Reading and Remembering

I thought I’d review my experience of 2012 tonight and maybe list some wishes for 2013, but my mind took me to another place.  Earlier this evening I started a novel by Helen Garner, “The Spare Room,” and I started thinking about my son, John, , who died of colon cancer in February, 2001.   The book is about two friends, one of whom is dying of cancer.  But when I thought of John, Cancer wasn’t what I thought of.

I remembered an experience John had at a new middle school he attended after we moved to Connecticut from Indiana.  He was taken into a booth in the boy’s bathroom and beat up by a boy from a corrective institution.  The boy was there on some kind of grant from the government, I believe, a trial program for delinquent boys.  The boy took John’s watch, gave him a black eye, a busted lip and a messed up face.  John was borderline autistic, a mild mannered, gentle soul who was trusting.  Even though the other boy had no marks or injuries, the incident was treated as a “scuffle between boys.”

Even though John was hurting physically, he was mostly injured emotionally.  He drew into himself, stayed up late at night teaching himself to play the guitar, picking out soft, haunting tunes.  He checked a book out of the library called “Violence in America.”   It broke my heart.

I was so angry, I took him to the principal’s office and insisted the principal explain to him why nothing was being done about the boy who hurt him.  I don’t remember the explanation, but it was lame.  It was obvious that something political was going on.  I took John to the head of the education board,  Again, sympathy, but no help.  I called the local newspaper.  A lot of sympathy but no help when the reporter learned where the other boy was from.

I think John and I both lost faith and respect at that time for people in high places.  It’s been a long road trying to change my opinion.

Not a very pretty story.  I’m sorry I can’t do better, especially today when I should be looking back at the positives in my life and thinking about going forward.  But this is real; anything else I might write would be forced.

Tomorrow, perhaps, I’ll take stock and look ahead.  For now, I’m sending John a hug and a prayer, and then I’ll get back to my novel.

A New Adventure

English: Title page of the first volume of the...
English: Title page of the first volume of the Yale Literary Magazine, published in New Haven, Conn., in 1836, and printed by Herrick & Noyes of New Haven. Image courtesy of the Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Database. Retouched by MarmadukePercy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I ordered the 2013 Poet’s Market from Amazon.  I’ve made a promise to myself to send out at least one poem a month.  I haven’t tried to publish in literary magazines or small presses in years.  I hate the business end of it and would rather spend the time creating but it IS nice, once in awhile, to see my poems in print along with other poets.  Also, at this time in my life, sending out the poems gives me a purpose, something to look forward to, whether the poems are published or not.   My life has become so humdrum, so void of freshness or excitement.  This will be an adventure.

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I want to apologize to my readers.  I have a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands–the palms and all fingers.  And the right hand is worse!  I’ll be out of commission for a while but I’ll be back as soon as I can type with my right hand without making the condition worse.  I hope it will be soon.  I look forward to reading your posts.  I feel like I’ve been cut off from the world!  Bless you all!

The Stone Angel

I found a new author, new to me that is, Canadian Margaret Laurence, a novelist.  I don’t usually read fiction but was drawn to “The Stone Angel” because it’s about a 90 year old woman who’s not ready to ‘pack it in yet.  It’s about her process of coming to terms with her decline and mortality.  It’s an accurate picture of what it’s like to grow old and lose your independence.   I relate to and sympathize with not only Hagar Shipley, the old woman, but also with her daughter-in-law who is her caretaker until she is moved into a nursing home.

I was formerly the one and now I’m the other.  But not quite.  I have no one to care for me, should I ever need a caretaker.  If I want to die at home, I’ll need enough funds to hire caretakers.  It’s a difficult position to be in.  One wants to live, but one also wants to die before the funds run out.  I pray for good health and a fast death, when the time comes.

A morbid subject?  Yes, but at my age, you think about those things.

On a much more pleasant note, I spent the day posting some poems on my poem page.  And sorting through more books.  I’m afraid the ‘keeper’ box is filling up much faster than the ‘donate’ box.  I find books I’ve misplaced and ones I’d forgotten I had.  I want to stop and read so many of them, but if I do, I’ll never get this job done.  It’s a good feeling to know that they’re there waiting to be read when I have the time.

Letting Go

It’s hard to let go of books. But I must. I just don’t have shelves enough for all of them. I had boxes and boxes of books in my auction after Forrest died. Broke my heart, but I was downsizing and there was no place for them. At least 10 boxes, but still not enough.

Now my three bedroom one story house with no basement is overflowing with “stuff.” I’m going to go through every room and eliminate everything that isn’t useful or special to me in some way. I’m starting with the books. I guess I’m a pack rat at heart, though in my other house there was room for everything.

Books are so special. They’re my second indulgence, food being the first. I don’t mark them up; I don’t bend pages; I treat them with great respect. I’m always uncomfortable when they are in others’ hands. When Forrest read one or another of them from time to time, I knew I’d get it back worn and tattered. I felt like I’d thrown one of my children into the garbage. Books are my friends. It’s not as pathetic as it sounds. I have human friends, but I’d be lost without my books.

I started reading early. In first grade I got my first library card and spent many happy hours there, leafing through the stacks, smelling leather and paper, checking a pile out to take home to read. I was sick as a child; had scarlet fever and rheumatic fever before antibiotics were available. And I had pneumonia, tonsillitis and strep throats. I spent many hours alone–reading!

Stories, thoughts, ideas, words are so very precious. And many of the authors are exceptional. I learn a lot from them; they inspire me to be the best I can be. They give me hope, faith in creation, love for nature and all creatures. They give me confidence in myself. People can do this too, but it’s tricky sometimes. Personal feelings and emotions get in the way. Some truths may be avoided for fear of offending. Besides, it’s fantastic to be able to have great minds available to you, even if on paper. And, of course, the older one gets, the less voices that are not on a page are available.

No matter where I am, I must have at least one book with me. There are books in every room of my house, except for the bathrooms and the laundry room. When I go out, which now isn’t very often, I carry one with me. If I forget to take one, I feel lost, insecure. That doesn’t happen very often.

So Ken is helping me. Earlier, he emptied three shelves above my desk and placed three boxes on the floor, one for keepers, one for donations, one for selling. I will not throw any away. I’ve started going through them, and just as I knew it would be, I’m having a hard time letting them go, some for what’s in them, others for memories they bring up. Every time I place a book in the donation or sell box, it feels like a mini funeral. But there is some consolation; the words in the books are very much alive and someone else will benefit from the wisdom between their pages. It’s nice to know that the knowledge and inspiration will be spreading.