#family

IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

When I sit and watch TV I am bombarded by perfection…

Everybody has bright white teeth and a silky smooth complexion.

 

They live in enormous houses in the country or by the shore

all decorated by the finest designers in luxurious decors.

 

They drive cars with foreign names meant to thrill, amaze…astound

and when not behind the wheel they have a chauffeur who drives them all around.

 

But when the show is over I look around and always smile at what I see

knowing my life does not quite match the one on my TV

 

When I look into my mirror I often have to pause

because the body and complexion I see…have their share of flaws..

 

The house Deborah and I live in has never given us reason to complain

even though the laundry room remains unfinished and our street floods in the rain.

 

Our car is nice but is not the kind that will easily astound…

and there is no chauffeur waiting…who will drive us both around…

 

But I’ve come to realize something about perfection as I’ve grown a little older

Perfection, a lot like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder.

 

Yesterday we had lunch with some of our grandchildren and once again I was shown

despite its imperfections…how splendid my life has grown.

 

Like all families we’ve had our ups and downs…

as our family constantly transforms…

But together we have ridden those highs and weathered every storm.

 

For the most part everyone in our family is happy

For the most part we are healthy…

As I sat with our grandchildren yesterday I had to wonder…

How did I get so wealthy?

 

My life might not be TV perfect…but….I am happy to admit

 

my real world life is perfect…at least from where I sit.


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TWO LITTLE WOMEN

I love how life in the midst of its wars, its killings, 

its behaviors so thoughtless and vile

will set set aside a moment every now and then

a moment to make us smile.

 

Little Women is a popular book- 

I had just sold one of the two new ones we acquired 

when a little woman came up to the counter

“Do you have Little Women?” She inquired.

 

“I believe there is still one left.” I said

as I led her through the store…right to it.

Then I walked back to the counter 

as she began leafing through it.

 

No sooner had I returned to the counter

in the ten seconds that it took

when another little woman, younger than the first, 

asked for that same book.

 

“We have one copy left.” I said.

There was no reason to deny it.

“But there is another woman who just came in

and I think she want’s to buy it.”

 

“I’ve never read it and was hoping you had it.” The woman frowned

“My mom said I’d adore it.

Let me at this other woman.” she said jokingly

“I will gladly fight her for it.”

 

“Here comes the woman now.” I said

“I’m sorry we don’t have another.”

Then the woman at the counter smiled…

“No need to…that’s my mother!”

 

They smiled…they hugged…they took a step back

and gave each other a look…

“Hey, the mother said holding it up.

“Can you believe I found your book?”

 

The mother bought the book for her daughter

They left the store hand in hand…

And I thought how some of the most special moments in life

are the ones that go unplanned….

 

Like how one book could illustrate a mother’s and daughter’s love

right in front of me…

and as two little women left the store…I smiled

 

thinking Louisa May Alcott would agree.



WATCH THEIR CHILDREN SLEEP

Why is it parents love to stand

quietly…without making a peep

if only for a moment

and watch their children sleep?

 

Could it be they love to see

in that moment soft and mild

the beauty of pure innocence

the angel in the child?

 

Could it be in that moment

with no reason to worry, to fret, to call them 

they are praying for their children’s happiness

and that no harm shall befall them?

 

That they just want their children to know

as they float on slumber’s stream

they will be there in the day to protect their hopes

 

and at night…to guard their dreams.


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AFTER THE FAMILY VISITS

Our family visited but they’re gone now…the house is empty

but it’s definitely not bare

for the memories they left behind are echoing everywhere.

 

If I listen closely…I hear them

their echoes and so much more

as they blend with all the echoes they’ve left behind before… 

 

I hear children chasing each other around the house…

I see them running fast…and slow

the way they did this visit…and so many visits ago.

 

I see them playing football outside…

they’ve all gotten so much taller

and I see them playing years ago…

when they were all much smaller.

 

I see one grandchild up in our climbing tree…

I see Nana cautioning him

and I see his mother when she was small 

sitting next to him on that same limb.

 

Echoes of so many funny jokes…

that my family said were lame

but on the echoes of their faces 

I see laughter just the same.

 

I see so many memories bouncing around…

an abundantly joyous amount…

so many echoes from so many years 

that I long ago lost count.

 

I love how the echoes of today…

the latest ones they cast

so easily blend with yesterdays…

and all the echoes of the past…

 

Which is why I walk around our empty house with a smile

as from room to room I roam

surrounded by all the echoes 

 

that make this house our home.


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ON THE BACK OF AN OLD CLOSET DOOR

With the family visiting again this holiday..as they have so many times before

It was once again time to revisit…the back of our old closet door.

 

On it Deborah and I have placed one of our most treasured sights 

A history of our family’s growth recorded in our children and grandchildren’s heights.

 

Heights have been inscribed on this door for over 35 years

It was time to update our two youngest grandchildren…

who have grown 6 inches it appears… 

 

This closet door reminds us…as we read heights written in black pen

How every child grows…it’s not a matter of will they..

it’s a matter of when

 

(I wonder if growing taller is as big an accomplishment 

as we all might be thinking

Because, although we’ve not recorded our heights…

I think Deborah and I are shrinking.)

 

Be that as it may I can’t open this door without smiling

sometimes a tear finds its way to my eye

as I realize when facing it…how quickly time goes by.

 

With the future always one step away…a future approaching so fast

opening this door is a wonderful way to pause and revisit our past.

 

To look back on our children and grandchildren…

Now that they’ve all grown taller than us…

back to a time not that long ago 

when they were all smaller than us.

 

Yes, we’ve been recording heights here for over 35 years 

and hope to record here for over 35 more…

But…if there ever comes a time we have to move away…

 

Moving with us…will be this old closet door.


GENERATIONS ALIGNED

As I watched our daughter watch her son graduate from college yesterday…

as our three generations aligned

I wondered if she was thinking what I once did…

If my same thoughts crossed her mind.

 

Was she wondering where the time went?

Was she wondering how fast our children grow?

Was she wondering if she taught him everything

in life he’ll need know?

 

Does he know not to be afraid to laugh or cry

to hope or dream or sing?

Did she teach him to be curious and relish little things?

 

Did she teach him to believe in himself

To stop…look around…take walks?

Has she taught him how to color outside the lines

and think outside the box?

 

Did she teach him to be kind and gentle

honest and loving too?

Does he know if you treat people in this way

it’s the way they will treat you?

 

Does he know not to be afraid to try new things,

new adventures, new experiences…forge new trails?

That everybody makes mistakes…and everybody fails?

 

Does he know the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

To do what he loves and never to be smug?

Did she teach him many troubles in life

can be fixed with a nap…or a hug?

 

Is she sitting back at this moment…

thinking of all those winters…all those springs

And wondering where his life will take him

now that he’s grown wings?

 

It’s funny how quickly these questions are answered

the moment a family embraces

when generations align…

together

 

and there are smiles upon their faces.


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A LONG LINE OF DREAMALISTS

My mom loved to mix her imagination with reality

which meant her stories had a few twists 

I called her world Dreamality…making her a dreamalist.

 

I remember one night when I was young 

We were sitting outside…just her…and me

“Close your eyes.” She said, “and when you open them 

your star will be the first one that you see."

 

“That star was created when you were born…

when you became my son

It was placed up in the heavens to announce 

a new life has begun.”

 

“See how it is beating…it matches the beating of your heart…

Those stars beating brightest are the new ones

while those whose beats are fading are preparing to depart.

 

“Your star remains aglow until the day you die.” She said.

“for our stars are nothing if not precise

at which point it will swoop down and carry your soul to paradise?”

 

I imagine Mom was wise enough to understand the science of light diffusion

how the brightness and the beating of the stars is just an optical illusion…

 

I imagine she understood how meteoroids 

are just burning bits of dust and rock…quite small 

And, scientifically speaking, are not shooting stars at all.

 

But that did not deter her from believing her story in totality

(now you begin to understand my mom’s world of Dreamality).

 

Mom’s star burned out years ago and, yes, I consider it quite nice

to think it swooped down from above and carried her soul to paradise.

 

Many nights I still greet my star…

it’s something I can’t resist.

I regard it as a gift...given to me long ago, 

 

by my Mom, the dreamalist.


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BABYSITTING GRANDPA

I remember how I loved babysitting our grandchildren 

how neatly they fit into my arms.

I remember being impressed with their intelligence and captivated by their charms.

 

How they would spend the night with us…how we’d make sure that they were fed

how we’d play some games, watch a movie then send them off to bed.

 

How in the morning we’d make pancakes…in any size or shape requested

and smile as our handiwork was so easily digested.

 

But grandchildren grow up…a fact no grandparent can ignore

and there comes a time when grandchildren don’t need babysitting any more.

 

So the other night when Deborah had some friends over I thought it would be sweet

to make a date by taking Ali and two of our grandchildren out to eat.

 

I saw this as a way to spend some time with them

but Ava had a different point of view

She said, “Remember when you use to babysit us, PopPop?

Now we’re babysitting you!”

 

And I had to laugh but it made me wonder when she repeated it again

What’s the difference between them now babysitting me

and when I was babysitting them?

 

The main difference of course is we’re all older and they no longer fit into my arms

but I am still impressed with their intelligence and captivated by their charms.

 

Their world has expanded outward…their life is more complex

our conversations are more adult now..though sometimes their mom objects.

 

Despite the fact we’re older we still visit with the same joy and laughter and vigor…

although now when we play UNO…the cards seem so much bigger! 

 

They no longer spend the night…and after dinner when I was sure they had been fed 

since they now stay up much later than me…I drove home and headed off to bed.

 

Hoping our grandchildren remember when we babysat…

hoping those days are etched deep in each one’s memory.

hoping they remember the last time I babysat them with as much joy

 

as I’ll remember the first time they babysat me.


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TWO SIMPLE WORDS

When our family gets together, like most families I assume

There are two words when spoken that can light up any room.

 

Whether emanating from a chair, around a table or by the kitchen sink

these two simple words when paired together have more power than you think.

 

For these two word when spoken awaken a shared memory

and instantly remind us what it is to be a family.

 

These two words evoke our laughter, our wonderment…our tears

of moments we once shared together that have melted into years…

 

Allowing us to revisit together…a mutual memoir

to remember who we were back then…that made us who we are

 

Oh how we laugh or cry or smile…

when these two words are spoken every now and then

Oh how our memories are stirred 

and our hearts are filled

when we hear the words…

 

Remember when…



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