Monday, May 2, 2011


Yesterday, on her birthday, Jessie brought me the most exquisite pink hydrangea I've ever seen. Giant clusters of pink blooms and smaller clusters of creamy, just-turning-pink blooms and it all reminds me of a newborn, her first breaths taken, the skin turning before your eyes to that same color.

It is magnificent.

I had it on the hallway altar place but I've brought it out here to the porch so I can look at it, drink it in, wonder at it. Not unlike having a newborn and carrying her everywhere you go in the house on the first hours and days after her birth. You cannot let her out of your sight. You just can't.

It's quiet in Lloyd tonight. Everyone has gone home and Mr. Moon is on his way to auction and so here I am, alone for the first time in days and days and it is fine. It is very fine. I have almost finished up the laundry and I've taken the trash and recycle. I spoke to the young man at the trash depot and felt I had to apologize as I dumped such a huge quantity of beer bottles into the glass recycle.
"We had a big party," I explained. "My daughter just graduated from FSU and it was her birthday, too."
"Tell her I said congratulations," he said.
And it went on from there. He told me that his girlfriend is in nursing school and that his grandmother just died that morning. His grandfather died three weeks ago. They had been married for over fifty years.
"It was sort of like losing my parents and my grandparents," he said. "My grandparents practically raised me." He tilted his hat back on his head and said, "I can't say anything against my mom. She's just a workaholic. She's always had two or three jobs at the same time. She has three right now. And just got over Stage Three breast cancer."

There you go. I wasn't there for three minutes, I guarantee it. Three bags of trash and recycle. And I know all these things about this boy and I told him that I would be thinking of him. I told him that. And I am.

I wish him well. I truly do.

I've been thinking lately about how as I get older, I am at once more cynical and at the same time, more apt to be compassionate. I give the benefit of the doubt more often. I claim to know the difference between right and wrong less often. I try to really study how I feel about things and figure out why I'm feeling the way I do.

Sometimes on weekends, Mr. Moon forgets to eat. He's so used to me fixing his breakfast smoothie (usually) and packing his lunch and making his supper that he's gotten out of the habit of wondering if he's hungry and doing something about it if he is.
And this has always sort of driven me crazy. If he's busy outside and it comes lunch time and I'm hungry, I'll admit that I sometimes just grab a banana and some peanut butter or a slice of bread and a few slices of turkey to fold up and eat. Whatever. Food. Done.
I don't think about making a lunch, taking it to him or calling out to him to come and eat. I'm not a big one for now it's lunchtime and we must eat. Suppers I cook regularly and well. So when he wanders into the house at three p.m. and I'm in the middle of something and he says, "Did I eat lunch yet?" I have, in the past, wanted to...
Not be nice.

What? Why should I stop what I'm doing to feed him? Am I his mother? He's a grown man. He can't make a sandwich?

This happened on Saturday. And I stopped myself. I thought this to myself: What in the world is more important than making this man, this man I love so much, who takes care of me so well, something to eat?

And I made him a turkey and cheese and tomato sandwich on whole grain bread and I served it to him on a plate and he was so appreciative.

Was that so hard?

I'm getting older. I am learning some shit.
It's about damn time.
I have so much more to learn, too.

But I think I'm placing my bets on being as kind and loving as I can to those around me who deserve it, although the word deserve does carry a sort of judgmental quality to it, doesn't it? Just because I don't see the good in everyone doesn't mean it's not there.
I get to make that judgment for myself. At this point I do think I can recognize a really, really good heart when I see it, no matter how armored it may be in what we might think of as "character flaws."
Having more than a few of my own, I know they have nothing to do with hearts. Nothing at all.

And it doesn't do one bit of good for me to rail and rant against the powers that be. It's so easy to do that. Do I want to run for office? Hell fucking no.
I won't even run for the board of the Monticello Opera House Stage Company because I eschew responsibility. I know that about myself and I am coming to a place of acceptance about it.

Not unlike Pop-Eye, I yam what I yam.
A highly imperfect human who tries to pay attention, who tries to be compassionate, who realizes her many faults and is trying to honor herself the way she is, as she tries to honor others.

I spent so many years feeling guilty because I was "only a mother." I knew in my heart that what I was doing was important but so many women were being fantastic mothers AND being lawyers or doctors or starting companies or running for office, or, or, or....

And there I was, washing clothes and wiping bottoms, nursing babies and taking teenagers to ballet and karate. Doing my little volunteer-in-the classroom thing. I wasn't even a Girl Scout leader! I had a few part-time-ish jobs. One at a birth center, one at Weight Watchers. I cooked, I cleaned, I gardened a bit, I did the best I could and beat myself up regularly for not doing more.

Now I look back and think that I did a lot. I know I could do a lot more now than I do but you know what? I don't want to. The world does not hinge on me running one damn thing. As I am learning to be more compassionate towards others, I am learning to be more compassionate with myself.

My children are grown up but I can tend other children. I see my place in my grandson's life. I can tend my garden, my chickens. I heard Alice Walker on NPR today, talking about her new book, The Chicken Chronicles, and I heard her say the exact same things I say about my chickens, my life. Okay, I don't go to India and chant with nuns but I grow collard greens year round. I love my hens. I am not comparing myself with Alice Walker, I am just saying that as we age, we begin to truly, truly appreciate what is important and let go of those things which are not.

I carry my hydrangeas around with me like a newborn.
I will find a place in my yard to plant them. If I kept them in this small pot and just carried them around, they would eventually die but if they have good roots and I plant them in a place where they will get the sort of soil and water and sun they need, they will thrive.

I have tended all of my babies and they are planting themselves where they need to be.
Their roots are good.

I am learning things.

I am letting things go.

I do not believe in saviors except for the ones I know personally. I think we can all be saviors at one point or another. I think we all find saviors who pop in at just the right time.

I think if we accept others and ourselves, we are doing good.
I think if we see the magnificence in daily life and in those who share our lives with us we are doing very, very good.

All right. That's all I have to say tonight. I have some thoughts on heaven but maybe I'll turn them into a short story. Who knows?
But I will say that I think this is heaven. For me, at least.
Which means, once again, I am the luckiest woman I know.

Chickens and hydrangeas and children who bring me presents on their birthday and a man who says, "I love you," at last five times a day or more and who shows me that and for whom I can make a little lunch and know that there is nothing I'd rather be doing. Nothing in the world more important.

I am thinking about that boy at the trash depot. I am thinking about his grandparents who loved him so. I am thinking about my grandson and how he kissed me today. I am thinking about my children.

Quiet. Ssssh.

Every time my eyes raise up to light on those pink hydrangeas, my heart thinks that it can't hold any more beauty that it already does.

And it just occurred to me- I give you my heart here. As fully as I am able. And it is one of the greatest joys of my life.

And that is saying a lot.


  1. i'd pick a beer with you over tea with alice walker any day....

    be well.


  2. If my sister were a writer instead of an artist, she would be you. And reading your wondrous words, I miss her so much. Make sense?

  3. Mrs. A- Really? Oh my.

    Beth- Yes. It makes sense. Thank you for coming by. Please visit whenever you feel like it. We have a wonderful community here.

  4. Oh, and I'm so glad you do. We are so glad you do.

    I found an azalea on my porch today, and a colleague gave me lilacs and a bunch of wild things from his farm. And my son rode his bike ahead of me and I ran and then there was dinner and wine and now everyone sleeping. It's a nice world sometimes, isn't it?

  5. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
    I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

  6. simply gorgeous. the flowers, the sentiment, your heart wide open, you.

    you remind us what really matters, thank you.

  7. Thank you for the reminders -- especially the stuff about trying to be as kind and loving as one can. I need to be reminded of that. A lot.

  8. Those hydrangeas are breathtaking, and one of my favorite flowers. I just stopped a woman the other day coming out of the grocery to tell her how beautiful hers were.

    Love this post and the wise words: ...if we realize the magnificence of sharing our daily lives with those we love, we are doing pretty good...


  9. i LOVE what downtown guy just said.
    um, awesome.

  10. I am getting weirdly sentimental and filled with a lot of compassion over the past years. I guess that I have had compassion all my life for animals. But now I feel a lot for people too. My eyes have been opened to see so much better the struggles of others. Giving your heart here. I agree that you do that.

  11. I'm with Mrs. Miss A. And this helped me a lot today:

    I think if we accept others and ourselves, we are doing good.
    I think if we see the magnificence in daily life and in those who share our lives with us we are doing very, very good.

    So, thank you.

  12. DTG- Still and always, one of my very most favorites. "I do not think they will sing for me." I love you.

    Angella- Oh darling! Happy birthday!

    Elizabeth- It is getting easier as I grow older. I swear.

    Maggie May- Aren't they something, the hydrangeas? And we can plant them in our yards! Amazing.
    Like Hank and like TS Eliot. What a world!

    Syd- You give your heart too, but in a more manly way. That's why I love you.

    Ms.Bastard-Beloved- You are part of the magnificence of my life. You know it, too.

  13. I love the way that you are so aware, and so appreciative of the day-to-day, which is life. I try to do that too. I have a long way to go, but I am going!

  14. Dearest Mary, oh, that poor boy... I'm glad he had you to talk to.

    You make me appreciate what's really important and I see magnificence all around me, especially in you xx

  15. Ms. Moon. This post - it is perfect.

    I have told you before, but you know you heal me, right? You give your heart and I feel it and I give mine right back and it is a healing healing healing thing. It is like an ointment for my soul.

    Reading your post, I agree with you and for a while I feel like I'm not pissing away my "potential" as so many people think - four university degrees and here I am and my main responsibilities are cleaning poop, getting lunch ready and organising a communion party. Reading your post, I can feel that I am doing everything I need to be doing and could in no way do any better if I was off on international business trips or saving someone else's world.

    Thank you, Ms. Moon. I love you.


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