When God Winks

I am currently reading two books: “Book of Shadows” by James Reese and “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” by Alice Munro.
I always have several in the backpack.
The count was three as of earlier this evening before I finished
When God Winks” by SQuire Rushnell, a belated birthday gift from my sister
(actually, wicked belated :mrgreen: ).
WGW is a book that explores the deeper meaning of coincidence in our lives.

God Wink
; a personal signal or message, directly from a higher power, usually, but not always, in the form of a coincidence

My sister bought it for me simply because she and I are intensely familiar with God Winks.
There’s this.
Or this.
Or this.

The book goes on to explain that these instances of coincidence (or serendipity, if you like that better) are signposts from the heavens that we’re on the right track; cosmic signals that we are not alone.
I’ve had many “winks” in my lifetime.

A few years after I began writing, I entered a contest at Writer’s Digest.
Ten people could win $100 in WD writing books and a year’s subscription to Writer’s Market, a WD site that helps find a home for that oh, so lonely priceless manuscript.

Months passed and I forgot all about the contest BUT I was still writing.
I remember sitting at the computer one day and staring at the damned blinking cursor thinking, “What the hell am I doing? I can’t write. This is stupid.”
Feeling disgusted and totally unoriginal, I closed Word and checked my email.
Spam.
Spam.
Spam.
Word of the Day.
Spam.
Writer’s Digest.
Writer’s Digest?
Hmmm.
I opened the email and started yelling.
I won.
Ask my wife. I NEVER WIN ANYTHING. Truth.
A wink to be sure.
And hey, I’m still writing, right?
Now I pass the pen to you guys. I love coincidence and I love winks.
Tell me about one.
Come on, now. You have at least one if you really think about it.
If you haven’t, you’re not looking hard enough. 😉

MMM

 

Walking Distance

When I was 9 years old I had a favorite paperback book called “Stories from the Twilight Zone”, a book of short stories based on the skin and bones for sketches produced on the TV program of the same name.
I had a favorite called “Walking Distance”, the story of a tired middle aged business man that leaves the big city one weekend and simply drives in an effort to get away from his job and the Rat Race in general.
His car breaks down and he gets towed to a local garage for repairs when he sees a road sign for the town he grew up in years ago.
He asks how far it is to the town and is told, “It’s walking distance.”
He enters the Twilight Zone and walks into his hometown of 40 years ago where his mother and father are still alive.

It’s funny that I was falling for these kinds of tender stories when I was ten.
Yeah, I was a weird kid, huh?
Much of my writing loosely falls into the same sentimental category. Go figure.
I started thinking about the last good day I had with my mother and father, sadly the memory has vanished deep into the recesses of my own scattered mind.
The ‘moment’ did happen though when I came to a realization that I could never get those moments back; accepting the idea was painfully difficult but I knew it had to be done.
It occurred to me that I began saying goodbye to the individual pieces of both of them, various facets of their personalities, phrases they often used and the stories they loved to tell.

I remember fruitlessly trying to pull my mother back into my world with my “remember when” queries that all too quickly lost their magical powers.
If I’ve learned anything at all from their tragic situation it’s that life is about seizing moments, grabbing them by whatever means possible and never ever letting them go.
I only wish I’d realized that fifteen years ago, wish I’d accepted their fates sooner, if that makes sense.
But I’m only human and I desperately wanted to believe otherwise.
If I could have several more hours with both of them it would be spent on the back deck of the Goodbye House’.
It would be a warm but comfortable summer night with nothing but a cricket soundtrack and a deep, orange creamsicle sunset off to the West.
My father would be standing by the grill wearing his signature wrinkled Bermuda shorts (or were they seersucker? God forbid), sans shirt with his pot belly exposed to the world with a can of Busch beer in his hand as he flipped burgers and hot dogs.
My mother would be flitting around the kitchen like some culinary Tasmanian devil putting the finishing touches on one of her ‘signature’ desserts.
We wouldn’t be talking about anything in particular; it would just be like it once was.
But it would be different to me because I would mentally file away and lock every smile, every laugh, and every taste and smell living inside that one bittersweet summer evening.
And I would remember all of it again, if I had one more chance.
Maybe the truth of the matter is that those memories are never very far away; in fact they’re easily accessible because wherever I am, ‘home’ is always close by.
Actually, it’s walking distance . . .

~m

A Beautiful Goodbye

It was in this post that I mentioned a moment of clarity that I’d experienced with my mother when she was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s.
I like to think that there are times in our lives when, for whatever the reason, we are deserving of a small gift of the soul; something that catches us off guard and lifts the spirit; an experience that simply says, ‘carry on’.
If you’ve visited Smoke and Mirrors before and have read any of my writing, you could conceivably finish this post for me.
I think.

Lately, I have been keeping close tabs on my father (my sister, as well) for reasons I have chosen to keep private.
That said, I visited him last Sunday around noontime to feed him lunch.
He tends to eat well whenever my sister and I feed him simply because we’re able to be patient. It’s a wonderful feeling to know he’ll nap the afternoon away with a belly full of food and that we had a small part in it.

He ate well for me on Sunday: pot roast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, vegetables and the softest dinner roll I’ve ever held in my hand.
I wasn’t sure if he would even finish his dessert but the bastard ate all the Banana Cream Pie and didn’t even ask if I wanted any.
(I tried it and yes, it was very good)

I cleaned him up and we sat by the window in his room.
A slice of winter sunshine found him and I think he enjoyed the warmth of it.
I spoke with a few of the nurses on the floor who told me that he’d had a very good night.

“Walter? Oh, no problems with him. Sweet man.”

With my questions answered and my father fed, I went back to his room and bent down so we were face-to-face, and kissed his forehead.

“I love you, Dad.”

He just stared at me.

“I know, I know,” I said, “You love me too, right?”

He lifted his tired hand, smiled and gently stroked my cheek.
No words were exchanged but no words were really necessary.
For a brief second, my father was really ‘there‘.

When moments like this happen you have to soak them in because they’re oh, so rare.
It’s the stuff of the soul.
Small gifts, my sister said.
Maybe they’re not quite as small as I’d originally thought.
I walked out of the nursing home and felt the winter sun on my face and I smiled because it felt a bit warmer than it usually does.
Maybe that was a gift as well . . .

~m

Anima Obscura

I blame yesterday for
words unspoken;
one goodbye I’ll never ever hear;
promises of tomorrow, opaque and empty

Of time, fluid and perpetual
my life seemingly shipwrecks,
splinters of wood and unforgiving rocks bear witness
to the crashing waves surrounding me
I search a deserted harbour for a beacon of light,
of grace,
and a desperately needed peace . . .

I blame yesterday
for all the wrongs I could never fix;
the hearts, the tender lives, forgettable moments that left me broken and incalculably fragile

Of life, an arid landscape cracks open before me
partially exposing a soft white light, completely obscuring the truth
the Tides continue, fluid and perpetual and it makes me wonder
If I can still believe in this tomorrow
when it’s so damn hard believing in this today . . .

~m

Imagine

Walking to South Station tonight, I noticed the elaborate and somewhat intricate weaving of people on the streets of Boston.
Sometimes my walk seems perfectly timed as I pass pedestrians in an orchestrated sort of dance, just missing bumping into someone while neon pedestrian lights go white and I walk across the streets unscathed.

Chance?

Maybe . . .

Something happened last night that I have no reasonable explanation for.
It’s quite simple but it went something like this:

I began thinking about this particular song and went to YouTube to see if I could at least find the video, which I did.
As I listened, I thought of one special person that I had to send this song to.
There was a reason for this intense feeling but it’s a long story, and not for tonight.
I thought about opening my ITunes and buying the song and sending it on but decided it was too damn late to start futzing around with my Nano.
But I did check my Gmail and was surprised to see an an email from a dear friend of mine and in the title it said, “Here you go ~m”.
Curious, I opened the email to find the song I’d just been listening to attached to the email in an ITunes format.
Goosebumps, blessed goosebumps.
There was no logical reason for me to receive this email but there it was. Go figure.
It was an ultra-heavy dose of serendipity, possibly chance but I smiled as I dragged the tune into my ITunes folder.
The story gets more interesting though.
I sent the song sailing over the waves of the internet to a soul that I knew it would appreciate it.
Turns out the song was desperately needed and right on time.
The chain of events that made this happen made me realize that many stories have already been written.
And I felt so blessed and happy to be included in this one.
For Lent (yes, it’s Lent for us Catlicks), I have given up nothing but I have vowed to get on my knees on a nightly basis and pray.
My prayers tonight go out for my friend Gerry and his nephew, Brandon.
Have a serene weekend, folks . . .
See all of you next week.

~m

ps. the candle in the post is for Brandon.
Today
was his birthday. Sleep in sweet peace, young man
and to the special lady that has sees the Southern Cross at night

the heart remembers

I received a letter today from my sister dated January 21st (one day before my last post).
In it was a poem she’d found many years ago when our mother was entering the late stages of Alzheimer’s.
As twins, we’ve always had an uncanny ability to surprise each other in ways unimaginable.
In light of my recent post, the Frozen Man, I could only smile when I read this poem.
My sister’s timing was perfect. Go figure. 😉
If you have a family member suffering from this disease, print out the following poem and read it often.
My sister said reading it always makes her feel better and she hoped the same for me.
Thanks, m~
Yeah, it works for me, too . . .

~m

 

Heart Memories
by Louise M Eder

I remember you with my heart
My mind won’t say your name
I can’t recall where I knew you
Who you were
Or who I was.

Maybe I grew up with you
Or maybe we worked together
Or did we bowl together yesterday?
There’s something wrong with my memory
But I do know you
I know I knew you
And I do love you
I know how you make me feel
I remember the feelings we had together.
My heart remembers
It cries out in loneliness for you
For the feelings you give me now.

Today I’m happy that you have come.
When you leave
My mind will not remember that you were here
But my heart remembers
The feeling of friendship
And love returned.
Remembers
That I am less lonely
And happier today
Because of the feeling
Because you have come.

Please, please don’t forget me
And please don’t stay away
Because of the way my mind acts.
I can still feel you
I can remember with my heart
And a heart memory is maybe
The most important memory of all.

Nine Eleven

I remember the day vividly; there were crystal blue skies, warm and ample sunshine, comfortable temperatures, a picture perfect fall day in New England.

The date was September 11, 2001 and I was just getting into work (selling pianos at the time) when the phone rang.
It was my friend Colin, a piano technician from the store where I worked calling to tell me he’d heard on the radio that a plane had just flew into the World Trade Center in NYC.
It must have been a terrible accident we both agreed, a freakish malfunction of an old turbine perhaps, a minor incident but nevertheless a tragic loss of life of strangers neither of us would probably ever know.
At the time, it seemed safer thinking of it that way.
It was a small plane, Colin said and that made me feel better.
Fewer people meant fewer casualties in a city the size of New York.

 

After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that something didn’t seem quite right about the conversation. Couldn’t put my finger on it but something was wrong.
I knew it and Colin knew it, we just didn’t want to say it.

I mean, planes just don’t fly into buildings, do they?

My question was promptly answered when the phone rang 15 minutes later.
It was Colin again sounding a bit nervous.

Another plane? Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on? I asked.

He went on to tell me that both of the towers were hit and that it looked like we were at war.

War? I thought, With who?

I went outside and looked up into the sky for a sign that the world was still alright and all I saw was the endless crystal blue of the atmosphere but I noticed something else; there was an eerie stillness and silence hanging in the balance.

Word got around quickly that the US had been attacked as we began adding words to our daily lexicon: WTC, 9-11, Atta, Al Qaida, Al-Jazeera . . .

The dark truths would begin to bleed through the seemingly impenetrable fabric of our lives virtually changing all of us, forever.

The phones started ringing at the store . . . but not from customers.
The calls were from wives to husbands, sons to mothers, sisters to brothers – with one simple question; are you okay?
By noontime the phones stopped ringing and business ceased as the United States was brought to its very knees.

I can’t help but think of the same three words I thought on that horrible day: God Help Us

 

I still pray for all that we lost that day; the brilliant lives, our {unjustifiable} innocence and our shattered sense of {false} security.
We were too blind for far too long.

My words describing that day are still woefully inadequate but my thoughts and feelings of incomprehensibility are still so incredibly tender and raw.

I want badly to forgive but I still can’t.

God Bless all those we lost.

As Annie said, turn those headlights on . . .

~m

Maybe

I’m a real strange guy sometimes (other people may have a difference of opinion) but who do you know that listens to a song on an Ipod and thinks, “Man, that would be a great song for my funeral!”

I said that exact thing to my wife tonight and she looked at me with that ‘you are gone’ kind of look.

Now I’m not obsessed with “getting my halo” but isn’t it at least human to think about it now and then?
Maybe it’s even normal . . .

Or maybe I’m just in love with all the wonderfully and mortally-challenged euphemisms associated with “sleeping with the quiches”. (so much for the overuse of adverbs, right?)

I’ll admit that thinking about caskets and what to wear for that “eternal suit” is out a bit there (Wake me in my favorite “Jazz” shirt with Ornette Coleman on it, please) and may actually signal a need for serious professional help but I’m thinking about this from an entertainment angle.

Alright, many “earth baths” are dreadfully sad.
With all the nasty diseases that plague this planet there are arguably more “sad” deaths than “happy” ones, if you know what I mean.

Maybe I feel the way I do because of the way my mother died; which unfortunately is the same way my father will die.
That really sucks and there’s nothing remotely funny there.
But some of the memories are funny; and we need desperately to remember some of those. We have to.

I want people to walk out of the church after my service and say, “Man, what an awesome funeral! Great tunes and I never laughed so much in my life!”

I sell Lenny Clarke cigars; maybe he’d do my eulogy for a box of Arturo Fuente Chateau’s.
I can only hope.

Death is just way too serious a thing for me, I guess.

I honestly think that when you “mail in your final warranty card” you also put an end to all of the never-ending bullshit you could never deal with when you were actually breathing.

Obviously, breathing was something you immensely enjoyed doing but hey, that’s all over now, buddy.

Maybe you get gills in the afterlife.

It’s all just a big maybe because no one really knows (except for maybe Smith, a closet theologian at heart)

I don’t mean to make light of taking part in singing with the angels but it is part of the overall human experience.

All I ask is that my family sees me off with a few laughs, as long as I go somewhat naturally.

Is that so wrong?

Once again, another big maybe . . .

If you’re curious about what song inspired this post
(and you like a cappella religious/gospel music ala Take Six) check out Eventide.

There are a few copies selling for pretty cheap and I have to say the singing/arranging is quite impressive.
Amazing actually . . .
Check out “For All the Saints”, a song you’ve heard many times before but never like this.
I thank my buddy Eliud for the CD.
Made my ride home easy tonight . . .

(Talk about scraping the bottom of the blogging barrel
for a post, huh?)

~m