reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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my big sister and his big brother. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

and then, there were avocados.

the box arrived on the doorstep and, almost immediately, the text came. “delivered to front porch,” my sister texted, “hooray!!!”.

this was not a small box. this box had 17 avocados in it. and not 17 measly avocados you purchase at the local wisconsin grocery store. 17 that were grown lovingly on a tree in florida, some of which weigh over a pound. a pound!

beautiful golden-green on the inside, they arrived on a difficult day and were a welcome sight from my big sister. yes, ken’s words – “life’s vicissitudes” were wreaking a bit o’ havoc and my big sister’s avocados were a balm, like his big brother’s reassurances and caring and teasing on the phone later that week.

we don’t live close to either of those siblings. one lives in florida, with a beautiful home and pool in front of a lush swamp and lake and one lives in colorado in a lovely neighborhood with stunning peonies and a view of the front range. we don’t get to see them often. but they have a way of showing up. and, for that, we are grateful.

in this world today with broad radiuses of residence instead of the close-by of years past, it’s not easy to stay engaged with those you love. you wish to spend more time with them – the ordinary kind of moments – to see what life is like, to step a tiny bit into their shoes or at least have a window into their day-to-day. it’s hard to hear of other families and easy sunday dinners, errands with elderly parents, adventures with grown children. i’ve pined more than once to go browse at target with my daughter or have a pedicure with my sister or watch my niece hold and play with her toddler-boy or view a hallmark-extravaganza with my other niece or, even harder, coffeesit once again with my sweet momma. i’ve thought about all the time i spent at tennis courts or in baseball fields with my son and wished to again watch from the sidelines as he bats and runs and fields or lobs tennis balls over the net. i’ve thought about preparation for fall and pumpkins and apple pies and corn mazes. i’ve thought about the famous calzones made in my sister-in-law’s colorado kitchen, the sweet niece who would sip red wine with me and taking a walk around the lake with david’s momma. and then, the chance to see all the rest…our families, friends, newly-found cousins, wider concentric circles still connected but a little further out.

these years have taken a toll. though we have traveled a little bit, it’s not like pre-pandemic. and there is so much to miss when wisconsin is not where everyone is, so much yearning. i know Making Time for others is important and, with work and budget and covid restraints, we try the-best-we-can to do whatever-we-can. it doesn’t eliminate the missing.

today is a good day for guac.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

whole30 fajita bowl


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not-still-life. [d.r. thursday]

there is a gold frame around the old black and white photograph. a still life of a family. it was taken in the 1920s and it captures the still-life of my sweet poppo’s family…at that very moment: his dad, his mom, his brothers and sisters as young children and babies.

i don’t have another like it; there is not another portrait – at least not in my collection of photos – that has both his biological parents and all his brothers and sisters. my dad lost his mom to metastasized breast cancer when he was merely eight years old. my grandpa married a woman – the only paternal grandmother i knew – who was willing to take on six growing children. life was not still.

in the way that families sometimes splinter, my dad’s family lost touch after the death of my grandparents. there was some rift and there were plenty of hurt feelings and, then, there was silence. i grew up the rest of my life without my cousins, without sharing in their stories, without the chance to know them or love them. it was like the still-life-portrait was carefully cut up and only my dad was left.

one of my uncles had drowned in the swimming hole in upstate new york during their teenage years. another uncle was lost at sea during the war. i think my third uncle passed somewhere along the way maybe in brooklyn, where they all grew up, as did one of my aunts, a fun-loving californian who always went by her nickname. and the aunt who had children – who would be my first cousins, wished for but lacking in my own circles – was in new england.

a couple years ago – after i broke my wrists – when i was sitting with casts and a laptop and the pandemic had just begun, i decided to google them. i wrote a bit about finding them – a golden moment of connection. suddenly, through research and social media and, unfortunately, posted obituaries, i discovered two of my four cousins.

i reached out, one on either coast. they reached back. and the ripped pieces of portraits that could have been taken through the years began to assemble. tiny bits of photo paper, a little glue, stories to be told.

my dad – on the other side but not too far away – smiled when i had my first conversation with his sister, my aunt. he no longer remembered the details of whatever the rift was and, besides, it was a ridiculous fifty years prior. how long does one hold onto these kinds of things?

my aunt, with a touch of brooklyn and a touch of boston, told me stories and i really pined to meet her, to hug my dad’s sister, to hear of my dad as a youngster, to sit with her. but covid and fragile health sadly combined to prevent this.

my cousin called while we were driving to the grocery store. he told me that earlier in the morning his momma, my 99-year-old-would-have-been-100-in-three-months-aunt helen, had died. once again, the still-life photo shattered. i would not capture a picture of us together, our jowls matching, perhaps our eyes, perhaps the curve of our faces. i watched her service online yesterday, trying to memorize the smiles and tears of my lost-now-found relatives.

i’m grateful for the brief conversations and the fact that she knows i looked for her, for her children. i’m grateful to have contact with two of my cousins and to someday meet their families and the families of my other two cousins who were holding a spot for their momma in that other plane. with great joy i listen to stories they tell me and i know that we’ll share time and snapshots, close-ups, wide angles, portraits, candids – reaching back and reaching forward – of our lives together.

i learn every day to let go, to hold on, to appreciate it.

the still-life is never really still.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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i struck gold. [k.s. friday]

once upon a time, a long long time ago in a faraway place, something happened. and then, there was A Rift, chasm-like and mysterious to those who followed. members of a family – my family – got hurt and angry and argued and dissed each other and cut off communication. no one really remembers the details but it must have been of gigantic proportion because decades have passed and relationships never regained their footing.

and then.

in the aftermath of breaking both my wrists last year, in the beginning of this global pandemic, in a time of upending change, i decided that life was too short for something i really could not remember, for something that had nothing to do with me, for something that represents tear-down instead of build-up. i started to research.

now, with google and all manners of social media, it doesn’t take a private investigator type to find people these days. it was not very hard.

and suddenly, my long-lost first cousins were there. in a tiny family tree, it is hugely significant to find first cousins, part of the constellation. sadly, two of them had passed, though there is open opportunity to be in touch with their families. and, miracle of miracles, the one remaining elder in the family from either side – my mom’s or my dad’s – in that age bracket and generation – my aunt – at almost-99-now – was alive and well. this woman who grew up with my father, who could tell me stories of my daddy when he was little-little, was still on this planet and i had had no idea.

i reached out.

just because i don’t remember, nor care, about The Great Rift didn’t mean that others felt the same way. so i was concerned and had some trepidation. but i was determined to try. for five decades i had lost the opportunity to know these people, my relatives. i had lost the chance to spend time with them, get to know them, laugh and cry with them, love them. i had lost over fifty years of relationship, over fifty years of connection. and that loss, something i’ve thought about on and off for these decades, was worth the risk. there’s way too much of that. loss.

they reached back.

and they didn’t just reach back. they reached back with joy. it was amazing to message and talk with cousin tony and cousin linda. it was thrilling to re-connect, my cousin tony laughing when i asked him to tell me everything, from every day, starting from 1970 or so.

in the middle of a pandemic, it is impossible to have the chance to go and (re)meet them yet, but we have our sights set on it for whenever it is safe. a chance to hug my aunt helen will be a chance to hug my dad once again. a chance to laugh heartily with my cousins and their children will be a chance to touch the heart of budding relationships, to touch dna.

though we have been connected despite our disconnectedness, it is a celebration for me to re-connect the dots. at a time when really nothing is more important than relationships, it is not time to be circumspect about connection. we are related! my cousin linda wrote words of promise i hold dear, “i can’t wait for the day when we just pick up the phone and just call each other without having to think about it.” yes. and cousin tony’s words ring true for me, “let’s not lose this connection again.”

Great Rifts seem to be prevalent. especially in these times of divisiveness. as i think about all the tragedies of even just the last months, i wonder what could be so important, so utterly pivotal, that could destroy connection. there is no doubt. we could exist somewhat without others, without ties. but connectedness feeds us and our souls in ways that nothing else can.

my sweet momma used to remind me of the girl scout song, “make new friends but keep the old. one is silver and the other’s gold.”

connected.

grateful.

i struck gold.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

CONNECTED from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood