Invitation to Chip In

“She has the money,” Fred argued. “Her husband left her swimming in the stuff. She can’t spend it all, so why not give some to her daughter if she needs it?”

George clunked his empty mug on the table, scowling. “So you think it’s okay for May’s son-in-law to blackmail her like this? To forbid the grandkids to see her unless she forks over the dough for their mortgage payments?”

Fred waved a hand in protest. “I didn’t say that exactly.”

“The poor boys have to sneak out if they want to see their grandma. I think their dad’s a deadbeat if he’s expecting May to pay for their home. He needs to get out and find a job.”

“But people hit rough spots sometimes. Maybe he’s tried and there just isn’t anything right now? Besides, Nadine’s her only child. She’ll inherit everything when May’s gone. Why not give her some now? May’d never miss it.”

George stubbornly shook his head. No way were they ever going to agree on this issue.

Suddenly he sat back and looked Fred in the eye. “If you’re feeling so charitable why don’t you help them out? You sold your farm. You’re sitting on a pile of money yourself. You could pay off their mortgage and never miss it.”

Fred snorted. “Are you kidding? Why should I shell out to support that shiftless son-in-law of May’s? He’s not my problem.”

George recalled that old cliché. “The worm has turned! It’s always easier to solve a problem when the answer doesn’t come out of your pocket.”

Fred turned red, then glanced at the clock. “Gotta be going.”


Last night I recalled a conversation I was part of years ago. A dear friend of my dad was in this situation: emotional blackmail, you could say. Her nine-year-old grandson, being forbidden contact, would sneak away from home to see her. I listened as one party in the conversation presented Fred’s argument, which had some validity. My dad thought like George.

What about you? How would you advise May?

I gave the tale this ending twist to fit today’s Word Press prompt: invitation.


The Simple Things

by Edgar A Guest

I would not be too wise — so very wise
that I must sneer at simple songs and creeds
and let the glare of wisdom blind my eyes
to humble people and their humble needs.

I would not dare to climb so high that I
could never hear the children at their play.
Could only see the people passing by
and never hear the cheering words they say.

I would not know too much — too much to smile
at trivial errors of the heart and hand
nor be too proud to play the friend the while,
nor cease to help and know and understand.

I would not care to sit upon a throne
or build my house upon a mountain-top,
where I must dwell in glory all alone,
and never friend come in, or poor man stop.

God grant that I may live upon this earth
and face the tasks which every morning brings
and never lose the glory and the worth
of humble service and the simple things.

From the book Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Never Comes Tomorrow


by Edgar Guest

He was going to be all that a mortal should be
No one should be kinder or braver than he
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew
who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it, too,
on him he would call and see what he could do

Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write
And thought of the folks he would fill with delight
It was too bad indeed, he was busy today
and hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;
more time he would have to give others, he’d say,

The greatest of workers this man would have been
The world would have known him, had he ever seen
But the fact is, he died and he faded from view,
and all that he left here when living was through
was a mountain of things he intended to do

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Health Woes & Retro Thoughts

Moony & Loony?

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I was deciding to abandon my blogging efforts. After all, I admitted, I simply don’t have anything more to say. My writing life is over. Inspiration headed south months ago. Time to face facts and call it quits.

I also decided to throw out all my house plants. They’re nothing but clutter anyway. Chuck them! Maybe when I have more oomph I’ll get some new ones. I’d neglected them for days and some were looking a bit wilted, so it would be simple — a kindness, really — to toss them out in the woods rather than prolonging their suffering.

But since it was already past midnight and, full moon or not, I didn’t want to be outside wandering over to the woods with my arms full of pots. So, okay, I got out the watering can and watered them all so they wouldn’t have to suffer from thirst overnight. Then took my antibiotic, toddled off to bed, and morning came again. I still haven’t done anything about the plants. And I seem to have something more to say today. This is what is known as being indecisive.

Mind you, I might blame my health. We were into the city yesterday for shopping plus I paid a visit to the doctor, fearing phlebitis. The arm that got the needle for Wednesday’s chemo started to hurt some by Friday but it cleared up after a couple of days, then yesterday morning it was tender and swollen again. It’s a deeper-in vein, nothing very visible one the surface, but by noon I was getting suspicious “hot & cold” sensations in that forearm.

By 2pm the skin was noticeably pink in the spots where the swelling could be seen, so I decided not to fool around with it. We were in the city; I may as well get it checked out right away rather than waiting and having to go another time if it got worse. The doctor I saw put me on an antibiotic, four a day, and gave me some one-a-day anti-inflammatory pills to take as well. With the two I already take, plus antacids, my time is taken up with remembering which pill I need to take and when.

I suspect some of this contributed to my “It’s hopeless. All is lost!” mood yesterday evening. (Or was I a little loony during full moon?) I was wiped out most of yesterday — and felt quite chilled this morning. Plus for some reason I’ve been feeling light-headed (unbalanced, you could say) for the past couple of days. But now we have a bright new day and I’m unwilling to totally abandon all my projects. I did some de-cluttering this morning and that feels some better. Someone once told me that if you’re feeling depressed, the best thing to do is clean something — and it works.

Hummers Still With Us

I also mixed up new juice for the hummingbirds first thing. A couple were zipping around early this morning and I took note that they’d almost drained the hummer feeder, so I replaced the juice in that one. I’m sure they know the clank of my ladder by now; not long after I’d put the ladder away again there were four tiny birds vying for a place at the feeder. I also replaced the juice in the oriole feeder, but the wasps have claimed that one and chase the hummers away if they try to drink from it. I haven’t found a good solution for this — I fear spraying the wasps would leave a harmful residue that would affect the tiny birds.

I actually observed up to six hummers flitting around this morning, with up to three drinking at the one feeder at the same time. For awhile I stood outside in the sunshine soaking up the sun’s warmth, watching the birds, hearing their tiny twitters as they chided and chased each other. “A pleasant interlude,” Great-Grandma would have said.

Yesterday we were at Dollarama (a bargain store here in Canada) and I noticed there’s a whole long aisle — both sides — full of Halloween stuff. Already! School won’t start again for a couple of weeks, and here we have this major display ready for Oct 31st. Sigh… Commerce is a relentless taskmaster.

Eight Cans For A Dollar

I was also reading a book called Sister of the Bride, written by Beverly Cleary, © 1963. Written from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl, this is an interesting departure from her Ramona & Beezus series. The every-day details definitely take my mind back. The setting is circa 1960; the prices mentioned are in keeping with those times. For example, for her son — thirteen and always-hungry — Mrs MacLane is delighted when she can find eight cans of pork & bean on sale for $1. And Mr MacLane is paying out the hefty sum of $25 a month to an orthodontist for braces for his oldest daughter. But the daughter, attending the University of CA, wants to get married — and how will the bridegroom ever be able to afford that astronomical monthly bill? Fortunately he’s older and has a good job, so it looks do-able.

Sometimes you just long for an old-fashioned book, written when life was simpler and more settled, not such a roller-coaster of angst, illegitimate children popping up, accusations, addictions, etc. You know, I liked June Cleaver — much as I can remember of her. I wish we could bring back her caring-mother type into today’s stories.

People who count in publishing, chiefly editors, griped about those June Cleaver stereotypes and writers were forced to abandon them. But we haven’t gotten away from stereotypes — we’ve just replaced them with something no better. At least I’m getting weary of the ditch-on-the-other-side stereotype mothers in a lot of recent books. A harsh, demanding perfectionist, inclined to be sarcastic and critical, indifferent to her children’s feelings, usually an active social climber (if not actually politically-aspiring), all about keeping up appearances and forcing her children to live up to her standards. Really, a number of mothers are cast as the main antagonists in today’s stories – and this makes me sad. Where with the current generation learn any mothering skills? Will the pendulum swing back again someday?

Anyway, I shall end my ramblings now and go take one of my pills. It must be time for one kind of another.

Stubborn She Was

I prepared this article for yesterday’s Daily prompt, but my internet was down last night and wouldn’t let me post anything. So here it is, albeit belated.

I’ve written this bit about my mother-in-law before, but the Daily prompt word brings back memories of her, so I’ll post it again.

Mom prided herself in being stubborn. She was born in 1908, long before x-rays and other diagnostic tests that would have explained her deformity. An x-ray, when they were finally invented, revealed that she had no hip joints. There’s a technical term for this: congenital hip dysplasia. The newborn’s hip sockets never formed. And there’s a simple cure for it — nowadays.

Back then doctors had no clue. The only explanation they offered back in 1910 was, “Somebody must have dropped this baby.” This made Grandma angry; she knew this wasn’t the case at all. Still, nothing could be done for the child. They just had to accept her condition and make the best of it.

Grandma told her to just sit still and never mind that her siblings were running around, but Mom had no ears for that idea. Enduring constant pain, she did walk. Being number six in a family of fourteen, she wasn’t going to be left out of the action. She wasn’t catered to, either; she was expected to do her share of the work. Overall, she was accepted as an equal and well treated at home. Her father was blind and she was less mobile than her siblings, so she became his eyes, reading to him and doing the family farm book-work.

Mom often commented about how, if her folks went away visiting on a Sunday afternoon and she was home reading a book, when they got home her dad wanted her to repeat the complete story. No matter what it was about, he wanted to hear it all, in detail. Thus she developed a great memory.

At age 3o Mom went to keep house for a couple of bachelors, Walter & Morris Goodnough. The next year she married Walter and they had a baby, a 9-lb boy born by cesarean. (Mom was 4’10” at her tallest, so she told us that in the last months of her pregnancy she was four-foot-square.) “That’s it!” the doctor ordered. “You can’t put your body through this again.”

Mom ignored the pain and walked almost all her life, cooking, canning, cleaning, playing with her son — doing all the things a normal farm wife would do. And she kept walking right up into her 90s. She walked long after arthritis had immobilized some of her cronies. When people would marvel at her ability to keep going, she’d answer, “I’m just so stubborn.”

I benefited in one way from her stubbornness, as she was determined — come what may — that when her son married she was going to get along with her daughter-in-law. She would explain in later years something to the effect that, “When you only have one child and you alienate them by criticizing or fussing with their spouse, then you have no one.” This is a wisdom that would have blessed the lives of a lot of mother-in-laws I’ve known — had they only applied it.

WE, her children, marveled at Mom’s amazing determination. Then again, there were times when her stubbornness really annoyed us, too. For every virtue there’s a vice on the flip side of the coin.

Mom never talked much about her health. In fact, the few times when she was really sick or had been injured in some way, we never heard about it until she was better again. I suspect she didn’t want us to worry, or ask frequently how she was doing. However, often the ones who say, “I just didn’t want you to worry,” give you three times more worries than the ones who come out with the truth, or call for help, and let you worry together with them.

Another downside of Mom’s being stubborn was that she held a few life-long grudges. For instance, back when she was in her twenties on the family farm, she often told us, the XX Dairy didn’t give them a proper grade for the cream they shipped. She never forgot that, and even in her eighties she wouldn’t buy products from that company. We could tell her that the people who did the grading for XX Dairy, as well as the entire management of the company, were all dead and gone. (Probably a lot of their children, too.) It made no difference; by this time she just couldn’t let it go.

Mind you, if I’d struggled through the “Dirty Thirties” on a farm in one of the driest part of the province, I might better understand why the price the XX Dairy paid Grandpa for his cream in those years was so significant to her.

After age 85 Mom developed dementia, but she didn’t realize how bad her memory was until the last few months. Only then did she talk on not wanting to live anymore. She died just two weeks short of her 99th birthday, a week after a serious bout with a ‘flu virus. So she lived a good, long, and happy life in spite of her faults.

Remembering Dad

I’ve wanted to reblog this post for awhile now, and today I think it fits very well with our Daily prompt word: praise.
What beautiful memories Stacey has to treasure!

In The Corner

I’m not sure if it is morose to always remember this day, or respectful?  For me, however, today is a day that was forever seared into my memory.  It was four years ago today that my Dad passed away.  It was peaceful and swift and almost without incident.  It was almost a non-event- had it not been for the fact that I still grieve for him to this day.

It was seven o’clock at night.  I have heard it said that you are more likely to pass away at the time of day when you were more active.  Morning people, for example, tend to pass away in the morning.  My Dad was a night person.  He sure liked to sleep in.  He would have never done well in a nursing home where there is a regime of breakfast at 8:00 am, lunch at noon, and dinner at 6:00.  Being home…

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