Monthly Archives: December 2020

Be It Resolved

A few weeks ago, I dragged out the holiday decor. I hung my Joy plaque on the wreath which my sister Joyce made 35 years ago from my mother’s grapevine.  Angels hang from every curtain rod and dangle from pins tacked into the stairwell and the loft rails.  Lights twinkle at the windows.  A half-dozen cards from around the country swing from a red ribbon.

Now the New Year hovers a few hours away on the other side of midnight.  My work day came to a quiet close.  I ate a simple meal, exchanged texts with my siblings, and vaguely browsed through the news.  One or two emails demanded modest attention.  Nothing remains but a quiet evening with the latest Kjell Eriksson novel, on loan from the Sacramento County digital library.

I usually make a short list of New Year’s resolutions.  At the end of 2013, I resolved to go an entire year without complaining in honor of my recently passed and beloved mother-in-law.  The first quarter of 2014 brought shattering challenges to my endeavor, so I’ve renewed that pledge on December 31st of each successive year.  

Most of my friends warned me that my quest had no chance of succeeding.   Perhaps they knew my nature better than I did.  Colleagues reminded me that defending our clients required us to voice objection on a regular basis.  My puzzling health issues cry for self-advocacy. 

 But I vowed to keep trying.  I re-read Marshall Rosenberg as often as necessary.  Counting to ten has never sufficed.  I’ve gotten to a hundred sometimes; I’ll drone to a thousand if need be to hold my tongue.  Mantras circle in my head, chief among them one which my son learned in elementary school:  You can’t have “listen” without “silent”.  Indeed.

Each New Year’s Eve, I find myself including mundane pledges intermixed with more glorious ambitions.  Drink more water, cut down spending, smile more, do some secret good turn every day, learn to floss at long last, stop eating chocolate and sneaking fish tacos into my plant-based diet.  Call each of my siblings in turn.  Volunteer.  Clean the curbsides around the park.  Donate serviceable clothing to a shelter.  

The list can be summarized with a single goal:  Put your best foot forward.

Nana, my maternal grandmother, would be proud of me for remembering her instruction.

Tomorrow the Christmas decorations will come down and I’ll move my driftwood wreath to the front door. With Hope becoming paramount, I’ll find another spot for Joy.  I’ll sweep the floors, wipe down the counters, and sort through my little closet.  Cobwebs will fly beneath my duster.  Pillows, sheets, blankets, and shawls will smooth themselves across the bed and unfurl from the coat rack.  

I’ll take a break to walk along the road, waving at neighbors.  A cup of tea will sit beside me on the porch.  If the wind blows, I’ll raise the lights as I wipe the kitchen fixtures and tidy the towels on the shelf above the washer.  The shoes beneath the stairs will practically straighten themselves, eager to please me.  By the end of New Year’s Day, my tiny house will have been made clean and pretty again.

When all is said, and done, and said again, I count myself one of the amazingly lucky ones as 2020 comes to its wretched close.  I did not lose my job.  I have not, as of yet, caught this devastating virus.  Though I’ve lost friends and acquaintances to the illness, no one close and no family.  We have been spared.   Thousands upon thousands have been dragged through misery, while my son, my siblings, and those for whom I care most deeply have largely been spared.  For that, I give humble thanks to whatever divine force favored me and mine.

But I have confronted personal reckonings in 2020.  As my third year in California draws to a close, every pretense I had for moving west has been stripped from me.  The medical care which originally drew me to the Bay area proved false.  The nonprofit job for which I yearned did not materialize at a time when I could accept an offer.  When I could, none came.  I’ve had to cobble together a life, just as I did when my marriage failed and my son — quite fittingly — embarked on his own path.  

In some ways, this pandemic has offered me hours in which to reflect.  Endeavors that I had been scheduled to orchestrate got cancelled or scaled to manageable size.  I used the spare time to write and reflect.  I dragged some rigid conceptions to the forefront and challenged their validity.  My rummaging uncloaked anger which then raged in great claps of thunder.  Sorrow swelled until my eyes drowned.  Grief seeped from my heart and engulfed me.

I had let others carry my pain for a long time.  Those brave souls call me sister, cousin, friend.  One calls me “mother”.  They eased a lifetime of burdens that I did not believe myself strong enough to shoulder.  I might have been right; but rather than let these sweet people strain under its weight for another moment, I have decided that sorrow is too great a burden for any of us.  Though the memories of everything and everyone whom I lost will remain, I no longer need the corrupt threads of loss to maintain the fibers of my being.  

Joy will make a better winding cloth — lighter, softer, and cleaner.  I will wrap myself in its splendor.  I will pull its fragrance deep into my soul.  I will let joy soothe me until, at long last, I heal.

Be it resolved.

It’s the thirty-first day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

For no particular reason, I’m linking a few of the galleries which I’ve created for this blog over the last year.  The photos will load more slowly than I like, but might bring you a little pleasure if you, like me, enjoy the refreshing splendor of nature however inexpertly captured.

Happy New Year.  May 2021 bring you peace, prosperity, and — yes — joy.



#DeltaLife, Winter version

The original parking reservation for my tiny house was in an RV park north of San Francisco in the Santa Rosa region.  Sadly, that site burned in the fires of September 2017.  Anxious, worried, expecting my house to be delivered by the first of November, I went in search of an alternate spot.  One contact told me about the place where I eventually landed.  

“It’s in the Delta,” he explained. 

“The Delta?” I asked, clearly confused.  “I thought that was in Mississippi.”  He laughed.

My GPS lady guided me from my hotel on the coast forty miles east and over the Antioch Bridge.  A vast, beautiful scene unfolded.  Born and raised in St. Louis, I raised my son in Kansas City — both river towns.  My heart fluttered as I descended from the long expanse of the bridge into the Delta proper.  The Sacramento stretched inland and eventually, I would learn, met the San Joaquin and the Molekumne.  A vast waterway teeming with life curled around lush lands forming the islands of the California Delta.  I felt as though I had come home to the smell of rich soil and verdant vegetation, with towering willows and endless rows of vines heavy with autumn fruit.

Whether a flock of snow geese in a field of fog on a December morning or red-tailed hawks on a high wire, the birds of the Delta fascinate me.  Please enjoy these humble shots.  Bear in mind that the grey you see is not a broken lens but low-lying mist.  I saw the egrets in a field along HIghway 12.  The sight of these majestic birds unconcerned about the digger just feet from where they gathered astonished me. I sat on the shoulder snapping through my window.  Talk about “reclaiming my time”!

I took these photos on auto with my little basic Canon, en route to work, which is to say, between my home on the Delta Loop and Rio Vista across the river in Solano County.  This Missouri expat cannot get enough of the #deltalife.

It’s the thirtieth day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Hover over the individual photos to see my captions.  There are 17 photos in the slideshow.  Enjoy.

Reflected Light

Someone recently asked me why I write.  After a moment of surprise at their curiosity, I replied that I write to live.  I struggle to get words down as quickly as the sentences form.  I bargain with myself:  Do the laundry now, write later.  I don’t  always give my own passages high marks but I don’t seem to control them.  They just flow. Most of the time, I do not edit; I send my words into the atmosphere and turn to the next effort.

I see my writing as a reflection of the world around me.   I hope that I do justice to the light source once in a while.  Certainly, I have good role models for that endeavor:  Excellent writers but also phenomenal reflectors, such as the December moon over the California Delta last night.

It’s the thirtieth day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Saturday, 26 December 2020

I opened my eyes.
I reached for the phone to check the time.
I saw a text from my son sent at this exact time but in his own zone.
I sent the third draft of my reply.
I hauled my body vertical, pushing aside nagging thoughts of a distant day when I would not be so able.
I crept down the stairs, clutching the rail and my tablet.
I used the restroom, then ran tap water into the coffee kettle.
I stood and watched that pot until it boiled.
I poured too-hot water over fresh coffee grounds.
I closed my eyes and breathed the fragrance of morning.
I whipped two eggs with the egg beater that my sister Joyce and I found at a St. Charles flea market three years ago.
I cut a piece of gluten-free Focaccia which my son had sent for Christmas, spreading butter into its tender crumb.
I melted more butter in a hot pan and poured the gleaming yellow egg mixture into the golden foam.
I opened the digital Times and mourned the world’s condition as the sun lightened the Delta sky.
I pulled soft cotton clothes onto my body and scrunched my unruly hair into a bun under a piece of elastic.
I thought a few minutes before sending a message to a woman whom I babysat many years ago, who had posted something on my Facebook page on Christmas Day.
I talked to her for twenty minutes before my anxiety clutched me and I said goodbye.
I rummaged on the porch until the fresh air had cleared the worry from my bones.
I called my friend Brenda in Kansas City to check on her Covid-19 test and felt a thrill of relief as she spoke.
I drove to the recycle dumpster with a load of torn cardboard boxes which once held gifts from people who love me.
I leaned out of my car window to tell Candice “Happy boxing day” en route to the trash bins; and eased my car the long way ’round afterwards to chat with a woman whom I had not seen for weeks.
I swept the piles of dried oak leaves from my deck to the strip of no-man’s land between my lot and that of my neighbor who does not like me and would surely protest if she saw.
I glanced at another text from my son, an answer, one about which he must have thought just as long as I had before sending my six-a.m. message.
I sent the fourth or fifth version of my next comment, and smiled at his swift one-word reply.
I drove to the park office to check on a package which my son informed me the post office had told him was delivered five days ago.
I sat in my tiny house and eased the tape from the package, shaking my head over the many stickers proclaiming its perishability.
I eased the gluten- and dairy-free lemon bars from the crumpled packing material, grateful for the spate of unusually cold Northern California weather which allowed the delectable pastries to stay fresh in the lamentably cold park office.
I sent a photo of my afternoon treat to my son.
I sent a photo of six plates which I no longer need to a young neighbor whom I thought might find them useful.
I carefully washed those plates in preparation for handing them over to my neighbor.
I made a skillet of fake cheese corn tortilla quesadillas and ate them with rehydrated sundried tomatoes for dinner.
I went outside to take a photo of the solar-powered copper angel which my sister shipped me for Christmas.
I scrolled through social media and forced myself to repress feelings of envy and invited my heart to feel joy for the pleasure which so many others experienced in the company of their families on Christmas Day.
I smiled again at a text from a neighbor describing the pleasure of eating one of the fancy chocolates which I had given her.
I watched a British home improvement show on YouTube while I forced myself to stretch the stubborn spasticity in my legs.
I composed an email to my fancy neurologist which I deleted twice before altogether abandoning.
I turned out the twinkling lights in my window so they would not disturb my neighbor.
I eased myself under the warm covers.
I plugged the phone into its charger on the bedside table.
I closed my eyes.


Merry Christmas from Mary Corinne

As I scroll through the photographs from last weekend’s escape to the sea, I think about the people with whom I have never gotten to share my new life.  My mother, my little brother — gone these many years.  But living folks, too:  My sister Joyce, my other siblings, most of my friends from the Midwest.  I walk along the shoreline at Goat Rock State Park and imagine them beside me. 

My brother Frank would fold his arms across his chest and spare a small smile.  He might recall urging me not to tell him that I planned to live in a damn trailer park.  He would look across the bay towards the sea.  He might laugh, a bit ruefully.  He might admit that living seventy miles inland from such majesty seems worthwhile, especially given the beauty of the California Delta in which my house sits snuggled between the San Joaquin and a lush meadow.  

Joyce’s voice through the phone this morning brings me home.  We open our presents in turns, first she, then I.  She exclaims over the ribbon candy and chocolate-covered cherries reminiscent of our mother’s Christmas table.  I cry when I turn the handle of the little music box and hear the delicate strains of “You Are My Sunshine”.  We laugh over the layers of bubble wrap with which our clumsy fingers fumble, in tandem, with such similarity that the struggle falls way to amusement.  I tell her about the little shop in Pacifica where I found her necklace.  We discuss the shepherd’s hook on which I might hang the angel windchime.  

In the weeks which I spent downsizing before I sold my house in Kansas City, I found a letter that my brother Stephen had written from New Orleans.  To be brutally honest, I could not remember receiving it.  I could not have told you that my little brother had fled his nightmares in St. Louis for the south.  But he clearly had.  

In the letter, he described his feelings about the life he had escaped and the refuge which he longed to find.  I sat in my empty dining room and wept.  Many times since his death in 1997, I have wondered if I could have helped him.  I realize this is survivor’s guilt.  As my brother Frank once said, “Our Dad was an asshole and our little brother killed himself.  Tell me what’s happened in the twenty years since then.”  I know that I have a right to my life, to beauty, to joy, to the splendor of the ocean landscape. 

But I would give damn near anything to have Steve walk beside me on the shores of the Pacific.  

He would be sixty-one today. Perhaps I shed these tears for him, for what he will never know and never experience.  But I think my sorrow flows from something more selfish — the thought that I can never see the rays of the setting sun on his face, and the bitter knowledge that I did not appreciate the experience when I had the chance.

Yet my brother will not be sixty-one today except in my imagination.  I remember Christmas shopping with him in St. Louis forty years ago.  I had come from Kansas City by train with no gifts for anyone, and he took me to a mall to buy whatever I could find at the last minute. 

We had a drink in some open-plan bar gazing out over the shoppers in the atrium below us.  He carried my packages.  He bought himself a fancy pair of socks and some trinket for our mother. We wandered from store to store, talking about the various challenges which I faced in my first year of law school.  He chain-smoked while I kvetched about my work-study job and the lack of convenient parking.  

Finally, over an Irish coffee and a half-eaten sandwich, he studied my face for a long uncomfortable moment.  He looked away for a second, then asked me, in a quiet voice, if I was happy, if I was glad that I’d decided to move and try something radically different.  I knew he wanted a real answer and tried to give him one.  But my heart could not.  I rattled on about the potential of my hopeful new profession, about what job I might get, and where I might decide to live after I graduated.  My voice trailed away.  Into the silence, he nodded.

I had not fooled him.

Last weekend, in the Guerneville Lodge where I stayed for one dreamy night, I sat at a massive live-edge oak table looking out over an expanse of green above the Russian River.  My little brother’s question returned to me.  I considered.  There I was:  Alone; a bit worried about my health; missing my son, my family, and my friends.  But was I happy?  Despite the challenges, the underlying homesickness, and lingering uncertainty about the wisdom of my drastic move, was I, after all, happy?

I could feel the steady gaze of my little brother, your friend and mine, Stevie Pat, waiting for my response.  I held his gaze and promised to give him an answer before Christmas next year.  I intend to keep that promise.

It’s the twenty-fifth day of the eighty-fourth month of My [Endless] Year [Striving to Live] Without Complaining.  Life continues.


I believe there are 37 photos in this gallery.  I did not resize them so they might load a bit slowly.  Enjoy.

For the uninitiated, the title of this entry comes from my childhood.  My full given name is “Mary Corinne”, though I have not used the “Mary” since I was 17 except among my siblings.  However, as a child, my family called me “Mary” and every Christmas, my mother labelled my presents, “Merry Christmas to Mary Corinne”.


Penny said, Didn’t your brother have the same birthday as me? and I shook my head as though she could see me from two thousand miles away.  I told her that my father and she shared a birth anniversary, December 27th.  

My little brother came into the world on Christmas morning sixty-one years ago.  But he will never age beyond the thirty-seven years at which he died.

After my long call with Penny, I crawled into the hotel room bed and propped myself against the pillows.  A dim light shone through the curtain, a city light, the unmistakable buzz of fluorescent over concrete.  I fell asleep to the sound of traffic on Lombard.

The morning air surrounded me as I dragged my bag to the car.  A woman called from the low wall across the parking lot.  She asked if I wanted to turn in my key.  I had been their only customer and my early departure would allow them to close for the weekend, huddling into the loss of income that the city’s quarantine order would cause them.  

She came over to me, holding a tissue to her face.  She had come outside maskless to smoke.  I asked her who she was and she identified herself as the mother of Raymond, the manager who had taken my money upon arrival.  I gave her the little plastic keys and thanked her.  

I had planned to head home but something drew me north.  A few minutes online found a hotel room for the night in Guernville, ten miles inland from my favorite spot at the mouth of the Russian River.  I ate a carry-out breakfast sitting on a park bench at the Marina, watching the dog-walkers and the joggers.   Seagulls landed on the pavement by my feet.  Their steady gaze identified me and my kind as the trespassers.  I nodded at one of them to show my understanding. 

I watched a ship head east.  I thought, If I left now, I might see it pass the marina at home.  I shook my head at the wonder of it all.  I remembered Marcia Walsh, an attorney in Kansas City, marveling that I had taken a train to Jefferson City, testified before a legislative committee, and gotten home by dinner.  Ah, the rapidity with which we travel! she exclaimed.  

I scrolled through Facebook and realized, not from my own immediate recollection but from the photographs shown by the algorithm, that I had moved to California three years ago this weekend.  Perhaps this anniversary accounts for my sullen mood.  I shook my head for the hundredth time, and slid behind the wheel of my car.  I set the GPS for Jenner and headed north. Somewhere on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge, I felt a weight slide from my soul.  The relief might be temporary.  But I will wear the gladness as long as possible.

It’s the twentieth day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Just a few shots from my phone.  Hover for captions.  More pics when I get home and upload from my Canon.  Please enjoy.

Help Wanted

I have an awl, a fancy thing with variable punching heads.  But I can’t squeeze tight enough to use it.  I fall back on my old standby, the rubber mallet, a nail, and the chopping block my father made for me out of a ring of apple wood. My clumsy feet always want tighter buckles, so I slam the nail into the leather strap and hope for the best.  I need friends with strong hands.

My door lock sticks.  I stand on the porch and lean my head against the screen, shuddering through a jagged breath and what might be a sob.  I’ve already faced one of the many small dilemmas that pepper my days.  Carry two bags or make two trips?  I need a free hand to navigate the tricky bit of ground between the house and the pavers.  Steady as she goes, whoopsie daisy, easy does it now, you’re almost there.  Woman seeks neighbor with similar grocery-buying schedule.

The heater hums behind me.  I think about the hours between midnight and four, when I wake to the sound of critters on the metal roof.  Someone told me they might be rats.  I prefer to imagine restless birds or wayward branches tossed by the night winds.  I can’t stand the thought of dealing with rodents at this late stage of my life.  Must be good with animals.

I piled empty boxes in the back of my car, on top of the bags of clothes and sundry household items which I plan to donate.  Receipts and junk mail litter the passenger floor.  Truth told, I think three of my winter hats have gotten buried on the rear seat.  A nice lady down the way always asks if she can do anything for me.  I smile and shake my head.  I’m lying, of course; I could turn over the keys to my life, crawl in bed, and give her free rein.  Maybe she’d take away half of the dishes gathering dust on the shelves.

Christmas lights twinkle in my windows.  Like the curtains in my sleeping loft, the lights cling to  wobbly push-pins hammered into the frames.  I know there’s a real way to do everything, but I can only hold my body still for a few short minutes at a time.  In and done; pray it holds; collapse into a chair.

The bags of fruit on the refrigerator shelf will probably grow mold before I figure out how to use them.  I can’t bend to light the pilot in the stove, so the cookies which I wanted to make for Christmas remain bags of flour, salt, and sugar in the cupboard.  I live on scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, and Challenge butter.  Occasionally, I boil some gluten-free pasta and eat it with grape seed oil and fake parmesan cheese.  It’s not much of a diet, but it’s easy to cook and palatable.  No jars to force open; no vacuum-seal packets to attack with scissors.   A simple life.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Close your eyes, count to ten; and lift.

It’s the fifteenth day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

A Marvelous Murder

Today the crows returned.  As I sat at my table drinking tea, a glorious cacophony rose in the trees above my house.  I ran outside, stumbling through the swirl of leaves on my porch.  My greedy lens swung back and forth, my fingers barely keeping pace with its self-adjustments.  All the while I heard the voice of Penny Thieme, now a whisper, then a gleeful shout.  I swear I saw her spirit soar among the ebony wings and in the towering branches.  She has always viewed the crows as kindred souls.

In this, my third winter among the birds who flock to the Delta on their way to find warmth, I stood beneath the grey sky longing to walk through the meadow with Penny.  This marvelous murder of crows would be her undoing.  She would fall to the ground and weep with joy. 

The crows lifted their wings to sail through the sky.  They called to each other through the gentle rain  They glided on chilly blooms of foggy air to land on the tenderest of branches.  I watched until the light faded, keeping vigil in Penny Thieme’s name.

It’s the eleventh day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Barriers and Blessings

After my mother’s death in 1985, my sister Joyce became the steward of my father until he died in 1991.  She brought him McDonald’s breakfast each morning on her way to work.  She took him to the grocery store and helped him with any other errands.  Because he did not drive, she became his wheels as well as his planner, his social director, and his budgeter.  She orchestrated the purchase of presents for grandchildren in his name. 

I visited my father just once during that six-year span.  I stood in the kitchen and stared at the row of little paper medicine vials on the counter, each with a time written in ballpoint pen.  Empty cups represented medication doses already taken.  I touched my finger to the edge of one, recognizing the slanted printing of my left-handed sister.

This morning I hauled four bottles from the crowded bathroom shelf and dumped them next to the toaster.  I shook pills into my hand and swallowed them with bottled water.  A news announcer’s voice reminded me of the impending shelter-in-place.  I can keep working; I’m one of those lucky souls in an essential profession.  But my preferred bottled water might grow scarce.  The grocery would be crowded with people worried about shortages.  I knew that I would have to stop at the store after work.  I turned away, leaving my prescriptions on the counter, only vaguely feeling a ripple of kinship with my father.

I pressed hard through the workday, always worried that I will not add sufficient value, like the careworn spinster daughter sweeping bare the kitchen floor.  Just after five, I started to hammer out my normal evening’s email, In case I get hit by a bus tonight, here’s where things stand on my task list.  But one more urgent letter had to be written and I scrambled to send the missive on its way.  I turned off the computer, switched out the light, and reminded myself that we don’t have public busses on Andrus Island anyway.  I should be safe.

I sat in my car in front of the grocery store, feeling the throb of pain in my legs.  One more week, I whispered.  One more week until the consult with that intense neurologist who thinks he knows better than the six or ten specialists before him.  I sighed and slipped from the car, holding on to the mirror as I stepped over the barricade and dodged the trash can inexplicably blocking the path from the handicapped space.  I tried not to sigh.

Of course my cart had a wonky wheel.  I pushed and jerked the thing around the aisles, willing my eyes to smile above my mask when I passed the little old ladies shopping for their fussy cats and their grumpy husbands.  In the checkout lane, I called the cashier’s attention to the weekly special.   I tendered my frequent shopper card for the points to exchange for the free item, then carefully moved to the far end to pay. 

I watched the lady start to bag my purchases.  I hesitated, then asked if she could separate the four liters of water.  I can’t lift a bag with four bottles of water, I said, thinking that my son would roll his eyes at my compulsion to explain.  She answered, It’s really light, and demonstrated by raising the bag over her head.  

I’m sorry, but I would not be able to lift that, I repeated, lowering my voice, aware of the growing line of evening shoppers.  It’s not heavy, she repeated, and again lifted it from the counter.  Nonetheless, it would be too heavy for me, I repeated, pitching my tone somewhere between supplication and surrender.  

She sighed.  I’ll have to charge you for another bag, she warned.  I assured her that I did not mind, just as the man behind me pulled his cart away to find a faster lane.  I skittered out of the store, thinking about my sister, my father, my son who would have carried the lot for me at another place, in another time.  Tears welled in my eyes, hot and angry.  I struggled to open the car and drag the bags from buggy to backseat.  My hands shook.  I finally got everything settled, fell into the front seat, and pushed the starter.

I drove home in the gloom and cold of a Delta December night.  One by one I lifted the bags from the car.  I walked each one across the uneven ten feet to my porch:  back and forth, until all five balanced on the top step.  I wrapped my sweater tight around my shoulders.  I stepped through the leaves to my tiny, dark house.

And then I saw it:  A lovely basket at my door, the fragrance of fresh citrus picked just last weekend wafting through the air.  I knew who had left it — a young lady who lives in our marina.  I held it, with its jaunty bow and its pungent smell of lemon.  I could not stop the tears, of joy this time, and I pray that no one needs me to explain how I could tell the difference.

It’s the tenth day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Of poems, and memories, and the beating of a heavy heart

As I stood overlooking the beach last week, watching the children playing in the sand, I thought about my mother.

She had a poem on her refrigerator for so many years that it yellowed and flaked with age.  I think my sister Adrienne has the original from Mom’s house.  I don’t need it because I memorized the verse.  Mother did not know the author, but Ogden Nash wrote the sweet little poem:

 “I Didn’t Go To Church Today”:

I didn’t go to church today,
I trust the Lord to understand.
The surf was swirling blue and white,
The children swirling on the sand.
He knows, He knows how brief my stay,
How brief this spell of summer weather,
He knows when I am said and done
We’ll have plenty of time together.

I crept along the sidewalk to the Pacifica Pier, walking stick in one hand, the fingers of my other hand trailing along the metal pipe of the adjacent fence.  Strollers skirted around me, eyes flicking towards me above the cloth mask which has become our staple here in California.  Children hid behind barricades, springing out to startle their unsuspecting mothers.  Couples  cut over the wall and down to the beach, hands entwined, to walk along the edges of the water.  They held their shoes aloft and slung their jackets over their shoulders, gleeful in the unexpected warmth of the November air.

On the pier, fisher-folk lounged on benches near poles braced in metal holders at the rail.  Scores of tourists gathered at the far end, raising lenses to the distant horizon.  Clear water, with its piles of white foam, lapped the beach.  Body surfers lifted their hands in triumph as they rode the towering waves.

Later, wrapped in a shawl and perched on a folding chair outside my rented room, I watched the sky turn crimson with the last rays of the setting sun.  I thought about my son, three thousand miles away in cold Chicago, with its skyrocketing rates of this wicked virus.  The time and space between us widens with each passing day.  We used to send each other snapshots at sunset and sunrise, every photo more stunning than the last.  Somehow it helped to know that he saw the same sky as I did, with only a slight realignment of the rising moon.

Now in my little house, another day, another night, my heart beats heavy in my breast.  I draw in a breath; I hold it; I slowly let it go.  Weariness overtakes me.  I close my eyes and see my mother’s face and my son’s smile.  I hear the rippling, easy laughter of my sisters.   I yearn for the distant song of the sea, a memory now, but always there, always comforting, steady and strong.  I lay myself down to rest.

It’s the fourth day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.