by Barbara Shine
Mom’s fingers have forgotten the piano keys; her feet no longer love a polka beat. She writes invisible lists with a fork and eats string beans with her hands. When she sniffles I hand over a tissue, which she folds into quarters and tucks under a sleeve while her nose drips unchecked. Mom seldom complains, but neither does she sing. Her pale blue eyes, faded from the deep, piercing, chocolate brown of young motherhood, seem free of worry, but they have also been emptied of joy.
I’m helpless while a sculptor I cannot see or dissuade chisels away the sharp corners and tender bulges that made my mother unique. Her features and personality, even her voice, tend toward the smooth sameness of her nursing-home peers—just one egg among a crateful. Yet, whoever remains when the sculpting is done, I must find a way to single her out and to love her more than ever.
Barbara Shine is a freelance writer and editor in Virginia’s Northern Neck, near the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to writing medical articles, personal essays, and poetry, Barbara leads creativity workshops for new and experienced writers. Contact Barbara.
by Marie Delgado Travis
My eighty plus-year old Mom was just home from therapy following hip replacement. She asked me to field her calls, since it was difficult for her to hobble over from the bedroom all the way to the telephone in the kitchen.
Shortly after she was settled in bed, the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the voice behind the brusque, ¨¿Se encuentra María?¨ "I'm sorry," I dutifully answered in Spanish, "But my Mother is recovering from recent surgery and can't come to the phone."
The person on the other end seemed annoyed. I didn't recognize her voice, so she proceeded to introduce herself. It was my Aunt (I'll call her Titi Dolores), my mother's half-sister, freshly arrived in Puerto Rico from los Nueva Yores.
Since she definitely outranked me in the family pecking order, I switched to a more courteous and deferential tone, while still protective of my Mother's privacy. "Bendición, Títi," I asked for her blessing. "¿Cómo está? " She sighed, "Ay, m'ija!"
Then, with an air of resignation, she explained that she had:
high blood pressure,
and a slight curvature of the spine
And before she could continue her litany, I politely interrupted, "You know, Títi, let me get Mamí. I think she's going to be fine!"
MARIE DELGADO TRAVIS is proud of her Nuyorican roots. She writes poetry and prose in English and Spanish. Her poem "Bijoux" was named "Poem of the Month" by the editors of http://www.longstoryshort.us/ (April 2005). She won Honorable Mention in a translation contest sponsored by www.languageandculture.net/ and is currently a Finalist in the Tom Howard Short Story Contest, www.tomhoward.info/. Two of her pieces are scheduled to appear in a mass market anthology, CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE LATINO SOUL (August 2005). She also writes a monthly travel column, PENNY POSTCARDS, for http://www.penwomanship.com/. Marie and her husband, Edmunds, a retired attorney, have homes in Houston, TX and Isla Verde, PR. Her personal web site is: http://hometown.aol.com/marilutravis/index.html
by Michelle Sweeney
It was just a glimpse. I was driving home from work and there he was walking down a barren street. His clothes, much like his face, were worn and dirty and his age showed in his heavy wrinkles. He looked ahead almost in a dancing walk while he appeared to be singing to music only he could hear. He did not look happy but he did not look sad either. “A homeless man,”
I thought to myself just as he looked my way. I turned away. Maybe the long day had beaten me down so much that I could not look into his eyes. I wondered how many times that happened to him in a day. How many people look away, not wanting to know or care? More involved in their own lives to be able to care or wonder about another’s life. And that was me on that day. I was almost ashamed. My mind wandered. Maybe he wasn’t homeless. Who am I to judge? I thought about my Grandfather and what he always said, “you can’t understand what someone is going through or feeling until you walk a mile in their moccasins.” That memory made me smile. I had to take a few minutes to be thankful for all my blessings, for all that I have and all that I don’t have. And to be thankful for a glimpse into another life.
Michelle: I am a mother of 3. My newest addition is at the beginning of a marriage and right at year 40. I live in Michigan and work full-time at a bank. I enjoy writing poetry and short stories. It is my passion and I hope someday to be able to write full time.