Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Life of a woman

March 15, 2019

I think of writing about my 11 years as a stay-at-home-mom, the poorest years of our lives, and we had 4 kids. Some people were mad at us for having 4 kids. Said we couldn’t afford it. I hung clothes out on the line, washed cloth diapers, had a kitchen with wooden floors…… and still I refused to “go to work”. These were my babies. Besides, how would working be possible with 4 children? It was not possible. The structure of our society says we can pay for childcare. It says who are we to want assistance? We should figure it out. I played with my kids, had lovely days where time stood still, I made baby food, baked our own crackers. My husband worked sometimes 2 jobs. Once I determined to return to work, I went back part-time, then 30 hours, then finally 40 hrs/week. I had anxiety to be out in public alone, no child in tow. I imagine everyone was staring at me. Eventually, I went back to school, got 3 degrees including the top of the line PhD and became a professor. When I quit my full-time job I had for 15 years in order to finish the PhD, I had just come over the top of earning $21,000 a year. Yes. That’s right, that’s what women do, right? “Support” the family income. I worked to maintain health insurance for all. Fast forward to today, I earn 3X that much and have had a career for a good 11 years now. Life is an amazing journey. I fully remember getting my first car in my own name. It was a Dodge Neon, white. I was over 50 yrs. old. I loved that car. And if I could go back to any one time of my life?? I would give anything to go back to a day with my little ones, in the house with a wooden plank kitchen floor. But each age is different. Yesterday I spent over an hour on the phone with the IRS. Evidently because I had the AUDACITY to list MY NAME FIRST on our tax return, they couldn’t figure out where our money went. We’ve been married for 40+ years. We are one entity. But because I put my name FIRST… they couldn’t find us. I am 65 years old. How dare I put my name first on our joint, married, tax return. This is the end of my story! I’m about to end the Baha’i fast for the day!

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hospitality of the Dutch

January 30, 2019

I want to say a word about hospitality.

When I was a girl, going to my Dutch grandparents’ house was where I learned hospitality. We were immediate family, but oftentimes when my siblings and I were there, other people would stop in. They were usually part of the Dutch community, oftentimes family of my grandparents. My grandpa George was the oldest of 11. His siblings looked up to him, also because he was a very kind man, and would visit often.

There was a routine to these visits. First, sitting in their livingroom talking. After a good visit of about an hour, my grandma would then predictably say, “Let’s have a little lunch!” We would all then go into the kitchen, where I could count on a glass of 7-Up, cheese and crackers, and Dutch windmill cookies. Additionally, there were always chocolates with white cream filling, M&Ms, and Nonpareils (see photos).

The Dutch knew hospitality. I don’t think I taught my children well enough of this kindness to visitors. They would never have thought to be annoyed when someone stopped over to visit. No texting, no twittering, no Messenger-ing, but in-person visit time. My grandpa would make his coffee on a gas stove and watch it boil, then pour some into a cup. From the cup, he would pour a little into his saucer under the cup, and drink it from the saucer. I guess it cooled the boiling hot coffee.

Many happy hours were spent around their kitchen table, where they would tell stories to one another, and I was welcomed into the group, though a child. I learned much about family and how to treat a visitor.

1-30-2019

Our kids don’t know poverty

October 7, 2018

Our kids don’t know poverty.

Not like we did.

When we had our babies,

I stayed home with them.

Besides, by the time we had 3, or 4,

my working was not cost effective anymore.

When we had our babies,

government decided

to downsize middle managers,

so sometimes you were home with us,

and still, somehow, we survived.

When we had babies,

I used cloth diapers,

and hung them out on the line to dry.

One summer, the gas company shut us off,

we had no hot water for weeks.

Our kids don’t know poverty,

Not like we did.

They have nice houses,

new furniture,

They don’t have wealth,

but they don’t go without,

or have to use food stamps

at a local store.

They don’t know the shame

of standing in line

to get that free government cheese,

They don’t know having to take a bus

to go downtown to pay a bill,

and I wonder what they will ever do

if hard times come to call,

or if they will know how to find the joy,

while making it through it all.

cfblack   10-06-2018

 

 

 

 

 

to my mother

May 18, 2018

I try to imagine, being you,

born in the roaring twenties,

Taking out seams to make clothes fit

during the Great Depression.

Your parents quit school at age 12,

to earn money to help out at home,

They didn’t want you to suffer their fate,

so no matter what,

you felt blessed.

You met my father at age 16,

he was 4 years older than you,

and from that day on,

your life became

whatever it took to advance HIS career.

You never balanced a checkbook,

never worked outside the home,

Your friends were his academic colleagues,

never a friend of your own.

You never advanced past high school,

while he earned a PhD,

No one thought in the “baby boom”

a woman could advance herself.

My father’s career took off

and the poor boy became a Dean,

while you kept house, raised kids, and cleaned,

gave dinner parties on weekends.

But once he died so early,

at 50, was suddenly gone,

His friends dropped you like a hot potato,

and were not there for you.

Your life did not foster within you

a sense of your own strength,

Your life was focused on his success,

and now you were alone.

The next years were all a blur

as you turned to alcohol,

your kids all had to fend for themselves

to make it as they could.

To succeed in your recovery,

as any addict knows,

you have to center on yourself

because you have one goal.

At age 63 you did this,

and never once relapsed,

this, in itself, showed us all

how truly strong you were.

Mothering is never perfect,

neither mine, nor yours,

One thing that I always knew

was that I was deeply loved.

It helps me to imagine

all the things that you went through,

I hope you had enough time

to develop who you were,

Our lives were very different,

but what I learned from you

is a woman can do anything

she sets her own mind to.

I balance my own checkbook,

I work outside the home,

so another thing you taught me

is to have a backup plan.

Mother/Daughter connections

are always complicated,

I also know the Love we share

continues unabated.

cfblack    05-17-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

for my mother-in-law

April 3, 2018

She was the oldest

She was the oldest,

mother to her siblings,

her mother 16 at her birth,

 

Two brothers, 4 sisters,

born after her,

She mothered them

as she grew,

 

when that handsome service man came along,

she picked up and left what she knew,

 

Being together as long as they were,

sharing a lifetime of years,

raising 6 children and seeing theirs too,

sharing much laughter, and tears,

 

But what is left when he is gone,

your house, and all that you saved?

when everything familiar to you,

has all been given away,

 

Unable to visit or travel

or go to a funeral,

Your brothers pass before you,

two sisters now are gone,

 

You hear him talking with you now,

His voice is calling you home,

You hear him saying your work here is done,

so “Come on Alice, let’s go!”

cfblack 04-03-2018

No one knows the memories

October 22, 2017

No one knows the memories

you carry in your heart,

over 60 years of them,

never apart,

your love starting fresh

on a country road

as a serviceman offered you a ride,

letters written during WWII

promises made and kept,

He came to see you before his mother

a new life begun together,

the birth of 6 children,

too many grandkids to count,

weddings and holiday gatherings,

Bodies turning old

but spirit the same,

you shared this journey together,

no one knows the memories,

but we see them in teardrops falling.

cfblack  10-22-2017

Death is not pretty

October 22, 2017

Death is not pretty,

It is not meant to be,

The body decomposes

naturally,

 

The process begins

before we are gone,

We stop nourishing it

before we go home,

 

Loved ones surround us

at our bedside,

There is no hiding

what is happening inside,

 

Skin wrinkles and withers

face sunken and hollow,

We are giving up this life

and leaving tomorrow,

 

Death is not pretty

and so we see,

what is left is the shell

where our soul used to be,

 

As the process unfolds

we leave body behind,

The spirit is freed!

because our God is kind,

 

So don’t worry for me

as I leave you here,

for my spirit is soaring

to other spheres,

 

You will see me again

in a very short time,

We are always, forever,

united as one.

cfblack  10-22-2017 

 

After Tonight

October 21, 2017

After tonight,

you will visit him

in your dreams at night,

You will see his smile,

and think of him,

hear his voice and laughter,

Connected throughout the realms of God,

disconnected from time and space,

His presence will be with you there,

and also in your prayers.

We wish we could do it all again,

be a better daughter or son,

No matter how long our time has been,

the pain is still acute,

Years and years of parenting

now coming to a close,

memories flood back to us

like the sweet smell of a rose,

So rest, my dear, his time is come,

You need your sleep as well,

For you are destined to be with me

for a little while here on Earth,

A generation passes on

from this world to the next,

Rest, and hear his voice again,

for he is with you still.

cfblack  10-21-2017

Chet Black

October 21, 2017

I must write about you

for the next generation,

and the next, and the next,

for they will not have the good fortune

to have known you in this life.

I may write about how

you found your wife,

walking on a road near Mascoutah,

You talked, and I think offered her a ride,

you, a serviceman stationed there,

and you and her made plans

for a life full of love,

for a home full of kids,

and after you returned from overseas,

that is exactly what you did together.

Your mother was mad

you went to see your future wife

before you went to see her,

and so it goes.

I will write about your politics

and how it took me

at least 5 years

of sitting in your living room

to get used to the constant opinionated challenges

being thrown about

to realize

it didn’t matter if I disagreed with your view

as long as I spoke my mind.

All opinions respected

but you had to have a brain

and be willing to banter back and forth.

I could write

about how you cried

at the slightest things

in your later years,

emotional in your 90s,

well it’s about time, old man.

I will have to write

about how you voted

for the first Black President in America

because the party you were loyal to

disappointed and betrayed you,

that party didn’t give you

all your due

in your later years of life.

Oh my God, how we will miss you,

how we will hold you in our hearts!

You stubborn soul, still, you supported us

and loved to have family around,

We were always welcome

at your table

or to sit in your living room,

ALL the TIMES we played euchre

in the kitchen,

ALL the JOYS of this life

and its cares,

We cannot imagine life without you,

We cannot believe you won’t be there.

We are happy for you in your journey

to leave us and move on to there,

All roads lead us to one another,

All paths will bring us together.

 

EarlChet and AL 170903 walking

 

birthday

August 19, 2017

I was born about 1:10pm on a Wednesday. My mother always said, “I knew the minute you were born!” like that was unusual. I think because from her experience, women were doped up and pretty much unconscious, which is sad, to me. I was the 2nd child and my older brother 8 years older than me. Probably, I took a lot of our parents’ attention that he was used to absorbing. They tried for 2 years to get pregnant for me, & then got the other gender, so I figure I was the center of their world for awhile. Until my sister came along 2 1/2 years later. And then our younger brother 5 years after that! So I was 7 1/2 years from one brother, 8 years from the next. It was my sister & I in the middle.— My dad was a professor and he loved to take 3-4 weeks of his summer and roam around out West. We went to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Yosemite and the Redwoods, Canada and Mexico. My birthday usually occurred on a trip. I can’t really remember hardly anything that I really wanted for my birthday, I think because it was celebrated away from home. I remember more, what I wanted for Christmas. Dolls……. Raggedy Ann, Barbie, “Miss Ideal”, Tiny Tears. Nancy Drew mysteries. A stingray bike. One thing I DO remember I really wanted was a transistor radio for my 16th birthday. My dad said they couldn’t find the one I wanted, they’d get it later. We had the birthday dinner, I went to bed, then I heard this loud rock & roll-type music playing…….. went downstairs, there was the RADIO, my radio. My dad liked to play games & tricks like that on us. He died 9 days later at the age of 50, on my mom’s birthday. I have lived 14 more years than he was able to. He never met a grandchild. I have 6. No one ever knows how long they have on this earth, to be with your loved ones. Life is a gift of God. I appreciate all the bounties I have been given to have lived this long. May I enjoy many more.