remember thinking about how sad that he had to experience losing his leg now the frustration of trying to become one and work in unison with his prosthesis.

 I walked over to him offering up my arm while asking if he would like some help. He didn't have to give it much thought, he latched on as if he had been drowning and I his preserver! As I walked him to the elevator of his Doctors office, he stopped for a moment, turned and look directly into my eyes.  He asked, "when did you get your wings?"  I was so touched that he felt this way, a simple random act of kindness.  "We are supposed to be here for each other" I replied.

That comment changed my life that day.  It  gave me cause for thought....why was that such a big deal to him... Its wrong that we are so surprised when someone does something nice for us outside our family.  That means, it's obviously not a part of our daily life to be there when someone is in need, and why is that?  I'm not tooting my own horn here, but I have always been sensitive to someone with a need.  Rather it be a physical need or the need of a the spoken word.  I have always described myself as someone that has a heart for people.  This particular day just made me aware that if its such a surprise to be the recipient of a kind gesture, then we are not doing enough of them.

 As a Girl Scout I remember going to a convalescent home with my troop and singing "In my Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it...." to several of the residents.  It was so huge to me to see how much they enjoyed it and how they all wanted to take our hands as they thanked us. It was just a song...

About a year ago my Church encouraged its members to volunteer somewhere in our community. A small group I belong to in my church volunteered to go to go to a local convalescent home that my friends Mom was a resident of.  We decided to arrive as they were finishing lunch and make them ice cream sundaes.  We had all the ice cream and toppings on push carts and went table to table taking their personalized order.  It was so apparent that they couldn't believe we were doing this for them.  It was apparent to me when I first looked into the dinning hall while they were finishing up lunch, that no one was talking to each other, and there was a lack of expression on their faces.  I knew we were at the right place.  As we began serving them, their faces lit up, smiles starting appearing and conversation about all the "fuss" we were making over them began. It was as if they had just met those at their table and normal conversation was rampant.  It was just some ice cream...

My favorite thing to do on a regular basis is to let others get in front of me in the grocery line when they have less than myself to pay for.  Or, to be behind someone who is just a little short on what they owe.  In both cases they typically respond with, "Are you sure?"  That is my chance to encourage them, "pay it forward, do it for someone else."  Or,  " God wants us to be this way."  That comment many times catches them off guard to hear, but it's the truth.  It's how we were supposed to treat each other from the very beginning.

On Mother's Day my Mom and I took the train to spend the day with my sister and her daughter who put on beautiful brunch for us.  I know this meant a lot to my Mom especially, she enjoys time when we are all together for "her" day :-)  What Mom doesn't?  On the train ride there we had to sit on different sides of the train due to the crowd.  She was close enough I could see her settle in her seat as she began her conversation with the lady seated next to her.  I asked a gentleman who was on an aisle seat if he minded if I sat next to him.  I wasn't so sure he was thrilled, as he had what looked to be legal papers he was reading through and he was so serious.  He stood and let me sit on the inside seat.  I settled in and purposed to stare out the window so he could have his privacy reading his documents and to be clear, I wasn't going to disturb him.

As the train rolled down the track he eventually put his papers away and rubbed his eyes as if he was exhausted from the read or because of it?  I had to ask now that he wasn't reading, "did you play football?" He was a huge man so it seemed obvious with his build  and a good conversation starter.  He began to share that yes at one time he played ball but that was cut short do to an alcohol problem, one which he was now free of.  The next topic was easy due to the holiday, "are you going to see your Mom?" I asked.  He replied that his Mom died when he was 7 and his father was military so the neighborhood Mom's looked out for him.  I told him I was sorry about his Mom and he asked about my family.  As I shared about the loss of my Dad he could see the emotion.  "Sorry, I cry easily, more so in my old age", my disclaimer.  He said he sensed I was a good person, sensitive to whats going on around me.  I shared that it seems God puts others in my path which provides me the opportunity to do so.  I also made it clear to him that I believe, that nothing is by chance, he wasn't quick to agree.

Oscar was his name,  and he had been reading a Hollywood script (I felt better about the interruption). I shared with him that I felt  a heaviness come on me as I took my seat on the train.  A feeling that there were so many hurting people on this train and was it why I was here on this day.  At this point I notice Oscar's posture slump a bit, his African American skin seemed to lighten a shade or two and  he just looked at me.  After a moments pause he said, " when I got on this train today I cried the first 10 minutes of travel, and I never cry."  Hearing this of course causes me to tear up.... "why the tears?" I asked him.  He said, "I just wish I had a family, a wife, kids, just to know I was going home to spend the day as a family".  By the time I reach my stop, Oscar learned and believed that nothing was by chance and told me so. I felt lighter knowing I had a purpose that day and thanked God for the experience.

It seems we have lost our sense of community.  Everyone is just looking out for themselves or their own. Are we really so busy that we can't take the time to look around us, look for an opportunity to perform a random act of kindness?   It is just so exciting for me to be a part of what is going on around me, stuff I may otherwise miss if I weren't looking for it!  God will put others in your path daily, how will you respond to the opportunity to act on it?

To us it's just a song, an ice cream sundae, a conversation.  To another it may be a life preserver tossed their way, just before giving up the fight.  Challenge yourself and be available to others as God intended us to be. Challenge others to do the same!  This is what echo's from my heart today.....