my talented, fellow artist sister Grace snapped this pic of me, the day of my mom’s homecoming party a few weeks ago – I’m one of those who don’t relish getting their photo taken, but I like the way this image had little background. The absence of structure made me think heavenly thoughts…and of my dad who I sorely miss…
This past weekend I visited my folks. My mom had purchased tickets (an early birthday present for me) to see my all time favorite Broadway actor – Mandy Patinkin sing with Patti Lupone (another favorite). My sis, delicate daughter and amazingly vivacious 78-year-old mother stopped at a Vegan Cafe before the show –
The show was fantastic, no surprises there-
The big surprise was my dad’s special gift for his wife. My mother – bless her young heart – plays tennis, serves as an Art Committee Chairman, enjoys swimming…in short she loves life and lives it well. She got the idea into her head this year, she’d like to take up kayaking. Her six children advised against it. My father – usually a conservative thinker – threw caution to the wind and gave his spirited wife a shiny new, red kayak for Mother’s Day-
I hope when the shiny red kayak touches down on the lake for its maiden voyage, my mother can paddle as well as she sings…
As a child, I never cared for dolls. My inner-tomboy wouldn’t allow it. There was however this one special baby doll, that my father brought home on a dark night long ago. Oh, she was beautiful. Her silky brown hair was fashioned into pixie and she had dark, malted milk-ball eyes. She wore a simple blue dress decorated with one little yellow daisy. She was the first doll I’d ever seen with eyes and hair like mine. It was love at first sight.
But my younger sister wanted the new doll too. She needed to add the brown-eyed beauty to her massive doll collection. My sister feared her sibling’s unusual desire for the plastic newcomer. She realized claiming her divine doll right in this situation, might be ineffective. My younger sister employed a more sinister tactic – she cried. Her blue eyes were quite convincing.
My inner-tomboy nearly relented that evening. Except as luck would have it, my inner-tomboy fell out of her upper bunk bed onto her head, ironically while showing off how far she could lean down without falling. She cried too – which she didn’t do often. My father who was within earshot came running in. In that tear-ridden moment, I asked for the brown-eyed, baby doll. Gazing at my pathetic face, my father told my sister she had more than enough dolls. And for the price of one head bump, the only baby doll I ever coveted was mine.
Sadly, I can’t remember what happened to my precious doll. Many years later, while at a younger brother’s high school graduation, I spied a beautiful, brown-eyed girl gripping a dirty, bald-headed Cabbage Patch Doll. She cupped the dolly tenderly to her shoulder. The afternoon sun was lighting her flawless face like an angel. I took a photo.
Since I began building my little keystroke cabin in this charming corner of blogworld, I’ve met more than a few enlightening, whimsical and talented neighbors. To date, I’ve published 32 posts all written in a light, spontaneous style. I choose this approach for a very simple reason-life is not always light and spontaneous, in fact, it can be quite the opposite for many.
Yesterday I subbed in our local Middle School and there was an early morning assembly. My job was to escort the class to the auditorium then remain with them during the entire program. The assembly’s speaker was John Halligan, a man who’s dedicated his life to sharing a “powerful healing message of forgiveness and unconditional love.” On October 7, 2003, John Halligan’s thirteen-year-old son took his own life. There are many layers to Ryan Halligan’s story-a story of bullying, undiagnosed depression and missteps on all sides, along the way. During the ninety-minute assembly, John Halligan peeled away these layers one-by-one.
Ryan’s beautiful spirit, smiling and sometimes laughing floated by on a large screen behind his father as his sad story unfolded.
Listening to Ryan’s brave father speak on stage, at times choking up on words and images of his son, sent a powerful message. In his brief lifetime, Ryan wished for nothing more than unconditional love.The very thing that would have saved him. The very thing his father and mother gave and continue to give. In this world of excess and jargon, unconditional love remains free and honest. One of John Halligan’s closing remarks, “…if I’ve gotten through to just one student today, just one, this was worth it. Kids know you are loved, know you are loved, you are loved unconditionally…”
John Halligan ended Ryan’s Story with words he himself received from his high school art teacher, “…every inkblot can be turned into a butterfly…”
If you’d like to learn the details of Ryan’s Story: http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/