The Kite

my_house

I grew up in a small town in the heart of Cajun country of south Louisiana.  I was an only child on a sugar cane farm with an alcoholic father, a loving mother and a chaotic household.  My mother, a seventh grade drop-out, did everything she could to keep things normal for me and most likely for herself as well.  My father drank daily.  And yelled daily.  We lived in an old farm-house that we rented for twenty dollars a month. This is in the seventies mind you, not the early 1930s.  The house had no heating or cooling. The roaches pranced around like they owned the place while the rats danced in the attic. Often I heard them fighting. At times they would fall down the walls of my room.  Not exactly a place you wanted to invite friends.  My days were spent alone, in my own world.  I played with toy tractors and football by myself in the pasture. Our closest neighbors were an old and kind black couple. Behind my house were acres and acres of sugar cane fields.  They were my escape from the chaos of my home.  My favorite time of the year was spring. The cane had grown to three feet in height at this stage of their growth. That is just a bit shorter than I was at eight years old.  The winds would blow swiftly yet silently across the fields.  Often in the spring I would walk into the cane fields and fly my kite. The vast expanses of openness along with the spring winds were ideal for this activity.

One particular spring I purchased a baby blue paper kite from the local Ben Franklin. This was a departure from the more cool plastic bat kites of the time.  Owning a paper kite would surely bring ridicule at school had my classmates found out.  My father helped me construct the simple kite. Four light pieces of grooved wood and the paper itself was all that was needed for assembly. He added a long strip of a worn bed sheet, yellowish in color, as a tail. One spring Saturday morning in 1973, at age of nine, I was ready to launch my kite on its maiden voyage.

I left the house late that particular morning.  My mother had prepared a lunch for me and placed it in a small brown paper bag. In the bag was a ham sandwich with mayonnaise, a bag of lays chips and a cold Winn Dixie brand of grape soda.  Off I went across our pasture behind our house.  Over the ditch and into the cane field I marched till I found the perfect location. I was alone.  The wind blowing briskly across the tops of the sugar cane.  The long leaves made a slight hissing sound as they danced in the breeze.  Armed with two reels of kite string spun around an old broomstick handle, I flung my kite in the air.  Up it went into the sky, the breeze lifting it skyward. Quickly it reached the end of the string. There it flew above me, its tail waiving in the wind.  I pushed the broomstick handle into the ground to free my hands. I looked into the clear sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds, at my kite flying so majestically. It was simply beautiful.

I don’t remember the amount of time I spent in the field that day.  It felt like an eternity.  I spread my small body between two rows of sugar cane with my feet just barely touching the infant stalks of cane.  The ground below me was cool against my back.  It was slightly hard from the drizzle of rain the day before. The cool ground was a sharp contrast the warm sun shining  from above onto the front of my body.  I ate my lunch there, carefully placing the trash back into the bag.  My dog Flag visited me at one point.  I even napped.  All the time, my kite just flew above me. When the wind picked up I could hear the rustling against the paper. I felt so free. So at peace. I felt my house of chaos was a million miles away when in reality, it was only a few hundred yards south of me.

I remember that day vividly, even to this day.  The memory is a short film captured for my mind to play whenever I want to revisit. I can still feel the cold ground below me.  I can still hear the kite rustling in the breeze.  I remember the cold can of check soda, the outside of the can covered in beads of water caused by condensation.  When I want to relax I just hit the start button and play this moment in time.  It soothes me even these many years later. I often hope that when I pass on that I can revisit that day. Perhaps I can hover above that scene and see the happiness, if just for that day, in my eyes. It was for me, at that time, a heavenly day.  

It was the best day of my life. 

This was written for Yeah Write Week #99.

Do I know you?

Do I know you?

You were my father.

So many years ago

What do I know?

I know you enjoyed alcohol.

I know you liked outdoors.

I know you worked hard.

Those are superficial.

You never shared you deepest thoughts.

Those were washed away

by streams from cans and bottles

as swift as the mighty Mississippi.

You were my father.

Did you love?  Did you care?

Did you hope?  Did you dream?

Unanswered questions fill my thoughts

so many years later.

You left me a child.

Now this  man understands.

I didn’t just lose you to alcohol.

Alcohol never let me know you.

A Clown in the Room

I sat next to her bed on a cold winter morning.  She looks as beautiful as ever.  So peaceful in her sleep.  Like she can live thousands of years.  The stark reality is that I know she can’t.  She’ll be lucky to live hundred days.  As I sit and stare at my lovely wife the nurse walks in.  “Time for her medication Mr. Moseby.”  She awakens my wife, who looks over at me and smiles.  

“I brought you something Helen, ”  I said.  I stand up and walk over to the head of the bed.  She thanks the nurse after she swallows her last pill.  Then she turns to me with her beautiful eyes and smiles once again.  My heart pounds as she looks into me.  I feel my body overcome with emotion.  The way she looks at me.  She always did that to me.  Our eyes meet and there is no one else in the world but the two of us.

“Look what I brought.  This beautiful picture of us from before we were married”  I tell her.  I look at the picture briefly before I show her. Our bodies  are entangled together into one.  So elegant.  The emotion of the moment captured in one snap of that camera years ago.  When I look at that picture now I see the young us but with a reflection of the current us.  She is still as beautiful as the picture in my eyes.  Sure time has taken away so much from her.  But when I look into those eyes of hers it’s as if it was the first time.  My body tingles and my heart races with joy.  

I slowly hand her the picture.  She looks at it and smiles.  I see her face change.  She looks so loving at this moment.  A smile slowly comes upon her face and she reaches her fingers to the picture and runs it across our bodies trapped in time.  My whole body is tingling in anticipation of her comments.  She looks at that picture so lovingly.  I know she remembers that moment.  I can tell she feels the feeling we had when our bodies were woven together.  

She slowly puts the picture face down onto her chest.  Her smile goes away and her chest rises and slowly retreats downward.  Her eyes are affixed to a spot on the ceiling for a moment then she glances and says “I remember.”  She smiles and grabs the picture and hands it back to me.  “Why is there a clown sitting in the chair of my room?” she ask me.

The moment is gone.  I exhale loudly as my heart suddenly aches.  She is gone again.  Gone into her world of her mind.  A world that no longer includes the man and woman in the picture.  Gone to the world of Alzheimer’s.  I feel all alone.  

“The clown is not in your room dear.  Only in your mind.”  This will mean nothing to her.  Like that photo meant nothing.  Although for one brief second, I felt she remembered.  Then she was gone.  Back into a different world.  I know the reality.  It will never dismiss the pain.  

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This is fiction.  It was written for Picture it & Write

I urge people to join in, comment with your paragraph of fiction to accompany the image. It doesn’t have to follow my story or reflect the same themes. It can be a poem or in a different language (provide a translation please). Anyone who wants to join in, is welcome. This photograph will be reblogged under Ermisenda on tumblr and added to the Picture it & Write gallery on Facebook and Pintrest.

Mind of Shoo and The Shawshank Redemption

Ok, I am definitely not Rita Hayworth.  However, I have an affinity for the movie The Shawshank Redemption. It is my escape, my happy pill when I find myself wondering what is going on in the Mind of Shoo. I can’t explain why I enjoy the movie so much.  Nor can I explain why watching it really helps me out of the dark days life brings my way. Perhaps its the friendship between Andy and Red that makes me smile. Maybe it is how brilliant Andy was in fooling everyone during the years he carved his way out of prison. Maybe because the movie mirrors my life in the many ways:

The prison holds my mind. The large stone walls seemingly rising to the heavens. So many thoughts awaiting parole. Housed so long within the aging walls, often silent, always haunting me in the darkness of my cell.

I feel like Andy Dufresne. I am charged with a crime, which in my case is alcoholism. However I am innocent. I was not the alcoholic. But I am the one sentenced to life. Just for being part of dysfunctional upbringing. It is this upbringing that keeps me imprisoned. I, like Andy, have my moments of joy or feeling free. Like on the roof of the plate factory or listening to opera. I have my hobbies. They are numerous and varied.  I have my friends, everchanging over time.

Boggs and the sisters are the characteristics that Adult Children of Alcoholic Parents suffer. As we go through our everyday life, they are there watching my every move.  Waiting for the right moment to pounce. To take me against my will. Sometimes I fight them and win. Often I just give in. I am still waiting for Office Handley to rid me of these ugly character faults for good. To beat them to submission never to bother me again.

Speaking of Office Handley, I had him in the form of my father. His baton was alcohol. Using it to inflict damage both mentally or physically. Easily flying off the handle at the slightest issue. Often, he had no soul.

And I have time.  Time to slowly tunnel away through rock in an effort to be free.  To be free of the chaos that haunts me.  Time to manipulate the world around me so I am achieve a successful breakout of my own demons that have been holding me all these years.  Like Andy, I silently plan while I’m playfully outgoing and friendly.  Concerning.  Seeking knowledge.  Waiting for my day to crawl through the sewage of life and land safely on a beautiful beach.  Free from my past.  Forever. 

Finally, like Andy I have hope.  As he writes Red in the movie, “Hope is a good thing.  Maybe the best of things.  And no good things ever dies.”  I’m waiting for my Red.  Whoever that may be.  I’m patient, like Andy Dufresne.  And hopeful

Till we meet again.  Enjoy the movie.

Mind of Shoo

Relief

This post was written for Father Friday.  Click HERE to read about it.

It was a Tuesday morning, the last week of high school for me.  It was finals week.  Ah, how nice!  Done with school.  I parked on the one way side street as I did each day my senior year.   A group of us always parked here and talked before the bell rang for home room.  I headed to home room after the bell and sat at my regular seat.  My teacher, Mrs. Jones said “Ronald to go the counselors office and see Mr. Smith.  Take your books with you too please.”

Off I went for the walk across our open campus.  I crossed one street wondering if my transcripts were for some reason messed up.  “Am I going to graduate this week?” were my thoughts.  I walked into the office and the student aide said just go into Mr. Smith’s office.  Now he was a very nervous acting man.  I walked in and he stood up and said “I need to take you to the hospital, something happened to your father.” 

“I drove to school, I can take my car” I replied.  I thought nothing of it.  My dad had been hospitalized many times before for various reasons, many concerning his heart. 

“No, I must take you.  Leave your books here and don’t worry about finals.  I will take care of everything.”

That was my clue that something was not right.  I graduate in less than ten days, why would he say not to worry about finals.  We got into his car and headed off campus.  He said nothing.  My mind raced with different thoughts, but for some strange reason I knew.  As we pulled up in front of the entrance to the hospital,  Mr. Smith looked at me and said “everything at school will be taken care of.  I am sorry.”

I stepped out the car and walked towards the entrance to the visitors lobby of the hospital.  At the door was a classmates mom and nurse, Mrs. Russo.  I am from a small town in Cajun country of south Louisiana where you know most everyone in your town.  I have known Mrs. Russo all my life.  I walk up to her and she simply says “I am sorry Ronald” and hugged me.  I now see my mom sitting on the couch in the lobby with my Aunt Sydney beside her.  My dad’s youngest brother is there already. 

I don’t know how you are supposed to react in that moment. I know I acted differently that I thought I would. I thought about this moment often growing up.  I just knew I would throw myself on the ground, beating  it with my fists asking “Why?”.  I remember walking by his room some days while he napped and I would stop to make sure he was breathing. I did this the Saturday that had just passed. We were mowing the lawn when he stopped and said he didn’t feel good and needed to rest.  I mostly worried about him killing himself in a car accident after stopping at the bar after work, which was a regular occurrence.  My reaction was nothing I had thought about.  I just quietly walked to my mom and hugged her.  Then my aunt.  And my uncle.  There were no tears shed at that moment.  For me, mostly silence as other family members gathered in the lobby. My uncle took me into the hall of the hospital and talked to me about going to my house and chosing a suit for my dad.  As I stood talking to him the funeral home workers were wheeling my dad’s body down the hall in the opposite direction.  He then said he had to go break the news to my grandmother.  I returned to the lobby and was hugged by more family members.  Finally it was agreed that my mom would go to my aunt’s house and I would go to ours and chose a suit to take to the funeral home.  Off I went.

I had a friend bring me from the hospital to my car, which was still parked along the side street near school.  I don’t recall the conversation any longer if there even was one.  I got in my car and drove the five-miles to my home in the country.  I suppose it was being alone for the first time this morning that my mind started to wander.  Where it settled was a surprising place and one that is so very clear even to this very day.

Relief.

It was over.  I didn’t have to worry about being yelled at any longer.  I didn’t have to worry about what he would call my mom after a few drinks.  I didn’t have to worry about him being killed in a car accident.  I didn’t have to worry about his mood.  I didn’t have to worry.  It was like I was free.  I recall feeling a physical lightness to my body.  Relief.

Now that is not to say despite all he put me through I didn’t love him cause I did.  That is why I worried so much I suppose.  I don’t feel bad that my first real feeling was relief.  It’s not hard to tell people about my feelings at that moment.  I am sure it is very different from how otheres would feel upon learning of the death of their father.  For me, it is what it is and I make no apologies for it. 

Maybe some who will read this can relate to my feelings at that time.  I am sure many people will be horrified to read how I felt.  If you knew the truth, you to would have be relieved.

Till we meet again.  Good day.

Mind of Shoo