The Son of My Heart – Excerpt from Mothers of Angels

“…people die twice: when they physically die,
and when we stop telling stories about them.”

Carol LaChapelle, from Finding Your Voice Telling Your Stories

This has been a favorite quote of mine for many years. I used to think of it as I’d write my ancestors stories, feeling a satisfaction that I was keeping their memories alive. But the people we want to keep alive in this one small way aren’t always our ancestors. Sometimes they’re our children.

In Mothers of Angels, due to be released at the end of the month, over twenty authors gather in a collaborated effort to pay tribute to children that have gone from this earthly plane far too soon. Some were children that never drew breath, or lived long enough to learn what sandy soil feels like beneath a bare foot. Others brightened their family’s lives – yet were taken when they were still learning to live the life of a growing child, never getting the chance to become an adult, to drive, to vote, to get a job and earn a living. Other tales are shared of children that became adults – in the turning-18, legal sense – yet, they too never had the chance to show the world what they could become. Our babies, no matter their age, no matter if they had children of their own, are still are babies. They aren’t supposed to die before we do.

Despite the pain we feel as parents that lost our angels too soon, despite the difficult journey we travel as we learn to live and love again, beauty remains from the short lives of our angels. We remember their smiles, their cheerfulness, and their sweet spirits. They left tracks on our hearts. They leave the world with lessons and a legacy.

As parents, we learn to live with a new normal. Our lives will never be the same. We all grieve differently. The circumstances of each child’s death are all different. Tips and advice for newly grieving parents are included in this book, along with resources for further help and consolation.

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Through the month of May, you can get your copy of Mothers of Angels at a special pre-publication price of $9.99 (regularly priced $15.99) or get a PDF for $4.99 the week of May 28th, before the book is available on Amazon.

Here is an excerpt from Mothers of Angels, The Son of My Heart.

 

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In Memory of
Mark Aland Gloyd
November 25, 1981 – December 28, 2004

The Son of My Heart

By Trisha Faye

The beginning of the end is so vivid in my memory. The rest of the journey as we watched Mark’s young life trail to a close isn’t near as clear – most likely because I’ve semi-blocked out the painful months that followed.

Mark became my son the easy way. I didn’t birth him. I didn’t potty train him. I didn’t teach him how to tie his shoes. When I met Mark, he was 16 years old and already driving. Another plus. I didn’t have to navigate the treacherous waters of being a parent of a just learning driver!

This third son of mine was just older than my two boys. One of my favorite pictures is Mark starting to back out of the driveway on the first day of school. Chris, was a freshman that year and Mark drove them both to the high school. Justin was still in junior high and had to suffer by walking the few blocks to the junior high. In the picture, Chris throws up his hands in mock embarrassment – Oh no! Mom’s taking another picture. Meanwhile, Mark, enjoying his role of chauffeur was grinning from ear to ear.

Thus began the journey of Mark blending right into this family of sorts. Older than my boys for a few years, with his youthful zest for life and his spirit, he and the boys soon bonded into my trio of offspring. He and Chris being closer in age were especially close, while Justin was closer in age to Mark’s sisters.

Mark was his dad’s Mini-Me. Those two were so close. I remember back and it’s just like yesterday when he’d amble into the house, harassing his dad – most often on purpose, just to see if he could get a rise out of Dennis. Mark was a Police Explorer for many years and loved every moment of it. His favorite show was COPS and Walker: Texas Ranger. I couldn’t begin to count the hours that he and his dad sat on the sofa watching every episode they could. All I need to hear is a few bars and ‘bad boys…bad boys…what’cha gonna do?’ comes hurling through my mind, taking me back to the years before the horror.

The beginning of the end. Chris had graduated by this time and moved in with his dad, Greg; the two working together as electricians. They took Mark on, who basked in his new role of learning the electrical trade. With the early mornings required at construction sites, Mark often spent most of the week there to avoid the hour-long drive up and down the hill to his grandparents.

In August 2005, Mark got sick. He was so sick he couldn’t work and couldn’t even drive to come visit his dad and I. His dad, Chris and Greg all urged Mark to go to the doctor. Stubborn kid. He wouldn’t go. After a few more days, Greg called me. “Mark needs to get to a doctor.”

I called Mark’s cell phone. “Your dad and I are coming to pick you up. We’re taking you to Urgent Care.”

He couldn’t argue with me. Sick boys can’t argue with their mama’s – even if we’re not the one that gave birth to them. We carted him to Urgent Care where the diagnosis was a kidney infection, potentially more serious because he only had one kidney. The doctor prescribed medication and he had to go to his primary doctor the next day. The primary doctor gave him another prescription and then wanted some lab work done after 4-5 days

Since we lived a block from the hospital, the night before Mark’s blood work, he spent the night with us. That early evening Dennis and I were sitting on the front porch chatting while Mark showered. I heard the screen door open and looked up to see a bare-chested young man standing there in his boxer shorts.

“Is one leg bigger than the other?” he asked.

I swiveled my head and about fell off my chair. His left leg looked like a telephone pole.

Instead of the routine blood work, Mark ended up at the hospital having a battery of tests done. It turned out that he had a large tumor in his left, upper thigh. The mass had put pressure on a vein, which formed a “rather large” blood clot, which caused the swelling. They inserted a filter for the blood clot and started blood thinners. Less than 24-hours later we got the devastating news that the tumor was malignant and the lives of three families changed in an instant.

Cancer is not a death sentence anymore. Many people survive and thrive and live to an old age after a cancer diagnosis. And many don’t. Mark was one of the statistics. In August he was a young man. By Christmas of that year, the family was taking turns spending time with him in the hospital, knowing he wouldn’t make it to the approaching New Year. Just barely after midnight on December 27th, Mark’s mom, his dad, and I sat around him holding his hands until his struggle was over, a month after his 23rd birthday. He fought for four months. The longest months – and the shortest months – of our lives.

Fortunately for us, we had the best support possible. My friend Becky, lost her precious Sarah at the young age of 24 just three years earlier. She and Herlin were amazing. They knew what to do. They knew what to say. They knew what not to say. Immediate family and other close friends were also terrific. I don’t know how people without an emotional support system get through trauma like this by themselves.

But yet, even with all the pain, tears, and grief, there were still a few who didn’t understand. “But he’s not your real son,” I heard more than once. A year later I refused to go to the work Christmas party, because the one year anniversary, marked by a major holiday, was just as painful as if we were experiencing this loss and death for the first time. And there were those few who still didn’t get it. I’d like to be mean and think ‘Wait until it happens to you. Then you’ll understand.’ But I can’t. I couldn’t wish this on anyone.

It was many years before I could find joy in Christmas again. Chris got a tattoo on his arm honoring Mark. After all his years of being the big brother, he finally got a big brother – and then he lost him.

In 2012, a friend went through her files of emails that she’d kept. She painstakingly cut her email address out the copies and returned the emails to her friends. In the stack she gave to me, I found a few emails that I’d sent her in 2004 as we were traveling this rocky path with Mark. It was interesting to see a lot of the details that I’d pushed out of my mind.

On December 22, 2004, I’d updated her on what was happening. I won’t share it all here. But on December 3rd, he’d finished another round of chemo. On December 8th, things took a turn for the worse. Back to the hospital we went. Another surgery. More transfusions. Then to isolation. Then to ICU.

With all this going on, we still had four other children to think of, my two sons and Dennis’ two daughters. They were devastated too, but as parents, you still try to make things ‘normal.’ At the end of the email I closed with:

“We did get a tree Monday afternoon, although it’s still sitting there undecorated. There are packages wrapped, but no holiday decorations other than my string of Christmas cards draped across the wall. It appears to be Christmas, and the calendar pages say that it will be here in three more days…but it just doesn’t seem to be Christmas. Regardless of all the “STUFF” (and you know I really meant another word) that we’re going through over here, we are thinking of you all and wishing you all the best. Thank you for your support over the past few months and we appreciate all those that have kept us in your prayers. It really has helped to have so many shoulders through all this.”

Life does go on, whether we want it to or not. At first, you don’t see how it’s possible. I remember the morning after my brother died at age 35. I remember waking up and seeing the sunshine and thinking, ‘How dare it! How dare the sun continues to shine on a day like today?’ But it does. And we go on. One step in front of the other. And now, it’s been 14 years since Mark’s soul left his earthly body.

Yet all it takes is one song, one television program, a COPS show, an unexpected rerun of Walker: Texas Ranger. I remember the passing gas and bathroom jokes he used to make in typical boyhood fashion. Or I hear a Fleetwood Mac song and remember the day when Mark walked in the house (early 2000-something) so excited about this ‘new’ band he’d just heard…and there I am – sent right back in time to the days before the unthinkable happened.

I lost my son. I didn’t carry him in my belly for nine months. I didn’t watch him learn to toddle around. I wasn’t there for his first day of kindergarten. But he was still my son, my third son that I got the easy way. He stole my heart and will have a piece of it for the rest of my life. Until I see you again one day, (singing along) you ‘bad boy…bad boy…’

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Goddesses Never Age

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I was browsing the library shelves in search of something else, but I spied a book called Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being, by Christiane Northrup, M.D. Curious, I added it to my pile and took it home. There were some interesting tidbits in her thoughts on ageing. Here are a few:

It means establishing a new relationship to time, where you stop fearing it or trying to outrun it.

You can change your future starting today by adopting a new, ageless attitude that will help you flourish physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

All wellness and vitality come first via your connection with your spirit.

Alpha goddesses recognize that “No” is a complete sentence.

Sharing the Love – of Mothers and Sisters

Valentine’s Day focuses on expressing your love – greatly for romantic partners, but also for friends, family members and other loved ones in our life. Two of my anthologies share many stories by a diverse group of talented authors of the love for their sisters and mothers: In Celebration of Sisters, and In Celebration of Mothers.

To share the love, during the month of love, for the next ten days, you can purchase a set of both books directly from me and SAVE $10!

One of the essays included in In Celebration of Mothers, ‘OMG! I’m Becoming My Mother’, takes a humorous look at the things that pop out of my mouth as I get older. Originally published on Scary Mommy, it’s reprinted in this anthology. In In Celebration of Sisters, I highlighted some of our many differences in ‘Not Two Peas in a Pod.’

For a few chuckles to lighten your day, here is OMG! I’m Becoming My Mother!

OMG, I’m Becoming My Mother

Trisha Faye

I opened my mouth the other day, and my mother popped out.

This was not supposed to happen, ever—at least not when I am still this young.

My sister and I used to joke together, back in our younger days (like, in our 30s) about how our mother was turning into Grandma. We’d chuckle that self-righteous laugh, because we knew that was never going to happen to us.

But somewhere along the line, we grew older and slid into another decade. We didn’t recognize that fact, at least not out loud and not to one another. After all, those odd stray gray hairs appearing at the most inopportune moments can be covered up. That “middle-age stretch?” Well, that’s what blousy tops and jeans with spandex are for. We can still rock it with the best of them…mostly.

Then one afternoon, after a particularly aggravating argument with a teenager, my lips parted, and my mother came hopping out: “Jason Patrick Dean (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent), if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?!”

Oh my God.

There are no appropriate words to describe the look on my face when I recognized the momentous event that had just happened. How many times had I heard this same exact phrase throughout my own teenage years? I called my sister to commiserate. “I know,” she said. “I’ve already heard Mom’s words come out of my mouth too.”

For the record, although she is several years younger than I am, my sister started her family earlier, so she was slightly ahead of me on this downward slide. “I was afraid to say anything. I hoped it wasn’t happening,” she said. As we started talking and comparing notes, we came to the conclusion that we’d been guilty of this for more years than we cared to admit.

“Don’t make me come in there!”

“Don’t use that tone with me.”

“It’s for your own good.”

“I know all. I have eyes in the back of my head.”

“As long as you live under my roof…”

“Close the door. Do you live in a barn?”

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

“Do you think money grows on trees?”

“Because I’m the mom.”

“Because I said so.”

The statements varied with the ages of the children. There were the standard responses we used on the younger ones, and then as their years advanced, we gradually slipped into the intermediate course of Mother Talk, rapidly earning credits that would have us graduating with honors.

The day when that first phrase leaps out and you recognize that it’s your mother talking instead of calm, rational, grown-up, independent you–I think that’s your graduation day, the day you take the mantel (whether you want it or not) and carry on down the road. That’s the day when you realize you’re on a long, slippery slope and you’re sliding down it much faster than you ever expected to.

Not that we’d ever wished to move on down this road. During our 20s and 30s, we thought we were immune to this syndrome. We were strong. We were invincible. We were our own women, not ones who would parrot our mother for the rest of our lives.

“I’m going to give you to the count of three.”

“I’ve had it up to here!”

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

The memories of words spoken long ago come drifting back through my memory. That’s when I realize I’ve been my mother all along. This change didn’t magically appear in my 40s. I’ve been her. I’ve just dressed her up in different clothes and makeup to disguise something I didn’t want to acknowledge.

“I’ll treat you like an adult when you become an adult.”

I guess I am now officially an adult.

I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry for all the times we laughed about how you were becoming more like Grandma Jones every day.

While we’re on the subject, I may as well apologize for all the times I talked back to you. For the times I didn’t clean my room—instead, I shoved everything under my bed. For the times I lied to you about where I’d been or what I’d done. For all the times I didn’t appreciate you or the sacrifices you made to give us what you could.

“If I told you once, I told you a thousand times…” Yes, you did probably tell us a thousand times, just as we’ve repeated to our own children.

I take a look in the mirror. A slight twist, a slight squint of the eyes. Yes, there she is—my mother. Maybe this growing older part isn’t all as bad as I’d thought.

***

Did you miss getting these books when they first came out? Here’s your chance to pick up a set of them – and Save $10! FOR TEN DAYS ONLY!

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Iona Mae Burk, the mother that inspired these words

My Dad’s Books

My Dad’s Books

Every day I sit at my desk and glance up at a shelf filled with treasures. Among the many items there – a stack of aprons Mom made, candy dishes from Grandma Jones, a clock Grandpa Jones made, a puppy vase from Genevieve, a purple candy dish from Bea and Pauline – are three of my Dad’s books.

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I brought them home a few years when my sister and I were visiting him in Arkansas. He’d been doing a cleanup of his office and was getting rid of some things. He graciously let my sister and I pick through what we wanted, as we also enjoyed the morning looking at all of his old photographs of him as a young boy and from his time in the service. No, we didn’t get the chance to bring the photos home, but we had so many other goodies that we weren’t complaining.

I brought these three home. I could have brought a lot more home. If anyone walks in my office and sees that there are five burgeoning book cases and books are still overflowing with no room to give them a proper place, they might think I’ve hit book overload and shouldn’t get any more. But, no. I am a mere apprentice in the book arena. I learned from a master book collector – my dad.

Now these three books aren’t ones I chose because I wanted to read them. They weren’t on my ‘To Be Read’ list. I wouldn’t have gone looking for them. But they were my dad’s. The Star Book for Ministers (1957), The Simple Life (1904), and Fishers of Men, (1904). Inside each there’s small address labels, claiming the books as his, from the home I grew up in until we moved in 1969.

The reason I chose two of the books, is because of the little white letter on them. An ‘M’ and a ‘G.’ Those two letters so carefully painted on the base of the spine, throw me right back to childhood. I look at those and I’m transported back to Glendora, California. Dad built a huge bookcase in the living room. Huge to me at the time, but a mere shadow of the bookcases he has in his large office now.

We children had a small section on the bottom shelf where our books and Highlights magazines went. There was a hardcover series or two that we had at the time. I only remember my favorite book about Indians. The encyclopedias were near our books, and made for great reading, opening up fascinating new worlds. Once I learned to read I devoured books, and haven’t stopped yet.

But my favorite part of these early memories is the letters that Dad painstakingly added to his books. He had his own filing system, keeping books in order by categories, and these little white letters were the key to his organization.

Now I know they don’t pertain to titles or authors. Fishers of Men by Rev. B. T. Roberts has an ‘M.’ And the Star Book for Ministers, by Edward Hiscox has a ‘G.’ Dad must have grouped his books by certain subject matters. Maybe Ministry and Gospel? That’s just a guess. (And yes, Dad, if you’re reading this…you’ll be getting a phone call!)

Fortunately my Dad is still alive and I can call him and ask. Or email. Or ask when I visit him in a few months. Sometimes though, we don’t have the chance to go back and ask questions like this. I remember all the times I’d listen to stories from Grandma Jones – much too often tuning her out because my mind was on the kids, or I needed to wash a load of diapers, or what was happening at work. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ve heard that before. And now that Grandma’s gone, what I would do to have one more day with her, to ask her questions and just listen to her stories.

That’s part of the reason why I created three new journals. My Family Heirloom Journal is a place to record information and stories about different treasured pieces. I want to write things like this down, recording the memories in a place where my boys and grandchildren and read them later – years down the line when maybe they’d be wishing I were around to tell one more tale. Once I’m not here to tell them about their Grandpa organizing his books and the letters he’d put on them, or about my Grandpa Jones making a clock and the memories of watching him work in his small garage workshop, it can all be written down here.

Hmmm…maybe this isn’t such a good thing though. Now my boys really won’t be wanting to listen to my stories one more time. They’ll just wait for the printed version that they can scan through later.

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Books from Dad, candy dish from Grandma Jones, clock from Grandpa Jones, hand-towels with crocheted edge from Mom, quilt in background from Grandma Cline.

 

My Family Heirloom Journal, along with My Museum Journal and My Historic Homes Journal, have a pre-publication sale during February. Until February 10th, you can get them for $6.99 each (regularly priced $10.99), or all three for $20. After the 10th, they’ll still be on sale – each one $7.99 or all three or $23. If you’d like one, now’s your chance to grab one (or all three) and save!

Burn, Baby, Burn

BURN, BABY, BURN

On Fire new kindle.jpgCapable of creation and destruction, fire burns within us.

Behind the thick, black smoke of our lives, we blaze with our own unique flame.

While love compels some, others feed greed and lust into their hearths.

A tool for the deft hand, used with magic or as a weapon, but irresponsibility leaves deep burns and promises dreadful consequences.

 

ON FIRE brings to light twenty-six tales that explore this unpredictable yet beautiful element.

Handle with care.

Coming out 12.01.17!

 

Contact Information

Website: http://www.transmundanepress.com/

Blog: transmundanepressblog.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TransmundanePress/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TransmundnePres

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/bYiL2r

 

Editors’ Bios:

burn1Alisha Costanzo is from a Syracuse suburb. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she currently teaches English. She’s the author of BLOOD PHOENIX: REBIRTH, BLOOD PHOENIX: CLAIMED, LOVING RED, and BLOOD PHOENIX: IMPRINTED and is co-editor of DISTORTED, UNDERWATER, and AFTER THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. LUCIFER’S DAUGHTER, her new novel, is its creation for a hopeful 2018 release. In the meantime, she will continue to corrupt young minds, rant about the government, and daydream about her all around nasty creatures.

 

burn2Having relocated from Northwest Florida’s lonesome roads and haunted swamps, Anthony S. Buoni now prowls the gas lamp lit streets of New Orleans, playing moonlight hide and seek in the Crescent City’s above ground cemeteries. Anthony is the author of Conversation Party, Bad Apple Bolero, as well as the editor to the Between There anthologies. His stories and articles have been featured in North Florida Noir and Waterfront Living. When not prowling, Anthony keeps it scary, writing dark fiction, editing, and watching horror movies. In his spare time, he DJs, plays music, and conjures other worldly creatures with tarot cards and dreams.

Visit our author pages to learn more about the contributors here.

Giveaway Links:

$25 Amazon gift card giveaway

 http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5ea998ae8/?

FREE BOOK: Following Your Dreams

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Are you following your dreams?

Are you chasing the life you desire with every fiber of your being?

Do you know what your dreams are?

Get a FREE COPY of Following Your Dreams.  Reflections, Affirmations, and Workbook Exercises help you focus on achieving a life you dream of.

Here’s one of the reflections and affirmations that’s included.

Commitment leads to action.
Action brings your dream closer.

Marcia Wieder

Dreams are destined to remain mere wishes, briefly flitting through our consciousness, until we take action to make them a reality. That’s why so many unwritten novels remain unwritten tomes, living forever in the minds of the author, but never making it to the page.

Ask anyone what their dreams are. Ask your friends, your family, or your co-workers. Almost everyone will have an answer for you. And then…ask them what they’re doing to make their dreams a real part of their lives. That’s where you’ll see the gap. Many won’t have an answer for that question.

Until we commit to our dreams, until we vow to take action, they will stay in the nebulous netherlands of ‘Someday’.

Make the first step towards an unrealized dream. Take the step of commitment.

Affirmation: Today, I commit to following my dream of _____________.

(Fill in the blank with one of your dreams.)

Get your FREE COPY of Following Your Dreams here!

beach vacation

More Beginnings, by Iris Blobel

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~~ More Beginnings ~~
(2nd Edition)
by Iris Blobel

 

♥♦♥  BLURB ♥♦♥

Zach Taylor, an escort in Sydney, living in Hobart, enlists the help of Natasha Peterson when his teenage friend, Mia, runs away. He soon finds out that the ‘dragon’ is really more of a kitten. And although Natasha, Mia’s teacher, is attracted to him as well, she has her own problems to deal with, not to mention her initial reaction to Zach’s occupation.

Will Zach’s job keep him from a chance to be with Natasha?

Life is good for teenager Mia Levesque. But when Darren Schuster shows up in Hobart, she knows something is up once Sophie and Mark cut their weekend away short and rush home in the middle of the night. When Sophie won’t answer Mia’s questions, emotions run high, and Zach confirms Darren’s identity to Mia. Disappointed, angry, and feeling alone, Mia runs away.

Will life settle back into a routine for Mia once she finds out about the stranger in her life?

New Beginnings have given the Levesque girls a new start in life, will More Beginnings be another chance for them?

AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071F7FPQ9/

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071F7FPQ9/

AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B071F7FPQ9/

♥♦♥ EXCERPT ♥♦♥

Zach Taylor’s young neighbour, Mia, let out a long sigh as she joined him on his front porch and sat next to him on the swing. Enjoying a cool lemonade, he invited her to grab a soft drink from the fridge as well. It was a warm summer day, and the air showed no sign of cooling down. A lot of people in Hobart were weary of the unusual hot spell for the very southern Australian city.

With another hefty sigh, Mia raked through her long, blond hair and stared into the distance. “Honestly, Zach, she’s a dragon. I’m sure she does it on purpose. She doesn’t like me. She thinks I’m spoilt.”

The dragon in question was Miss Peterson, Mia’s high school English teacher. There was no doubt that Mia liked school, and she enjoyed her classes. And even though English wasn’t her worst subject, it certainly was the toughest one, with Miss Peterson piling on homework one after the other.

Zach took a sip of his drink before he replied, “Hey, pumpkin, settle down. What’s that supposed to mean you’re ‘spoilt’?”

She lifted her shoulder in a slight shrug. “You know!”

Raising his brows, he replied, “Actually I don’t know! Isn’t she Sophie’s good friend?”

Another shrug. “Kind of, I suppose. They used to do the boxing stuff together, and since Soph’s carrying a baby, they go and enjoy coffee and cake instead every once in a while.”

Ignoring his chuckle, she went inside and helped herself to cold lemonade. She opened the can with a simple click as she returned outside and took a long sip.

♥♦♥ MEET THE AUTHOR ♥♦♥
IRIS BLOBEL

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Social Media Links:

Click here to subscribe to Iris’ Newsletter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IrisBlobel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_iris_b

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel

Instagram: https:/www.instagram.com/iris_blobel/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/iris-blobel

OMG, I’m Becoming My Mother

Originally published at Scary Mommy and republished in In Celebration of Mothers.

OMG, I’m Becoming My Mother

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Iona Mae Burk – the mother that pops out of my mouth when I least expect it.

I opened my mouth the other day, and my mother popped out.

This was not supposed to happen, ever—at least not when I am still this young.

My sister and I used to joke together, back in our younger days (like, in our 30s) about how our mother was turning into Grandma. We’d chuckle that self-righteous laugh, because we knew that was never going to happen to us.

But somewhere along the line, we grew older and slid into another decade. We didn’t recognize that fact, at least not out loud and not to one another. After all, those odd stray gray hairs appearing at the most inopportune moments can be covered up. That “middle-age stretch?” Well, that’s what blousy tops and jeans with spandex are for. We can still rock it with the best of them…mostly.

Then one afternoon, after a particularly aggravating argument with a teenager, my lips parted, and my mother came hopping out: “Jason Patrick Dean (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent), if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?!”

Oh my God.

There are no appropriate words to describe the look on my face when I recognized the momentous event that had just happened. How many times had I heard this same exact phrase throughout my own teenage years? I called my sister to commiserate. “I know,” she said. “I’ve already heard Mom’s words come out of my mouth too.”

For the record, although she is several years younger than I am, my sister started her family earlier, so she was slightly ahead of me on this downward slide. “I was afraid to say anything. I hoped it wasn’t happening,” she said. As we started talking and comparing notes, we came to the conclusion that we’d been guilty of this for more years than we cared to admit.

“Don’t make me come in there!”

“Don’t use that tone with me.”

“It’s for your own good.”

“I know all. I have eyes in the back of my head.”

“As long as you live under my roof…”

“Close the door. Do you live in a barn?”

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

“Do you think money grows on trees?”

“Because I’m the mom.”

“Because I said so.”

The statements varied with the ages of the children. There were the standard responses we used on the younger ones, and then as their years advanced, we gradually slipped into the intermediate course of Mother Talk, rapidly earning credits that would have us graduating with honors.

The day when that first phrase leaps out and you recognize that it’s your mother talking instead of calm, rational, grown-up, independent you–I think that’s your graduation day, the day you take the mantel (whether you want it or not) and carry on down the road. That’s the day when you realize you’re on a long, slippery slope and you’re sliding down it much faster than you ever expected to.

Not that we’d ever wished to move on down this road. During our 20s and 30s, we thought we were immune to this syndrome. We were strong. We were invincible. We were our own women, not ones who would parrot our mother for the rest of our lives.

“I’m going to give you to the count of three.”

“I’ve had it up to here!”

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

The memories of words spoken long ago come drifting back through my memory. That’s when I realize I’ve been my mother all along. This change didn’t magically appear in my 40s. I’ve been her. I’ve just dressed her up in different clothes and makeup to disguise something I didn’t want to acknowledge.

“I’ll treat you like an adult when you become an adult.”

I guess I am now officially an adult.

I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry for all the times we laughed about how you were becoming more like Grandma Jones every day.

While we’re on the subject, I may as well apologize for all the times I talked back to you. For the times I didn’t clean my room—instead, I shoved everything under my bed. For the times I lied to you about where I’d been or what I’d done. For all the times I didn’t appreciate you or the sacrifices you made to give us what you could.

“If I told you once, I told you a thousand times…” Yes, you did probably tell us a thousand times, just as we’ve repeated to our own children.

I take a look in the mirror. A slight twist, a slight squint of the eyes. Yes, there she is—my mother. Maybe this growing older part isn’t all as bad as I’d thought.

 

 

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In Celebration of Mothers pays tribute to the many avenues of motherhood – from young mothers enjoying their children to mother missing the children in their nest, children’s memories of their mother’s and beautiful tributes to their lives, and the heartfelt thoughts from some who gave a mother’s love to their nieces and nephews. Many women and men shared tributes to mother’s gone from this earth too soon, to some who lived long full lives of over a hundred years old.

It’s Here! Fat and Sassy!

Fat and Sassy_Cover

It’s Here!

Fat and Sassy

Arkansas moonshine and California citrus.

A stone church and an ironing board.

Post-Depression woes.

World War II.

Mix it all up. Add six children into the mix, three of each, and you’ve got a unique product – Bea Jones. A lady, when asked how she was, liked to retort, “I’m fat and sassy.”

Bea’s tale takes you on the ride from California to Arkansas – to Missouri – and back to California in the early forties. The family finally settles down in a small California town, Glendora, nestled at the base of the foothills. While they viewed Mt. Baldy every day, life also threw its own mountains in the Jones’ family path. Come along and join the family as Bea and Casey struggle to keep their family fed and clothed, with just a bit of Arkie sass.

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HERE’S A STORY SNIPPET FROM FAT AND SASSY…

The last day on the road seemed the longest. The children were cranky and restless after being cooped up in the car for six days. The food was about gone. Only saltine crackers and two tins of Vienna sausages remained from what they’d left California with. Casey had counted the last few dollars in his wallet, hoping it was enough to buy gasoline to get them to their destination. Bea was tired of refereeing the children, keeping them from fussing and fighting with each other.

When Casey pulled off the main road and slowed down to navigate the dirt road ahead, the children gave a cheer.

Mae recognized what the moment meant first. “Goody, goody! We’re almost at Papa’s house!”

The car jostled and bounced down the road. A plume of dust followed, swirling around the car and choking the passengers. “Roll up the windows!” Bea hollered as she cranked the front window as fast as she could.

Mae got one window up in the back while Bill still struggled with the other. Mae climbed over Helen and started turning the window knob.

“Me do it!” Bill insisted.

Mae kept turning. “You’re not going it fast enough.”

Bea turned and asked her husband. “You remember where?”

“Oh yes. I can make this trip with my eyes closed. Seems like just yesterday I was makin’ this trip, pickin’ up a load of ‘shine from yore Papa. Yes, siree, I know the layout of this land back here.” He chuckled with the memories of an earlier, more footloose time. “Made the trip several times in the dark with no headlights on neither.”

The prim set of Bea’s mouth showed what she thought of her father’s backyard business. “I’m surely glad you ‘aint running his liquor back up into Missouri anymore. Don’t want you gettin’ picked up for running shine and thrown in jail. Not while you have a family to provide for now.”

“No reason to anymore. ‘Cept the money sure was good. I wouldn’t mind a pocketful of cash like that again.”

“No! Don’t even think it. The Good Lord will provide for us. You don’t need to go back to that.”

“I can leave it behind. Besides, I got the best end of the deal. I got me the purtiest little gal out of it. Comin’ down here that first trip and seein’ Sam Goss’s daughter for the first time…why…that’s the onliest thing that kept me comin’ back.” He glanced across the seat at Bea and winked.

“That was on Valentine’s Day, too. 1935. And six months later, we were getting’ hitched.” A blush rose across her cheeks. “My stars, Evan Lewis Jones! Four children later and you can still get a girl all worked up.”

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Evan ‘Casey’ Jones and Beatrice Goss on their wedding day, August 4, 1935

He chuckled and patted her knee. “I know when you call me by name, and not Casey, you’re serious ‘bout what you say.”

“Truth be told…” Bea paused and turned her head to watch his reaction. “…there may be child number five on the way.”

Casey braked the car and it slid to a stop in the middle of the road. “Truly?”

“Far as I know. I don’t recollect having my monthly visitor. I was feelin’ kinda peaked there for a few weeks. I was a thinkin’ it was nerves. Ya know, worrying about the bills and the move and all. But now I’m a wonderin’ if’n I’m not in the family way again.”

A broad smile broke across Casey’s face. “Well, I’ll give a hoot and a holler. I’m gonna be a daddy again.”

Grinning, he straightened up behind the wheel and gave the car some gas. “Guess we’d better git the little mother on home to her Papa’s house a’fore the cows come home.”

Bea sat back in the seat and shifted Tom to her other knee. She was relieved how well he’d taken the news. What with money being so tight and food and necessities so hard to come by, she hadn’t wanted to worry him anymore than he already was. He was a good man and she was proud to be his wife. He was a good father and he loved his children. He was fun to be around and she was still as taken with him as she’d been since she met him. It wasn’t his fault that times were so tough and jobs were so far and few between.

They pulled up in front of a small wooden structure that was little more than a shack in other more affluent areas. Rough, unpainted planks formed walls. A tin roof covered the home and a small porch area off the front side of the building. The back doorway led inside, the threshold slightly tilted as if sinking on one side. The door stood open, the cook room visible to everyone in the yard. Chickens ran loose around the dirt yard and when the car pulled in they ran off in a flurry, clucking with all their might.

A slight frown settled on Bea’s countenance.  “It sure looks a lot smaller and older than what I remember.”

A figure appeared in the doorway, sporting a well-worn, faded pair of overalls.

Bea fumbled with the door before Casey had the sedan in park. She scurried out of the car, hefted Tom up on her hip and hurried towards the house. “Sam!”

Sam stepped out, one slow step after another, in no apparent hurry. Bea enveloped him in a bear hug. “I’m so glad to see you. I’ve missed you, Brother.”

“Missed you too, Sis. Glad y’all got here in one piece.” He tousled the little heads that had followed their mother and were now hugging his knees. “Looky here, how big y’all have gotten.”

“Where’s Papa at?” Bea was anxious to see the familiar face of her daddy.

“He’s down in the holler, checkin’ on the mash.”

“I thought he gave all that up when Mama died. I thought he wasn’t gonna cook ‘shine no more.”

“I don’t know ‘bout that. He didn’t cook any up through the winter. This is the first batch he’s got going. ‘Course, that’s cuz it was so cold and he didn’t want to fuss with the mash that much.”

“Ayup.” Casey joined the brother-sister reunion. “I recollect one winter when it took him a whole month to run one pot of ‘shine. We had some antsy customers that year. Takes too much work in the winter. Once it’s below fifty degrees, the yeast just won’t ferment and then the alcohol content is too low. Not worth the bother.”

Sam tipped his head back and laughed. “And then we really have some unhappy customers!”

Bill tugged on his father’s pants leg. “What’s ‘shine, Daddy?”

 

Distancing

Today’s post is a selection from Every Day’s a Good Day: Remaining Positive in a Retail or Service Based Profession, scheduled for release February 2016.

Distancing

In most real life situations, and especially relationships, distancing is discouraged. Often, people use this create space when feeling overwhelmed or smothered. The downside is that it minimizes authentic interaction and can cause more damage in the long run.

However, in certain stressful situations that occur in retail or with customer service related problems, using this technique for specific occasions can help us diffuse the situation and stay calm.

Much of the time during a difficult moment, one of the parties becomes angry and the problem escalates. When the emotions are raging at full boil, with no resolution in sight, the tenseness and emotional turmoil often permeates the circumstances and without restraint or control, both parties can soon be embroiled in a furious debate.

This is where distancing becomes a useful tool for the person that wants to retain a professional demeanor. If we can mentally take a step back and distance ourselves emotionally, it can help us remain calm and removed from the emotional drama threatening to envelop us.

Personally, I’ve used this method, both in the challenging position in my municipal employment, and also during my seven years of retail. At the moment that I create a distance between myself and the other party who is upset, I also like to place an invisible, protective wall around myself.

Different protective walls can be used. Many like to picture an invisible brick wall surrounding them. Or a clear, impenetrable barrier. My own favorite is to picture a healing, calming spirit of white light surrounding me that helps me remain steady and composed, while protecting my spirit from the barbs being thrown my way.

The psychological effects of detachment that benefit us in a difficult work related positon are:

  • Helps us gain, and improve, our emotional self-control
  • Helps us maintain a polite behavior
  • Helps us remain true to ourselves, and be less swayed by social influence
  • Helps us experience less emotional reactivity

Just remember to leave this tool at work. It’s not one that you want to bring home with you, nor do you want to use this for extending periods of time. Long term this can produce undesirable symptoms in our relationships with others.

But for a now and then use, to diffuse angry interactions with customers and clients…priceless.

distancing

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