ABOUT THE AVOCADO TREE

In the far corner of the back yard in Arleta,

there stood a huge avocado tree

that had long since given up

producing any avocados.

Then one year,  the guys (Bob & Kelly) discovered

that a huge branch of the tree was rotting away

and in danger of coming down on the metal shed

we had put up after the guys  had torn down

a rotten old wooden shed that us to be on that spot.

They moved the metal shed to one side

and Kelly climbed up into the tree

and sitting on the trunk of the tree,

just slightly out on the big branch,

he began to saw on the dead branch;

it was so heavy that

when it fell

it shook the house

and Kelly reported

it shook him up too–

he knew, logically, that HE wasnt

going to fall but the impact

of the branch was enough to

shake the ground.

It took Bob a long time to cut up

all of that wood

but the most remarkable thing about this story is

that early the following spring,

avocados began to appear on the tree–

not just a few avocados–but hundreds

and I counted two hundred and fifty avocados

from which I made the biggest batch of guacamole

you have ever seen;  I packed it into zip lock bags

and laid the bags flat in the freezer.

We had guacamole for about a year

or maybe two.

That tree was home to many of our feathered friends

and I had photographed an owl and a red-tailed hawk

along with the other birds

that rested there from  time to time.

It was a beautiful tree;

I was happy to make its acquaintance.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

July 11, 2010

Updated September 6, 2018

A PLACE IN THE SUN

I long for a place,

a place in the sun,

Where a body can rest,

and watch everyone

As they go by,

While restful I lie,

Back in a chair

without worry or care;

Give me a place,

A place in the sun,

Where I can plant,

Daisies and some,

herbs and light greens,

tomatoes and carrots

and lots of green beans;

Give me a place,

A place in the sun,

Where I can see,

kids as they run,

shouting and laughing,

joyful at play,

Give me that place,

any,time any day

for now I labor,

Hard ‘neath the sun,

my body grows weak,

My work still undone;

I look to the skies

and tearful I say,

Give me that place, Lord,

Give it today.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted March 28, 2010

RENOVATE

It came about  one winter day

we thought that we would paint,

I chose some lovely shades of green

that wouldn’t make friends faint;

Out came plastic sheets to cover floors,

down came the pictures on the walls,

to the hardware store for brushes,

in came ladders to avoid some falls,

Then it took more than a day–

I think it took some weeks,

While wintry rain kept everything damp,

and my patience turned dour and bleak;

At long last all the paint was dry

and rooms put back together;

Then the landlord said you’ll have to move–

(so much for winter weather)

We’d done a swell job renovating,

I swear, my ears were bent,

when the owner said well gee,

now we can get a lot more rent!

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted January, 2015

updated July 14, 2018

 

Sandy’s note:  You may have suspected by now that many of my poems

have a thread of truth running through them (thread? Bob would say it was

a freight train)  so yes, this is one of those based on fact, not fiction. sls

 

LOST

I’m forever losing car keys or

misplacing my cell phone,

I can never figure out where

the TV remote has gone;

I often misplace sunglasses

and the ones I need to read;

I wonder where I left my book,

Or the garden tools to weed.

O try all those little tricks

Like putting things where they should go

Or returning keys into my purse–

Where THAT is, I often don’t know.

I call upon Saint Anthony

“Tony, Tony, come around”

I pray as I am searching,

“Something’s lost and can’t be found”

I search for all the missing things

Until I’m going half-blind

And hope the thing I never lose

Will ever be my mind.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

March 2009/updated June 29, 2018 (today would have

been my parents’ wedding anniversary. I took note of

this as I was  writing–my mother often prayed to St Anthony

to help her find a missing object. My younger sister

didn’t learn until years later that the “Tony, Tony” mom

was talking to was a saint, not my mother’s older brother. – sls

 

BABIES…SURELY THE GREATEST THING

When I brought a newborn baby home  from the hospital,

and placed him in a bassinet, held him in a rocking chair, and fed

him at my breast, I thought to myself that this is surely the greatest thing

About being a mother, having a newborn baby.

When my  child became a toddler, crawling, then walking, exploring his world around him, tasting new foods, playing with little wooden blocks and toy cars, learning new words every day  , I thought to myself that surely the greatest thing about being a mother was having a toddler.

When my child started school and learned to ride a tricycle, and began to  learn his ABCs, and we could go to bookstores together, I thought to myself that surely the greatest thing about being a mother was having a five year old;

When  my child grew a little older and learned to play Scrabble, and we began taking our sons camping and I taught them how to mix and bake cookies, and we’d make gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, I thought to my self that surely the greatest thing about being a mother was having  sons to do these things with.

And then my sons became teenagers who became  young men in the blink of an eye, and as they  brought home friends (and  often runaways and strays) I thought to myself that surely the greatest thing about being a mother was having teenagers who had turned out to be kind and considerate human being, but now  they are men who have children of their own; I thought to myself that surely the greatest  thing about being a mother is having sons who care about you, who call frequently to see how you are who bring their children to you so that they can learn how tomake cookies and gingerbread houses, too, just as they used to do.

their lives are played out in stages, that began as newborn babies and every step of the way , I thought to myself that this was surely the greatest thing about being a mother.

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally composed February 13, 2010/Updated June 22, 2018

Sandy’s chatter note:  I raised four sons ( no girls until granddaughters came along) but this poem is really a composite of bringing four sons into this world. And I really did believe that each stage was the greatest.

REGRETS

I have few regrets

For what might have been

Although in my heart I am sure–

If we had been

Together back then,

Our love would have been strong and pure.

I think we’d have been

a pair who’d have conquered,

Who’d have taken the world

by a storm,

I think of the power

of two minds together.

And these are the thoughts

I may mourn…

But here we are,

I’m standing before you,

Our lives a bit weary

and torn;

The past lies behind us,

With bits of dreams scattered,

And hearts somewhat mended and worn;

Regrets, if I have them,

Are trifle and fleeting–

What counts most is us,

Here and now,

The future before us,

Beckons, implores us

to take all that fate

will allow.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Written 1985/updated June 29 2018

WHAT I MUST REMEMBER

there is so much I must remember

As I am walking out the door,

I need a list for reference,

Who can remember all and more?

I need my keys – for house and car,

I need my old sunglasses,

I need my vision glasses too,

I have my cell phone in my purse,

money and my checkbook,

I take along a water bottle

and my travel mug of Folgers.

Here’s the book I’m reading – just in case

I find myself in  a long line, waiting;

Here’s the stub to retrieve Bob’s shirt

at the local Quartz Hill c leaners;

I take along a pad and pen

the mail for the post office;

I put some tote bags in the trunk

to help out the environment,

I’ll use my own instead of plastic.

At last I’ve got it all together

And I’m opening up the door…

To see that it’s pouring down rain today;

I think that I’ll stay home.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

August, 2009

IF HE ONLY KNEW

if he only knew how much that she cared,

When they were young, starting out,

How much that she loved him,

Worshipped the ground that he trod on,

Would he have had any doubt?

But he had set his sights on those other young things,

with their ruby red lips and long legs,

Proudly he sought them, incautiously taught them

All that he knew about passion and sex (never was

he one to grovel or beg).

They were his for the taking, women to break in,

While his wife sat at home, all alone,

Nothing would stop him, no one could top him,.

Not children nor pleas of his wife,

His heart was as callous as stone.

When finally she told him she’d had quite enough,

He suddenly knew what he’d lose,

He begged her don’t leave me,

You know it would griever me,

It’s always been you I would choose.

But she knew that he lied, even while she cried,

His pleas fell upon deaf ears;

She told him she knew, how he’d been untrue,

And now she must get on with her life.

And shaking, turned her back on his tears.

“Who will want you?” he asked, his face now unmasked,

Taunting with words now aimed to cause pain;

“You’re not a spring chicken, your face took a licking,

There are lots more girls prettier than you!”

“It no longer matters” she told him again.

if only he knew, would he have been so untrue?

In the end he was left all alone,

While she made a new life and lived without strife,

and raised the kids all by herself

Leaving him with his sins to atone.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Composed August, 2009; retyped June 17, 2018

 

SCARS THAT NEVER HEAL

How Apropos, I first thought -on this day of all days that the prompt should be “scars that never heal” – for it was on this very day, October 10, 2004, that my sister passed away.

I had flown to Tennessee, arriving there on Thursday night, following a difficult flight and the complexities of renting a car by myself for the first time in my life.

I was nervous and frightened, driving to Lebanon alone at night and couldn’t understand the glare from the rear view  (I would learn the next day that the mirror was loose and shaking) – but I arrived at last and found some of the family members keeping a vigil in the living room.  My sister was in a hospital bed in the living room, silent, almost unrecognizable, so much had she changed just since June.

I didn’t want to make this trip. I had dreaded it with every fiber of my being–I had selfishly hoped she would pass before I could get there. She had waited, I knew. She had clung to life far longer than anyone expected.  In retrospect, I realized that she wanted me to find a priest for her.  I talked to her frequently, whispering to her to look for the light; in the light she would find our grandparents,      parents, aunts and uncle–all the people she had loved who had bone before her.

Her death late Saturday night, after midnight, was a relief and when her husband woke me to say she was gone, I only felt blessed relief that she was no longer in pain. Her death, my being there, were not the scars that do not heal.  That came a few days later when her husband began to accuse me of “stealing everything of value” that should go to his sons. I tried to tell him that my sister had given many of her things, over a two year period, to many people, myself included–but also to her sons and grandchildren. He called me a liar.

I could only wonder that he had no noticed, throughout those four years, all the things she took down from the walls and gave away.  Then on Wednesday he said that all of her things, her clothing and crafts, would go to the dump. I was devastated. Then I cried. I went out on the front lawn and berated my sister for leaving me  to deal with this. I cried to the heavens. No one heard me.

My sister’s youngest son volunteered to take his mother’s belongings to the Goodwill store fi I would box them up.  On Thursday I began this task.  Much to the ire and fury of my brother in law who ranted at me and said that his son would never follow through.

My nephew and I took two carloads of my sister’s clothing, purses, scarves, craft supplies and shoes to the Goodwill store on Friday. Afterwards I went to a parking lot and cried.

In retrospect, I wish I had gone home immediately, changed my flight plans and paid the additional fees –but I didn’t. I stayed until the 18th.

That morning, my brother in law came in and again accused me of stealing from his family.  My flight wasn’t until 3 pm.  It was hardly 8 am.  I cried all the way to Lebanon and all the way on highway 40 to the airport.  I returned the rental car and then when I discovered I couldn’t check in for hours, I put my head down on the counter and cried some more. A young man ran and fetched a cart for me and refused to let me pay for it.  I pushed the cart (with my baggage) around he airport for hours–then also watched a tremendous storm fall upon the area.  I thought of my sister who knew I would have hated deriving in a storm and what a minor blessing it was that I was already in the airport, safe and dry.

I had loved Nashville ever since my sister moved there but I vowed never to return there again.

It was easily the worst experience of my life, those eleven days in Tennessee.  Scars that never heal.

Sandra Lee Smith

ADDENDUM: In December, 2004, my brother in law and his youngest son, Jimmy, went to Cincinnati for Christmas, at Russ & Linda’s house (Russ was another one of my sister’s sons) When Bill walked into his son’s house he noticed immediately all the red and blue glass that Russ had put up on high shelves around the living room ceiling of his home.

“Where did you get that?” he asked his son, indicating the glass (which he believed I had stolen).

“from mom” Russ told him “Dad, she was giving stuff away for years”

So–presumably, he now knew I had not stolen my sister’s things.  But it was too late for me–I refuse to go anywhere that my sister’s husband might be.  I had said my goodbyes and had spent two months a year with my sister from the onset of her illness. I made a memorial booklet for her and sent copies to my nephew Russ to give to everyone.

 

My greatest regret is that I didn’t think of trying to find a Catholic priest for my sister.  I believe that is what she was waiting for,–not me so much as for me to find a priest.

 

 

 

 

 

Sandra Lee Smith

 

Written Day 10, October 010, 2009

WHAT I FEAR MOST

Although I have an irrational fear of snakes, and going to Mexico, swimming in rivers (where I can’t see what is in the water with me) of being in skyscrapers in California (the skyscraper itself doesn’t frighten me; its the fear of being in an earthquake while I am in a skyscraper) and I have no interest in taking a cruise, for fear of drowning in the ocean.

I used to be afraid of being on my own, and facing divorce, but conquered those fears by going through it. But what I fear most of all, now, is losing my mind. My mother had Alzheimer’s the last decade of her life and her mother, my Grandma Beckman, suffered from dementia – and so what I fear most is the loss of who I am, of being unable to read or write, or communicate in any way with those I love. No longer being able to understand what I am seeing or hearing on Television, no longer able to comprehend the simplest of every day things.  That is what I fear most.

Sandra Lee Smith

February 24, 2009

ps ten years later and still “here”.