Once Upon A Son

I hate Mother’s Day. I used to be ambiguous towards it, before he came into my life, but after, it becomes a battle wound that has yet to heal. It’s a poisoned scar demonstrating that sometimes, no matter how much effort you put into loving someone, no matter how many sacrifices are made, that person is still under no obligation to love you back.

You’d think I’d have learned that from my failed marriages, but not this woman. Instead, I like to put myself up on the cross and completely forget who, how, and what I am. I like to think that they are more important than me. That I deserve to be put second because if I love them like I should be loving me, they might do that for themselves. What an idiot, right? But don’t we all do it in a way?

Don’t we all put our what if’s and could’ve beens up as the sacrificial lambs we wish we were? Don’t we all think, on some level, that if we love enough, or bemoan what we have done in the name of love, that somehow that other person will turn their life around and do us the same way?

My Uncle Alvin used to be a religious fanatic. I don’t just mean faithful, but over the top to the extreme. He went to church seven days a week and twice on Sunday. When we were around, we, my brothers and I, loved to go with him to church. Mostly because they served delicious food at a lot of them, but we also got to watch the holy rollers going at it.

I was nine at the time, so my motives were suspect to begin with, but I got to see snake charmers, people rolling around on the floor in their good clothes, people speaking weird words while dancing at high velocity around the preacher whose hands were raised up towards the ceiling in holy bliss. I once watched a woman kneeling at the prayer bench snuff a train of snot that would nearly touch the floor before the cycle repeated. I have no doubt, in retrospect, that those people believed with all their hearts they were lost in the holy spirit. Although I write about it comically now, then, it was serious business.

They poured every bit of themselves into their faith, but their lives went on as they always had in one way or another. I figured out then that that was not my path despite the idea of faith being intriguing.

I wanted to believe in miracles and prayed for my loins to bear fruit, but they didn’t. I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. When I was, I put every bit as much faith as those holy rollers did into making it work. I wanted to be the perfect parent since I’d had the opposite example in my father and I barely remember my mom’s parenting.

But life never comes about the way one hopes, prays, or wishes, does it?

What I don’t regret from my foray into the world of being a mother is the many hours I spent teaching, guiding, showing, living, exploring, but most of all loving him. I did everything in my power to make him a home where he wouldn’t have to worry about the words rape, horror, trauma, anger, violence, abuse, or tragedy. I dedicated myself to giving him as much opportunity as I possibly could. I tapped every resource I could find to help him. I, essentially, lassoed the moon for him like George Bailey did for Mary. I gave him a fighting chance.

I have blamed myself for not being good enough for him to love me. But it wasn’t how that was. I was good enough. He didn’t feel worthy of what I was giving him. What I offered was more than he felt he deserved. He’s tell anyone who listened how shitty he was/is. He’s make sure anyone that wanted to hurt him could. He’s mock me for defending him. He’d throw his addiction to pain and suffering in my face as if it were my fault, but it never was. It was always his own view when I could AND couldn’t see it.

Now, it’s again Mother’s Day and I have cried all day. I’ve sat in my home with my chickens on my lap lamenting the life I used to have. I won’t even go into how the loss of Carly hurt, but suffice it to say, that was a raw humdinger of a shaft too. I hope they look back at the time they had with me and know how much I loved them. I hope they know I’ve never regretted them, just that they walked away.

Re-Cycled Stop

Once I heard him lie

something broke inside

It never stopped long enough

For the wounds to scar enough

No trust left to abide.

Once he raised his fist up high

I was too scared to even try

I didn’t recognize my place

Or the rage upon his face

My secrets safe to hide.

Once he kept me from myself

Tucked up high upon the shelf

I kept on falling down

With horrid, crashing sounds.

I was nearly gone for good.

When I heard redemption’s voice

I discovered I had a choice

Not politeness silence made

While the bruises quickly fade

Not the giving till it hurts again

The counted markers of my sins

Seeking haven with a lie

Relinquish blame from blue/black skies

I chose my wings. I chose to fly

Organic Chicken

I wanted to build something with my brother, to create a piece of art. Since I’ve put my mind to building a flock of city chickens, I decided to keep true to my recent obsession. So, I sent him a picture of a donkey I found on Reddit, but explained how I saw my vision. He asked for a sketch which I delivered and he built my base.

In the meantime, my SIL and I went on congruent missions to make our projects come to life. I found “feathers” plus some possibilities.

When we got back to their home, my Bubby had built up the base just right.

There were a few skeptics because they couldn’t see my vision yet even with the first hours of “feathers” being applied.

Shay and I played a great game of possibility and came up with the top hat feathering technique as well as the stacked buttons for the comb and wattle.

With some river rock I completed the piece with EGGS being spelled out. From start to finish it took longer to find the decor than to build or apply it. I also got a one of a kind piece made with love by me and my family.

Designed by Mare Martell

Woodwork by David Looney II

Collaborator: Shay Looney

1 1/2′ W X 2 1/2′ H

Wood, rock, buttons, and one googly eye.

Allowable Relief

I am rising from the depths of your sorrow

I am the waves of your grief

I have heard every tear and every beg for relief.

Just as your mother has called out my name

so has her mother for they are the same.

From darkened corners their silence bereft,

The lowering of hearts into the earthen depths of death.

I rise around them as their heartbeats move on,

to greet the new morning,

the coming of dawn.

Victory at Home

I was standing on Fulton street waiting for the Number 15 to take me to the corner near my home. The wind was brisk with an occasional chill, but the lifting of the hood of my sweatshirt over my head blocked most of it. This particular stop homes three buses headed out and about town. It feels quite familiar as all three round the corner coming out of the transfer station down by Van Andel Arena. I switch feet. I look across to Veteran’s Park where I danced with wild abandon at a Thursday night drum circle held after the Jazz concert at Ah-Nab-Awen park. The Main Library is behind that. I spent hours of research in those rooms. Everything I was looking at seemed familiar, but with a dream-like quality.

I came to the conclusion that I was but a drop in the puddle in their eyes, but in mine, I was so much bigger.

When I moved away from West Michigan in 1989, I had no idea who I was; broken, discouraged, full of lamentations. I had no direction or purpose. I molded myself into the ideals that I believed I was supposed to be. I became a fair wife, a devout church goer, a preacher of God’s love, a model citizen in every way. I provided Christmas for impoverished children, took them on camping trips, advocated for their protection always seeking approval from outside sources. I was miserable.

After the loss of Jordan, I began rethinking my life and the choices that had brought me to a point where I could no longer stay. My marriage was a disaster, my friends were there but they were all much younger than I so their freedoms were different. I still had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be or do. At 25 years old, I decided to find out who that woman looking back at me in the mirror was. I left everything behind. I cut ties with family, friends, acquaintances, and moved back to a small studio apartment in Kentwood. I married again but it crumbled basically from day one. I moved around the country for about a year, using Greyhound as my means of travel.

By the time I ended up in Arizona I was a disaster. I married for a third time. I found a group of friends that, for the first time, not only saw me for who I am, but encouraged me to be everything I was meant to be. I felt like a toddler whose parents delight in the antics of the little one, but at the same time, I was an adult. I radiated humor and enthusiasm. I decided I was strong enough to move, so I did. I moved across the country again to Tennessee where I lived with my father for a brief time. He was a miserable human being that rejected me just as fast as he embraced me. It was constant mixed messages from him which led to uncertainty and instability.

I found God living in a little church tucked away behind a natural shade of trees. I was told to go there and I’m glad I obeyed. It was like coming home. It was the first group of collective people that not only appreciated my wildness, but saught me out for companionship, help, and entertainment. I imagine it’s what being a rockstar feels like. What’s even cooler is that I adored every one of them right back. I couldn’t help it. I’d waited my whole life to know what it was to be me. I learned it at their knee. It was the most difficult day when I had to say goodbye to them and return to my hometown of Grand Rapids.

Only, it wasn’t my Grand Rapids.

It wasn’t the place where the broken little girl made up ridiculous fantasies of being the President of the United States or curing cancer with a brightly colored cardboard box and a stick found on the playground. This wasn’t the city where I dealt with childhood tragedies with self destructive behaviors. Nothing was the same, including the absence of the monsters that didn’t live under my bed but were under the same roofs as me. The dark secrets were held up to the light until their power whimpered into submission.

This city doesnt know me, power in my words, body thick with laughter, hair demonstrably wild, my secrets laid open to the beauty of rainbows once forbidden from my fingertips. This city is unaware that within its limits, there is a woman with courage as deep as a wristcutters truth, but as furious as a hurricane battering abusers with education. Grand Rapids has yet to understand that I, that had all along existed but had been nearly crushed by history, rose up to find my feet.

I’m standing in the middle of Division and Fulton in my mind, screaming with laughter at the pure wickedness of possibilities to be reached. This may not be my Grand Rapids, but it is my home.