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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Stitching up the Chink

Guys are NOT raised to get all emotional where I grew up. We're Scots and Saxons, not limp-wristed Frenchies. We put on our emotional armor before we go out of a morning. But it's all a front. We scions of the warrior-poet races also know that writing poetry attracts women. That's why, at first, that we tuck a pen into our belts beside our sword.

The flip side of being a poet is that the act of creating poetry opens up that soft spot we've all been protecting with the armor (I personally think it's also the manly knees). It's like wearing a chain mail shirt and a kilt. Women are drawn to that perceived vulnerability in strong men. Good ones are drawn, but then so are the other sort and, it seems, they are drawn in larger numbers. Or perhaps the romantic poets are right and soulmates are indeed most rare.

Let's face it, most guys don't find the missing half of themselves we were created without. Otherwise the divorce rate would not be so high. I looked for years and could not find her. The train of not-hers I encountered managed to stab me enough times through that poetic chink in my armor, until I was, at last, driven to my knees. And while I was there I prayed.

And in His mercy God answered. She is my world. She fits in places where I did not know I had places. Forty-five years later, our bodies worn and wrinkled, I still see in her eyes that fiery Scots-Irish-Indian girl I married. The one who gave me purpose and the strength to do those manly things I was raised to do. Because of her I stitched the chink in my armor with her, tucked neatly inside where I can keep her safe. She is the gift by which I know that God is good.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

My Mom - Tough As They Come

Mom & Lilly checking out the raccoons
on the front porch....
Yesterday, my Mom spent the morning in the emergency room. Scared my sister half to death, because if Mom asks to go to the ER, something is terribly terribly wrong you can count on it. Mom has no trace of hypochondria about her. Actually, it's quite the opposite. But yesterday, she was having severe neck pain and she asked Gina, my sister to take her in. The doctor. as doctors do, asked her to rate her pain on a scale of one to ten. She told him "nine". Gina, took the doc aside and warned him that where Mom says her pain's a "9", most people would call it a 12 or 13. Mom is not one to complain.  I happened to make my weekly call to Mom yesterday afternoon and couldn't get an answer. After trying several times to get her on the phone, I called my sister Gina who lives next door. I got her at work and she told me about spending the morning in the ER.  Apparently, the doc says she's going to need surgery on the bones in her neck.

This neck damage may be an artifact of my Mom having fallen off a ladder some time ago. None of us found out about the fall till almost six months later. She didn't mention it. Anyway, I was worried about her and couldn't get hold of her. Gina and I though that since the doc gave her some pretty hefty pain medication, she was probably sleeping it off and couldn't hear the phone. Gina promised she'd check up on her and see if she was okay.

Gina called back later, laughing. "I found out why you couldn't get Mom on the phone," she chuckled.  "She was out mowing the lawn." 

That's my Mom.
She lives out beyond the edge of the mixed forest and farmland of Northeast Texas on the actual great plains on the edge of a bleak little town called Godley. Her house is paid for. It sits on top of natural gas deposits and when fuel prices are high she gets royalties from the nearby gas wells. So she's able to be pretty independent, a lifestyle that suits her. She doesn't drive anything heavier than a push mower, but she mows a healthy patch of thick prairie grass with that. Only my Mom would be out trying to mow the yard after spending the morning in the ER.

As my sister said, "She must be feelin' those meds."  Most people would welcome the relief from the pain and sit back and rest. Mom would, of course, see the relief from pain as an opportunity to get some yard and garden work done. Mom, by the way, is 82. You wouldn't know it though.

My Mom is a tough prairie bird. Raised on the Oklahoma prairies and on the North Eastern New Mexico high plains, she has always been a hardy little thing. She is the toughest, most tender-hearted lady I've ever known. Left with three kids to raise when my Dad decided to fly off to greener pastures, Mom did what she had to do to keep us going.

Mom and some of her great grandbabies.
As an ADD kid growing up, Mom had the good sense to let me run out a lot of that energy without a lot of hovering. We were outside in the summers a little after dawn and we'd come meandering in shortly after the lightning bugs came out and night began to fall. Mom organized neighborhood ball games. She took us to parks and museums, though it must have been a financial stretch for them. She let us run as hard as we wanted to. There was a method to her leadership style. By the time we finished blowing it out all day, we'd be too thoroughly worn out at night to give her a lot of trouble. She was very patient with us. It took a long, long, time for us to wind her up, but she was more than capable of getting our attention when attention-getting was required.

I didn't fully appreciate Mom all those years growing up. Frankly, all of us kind of neglected her. She never neglected us. She just gave us room to grow up. If you got in trouble, Mom came a runnin' and always did more than you asked for. After my own kids hit "that age", I rediscovered what an amazing woman she is.

And I need to call her now and see how her neck is doing, that is if I can get her on the phone. If she's still got any of those pain pills left, she may be out digging ditches or plowing the garden. It wouldn't surprise me!

© 2018 by Tom King