The Window


“She opened her curtains, and looked out towards the bit of road that lay in view, with fields beyond outside the entrance-gates. On the road there was a man with a bundle on his back and a woman carrying her baby; in the field she could see figures moving – perhaps the shepherd with his dog. Far off in the bending sky was the pearly light; and she felt the largeness of the world and the manifold wakings of men to labor and endurance. She was a part of that involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish complaining.”                               -George Elliot

 

The Window

     My mother had just moved into a new senior housing apartment in NYC. It is what she could afford at the time. Being a very independent woman she decided she wanted to live on her own.

The small efficiency was located across the street from a hospital. She told me one day that when she looked out the window she’d see when they removed corpses wrapped inside body bags. The bodies would be put into funeral hearses through the back entrance of the hospital.

This was almost a daily happening. I asked her not to look out the window if it upset her and her response was, “Am I supposed live in the dark and with the curtains drawn all the time?” I felt so bad for her. She had waited a long time for this apartment. It was walking distance to department stores, her doctors and the local McDonald’s which she liked.

A few months passed and she finally gave in and asked me to help her look for another place to live. She had become depressed. We convinced her to come and live with us for a while until we could find her a better location.

One day, her blood pressure went up sky-high and she became very disoriented. This was the first time this had happened. She asked me about the window. I thought she was referring to the window in the apartment close to the hospital. I kept reassuring her that she was nowhere near that window. Little did I realize she was asking me about another window.

This window had brought her joy. It was the window that had a view of the street where we lived from my birth until I started kindergarten. That window’s views were of neighborhood children playing. It was through that window that called out to us. That window received a gentle knock from my dad when he got home from work every evening. It was the look out window in the summer. Our friends and neighbors would stop by to chat and bring my mom fresh-baked bread or other goodies. Our neighbors were so friendly and family oriented:  we were always sharing food. This was the window that had the beautiful curtains she had made herself. We all took pictures in front of that window. It was the window that opened up to memories.

I realized my mom was simply remembering a time when she was truly happy. She recovered from that scary episode with her high blood pressure. It never happened again.

I went back to visit my old neighborhood about a year ago. It has changed quite a bit but the window is still the same. I do not think it has ever been renovated.

It’s funny what reminds us of these moments in our lives. I happened to come across the quote by George Elliot and suddenly all these thoughts streamed through my memory. My mother is no longer with us. I hope she has a good view from her window. I hope she sees us and that she knows how much we miss her.

My sister and me

                       My sister and I in front of the window my mother loved.

 

Love Measured in Cupcakes


 

In memory of my dear aunt

She loved to bake

to bake was to show how much you loved someone

Most of all she enjoyed

the idea of inventing new recipes for cupcakes

After a long day at work

usually on a Friday night,

She would sit at her huge kitchen counter

to concoct her secret recipes:

  1. Blueberries, (when they were in season of course, frozen anything just did not make sense to her) bananas, crushed hazel nuts, and small bits of fresh coconut.
  2. Applesauce, and strawberries with walnuts and raisins
  3. Chocolate chip and pistachios mixed with raspberries

These were the ones I remember best.

She never wrote down her recipes

no one ever knew the proper ratios of the ingredients

But you could taste each one distinctly

when you took the first bite.

The cake would melt in your mouth

and a delicious almost sensuous thrill

would take over your taste buds.

We all felt like we should go to confession

before the Sunday mass.

Every time someone would ask her for a recipe, she’d reply, ” Can’t tell exactly how much of this or that or this other thing, but for sure my main ingredient is LOVE. my cupcakes are all LOVE.

We definitely felt the love;

it made our bellies grow;

it widened our waistlines;

and make us chuckle loudly, at least 10 decibels higher than usual.

Her cupcakes live in our memories now.

My cupcakes never measure up to hers.

Except, that I too,  make sure I have folded in

lots of love.

Without love cupcakes do not taste the same.

And what would this world be like without cupcakes?

 

The Old Address Book


The old leather bound address book

sits faithfully and patiently

on the desk he would sit at for hours.

 

He does not open it anymore;

the names inside,

phantoms of the past,

long distance area codes,

of the places he loved to visit with old friends.

attached are notes with extra large paper clips

remind him to call for one reason or another

but he cannot remember if he did .

 

Mother turns the pages

as she softly sings the alphabet song.

She stops at the letter “J”

hoping the name “Jo” jogs his memory.

 

She then turns to the letter “M”

and then like magic

he calls out “mama”

and asks for the phone

because he forgot to call her today

tears quickly rush down his face

he remembered

she is gone.

 

 

 

 

The Sunday Memories of A Baby Boomer


Sunday Morning

A day of rituals

started with church

at St. Luke’s

where forgiven sins

remained for the rest of the week.

 

Then a big breakfast:

pancakes, scrambled eggs,

sizzling bacon and home fries

we ate until we almost died.

 

Then off to some adventure

dad would plan it out as a surprise

no matter how he tried to disguised it

It was usually a day at the theater

or at Palisades Amusement Park

in the summer a trip on the D train to Coney Island Beach

 

But first we’d all sit and read

the New York Journal American

Ivan grabbed the funnies or comic strips

he loved Buz Sawyer and Flash Gordon

 

I had dibs on the magazine that featured

a celebrity on its cover

and every week I underlined

the million dollar movie titles I wanted to watch

mom would do the weekly puzzle

cut out a recipe or two

and peeped at the fashion sections

for tips and how to’s

Dad loved the broadway quips

boxing, sports and politics

 

Sunday night we could not miss

the Ed Sullivan Show.

I loved Topo Gigio,

and the first time he presented the Beatles.

The show introduced us to Carmen Miranda, Jerry Lewis

and almost Bob Dylan,

who walked off the set on day in 63′.

 

Reality was the best it could be

all of us together building memories.

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/music/fab-trivia-4-little-known-facts-about-beatles-ed-sullivan-n24886

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I See Them Mostly in Photos Lately


Twitter Screen tap to download

 

 

I see them mostly in photos lately

I see them mostly in photos lately
I am grateful for the opportunity though
Occasionally a short video
will pop up
with a clip of a loved one saying hello.
Text messages are more likely to show
up on my cell and not an actual phone call.

I wonder what my mother would say
about Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
It is really not all the glitter or hype
people make it out to be.
I wish for the days of meeting personally.

She’d probably say,
“Give me my family closer to me any day
to hug and kiss and to sit around
the dining table to pray
for every meal.”
How much I miss the days
of Sunday visits and making family time a big deal,
where nothing was virtual, only real.

Forget the messages
Limited to 140 characters (letters) in a single tweet
Not too many words for me to fully say
How much I miss them so

Do not get me wrong;
Social media tools are and will be going strong
(For a long time to come)
to keep us all connected.
I just miss the intimacy
I hate to live in the fantasy,
technology seems to promote,
everyday more and more.
It does not matter how far or remote
We may be from all our love ones,
Skype or Google Hangouts will save the day.

So it will suffice for me to say
Keep streaming the videos on YouTube,
God only knows what else will be
I suppose His Grace provided  the intelligence
For us to interface.

We have to wait and see.

By Melba Christie 2014

Memories of Memorial Day


flag

A visit to the cemetery

where he was finally laid to rest

where all the buried are equal now

white stones aligned perfectly

in rows of infinite glory

small flags placed at each grave

wave as we walk in

The large flag ushers in the visitors

fresh flowers placed around the pole

Small town parades

celebrate their own

in remembrance

the President places

a wreath at the tomb

of the unknown soldier

known to us all

Taps played

My mother cries.

Then the family gathers

to relish the steaks on the charcoal grill

along with the side dishes

of potato salad, or macaroni and cheese.

Our  uncle shares a story about the

day he entered the armed forces

and then he retreats to sip on a beer.

Even Memorial Day is not the same anymore

no memories left to tell about

A big sale at Sears is the topic of the day

A silent prayer survives it all.

Taps are played again on the late night news

I think about you

and whisper to myself,

He would have been a grandpa by now

I tell you how much I’ve missed you

and put your picture back in the

album mom made for you

the cover says it all:

We are all proud of you.

May 30, 1977