Obama got Osama

So President Obama’s popularity points have skyrocketed. I haven’t seen any polls. I have not paper proof, but I imagine this is true, because Osama Bin Laden has been killed.


The first things I noticed in the news reel was that Osama’s body was taken, presumably by the navy seals that shot him, and buried at sea in accordance with Islamic beliefs.


That was at 8:30 this morning I saw the news reel on the television screen. I was elated that Osama had met his demise. He’s got some ‘splainin’  to do before his maker. I don’t think he’ll come out very well there.

So at 6:30 tonight there is little mention of the whole burial at sea “thing.” The talking heads are going on about the outstanding operation by the naval seals (good job, guys!), the lack of intelligence from Pakistan, and the subtle (NOT) bravado from President Obama about his role in Osama’s killing.

What about the burial at sea?

Two questions:

First. Why would we shoot America’s Public Enemy #1 in a dusty house in the middle of Pakistan and then give him a reverent burial at sea???

Second. Who knew that burial at sea was a Muslim ritual? Wasn’t Islam founded in the middle of the desert?

When in Doubt, Hit it With a Hammer

This week, I came close to hitting something I shouldn’t have with a hammer. Let’s just say for the record, we have all survived. And for the other record, I AM NOT a violent person. Do not read the last post. This has nothing to do with killing turkeys, renovators need not apply.

So the inevitable day of the big move to another house looms. The movers are arriving on the day that I am scheduled to be at a writing conference wooing two agents and two editors.

There is no stress like home renovation stress.

Thankfully, I have the dog going for a spa weekend.

I’m taking a moment between piling things into boxes,  to create a couple of pages of “blurb” for both my completed novels. One down and one to go.

In the middle of that I decided to add a few before and after photos of some of the renovation work to the blog to keep it new. The awful yellow color before I changed it to the pale gray-blue.

The bathroom where I tore out the 1995 sink and added a pedestal sink that matches the original 1905 tub. The tub has been re-enameled so they really do match. Also added a chandelier over the tub for a little “wow” factor. You can see this in the yellow picture. This renovated bit is in the Victorian cottage. We are putting it on the market in a few days.

What about the hammer? I had to make supply runs to Home Depot so that none of the workers (at the arts & crafts renovation) could take any time away from their finish work. Yes, those knobs were in the budget! Errrrr.

In all this last minute work (staining floors and adding doorknobs), no one had called anyone to come get the old 1970’s satellite dish out of the back yard. About twenty feet off the ground and about five feet across, the eyesore was a little more than I could tear apart. So I enticed my son and one of his friends to come over and knock it down by telling them that they could probably get some money for it at the scrap yard. I gathered up what I could find that workers had left, aluminum cans, pieces of pipe, and three bags of insulated wire. By the time they had sheared the satellite dish off the pole, torn the pole from the ground, and cut it all up into manageable pieces, the scrap yard had closed. They wouldn’t accept a dinner invitation for their trouble but did take a little money for their gas. It was satisfying to see that ugly thing take a serious beating.

I am very, very thankful, Son!

So the hammer didn’t come into play, at least at my hands. Though I did knock some things from the top of the dryer when I slammed the door.

To Suffer the Slings and Arrows

Group of turkeys
Image via Wikipedia

Recently I was asked to attend the execution of a turkey.

They are my brother’s turkeys. Or perhaps I should say – they are my brother’s dinners. He has several animals on his farm. He raises AKC Siberian Huskies. He has a pet goat (B-Black). He has a sheep. (That feels awkward to think of a single sheep as a sheep.) He has a pet chicken (Miss Chick-chick). He has several other chickens slated to be dinners at some point. (Miss Chick-chick is safe.) He has ducks. He plans to get several sheep and raise little muttons, I mean lambs.

He says of all the animals he has there is nothing dumber than a turkey. Apparently, the turkeys are dumber than the chickens. Doesn’t that say it all? I mean, when you think of a pea-brain, think chicken.

When I mentioned the death of the turkey at a dinner party a few days later, (I did not go into graphic detail. I remembered my manners in the nick of time.) my friend mentioned that she’d been reading a book that speaks about how we should all be like turkeys. The book was about the known unknowable and the unknown unknowable. The fact that for 365 days or more the turkey wakes up with the sun shining and the feeder person coming with the feed. Happy. Then one day the feeder person comes, grabs the turkey up and bam! The end. The turkey never saw it coming.

We all know we can’t KNOW what will happen in the next second, or day, or week, etc. Thus, the known unknowable. But no one actually expects the turkey feeder man to grab one up and bam!

No one sees that coming. No one.

We all expect to die at some point. We don’t plan death necessarily but we know it is inevitable. It is the knowable unknown. Then there is the unknowable unknown. Take what happened to my father for example. His parents lived into their eighties and nineties and died of heart related deaths. We all expected my father to keep on ticking along. I noticed he wasn’t his usually upbeat self around October. At Thanksgiving he wasn’t eating well, which was huge. He loved to eat. The day I took him to a doctor’s appointment a few days after Thanksgiving, I really took a good look at him. The whites of his eyes were yellow. That day the doctors were almost a hundred percent sure that he had pancreatic cancer. The diagnosis was confirmed with an MRI. He died twenty-one days later. No one in the family had ever had cancer. Bam!

I went to visit my friend Shirley today. She has mesothelioma. She has never knowingly been around asbestos. She has always been a very careful person about her own health. This was a shocking diagnosis. When diagnosed, the doctors gave her seven weeks. It has been six months. We continue to pray that she remains as upbeat as she is. Even in this terrible time of her life, visiting her is an uplifting experience. She is an example of a person who has lived under God’s umbrella of love and protection. She is assured that death is not a frightening thing. When I’m around her she is more likely to be concerned about what is going on in my life than worrying with what is going on in hers. That is amazing.

She is happy.

Hers isn’t a happiness that the book is referencing. She isn’t a turkey. She is all too aware of what will happen to her. She isn’t living in La-La land thinking she will be miraculously healed, although it isn’t out of the range of possibility. It would be a miracle if the cancer disappears. She has gone through the mourning process. All the stages of grief. At first she denied the possibility of mesothelioma – telling her doctors they had made a mistake. Then later, she was angry. Later still, she  cried.

Now, the only time she cries is when she wonders how her husband of fifty years will do without her. He can barely boil an egg.

For now, she is teaching him to cook.

Crossing the Line

An enlargeable topographic map of Mexico
Image via Wikipedia

Maria is  someone I have known for many years. When first we met she told me she wanted to learn English better so she could get a good job. I was thrilled to help out. We’ve been friends for about fifteen years. Eventually she met more of my family members including my mother, and I’ve met all of her immediate family.

My mother loves her. So we invited her to work for my mother as her aide. And that’s when we discovered that Maria doesn’t have a social security card. I was puzzled at first. What did that mean? It couldn’t be that she was an illegal alien, surely.

Maria and her husband have been in the United States for over twenty years. Maria has ten brothers and sisters. All of them live in the US. Her parents live in a mountainous region of Mexico, in a village with a name I can’t remember because I can’t pronounce it. Their children recently sent them a computer so they are able to feel more acutely linked to their children and grandchildren.

Maria and her siblings haven’t been to visit their parents in years because of the violence.

There is a terrible civil war going on in Mexico and it doesn’t get much press. They recently found twelve people beheaded in Acapulco, a favorite resort on the pacific coast of southern Mexico. Five women who worked in a beauty parlor were the most recent victims. That should be enough to slow the tourist trade, but it won’t be because this news won’t travel past north Texas. The line is drawn in the sand somewhere along the Rio Grande and not much news on these terrible gun, knife, machete killings gets past it.

It isn’t the only news that won’t travel far. There are wild fires burning from West Texas to Magnolia, just north of Houston. People are losing their homes. But it won’t be big news outside of Texas. I guess our Texas Independent streak comes around to bite us in the behind every once in a while.

Not only are there beheading in Acapulco. There were 64 bodies found just south of our Texas border. These were not just Mexican nationals but some tourists as well. If it weren’t for those tourists, I wonder if we would have heard about it. This is huge. For over fifteen years, there has been a serial killer or killers in Mexico, and this doesn’t get any press. This person or persons preys on young girls along the Texas, Mexico border. Their bodies are found in shallow graves in obscure ranch country, usually on the Mexican side. There’s lots of wide open spaces along there. And there isn’t enough press about it. The warning isn’t out. Girls continue to disappear. And now with the drug wars raging, who knows what or who is involved. Because it isn’t just the young prostitutes now, but entire families who are being murdered.

It’s a regular killing field.

There are revenge killings, and revenge for revenge killings. There is no end in sight. The president of Mexico vows to crack down on the drug lords and the drug lords vow to never stop the murders. Diplomats, US drug agents, city officials, police officials, their families, and so on and on. In Mexico, no one is safe. If you have money, you are not safe. If you do not have money, you are not safe.

When I discovered that my friend Maria was an illegal alien, I offered to sponsor her process to become an American citizen. That was what she wanted, more than anything, to become an American. So I went to an immigration lawyer. I asked what steps I needed to take to help my friend.



“There is nothing you can do,” he told me.

“I can pay for her papers.”

“No. There are three steps in becoming an American citizen. You can pay for steps one and two. But the law is firm. You can not proceed to step three. Don’t waste your money.”

“But she’s been here a long time. She’s never even gotten a ticket.”

“There is nothing you can do.”

“Is there anything she can do?” I asked.


Nothing. Nada. She can not become an American, which she wants to be very much. She wants to pay taxes. She wants to provide a better life for her three children. And she can’t. She can’t go back to Mexico, even to visit her parents. And she can’t become an American citizen.

Where did we cross the line from picking and choosing who gets to be an American? We offer visas to foreigners who would rather blow us up than to ever become productive hard-working citizens. But our wonderful Mexican neighbors who would rather work for sixty dollars a day constructing a roof here, than sit in a card-board hovel begging for pesos in a blood-spattered border town, can’t become Americans. We can’t even pay to make them citizens.


Something is wrong with that.

My Biggest Boy

A few years ago I would have fallen into the “cat person” category. My children would often remind me that if it hadn’t been for the fact that “Daddy” was allergic to them I would probably have ended up on the animal planet’s “Hoarders” series. The crazy cat lady, uh… yes, that would be me. As it is, with allergic husband and all – we have three.

Growing up with three brothers my family always had variety of species dwelling on the property: in garbage cans (hognose snakes – and boy, was mother shocked when she went to throw the trash in), in cans (toads for the hognose snakes to eat), in jars (lightning bugs don’t live long in jars – in case you wondered), in hutches (about 48 hamsters at a time), in the dog house (between 7 and 13 cats at a time – they took over the dog’s house), in the pond (goldfish until the catfish ate them, but that’s another post), in homemade cages (for the praying mantis or surviving caught mice), in aquariums (about 10 of them for the budding tropical fishery), and on the side porch(dogs – usually three at a time).

Don’t think I wasn’t in the middle of all of it. I handle snakes. Have a snake question? Ask me. Insects? Expert. I adore frogs – the cool green ones. Not so fond of toads. In my mind the jury is still out on whether those bumps give you warts. AND when you pick up a toad it PEES on you! And its pee probably gives you warts also.

I suppose you can tell I had a problem with warts as a kid.

I was always involved with the animals. We grew up out in the country. Apart from my brothers, I wasn’t allowed friends at my house so the animals were my companions. I would even sneak out at night to sleep in the dog house with the cats. Warm kittens curled up and purring on your chest – there’s nothing like it. Is that weird? Probably.

But dogs? Couldn’t stand them. My brothers loved them. My brothers smelled like the dogs, i.e. don’t like either of them. (Okay – for the record, I love my brothers now, but this was then and now is now.)

I grew up and discovered I liked boys. I even married one. Although he is allergic to cats and initially I gave up a cat to marry my husband. He has been suffering ever since because we have cats. Heh. Heh. Though it is my theory that if you live with an animal long enough you become immune to that animal. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Apparently the cat’s saliva is particular to the cat and humans can build up a resistance. This proves my husband’s undying love as he has put up with and grown immune to our many fuzzy felines for all these thirty years.

Baby number one was a boy. I don’t know why it is that there’s this floating cultural idea that boys need a dog but I believed that my son needed a dog. We went to the shelter and the first puppy I saw was too adorable to turn down. Part German Shepherd and part Lhasa-Apse (I don’t know how either), Grover looked like Benji, but turned out to be the dog from hell. He tore off the siding of the house, the tile from the bathroom floor, ate through a storm door, and made life-changing messes on the carpet. I had him very well-trained. Only he was so smart he would watch to see when I wasn’t looking.

We gave him to a good home.

Years later one of our beloved cats went missing. I visited all the pounds. No Ajax. But, I phoned my husband, “Hey! I found a chihuahua that looks just like the cat.” “NO DOGS!” said my husband. I went home and pouted and whined. Poor puppy. Poor, poor little puppy – in that cold, cruel pound. “OKAY!” said my husband. “BUT IT WILL BE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!”

Fourteen years later we had to put that precious pound puppy down and it was horrible. Yes, Skittles was the husband’s lap puppy for all those years.

Our wonderful Big Boy is a delight. All 80 pounds of him. Yes, the shelter people said he wouldn’t get any larger than 45 pounds. They lied! I could tell from his baby photos that his hooves declared him to be a future monster. We live in a big city. And he has a monster-dog bark.

I’m so glad we have him.

Last night was a little on the coolish side. Big Boy was shoved up against me in the bed, a snoring heater of a dog. Warm dogs smell like a combination of warm buttered popcorn and canned peas, have you ever noticed?

It’s the best scent in the world.

The Artful Dodger

There is no place like home. My home at this moment is no place to work on art projects right now. It is the art project.  The yellow bathroom is still yellow. I’ve got the paint for it and hope I can start the transformation tomorrow. The person I would hire to do the job – and he is such an expert he would be finished in an hour or so – is taking some time off because his father just passed away. So I keep thinking I will just open the can of paint and begin.

The most daunting part of any project is the beginning. The act of opening up the can of paint, ripping open the box of window blinds, or taking the electric saw out of the shed feels like slogging through deep mud. Suddenly all the other undone or unfinished projects silently scream for attention. I still haven’t finished mending the shelf in the kitchen. I haven’t painted over the daubs of putty I put on the siding months ago. I haven’t replaced the cracked board on the deck.

At the same time I think of other projects waiting for me. My art projects. They are in careful packets or thick files, or even stacked in my art room under the boxed ceiling fan. I continue to take photos of careful compositions that would translate into artwork eventually. My files have become volumes on the computer’s photo organizer.

Art is not difficult for me. It excites me. Sometimes there is nothing I would rather do in the world than draw or paint a picture. Some pictures take many hours, some don’t take long at all. I do not stop until I know that it is done. I can’t explain how I know a picture is done. I just know when it is. Sometimes I have to do pictures over and over again because they aren’t what I saw in the beginning, in my mind. Art is visual for me and so the picture comes to mind and then I create it. Although my art is often very tactile, even using my hands to push the paint around on the canvas, I use many techniques and resources to produce the picture that I visualized.

At this moment in time my artful pursuits have taken on a larger canvas – the house(s). I’ve reached back in time on the arts and crafts home to try to visualize what the house looked like in 1910. My smaller canvasses sit quietly on their easel. It isn’t that I couldn’t reach the paint wherever it is. I could do it. It wouldn’t be that difficult. But the larger project has taken me out for a while. I feel guilty though. I feel as if I’m betraying my little pastels and colored pencils.

I wonder if I’m delaying the great projects for the good ones. I read a book long ago about the “urgent” and the “important”. There is a fine distinction because in the midst of busy-ness making a clear decision between what is truly important within all the terribly urgent – makes all the difference.

Expected Changes

My blog posts haven’t been regular with all the major changes going on in our family. We expect to move from our  one hundred year old Victorian cottage to our newest project – a one hundred year old Arts and Crafts house that we’ve been renovating.

My art room is overrun with boxes of light fixtures.

Sometimes things don’t go as expected. Sure there are some bumps in the road to a renovated house. For instance, the builder installed the kitchen sink under a window as planned but off-center, which was not planned. The entire cabinet layout had to be ripped out and re-installed to get it right. There are unfinished projects in the cottage where we live. I switched out an outdated bathroom sink and installed a pedestal sink. Perfect! Then painted the bathroom yellow. Not so perfect! With the new light fixtures installed the yellow hurts my eyes. Thankfully it is just paint. Unlike the new drawer pulls in the new old house kitchen which are not placed correctly. This is something that can not be changed without replacing drawer fronts. And replacing drawer fronts mean re-ordering and re-ordering means delays in the work schedule and delays here mean delays in the move-in date. And on and on.

When my daughter graduated from university and then got a job in her field (science) we were very happy for her. And three weeks later she tearfully told us that she was expecting. Her boyfriend told her he had things to do for himself. When pressed for details he texted her that he “wanted out”.

What a jerk.

So moving away from home and getting an apartment with a girlfriend isn’t exactly an option. So we will adapt. We will make room, we will rearrange and celebrate this new expectation.

I’m going to be a grandmother.

That’s an excellent thing.

The Accent is Genuine

MTV interviewer Josh Horowitz (After Hours with Josh Horowitz) has some of the stars of the Harry Potter series repeat phrases with an American accent.   Of course I’m impressed. I can not speak with an English accent, although there is an English accent in my head. I’ve always loved anything English. To call myself an Anglophile does not begin to encompass my lifelong obsession.

It began in childhood. My mother was besotted with the Queen and everything English. Her grandmother was the third daughter of a titled landowner. With a child’s wide-eyed awe I listened to tales of my great-grandmother’s privileged childhood of having someone else do everything for her including brushing her hair (the ultimate luxury!) with tortoise-shell combs. And the stories didn’t stop there. She grew older and fell in love with a man who came from London, an indentured apprentice. They ran away together to America where they traveled by covered wagon to the wilds of Iowa. Their home included an “indian cabinet” a cupboard to hide in when the indians came to raid the pantry, though actually they were only after the pickles.

The truth lies somewhere in here. My great-grandmother was the third daughter of a titled land owner, who was actually a farmer. She probably did enjoy some luxury in comparison to others. The Orkney Islands of Scotland are cold a lot of the year. Relatives who still reside there must keep their sheep and cows in the barns for almost nine out of twelve months of the year.

My great-grandmother did fall in love with a man from London who was a plumber. She married and moved to America with her father’s blessing. And I imagine Iowa was still a little warmer than Scotland. I’ve seen the home they built. A three storied, multi-gabled Victorian. It may still be there in Mason City.

I know there is a lot more to the stories. The bit about the indians leaving one of their old people behind the fence where the body wasn’t discovered until the Spring thaw. The part about my great-grandfather’s family dying of influenza so he had to apprentice himself in order to pay debts and survive. I have a family history booklet created by some great-aunts and passed to the extended family where many of these stories are proved by eye witness accounts.

My mother’s family was from Scotland, but my father’s family was too. Does that make me doubly crazy about all things British? Yes.

I’ve immersed myself in British murder mysteries, classics, and television programming for over thirty years – or for as long as I can remember. If anyone could do an accent is should be me. In fact, after a car accident where I was knocked out, According to eye-witness accounts, I spoke in an English accent. They found it so amusing. Me? I don’t remember anything about it.

That’s why I say I think I have an English person residing in my head. I imagine this person sitting next to me wondering why I drive on the wrong side of the road. And asking what’s wrong with spotted dick pudding? But sadly I have not much accent. I can hardly do a “roight” right. Strange, really.

I used to have more of a Texas accent but can hardly remember much of it.  I still say Italian with a long ‘I’ as in ICE. Occasionally I add an ‘r’ to wash so it comes out ‘warsh’. And I add ‘fixin’ as a preface to what I’m about to do, as in “I’m fixin’ to throw my warsh at the IIItalians.” And that’s as genuine as it gets.

Write About Now

In high school I wrote my first “novel”. I sent the bits of typewritten onion skin off to a publisher. The largest publisher that I knew about, knowing nothing, was Zondervan. They published Bibles. They had to be huge.

I have kept the rejection letter. Rejected because it was too controversial.

That was in 1973. The story was my story about the year I went to an all black school. Now, if I rewrote that story, which I intend to do, it would be historical fiction. I don’t believe I would write it as a memoir. I think it would read better to put someone else on that stage. Someone else can ride on that bus across town, with the loony bus driver who insisted we girls take turns sitting on his lap as he drove.

As a child I have loved books. I dreamed of a future writing and illustrating children’s stories. My mixed media collage on the right is a girl reading in a tree-house. My father constructed a tree-house that stretched between two trees. I spent hours up there concocting stories which I would act out. My stories usually involved being chased by the bad guys or (for some strange Freudian reason) a gorilla.

I wrote and illustrated several stories before I discovered SCBWI where I learned more about the mechanics of picture books. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators provides tools to learn the craft of writing. They offer great advice about the publishing world, and provide conferences attended by other aspiring writers, published authors and illustrators, and acquiring editors.

I discovered a real joy in writing words on paper. I love writing. I love my words. All writers do, or they wouldn’t be writers.

What I soon discovered was that no matter how much I love my words – a lot of others do not. In order to write commercially, or for publication, one must craft a story. Sending out a first draft, or even a second draft, is not a good idea. Yes, enthusiasm sells. Poorly strung together bits of thought do not sell. Save the enthusiasm for the final draft. It is hard. Sometimes I’m so thrilled with my new “idea” that I am bursting to share it. That’s when I must “put the lid on the pot” so my idea doesn’t boil up all over the stove.

As most of you who have been following me here on WordPress or on Facebook know, my husband and I buy and sell houses. We love to buy old and renovate and sell. Well, at this point it is more like buy, renovate, and rent, but that is another story.

I would like to draw an analogy between selling a gorgeous property and selling a great manuscript (picture book or novel). Selling a property before it is perfect, is much the same as trying to sell a manuscript before it is as perfect as is possible to make it. (Though perfection is in the eye of the beholder in both cases. Yes, that is a cliché.) If you put your house on the market before the bathroom has been repainted or before the dog trail in front of the fence is re-sodded, then you risk those first lookers hating the yellow bathroom, and wondering what to do about the grassless trail in front of the fence. Those are unnecessary distractions.

By the same token if I send my manuscript out with two grammatical errors on the third page, the reader of that manuscript would toss it aside and send a post card rejection. Post card rejections have a little check mark next to the appropriate reason for rejection. Post card rejections are the ultimate rejection, right next to the rejection where you never hear anything. Ever.

When you lose your houses’ first lookers, you won’t get them back. If your manuscript is rejected by a publisher you can not send it back, even if your grammatical errors are corrected. For some reason known only to God that first reader at the publisher’s always remembers.

So no matter how enthusiastic one is about selling the gorgeous little doll house in the historic district or how enthusiastic one is about the adorable mouse story, stop! Wait. Learn patience. Learn to sit and get that manuscript right! Let it “cool off” and then re-read it. It is surprising what you see with a cold eye. Don’t use up all your publishers, don’t lose your opportunities. Polish. Polish. Polish. Get it critiqued by others who write in the same genre. Listen to their advice. It is okay if they find fault. Re-write. A gazillion times. Make your critique-folks glow with the same enthusiasm you have for your work.

Then and only then do your research on which publisher would most likely love your work. This is about writing now. Now is very different from 1973. Publishers are specific. They publish specific things, or at least a variety of specific things. Zondervan does not just publish Bibles, they have a massive range of things they publish. Match your work to work published by that company. It is unlikely if your research is thorough that you will get a postcard rejection. You may get rejected but there will be a handwritten note as to specifics. And that is all part of the learning curve. If you are like me – it still hurts. But I get up, dust off the rejection and keep on trying. You can’t stop me.

Mothers and Daughters and Daughters or Sons

Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana
Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I sat across from her hospital bed as she pushed her food around on her plate. I waited. This was some sort of ticking bomb situation here. And I wasn’t about to be the one to light it this time.

“There isn’t enough salt,” she said.

I said, “Aren’t you on a low-sodium diet?”

“Yes. But I’m supposed to be on a low-sodium and diabetic diet.”

I thought – well that explains everything, but I said, “that means less salt and less sugar, right?”

She pursed her lips like she does when she doesn’t want to talk about something. She pulled out a plastic baggie from a stack of baggies that I thought were designed to hold all her meds. This bag was full of salt packets, the kind you get at McDonald’s. She ripped them open one by one and dumped the contents on her food.

My children and husband watched this and then looked at me. I didn’t know what to say. She must have noticed. She took a bit at the tip of her spoon and shook her head. “Still isn’t enough flavor.” And then she pulled packets of sugar substitute and emptied them on her food.

“Mom”, I said, “that’s sugar substitute. It’s sweet”.

“I know. It helps”.

I asked her what her sugar was. She said – two sixty-five.

“Not so good, huh?”

She shrugged. She pushed the food around and then pulled the two bowls of fruit closer. “I tried to be zealous about my diabetes when they first discovered it. When my weight went down the doctors didn’t seem too concerned, so I thought worrying about it was stupid.”

“Mom, that was 1964. There are better medications these days.”

My husband leaned over and whispered, “You shouldn’t preach.”

That was several years ago. Today, as I watched my eighty-five year old mother getting her nails done I thought, despite all the prickly feelings between us all these years, she was the best mother she knew how to be. I wonder what my daughter will think of me when I’m eighty-five.

I wonder if I will get to be eighty-five.

My mother has survived terrible ups and downs with her blood-sugar, hundreds of mini-strokes and one major stroke. These days she gathers twelve to fifteen books from the library every three weeks and proceeds to read them, preferring like me to read her way through authors. She gets a hair permanent and her nails done at the salon every four months. She looks pretty darn good.

These feelings well up and I want to tell her what I’m thinking. Before I can she reaches out and pats my hand and tells me that she’s proud of me. And I wish I can take back all those times I was so smart. When I wasn’t.

Today was the day I told my mother that she would be a great-grandmother. Her eyes grew wide and she smiled and said, “I don’t know how I feel about that. I never thought I’d see the day.”

Yes, I know.

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