THE RETURN

Mother and Girls
Mother and Girls

 THE RETURN

I had not seen my father in years.  In fact, I really did not care if I ever saw him again.  He left so long ago I barely remembered what he looked like.  So the day he returned was more of a shock, than a surprise.

When I came home from school that day, the family was all excited about something.  Mother, who was usually in an old house dress, was in her Sunday best. She had on one of her two good dresses. This one had big pink roses splashed on a field of black. It was my favorite. My mother was a good-looking woman and since dad had left us several years ago, she had finally started dating again.  She said at that time that she considered him dead anyway.

So that day, when mother asked me to go upstairs and make the beds, I did not jump to do it.
“What’s with the cleaning”? I asked.  I was told more than once, that I had a smart mouth.  I never knew quite how to take that, whether I should be insulted or complimented.   But mother seemed worried about getting the house cleaned and right away.  It was not like her to be so concerned about the cleaning.  Her usual attitude about it  was, ‘It will get done when it gets done’, and it always got done.

“It is a surprise, will you please do what I asked?”  Mother’s voice was getting a bit shrill.
“Ok,  ok, but I don’t know what all the mystery is about.  Is someone important coming”?   I decided to go and do as she asked before she got mad and started yelling.  When she started yelling, it never ended good.

I ran upstairs and started making beds.  My two younger sisters were in their  bedroom giggling and they were not doing any cleaning. But then they never did any of the cleaning anyway.  I hoped maybe they could shed a little light on the situation but when I asked them, they just ignored me and kept on giggling. What can you expect from kids, I thought. I was fourteen and as second oldest in the family thought I was in control of things. I was blond and blue-eyed and rather scrawny yet the boys were beginning to notice me. My mother encouraged me in my independence, because she needed me to help at home while she was working.  Since Dad had left us high and dry when I was seven, with no money to speak of; mom needed every penny she could get to raise her four girls.

I finished making the beds and as I entered my room, which I shared with my older sister, the smell of Summer drifted in through the window. The lace curtains fluttered lazily on the warm breeze as I flopped on the bed and lit a cigarette that I had swiped from  Mother’s purse earlier.  She did let me light hers for her once in a while so I thought  it was okay to have one  once in a while.  I went off into a world of my own and saw  myself as a dancer. Myself and Gene Kelly, who was my favorite movie star, swayed back and forth to the music and as we swung out and came together, I was lost in the moment.

I seemed to be day-dreaming  more and more lately.  It was a way to close out the real world and go to my own special place. Ever since dad had deserted us, there never was enough money,  but now things were beginning to get better with myself and my older sister working.  I only worked part-time because I was still in school but it was enough to buy my clothes and give a little to my mother.  Dad had refused to send home any money to help support us from his Army allotment.  So the decision was taken out of his hands and the Army sent money to us anyway.  Yes, dad was a real nice guy.

Dad was drafted even though he was over forty because he was a deserter of his family and the Army needed all the men they could get. The second World War was in full progress at this time and that’s all that we  heard about on the radio. The war!  Rationing, black-outs, not enough sugar butter or gas. The sugar was what concerned me the most, I loved making candy, one thing dad had taught me.   Fudge with peanut butter was my favorite.

Whenever mother spoke of dad her voice was bitter and I learned to despise his memory even though I didn’t remember him all that much. Mother managed to fill in the blanks with, “We wouldn’t be in this shack with hardly enough to eat if he were any good.”  She called him “Mr. Rat” most of the time.  And he managed to live up to that name.

I often wondered if dad would come back and how she would feel if it ever came to that. I  knew however, with mother’s attitude, there was slim chance of that happening. As I stubbed out the cigarette, a train whistle blew in the distance and I wondered what it would be like to be on that train. I always dreamed of going to New York, which was not that far away and becoming an artist or a dancer.
“Are you finished yet?” Her mother’s voice broke her reverie.
“I’m all done.” I yelled back.

Mother worked hard trying to support the family. She did housework for several people. She was usually tired when she came home and so she put me in charge of watching the kids and cleaning the house in her absence. I liked being in charge. I could boss my younger sisters around whenever I felt like it. They rebelled of course and there was many an argument. They were eleven  and nine at that time. They clashed loudly with me over who was “in charge”. “We’re going to tell mother,” was the usual refrain when I pushed too hard to make them do anything like their homework or make their beds.

The house we rented was a two bedroom over a shoemaker shop.  Myself and my older sister, shared one bedroom and my two younger girls shared the other. Mother slept on the couch downstairs.  She said she had to keep an eye on the coal stoves anyway, so they wouldn’t go out and then we would freeze in the winter. Of course we had to have the stoves going in the Summer also to do our cooking. Which made for a very warm house in the summer.

My older sister was sixteen and as the oldest had to quit high school to work and help support the family. As a result of her bringing money in, she became very independent. She assumed no duties at home and paid little or no attention to mother. The younger girls didn’t really remember their dad or if they did, it was just a fuzzy outline. Their lives consisted of going to school and playing with their friends.

My reverie was interrupted again when I heard my mother’s voice coming from the bottom of the stairs.
“Come on down girls, there’s someone here to see you”, mother said.

My sisters ran down the stairs giggling to see who it was but for some reason I hung back. I had a strange feeling come over me. I really didn’t want to come down and see who was there.  I heard men’s voices that I did not recognize. So I stayed in my room until Mother finally came up and insisted that I come down and meet the visitors.

To be continued.

THE RETURN

Paddy Glennon circa 1943Word Press/Shaping Your Story

Week Two

Intros and Hooks

I had not seen my father in years.  In fact, I really did not care if I ever saw him again.  He left so long ago I barely remembered what he looked like.  So the day he returned was more of a shock, than a surprise.

When I came home from school that day, the family was all excited about something.  Mother, who was usually in an old house dress, was in her Sunday best. She had on one of her two good dresses. This one had big pink roses splashed on a field of black. It was my favorite. My mother was a good-looking woman and since dad had left us, she had started dating again.

So when mother asked me to go upstairs and make the beds, I did not jump to do it.
“What’s with the cleaning”? I asked.  I was told more than once, that I had a smart mouth.  I never knew quite how to take that, whether I should be insulted or complimented.   But mother seemed worried about getting the house cleaned and right away.  It was not like her to be so concerned about the cleaning.  Her usual attitude about it  was, ‘It will get done when it gets done’, and it always got done.

“It is a surprise, will you please do what I asked?”  Mother’s voice was getting a bit shrill.
“Ok,  ok, but I don’t know what all the mystery is about.  Is someone important coming”?   I decided to go and do as she asked before she got mad and started yelling.  When she started yelling, it never ended good.

I ran upstairs and started making beds.  My two younger sisters were in their  bedroom giggling and they were not doing any cleaning. But then they never did any of the cleaning anyway.  I hoped maybe they could shed a little light on the situation but when I asked them, they just ignored me and kept on giggling. What can you expect from kids, I thought. I was fourteen and as second oldest in the family thought I was in control of things. I was blond and blue-eyed and rather scrawny yet the boys were beginning to notice me. My mother encouraged me in my independence, because she needed me to help at home while she was working.  Since Dad had left us high and dry when I was seven, with no money to speak of; mom needed every penny she could get to raise her four girls.

I finished making the beds and as I entered my room, which I shared with my older sister, the smell of Summer drifted in through the window. The lace curtains fluttered lazily on the warm breeze as I flopped on the bed and lit a cigarette that I had swiped from  Mother’s purse earlier.  She did let me light hers for her once in a while so I thought  it was okay to have one  once in a while.  I went off into a world of my own and saw  myself as a dancer. Myself and Gene Kelly, who was my favorite movie star then, swayed back and forth to the music and as we swung out and came together, I was lost in the moment.

I seemed to be day-dreaming  more and more lately.  It was a way to close out the real world and go to my own special place. Ever since dad had deserted us, there never was enough money,  but now things were beginning to get better with myself and my older sister working.  Dad had refused to send home any money to help support us from his Army allotment.  So the decision was taken out of his hands and the Army sent money to us anyway.  Yes, dad was a real nice guy.

Dad was drafted even though he was over forty because he was a deserter of his family and the Army needed all the men they could get. The second World War was in full progress at this time and that’s all that we  heard about on the radio. The war!  Rationing, black-outs, not enough sugar butter or gas. The sugar was what concerned me the most, I loved making candy, one thing dad had taught me.   Fudge with peanut butter was my favorite.

Whenever mother spoke of dad her voice was bitter and I learned to despise his memory even though I didn’t remember him all that much. Mother managed to fill in the blanks with, “We wouldn’t be in this shack with hardly enough to eat if he were any good.”  She called him “Mr. Rat” most of the time.  And he managed to live up to that name.

I often wondered if dad would come back and how she would feel if it ever came to that. I  knew however, with mother’s attitude, there was slim chance of that happening. As I stubbed out the cigarette, a train whistle blew in the distance and I wondered what it would be like to be on that train. I always dreamed of going to New York, which was not that far away and becoming an artist or a dancer.
“Are you finished yet?” Her mother’s voice broke her reverie.
“I’m all done.” I yelled back.

Mother worked hard trying to support the family. She did housework for several people. She was usually tired when she came home and so she put me in charge of watching the kids and cleaning the house in her absence. I liked being in charge. I could boss my younger sisters around whenever I felt like it. They rebelled of course and there was many an argument. They were eleven  and nine at that time. They clashed loudly with me over who was “in charge”. “We’re going to tell mother,” was the usual refrain when I pushed too hard to make them do anything like their homework or make their beds.

The house we rented was a two bedroom over a shoemaker shop.  Myself and my older sister, shared one bedroom and my two younger girls shared the other. Mother slept on the couch downstairs.  She said she had to keep an eye on the coal stoves anyway, so they wouldn’t go out and then we would freeze in the winter. Of course we had to have the stoves going in the Summer also to do our cooking. Which made for a very warm house in the summer.

My older sister was sixteen and as the oldest had to quit high school to work and help support the family. As a result of her bringing money in, she became very independent. She assumed no duties at home and paid little or no attention to mother. The younger girls didn’t really remember their dad or if they did, it was just a fuzzy outline. Their lives consisted of going to school and playing with their friends.

I had a part-time job at a soda fountain not far from home in the summer when school was off. My mother knew the owners and helped me get the job.  I loved the job because I could meet different guys usually older than me, some of them were in the service and looked good in their uniforms.  I  was able to eat ice cream sundaes, cokes and burgers and made money besides. I made enough money to buy my clothes for school and even give some to my mother.  So between working at home and my part time job, I was kept quite busy.

My reverie was interrupted again when I heard my mother’s voice coming from the bottom of the stairs.
“Come on down girls, there’s someone here to see you”, mother said.

My sisters ran down the stairs giggling to see who it was but for some reason I hung back. I had a strange feeling come over me. I really didn’t want to come down and see who was there.  I heard men’s voices that I did not recognize. So I stayed in my room until Mother finally came up and insisted that I come down and meet the visitors.

To be continued.

MY MOTHER’S STORIES

 

My sister and I
My sister and I

Over the years as I was growing up and even as an adult, my mother was a great story-teller.  She also had some interesting, witty but profound sayings that have stayed with me even now.

I remember when I was in high school, my girlfriends would like to come to my house to hear mother tell her stories.  Sometimes I had to drag them away because they were so engaged with mother’s stories.

Her favorite stories usually included eerie, ghost-like entities appearing to people and scaring the “bejasus” out of her listeners.  My sisters and I always thought that she embellished these stories to make them more interesting.  But she would never admit to doing that.

One story I remember well was of a friend, who was driving past a cemetery late at night.  All of a sudden a woman appeared in front of his car waving her arms.  She was wearing a white dress which billowed around her.  She had long stringy, white hair and seemed to be in trouble.  So of course he stopped the car and let the woman into the front seat with him.  She was crying and she told him she had a message for him.  He started the car and turned to her but as she  started to speak, suddenly she vanished!  His hair at this point was standing on end!  The car was moving but she wasn’t there.  He thought he must be hallucinating  as he stopped the car to collect himself.   His attention was drawn to the cemetery as he saw the woman again walking among the graves as though looking for one in particular.  He decided it would be best if he just went home after that.

My sisters and I never knew whether to believe her because she had so many stories that involved the dead appearing to people and warning them about something or giving them messages.  But our girlfriends would always sit with rapt attention begging for more.  Then they would be afraid to walk home in the dark.

Later she was to keep my  kids engrossed with her stories, when they were old enough to understand.  My mother’s mother came from Ireland and I am sure that she and her sisters were brought up with story telling both real and imagined.

I wish now that I had recorded her stories for posterity.  It would be wonderful to hear her voice again, especially telling her stories.

WHY DO I WRITE?

 

Lady
Lady

This is for the prompt for Writing 101 Commons, which is:  Why do I write?

I write because I feel better when I am writing and I could most times go on and on forever once I get started.  Of course there is that time when the blank page just stares at me in all its whiteness and dares me to put a word down!

I have developed a habit of doing what is called Morning Notes.  It is an idea from a book called, “The Artist’s Way.”  I purchased the book many years ago.  And while I do not follow all the instructions in the book, which are many and interesting, I have continued (mostly) on a regular basis with the ‘morning notes.’

You are supposed to free write first thing in the morning which I do with a cup of tea nearby which seems to help the writing process.  Mostly green tea.  It seems your mind is more open after just awakening and the thoughts flow more easily.  I have found this to be true because I have tried to do the notes in the afternoon and the writings do not flow as easily.  So even though I am not a morning person, I strive to do my writing in the morning.

It seems I get all the garbage out first, mostly what I had been worrying about the day before either heavy or minute details that bog us all down.  Once that’s out-of-the-way, I find myself actually writing creatively and I have mined quite a few ideas for stories.  In fact I have begun some stories, that I would go on to complete and then blog about.

Guess I have not answered why I write after all but let me just say, I write because I feel much better both while writing and after finishing writing.  Even if I do not get any ideas for a story or a story itself, I enjoy the actual writing process.  I have recently started setting the clock for one hour and I write non- stop for that hour, sometimes with my cat, Lady, sleeping on my lap.  I have to admit that I do not get around to writing every day, although I strive to do so.

Once I start writing, I have found that I am loath to stop even after the hour is up and I found myself writing for an extra half hour yesterday, finishing a story I started halfway before the hour was up.  Not sure I will be publishing the story, at least in its present form but I do have that option, to publish or not, as some of my writing is strictly for myself.  As I am sure we can all relate.

A few of the things I will be doing on my Blog this month!

It’s February 2nd and Pax Phil, couldn’t spell that name to save my soul, has seen his shadow so that means we or they have six more months of Winter! I don’t think that applies to us here in California with mostly good to great weather, except for those pesky earthquakes and monsoonal rains where those mudslides start our houses moving ya know. And the fires in the Fall which have extended into almost any time of the year. And oh yeah, the El Nino is upon us now but so far so good. So other than that, we have beautiful weather if you can stand the suspense.

But I digress, I was going to give all my Followers out there and whomever else is interested, an idea of what I will be blogging about for the next month or so. I will be telling stories both short and long, but not everyday as I had been doing, but once or maybe twice a week. Also, I have joined up with a Reading Group and will be reading at least six books, probably more for 2015 and then blogging about them. So that should be interesting especially given the fact that we have to pick an author from a different continent for each book. So good luck to me on that eh?

Then thirdly, I will be posting some photos I have and will be taking over the next months. You may see my two cats in there in several of their many poses, mostly sleeping or napping since that’s mostly what they do. Hoping I am not doing too much but we will soon see. I promise to keep it interesting for all of you out there who may be interested. Any Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

A One Time Blogging Event – 2015

Cultivate for Illo FridayToday’s lesson/challenge from Blogging 101 is to choose one Blog Event from the Community Event Listings. I chose a One Time Event called Around the World Reading Event Challenge.

You have to read at least six books in 2015. The author has to be one from every Continent and then do a blog about each of the books. I am interested and excited to be joining a community of like-minded people who love to read. I love to read and could not even remember the number of books I have read over the years. I mostly get my books from the library or the Friends of the Library Bookstore in the library. Otherwise I could not afford all the books.

Remembering the stories, titles and authors is something else again. Unless I have read the book more than once (sometimes I do this) or for some reason the book has made a lasting impression on me, I will not remember the book. I think joining this community and then blogging about the book will help me remember the stories. It is nice to be able to discuss the book with friends if they are interested.

So I am happy and looking forward to this challenge. Happy reading everyone!

Day 14 of NaBloPoMo/My Aunt Anna (cont.)

Anna and MarionWhen Anna came alone to visit, she usually gave my Mother a lot of advice about how to run her life and raise her family.  After she left one day, my Mother groaned and said, “I am so sick of listening to her give me advice.  I wish she would not come so often.”  So being an outspoken ten year old, one day when Anna was at our house and started to give advice to my Mother, I piped up with, “Why don’t you mind your own business and not come over so often?”

Well, Anna was incensed!  She slowly raised her arm, which had an umbrella at the end of it, and approached me.  Her eyes ablaze, her nostrils flaring!  I ducked behind my Mother.  My Mother grabbed Anna’s hand and took the umbrella and asked her to leave.  That was a close call for me and one of the many times my Mother would save me from God knows what!  Anna was insulted and huffed out the door then.  Needless to say, we did not see Anna for awhile after that.  I guess the story became legend in the family as my Uncle John said to me one day when he was visiting, “I heard you told your Aunt Anna off the other day.”  He had a sly grin on his face.

Anna couldn’t stay away too long though, as she loved my Mother’s cooking and she loved to eat.  Months later when she was over for dinner, the main course being pork chops, one of her favorites.  And they of course, had a wonderful aroma especially with onions the way my Mother cooked them.   Anna wasn’t exactly a quiet eater.  So she was going at the chops very noisily and obviously enjoying herself.

When all of a sudden a scream escaped her throat!  Our little kitten had latched onto Anna’s greasy hand and was licking it, the smell of the pork being too much for him to handle.  Anna had put her hand down without wiping the grease off it.  So still screaming and in order to get the cat off,  she shook her hand and the kitten went flying!  The kitten still howling ran outside and confusion reigned for awhile.   Anna had a few scratches on her hand and she was moaning and groaning until Mother put a clean plate in front of her.  Things did settle down after a bit and we all went back to our dinner.  The kitten was okay though, just a little scared but he avoided Anna after that time.

To be continued.

A Friend on a Desert Island Tra La

 

Actually, I would choose my daughter to be on a desert island.  Not that I would like her to be there of course but in theory.  I think first and foremost she would need a Starbucks, as she cannot function without her dry, short cappuccino.  If no one else was there, I am sure she could make her own drinks.

Next would be a supply of note books and pens mostly to sketch her little creatures she does a marvelous job with.  In fact, she has made a business out of this which is very profitable.  The next thing would be a supply of reading material, books of all kind to keep her entertained.  Of course a computer and a TV would be essential for watching movies and to keep her business going.  She is an Illustrator and one cannot do that without a computer!

A water purifier would be essential and to make the coffee, and a latte mug would also be nice.  The Starbucks of course would have most of the essentials such as food, goodies etc.

I think that about wraps it up.

GROWING UP

I was 11 years old when World War II started on December 7, 1941.  The Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor!  President Roosevelt in a talk to the people declared that a “state of war now existed between the United Stated and the Empire of Japan.”  Or words to that effect.  I was appalled even though I didn’t know where Japan was at the time.  What I also did not know at that time was how dire it was going to be for this country and the world.  The things that would affect me most were going to be the shortages of things like butter, sugar and gasoline.  And the rationing that was in store for the American people not to mention the loss of life that touched almost every family.

President Roosevelt was my hero in those days not the least of which was that he had instituted Welfare.  It literally saved me and my family from starving both during the Depression and after as I am sure it did for a significant amount of people in this country.

My family had been listening to the President’s ‘Fireside Chats” over the years he was in office.  And of course he was the only president I knew since he was the only president elected for four terms.

It was just my Mother and us four girls as my loser Father had left us once again and had gone to live with his Mother.

To be continued.

Day 14 of NaBloPoMo/My Aunt Anna (cont.)

Anna and MarionWhen Anna came alone to visit, she usually gave my Mother a lot of advice about how to run her life and raise her family.  After she left one day, my Mother groaned and said, “I am so sick of listening to her give me advice.  I wish she would not come so often.”  So being an outspoken ten year old, one day when Anna was at our house and started to give advice to my Mother, I piped up with, “Why don’t you mind your own business and not come over so often?”

Well, Anna was incensed!  She slowly raised her arm, which had an umbrella at the end of it, and approached me.  Her eyes ablaze, her nostrils flaring!  I ducked behind my Mother.  My Mother grabbed Anna’s hand and took the umbrella and asked her to leave.  She was insulted and huffed out the door.  Needless to say, we did not see Anna for awhile after that.  I guess the story became legend in the family as my Uncle John said to me one day when he was visiting, “I heard you told your Aunt Anna off the other day.  He had a sly grin on his face.

Anna couldn’t stay away too long though, as she loved my Mother’s cooking and she loved to eat.  So one day when she was over for dinner, the main course was pork chops.  One of her favorites.  And they of course, had a wonderful aroma.   Anna wasn’t exactly a quiet eater.  So she was going at the chops very noisily and obviously enjoying herself.

When all of a sudden a scream escaped her throat!  Our little kitten had latched onto Anna’s greasy hand and was licking it, the smell of the pork being too much for him to handle.  Anna had put her hand down without wiping the grease off it.  So still screaming and in order to get the cat off,  she shook her hand and the kitten went flying!  The kitten still howling ran outside and confusion reigned for awhile.  Things did settle down after a bit and we all went back to our dinner.  The kitten was okay though, just a little scared but he avoided Anna after that time.  She got the worst of the battle, with several scratches.

To be continued.