Friday, January 27, 2017

The color yellow

A writer cannot wait for inspiration. It may or may not come. What a writer must do is write . . . every day. Sometimes, when I’m not motivated, I start with one word selected from “out of the blue”. Below is a blog that began with one word – yellow. I developed this piece from that single word with no idea, when I began writing, where YELLOW would take me. This day, it took me to a good place, and in a week that has been a bit sad and confusing to me, I am satisfied.

Yellow has never been my favorite color. It definitely is not in my color wheel. I don’t believe I possess a single item of clothing that is yellow. My mother did buy me a bright, yellow, turtleneck sweater one time when I was twenty-something. I hated it. I wore it a few times, though, only when I knew she’d be around, but the rest of the time it was stuffed in the bottom corner of the sweater drawer. When I determined that enough time had gone by I tossed the old sweater (that incidentally looked brand new) in the Goodwill donation bag. It was a relief to see it go, but strangely I have never forgotten it. I guess I have my mother’s eye for color and my rock solid love for her to thank for that.
My mother adored bright colors, and that always seemed a bit odd to me. In my mind, Mother maintained a somewhat timid, undemonstrative personality that did not seem to go along with her love for vivid colors. I mean, really! One would think a reserved woman like my mom would select beiges and browns, black even, so she would not be noticed. Nope! Not my mom. She loved any shade of red, hot pink, turquoise, chartreuse, rich violet, and yes, yellow. And she wore them well. She had dark brown hair, deep brown eyes, and lily white skin that turned a light bronze in the summer beneath a hot, yellow (yes!), Kentucky sun.
My mother had a beautiful smile when she had occasion to show it. (And that was not too often, especially when my dad was around and in one of his “moods”, but that’s another story.) That aside, Mom’s lips were always tinted bright red, the color refreshed from time to time as need be. Though she didn’t wear much other makeup her painted lips and that radiant smile captured many a person at first glance.
My mother died in January of 2010. She was two months short of turning ninety-six. Her life was not always easy, but I believe she was satisfied, and, yes, prepared to go. (She held within an unwavering, deep faith.) I still think of my mother at some point every day and that’s a good thing. It warms my heart.
Today, the word yellow led me to her, and to memories as sweet as bubble gum-pink, cotton candy. It is a truth that my mother was, without fail, the first person to point out nature’s colors: the face of a delicate, deep purple pansy, a golden eye at its center; a batch of yellow daffodils swaying in a breeze; the vibrant red of a Kentucky Cardinal flitting about in the sparkling snow; the cobalt feathers of chattering Blue Jays; the brilliant orange, yellow, and black wings of a Monarch butterfly; or the pastel shades of a rainbow stretching across a grey and cloudy sky.
And aside from nature's colors, I’ll forever remember the gift of that yellow sweater.
“I bought you a present, honey,” my mother had said on the eve of my birthday so many years ago. A look of love had enlivened her face. “It’s a brand, new sweater, especially for you. Just look at that stunning yellow. Isn’t it something? I just love it.”
I recall looking down at my comfortable, black sweatshirt and trusty, navy jeans before managing a reply. “Thanks, Ma. Yeah, it’s a stunner all right. Yes, mam, it sure is.”
I wore it the next day.

While this is not THE yellow sweater, the color is exact!
This is my mom, who had just inched into her nineties, wearing a vivid red. She is here with her grandson, my son, Alex.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Wally’s Wacky World

        This is a not so upbeat piece of fiction . . . fabricated from what Wally would declare is spot-on.

Something was wrong. Wally couldn’t explain, not to anyone, though he wanted to so badly. Yet how could he? He wasn’t able to articulate to himself, either verbally or on the blank pages of his journal why he felt as he did . . . as if the world as he knew it, as he always had known it, was going to come to an abrupt end. It would be over. Gone. He believed it in his gut. No one in his right mind would understand a warning based on Wally’s premonition (“Another flippin’ nut case.”), folks would scoff at his fear (“What the hell is he worried about? That ain’t gonna happen.”), or he would be dubbed a wacky hippie who had sucked down too much smoke from his friend, Mary Jane (“Hey, dude, got any weed?”).
So yes, something definitely was wrong. This notion of his, that his world shortly would be turned upside down, or inside out, or split wide open from stem to stern, kept him up at night. He dreamed about it. It festered in his mind giving him headaches, gut aches, heartaches, or phantom pains in appendages he had never had. If only he could find some way to tell anybody, any one person, about his ominous suspicion that everything . . . everything . . . in its entirety, soon would be finished in midstride, in the blink of an eye. Not one person would believe. (“Yep, old Wally has gone off the deep end.” “Bonkers” “Old guy’s cheese has slid off his cracker.”). Folks would talk behind his back if they knew what he suspected. Wouldn’t they? Would they? Would they be right?
Wally harbored that thought. I’m not well. Maybe I have some terrible disease and I don’t know it. Maybe it’s the fact that nobody calls. People avoid me. Maybe I read too much. I’m a square peg in a round hole. I know it. I’m an oddball. But something is really wrong. I feel it inside, from my head to my toes; it’s whirling around like a specter. It won’t settle, won’t rest. Shit.
Something was wrong, but the truth was that Wally couldn’t do a damned thing about it. And though he was hopeless, though he had found it impossible to express what intuition had been dictating, he suspected he wasn’t alone. Others were as afraid as he was, and that was not simply a hunch. It was true. The signs were out there. Everywhere he went he was met with rudeness, intolerance, impatience, boorishness, and hate. Hate? Yes, even hate. And why? It was because of fear. It was because of dread. It was because of a pathetic feeling of helplessness. Any semblance of goodness or decency had turned in on itself. That is what was wrong.
Wally had sorted through it. He understood. Though he had possessed little of monetary value in his long life, he did own outright, intangible assets. He was erudite, he had gained an inkling of wisdom (even if he did say so himself), and his sense of perception was sharp. Yet, he pondered. What good does that shit do? Time and circumstances had left him with no choice. All he could do was hold what had come to be in his hands, his mind, and his heart and wait.