Harbour Secrets

With thanks to our gentle and diplomatic Friday Fictioneers host Rochelle Wisoff–Fields, and to Fatima Fakier Deria for this week’s photo prompt. It was HARD but I actually told the tale in 100 words.

My computer is for some reason uncooperative, but at Rochelle’s blog you can click on the “Frog” and read the stories other bloggers have posted in response to this photo.

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

“I wonder how many ships down there are running drugs?”

Andy turned to the senior manager standing by the window. “What makes you…. Oh, hey. I’m sorry, Marv.”

Marv nodded and turned to go, icy anger replacing his usual grin. Exiting the office he suddenly slammed his fist into the door-frame.

The junior clerk looked up, shocked.

“Last week police found Marv’s grandson and fiancee dead in his apartment,” Andy explained. “That new street drug…the one cops are warning about…”

The clerk swore softly. A few minutes later he headed for the toilet…and flushed six white tablets.

Avalanche–Part 2

How long will it be before I run out of air? The question lingers around me like a noxious fume.

What am I doing here anyway? Why did I sneak over here, hoping and praying no one would know, so fearful they’d steal my gold? Right now I’d give it all to have one friend who cared enough to come and dig me out.

This is really crazy. Here I am, surrounded by all this wealth and I’d trade it this minute for empty space — space that would hold more air so I could live a few hours longer. Maybe long enough to dig myself out? Maybe not.

My mind snaps for a moment. I grope around, grab a bag of nuggets, and hurl it as hard as possible against the snow in the entrance. I hear the thud as it strikes, then falls to the ground.

Rocks. Small glistening pebbles. They won’t buy me enough oxygen to survive. They won’t buy me an air hole, never mind a hole big enough to crawl through.

If I could only melt my way through. I picture myself trying to melt some of the snow blockage with a lit candle, and I laugh. Oh, well. Maybe I should light one of them anyway. What difference can it make? Why not enjoy a little luxury as I’m dying? The candle and I can go out together.

Impulsively I crawl back to the entrance and try to move a bit more snow, but there’s no place to put it. I think about some fellow who wise-cracked one day that our town had a great snow removal plan. “It’s called Spring.”

Yeah. Spring will indeed move all this snow from the door of this cave.

And maybe next spring when the snow melts someone will think of me and come looking. If they find me they may use some of my gold to buy a nice fancy coffin for my remains and a headstone for my grave. It could say, “Here lies a very selfish man who died for his sin.” They’d choose marble, probably. Maybe that nice creamy-colored stuff with a cross carved on top. Or maybe just granite.

All depends on who finds me. Maybe some other miner will peek in and grab my bags, cover the hole, and my bones will be left here until Judgement Day.

I contemplate that day. Will the Lord come soon, like some preachers say, or will it be years and years yet? Or will He forget about us here on earth and go on to other things? I been in church a few times in my life, especially to funerals, so my mind drifts back to some of the songs and bits of sermons I’ve heard.

But I don’t want to die. Never gave it much thought before, but now I’m scared to die. Here I am, a prospector living all alone up here in the mountains, facing dangers every day, and now this. I’d better get ready, because I’m going to die.

I find myself shaking; tears are running down my cheeks. “Oh, God,” I shout into the darkness, “I’m afraid to die.”

Conclusion tomorrow.

WordPress Writing Prompt: Under the Snow

“Blessed are the Merciful…”

Samaritan or Pharisee?

They sat around the table teasing a young man seated on one side. Mostly he just stared sheepishly at the floor; every now and then he’d look up at his accusers and say, “I can’t stand her.”

“They” were my sister’s two sons and a friend of hers who, with his wife, were staying with my sister at the time of her daughter’s funeral. Occasionally my sister put in a comment, but mostly she was wrapped up in her own grief right then.

“Come on, Mark. You looked like you were able to stand her pretty well last night, the way you were hugging her.” This from my nephew.

“I can’t stand her.”

He’d driven this young woman home late in the evening after the funeral – and ended up spending the night with her. In the morning light now, he was obviously ashamed of the whole affair. I had nothing to say but my mind’s wheels were turning and I was frowning on all this nonsense.

The young woman in question had showed up wanting to go along to the funeral with us, but her interest was plainly on this young man who boarded at my sister’s place. What does one say about such immoral behaviour–especially after a funeral. For Mark to spend the night with her and then avow the next morning that he couldn’t stand her? Hmph! Yet I did have some sympathy for him, given the willingness of the lady in question. If the others had any mercy they’d knock it off with the rude jokes.

Barb was twelve when the doctors found her full of cancer; sixteen when she finally succumbed. My  niece fought bravely, determined to beat this and go on with life, but she finally lost the war. Her death was a blow for all those who knew and loved her.

When I received the news of her death I went to my sister’s home and spent some time with her in her mourning— and found her home full of mixed assorted scruffy-looking friends who bedded down wherever they could in her tiny house.

We endured the funeral and all the weeping, shared hugs around the funeral home after, but there was nothing further planned. Some of the family and friends hit the bar, including my birth mother. This was their way of handling the pain, but it didn’t work very well. My sister’s boyfriend was so drunk and aggravating later that I had to drive them back to her place, an hour away. It seems there is so little comfort in the world! Yes, everyone was sympathetic to my sister and she shed many tears that day. But these others grieved for Barb, too, and they chose the only pain-killer they knew.

Mark had been an alcoholic, but AA had gotten him straightened out. He was determined to stay “on the wagon” but he accepted the “comfort” that was offered him later that evening. Thrown at him, I could say. The next morning here he was, facing the truth; he had no feelings for her at all. It was a very temporary fix.

I went about for awhile feeling righteously indignant about all this carrying on, until I saw my self in the Scriptures:
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” Luke 18:11

Ouch!

I remembered the Parable of the Good Samaritan:
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” Luke 10:33,34

The Samaritan had omitted lectures about the man’s foolishness in traveling alone through dangerous territory. He’d picked the man up – probably getting blood and dirt on his own clean garments – and taken him to a place where he’d get care. And he paid the bill. For an enemy.

I thought of how lacking in compassion I’d been to my own family. What had I done that day, with all these hurting people around me? Even my own mother. I had left them after the funeral, gone off and done my own thing for several hours! Perhaps I could have offered to stay with someone until the pain was bearable. Perhaps I could have offered a few words of comfort: “I know you miss her, too. There is Someone Who cares that you are hurting, Someone who can help you bear this pain.”

As the Spirit pointed this out to me, it was my turn to hang my head in shame. Lord, forgive me! Open my eyes to the needs, the hurts, and show me how I can help. Lead me beyond this being thankful that “I am not like other men…sinners.” Help me to be a Samaritan instead of a Pharisee.

Flashes of Childhood

The WordPress writing challenge this week is entitled Snapshots. Here’s the link if you want to read more about this:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/weekly-writing-challenge-snapshots/

Here’s my contribution to the collage: various flashes of memory from my childhood back on the farm where I was raised by my Aunt and Uncle. Some of this was posted yesterday on our Family tree blog, Vance-Turner Connect.com (see link below.)

DIM FIRST MEMORIES

My first memories stem when I was about three. I vaguely remember a tiny trailer or building on the farm yard where my birth mother and father, Allen and Louise Vance, lived with my brother Jim, age four; likely my sister Donna was a baby at that time, too. I don’t recall ever living with them there, but Jim and I ran around the yard all day together, completely on our own.

I have a picture of us as small tikes running into the old red hip-roof barn, going into the empty chicken coop and climbing up the ladder into the hay loft. The big side doors were open; Jim and I would stand there for a moment and then jump down to the ground — a distance of at least fourteen feet. Then we’d run back into the barn and do it all over again.

I know Allen & Louise had no electricity in their little shack because one day Allen had bought ice cream and put it in the freezer at the farm house where my Aunt & Uncle Forsyth lived. I was longing for this special treat, so I was hanging around hopefully and Allen promised we could have some ice cream after dinner.

That thrilled my little heart and of course I wanted to be helpful, so I ran to the farmhouse and asked for the ice cream – or got it out of the deep freeze myself – and carried it back to their shack. But it was way too early; Allen told me I shouldn’t have brought it yet because it would melt. He must have taken it back then – or sent me back with it. That I don’t remember.

Why did this incident stick in my mind? I can’t recall that he was so angry or punished me. It’s one of a dim collage a child collects, times when something unusual happened.

I have a few mental pictures of living in the farm house with Aunt Myrt & Uncle Fred and their son Verne. I remember sitting at the round hardwood table. It seemed vast at the time but when I saw it again in my teen years it was actually quite small!

My aunt kept a singing canary she called Dicky and I remember it died one day. She and I were both sad. Later that evening (unknown to me) Verne and Uncle Fred got a few feathers from my aunt’s old hat and fashioned a new bird. When I came downstairs the next morning and saw this bird sitting in the cage I was delighted!

“Look! Dickie has come alive again,” I announced, amazed that he would be a different color now. However, that new Dicky didn’t do anything. After a few days he, too, disappeared –the fun was over and someone finally tossed it out.

One memory comes to mind from when I was about three and a half. My mother had given birth to a boy, but she had that “RH negative factor” and the baby needed a blood transfusion at birth. Melfort was a small town a couple of hours from a major city, and the hospital didn’t have the needed blood, so the baby died.

I remember a group of people gathered around in the living room of the old farm house; I can visualize the little coffin Uncle Tom had made. They told me there was a baby in that coffin; they’d named him Martin. My aunt says I cried and cried because I didn’t want them to take the baby away and bury it.

At one point someone lifted me up and I looked into the coffin and inside it lay a tiny doll. (To my child’s mind, anyway.) I can still remember my feeling of disappointment as I looked down on that little thing, so still and white. I was so irked that they would tell me there was a baby and here it was only a doll! (Maybe I’d already been jaded by that Dicky bird incident?)

When I was four years old my aunt went to work at the hospital in the nearby town of Melfort for the winter. I don’t remember if Verne went with her, nor where my birth parents stayed, but I was left alone on the farm with my Uncle. This situation added another scene to my collage of memories.

The farm house “plumbing” was an old outhouse across the yard. I still remember waking up one night and needing to go to the bathroom. I was scared to wake my uncle up; I knew he wouldn’t get up and take me and I was safer not asking so I crept downstairs to the door and stepped outside.

The backyard trail I had to take to get to the biffy seemed so long! I have a clear memory of standing out there searching the shadows for creatures and gazing up at the night sky, seeing the tree branches outlined in the moonlight. I was quaking as I made my way to the outhouse, yet I was even more frightened to risk “an accident” and the subsequent punishment of a spanking. Uncle Fred’s temper was a force to tremble at!

THE RANCHER

by Saskatchewan poet Roy Lobb

I drove into a little town
one chilly autumn day;
I knew a friends who lived close by
so called around his way.
A sick man–whom my friend knew well–
by death was called away,
so we went to the funeral
our last respects to pay.

He had been sick for many weeks;
they lived on meagre fare
and few indeed were those who called
their heavy load to share.
And when the man was laid to rest
the crowd that gathered near
would grasp the saddened widow’s hand
and speak a word of cheer.

The widow and her little child
their sorrow bravely bore;
her troubled, tired, kindly face
each person did adore.
And there were some who wpt aloud
who still were standing by,
but some who made the loudest noise
no tear bedimmed their eye.

A rancher riding down the road
had met the cortege there;
in truly reverent prairie style
he paused and waited there.
He had a haggard looking face
and style somewhat uncouth,
but often this world’s rarest jewels
unnoticed are in youth.

The rancher left his saddle horse
stand out along the way.
He walked to where the widow stood
and this I heard him say:
“It’s not my style to make a fun,
but I wish you to know
I truly sympathize with you
in this, your time of woe.”

He neatly placed within her hand
a hundred dollar bill.
When flowers fade and tears are dry
his deed will live on still.
None seemed to notice what he did,
as little did he say.
He went back to his faithful horse;
the rancher rode away.

From his book Plain Folks
published in 1961.

 

 

Father

by Edgar Guest

Used to wonder just why Father
   Never had much time for play;
used to wonder why he’d rather
   work each minute of the day.
Used to wonder why he never
   loafed along the road an’ shirked;
can’t recall a time whenever
 Father played while others worked.

Father didn’t dress in fashion,
   sort of hated clothing new;
style with him was not a passion;
   he had other things in view.
Boys are blind to much that’s going
   on about them day by day,
and I had no way of knowing
   what became of Father’s pay.

All I knew was when I needed
   shoes I got ‘em on the spot;
everything for which I pleaded,
   somehow Father always got.
Wondered, season after season,
   why he never took a rest,
and that I might be the reason
   then I never even guessed.

Father set a store on knowledge;
   if he’d lived to have his way
he’d have sent me off to college
   and the bills been glad to pay.
That, I know, was his ambition;
   now and then he used to say
he’d have done his earthly mission
   on my graduation day.

Saw his cheeks were getting paler,
   didn’t understand just why;
saw his body growing frailer,
   then at last I saw him die.
Rest had come! His tasks were ended,
calm was written on his brow;
Father’s life was big and splendid,
   and I understand it now.

From his book, A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

Little Things That Mean So Much

A joke or a song or a handshake,
a letter that comforts or cheers;
a meeting or parting, more precious
because of the smiles or the tears.
A five minutes’ sit after dinner,
a “Thank you” that lends the heart wings;
all these are but trifles, yet surely
they’re also life’s wonderful things!

Author Unknown
From the 1969 Friendship Book of Francis Gay

I’d like to join with other bloggers in expressing my deepest sympathy to those affected by the recent tragedies, especially to the families of the school children killed in Connecticut.  It isn’t given to any of us to know how and when  our lives will end, but we know we have today. Lets practice these little kindnesses that mean so much.

 

The Number of Our Days

Last Saturday was the funeral of Adrian Regehr, son of our friends Doug & Vi who live near Yorkton, on the east side of Sask.  Adrian–age 26–was electrocuted in an accident at work; he leaves a young widow.

This morning we listened to the funeral of my husband’s friend Joe N Peachey of Belleville, Penn.  Joe was a dairy farmer and orchard man all his life; he suffered from dementia these last few years and ended his sojourn here at the age of 78.  He leaves a widow and a very large family.

Today’s Minister read the following scriptures at the start of his message:
“LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.” Psalm 39:4
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

Death teaches us.  We learn that we can’t wait until such-and-such happens to count our blessings.  We can’t trust that when this or that goal is reached, we’ll be happy.  Those times may never come.  Haven’t we seen it in others’ lives — or sudden deaths?

A person need not be irresponsibly rushing off to do good deeds for everyone; on the other hand we shouldn’t wait until we “feel more like it” to do the things we know we should do for others and to express those kind thoughts.  The devil has a way of keeping us wrapped up in our own feelings.  Plus we forget so soon — or we get too busy with our own lives.

When my grandma was sick in the hospital I intended to go and visit with her.  But you know how it goes.  Excuses: I was a busy young mother; I was never close to her; she was ill a long time so I thought I’d have time yet; I’d never dealt wit someone dying before.  It was too easy to put off going.

One morning I decided I MUST go see her now, so Bob and I went to the hospital and inquired at the front desk.  “Mrs. Jackman passed away early this morning,” I was told.  It was too late.  Forever.

I lost the blessing of being able to sit and visit with her – maybe get to know what made her tick.  Perhaps the generation gap between us could have been bridged somewhat? This incident taught me a lesson: I can’t count on someone to always be there.

When my niece Barb succumbed to cancer at age 16, her mother chose this verse for the memorial card:

Death comes and lets us know
we love more deeply than we show,
but love in death just lets us see
what love in life should always be.