Yes I Can (Poetry)

Yes I Can
Flesh torn with jagged scars.
Reminding me that this battle is hard.
The sun reminds me that light wins over darkness.
And the little things remind me of how I’m blessed
All of this brought forth by music and a pen
Telling my story about where I’ve been
Their pictures with beautiful smiles
They never fade even after a little while.
I love them so and this is true
Two little boys that say, “Mommy, I love you.”
So, I choose to continue fighting
Because their love is so inviting
One assignment after another
Because I AM their mother
As I walk with them hand-in-hand
Signifying to them…” Yes, my mommy can!”
#thispuzzledlife

Finding Me

Finding Me (Poetry)

The pain of laughter that everyone sees

The person before you is not really me

The funnier I am, the more pain I’m in

Maybe it’s wrong or some terrible sin.

I loved living life until these terrible days.

Now I live in a trauma filled haze.

Keeping those secrets has eaten a hole.

I’m no longer me but rather a shattered soul.

Most days I’m scared and can’t think

And to get through this life I feel I must have paper and ink

That tiny little town, the memories and secrets are held. 

It not Southern Comfort but a type of burning hell.

Friends and family from a time I once knew

Happy-go-lucky and not dark grey and blue.

The days I was carefree I was happy and nice

And if she asked me again, I wouldn’t think twice.

Two boys that are precious I wish I could hear

Held close to my heart because they are dear.

Far behind the smiles in pictures they just can’t see

How I hang on for dear life while I try to find me.

#thispuzzledlife

Peace (Poetry)

Peace (Poetry)
Peace is something sacred that many don’t find;
You can get pushed to find it and leave the pain behind.
The monsters destroyed us and that is a fact;
Peace is among the living when it gets too difficult to carry
the weight of the world on your back.

When life becomes to difficult and the pain is too real;
You must come to acceptance of the pain that you feel.
Life seems too hard and the pain I can’t describe;
And no matter where you go there’s no place to hide.

So you have to accept that this pain is here to stay;
Peace is what you find even if you’re no ok.
God won’t have me and the devil just laughs;
Where do I end up on this god forsaken path?

Nothing is given neither life nor death;
I’ll just have to see when and where I take my last breath.
Peace is what I feel with like walking in glue?

Tears fall and my chin begins to shake;
How much more am I suppose to take?
Peace takes over when nothing else will;
And I will take my last breaths when
I’m too tired to continue climbing this hill.

Or maybe peace I will find on the journey to find me;
Peace takes over when your will is through.
I find it when I wake up knowing
there’s nothing more I can do.
The weight of the world just seems to disappear;
Then peace envelopes you when your time is near.
#thispuzzledlife

Safe Place (Poetry)

Safe Place
A place that has no hurt and no pain
A place where I can go without emotional rain.
A place where the sun shines all day long
A place that could easily become a home

A place where I can hide from things that are bad
A place where I can go and never be sad.
A place where I run to where the monsters can’t see
A place that allows me to be me.

A place where I go when I’m not wearing masks
A place that I go and no one else asks
A place where I can go for my own soul’s sake
A place where I go that’s always safe.

#thispuzzledlife

The Girl In The Closet (Poetry)

The Girl In The Closet

Enjoying school and playing sports
Dripping with sweat on shirts and shorts.
A dollar bill would be burning a hole in my pocket
She was only a number, but she was also the girl in the closet.

Most knew her name but not her number
She made them laugh even before Tumblr
The teacher never smiled, and we never knew why
Was someone mean to her? Did they make her cry?
The evilness she shot through her eyes made them want to vomit
She was only a number the girl in the closet.

The clown she was in those days
That happiness quickly became dark, ugly hate.
That closet was to teach me lessons.
And lessons it did…I learned how to drink, take pills, cut on my arms and put on gauze dressings
Because I was only a number and the girl in the closet.

Please!!!!I cried for someone to get me out of there
But they were being told different stories and I started pulling out my hair.
How could you not see that which was in front of you?
You questioned my parents and they questioned you.
What’s happened to my child and why is her heart so hurt
But I was just a number and the little girl in the closet.

They all knew and could see my spirit breaking day after day.
The hate would develop with words she would hear between September and May.
She was being changed from the inside out
She always had a practice where her aggression could be let out.

Her pills were quite the comfort and the razors were too
Because she had certainly learned some less and she hates herself and wants to turn blue.
She can’t breathe without thinking that finally someone must listen to what I say
The mental torture that continues day after day.
Now it’s my turn to tell you how we will play.
You didn’t even remember my number only that “I was the girl in the closet.”

#thispuzzledlife

Family Traditions

Family Traditions

“The most treasured heirlooms are the sweet

memories of our family that we pass down to our children.”

—Unknown

I said that I wasn’t going to write a separate post about Christmas but gentle pressure from my parents seems to have prevailed.  Truthfully, I was already thinking about writing something about my family’s traditions that continue today.  These are very important to me.  Not only does it show the sacrifice of family members that I never knew.  It also created and still creates an ongoing story that was passed from my grandparents, to my parents, to me and my sister and on to both of our spouses and children.

I can’t speak for anyone else in my family and their personal thoughts and feelings about traditions that may or may not be carried out.  However, Mel knows one thing about me…..Traditions will be carried out every single year no matter what.  This year they will be carried out in both Mississippi and Texas.  For me, it’s how I’m able to keep in touch with those warm and very happy times that I remember about my grandmother Alma Buxton that would be known simply as Nannie.

I have hours upon hours of funny stories about my Nannie and our trips to Wal-Mart and her horrendous driving when she utilized the motorized scooters.  Her personal view of road signs and regulations as mere suggestions for how one should drive safely.  But there was a time when my Nannie would sit with me for hours telling me stories about our family.  She and I would both get tickled about almost anything.  The filter that should’ve been installed was missing completely so random thoughts would fly out of her mouth at a moment’s notice.

Nannie

Most people that know me understand that very little can offend me. And that I will laugh at something’s that funny regardless of the appropriateness of the situation.  My Nannie and I laughed  A LOT while I was growing up.  And we laughed even more as she and I both got older.  But every year Thanksgiving and Christmas activities could be written with accuracy without being there because it was Family Traditions being carried out.  And it was the same way every single year until she died.

Our holiday would begin on Christmas Eve when our entire family (mom, dad, sister, aunt and Nannie) would go out shopping.  When I was younger the story was told that my grandfather, Samuel E. Buxton, who drove a big truck would come home on Christmas Eve and that’s when he would do all of his shopping.  His job made it where this was his only time to do his shopping for the family.  Then all would go that night to drive and look at all the Christmas lights and decorations.  Sadly, he would pass away 4 months before I was born and I would never grow to know him personally.  But my Nannie and parents always told both me and my sister how spoiled we would’ve been had he lived to know us.  I must admit that our family never had any problems spoiling both of us just fine.

Mel and I have both told Marshall and Copeland how spoiled that would’ve also been had they been lucky enough to meet some of their ancestors on both sides.  Marshall Lake Landrum-Arnold is named after Mel’s grandfather and Copeland Samuel Landrum-Arnold is named after my grandfather.  We take this time each year to explain Black Friday and how we would shop as a family starting very early in the morning.  And then tell them about what we both did as kids with our families on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve began once my Nannie and Aunt arrived at our house to have the sleepover into Christmas Morning. Almost every year my place to sleep was with my Nannie.  We would have whatever meal was created by mom and dad. And small town news was discuss for the first couple of hours.  We would then all pile into whatever car was available and head over to Chain Electric in Hattiesburg who’s windows would be decorated with some form of moving decorations complete with Santa and the reindeer with Rudolph leading the way.  There were also usually a family of bears with lights that were smiling and moving their paws.  The rest I can’t remember because they eventually moved so much that they fell apart and the business was closed.  But this little girl stuck in an adult body remembers the time that our family saw this as an important time and event complete with driving through neighborhoods known for their light decorations.

When my sister and I were younger sometimes we would have fallen asleep while looking at lights.  My daddy would gently pick us up and put us in our respective beds.  The years when we didn’t fall asleep we would come home from looking at lights and put on our pajamas.  We would then put out the milk and cookies with a note written to Santa thanking him for bringing our long anticipated toys.  We also left out Purina Cat Chow for Rudolph because everyone knows that reindeer feed on cat food as a snack.

A few hours later we would awaken before God and the angels to look at what Santa had brought us.  We also anxiously looked in our stockings where surprisingly Santa had some kind of inside information about us wanting grapefruits and walnuts in our stockings…every….single….year.  Our family cat always got a can of tuna that end up in the cabinets where it originated only hours before.

As we got older, Nannie wasn’t quite as slick as she had been for many years when she would wake up grunting and groaning with every step she took toward our stockings.  You could very loudly hear her stuffing the stockings with something in crinkle paper and having a hard time accomplishing her task in the dark.  Sometimes you could hear her saying, “Awwww…..shit…..just get in the damn stocking!”  I couldn’t help but giggle.  My aunt always had a stocking so big that you could’ve fit a clan of gypsies and a midget in it.

Then for several years before her death Nannie would say religiously, “This is my last Christmas.  I’ll be dead by next year. You better enjoy me while you can.” “Why, Nannie?” we would ask.  “Because I’m old.  And when you get old you die.” We would all chuckle but we knew every year that the reality of that statement could be true.

My mom and aunt also have a box that’s used for giving a gift between them every year.  I must admit that there was nothing quite as comforting as sleeping with my Nannie when I snuggled up to the warm hump in her back while her snoring sounded like a growling bear. There would also be Christmas music playing by groups such as the Carpenters, Charlie Pride, the Oak Ridge Boys or maybe even Alabama playing on a cassette or 8 track tapes.  Tears glisten in my eyes now just to think about how safe I felt with my family before I knew that the world could be so cruel.

Christmas Morning after gifts were opened and likewise recorded by my daddy either on cassette tapes or video tapes.  I honestly don’t know if those tapes even made it to 2018.  Some had the voices of my mamaw Susie Kendrick, my dad’s mom, who I dearly miss.  She was the direct opposite of my Nannie. She had a filter and luckily it never got damaged. If you’ve met my daddy then my grandmother was incredibly similar. The time was now about eating myself silly on my daddy’s Christmas morning breakfast complete with homemade biscuits, grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast burritos, some type of jelly and of course sorghum syrup that he would mix a pat of butter with just prior to putting it on a biscuit and then being inhaled.

For the next couple of hours we would try on new clothes and I would take my new basketball outside and shoot some hoops before we went to our neighbors house to make sure that Santa had made it there as well.  Nannie and momma would’ve prepared the ham and the dressing the night before.  The topic of the size of the ham was apparently important.  Nannie never ceased to tell us how much both the ham and turkey weighed.  I grew up thinking that we must talk about the weight of these two types of meat until I realized when I got older that no one really cared about the weight as long as it could fit on the fork or between two slices of bread for at least the next two weeks.

The food I waited for every year was the sweet potato puffs that had a melted marshmallow covered by a sweet potato then rolled in cornflakes and baked.  And then………my Nannies’ sweet and sour onions that just seemed to hit the spot twice a year.  Ironically, I still cook these onions every year and for a moment I can smell my Nannie and hear her laughter when we would open her spices together, make faces and laugh like life was just simple.

Each year that our boys have been born we told them even as infants about the importance of carrying out our family’s traditions and what it means.  It’s not just about seeing decorations, eating good food, and getting presents.  For me it has always been the legacy of the importance of family that my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles not only spoke of but showed us through their actions the sacrifices that would be made all centered around one thing……the love of our family.

“I love those random memories that make me smile

no matter what’s going on in my life right now.”

–Unknown

#thispuzzledlife

Two Cats That Changed The World

Two Cats That Changed the World

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
― Anatole France

I’ve written about some of the funny interactions between me and animals namely the Angry Birds of Albuquerque.  And I’ve probably mentioned, at some point, my cats Simba and Nalla in passing.  But what I would like to share is how two cats changed one part of this big world….MINE.  They changed me through their unconditional love.

In June 2000 I was working at a local vet clinic in the Hattiesburg, MS area.  Specifically, I was over the adoption center they had there.  I would take in puppies and kittens and find homes for them.  There was a lot of work that went into that job but I loved working with the animals.  This became a place of catharsis that was a nice break from the daily emotional abuse of my marriage.

One day a gentleman walked in with a box and inside it were two little kittens barely a week old.  He told me that the momma cat was killed attempting to move these little kittens across the road.  We typically didn’t take animals this young so, I took them on as a personal project.  From that day forward that box and those two kittens went everywhere I did.

My days and nights included bottles every two hours for these little beings.  I hungered to be a mother but deep in my soul I knew that bringing a baby into that volatile situation was not smart.  And these kittens were filling that void for the time being.  During some of those long nights and sleep deprivation I said to them, “Six weeks and you will be finding a new home.”  Tube feeding, bottles, antibiotics and ringworm later and six week old playful kittens would be taken in that same box to the adoption center.

I made their cage extra special and comfortable.  These cats would be going to their new home together as the loving sisters that they were.  I watched every visitor to see if they were interested in these cats.  I was going to interview anyone who was interested with a fine tooth comb.  Secretly, I hoped no one wanted them because somehow I had formed a connection that I never thought possible. No one came in and met my unachievable standards for these cats.  So…..they came home with me where they would live out the next 15-16 years.

 

I would find solace in these cats that had no expectations of me.  They loved me unconditionally and new when the perfect time was to want to cuddle.  Always on their terms of course.  If I cried in silence as I usually do, they could hear me from any dark clothes draw, closet or clothes basket in the house.  They came running and meowing almost as if saying, “Momma let us love you.”  I could be having a true snot crying moment and as long as they were in my lap or touching me somehow they were my own personal sponge to absorb my tears and often heavy emotions.

 Simba and Nalla would become the original “Battle Buddies” our fight to survive abuse both physically and emotionally.  The emotional and psychological abuse from my husband and brother-in-law could be intense and dangerous.  Somehow, though, as long as Simba and Nalla were there I seemed to be engulfed in a bubble that no abuse could reach at least for that moment.  This seemed to be that extra bit of protection that I used to my advantage.  As long as they were determined to be by my side, I was determined to one day find a way out.  That day would eventually come.

There were nights when he would angrily get up with a belt and going into the room where all my animals slept and began hitting anything in his path.  My cats were terrified of his anger just like I was.  He would hit torment them with a broom which they never get over.  As much as I wanted to protect them, it was just too dangerous, for both me and them, to intervene.

My and “my girls” eventually left that relationship with PTSD intertwining our emotions and thoughts.  I would take them into my relationship with Melody with all of our scars both visible and unseen attached.  Anytime one of us had to use a broom to clean Simba and Nalla would run for cover.  And loud noises and even mild arguments and you would find them tucked away in whatever haven of safety they could find nearby.

My girls were quirky as hell just like me.   The ultimate form of loyalty I experienced with them and it was beautiful to say the least.  A couple of years ago I walked into our living room in Albuquerque to find Nalla, our black and white, overweight kitty sometimes called our “Gateway Kitty,” rolling around on the floor in obvious pain.  I looked into her eyes and knew that she was suffering in a way that was not visible.  We made eye contact and a feeling from her that said, “You know what to do. Please stop my suffering.”  I’ve always told pet owners that when it’s time to put a family pet down you would just somehow know.

This was the day that I had feared since they were very young kittens.  My heart was breaking for this beautiful creature that through love had propelled me to safety.  The years of intense love for both she and her sister was now gathering for this one moment.  With tears streaming down my face and Mel looking on I said, “Get the laundry basket comfortable for her….It’s time.”  Trying to comfort Nalla knowing that I really couldn’t physically she seemed to know that my heart was breaking.  I kept looking into her eyes needing the reassurance that what I was doing was the right thing.  And she looked back at me as if to say, “It’s ok.”

Simba was meowing not really knowing where Nalla was going.  She went to her place of solace which was a pillow next to mine on my bed where she slept every night.  The ride to the vet was one of the longest rides I had ever taken.  My heart was breaking even if the right decision was being made.

I handed the laundry basket with one of my best friends in it to the tech.  With tears falling I kissed Nalla and told her that I loved her.  A few minutes later I would receive the her collar with the bell on it.  A couple of weeks later I would receive her ashes.  Simba seemed lost but still tried to comfort me at all costs.  Somehow a the survival of an era seemed to be coming to an end.

Exactly one year to the week I would go through the same process with Simba my grey and white tabby.  It was like their job had been done and it was time for me to fly on my own.  These beautiful animals were with me through a horrible time in my life.  They expected nothing other than treats and junk food.  There job, as they saw it, was to be with me in whatever way needed or possible.  And through their undying compassion I was beginning to heal.  Those two little kittens were more than  house decoration.  They changed my world.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”

–Martin Buber

#thispuzzledlife