In Our Element (with vomit)

Loading four dogs into the Element with mom seemed like a good idea. After all, who wouldn’t want to go for a scenic ride down the canyon to play in her grass-filled backyard?

Booker T. Washington Hooker sat on mom’s lap. Houston and Diesel enjoyed the view from the back. Honey kept trying to peak out the front window and leaned over the console.

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MOM:   Oh, I hate to ask, but could you get off at 39th South so I can cash a check at my bank?

ME:  No problem.

HONEY (at the light):  BARF.

Up came Honey’s breakfast — a mix of pumpkin, kibble, yogurt, and coconut oil — all over the middle console that doubles as a cooler, the emergency break, the cupholders, and the seat belts.

Since it was nice and chunky, I grabbed it by the handful and hurled it out my window. However, I didn’t have a wet wipe to clean my hands. So, to my mother’s horror, I wiped the chunky bits on the inside of my strapless dress.

After helping the dogs into the shady backyard and filling up bowls with water, I began the kibble cleanup. Mom pulled out a box of “rags;”  turns out, they were my old floral printed panties and Jeff’s tidy whities.  Who uses 30-year-old child’s underwear for rags? MOM.

The Woolite fabric cleaner in the garage cupboard was so old, it wouldn’t spray.

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Pulling out the floor mats, cupholder, and cooler, I wiped and hosed down the parts of the Element.

Still stinking of the vomit wiped on my dress, Mom offered me a house dress.

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ME:  I can’t wear one of those!  What if I get pulled over in the canyon?

MOM:  Well, if you borrowed one of my house dresses, you’d be more modest.

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Summer School Lessons for a Middle-Aged English Teacher (Lessons #1 – 16 plus a question)

  1.  It is a bad idea to start painting the deck at 1:30 in the afternoon.
  2. A better idea would have been to write the graduation card that I couldn’t write because I was too emotional.   18951397_10155403543839451_3446220325217752634_n
  3. Another better idea would have been to unload the dishwasher.
  4. An even better idea would have been to fold and put away the piles of clothes on my dining room table.
  5. It is a bad idea to start painting the deck with less than a 1/2 gallon of stain.
  6. It is a bad idea to go to go to WalMart in sweatshorts, a t-shirt, a hat, and big dark glasses because you boycotted HomeDepot because the co-founder endorsed Trump.
  7. It is a bad idea to buy stain the color of red cedar wood; turns out it is a stain with a color.
  8. It is a really bad idea to paint the top railing of the deck and then bend over to paint the sides.
  9. Painting and impatience do not go together.
  10. Sticking a big brush in a small ruins separates the bristles and makes it so the brush can’t hold paint.
  11. Paint splatters.  Paint flips. IMG_2128Fortunately, the dogs think the drips, the flips, the splatters look like a Jackson Pollock. Since it is their backyard, I’ll just leave it.
  12. Painting barefoot is a bad idea. When you walk on the paint, it tracks inside.
  13. Stain resistant carpet is not resistant to stain.
  14. Vegetable oil removes stain from your skin.
  15. Vegetable oil is slippery.
  16. If I slipped and fell in the bathtub, covered in vegetable oil, would the dogs eat me before my friends found me?
  17. Cut your losses. Just put it all in the garbage.IMG_2120.jpg
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Meryl Streep Aged Well — Dwight Hooker

Watching The Bridges of Madison County, we saw Meryl Streep turn, after saying “goodbye” to the love of her life, walk back into the farmhouse, and brush her skirt beneath her hips.

Dwight said, “She did it right. She aged well. Look at that. That is so natural. Any woman of that age would feel self conscious and make that gesture.”

This year, without Dwight, I watched and listened to Meryl Streep accept her Golden Globe award. She spoke to our hearts.

Dwight would have been proud.

 

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What Would You Do if You Could Do it All Over?

What Would You Do from If Then

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Dwight taught me to love musical theater. In the mustard yellow Range Rover, the silver Subaru, and my green Legacy, Dwight belted out show tunes including Soliloquy from Carousel. (I thought he sounded like Frank Sinatra.) We passed the time driving to and from Sundance listening to The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Cats. Together, we saw Miss Saigon ON Broadway. Musicals matter in my life.
I wish my Mighty Dwighty Hooker was here to enjoy Hamilton and If/Then. 
If/Then is my new favorite contemporary musical. It speaks to me as 40-something. It reminds me of New York. And, it reminds me to “love wherever and whenever” I can.
Now, after The Little Prince, the song, “What Would You Do?” requires me to answer.
If you met him tomorrow and knew you would lose him
If you saw him and saw all the hurt you would know
Would you hold him while you had him
Or let him go?

If you knew that your laughter would not last forever
But you knew while it did you would breathe it like air
Would you let him make you love him?
Would you dare?

Feeling like you feel today
Tell me you’d just walk away

What would you do if you could do it all over?
What would you do if you could start it all new?
If you could go back knowing what you know now
What would you do?

Feeling like I feel today, I would not just walk away. If I could do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing, except, of course, for the outcome.
Lil’ P and me were together for 39 days.
Of those 39 days, he spent two nights without me; those were two of the longest  and loneliest nights I’ve ever had.
39 days. 37 nights.
My heart hurts. But, I would do it all over again.
The Little Prince made me brave.
By design, my life is small.
A man who loved me and wanted to be a part of my life said, “You hide behind your dogs. You keep bringing more in, so you don’t have to go out.”
He was right.
My furry family makes my life big and small, at the same time.
My furry family makes me friends in neighborhood, friends on Facebook (because I’m old and don’t Instagram), and makes common ground for my mom and me.
The Little Prince made me travel to Fort Collins, Colorado. He gave my mom the opportunity to mother the Hooker Horde and my neighbors. None of my best friends and neighbors have mothers — they have either lost their moms, live far away from them, or don’t really get along.
The Little Prince made me brave. The two of us road-tripped. That was scary for me. It was just the two of us.
The Little Prince made me brave. I learned to wrap wounds, check stitches, and give medicine.
The Little Prince taught me to love unconditionally. People on Facebook followed him; donors I didn’t know, helped with his expenses; and, the only thing that mattered to me was helping him heal.
I would do it ALL over again.
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Cheers — to All Women on Today, Mother’s Day

Until Jeff arrived, my mother could not go to church on Mother’s Day. With a quivering voice, mom recounted how it felt to be judged and hear family, friends, and her ward community say, “Marjorie and Grant are more concerned with money than having a family.”

The truth could not have been any farther from those cruel cutting words.

Mom worked after she married. There was no reason to sit home and stew about not being able to have a baby. Mom is, to this day, the most practical woman I know.

Mom worked. Together they saved to buy a lot, build a house, and make a life. Because mom worked during those years without children, we grew up in a beautiful home.

Mom could not have children because of her ruptured appendix. Jeff, being Jeff, took his time to arrive and showed up in 1967. Finally, mom was a mother in the eyes of the world.

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As a stepmother, I was never a mom because no one popped out of my hoo-ha.

Bert Thomas called me every year to say, “Happy Mother’s Day to the woman I know who most wants to be a mom.” For that, I am grateful.

In California, my writing group commented on a piece I composed.

“Pushing another being out from between your legs does not make you a mother. Women mother their parents, their partners, their friends . . ”

That was when I freed myself from the traditional definition of “mother.”

On Thursday, a student asked, “Hooker, are you coming to church on Sunday? We give chocolate to all the moms.”

For a moment, I paused and thought about what people might think.

He continued, “You’re a mom.  You’re our mom.  Look at all the pets you mom, too.”

So, CHEERS.

CHEERS to all my ladies that mother.

Please, never feel “less than” because you miscarried, could not get pregnant, or because timing matters.

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Each season of each year I will be forgetting you all over.

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“Each season of each year I will be forgetting you

all over. Each season, every year.

I will need to forget you each summer, spring . . . autumn and winter.”

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Prince,

Like Walter Benton wrote, “Spring will be the hardest to forget.” We shared spring of 2017. You made it magic. You made it royal. You built a kingdom.

In almost three months, you lived larger than most do in a lifetime.

I shall be forgetting you in the backyard.

I shall be forgetting you riding shotgun.

I shall be forgetting you stealing my socks, chewing on my hair, running in your puppy dreams.

I shall be forgetting your soft white nose, your two freckles, and your big paws.

I shall be forgetting the peace you brought into our classroom.

I shall be forgetting you.

Love,

Mom

 

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Could We Start Again, Please

Could We Start Again, Please?

I’ve been living to see you.

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Dying to see you, but it shouldn’t be like this.
This was unexpected,
What do I do now?
Could we start again please?
Prince, this was taken on your first night as the Little Prince Hooker. Today, I left you with your blanket and light saber. The force is strong in you. I would give anything to start again.
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