The Pain that Waits in Quiet Corners

The hospice room is quiet

I can hear my dad breathing steadily in his sleep.

Not wanting to disturb him

I sit there in the half light coming from the bathroom door

clutch my hot tea

and try not to flee the stillness—

the pain that waits in quiet corners

to roll in hot tears down my cheeks.

After I eat the cookies that the sweet care attendant gave me

there’s nothing to do but sit and listen to him sleep

the way he must have so often listened to me sleep

when I was a blond and rosy baby.

Back then, all he had to do was hold me

and I was safe.

Now, all I have to do is let him go

and he is safe, too.

Both times

both hearts

aching with love.

Flu Season Sing-Along

Flu season, here we come,

it’s time to sneeze and sniffle!

We wash our hands,

stand far apart

and yet it is that season,

cause bugs you know,

with their little brains,

know not rhyme nor reason.

Cough, snort and blow your noses,

rub your aching heads—

this nasty flu is making us

all leak like a rubber hoses.

So hop in bed,

ye one and all,

it’s time to be separated by a wall.

As if social distance wasn’t enough for you,

this stupid pandemic’s teamed up

with regular flus.

So here we come, long days alone,

thank goodness for the telephone!

Time to play nurse now,

soothe some heads,

tuck seven kids into their beds,

rub little feet with tiger balm,

dream about a beach with palms.

It’s no wonder tired bears get irate—

smartest thing is to hibernate.

So here’s wishing good health to you,

as for my house, it’s a zoo.

Flu season for one and all,

welcome, welcome, welcome, fall!


Let it go, little mamma.

You have deeply entered their pain,

lived it with them,

prayed and suffered.

Their burden is not yours.

You can love

but you cannot hold the whole world

in your heart.

Don’t try to steal God’s job.

Only He, the eternal one,

can bear all the world’s suffering

without breaking to pieces…

Your call now,

is to go dig in your garden

and plant flowers of hope

in the simple brown earth.

Your call is to smile again

and find joy in the little gifts of each day.

Tears have washed you clean.

Now, little mama,

let it go,

trust more,

be silly and laugh again.

Intoxicating Dance

Oh the passionate dance
of a mother in the evening
as you rock and sway
your feverish child
who clings to you with far away eyes
half-open and heavy

Classical music bursts through the darkness
with delicate yearning
and ebullient beauty

How beautiful and terrible
this ballet…
your hands caressing the little one’s back
as you rock and sway
–a living cradle–
an exhausted ark
carried upon the waves
of wakeful nights

And as you dance
you long
for the intoxicating embrace
of sleep
to carry you away like blossoms
floating down a rapid river

Think not of waterfalls
for they come soon enough
dance and dream only of sleep

Ode to Gentle Hands

Gentle hands that touch

with a love strong and deep

know the body is no mere shell

for the soul,

but an outward expression of its being.

And when these hands soothe

calm and comfort,

when they restore dignity 

to the broken frailty of an aging body

by the gentleness of their touch,

they affirm with silent symphony 

that each person is precious,

body and soul.

For when the vessel is bent and broken,

light shines through the cracks

and love bursts forth in beauty.


Frootloops for Once


Some days

when you’ve been up and down all night

with coughing kids,

giving medicine and fruit smoothie,

rubbing Vicks on hot little backs,

tucking and retucking in,

the only thing to do

when they mysteriously get up extra early,

before the decent hour of 7 am,

is to start the day afresh

with Frootloops for once—

very healthy with all that ‘froot’—

and “The best breakfast ever,”

according to my three year old.

Maybe smiling will help the bad bugs go away.

Sleepyhead # 2 Takes Up the Torch

I thought it would be fitting, as we continue to battle the tummy bugs, to write something Olympic, so I chose the heroic sport we specialize in here in Crazyland: Olympic Napping. Although less well known than some extreme sports, Olympic Napping is a sure crowd pleaser, as it combines cuteness, quietness, versatility and endurance in one small package.

Last week I wrote about Sleepyhead # 1 battling the tummy bugs, and now her big sister is following suit. Here is the little one performing the famous couch nap:


Her big sister, our gold medal contender, age 3 1/2, has a long career in Olynapping, as its fans lovingly call it, and is especially known for her ability to nap in any position, situation, or space. She has fallen asleep in strollers, boxes, chairs and tents, on couches, beds and the floor. As long as she has her trusty fuzzy blanket, so essential to her sport, victory is hers.


Even as an infant she dreamt of Olympic gold:


And soon mastered the peacefulness technique:


As a precocious youngster, she even attempted to nap while eating chocolate cake!


A very self motivated Olynapper, she sometimes puts herself to bed, just to get a little more practice in.


She is much praised by the judges for her capacity to sleep though all sorts of chaotic noise without even stirring.


A further note must be made about her endurance: in today’s contest, Olynapper vs the icky tummy, she slept almost the entire day, with only a brief foray from her Oly-tent to imbibe some hot chocolate.


To what does she attribute her great success in Olynapping?
Her new “ear muscles” and wearing large amounts of purple!


Sleepyhead vs. the Tummy Bug


Today my little one battled it out with a nasty tummy bug, using the best arsenal she had: closing those luscious blue eyes and sleeping whenever, and wherever she could, always accompanied by her special beige blankie. She napped on the carpet, on the couch, in her bunkbed, and most sweetly, in her highchair.

Although a few of my kids having fever and stomach flu aren’t the highlight of my week, I’ve got lots of things to be grateful for: my kind landlord who came right away and spent two hours repairing my oven when the oven door handle fell off earlier that day (a tricky task, we discovered!), Ida who gave me loads of lovely bread from Cobbs to feed my little monkeys, Milton who brought us muffins, Maria who come over today and helped me make dinner and clean up, too (using all the courage necessary to face my jungly sink and baby’s banana-covered highchair), and Natalie, who offered to drop off anything we needed, or even just felt like.

Sometimes, when life hands you a little icky flu, you see how surrounded by love you really are.