You Can’t Borrow Love

SOMETHING BORROWED

“Something old and something new,” Marielle said as she did up the buttons on the bodice of her gown. “But everything I have on is new. I just can’t think of anything old to add.”

“Well, I can,” said her mother, pulling a small bag out of her pocket. “I brought along one of my grandma’s brooches. Let me pin it right here at your shoulder.”

“Now I need something borrowed and something blue.”

“Something borrowed….that’s your groom,” said Treena.

Marielle heard her mother gasp and saw the glare she shot at Treena. Her sister had been trying for a humorous note, but there was an unmistakable jab to her words.

Marielle sighed. She supposed Treena was only echoing what everyone was thinking. Marielle lifted her chin in defiance against the gossips. Okay. So she had caught Kirk on the rebound. Renee had dumped him for a richer, better-looking guy. But Marielle had always liked Kirk and she’d made herself available when he needed a shoulder to cry on. Before long he was returning her affections, then he’d proposed.

Marielle’s mind went back to the evening she and Kirk announced their engagement to her family. Treena had been sour from the get-go. She’d been less than forthcoming with her congrats and after he’d gone home, Treena had come to her room to talk her out of her plans.

“Can’t you see the obvious, sis? Kirk has been hurt and he may be doing this to spite Renee, but I’m sure he still has feelings for her — if he’d just admit it.”

“So. I’m going to make Kirk so happy he’ll forget Renee even exists. I love Kirk.”

“Love him as a sweetheart, or love him as a pet project?”

Marielle had scowled at her sister and ordered her out of the bedroom. No one was going to rain on her parade.

She brushed Treena’s snippy remark aside and admired Great-Grandma’s brooch. What happened before doesn’t matter, she told herself for the nth time. I’m going to make Kirk so happy. I’m going to love him so much he’ll forget any feelings he ever had for Renee.

“I borrowed my bridesmaid’s toe ring. And my corsage has a blue ribbon around it. So I’m all set. Let’s be off.”

The next half hour whizzed by; soon she was walking up the aisle beside her father to take her place by her groom. Kirk wore a big happy smile as he turned to watch her approach. Perhaps it looked a little forced, a little too bright, but Marielle was confident that his joys would soon be as real as hers.

A couple of hours later they were standing beside the reception table receiving congratulations from an elderly family friend when, out of the corner of her eye, Marielle saw Renee approach. She was alone. What happened to Mr Rich Hunk, Marielle wondered.

Renee paused not far away and gazed at Kirk, a look of regret on her face. Marielle glanced at Kirk and saw the same expression written on his face as he returned Renee’s gaze. All three of them froze for a moment, then Kirk turned back to her again.

She saw a quick flash of remorse in his eyes, then his too-bright smile fell in place again. But in that brief unguarded glance, Marielle recognized the truth.

She’d just make the biggest mistake of her life. You really can’t borrow love.

I posted this story last year on Christine Composes. It’s a bit depressing compared to my usual style, nevertheless true-to-life for some young women. I’m pondering whether to include it in my book.

(I see part of this post leaked out last night as I was scheduling it. Sorry about that.)

Got Your Back, Pal

The Friend Who Just Stands By

When troubles come your soul to try
you love the friend who just stands by.
Perhaps there’s nothing he can do;
the thing is strictly up to you

for there are troubles all your own
and paths the soul must tread alone,
bad times when love can’t smooth the road,
nor friendship lift the heavy load.

But just to feel you have a friend,
who will stand by until the end,
whose sympathy through all endures,
whose warm handclasp is always yours—

It helps somehow to pull you through,
although there’s nothing he can do.
And so with fervent heart we cry:
“God bless the friend who just stands by.”

Google tells me this poem was written by
William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963

Unique Father’s Day Verse

Back when my birth father was still alive I searched, often in vain, for appropriate greeting cards to give him, a man I hadn’t spent that much time with in my life. So nothing like “How much you mean to me,” seeing as, in all honesty, our relationship was mainly an acknowledgement of a biological fact.

These special days are a challenge for those of us who’ve had almost no relationship with the man who contributed to our existence. No “You were always there for me” or “You were always a shining example” kind of sentiments. A shining example he wasn’t and I think he’d be the first to admit it.

And you want to be honest about it. A friend told me she’d bought her mom — with whom she’d always had a distant relationship — a really sentimental card one year for Mother’s Day. When her mom read the verse, she said, “Well, this is nice. It isn’t true though.”

So you buy a blank card, scribble “Happy Father’s Day,” and give it with a box of chocolates. Then one day I decided to write a verse for offspring who haven’t had the greatest relationship with their fathers. This is what I came up with:

Hi Dad,

It doesn’t come through very well
to the younger generations
why grownups do the things they do–
those unseen motivations.
And sometimes kids get so upset,
stubborn, rebellious, too.
At times we clench our fists and swear
we’ll never be like you!

But Time has ways of teaching us,
then we look back and see
things more from your perspective
how you hoped that life would be.
Some times are precious memories;
sometimes were really sad;
sometimes I didn’t understand–
but now I thank you, Dad.

—C.G.

What would you write?

Book Review: Blue Hydrangeas

BLUE HYDRANGEAS: An Alzheimer’s Love Story

Novel written by Marianne Sciucco
Published by Bunky Press (April 2013)

It’s apparent to Jack that his wife has gone beyond “a little forgetful.” Their doctor is talking about Alzheimer’s and suggesting 24/7 care is needed, but Jack’s convinced he can care for her in their home. He has a negative image of nursing homes and dreads the idea of putting the love of his life in one of them.

This is an awesome tale of love, devotion — and stubbornness — as Jack grapples with the Alzheimer’s disease that is slowly stealing his wife’s mind. We can relate to his efforts to help her remember, his fear and panic when he turns his back for a moment and she’s gone. The story draws the reader into the thoughts, emotions, and desperation that many people feel who have loved ones affected by dementia.

All through the book I sensed the darker undercurrent of truth here: Alzheimer’s can hit anyone. In an informative, encouraging way, Blue Hydrangeas introduces the reader to the possibility of dealing with this disease, should it strike someone near and dear to us. And the take away point is powerful: a couple should enjoy each day they have together.

This isn’t the newest book on the shelf but well worth reading. I received an advanced reader copy of Blue Hydrangeas from the Story Cartel in exchange for an unbiased review. If you’d like to help an author and are willing to do book reviews, do check out the Story Cartel.

The Perfect Man

One afternoon in an old English town Lynn and Millie were enjoying tea and scones at a local tea shop. During the course of their visit Lynn remarked, “Have you heard that June’s daughter Tiffany is finally getting married?”

“Yes. I heard June telling her sister Debbie all about her daughter’s fiancé at the flea market last Saturday,” Millie replied.

“I gather Tiffany’s telling everyone she’s found the perfect man,” Lynn said as she spread jam on her scone. “She claims it’s a match made in heaven.”

Millie smiled and shook her head. “I’m afraid she’ll soon learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect man.”

An older gent sitting at the next table had been listening in on this conversation. Now he leaned over to say, “Forgive me for eavesdropping, ladies, but I’d like to correct your misconception. There is indeed such a thing as a perfect man.”

“Oh, really,” said Millie. She regarded him with raised eyebrows and a bit of a smirk, fully expecting he’d declare himself to be this perfect specimen.

The gent nodded. “I’ve been told this many times. But I confess, I’ve never met him.” This was followed by a long-suffering sigh. “He was my wife’s first husband.”

Troy’s Wake-Up Call

A writing prompt I did one time. We were to give someone a weird day in an alternate universe. I decided on a successful businessman suddenly stuck in a body that won’t move.

WHAM!

As a reward for our recent hard work, our sales team had chosen to spend a few days at a resort renowned for its golf greens. I was flying in with my small plane and everything was A-okay. Visibility was great; the tarmac stretched out invitingly; my landing gear was unfolding as it should.

It would have been a perfect landing — if only those crazy birds had stayed put.

In my descent I could see the hotel and fairway on my left in the distance. I also took note of the winding stream below as I brought my small plane down, focused on the strip of asphalt ahead. I never saw the two birds they say rose up from the river below. I only felt a violent jerk as something hit the prop and I lost control.

I woke up flat out on a bed, hearing blimps and bleeps from machines and soft voices. Definitely hospital sounds. I tried to open my eyes or turn my head, but my body was like stone. I couldn’t stay awake.

I came to later, hearing familiar voices right near my bed. My wife, Lacey, my mom and dad. They were murmuring, talking about the crash of a small plane, a bird in the prop. Some memory started coming back to me. I tried to open my eyes, to make some noise. I tried moving my hand, my foot — anything to let them know I was awake — but my body refused to cooperate. I couldn’t even tell that I even had arms or legs. Maybe I didn’t? Had they been amputated? That thought scared the living daylights out of me.

“How long do you think it will be until he comes out of this?” I could hear the fear in Lacey’s voice.

Another voice, professional, yet kind. “We can never be sure. A lot of patients with similar injuries come to within a week or two. Some don’t.”

NO! I don’t want to lie here another week or two, I want to get up, move around. Then his last words buzzed around in my brain, torturing me. Some don’t. Ever.

“What are the chances that Troy will live a normal life?” Dad’s voice.

“That’s impossible to determine until he wakes up and we assess how much neurological damage has been done. But we really shouldn’t be discussing this here. Some patients do hear even if they can’t respond.”

Hours passed — or was it days? I came to many times and tried to move, but it was like someone had set me in concrete. What I wouldn’t give to at least say a few words, find out what was going on! When the doctor was in the room I tried my hardest to scream, but not even a squeak came out.

I lived for the visits of my family. Lacey brought Kyle and Tianna. They were full of questions “Why can’t Daddy open his eyes?” Lacey explained, “Daddy’s in a coma. It’s like he’s asleep. But maybe he can hear us, so talk to him.”

“How long will he have to stay there?” Poor kids. They didn’t understand, but they tried.

Lacey urged them to tell me things about their day, so Kyle told me about school. Tianna told me about the new girl on our street. Their voices were like a lifesaver to a drowning sailor. If only I could communicate just how much those visits meant to me.

I made a vow. When I come out of this, I’m going to tell them every day how sweet their voices sound.

Even the medical people brightened my dark world. How I wish I could tell them that! I knew from the few comments the nurses made right by my bed that they were moving me, washing me, but I felt nothing. Much as I hated to be so helpless, their snatches of gossip as they worked with me reassured me that I was still in the land of the living.

Then came that marvelous day when my eyes opened.

If you only knew what it’s like to live in a dark shadow for days — or was it even weeks? — and then one day be able to see light and color and living, moving people. Wonderful is far too small a word. It’s like saying the Grand Canyon is large. And to see the faces of Lacey, the kids, my parents, standing around me with great big grins. To see the hope shining in their eyes when I said my first words.

The only thing better was the day I took my first shuffling steps. This was the first step of my new life as a husband, a father, a son. Thank God for second chances!

Divorce Court Tears

The husband and wife were finally agreed on one thing: there was no point going on this way. Too much roiling water had flowed under the bridge. There’d been a number of bitter quarrels between them this last while. Neither of them were happy with the other anymore so the best thing was to get a divorce and try to find happiness with someone new.

Thus they found themselves in court one day, together with their lawyer, making application for divorce, and the question naturally came up as to who should be granted custody of their small son. The would-be ex-spouses were hurling accusations and retorts back and forth so much that his Honour was having a hard time reaching a decision.

Finally he turned to the forlorn-looking little boy and gently asked, “Which one of your parents do you wish to live with, little man?”

The courtroom fell silent, awaiting the boy’s answer. He looked from one parent to the other and burst into tears. “I want to live with both of them!” he wailed.

The husband and wife looked at each other, their eyes asking the question, “What are we doing to our son?” Were their own desires and quarrels really so much more important than his happiness? What would become of him, constantly torn between the two of them? The mother grabbed for some tissues and buried her face in them. The husband bowed his head and wiped away some tears with his thumb.

The husband turned and quietly consulted with his lawyer, then the two of them had a quiet discussion with his wife and her lawyer. After some nodding and a few trembling smiles, each parent took one of the boy’s hands. They approached the Bench and informed the judge they were going to reconcile their differences and be a family again.

The judge smiled down at the three of them and declared the matter dismissed. Still, he couldn’t help wishing their little boy might have been spared this wrenching sorrow.

This story I’ve retold in my own words appeared in an old Friendship Book of Francis Gay. I believe it was a true account, so I’ll call this creative non-fiction.