Eclipsing Morning … between the spaces of our homes came the silence, the art of avoidance

eclipsed moonTYFR

 

For months he wouldn’t speak, wouldn’t acknowledge or say a word.

It was confusing for me, how he could live next door and never raise a hand in a friendly, or even unfriendly gesture.

Perhaps my neighbor didn’t see me or hear me, I questioned to my neutral-on-the-issue husband. Shrugging his shoulders, my husband had no answer or ideas.

At first I thought, well I will keep on waving, saying hello in hopes I would turn the tide.

My greetings were met with the same blank stare as all previous attempts, falling short of my expectations. And there they stayed, in the empty space between our houses.

After a while I questioned my gestures, actions. Perhaps instead of creating good will, I was creating negative. Clearly, he wanted to be left alone, wanted not to have to raise his hand, or use his voice.

Between us, between the spaces of our homes came silence, the art of avoidance played out nearly daily. I got in my car, he in his truck on mornings when we left at the same time. And, while our engines of our vehicles spoke, no words came from either of us.

It was unexpected, the interchange of words. Never as I thought it would be. It happened on a brisk cold Saturday morning still in darkness while the moon was transformed by the shadow of the sun. I stood in my driveway facing the western edge of the sky watching the sun’s shadow engulf the image of the moon. Walking from his house, I clearly startled him standing there with my cup of coffee watching the celestial event.

He stopped for a moment, not sure of what to do

“The moon,” I indicated, pointing up into the general direction. Explaining further I added the words eclipse and sun, purposely limiting words for him to process.

Turning, he too looked up and stared at the partially covered shadowed moon.

Looking back at me, he said in a quiet voice, “I didn’t think anyone else got up this early.”

“Every day,” I replied, wondering how he missed our early morning drives from our houses.

“Have a good one,” he offered before climbing in his truck.

“I believe I just did,” I silently added, my hand slightly raised in a friendly wave.

Eclipse/DElarde copyright, 2016

 

 

The Weavers’ Threads

imagesJP2F4DLY

The Weavers’ Threads

By

Diana Creel Elarde

 What they called him and who he was, wasn’t the same. After a while I think even he forgot his real name, his beginning and the people who named him. I can’t say I respected him, but I didn’t mind sitting and hearing him speak. His voice was pleasant enough and he told a great story. Story was certainly his gift.

Unless you consider sitting around and waiting for handouts to come to you, he could do that too! And there are many who think that’s a talent.

I was just passing through a rough time when I met him. On my way to a new life plan I had, or thought I had. I wasn’t going to stay down and knew I could come out on the other side of a good dream. As determined as I was, he was not. I never met anyone so disinterested in their next move, their next plan. He never went beyond the moment, the here, the now.

All of life’s time seemed to matter to him in the one exact moment he was in. Had no real opinions and he never thought he needed one. But his audience, his camp followers grew every day. Simply enough he took them out of their lives into the world of his story. They laughed when he laughed and they sighed right at the spot where a good writer would have placed a comma. They sat unaware of the noise, the smell or the dilapidated buildings around them. His power of story so strong they believed what he created.

Soon they too felt no need for shelter, for ambition, for food. They had only a need for him.

I sat to the side and listened to his story, to the smooth laughter and sing song words he wove. They didn’t have the same affect on me. Granted they were good words strung together just right. But I was given my own words and they were the only ones I would listen to.

Still, I was fascinated by his art. It was like watching a weaver choose their colored yarns and weave them together in such a pattern, that you would spend hours absorbed on how well they matched, and the story the threads told.

Up the empty streets away from where he spoke, I sang my own words to keep myself sane, to keep my ambition in order to move out of the world of despair.

One day a man stopped me on the street, asking about the man with the story. What does he say, I was questioned. I took it as an opportunity. Would I say he spoke of the goodness of man, the flight of the people or words to create personal power and dissention? I knew in that moment I had the power to weave whatever story I saw fit. And I, like the creator of all words, could honor or condemn his words, even his life.

Knowing the heart of most men, my decision was easy. My ambitions led me to the obvious answer, really the only one he wanted to hear.

Why the negative I told the man, smiling slightly as I began to weave my own story. By the time I was done fear walked with us. Even I was afraid of the person I had been able to create. But it worked! The man wanted more, wanted to pay me for more. Wickedly, I counted on that and on the payments he would give me.

I counted the cash as I walked away, knowing this would be only the beginning. Not only would he be willing to pay, there would be others, so many others. All I had to do was create the fear, the worry they all wanted to hear. Their troubled souls would make it easy. Easy, peasy, I thought as I flopped the money down for shelter for the first time in weeks.

It was in the night, in the bed I had paid for that conscience came calling. It woke me so clearly from my paid slumber, wanting justice for the injustice I had created. I argued at first, tried to dismiss it and then settled for looking at a dark ceiling as it went through the stages of my crime.

Would it have been that hard to tell his message of peace of love? Could I have created profit from the serenity of spirit he so created with his words?

Only a small profit I argued back which would not sustain me. I rolled to my side blanket tucked up over my head and clouded out those voices that would argue with me and my plan.

And life became good. More people came to me, to hear the story, my opinions and methods to deal with the growing concerns they had.

Why is it fear can grow so much faster than love? What makes us latch on to the negative words that were spoken and create a life, a meaning, that was never there?

So easy it was to control them all. I laughed while upping my life style, never giving a thought to anyone or anything except my next great meal and the comfort of my new shiny shoes. My crisis of conscience was quite gone as I waited eagerly for the next tale I could tell which brought me more dollars.

I can’t say I felt bad the day they finally came for him. It took so many words from me to get them to finally act. In a way I was glad it was over. I could go on now and create a different story. So bored I had become with his. I was surprised by his followers, the ones who moved in closer trying to stop his removal. They were adamant in repeating his stories of peace, his message of love, but they had no power to get the fearful to listen. Those words had no meaning without the weaver’s voice. I almost felt sorry for them.

But, it was so much easier to walk around in my lovely new shoes, I wasn’t willing to feel that bad.

 

copyrightDElarde, 2016

Perception – Which Glasses Do You Wear?

sunglasses

Several weeks ago at a party, my husband and I were talking about the wasps which plagued us while we were in our pool. It seemed we could sit by the pool for quite awhile and not have a single one of these visitors. Yet the minute we got into the water, a small group of them would arrive and offer to swim with us.

“They are yellow in color” my husband described, “like a yellow jacket.”

“Yellow?” I questioned, “clearly they are a dark gold.”

“Were you two in the same pool?” joked one of our friends.

Good question, were we?

It wasn’t until a week or so later, that something interesting was discovered. Joining my husband into the pool I took a close look at his sunglasses. They had a bluish tint to them, as opposed to mine which had a brown tint.

Same pool, same wasps, different viewing filter.

It was a pretty easy to understand why his view of the wasps and mine were different because of the tint of our glasses.

What about perceptions in general? How is it, even without the tint of glasses we may see and feel experiences so differently from our spouse, our parents, children or friends?

Psychologists have shown our perceptions can be influenced by our history, our beliefs and certainly our emotional state. Most of us realize a bad day out in the world can slant our perceived interactions to the point where we may be embarrassed or apologetic for behavior not indicative of us. And isn’t amazing how well our days go when approached with an uplifting attitude.

Certainly there are those times in the heat of disagreement when we dig in, refuse to accept any other interpretations for words said, action taken and emotions expressed. These hard-line stands leave someone in the right (usually us!) and someone in the wrong (the other person!), giving no one a graceful way to make peace. When we are cornered we either strike back or cower. And many times when our adversary admits defeat, it may be more of a response of, done talking here, than their agreement to our point.

Perhaps it would be easier if we all accepted we wear different colored glasses. In the end, does anyone really care what color the wasps are, as long as they find another pool to swim in?

After all it wasn’t a heinous crime, nobody died from the lack of truth, but nobody lived either…Face of the Hidden

Face of the Hidden

By

Diana Creel Elarde

 

I didn’t try to change her words, her rationalization. When she spoke them I nodded, like I was agreeing with her. I was, in principle, in the abstract world where silent words are used without feeling. But the truth was, her words were hollow, not true.

It began to be easier and easier every day to engage in her lie, the truth we never spoke about. I had let the opportunity for truth go by without a word of protest. My agreement became our reality. My lack of denial became the words we then lived by.

It was years before I tried to deny to her the words we had agreed on. The shock, the residue of months upon months of living with the lie had built too many walls, built a new way of life. She looked at me blankly when I tried to tear down the lie. Refusing to acknowledge, the look, her look, stared through me, around me and then moved her on to another task. She hummed when she turned her face, her eyes, from me, perhaps pretending I wasn’t even there. Her hands hurried, stumbling to get all the items in her hand straight and in a line.

I felt foolish standing there unacknowledged, watching her retreat into the web of the lie. Too late for truth rang in my head and I moved out of the room, leaving her to be.

I stand at her grave now, truths and lies buried below my feet. The clouds above me break up and clear to blue skies. Are they an indication of what I should be doing as well? Clear it away, forget it. After all, it wasn’t a heinous crime, nobody died from the lack of truth, but nobody lived either.

I shuffle my feet along the old grass which is still undisturbed from the burial. It is still damp with dew, drops of it cling to my black shoes, causing sparkles of color to appear. They mesmerize me, making me look to examine their color, their form. People walk quietly by me, by the sparkles on my shoes, leaving me in what they perceive as my grief, my loss. I let them leave; relieved to avoid further conversation. How many times can you express grief, sympathy, sorrow? When do the words run out? When are they enough? I wait until I hear the collection of car doors close, one after the other, before I look up.

He’s the only one left. But he will stay silent. He will know by my look, by my walk to his car, not the time for words, no matter what he wants to say. My car door sounds like the others, hard and metal, closing away this time, this grief. And, closing away the lie.

I look back to her site, imagining the stone which will soon mark her place, mark the few words of her life. Born here, died now, lived in-between. Time will cast doubt on what she said, what she believed. Will the day come when I will doubt it too? When time and space will alter my reality and I will accept her words as what was, as what is.

I watch through the car window as we drive away. My face, my eyes reflecting back to me as the sun, the clouds combine for me to see my image in the window. I angle my eyes upward, moving away from my reflection. Not wanting to see either tears or traces of grief in my eyes. I move my sun glasses to my face, becoming now the face of the hidden. The sun, in its wisdom, moves from my window leaving me with only a clear view of her grave.

 

copyrightDElarde,2015

Play like a girl – GO TEAM USA~

LESSONS FROM THE SOCCER FIELD

For nearly twenty years I experienced life from the sidelines of a soccer field. My son was four when he first played. His first kick off resulted in a goal which unfortunately didn’t count because two players had to touch the ball before it could be considered a goal. (Follow that?)  From that moment, game on!  And still today his first love in sports and perhaps in life is soccer.

My daughter too, had her love of soccer and played during her teenage years. It was a great thrill for her to experience so much success through her competitive years.  Later, as a young adult she taught soccer to small children around the Seattle area.

My actual playing of soccer involved one brief 5 week period when the moms and dads of my son’s team decided, wouldn’t it be fun to play indoors.  And after being reassured we would be in a forty and over league, what the heck, let’s try it.  After all how hard could it be? Unfortunately for us the only team over forty was our team!  We could have easily called ourselves the Groan Team, because during and after that’s all one would hear from us. Clearly, my kids didn’t inherit a soccer gene from me.

After all those years of being around soccer I couldn’t help to hear common comments from the array of coaches.  With the World Cup playing center stages, I tried to recap a few of these

  1. Go to the ball – if you won’t others will

How many times do we stand to the side, either in soccer or in life, afraid to move forward when someone with a tad more courage  out plays us, or suggests the idea we had also thought of or speaks to the girl or guy we were thinking of approaching. Sometime we have to move ourselves forward before our opportunities passes.

  1. Play fair, but send a message when you need to –  

This can be a tricky one – when you have someone continually after you (or biting you!?) there does come a time to take a stand.

  1. It may not be a fair call – deal with it 

I think this one might be repeated over and over again, not only to players but to fans and especially parents. The refs call them as they see them and with all the action on the field, sometimes calls from the best refs aren’t good calls.  Well, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug.  Move on!

  1. Ignore the score – play with your heart 

Don’t you just love those players that continue to play their hardest when the score says their team is losing?  Soccer changing in seconds, as demonstrated many times in the World Cup. Play your heart out until the end!

  1. It’s a running game – run 

It’s the expectation of the game. If you only want to meet the expectations, try another game. 

  1. Your team mates are just that

They are the people you play with, some you are friends with, but many years down the line, they will be people and names.  In other words don’t take their criticisms to heart.  In two years, five years and even twenty years will be matter what they thought?

  1. Keep your eye on the ball 

Watch your intention. If your intention is to win, make sure you keep your attention on what will get you there. 

  1. Don’t get sucked in 

Team success (and perhaps your success) involves keeping in touch with your job and what you need to do.  Getting off course or paying attention to those things which may cause you to play “off sides” doesn’t help the cause.

  1. Sometimes you have to take one for the team 

You may be asked to play a different position or even sit along the sidelines.  And yes, it is hard to understand or even accept those requests, but grace goes a long ways

  1. It’s a game – have fun! 

It is a game and a fun game!  Enjoy every minute that you can, because some day the sidelines will be your only view.

                                                                            GO TEAM USA!

First father’s day without dad

Father_and_daughter_1

Father’s Day

By Diana Elarde

I check my watch, weighing the time.  Just enough minutes to get my morning walk in before I have to shower and leave to get my mother.  The clock in my mind ticks as I try to locate shoes, my music and the keys to the condo.   Finally ready, I confirm my allotted time, the music starts as I walk down the steps from the condo on to the sidewalk.

Once outside I see the crowd gathering in the town park down the street.  Parked cars are lined up and down, and the end, the corner is blocked off.  As I approach the park I see people in their running outfits, preparing for a morning run through the streets.  Some runners are on the ground stretching to loosen morning muscles.  Others use their car as leverage; placing legs and arms in odd positions on fenders and open doors to achieve the same goal. Stretched and warm, they jog to the park.

Somehow I missed the announcement about this event.  My morning walk is now interrupted, requiring me to skirt around those who have the priority today.

It is not that I mind the presence of the others, it is that I have gotten used to the quiet walks, with the morning sounds or my music. I usually don’t have to dodge and avoid packs of runners, blocked off roads or policemen serious about protecting the runners as they cross streets.

I find a flyer on a pole. “Support our Father’s Day Run, our fathers are important!”

Ah, Father’s Day.  I had tried all week to erase it from my mind.  I went out of my way to ignore the cards in the stores, the ads on TV, and mostly the dull ache in my heart.  It is my first Father’s Day without my father and I struggle to find where this celebration now exists within me.

Later today I will take my mother to the cemetery.  The last place we honored his life.  We will stand at his graveside, still waiting for the marker to be finished.   We will say our hellos, our goodbyes, not knowing now how to celebrate him. Still confused and saddened by the roles we are forced to play now that he has passed.

I look at the pack of runners all anxious to start their run.  Fathers hold hands with smaller children, getting them excited to start.  The new baby strollers are all revving up with their slick aerodynamic design, carefully crafted for today’s active families.

I tried to explain to my husband this week about the fathers that meet at shops and the farmers’ market with their kids in tow.   Early Saturday morning I see children leaving coffee shops with hot chocolate mustaches, sipping their way down the street, steps behind dad and the stroller. The fathers stuff the strollers with their purchases from the farmers’ market, arranging a head of lettuce next to a small child. They stand in groups, watching their kids throw pennies into the park fountain.  What do the dads talk about when they meet on the streets? Do they ask, “Hey is your kid rolling over yet?”   “How many teeth does he have?”   Or do they talk sports. “How about those Tigers?”  “Did you catch the last World Cup game?”   Or even, did “Venus win her match yesterday?”

I marvel at their level of involvement, their overall enjoyment of spending the time with their children. I like to see the fathers interacting with their children.  Somehow in this world it gives me hope.  For if more fathers feel connected with their kids, maybe conflict would quiet.  Maybe negotiation will be the first choice, not second or third, when differences break out. Maybe we can build a world where children are cherished and do not go to bed hungry or alone.  Perhaps by understanding the simple world of a child, the adult world won’t seem so complex. It’s a funny hope.  One that doesn’t probably doesn’t make much sense, but I can’t help to feel it is significant for our future.

My dad was very involved with us, but back when I was a child that was rare.  Most of my friends didn’t see much of their fathers, gone to do business, or golfing or to events far from appropriate for a small companion.

I remember a day when I must have been about seven years old my father took me to a building on the campus of the University of Michiganin Ann Arbor.  He held my hand as we walked and I felt so important, happy that my father had decided to take me with him for the day.  Surprisingly I still know where that building is, its street, it location.  To this day, that building still evokes a special bond of how impactful that moment was to me.

My father was an elementary teacher for thirty years, at a time when very few men taught those grades.  He influenced and connected with many children during his tenure.  Teaching – his love, his passion.  At the time of his passing I was amazed by the number of his past students who wrote notes to us through FaceBook telling us how grateful they were to have known him, how he influenced their lives so long ago.  I became a teacher one wrote. From another, the military is where I made my home after his WWII stories; I became a writer, he encouraged me to write.   Different lives forming and transforming, influenced by a man who for many was like a second father during that year in his classroom.

And what of my time with my father?  I struggle to know how to define it, to understand it now.  Confused by what was between us.  The times when I was his young daughter, the days when he was ’Dad’. And then, the dark days – the hardness, the anger his illness created in his last few years. So many difficult sick days, marked in sadness, in stress. Long nights in the ER and such exhaustion. Helpless times when his breathe was short, shallow, scary.   Days of before his illness merge with his sick days, hard to separate, to accommodate.  All too fresh, too painful to think of or sort out.  “Time,” I tell myself like a silent prayer to be heard, “just time, the good memories will win over.” But on this day, this first Father’s Day without my dad, I just do what I can to get by.

copyright2012 Elarde

I didn’t need bricks to build my wall, I only needed fear and hate. How those two loved and needed each other…The Feral Wall

The Feral Wall

By

Diana Creel Elarde

 

When he died I was ten. I can’t say I understood it. After all, when you are that age time, life, death they have no true relationship with you. I mostly thought he would return, someday I would see him walking up the street straight to our house. So that summer I hung around our porch more than anything else. Even my mother’s constant nagging to go find someone to play with couldn’t detour my vigilant watch.

It was months before I began to see there was no hope of his return. That life, my life would go on without him. After a while I felt like there was a big hole in my heart and if I got too close I’d fall right into it. Getting around the hole became more of my purpose. Healing the large hole never occurred to me.

How do you avoid a big hole? I mean you have to plan your entire life around it. What even causes a hole to come into your life? I figured if I had never loved him I would have never felt that hole in my heart. Love for me became what to avoid, what to run away from.

Men build walls with bricks, carefully laying them on top of each other, one after the other. I didn’t need bricks to build my wall, I only needed fear and hate. How those two loved and needed each other. It’s true. I think fear and hate were overjoyed when I united them. They clasped arms like brothers and they built my secure wall. And I let them. I certainly didn’t need another hole in my heart and if the wall stopped the pain, all the better.

I could tell my mother, she didn’t like the wall I built. She recognized where it came from, how it got built. Try as she could, I was more than determined not to listen to any words she had to say. Rebel I told myself and so rebellion with her became my life. I added her to my list of those who the wall in my life was for.

And fear and hate, they became stronger.

The feral kittens came to our house late in the fall, right before the calendar deemed it winter. The cold came early that year and it made the earth that crusty hard. The leaves hadn’t quite left the trees then, and the sky, it was always gray.

The kittens were little, with no mom cat in sight. They were as afraid of me as I was of life. Their constant mews and cries were too much for me and I begged my mother do something, don’t let them die. She looked hard at them, but softer on me so I knew she was considering it.

“Get the small dog house out of the garage,” she instructed me, “and I’ll give you some blankets.”

Feeling the lift in my heart I ran to the garage finding dog house for the dog we never got after he died. I placed it on the far edge of the back porch, lining it with the blankets my mother gave me. When my work was done she came out to inspect it.

“Don’t expect too much here,” she warned. “These are wild cats they don’t like humans. And if you start to care for them they will always depend on you.”

I didn’t want to hear those words, convinced I would change their minds. Even the wall around my heart quivered the warnings telling me not to get close, not to care.

“Ok,” I agreed, but secretly hoped it be different.

And so, the kittens thrived. Ate the food I gave them. Slept in the safely of the house I created but, still hissed and ran whenever I tried to greet them. Even when I sat so very quietly out on the porch, it never stopped the fear they had for me.

 

“Don’t resent them for who they are,” came my mother’s voice from the screen door after one of my failed attempts to once again make friends with my wards. It was troubling to me that no matter my efforts, the cats just wouldn’t come close.

One day, so dark for me with the memories of him, the hissing of the cats was just too much. I couldn’t take it anymore, I broke. The wall started shaking and with it came the flood of my hurt. Hate and fear they tried hard to keep the wall up, to keep away the pain, but it was no use. It all came down.

At first, I hid behind the garage not wanting her, or even the world to hear or see me. It was like a violent force was trying to escape my body and it was tearing at my inner being. I held onto the side of the garage as my sobs jerked my body. Slowly I made my way up the yard finally yelling out for my mother in a great wail before the steps of the porch.

She came running, sure that I had been hurt or injured. Checking my body over she found nothing and then her arms just held me. She held me, while that hard, hard wall came down within me.

 

Later she brought me tea and wrapped me in a big blanket. I sat on her lap being the child I was. Her words were smoothing, the tea was warm and it wasn’t long before my eyes closed, my head resting on her chest.

I don’t know how long I was out or how long she held me. The dream came as soon as my eyes closed taking me directly to him. He looked different than I remembered, happier and younger.

“Don’t you miss me?” I cried out to him seeing his smile.

“Well I’m with you every day,” he replied back. “There isn’t a moment I have missed since I crossed to heaven’s way.”

Then he told me how proud he was of how well I took care of those cats. How I gave them life, even though they couldn’t get over their fear of me.

“But,” he said, “Remember their fear stopped them from being held, stopped them from getting any more pleasure in their lives then just food and shelter. As tricky as it is to bring people close, we miss so much when we don’t let ourselves love. Think about it,” were his final words.

When I awoke I was snugged up in his favorite chair in the living room. The house was quiet and the shadows of late afternoon were in the room. I heard my mother’s voice in the yard, thanking someone before she shut the back door.

I got up to see what was happening and found her carrying in the smallest sweetest kitten I ever saw. Gently, she handed it over to me.

“I made a trade,” she told me. “I hope you don’t mind. There was a friend of mine looking for cats to live in his barn and help keep mice away. His house cat had three kittens she couldn’t take care of. This is the one that survived. I figured she needed someone to love, since all of her family was gone.”

I held that kitten so close, looking down into her face. If there was anything left of that wall I built, it disappeared the moment her small paw gently reached out to touch my face.

 

copyright DElarde2015