I have found during this journey I am on with Mother, the importance of remembering. Every day she sits on the couch searching for memories of people faces and names. She will give me a name and ask, “Why am I thinking of that?” The only answer I know is the sum total of her memories created the person she is today. When I am alone at last in my bedroom at night, I recall memories as well. Some of when I was a child, playing with friends in the neighborhood. Some memories of when I was a young woman. Sometimes at night I also listen to Sirius radio 70s station on DishTV. The music of my time, provides me with a feeling of comfort. It takes me back to a time when life was simpler. In The Navy by the Village People came on. Every time I hear it I am reminded of the time in 1983, I almost joined the Navy. I was at Livingston University in Livingston, Alabama. There was a group of us girls who basically cut loose of life in our spare time. I usually was the ringleader of the trouble. I tend to have issues keeping my mouth closed sober so alcohol only lubricated and amplified the process. We were sitting around laughing and someone brought in a bottle of Everclear. Now if you have never experienced this particular liquour, I can only describe it as the devil’s teardrops. Another rule in life is do not drink anything that has a flammable label on it. But back to the Navy. After several rounds I was flying as high as the pines in our neighboring states of Georgia. I blurted out, I think I want to join the Navy. Becky said, “Your drunk go to sleep Arleen.” I said, “No, I think I want to join the Navy. Sail the sea, become a flight nurse.” Louisa said, “I know exactly where you can go to do that, come on!” It was highly irresponsible and incredibly reckless, but we all climbed in my Ford Fairmont and headed to the Naval Base Meridian. We pulled up to the gate. A very cute sailor with dark hair peeked in the window and asked if he could help us. He was trying very hard not to laugh, out loud. Louisa had been raised in Long Island. I can still hear her New York accent, “We got a girl here who wants to join the Navy?”. Now, it’s about 1 a.m. on Friday night. He didn’t have a lot going on so I can only imagine this was quite entertaining to him. We rolled the back window down and he leaned in, “Do you really want to join the Navy?” He had the cutest grin on his face. I have always had a weakness for sailors. “Yep, I want to be a flight nurse.” He nodded, “Okay, you’re going to have to go the recruiter’s office for that.” He handed me a pad and said, “here give me your number and I will have him call you.” Again, not the wisest move, but I wrote my name and number down. We turned the car around and headed back to Livingston. Louisa said, “All you got out of that is a date, Arleen.” The next morning, hungover I woke up the phone ringing, it was not cute sailor, it was an honest to God recruiter. They are very persuasive. I’ll hand it to them, they are very persuasive. Later that morning I was in the recruiter’s office with Louisa and Becky. Becky kept saying, “You have lost your mind.” I remember they love my test scores. I heard, “Yes, Miss Cornelius, we have a place for you in our Navy.” I was actually hopeful and wondering if I was still just a little bit drunk. I asked, “Now, I do not know how to swim.” He gave me a quick reply, “Don’t worry, we’ll teach you.” Louisa said, “oh hell, I know what that means, they are going to throw you in the deep end.” It was at this point I reevaluate the situation and made my exit. I often wonder if when Mother is searching for the words to go with the images in her head, if she is remembering things as fondly as I do. I would never believe in a thousand years Mother burnt both ends of the candle as recklessly as I did for a while, but I do think she cut up a little bit in Nursing school. When I ask her, she says we jitterbugged. I am glad for those sparks of memories that remind her of who she was in her youth. Recalling mine, bring home to me the importance of remembering. How remembering is such a beautiful thing. I gift that is so easily robbed from us by this horrid disease. I do not know if I will have this disease as well. I do not know if someday I am asking my daughter when I hear the phrase, “ In the Navy”, why is this so important to me? Well now she can remind me, “Well Momma, it started with a bottle of Everclear.”
Tag Archives: MsArleen
July 13, 2016
Farewell My Friend.
Ms. Kitty crossed the Rainbow Bridge today at 1:30 p.m. She had a very restless night. All of the horrible things I heard and read about were coming to fruition. I did not want my sweet little Ms. Kitty to suffer so I took her to our Vet. She passed peaceful in my arms. I would like to publicly thank Dr. Springer for his kindness and overwhelming compassion today. He cared for Ms. Kitty with the respect she deserved and helped me bear my burden. Such a talented Veterinarian and a wonderfully kind human. I will be forever appreciative.
Tonight as I sit here at my computer, I hear the sounds of Tazzy eating from his dish. I treasure my fur-babes. They bring me joy and help me through the moments of life that are sometimes so hard to bear. I am filled with guilt for ever buying those cat treats. She was so happy and healthy before she starting eating them. Today was one of those days that I will not forget. The surreal silent solitude as I came home in the car. My oldest brother drove down to help us give her a proper burial. So now, Ms. Kitty is home and she is at peace beneath the shade of the dogwood tree. She loved to play under that tree.
I know in time this pain will not sting so bad but tonight my heart is broken. I will miss and love her always. She was a trust companion and one hell of a mouser. Some of my dearest memories are of her when she would bring me her “gifts”. She brought us everything from snakes to gophers to lizards. I remember telling her, “Ms. Kitty, I don’t really like lizard, sweetie. You can have that one.” She gave me that Donald Trump look with her lips pursed up as if to say, “Who the hell doesn’t like lizard?” She had those looks; a cross between Trump and Grumpy Cat. In the coming months I will try and recreate those smiles that made my heart laugh. That is one of beautiful things about art, time stands still.
Well not much left to say but thank you Ms. Kitty, RIP my friend.
I didn’t post anything about Ms. Kitty yesterday. The first thing Sat. morning she got up and went to the back door again, just like on Friday. We told her again that it was way to hot to be outside (heat index was expected to be triple digits). She cried the saddest little meow. Kept staring out the back door. This broke my heart. I know she wants out but if she gets to the storage building and gets underneath, I don’t know how I would get her out. We did what we thought was best, told her no. I picked her up and rocked her for a while then took her back to her bed.
Gave her a small dose (less than 1ml) of slipper elm syrup) just enough to coat her stomach. Waited for about 10 minutes for it to work. Followed that up with 2ml of Clinicare Supplement. We went through this exact procedure twice till 10 last night. Got up at midnight and checked in on her, she was still fine and had used her litter box again.
First thing this morning, I checked in on her. She was sitting there just looking at me. When I reached to pet her, she purred and blinked her eyes. I think I have mentioned this before, I read somewhere that cats say I love you when they blinked their eyes at you. I will have to find that link and post It for everyone. It’s expected to be a hot day again today but not as bad as yesterday.
I will be sitting with her most of the day in the office. I have a lot of work to get done online, most of it classwork that has be turned in by 10:55 CST tonight. My course this term is Hemingway and it requires a lot of work in prep for writing. Thank goodness, I didn’t take two classes. There are days when the words flow easy, then there are those days when I have so much on my mind that I can’t concentrate to get anything done. I have had nearly a week like that, a foggy muddled mind. I tried to meditate last night, Mother was restless so that was a no-go. She finally went to bed, so I did too. Long story short, after checking on Kitty at Midnight, I got a few hours of sleep. I had intended on being up at 4 or 5 but slept till after 7. Enough of this, time to get busy on my writing. Putting some classical chamber music on, that would be soothing to both of us. Going now, time to write.
Well it’s 8:40 A.M. Ms. Kitty is wide awake and alert this morning. I did not give her the Clinicare through the night, wanted to let to use the litter box. Afraid if she can’t urinate, it will just cause her pain to give her fluids if she can’t rid them. Above all, I don’t want her to suffer. To our amazement, she jumped off the desk walked to the backdoor and meowed to go outside. We didn’t let her outside for a couple of reasons. First, she is still too sick to be outside But the main reason is the heat index is supposed to be way over 105 degrees today. We were afraid she would be going outside to die and we wouldn’t be able to find her. Cats do that sometimes, especially cats that were born feral. I suppose it is just her instinct. After Mother and I told her “no Ms. Kitty” she walked back into the office where I have her bed set up on my drawing table. She likes this spot a lot. She meowed for me to put her back up there, so I did. I also have her litter box sitting up there so she can get to it without a lot of effort. She used her litter box, then laid back down on the bed. I am going to get her some Clinicare now and give her 3ml.
6:00 p.m. Well, had errands to run today so was away from the house for a while. When I got home around 2pm I checked on Ms. Kitty. She was alert sitting on the desk. She had used her litter box a little and was drinking some water from her dish. I gave her some Clinicare around 3:30 p.m. She held it down. Thankful we have no vomiting. Some of the credit for that may come from the use of Slippery elm syrup. Just a tiny bit coats her stomach and lowers the acid. Then I gave her the Clinicare supplement. She took a nap afterwards. It anyone wants the recipe for the Slippery elm syrup I will provide the link at the end of this post. This is a picture of Kitty tonight quietly taking a nap with her new gray mouse I bought her today.
Well, took care of all the other chores to be done around the house. I still have to work on my homework post for this week so going to sign off now. I will probably be back up at 4a.m. to check in on Ms. Kitty. Goodnight to you all.
Recipe for the Slippery Elm syrup for cats in renal failure. This is a wonderful website with a lot of information on the disease. The link follows:
My first assignment in Creative writing was to write a Fiction Short story with a cover sheet. I had never heard of a cover sheet. She told us what she expected on the cover sheet and I must have created it correctly because there were no errors marked on that portion. The rest- not so much. I had several grammar errors. All I have corrected for this blog post. I mulled the idea of submitting for publication. I guess I am not that brave, yet. I know I will get there. Baby steps. The first step for me is posting to my blog, so here is the cover sheet first then my fiction short story- Catharsis.
I began my fiction short story by sitting quietly. I tried to block out all the noise around me, hard to do sometimes. For this very reason, I tend to write either at night or very early in the morning, when the house is quiet and my spirit is calm. This story deals with something I struggle with; writers block. As you recall, I used the same subject matter in last week’s post. For me, it’s a recurrent issue. It’s also something I feel I need to get a handle on, it only leads to procrastination if not dealt with promptly.
I wrote my story in the span of about an hour and a half. Then I let it rest and I did as well. When I got up the next morning I edit with a fresh, rested mind. My thought process is more focused when I am having that first cup of coffee. I had one draft and then I edited that draft. I print out my story and re-read. This particular story when I re-read it caused me to be emotional. This story came from my heart, roughly based on life events; hence the title, Catharsis. In the story the protagonist loses her mother to cancer. I still have my mother with me but I know that day will come.
The two biggest struggles I have in writing, especially with this piece, was beginning and my worries over grammar. Writing for me is like running; hard to make that first step but once you get going, momentum takes over. Once you silence the inner critics you can hear your true voice speaking to you. You have to listen to what the characters have to say, listen to them speaking to you. A writer is a person who can translate feelings and thoughts into words. This is my translation; Catharsis.
By: Arleen McCann
Suzanne knew her deadline was looming. She had worked so hard to get the attention of the editor of Open Seas Magazine. It had been a chance meeting that brought her and the editor together.
It took several conversations for the editor to say, “Suzanne, we are going to give you a shot. Turn in a travel piece. Something about this little Island off Martinique.”
So Suzanne packed her bags and headed to the island. The warm winds and white sands were just what she needed to help her begin again–a new career, a new life. She settled into the hotel. She went out to sample some of the local cuisine. She listened to a local band play just off the street at a café. This would give her piece interest. She thought, “I’ll write about all aspects of life in Les Anses d’Arlet.” After a leisurely walk on the beach to watch the sunset, she sat down in her room to begin writing.
Nothing came. No thoughts, no words, nothing. Her mind was a blank page. Writer’s block is such a horrible thing. You stare at the blank screen trying to force the words to materialize. Minutes become hours, hours become a day. She continued to stare at the blinking screen. She made coffee, had tea, and walked the beach again. Still nothing, so she turned on the TV and watched endless hours of shows selling gadgets and gizmos all guaranteed to make her life easier, faster, smarter. She thought, “If they could only make something that could cure writer’s block.”
What is writer’s block anyway? Is it the deepest part of your soul hanging on to the catharsis that the sweet release of words would convey? Is there an enchanted key that unlocks the secrets of your heart? She was drained, exhausted. So tired from the desire to create, yet, her psyche was void of passion. She did the only logical thing, she laid down. Maybe in her dreams she could write. She fell asleep and suddenly found herself sitting at her laptop. She looked down to see a USB cable attached to her chest, right below her heart. She plugged the cable into the slot on the laptop. Suddenly the screen pulsated with rainbow hues then returned back to a glistening pink. She looked down and noticed the cable was filling with this pink glow. Her soul came alive with this flickering, beautiful pink light. She could hear a voice say, “Write what you feel, don’t think, don’t judge, don’t criticize or doubt, just write.”
She closed her eyes and she could see with her heart. Her quiet mind released thoughts and feelings, hopes and yes, imaginings. She turned to see an angel sitting at the end of her bed. The angel was leaned back, arms crossed behind her head.
“Hello, who are you?” Suzanne asked.
“Well, it’s pretty obvious by the wings I must be an angel but, to be specific, my name is Jonae. I am your writing angel. Also a kind of angel of confidence. I only appear when you lack the assurance or well, in some cases, courage to write.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I feel like we have meet before,” Suzanne inquired.
“We have,” the angel replied, “many times. You see, some people are given a destiny to write. You were given a destiny to write and paint. You seem to have forgotten what it is you have to do. That is what writers block is; you have forgotten consciously what your subconscious never doubts. You are a writer, you are an artist. You see the world painted in light; you appreciate the pink hues of love, the blue notes of music, the passion of red, the majesty of purple and the sunsets of yellow and orange. You perceive emotions and feel color. Music stirs your soul like a warm pot of soup on a cold winter day. You feel pain more intensely than everyone else. You cry with those who suffer and laugh with the joy of a child. You have felt the darkness of death and the deepness of depression. You have been given every experience you need to write. Your experience is your life! Your life is your canvas; your words your palette.”
Silent tears streamed down her face as she remembered what it was she had been given; joy, pain, love—an empathic ability to connect with the world around her. She realized she had been given a gift to heal with a simple word from a pen and stroke from her brush. This overwhelmed her for a moment. It’s as if she caught her collective breath and suddenly she could breathe again. The fear slowly subsided.
“I remember” Suzanne said. “I remember when I was a little girl and I would pull the papers my mother wrote out of a weathered shoe box. They were brown with age. A lone staple- that had been placed there some 50 years ago- held them together. I read her words and something inside me wanted to be just like my mother. I wanted my words to be as spellbinding, to mesmerize. The admiration was overwhelming. I used to say, I am going to be a writer one day, just like my mother. I knew that as long as I had her words, I had her with me all the time. I needed her then and still do. I need her here with me.” Jonae leaned forward and placed her hand on Suzanne’s.
“As long as you have her words, her inner strength, you have her time immortal. She is with you always, in your heart, in your thoughts, and in your words. Just look and you will find her there. By the way, you will find yourself as well.”
Suzanne smiled. She now knew the source of her hesitance. She was missing that maternal connection she had felt so long ago. Her mother was her best friend. When she became ill, she tried to do the best she could to ease her pain. She felt ineffective and useless as the cancer spread. In the end, she was helpless to ease her suffering. The woman who once held her hand and soothed her tears, she now had to reassure that it would be okay. The roles had reversed. Suzanne remembered the last days of her Mother’s life. She couldn’t wrap her head around the fact she was physically here, but the smile, the love, the warm laugh was gone. The essence that filled the room with all her memories was so far away—somewhere, but where? She felt her here and then she wasn’t anymore.
She knew she had not been able to write since her mother had passed away. She had been unable to put into words the immense loss her whole being felt. The guilt she felt over wanting to live again when the sweetest part of her soul was no longer alive. She began to cry.
Jonae said, “Its ok, have a good cry and get back to spreading your soul on that canvas, Share your gift. Write the words that inspire. Give hope to others. It’s time to create again.” Tears flowed like they had not for several years, all the pain, all the hurt came pouring out. Suzanne looked up to find Jonae was gone.
The next morning she woke to the sound of birds outside and the sun shone through her window castings tropical rays of warmth. The smell of coffee filled the air as she got out of bed. This morning was different. She didn’t feel that awful sense of dread. She knew her deadline for the story was drawing close but she wasn’t empty. She felt optimistic, alive. Her mind whirled with words, so fast she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to capture them all. She felt passion for her craft. She felt like a writer again. She quickly poured a cup of coffee and made her way to the desk. She smiled. Beside the desk she found a note. It simply said, Believe. Next to the note was a singular white feather.