Sanity

Sanity

Mom liked to say: “Everyone is crazy, except thee and me. And I’m not so sure about thee.” I knew she was joking, though there was always a shadow of pain in her eyes when she said it. Still, I’d laugh. Like I was supposed to.

I always got up early, when the world was still dark and cold. I’d get everything ready for school, eat a bowl of cereal, and maybe have toast scraped with butter. At promptly seven, I would get her coffee ready, spooning in plenty of sugar and creamer. I could practically taste the dark aroma. She was always pleased with my coffee, which always pleased me. Life was too hard not to make people happy when you had the chance.

On school days, I’d hike up to the bus station and wait, hugging myself, trying to keep off the morning chill. I’d try not to think too much about Mom and her troubles. I had troubles enough.

On the weekends, I would make Mom breakfast with her coffee: usually just an egg and toast. She had simple tastes. Then she’d get up and go about her business and I would head outside to play, sniffing the fresh clean air. I can’t remember studying much. Maybe if I had studied harder, I would have been able to respond better. Maybe I would have understood what she was really trying to say.

It must have been Veteran’s Day or something because I had the day off, and I stayed inside to help Mom make her bed. She was in a good mood; she hadn’t been drinking lately, and she wasn’t brooding over Dad so much. It felt good to pull the sheets tight around the mattress and then spread the blanket smooth. I remember I was wedged between the bed and the wall, the window behind me when Mom stopped and stared right past me out the window.

I didn’t want to know what she was thinking when she pointed her finger and giggled, an eerie giggle. I only felt cold ripples roll over my arms. She spoke in a hushed tone. “Well, now he’s gone and done it! I didn’t think it was possible.”

I remember the soft sigh I heaved. I didn’t want her to hear it, but I couldn’t help it. It just escaped. She waited for me to ask. So I asked: “What did he do?”

We both knew we were talking about Dad, but it seemed only I knew that it wasn’t about Dad. Mom’s voice projected a certainty that made me look out the window. “He’s gone and turned himself into a Japanese man. Look there.”

I don’t remember what else she said. I just remember looking out the window and seeing no Dad and no Japanese man. I kind of hoped there would be one or the other.

A brown leaf fluttered to the ground, delicately, like sanity. “And I’m not so sure about thee.”

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Love Is Life

I graduated from college a long time ago.  But I’ve never stopped learning. In fact, as I served in various schools and in the Peace Corps and eventually became a home-schooling mother, I have encountered a multitude of new, rather steep, learning curves. Presently, I am learning at a faster rate than ever before.

This past year I learned how to help my son navigate through the difficulties of a long-distance, online college education, and I am presently considering the next three kids’ futures. They are facing a vastly different world than the one I grew up in. Technology is huge and understanding its place in the world is necessary to succeed in pretty much every field. College tuitions are so high now that for one child, I could easily spend more than I did to buy my house. The consequences of accepting loans are considerable. Choices have strings attached and learning everything I can about higher-education options is vitally important for my family’s health.

I have also been learning how to handle the many house and property issues which creep up on a daily basis. I’ve learned to ask for help and hire experts who can solve issues like broken stoves and stuck drainage pipes, but I’ve also learned that there are things which I can do to avoid problems before they arise. The old adage, “A stitch in time….” is very true! It helps to know where the well-pump turn-off value is too.

There was a time when the mere thought of handling large gatherings at meals, organizing classes day-in-and-day-out, and maintaining a bustling home would have sent me into a panic.  But panic really isn’t an option. In every home, the hardest part is being involved in the daily lives of those around you. I should say, being aware of the spiritual welfare of those around you. The “stitch in time” adage applies. As human beings, we go through an incredible amount of change and stress in the course of a day, a week, a month and a lifetime.  What happened yesterday may still color our mood tomorrow. In today’s technological information-overloaded society, this is especially true. Our kids are immersed in a turbulent sea of information and disinformation. Recognizing mood swings, depression, creeping irritation, a deep-seated sadness, over-arching pride, or a whole host of other emotional and spiritual dangers is vastly important for the success of a family. And deciding which action to take involves another field of expertise. Not something one learns in a day…it takes a lifetime.

But in all these learning experiences, I have found one common ingredient: to care makes learning meaningful. Whether I am learning how to teach, how to fix a faucet, how to love, I know that the most vital aspect of life-long learning is the love with which we approach the situation, be it a lecture or a broken heart.

If I have learned anything, it is that love itself is life.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Acceptance

Yesterday I took two of my kids to the oral surgeon to get their wisdom teeth removed. The trip down was okay, the trip back, very quiet.  As I drove through the last of a rainstorm which had moved through that morning, adjusting for all the construction barriers and trying to hold back useless questions, like: “Are you feeling all right?” I pondered the question of suffering—once again.

I remember the surprising answer my priest offered me after a miscarriage. Instead of telling me what to do to alleviate my suffering or how to get around the pain, his first recommendation was to “accept what you cannot change.” Not exactly what I wanted to hear.  In time, I learned the wisdom of his words.

We suffer for a lot of reasons, sometimes at the hands of others, sometimes through our own fault and sometimes, like wisdom teeth, for no apparent reason at all.  Simply recognizing the pain we are in is the first step to dealing with it effectively.

In my kids’ case, they knew that oral surgery would hurt, but they also knew that impacted wisdom teeth would cause worse suffering later if they didn’t deal with it now. I knew that taking my kids to an oral surgeon would involve pain, but it was a price I was willing to pay to save them more grief later. There are a lot of times when we are forced to realize that suffering is inevitable and asking why or being angry is useless, actually hindering the healing process. The human body is packed full of opportunities to suffer. But that fact need not leave us hopeless. When we accept that suffering exists, that it in itself it is not evil, then we can learn the value of acceptance.

A friend, a mother of two teens and diagnosed with cancer, told me after she had been informed that she had only weeks to live, that “It is what it is.”  In most people, I would have thought this reaction one of despair or mere resignation, but after walking the road of faith through all the stages of death with Carla, I realized how complete she had become. She accepted the presence of death. She did everything she could to say her grateful goodbyes and to leave in the most loving manner possible, and she died at peace.

When my kids suffered from swollen, aching jaws, I handed them their medication, gave them the directions, and reminded them to be careful. (I also handed them containers of ice cream and strawberry yogurt.)  My teens have a choice—deal with what is honestly, realizing that pain will be a part of their healing, or make things worse by trying to avoid it.

This morning as I said my prayers, I remembered the cross of Christ, and though I knew I would have to face this day’s allotment of suffering, I also knew through the love that Christ bears us, that suffering need not be wasted.  It is also an opportunity to love and be loved—if we accept it.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Simple Summer

I’m sitting outside on the back porch, while Merry, the cat—a poor injured stray we saved—is sitting at my feet doing what cats do…resting and checking out the world whenever the mood hits. The pine trees sway in a gentle breeze while white, fluffy clouds sail serenely overhead.  We’ve had a lot of rain lately, so everything is green and gorgeous. A red rose in a nearby pot practically glows against the backdrop of pine trees. Various summer flowers bloom in their summertime brilliance. Flies and bees and a little jumping spider have also made an appearance. The chicks, still in the brooder house waiting for their outdoor pen are running about, trying their wings as they learn that the ground cannot hold them bound.

The awesome beauty of this summer day, the chirping multitude: sparrows, red-wing blackbirds, robins, cardinals, and cooing doves, the laughter of young children at play, the haunting melody played by one of the girls at the piano, rustling waves of breezes cascading over the fields of corn and beans all work together, creating a pallet of beauty that any artist would envy.

When I considered what to write on my blog today, no words would come.  Yet as I sit here surrounded by simple summer, I find I do not need words—just eyes and ears and a heart willing to believe that this is real.

When the winter winds blow, the sky laden with grey clouds and the birds silenced in their nests, I will remember this day. The yellow buttercups, the red rose, the buzzing bees will live in my heart and imagination. Even in my dreams, I will remember this day, and no matter the clouds or the cold and the barren waste of winter, summer will yet live.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Untutored Wisdom

 

Children see the world differently. Well, from me anyway.  With my vast years of experience, I tend to observe critically and reach conclusions based on my carefully cultured wisdom. Children tend to just see, and since they don’t have as many filters, they tend to report what they see with some accuracy. Their untutored wisdom often leaves me humbled, baffled, intrigued, at times laughing out loud, and certainly, never quite the same.

The other day, as my sons were going out on a mission of mercy to help their grandparents with some heavy lifting jobs, I passed the keys to one son and wished him well.  My six year old offered this insight instead: “If the blue car doesn’t work, try the grey one, and if that doesn’t work, ask for help, and if that doesn’t work—walk.” Who knew someone so little could consider the options so honestly?

One springtime, my little son looked outside and saw new buds greening up the trees. He came running up to me, saying:  “Look, Mom, God’s dressing up the trees for Easter.” Yes, of course, He was—I’d just never grasped that so clearly before.

And one year, as a play-dead possum lay in the yard after my husband had tried rather unsuccessfully to shoo it away, one daughter carefully observed:  “Well, you can’t chase a dead Possum.”  Too true. Apparently, Mr. Opossum was in on that bit of insight.

Through the years of raising my kids, I often had the experience of stopping everything just to think about what I just heard coming out of their little/big mouths, minds, and hearts. And it is not just the little ones who have rearranged my thinking—teenagers are quite proficient at tossing my preconceived notions to the wind. Yet my soul has been enriched beyond measure by their words, by their wisdom, by their honest insight.

Sometimes the greatest treasure we can bestow on the world is to actually hear—even when we think we’re listening.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Eight Kids and Grateful

The other day I was speaking to a woman on the phone who, for practical reasons, needed to know a little more about me and my family. When she discovered that I had eight children, and worse yet, that my husband died when they were all under 18, I thought she would have a stroke. She left little doubt in my mind that I must be crazy.

I’m not sure what exactly she thought I should do—renumber my kids or simply never mention them, but her tone suggested I had made an indelicate mistake in even admitting I had eight children—under any circumstances.

In some kind of perverse reaction, rather than crumbling into a heap of repentant grief, I further distanced myself from decent society by proclaiming that I also homeschool my kids, and I really enjoy being around them.

Her response: “Whatever!”

I was clearly beyond all hope.

Did I fall upon my knees in prayer for the poor woman’s soul?  No. Good idea—it just never occurred to me.  She would undoubtedly be baffled by my pity, so I’ll call it compassion, but honestly, it would be pity. I pity anyone who sincerely believes that children are little more than burdens, or that no one could seriously want and welcome eight kids—especially under trying circumstances.

When my husband was diagnosed with Leukemia, my youngest was only seven months old. Besides the terrible grief I felt for my suffering husband was the realization that we would never know the joy of welcoming another baby into the world.  As it is, the eight children I’ve been blessed with have shared their strength, their candor, their honesty, their love, their hard work, their sense of honor and their noble spirits with me and many others.

The other day, as I stared at two large feed sacks I knew I could not lift, my eldest son stepped over without a word and swooped them into his arms and put them where they belonged.  God knew what He was doing when He gave me son #1. And #2, who has a sense of humor that lightens the mood even in the hardest moments. And #3, who is a world-class student, manages the chicken establishment on our place, and mops floors on the side. #4 is the family cook and storyteller, #5 is our artist par-excellence, #6 helps me organize, #7 helps keep the critters happy, #8 keeps us laughing.

There will always be people who think I’m crazy for having eight kids.

Whatever!

I couldn’t be more grateful.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

A World Worth Saving

Recently, I read that there have been several cases where surrogate mothers discovered that they were carrying babies with downs syndrome, and they were told to abort their babies by the biological parents, but they refused and decided to keep the babies.

I have also read, that Richard Dawkins believes that it is immoral to allow a “Downs Syndrome baby” to come to term. Notice, for him, the syndrome comes first, not the humanity of the baby.  For him, abortion is the only moral option.  I have to wonder at this current attitude in face of the barbaric cruelty of ISIS. After all, they believe that killing infidels is the only moral option. Sometimes, those infidels are little children.

The other day, as I was walking with my son in the late evening, mourning over the recent gruesome tragedies inflicted by ISIS, my son asked me how come it was gruesome for ISIS to behead men women and children, but there was little moral outrage when babies in the womb were dismembered and beheaded. Abortion is every bit as violent as ISIS, but it is funded by US tax dollars. Millions of babies have been brutally murdered through abortion in the last thirty years. It is so horrifically common it seems to slip by people’s conscious thought.  Every day in the US, we basically behead innocent babies.

This leads me back to the eugenics movement to rid the world of people with Downs Syndrome. I find it interesting that Christians and Downs Syndrome children are especially targeted for extermination. Why is that? The people I have known with Downs Syndrome, and the parents who care for them, tend to be very happy people. In fact, one mother  I know who recently lost her adult daughter with downs syndrome to cancer told me that her daughter was the best gift she ever had. Her daughter taught her to love in a way she had never experienced before.

Clearly, people with Downs Syndrome are still people. Just as Christians are still people, even though they may not believe what ISIS believes. Yet in both cases, there are those who would convince the world that we all would be better off without them. Their kind. Their influence. What is the danger exactly? Are they hurting anyone?  Are they aggressively trying to take over the world?

No, they just ask something of us that perhaps we do not want to give. People with Downs Syndrome ask for an unconditional love, which they more often than not, fully return. Christians ask for a sacrificial love, which, when lived as Christ lived, is also fully returned.

So I have to ask myself – what are we saving the world from? Love?  Perhaps we need to wonder less if we are saving the world, but rather, are we making a world worth saving.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00