Five Word Weekly Challenge- Leaving Your Mark



Mark, who was appropriately named, was the ‘black sheep’ of the family. Every family has/needs one and like they say, if you can’t identify your own family’s ‘black sheep’, it’s probably you. Black sheep are not necessarily ‘bad’ but they do stand out against the ‘herd’.
Today is Thanksgiving and Mark is standing outside his family’s home, still wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, on a special furlough from prison. He’d toyed with various alternative outfits, but all would be hard to manage with the barrier of an ankle bracelet so, in his usual style, he decided to “keep it real” in order to lift the awkward fog over what everybody already knew.

Mark needed to pause a bit longer on the step to regain his composure from a fit of ‘the giggles’ after slipping on a homemade green hat with a pumpkin stem. He’d made up his mind that he wasn’t going to allow everyone to be sullen when he had the opportunity to make them laugh. His time left was 8 months for a crime he’d committed but wasn’t a bit sorry for. The “whys” differentiate “bad guys” from “good guys” all of the time.

Once Mama wrapped him in the tightest hug and wiped tears of joy from her cheek, he knew he was indeed Home. The family got a big laugh over his costume with many of them saying with a shrug, “Some things never change.” and “Leave it to Mark.”. It became the best day, and the food was amazing!

That evening he reluctantly went back to prison. Mark had made friends with most of the prison guards and staff, so proper prison protocols were frequently suspended just for him. As he re-entered the prison after the holiday furlough, he wore the green hat again prompting audible laughter from every guard tower.

Eight months wouldn’t be so bad a wait after all.


https://gmgblog.ca/2022/11/14/five-word-weekly-challenge-2246/

My Early Lesson in Gratefulness: A Memory

This morning as I completed my daily tasks, my mind roamed sampling themes that I might weave into the Saturday Stream of Consciousness post. I believe most of you reading this do the same. I started on a lovely jaunt on the differences between Family Day Care as opposed to Center-based childcare. Oh, the wonderful poignant phrases were many and my fear that I’d lose that fluent story once I sat at the computer great! But, as my tasks went along, of course my mind kept churning landing on a memory that inspired this independent post.
I noted in my previous post that I’ve always been a ‘people watcher’. Having embraced this interest as a small child, I never was a ‘judger’ but rather a pure observer hoping to learn lessons that would serve me as either ‘good’ or ‘poor’ examples of how I might behave. It was for increasing my own knowledge alone. In my Kindergarten class, was a little girl who gave me my first lesson about being grateful. In the 1960s the predominant family structure was made of two parents and siblings. Much of this little girl’s situation was not known to me at my tender age but somehow, I was aware that she lived with parents that were not biological. This little girl was frail in stature, and I remember how her hands shook like an old woman’s. My heart had empathized with her before I even got a glimpse of her reality.
One day, our teacher called her from her desk to meet someone in the hallway. When the door opened there stood an adult woman holding out her arms which caused the girl to sob leaping into a smothering hug. At this point, both the woman and girl were shaking and sobbing as my teacher closed the door.
That raw emotion touched me so deeply that the scene has been one of my most frequently revisited school memories. I somehow knew that the woman was part of her real and known family and she had missed her terribly. Any other detail remains forever unknown to me. That was enough to make my 5-year-old self profoundly grateful from head to toe for having a safe, loving, home and family. It was such a mind-blowing revelation that I believe it has been the inspiration for all of my lifelong persistent gratefulness for all my large and small blessings.
If I could, I’d thank that girl today because being grateful is the most fundamental foundation for being happy and she gave that to me for a lifetime in kindergarten.
I just wanted to share a memory and my lesson with everyone. 😉
Thanks. ❤

Photo Challenge #403- A Sacred Ground

Use the image as inspiration for a poem or short story.

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Photo Credit Sarah Whiley

A Sacred Ground

There they were. All my summer vacations documented in a stone memorial.
Our family didn’t have the means to visit the ranch every year. These rocks symbolized dog-years instead.
I was seven, once upon a time, and that’s when I found this secret spot. The first stone was my marker of the year I rode my first horse and had broken my wrist falling from the same.

The second and third kept a record of the “girl with strawberry curls”. I was too shy to express my adoration at 14 but we fatefully met again when I was 21. My life was forever changed that year.

The fourth stone marked our wedding right there at our happy place, on my 28th birthday, and the fifth commemorated the year our beautiful son, Anthony, was born. We wanted him to know that ‘Sacred Ground’ from the ‘beginning’ so Anthony rode his first horse swaddled in a pack on his mother’s back.

The sixth stone was a remembrance of all the other beautiful visits. It was dampened by tears of loss on that visit for Dad. Dad was the one who chose the vacation spot. I laugh remembering how he’d rub his hands in excitement while we packed for each trip. This year, he had succumbed to a sudden fatal heart attack at age 55. Mom would never be quite the same.

Mother refused a vacation pilgrimage seven years later and 14-year-old Anthony had joined a traveling baseball team, so our ranch vacations abruptly stopped.

Today I placed my stone-the last stone- on the temple I had started 80 years ago.
I am alone again at my special spot. Time has a way of moving ever more swiftly near the end, but a lifetime of memories is here still. My cane is all that supports me now.
I glance slowly around to etch this moment in my mind and those memories on my heart.
Then I close my eyes. To my startling surprise, I still hear a seven-year-old hollering “giddy-up!” in the wind.

Weekly Smile 4/12/21

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Coconut Cake with Mango Curd and Pinaapple

Many smiles for me last week, especially yesterday. It was my birthday.
My grown up married former day care friend, now friend, texted me from Australia. He’s studying to be a Veterinarian and has been there for two of four years. He never forgets.
Another adult (age 21) former day care friend also contacted me with an old photo of us from long ago. It was of us celebrating a birthday.

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I had lunch with my kids and granddaughters. Which always makes a Mom/Grandma happy!
Finally, my son is a chef at a local bistro and surprised me with a fancy dessert that he brought home after hours. It’s called Coconut Cake with Mango Curd and Pineapple. YUMMY! It would have been even prettier if it wasn’t in a take-out container.

Oh… many local birds kept me company while I sipped coffee on a lovely birthday morning outside. Doves, robins, sparrows, blue jays, crows, and a persistent cardinal who serenaded me for twenty minutes.
MY heart is full!

The Weekly Smile for the 12th of April, 2021 #weeklysmile | Trent’s World (the Blog)

Random Word Story # 32~ Moving Along to Nowhere

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Here is my story:

There was something dark about the store clerk at the new Dollar General. She stood with rounded shoulders, and a defeated look in her eyes, as I approached the counter to check out. I would have guessed that she was much older, if we weren’t face to face. She was not much beyond the age of twenty, as I would learn, yet had the demeanor of a lone surviving combatant from a long lost battle.

Her southern drawl set her apart even further.

“You aren’t from around here, young lady.” I said.

“No ma’am. I’m from Alabama. Been he’ ah for two weeks, or so. I’m hopin’ to bring my kids he’ah soon.”

“My… you have children? You’re just a young thing.”

“I was twenty last month and I’ve got three baby boys back home with my momma. Their daddies were scumbags and I cum up here and met the love of my life for sure!”

Her grin was bright and happy but the sadness in her eyes did not fade. She nervously chewed on the side of her tongue as we spoke. It occurred to me that she may have been a beautiful child, once upon a time. Her face was heart-shaped and she had large blue eyes but her hair, seemed as though it was as stressed as her posture, with frizzy ends on a carelessly gathered ponytail.

I saw her as a defector. She’d left her children, after all, while pursuing what I could only imagine was an habitual trail of scumbags. Without having to ask, she went on…

“Met James on the internet. He’s going to bring my boys up soon and we’re buyin’ a house too.” She grinned as her eyes looked through me to an imagined “happy place”.

“That is fantastic! A new beginning, in a new place. I’m happy for you.”

Then I noticed  scars in both of her thin eyebrows and one that ran along her chin too. As she packed my items, her hands trembled.

My, too quickly made judgement, softened as I asked myself, “Why  do so many young ladies have to live such hard lives?”. I felt the urge to hug her and to tell her that things would get better…that she would find her happy ending, but I didn’t believe the latter. Not everyone gets a square deal. Her children would probably have similar fates without the foundation of roots and family and I felt helpless, very helpless to remedy her troubles. In fact I, shamefully, wanted to get away from her as quickly as I could, as if hard luck and ignorance were somehow catchy.

She continued, “James will be picking me up soon and we’re gonna call my kids to tell them about our house. We ain’t been approved yet but we’re hopin’ to hear this week. That ‘ill be ten dollars and seventy cents ma’am.”

“Thank-you. Best wishes to you and James.”

That night, I said several prayers for her family. I held on to a glimmer of hope for her sons, realizing that they might have a slightly better chance to find stability, simply by not being  “beautiful” daughters.

It has, now, been six months … and I have not seen her at the Dollar General again…

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My other Random Word Stories were complete fiction. Sadly, this one, came from a true encounter that I had last Fall.

Family Gathering

Deb and meMy mother organized a family gathering that we celebrated on June 1st. A collection of cousins, and their kids, some I had never met, came. Afterward, there was an unexpected let down. So many people and so little time to interact beyond small talk.

For the next few days , following the event, I’ve had a “woulda/shoulda/coulda” feeling. You see, if a person is presenting a party, they are busy with meeting the needs of guests instead of enjoying the people. Certainly, watching our children, and grandchildren, making brand new family friends was a joy. I was overwhelmed though, with people whom I was unable to fully appreciate and subjects I was unable (because of limited time) to talk about. My cousin, Debbie (pictured with me above), made a 5 hour trip and spent 5 hours returning home after our mingle.

For those an hour or less away, I had little time and I have a heavy heart about that fact. Although we live relatively close, we do not gather for years on end. A smaller, more intimate gathering would do us but to “make time” for those many smaller gatherings doesn’t seem doable. Work, and family duties are many and it’s a burden to ask too often. My sister suggested a catered event in the future which would lighten the load upon the party organizers to afford more real “visiting”.  I believe, with a family so large, there will be the inevitable regrets, even still. Some folks are going to be “left out” whenever there are so many. Having the duty (a wonderfully fun one) of photographing the event, also sadly, puts the “photographer” outside of the mingle. Next time, I believe buying disposable cameras for each family, might be a better way to get a more varied and complete “picture”.

I would love to hear suggestions about how to make a large party work without the extravagance of a wedding reception.

It was a fun day and, those who could not come, were missed.

Ha! If you had come, I probably would have ignored you guys too!  At least, the no-shows kept my regrets fewer. 😉