The Winds of Change and a Beckoning Candle

The winds of change are blowing.

Still? you ask.


But surely after Mess Cat moving to town, and Aub going off to college all by her big girl self, and starting Sister Circle a month ago, and the new puppy, and Sister’s adventure last week…..Tara, are you sure?  Maybe it’s just the settling you have left to do after all of THAT.

You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

But no, I’m pretty sure about this.  There’s something still stirring from within or without or around in the air above me.  Wherever, I’m fairly certain there’s still one thing more waiting on us, on me.

It might have something to do with a simple cupcake story I heard last night that made me cry those quiet, warm tears.  Turns out, after all those years of being a Daddy’s girl, maybe I’m more like my Mama than I thought. And I’m really, really okay with that.

Or I might just over think things.

A lot.

This afternoon, during a day so full of things that I really needed an entourage to keep my mini-entourage straight, Cooter asked about spelling the word “duck.”

I tried to get him to sound it out.  *sigh*  Then our Princess helped me help him figure it out.  He finally had it.  And he kept saying the letters over and over “d-u-c-k, d-u-c-k, d-u-c-k” until it ran together, sounding like he was saying, “Did you see Kay?”

Princess laughed and said, “Hey that’s how you can remember how to spell it, say that to yourself, ‘Did you–‘”

Cooter interrupted. “Or I could just write it down and look at it when I need to know.”

I laughed.  “Yeah, that could work too, buddy.”

I’m glad he doesn’t try to overcomplicate things.  Like his Mama does.

But then again, life is complicated.  Things are hard.  And sad.  And broken.  All too often.

Today we had Sister Circle.  K who came last week and encouraged me in my own art exploration was having a hard week and didn’t come in for our gathering.  One step forward, three or four back.  And T who has been there EVERY WEEK wasn’t there at all.  Someone said they haven’t seen her in a few days.  I won’t lie, I’m worried.  All the relationships she’s been in had a similar thread–abuse.  I hope she is okay.  But there’s really no way to know until she comes back in.

There are new little babies fighting against things that like to work on their tiny bodies.  Why they should have to fight so hard, and why I can’t just swoop in and fix it–I don’t know, but that’s heartbreaking and more than a little upsetting.

There are tired Mamas in this world, trying their best to care for their little ones.  Or big ones.  Or ones of all sizes.  And they don’t have the support that all kinds of Mamas need.  There are hard-working women who keep hitting a ceiling or have different expectations set for them simply because they are women.  Or they are trying to balance it all at the same time and they find out Wonder Woman is a fictional character.  No way she really exists.  Work hard, they’re labeled aggressive; not hard enough, they are acting “like a girl.”  Like the contestants on American Idol when facing the judges who all give polar opposite critiques, these women must feel very confused and more than a little bit frustrated.

There are young people trying to do what is right, to speak their minds, to share their thoughts and ideas–which are pretty good ones actually, but the adults in their lives too often either ignore these young people or don’t really hear what is being shared.

I wish I could get in my car and drive around until I find T.  I wish K was more open to talking today.  I would love to have the medical knowledge to be able to make these little babies better and stronger faster.  For healing.  I want to pick up a broom and a skillet and make life easier for these tired Mamas.  To tell them that one day it will get better.  Maybe.  And see their eyes light up for a moment that there might possibly be some truth in that statement.  I wish I could help the women struggling with their jobs or work situations or balancing it all to see just how precious they really are.  No one can do it all, but because they don’t stop trying their best, they are doing an awful lot of good in the world.  I wish I knew where Mac was and if he’s okay.  I take that back, if I’m going to wish, I wish his addiction into oblivion.

I keep hearing the Elvis song, “If I Can Dream,” playing in my head.  Written by Walter Earl Brown, the last lines of the song are–

Deep in my heart there’s a tremblin’ question
Still I am sure that the answer’s gonna come somehow
Out there in the dark, there’s a beckoning candle, yeah
And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream
Come true, ohhhhh, right now
Let it come true right now

That looking for the light–that beckoning light of hope.  I keep looking in anticipation that it is actually there.  But the lines in the middle of the song are the ones that hit home the hardest.

We’re lost in a cloud
With too much rain
Were trapped in a world
That’s troubled with pain
But as long as a man
Has the strength to dream
He can redeem his soul and fly

I’m not sure which way the winds are blowing this time or what’s coming down the pike, but I find comfort in the redeeming of my soul in the midst of a cloud with too much rain.  And l may not be able to do all the things that I dream of doing, but perhaps if I can do just one even, then maybe that will make a tiny bit of difference somewhere and become a beckoning candle for someone else.

In the meantime I find peace and joy in the laughter of littles, who are growing way too fast, being chased by a little white and black ball of fluff across the dew-covered grass.  And in the voice and writings and strength of a young woman learning to make it on her own.  And in the caring voices of those I love.  Those are the things that give me the strength to dream.  And not just stop there, but to move on to what comes next.  To do.  Because that’s what keeps the beckoning candles lit in this world.  The dreaming and the doing.

Gone too Soon

Today, thirty-six years ago, just six weeks before my baby brother was born, we had a death in the family.

Elvis Presley died.

I am not being facetious when I say he was a member of our family. I really felt that way–about him and “Uncle Willie” Nelson too.  I grew up hearing his music constantly.  And seeing his movies.  And wishing I could be BFF forever’s with Lisa Marie.  I didn’t care much for Priscilla, because, really, how much sense could she have had NOT to be married to him anymore?

I was young, and I didn’t know any better.  Grace abounds, my friends.

Daddy talked a lot about how Elvis was a better conductor than he was a musician and for sure, an actor.  Daddy thought his “Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii” was proof that he was moving towards putting together musical “productions” rather than just singing a song–and he was good at it.  The other day I heard the beginning of that concert on the radio.  I once had the whole concert memorized.  In order.  It was awesome.

When I was little we had a little record player that we children were allowed to use. Daddy had a lot of 45’s that were Elvis singles, in addition to his LPs.  I used to play like I was a DJ and I’d intro the song better than anybody on the airwaves.  Or so I thought at the time.  I knew my Elvis stuff, and I’d ooze it out as smooth as anything, and then…..I’d play the song.  I loved his music and to this day, it’s a comforting thing for me.

Elvis and crew in "Follow That Dream"--my favorite Elvis movie ever.

Elvis and crew in “Follow That Dream”–my favorite Elvis movie ever.

We watched his movies–the bad ones and the not quite as bad ones.  I thought they were awesome.  And there must have been some nostalgia for Daddy too, because though he didn’t think Elvis was a great actor, he did watch them over and over with us.  And when Aub got old enough, that’s what she got for birthdays and Christmas–Elvis movies on DVD.  She loved them and always seemed happy to get another one. But her favorite?  Viva Las Vegas–with Elvis and Ann-Margret.  She adores Elvis, but she loves her some Ann-Margret too.  My favorite was the same as Daddy’s–anyone surprised at that?  Follow That Dream.  It was based on a book, and it was hilarious.  Love.  It.  (Gave a whole new meaning to saying one’s multiplication tables out loud.)

I thought that Elvis could sing any song better than anyone else with the exception of two–

Simon and Garfunkel’s version of “Bridge over Troubled Water” blows me away every single time. (Although Elvis was a very close second.)

Willie Nelson outdid him on “Always on My Mind.”  I’m sorry, he just did.

Having said that, while there are many Elvis songs that are so much fun that I can’t help but move (“Long Tall Sally,” “See See Rider,” “Blue Suede Shoes”), there are a few that have touched my heart and stayed there.

“In the Ghetto”–I was crying right along with the Mama, and I still do.  That song, much like Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” had me convinced I had to do something to change the brokenness in this world.  No other song painted such a picture and inspired me at the same time.

But I think it was his gospel songs that touched me the most.

“Crying in the Chapel”

“You’ll Never Walk Alone”

“Peace in the Valley”

And in the American Trilogy, his “Glory Glory Hallelujah” gives me chills.  Seriously.  Sitting here blubbering, listening to it all over again.

pic of elvis flaming star cover

As I have been remembering the King of Rock and Roll today, I looked back at some album covers and the one from Flaming Star near about took my breath away.  So many of them make me miss my Daddy, because the love of Elvis and his music and movies was something I shared with him.  But that particular cover–I always thought Elvis kind of looked like Daddy in that one.  I had forgotten that.  Maybe it was the hat, I don’t know.  But yeah, today I am missing so many people who left this world too soon.

I remember when I heard the news back in 1977.  For some reason I was the one to hear it first.  I went in and told Mama.  She didn’t believe me at first, that’s how far-fetched it was.  After I remember just feeling hollow.  And everything seemed so surreal.  And today it seems like it was just yesterday.

The awesome thing is that Aub and I have passed our love of Elvis down to the littles.  As I was playing one of his songs a few minutes ago, they came running from the back of the house, “It’s Elvis! It’s Elvis!”  Daddy would be pleased I think.

So much seems in turmoil these days.  It has been nice to sit down and remember simpler times and the joy that the music and movies of this man brought to our little family.  I am thankful I have found a few moments of peace in the listening and remembering.

There will be peace in the valley for me, some day  

There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray  

There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow  

No trouble, trouble I see  

There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

–Carole King and Toni Stern

Don’t Stop Believing…..Faithfully

We’re running a little late tonight, as we usually do on Sunday nights.  My oldest is in the shower, and she has her music playing in the background as she always does.

Only tonight it’s different.  Tonight it’s special music playing.  The same music she’s been playing all day.  Music from the Glee soundtracks.

Aub is sad and lost today.  My girl has had a lot of loss  in her young life–her Papa, her Cap, her Maemae, and her two great-grandmothers.  She knows life isn’t always about answered prayers and happy endings.  She’s way too young to know these things, but she knows them anyway.

But tonight her heart is breaking in a different way.  A young actor, someone she never met, has died.  She didn’t know him personally, but she felt as though she did, as he was a star in a show she’s only recently found and watched–Glee.  This has broken my girl in ways that I can only imagine.  It’s the first time someone young that she felt a connection to has died, and it’s just hard.

I remember very well August 16, 1977.  For whatever reason I was the one to hear the breaking news about the death of Elvis Presley.  I went in the kitchen where Mama was cooking supper and told her.  She thought I was kidding.  When I assured her I was not, a hush came over both of us.  I was sad.  While Elvis was not related to us, it sure felt like he was.  Daddy had so many of his albums and we watched his movies when they came on TV.  After I told Mama, it was time for me to go out and prepare the bottle for my calf and go feed him.  I remember how dark and unsafe the world suddenly felt when I went to the shed for the bottle and formula.  My world was shattered in a strange way.

I know this today has shaken the sense of immortality for more than just my girl.  There is a family and a young woman who loved this young man and whom he loved.  There are friends and co-workers and people who knew him in passing.  And there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, who “knew” him through his show, who will miss him and grieve this loss in their own way.

He played a fictional character.  I know that.  But this grief is real, not disenfranchised.  Tears have been cried under my very own roof.  And as police and investigators try to make sense of what seems to be a senseless death, the grief will continue.

I’m sorry, baby girl.  It’s a broken world.  Not much makes sense anymore, especially not Death and who it claims when.  I don’t know how to help you through this except to say, I love you and I will listen.  And maybe, just maybe, I will sit and watch a marathon of these shows with you.  In memory of a talented young actor and to do what we all do when Death creeps in and reminds us of how fragile it all is–to huddle close and love each other.

Hoping that light and peace beyond all understanding will reach those who are grieving and mourning tonight.  Tonight I leave you with something my girl sent me with this message: “Indulge me, I’m grieving.”  A talented young man is gone, may he rest in peace.