Stories-all stories copyrighted

 

"Brother Blue - The Golden Comet"© Yellow Moon Press - Summer 2001

While driving alone, just before the rain, down a dark and winding road in Arlington, Massachusetts, a falling star caught my attention. Shooting across the heavens, it seemed to come straight at me. A little bit frightened and filled with awe, I drove faster to get out of its path. When I turned to look back, I saw a jagged burst of lightning pierce the night sky. The brilliant flash of light streaked low and over the tall trees behind me. It was then.........that I remembered who Brother Blue was and how we were connected. Pulling my car over to the side of the road, while the rain pummeled the roof and the thunder and lightning crashed around me, I wrote this story on odd bits of paper found in the car.

It was a millennium ago while slumbering in my ancient soul that I was awakened by a golden comet streaking through the heavens. The splendid brilliance raced through the atmosphere, came to earth and weaved and danced amidst a stand of trees. As if searching, it moved swiftly and then suddenly struck a colossal tree, setting it ablaze. Glowing and split in half, though still attached at the roots, the tree thundered to the ground. Sparks from one half of the burning wood flew like fireflies, imbedding themselves within the tall timber of the surrounding forest. Deep, deep, deep they burrowed, to slumber within the wood, waiting to be awakened when the time was right. Thus Brother Blue was born to seed the world with stories.

Spiraling shafts of light from the other half of the felled tree sprang up and raced to spin protectively around and embrace the trees that the sparks had entered. It was then that Ruth Hill was created to preserve and shield Blue's brilliant seeds. Born together out of the unity of the universe and brought to earth from the light of life, Brother Blue and Ruth prepared the world for their children - the stories!

Many years passed before fire was discovered and wood was used as its fuel. As people came to sit around the fires, Blue's sparkling stories awoke from within the pieces of burning timber. They began to snap and touch the cave dwellers who sat before the blazing radiance for warmth. Slowly at first, with hesitancy and care, the act of sharing stories gave birth to other sparks that entered other people and stories spread throughout the centuries.

My ancient soul came to life again one day..... when a storyteller walked me into a cave of books where Ruth and Blue's children lived. I saw my ancient Father and Mother and my brothers and sisters in all the pages made from the wood of those spark filled trees. Many people were there, drawn to Brother Blue's brilliant light and Ruth's glowing kindness .....because fireflies of memory danced in their minds. Blue stood before them, dressed in a rainbow of butterflies, arms raised, eyes cast towards the heavens, perhaps seeing his own comet's light and pronouncing wonders. When he took my hand and proclaimed that my first told story was perfect and wonderful...I believed him. When I saw the smile and flash of agreement in Ruth's eyes, I felt the rolling of the old thunder. On that day, the world hesitated in it's turning to allow my ancient soul to be awakened once more by the power of Brother Blue's ageless, universal spirit. My own spark was set free to fly around the campfires of the world, writing and telling my stories. And I was home again!

The Turkey Story©

This is a story about an unusual involvement between a 25 pound turkey, an 18 pound cat, Mr. Irving Rabb, CEO of the Stop & Shop, and The Boston Globe. Many years ago, at Christmas, while a blizzard raged outside I awoke to prepare a frozen turkey that was thawing on the kitchen counter overnight.. (We didn't know about insipid bacteria back then.) I was a little apprehensive because my beloved Fluffy Cat was not winding about my legs, meowing to be fed. I called out his name only to hear a most awful and hideous caterwauling scream of anguish and pain. I ran to open cabinets under and over the sink, thinking he may be trapped. I flew to the cabinets across the room and happened to glance down to see a tail hanging out of my turkey. The awful Meooowwrrr was coming from inside the bird. Upon further examination, I noticed that the foolish cat had already eaten one side of the turkey breast and part of a leg. When I grabbed his tail with one hand and pushed the turkey with the other, I heard a loud and slippery POP as he flew out with the bag of giblets still stuck in his mouth. His stomach was swollen and his eyes glassy. When I placed him on the floor, he couldn't move, and his eyes were gazing up at the bird from the floor. Needless to say, I was worried that he would be sick, so I called the Vets. When the women from the answering service answered, I told her the story. She assured me with much restrained giggles that she would have the Doctor call me back. Just before I hung up I heard her say, "Hey girls, wait 'till you hear this one!" When the Veterinarian called back, he was laughing uncontrollably as he said, "whatever you do, don't feed the cat for at least three days and keep his litter box clean." I was concerned about what we would do for our holiday dinner, (yes, I considered cooking the stuffed cat) and called the Boston Globe for advice. One person after another, "laughing all the way," transferred me until I reached a young woman who was very kind, and said that she had an idea. She suggested that I wait by the phone. A short while later Mr. Irving Rabb of the Stop and Shop, where I did my grocery shopping at the time, (then located on Memorial Drive in Cambridge) called and with much dignity and kindness told me to wait for "his car" to come to get me.....in a raging snow storm... His chauffeur driven town car arrived to take me to the Stop and Shop where Mr. Bill Frank, Manager had somehow driven to the store to open it for this one customer. Mr. Frank took a shopping cart, ran to the meat section and selected the biggest, fresh turkey he could find, plopped it into the cart and proceeded to escort me throughout the store, isle after isle, placing one item after another into the cart. Canned ham, roast beef, vegetables, fruits and pies, all sorts of delectable items. Just before we reached the front of the store, Mr. Frank asked me if I needed anything else. Hesitating for only a moment, I answered, "Hmmmmm, ahhhh, well, I could use some kitty litter. And without blinking an eye, he ran off to the pet section and came back with a huge bag of special deoderizing litter. When we arrived at my house, the chauffeur helped me with the groceries and we found Fluffy still glassy eyed and standing on the floor where I placed him. He was unable to lie down because his stomach was in the way. Needless to say, our prayers were for all the wonderful people who helped us, and we had a delightful dinner while Fluffy the cat watched from the sidelines.. glassy eyed.

 

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Mystic View©

published by Somerville Journal - Medford Transcript - Art Beat with photos

It's still dark after the morning rain. As I sit near my window, a huge black crow cackles, "Look up, look up!" At first I see only the cars zipping by, their owners hunched over steering wheels, intent on the road and their ultimate destinations. The front of their cars appear bent down, headlights like slitted eyes, concentrating only on the forward rush. The drivers unaware that the world around them is bursting with color and joy and beauty. Angry now, the bird screeched again, "Look up, or it will be gone." With a panoramic view of the beautiful Mystic river that joins sister cities, Somerville, Medford and Chelsea, Massachusetts together, I finally glance towards the sky and then at the river. I'm gifted with a splash of bright pink as I watch the horizon change. Fuscia and lavender are blended into the diminishing night that covers the flowing Mystic river. I wish I could paint the unforgettable scene. Surrounded by dark trees, rambling brush and silhouetted structures, the silver-gray water ripples merrily along the banks. The street and car lights and the few remaining twinkling stars behave like happy fire-flies dancing in the dusk of the morning. Suddenly my heart skips a beat. The birds cease their noise and all is quiet while a rainbow slowly and majestically arches over the Mystic Valley Park building in Medford. Stunned by shimmering colors, I sit breathless and thank the cawking bird who announced it all. The stately brick building seems to stretch and expand to receive this talisman of beauty. Artistic, shifting shadows glide up and down the structure. The gradual change from night shade to full blown sunup takes about 20 minutes. It seems instantaneous, this shift to solidness and reality, like finding yourself fully awake after lolling about in bed before rising. Abruptly, the large structure appears to sigh at the light and settle as the shadows depart and the new sun pinches the expanse of the roof. When the rainbow departs, the birds begin flitting through the sky again, singing to the blooming day. A mother squirrel and her baby run down from their tree nest to dash across the ground and up another tree. I imagine they're going to wake their sleepy neighbors to go look for hidden nuts together. When the last of the darkness lifts, it allows a layer of fluorescent orange, now covered by a light blue cotton-candy fluff to streak through the sky. I can almost see the invisible paintbrush as it moves swiftly across the heavens. The tremulous river reaches up to pull some of the iridescence to its breast and the water is illuminated. A pair of gulls, wings tipped with bright color reflected from the sky, are free-falling and criss-crossing playfully towards the water. Then zooming up, up and up to frolic in the air again. As the world wakes up, this re-birthing magic goes to sleep. It's comforting to know that the Mystic River and the beauty will be there tomorrow, even if it rains again. The river, clouds and rain draw wonderful pictures with exquisite colors. And the beautiful Mystic river view lasts longer on those days when the sun sleeps in.

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All material copyrighted

Buddha on The Bus ©

(A book of Essays) published by Beth Isreal Hospital on Cancer Awareness Day

Since being diagnosed with cancer, I had surgery and soon after, radiation treatment. This meant traveling to and from the radiation center, five days a week by taking four buses and two trains each day. I was not thrilled with the prospect of spending half my day traveling on public transportation for something that wasn't on my list of fun things to do. I was angry and filled with "why me" and I was looking for any reason not to endure the radiation treatments. I think that some stupid part of me was willing to die instead, just so I could say " So there"! I won't let you tell me what to do!

On my first bus trip home from the radiation center in Boston, I saw a dirty bus, angry, tired people and a cranky bus driver. The train was late and crowded. I thought, "this certainly makes my anger justified." When I arrived home, my cat, Munyia wound herself merrily around my feet, mewing happily. I ignored her. Feeling rebuffed, she slinked off to the kitchen. When I saw the tabby cat turn her little head back toward me with a hurt look in those golden eyes, I sat down on the floor and cried. At that moment, I actually felt my anger as band of tightness around my chest. I felt the deep furrow in my brow and my teeth were clenched together. I began to realize that though the cancer was in one place, doing it's nasty job, it was the anger that was going to kill me. "I have to change this, no one else can do this for me." I said. " Blaming God isn't going to make it go away," I mumbled out loud. As I paced the floor, I realized in that moment that I could either loll about in my anger and self-pity or I could transform this daily traveling into something else, perhaps an adventure. What follows is the beginning of my journey to a collection of Buddhas. In these stories,I do not mention the lessons that I learned from my Buddha-teachers. I leave each reader to find their own message.

During the morning commute, drivers and passengers on the buses are usually distracted by their private thoughts, newspapers or books. Most people pay no attention to their surroundings. The morning after my decision to look for some meaning in my predicament, I trooped onto my first bus with a smile on my face and a very big hello to the bus driver on my lips. Continuing to smile, I chatted with the person sitting next to me and across from me. I did this on every bus and every train every day for the duration of the radiation treatments. By the end of that first week, many people were recognizing me and acknowledging my presence. If I could, I sat in the same place and after a while the bus driver and passengers were exchanging greetings with each other too.

 

The last bus I boarded to get to the Beth Israel Hospital was from the Ruggles Street MBTA station in Boston. Buddha comes in all colors and ages.

Teenage Buddha©

While on this bus, I overheard a black teenager talking with his friend on their way home from school. They were dressed in the typical attire of the time, double-hung jeans, opened laced sneakers and hair done in perfectly arranged dread-locks. I heard one young man say to the other, "I can't make up my mind whether to be a basketball player or a doctor. "The coach said that I could be another Michael Jordan and that would be "bad" (slang word for absolutely wonderful)." He continued, "I would have plenty of money, cars and everyone would always remember me. But, my biology teacher thinks I'll make a great doctor. If I was a doctor, I would be able to help people and I would feel like I was doing something good." His friend softly punched him in the arm and said, "you go be a doctor! When Michael Jordan's gone, they will forget all about him and look at the new players. They'll forget all about "Penny" ( this must have been the would-be doctors name) too, but if you are a doctor, your patients will always remember you and best of all.... you will remember you! He mentioned two other boys and said, "they can be anything they want to be but they just have to have a "mouth" to show how bad they are and they keep getting into trouble." He added, "No matter what you decide to do, just watch your mouth Your mouth tells your attitude. Your mouth tells your fear. And a loud mouth means scared! You won't be a doctor or a basketball player with a mouth and you don't grow from fear." Just as I was getting off the bus I heard this wonderful and wise Buddha say to his friend, "You know Penny, you could do both....be a basketball player and a doctor! No reason you can't." He was about 16 years old! I didn't know it then but, I had just met my first Buddha.

 

Buddha also comes in small packages

Baby Buddha©

The C2 bus from Ruggles Station winds through the Longwood Medical area that includes The Children's Hospital. Many passengers are taking children to this hospital for various reasons. During a snowy and cold day a young woman, holding a blanket wrapped baby, got on the bus and sat in one of the double seats near me. Shortly afterwards a very tall, well-built man in his late twenties got on the bus and swaggered down the aisle with an intense, angry look on his face. His eyes were slit, almost closed. It seemed that he was trying to be scary. It worked for me. I also noticed that a few other passengers were glancing nervously his way. He sat down behind the woman with the baby and hunched forward in a self-protective stance. I only had a view of the man's face. I couldn't see the baby's face. He glanced down at the baby and in one second, I saw this intense giant's expression change from sour anger at the world into the most beautiful and beaming smile of happiness. His face took on a glow as his beautiful brown eyes opened wide. He waggled his finger, tilted his head side to side and mouthed silent baby talk to the little tyke. He had an incredible smile with perfect white teeth. He and the baby were entranced with their silent games. They were blowing spit bubbles at each other as I rose to get off the bus at the hospital.

 

Buddha comes in different shapes and not all Buddhas are met on buses or trains, they can be encountered on the street.

The Popsicle Buddha©

Late one afternoon, I had to take a couple of extra buses to go to Davis Square in Somerville, Massachusetts to do some light shopping. Feeling more tired than usual after the radiation treatment, I was anxious to finish up quickly and get home to an early bed. As I was rushing across a street to go to the bank, I noticed a young woman with her four or five year old daughter talking with a homeless woman who was sitting on a black plastic trash bag surrounded by her few belongings. The homeless woman was holding half of a red popsicle in her right hand and a dollar bill in her left. Her face was bathed in the most incredible expression of joy. Something made me stop a moment while still within hearing distance. The mother had asked this woman a question, which I did not hear, but the homeless woman's answer was, " I don't know what tomorrow will bring, I only know about right now. I believe in happy moments.... like this popsicle and the little girl who just gave it to me. I could only imagine that when the little girl saw her mother give the lady a dollar, she wanted to share something too. And all she had was her popsicle.

 

Being squashed on a crowded train during rush hour can lead to a certain familiarity and Buddha shows up.

 

The Crystal Bowl Buddha©

While riding the train from Ruggles to Sullivan Station one afternoon, I became engaged in conversation with two young women of Italian descent who were reminiscing about a recent holiday spent at their mother's house. Their mother owned a beautiful, expensive, crystal fruit bowl and this heirloom was passed down from generation to generation. It was centered in a place of honor on each recipient's dining room table only on special occasions and holidays. When these women were very little, they would sometimes reach out and touch the bowl with sticky fingers when the light made rainbows dance about the bowl. Their mother would smack a hand and say, "Don't touch that bowl, it is special, it belonged to your nona's nona." (Nona is an affectionate, Italian term for Grandmother) During this recent holiday, while the women and their toddler children were having dinner, one of their own children reached forward to touch a point on the crystal bowl. The mother of the little girl slapped the child's hand and repeated the words of her own mother: "Don't touch that bowl, it is special." The little girl began to cry, more in surprise than hurt. Suddenly, the grandmother got up from the table, pushed her chair back, sighed, and stared thoughtfully at the cryimg child for a moment, opened one of the dining room windows, pushed out the screen and tossed the bowl out the window, fruit and all.

She turned back to her stunned family with tears in her eyes, walked over and placed her hands on the weeping child's shoulders and announced in Italian, "Mia piu, mia piu," never again, never again. I never want to see another child cry over an old piece of glass. I am sorry that I did this to you and I'm sorry that my mother did it to me. It will continue no more. " As the train thundered to a stop at Sullivan Station the sisters got off, and I never heard how the rest of the family reacted to this startling event.

 

Buddha can also be found at work.

 

Receptionist Buddha©

I try to make it a policy to decide, right away, whether I "want to be right" or to "get what I want" in any given situation, especially in the workplace. All my friends and co-workers are aware of my " want vs. right" policy. On one occasion, I thought I had made the decision to "get what I want " and let the other guy be right. While working in a medical office, I was talking to a woman at a medical insurance company about a long over-due $5,000 bill that the company that she worked for owed the doctor for medical services. The woman's voice was loud and angry. Her attitude and manner triggered a similar response from me. After a few minutes, I actually stood up and kicked my chair away in fury as I vented my feelings. That's when I glanced up to see the twinkling eyes and smiling face of the receptionist peeking around the corner at me. She said, " Hmmmm, are we trying to be right today?" Instantly, my hot air balloon of anger deflated. I placed the woman on hold until I could stop laughing. I was surprised that she hadn't hung up, my awful behavior certainly deserved it. When I picked up the phone again, I asked the poor, harried insurance person if we could start the conversation over again. I apologized for my behavior, expressed my understanding about the frustration of her job and we were able to discuss the over-due bill rationally. The check arrived the following week.

 

Buddha can show up in memories

Lucky Penny Buddha©

My youngest daughter lives two hours away and one Saturday she called to suggest that her sister and I meet her half way for lunch. We thought it was a great idea. We could go shopping in the mall and "do" lunch. Afterwards, as we walked along the mall I noticed the distinct and tantalizing odor of cotton candy. I saw the owner of a candy store making this childhood delicacy just inside the entrance of his store. I stepped into to ask him how he made this candy while my daughters continued on. I was pleasantly surprised at the time he took to show me the ingredients and demonstrate the process. He even allowed me to twirl the cardboard tube into the bright pink fluff. This triggered a delightful mental journey back to my childhood in the Revere, Massachusetts amusement park.(long gone now) I envisioned the wonderful roller-coaster, tunnel of love and bumper cars as I twirled. After a personal tour of the store including samples, I left to meet the girls. Just as I stepped outside, I saw a shiny copper penny on the ground as I bent to pick it up I remembered my Irish mother telling me that when you find a penny, its a lucky penny and you must give it away. It brings prosperity to the finder and the receiver. I returned to the store and with much ceremony handed the penny to the young man. As I thanked him again for his kindness, I told him my mother's story. He was inordinately pleased with the story and told me that he was thrilled that I gave the penny to him instead of to someone else. As I met my daughters a few stores down, I heard the candy store man shouting, :Oh lady, lady, wait a minute, "as he ran up to me. He reached out for my hand and placed an old penny in it. He exclaimed breathlessly, " Here, I have one for you too, just as you left the store, I noticed this old penny on the floor in my store. His face was alive with the joy of giving me that penny. " Now you have a lucky penny too," he proclaimed. He had no way of knowing that during all the years I have been finding and giving away pennies, no one has ever given one to me. That penny is taped in a prominent place on my computer even as I type this narrative.

 

There are furry Buddhas too. Lots of them.

Cat Buddha©

Moondrop was a black angora purring machine with a bad back, a loving way with his people and a fierce dog-like possessive nature when it came to trespassers on his property. He also had a magic, healing quality nature despite his territorial ways He took rather grumpy people and made them smile. Whenever I visited my youngest daughter, Lisa, who owned this remarkable animal, he always made himself available for me to hug when I was missing my own kitty. It seemed that he knew when to wind around my legs to make me pick him up Early one morning while I was puttering around in her kitchen, I noticed Moondrop pacing and meowing anxiously by the front door. I opened the door to let him out and heard a man's voice announce, "Well, finally!." I noticed that Moondrop had run up to an elderly gentleman who had just seated himself in a white garden chair under the tree on the front lawn of my daughter's home.. Because the man was not a family member, I was surprised to see the cat jump into his lap. Nevertheless, I went back to my musing in the kitchen, but kept my eye on the duo through the window. When Lisa woke up, I asked her about the situation. Smiling, she explained, "Oh, that's "Moonman." We named him that because we didn't know his name at first. He takes early morning walks and the chair is especially for him to sit on while he talks to Moondrop. It's an unusual relationship because the cat has been known to chase away strange people as well as other animals. He has been coming by every day for a long time and Moondrop seems to know that the man needs his companionship. All Moonman has to do is show up. He just stands by the tree without a sound and the cat cries to be let out. He can be in the bedroom, out of sight, but seems to know when the elderly man arrives. He sits on the man's lap and seems to know just when Moonman is ready to complete his walk and jumps from his lap and off they go, in different directions, 'till the next time."

As often happens, my daughter lost Moondrop to a hit and run driver. A kind woman who witnessed the tragedy, picked Moon up from the street, wrapped him carefully in a towel, placed him in a box, brought him to the Lisa's front porch and left a note. He looked as if he was sleeping. Moondrop's Buddha nature made sure that the elderly "Moonman" just happened to take his first walk, after a particularly fierce winter, to visit his cat that sad day. He got to say good-bye and help bury his friend.

The lessons learned here are mine, but you can use them in any way that suits you. I am grateful that my own Buddha nature was finally awakened to see the beauty in all the people and nature that surround me.

More to follow......

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The Girls Who Work©

published by Spirit of Change Magazine - Wellesley Times

It was long after curfew and bedtime when she crept past the Weeping Willow tree that Sister Maria Charles sat under when she needed to rest from her arthritis..... She knew that Sister was safely tucked in her bed after dutifully kneeling for an hour on a hard, wooden kneeler to say her nightly prayers. Every once in a while, the girl could see her shifting from knee to knee. The youngster always wondered why god thought this hardship necessary for this kind and holy person.......... The old boxer dog, who was the nun's constant companion would be happily twitching in his sleep close by. She was running away..... and felt lonesome for them already. The Catholic "Academy Of The Assumption," now the Mass Bay Community College in Wellesley Hills was located on a lovely landscaped area and consisted of several buildings. One building housed the Elizabeth Seton High School as it was called at that time (the girls called it "The Castle") and it's still there. The wrought iron archway still graces the entrance at the corner of Route #9 and Oakland Street. Instead of The Academy Of The Assumption, the engraving now says "Massachusetts Bay Community College." Near the bottom of the big hill was a frame house called Dana Cottage that Sister Marguerita and Sister Maria Charles shared with several teenage girls and young women who were called............. "The Girls Who Work." They were given that name to differentiate them from the students who attended the school on the hill. Some of these girls were wards of the State, not eligible for foster-care or schooling for one reason or another. During the 1950's a teenager became one of "The Girls Who Work." Her father was in a long-term Tuberculosis hospital, her older brother was in the Navy and her mother was a sad and bewildered alcoholic. Because of the family turmoil, she and her baby brother were placed Foster Homes. The court officials had promised the young girl that they would be placed together. They didn't keep their word. Because of that unkept promise, she kept running away......... back to the court house. Each time she showed up, she told them that she expected them to honor their committment. "Because..... we belong together......," she said. This drove the social workers to distraction. During one of of her run-a-way trips from yet another foster home, she heard a receptionist, who sat near the entrance of the Boston court house, say, "Oh shit, she's back." Because of her unusual impudence of running to the authorities instead of away from them, she was considered "incorrigible." Not knowing what else to do with the odd teeenager, the agency decided that she needed "training" and because her family was catholic, she was sent to "The Academy." One night, while pretending to sleep, she hid a flashlight under the covers and looked up the word, "incorrigible" in a dictionary. Twelve letters were supposed to make her; depraved, delinquent, unruly, unalterable, inveterate and incapable of being corrected or amended. All those awful words covered her like a dirty blanket. Most everyone believed the label, only Sister Maria Charles and Sister Marguerita believed the young girl. And she was a very scared little girl. It took her a very long time to realize that these nuns were her friends. That day, as she began her silent and lonely trek down the hill towards her run-away destination, she heard a voice say, "You will need some money and a warmer jacket. You can't walk all the way to Boston." Though startled, she recognized Sister Maria Charles' voice and heard the soft snuffle of the boxer dog. She waited, frozen to the spot, unable to decide whether to cry or run, when the nun spoke again........ "Please come over here and help me up, I'm sore from sitting on the damp grass, waiting for you." When she helped the nun to her feet, the Sister leaned against the tree, bent and took the little girl's face in her hands. She looked directly into her eyes and asked, "Whatever am I going to do without you? Who will help me up the hill to the "Castle" in the mornings? And Sister Marguerita will cry when she finds your bed empty." The girl could not respond because her throat was tight with unshed tears. "If you have to go, you have to go, but perhaps you could wait for a warmer day and I could pack a lunch for you. What do you say? Will you help me back to the house?" She took the girl's hand and they walked hand in hand back to Dana Cottage. The little girl did not pull away. Those few moments and that decision on that night, changed the youngster's future forever. The next day she went back to work in the kitchen and the laundry. She did it for Sister Maria Charles, Sister Marguerita and the Boxer dog......... She did it ONLY for them! Both nuns are dead now but the legacy of love and caring for the many Girls Who Work has been carried on for more than forty years by Sister Marion dePaul. She became Sister Marguerite's assistant at Dana Cottage in 1954. More than 150 "Girls Who Work" passed through the doors of the frame house, called Dana Cottage. They worked in the laundry, cafeteria and some even worked outside as housekeepers in local homes. Recently it was learned that five of the Girls Who Work are still living with her today. Most of them are over 60 years old. One of the women still living with sister told the unusual story of how she came to be one of the Girls Who Work. One day, a social worker called Sister dePaul and asked if she would take "just one more girl." Sister told the woman that the girls were doubled up and that there simply wasn't any room. The woman begged saying, "please take her just for the weekend and I'll come for her on Monday." Not wanting to deny anyone a safe haven, Sister agreed and told the woman to bring her right over. "The girl could sleep on the couch until Monday." That was more than forty years ago........ The social worker never came on Monday,.......... nor did she ever call again. When the teenage run-a-way girl finally came of age, she left the Academy of the Assumption, married and retrieved her baby brother from the foster home. Her personal journey that began with a dictionary under the bed covers may conclude with another book...... her own. The incorrigible little girl grew up to be a columnist, freelance writer, photojournalist, Performing and visual Artist. The now grown woman is presently writing a book of short stories, "The Days of Sour Pickle and Potato Chips that will include "The Girls Who Work." She also teaches "Finding The Courage to Create," a writing and storytelling workshop for beginners, dedicated to helping others find their own inner strength and creative spirits. Not too long ago, Sister Marion dePaul proclaimed that she was proud that the young girl was one of the "Girls Who Work." And she said that she knew that Sister Maria Charles was glad she waited under the weeping willow tree on that cold, dark night for the scared little girl who was running away.

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The Gift©

From "The Stone Givers©"

A true story and a work in progress - by Peggy Melanson

It was a gift.... She said, " I don't know anything about crystals and stones, but I've heard that they're "healing." And....I know that you need healing right now." She was right. Cancer was robbing me of my spirit. All of me needed healing. My body, soul and mind were fused in hot, angry darkness. I remember holding the amethyst to my burning face and becoming one with it. Retaining the cold, it didn't warm to my body temperature. For a time, I could "go away" from it all....... into the coolness of that stone. It was so lovely...... with light and dark lavender points and touches of glowing, transparent crystal. Turning it about in my hand gave me new vistas into the creation of things. I kept the gift for a long time, moving it from place to place, watching the shimmering purple hues change in the different light. One day, a new friend told me about her ordeal with cancer and a voice said to me, "Give her the crystal." It was surprisingly easy to do...... to give away the beauty. I wrote a poem for her and told her about the voice. I asked her to keep listening for her own soul's message and when she was ready....she might want to give the stone to someone else who needed it. And she did. Many moons have passed and that piece of the universe has traveled to many people around the world. Most not knowing anything about the original "Stone Givers." Each new person simply passing it on when their heart's voice spoke to them. Not too long ago, my friend was presented with another of life's challenges and while walking past her door, she heard a thud on the porch. When she opened the carefully wrapped box that lay there, she found ......... the crystal was back!

Later....after the new distress was overcome, she passed it on again with the story.


Poems-all poems copyrighted

To Lisa Dawn Thompson 4/97

Forever

I see you there, every day

In the photo on the wall

Eyes still sleepy, almost closed

Hair stuck up in the air

From pillow bending

Holding the much adored cat

Contentment on your faces

Magnificant love witnessed

In that small picture

You, not knowing then

That soon he would be gone

And daffodils would grow

where Moon-cat used to roam

And the wonder of it all

This image of you and he

That captures and holds

The simple joy you shared

When taking a catnap

together on the couch

All that, this photo engraves

On my heart, forever

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Finally Let Out© Ibbetson Street Press

A wounded, sad child

Who locked herself in the darkness

For a long, long time

Finally let out

Her muscles are cramped and sore

The Light of freedom too strong

To handle just yet

She needs to adjust to this new freedom

Because it hurts too

She found that the tiny, bright corner in the blackness

Was not a thing to fear

It was her soul showing her

That she could still be powerful and happy, mighty and strong

And now that she's free

She'll help the others to get out of their locked closets and dark cellars

And no one will ever be able to put them back


The High Muckey Muck©

Thank ye, Thank ye, Thank ye

She always said in threes

Never would I be like her

I said, during my growing years

The other day, a kindness was done to me

And, thank ye, thank ye, thank ye

Fell out of my big mouth

Without a single thought

My mother's Irish face appeared

And I realized what I was not

I had tried to be a "High Muckey Muck"

And my mother is exactly what I got

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Murder in My Yard©

We do so many things mindlessly - without thought of consequence to others

 

There was a corner by the stairs

Covered with dirt and debris

Taking my rusty metal rake

I jammed it into that space

Ripping and tearing hard enough

To break the old wood

 

Out ran hundreds of big black ants

Running in all directions in terror and fright

With no intention or desire

I had become some terrible God

Using my rake to kill and destroy

 I wounded some and ruined their home

And then, I wondered

If there is someone up there like me

Thoughtlessly

Cleaning debris out of the corners of my world

 The Next Day

 A lonely wandering ant

Perhaps returning from a long hunt

Came back to see it's home

Obliterated

Brothers and sisters

Children and wives

laying curled and askew

In death

Undeserved

I saw it's antenna twist and turn

Perhaps a scream was heard

By other ants

Who came home late that day

It stood up tall on tiny hind feet

Searching, searching, searching

I think it almost saw me

The huge and monstrous god

Staring down at it

And I'm forever changed because of this

Murder in my yard

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Green Fingernails

 

On St. Patrick's day, she threw steak out the window

To the dog in the yard.

At eighty two years old, she cast sideways, flirting smiles

At the old men sitting in McDonalds

On that special day, she painted her fingernails green

And came home late from a walk to statue park

And when her daughter asked, "where were you?"

She answered, loudly,

" Today is St. Paddy's Day and

I don't have to answer to you"

I'm a free person and I can do what I want"

On St. Patrick's day she was reminded of her Irish heritage

And of all the things she thought she'd lost

 

 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Frying Pan Love

 

They came to the reading armed with their sad, sad words.

Three bruised women

Mouths open to the world

Look, look

See, see

How weak I say I am

How fragile

How miserable

How happy I really am

To stay

To allow

To accept

To do nothing

But watch the kids

Watch him

Kill me

One folds her poems into tiny stamp size pieces and hides them under the linoleum in a closet, so he won't find them.

She brings them still folded and stands in front of the sympathetic audience

And laborously unfurls them

She could have done that while in her seat waiting her turn

But I think she wants the audience to see "how put upon" she is

This battered woman-poet

I'm angry with the audience because they co-create the Dependency with their standing ovations

In celebration of stories that contain all conflict and no resolution

The three women smile at the applause and go home for more

Fodder for their poetry.

But I've heard of one battered woman who lived a slightly Different Poem

She died of natural causes at 86 years of age

 

She Bled

He Smiled

She Cried

They both lied

 

The next day she looked in the mirror at the battered face

Sleep sound, you drunken snot, her bloodied mouth said.

That night, she cooked his favorite supper in the cast iron frying pan

He smacked her on the ass just before falling into a drunken slumber

His belly filled with warm supper and icy booze

Her body cold, her head hot, she entered the room

And watched him sleep, legs curled

And smashed both of his knees with the still warm frying pan

And watched as the brown gravy mingled with his red blood

Hearing his bones splinter and crack, she carefully avoided his

flailing arms. Hot heavy blood rushed to her head in remembrance

Of her own fractured bones

Blood dripping from her nose, she listened to his screams

No neighbors answered his plea as they had never answered hers

She carefully washed the cast iron frying pan while he whimpered

the words she knew so well, "Please! Please!.

She waited a while because she had time.

Because she knew, he'd never.... ever..... chase her again. Never ever be able to grab her hair and throw her to the floor and stomp on her face while she pleaded his new words, "Please! Please!"

With paper towel in hand, she wiped her still blood dripping nose and sat on the couch with a glass of diet coke to listen

 

 

 

 

 

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