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

 

Size of Sorrow

My sister and I have noticed some changes in our father.
Whenever we talk to him about ‘old times’ (instead of just sitting there staring vacantly out the window) his eyes fill with tears. He’s not totally crying but something is definitely going on.
We wonder what’s really going through his mind?
It was this thought and some help from the band “Tears for Fears” that are responsible for the inspiration behind this post.
I didn’t plan on posting tonight but sometimes you just have to let some of your writing go.


the Size of Sorrow

Carbon-copy days
Stain my mimeographed life
Wondering if today is some strange and future tomorrow

Time meanders away
some perpetual 36-hour day
But what is the size of sorrow?

a Fool on the hill
a sad silhouette of your absence
what remains breaks the heart of the borrow

Tomorrow is near
like an invisible tear
I’m wondering what is the size of your sorrow?

~m

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

One Happy Mick

Our sense of smell is acute and amazingly discerning allowing us to associate aromas and smells with our seemingly unlimited banks of memory.
How about the smell of a box of crayons?
Yeah, that’s a good one.
How many wonderful memories can you come up with there?
I thought so.

I think the holidays tend to elicit the strongest evoking power for obvious reasons.

  • Christmas = peppermint, balsam, sweet baked goods and . . .
  • Thanksgiving = roasted turkey, cranberries, cinnamon,
    clove and . . .
  • Easter = floral scent (Easter lily), marshmallow peeps (yes, they have a scent), hard-boiled eggs (alright, not so good)
  • Saint Patrick’s Day = corned beef and cabbage

When my mother was alive and well no Paddy’s Day went by without her making the Irish dish.
I’ve missed riding out to the house knowing full well my mother would have a pot full of it on the stove and delight in stuffing me silly.
Her corned beef would be cooking all day long and truth be told it must have taken weeks to get the cabbage stink out of the place.
It’s remembering days like those when I really start to miss her.

I worked the entire weekend and had no time to stink the fill the house up with those sacred aromas (you’re welcome, sweet Irish daughters ‘o mine).
It looked like I might go without this year and I must say it thoroughly depressed me.
Murphy + Saint Patrick’s Day = Irish Turkey and a freshly poured Guinness Stout
There’s a restaurant in Boston called Jacob Wirth’s and it’s said to be one of the oldest in the city. Someone mentioned that they may possibly be serving the traditional dish. (Check their link and read the menu. Yeah, huh?)
I called and sure enough, it was on the menu.
Knowing how popular this restaurant is, I had my doubts as to whether I’d actually get a seat.
I opened the old creaky doors and spied an open spot at the bar and immediately sat down.
Perfect, I thought. (And ironically it was right in front of that beautiful Guinness spigot)
The bartender promptly brought me a menu which I politely pushed away, “No need for that; Corned Beef and Cabbage, please.”
I asked for a large ice water but changed my mind when I saw him pour a Guinness with a 2″ frothy head.
He served me my dear Stout and I raised it slightly to the heavens and toasted my Madre for the many years of awesome corned beef and cabbage dinners.

My meal came minutes later and I dug in.

If you’re wondering how my lunch was, it wasn’t like my mother’s but the last place I wanted to go was back to work.
I wanted to stay at Wirth’s forever.

As they say, all good things must come to an end.

I left Jake’s with a stomach full of Irish Turkey and one heavenly Guinness under my belt.
And I was one happy Mick . . .

~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

Not a chance . . .

“I think I may be beginning to disappear.” – Fiona (Away from Her)

Last night was a deeply emotional night for me.
For the longest time I’ve put off watching a movie called Away from Her
based on the Alice Munro short story called, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”, a tragic but uplifting tale of a husband and wife of 50 years coming to grips with Alzheimer’s Disease.
It was all too familiar territory for me and I knew instinctively why I hadn’t seen it in the theater.
Sometimes I hate when I’m right.

The internal walls I’d previously built for emotional protection were deteriorating rapidly, waiting patiently to be torn down.
New and stronger walls were waiting in the wings.
Seeing yourself in virtually every scene of a movie is a powerful (and devastating) experience and something has to give.
My already shaky walls began crumbling before my very eyes.
Seemingly insignificant scenes were like storms in the night, moments of illumination exposing moments of denial, the mind’s premeditated closing of the eyes.
I was watching my mother and father on the screen as years of pent up heartbreak gently poured out of me.
And truth be told, it felt like prayer, a long forgotten Hail Mary . . .
I’ve written much about my mother’s many moments of clarity, the small gifts I believe are given to us from up above.
The last minute of the movie contains such a moment, an incredibly beautiful moment.
I could only sit and watch the credits roll by,
letting this “thing” happen, if that makes any sense.
I apologized to my wife for being so weepy.
She hugged me as I knew she would and said, “I understand. It’s okay.”
All the ancient walls inside me came crashing down and as of this morning I’ve already begun new construction, my Extreme Internal Makeover, if you will.
This post isn’t so much about my tears or my outward showing of intense emotion.
It’s about the willingness to ultimately set some of my shadows free.
And so far, it’s all good.
You’ll have to watch the movie to understand the significance of the post title.
I’m not giving anything away . . .
~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

So Much

Like me, so much like me
you are oceans deep, my silent little girl

A face that’s like a saving grace; it’s a prayer I will always pray
I know you as well as I know my overly complex self,
and I am forever in love with you
as I was 18 years ago

@8:11am . . .

If these words turn you crimson, then so be it, that makes you real
You are my hurricane on the water, my own personal blizzard of ’90
And you’re like me, sometimes so much like me
And just maybe
that’s a small, good thing

Happy 18th birthday, Jenna
You are a true diamond in the rough
Gráim thú . . .

~Dad

And she likes John Mayer . . .