DECEMBER ROSES BY DAISY BANKS
“Here’s your tea, Mom,” Maddy said and set a cup on the small table. “Mom, are you awake?”
“Yes, dear. I was just dreaming.”
“You’ve done a lot of nodding off today.”
“Yes. Do you think you can stay awake long enough to tell me about the roses?”
Mom chuckled so her shoulders jiggled up and down. “Ah, yes. The day after your father proposed. We spent the last of my birthday money on a big bunch of pink roses.”
“Who were they for?”
“Your Gran, of course. Not that they made much difference in my opinion.”
“They must have made her smile.”
Mom shook her head. “They didn’t when we took them to her. She only smiled once that day as I recall and it wasn’t because of the roses.”
“Was it because you were engaged?”
“Oh no, not at all. She smiled because she thought she’d got time to make me change my mind.”
Maddy bent to straighten the blanket over her mother’s knees. “But you didn’t change your mind.”
“No, I didn’t. Your dad and I got married the first weekend after my twentieth birthday, just like we said we would.”
“Do you want to look at the photo album?”
“No, dear, not now. I don’t need the photos I remember it all so well.”
MADDIE’S PROJECT BY ANNA CELESTE BURKE
That day, I felt lost—a feeling that’s still palpable after all these years. Kids go home to empty houses every day. Why did I feel rudderless and adrift? Besides, I wasn’t alone. Sara was there, although that didn’t count for much. Nearing the end of 10th grade, Sara was fixated on the prospect that, in the fall, she would be picking out a college and preparing for entrance exams. An empty house must have meant much less to her since she already had one foot out the door.
We had only taken a few sips of the icy soda when I heard the sound of the garage door opening. I wanted to dash into the kitchen but forced myself to wait. When I heard door leading into the kitchen from the garage open and shut again, my heart sank into the silence that followed. That silence even reached through Sara’s self-absorption. Her thumbs stopped flying over the keypad of her cell phone, engaged in a flurry of texting. She didn’t hesitate to follow when I left the bedroom.
Mom and Dad stopped in their tracks when we met them in the great room off the kitchen. Andy wasn’t with them. That explained some of the silence. Andy would have been chattering or asking one of his endless questions. More was written on their faces. My heart thumped. Mom had been crying. Dad, too, I just knew it!
VISION OF THE HEART BY MARY CRAWFORD
As I listen to my mom explain all of the changes in our lives, it occurs to me I haven’t told her how grateful I am for the person she is today. I want to be the kind of mom she’s always been. I even carry around a picture in my wallet of me when I was little. It’s my mom cuddling with me on her old couch. In that picture, the love in her eyes is palpable. I know it’s naïve, but I’m surprised to hear mom feels diminished as a mother. It’s not how I see her at all.
I’ll admit at first, I remember being frustrated she couldn’t do little things like braid my hair straight or help me paint my fingernails. We used to have a ritual on Friday nights. If I didn’t have a date, we’d have a girl’s night in and do little makeovers on each other. When she lost her vision, it was nearly impossible for her to continue our tradition. After her diagnosis, it was hard for me to understand why things between us had changed.
It was a slow process— let’s face it—I was a bit shallow like every other teenage girl I knew. It took me a while to realize life wasn’t all about me. I don’t think I fully understood the concept until after Wyatt was born. It was then I began to understand the amount of energy it takes to be a Supermom. I’m ashamed when I think about how long it took me to figure things out. So, it’s surreal to hear her describe herself as if she’s somehow lacking. To me, she’s everything I aspire to be.
AN ENGLISH ROSE BY ALLYSON R. ABBOTT
“I don’t know what’s up with you today, Mum. You’re not yourself.”
“Sorry, just thinking about things love. You know, getting old is not much fun.”
“I know, but you’re doing really well for eighty six — “
“Eighty five actually, there’s no need to age me.” Apart from your eyesight, of course. You’re a spring chicken compared to Steve’s mum, who is much younger than you. She can hardly walk and looks gaunt. At least you have flesh bones and look after yourself.”
I didn’t like to mention my hearing issues and all the aches, pains, creaks and groans from my joints, I’m sure my chest puffed out at the compliment.
“Debbie mentioned you are thinking of buying a scooter.”
“Didn’t take her long to spread the gossip, did it?”
“It’s not gossip, Mum. She was just a bit concerned, but I think it’s a great idea.”
“Do you think I’ll be able to manage one then?”
“Of course you can. You just need to be a bit careful when crossing the roads, but it will be fun. You’ll be able to get out and about more. I bet you could even reach my house. They can cover quite distance, you know.”
“Will you come with me then, to have a look? I don’t know if I can afford one.”
“Grab your coat Mum. We’ll go now; you can make this pie later.”
THE ART OF FORGIVENESS BY TAMARA PHILIP
If love is like music then forgiveness is an art.
In art even if it’s ugly or seems pointless it doesn’t change the fact that someone put thought and time into it. However, like apologies and subsequent forgiveness, it is without exception, how one interprets it, reacts to it and applies it to oneself that truly gives it meaning. It is how art becomes Art, once it connects to a soul.
However, forgiveness, true forgiveness, does not come easily. It is sometimes painstakingly slow or overwhelming in its dramatics but once you begin it, if you don’t see it through, it will hurt. Like a heated brand on your heart, you will forever bear it. In the end if you let it win, you can heal, you can let go and hopefully, move on.
THE ILLUSION OF HAPPINESS BY NEVA SQUIRES-RODRIGUEZ
I shook my head as I stared at the flowers and took a card in a red envelope out of the center of the bouquet. My fingers worked nervously as I opened the envelope, realizing that I had become the center of attention from my children as they sat across the hall in the living room. I didn’t have the slightest idea who could have sent these and was scared to find out.
The only person that I could think of the flowers being from was my other sister in Maine, but I doubted that she had remembered my birthday. She was too wrapped up in her own life to bother calling to check on me after my divorce was finalized and the fact that she wasn’t here said something. Finally the envelope was open and the design on the card told me the roses were from a man. My hand shook as I opened it, Chastity intensely watching my expression as I read the card.
THE DAY BEFORE ECLOSION BY ADRIENNE RUVALCABA
Sharon stared after her and considered her options. She could go after her like she always did, or she could give her a minute to cool down before attempting to talk to her. Each time she was faced with this choice, the decision never got any easier. Four years had passed since the adoption had been finalized, and in that time, a world of strife had opened up in her life.
It was a familiar set of syllables, but the meaning had shifted the very foundation of her life since becoming Gracie’s adoptive mother. All children had needs, but her daughter had special needs.
THE LIGHT WE FOUND BY Q.D PURDU
Morning. Ugh. For a moment the only things I think about are my queasy stomach and throbbing head. One glass of wine is my typical limit; two glasses are my rare exception, and the almost-full bottle of the night before hasn’t happened since college.
As I run to the bathroom, the nightmare comes rushing back: Alex and Ben and my life savings.
The nausea and memories keep me busy for at least an hour, heaving and crying.
After I’m able to keep down some kombucha, I drag myself to the computer to suffer through it all again. My Facebook news feed has a wedding picture tagged with Shannon’s name. Alex, Regina, Shannon, and Oscar are all joyfully beaming.
I’m drawn to Sarah’s page again, still amazed that this young woman is Ben’s wife and not his daughter.
And I read articles about my defunct investment company. I should have been watching more closely. I should have diversified. Alex advised me when we divorced, “Buy a house. Invest your money in something you’ll always have. Don’t waste money on rent.”
Now that I’m a pauper and finished with men forever, I do online cancellations of four memberships and appointments: gym, dance studio, monthly massage, and biweekly manicures and pedicures. That will save almost $400 a month. I Google for cheaper apartments; I’ll move when the lease is up in seven months. Until now I’ve been using all my monthly teacher retirement checks just to live on.
FOREVER SUNSHINE BY CARY ALLEN STONE & TYLER HOSEA
Mother’s Day, May 2007
To Charley and Janey,
All of my dreams came true. I was able to fly and have three angels to fly with me! I promised myself for years I would not open this letter, but selfish me, I had to add something.
Today is my birthday and my last flight. The Federal Aviation Administration has a rule that requires I stop doing what I love so much. They’ve taken away one of my most precious possessions.
I was sad for a while, but then I thought not flying meant I could have
more time with you two and my best friend Edward! It took me a long time to realize you were the best part of my two worlds. The three of you sacrificed so much for me. Now it’s time to pay you back.
As far as my first letter, I wouldn’t change a word in it! I have my Charley, and my Janey––everything I need in the world. And for all of u, I wish––forever sunshine!
All my love still,
Mom, and once a pilot