Posted in Father

Needles in a Haystack of Crazy

One of the things that Craig and I look forward to most about the holiday season is putting our Christmas card together.  We’ve always loved choosing the photos for our card and have loved weeding through a stack of wonderful options to find the best shot.

We prepared Katie and Matthew for our photo shoot this past Saturday. We bathed them and dressed them in coordinating outfits. We scouted out the best locations for our photo shoot.  We were ready to go.

But this year, we had a surprise in store for us and we really didn’t see it coming.

With two mobile children, we were lucky to capture three or four shots with Christmas card potential.

Matthew was squirmy.

Katie was incredibly impatient.  She was hot. Hungry. Three.

I was controlling and crazy.

And Craig was desperately trying to capture the magic.

We had an extremely frustrating photo shoot and here’s a sampling of the gems that we captured and promptly rejected…

Ultimately, we were able to pick two perfect needles from this delightful haystack, but next year, Craig and I plan to do our photo shoot immediately after happy hour!

Photos of our final Christmas card to follow…

Because It Was Grassy and Wanted Wear, Revisited

This remains one of my favorite posts; I won’t dilute it with my words here.  Thank you so very much for reading.

Because It Was Grassy and Wanted Wear

I will never forget that sound.

The crunching of the packed snow beneath my feet, dissonant with the throbbing in my ears from my racing heart.

He sought me out.  He wanted my forgiveness.  Wanted to talk to me…to see in my eyes that forgiveness was even possible.

I sought out a safe place to meet him.  Though I knew with certainty that he wouldn’t physically harm me, I feared for my emotional safety.  My aunt provided that shelter.

Fourteen years prior, he shot my father twice and killed him.

I was two.  And in an instant, fatherless.

As I reached to open my aunt’s door, I was stuck between two places.  In that moment, with my hand clenching her doorknob, I could move forward or I could retreat. There simply was no in between.

I pushed the door open and the heat from my aunt’s house engulfed me.

He was there.  Sitting at the table.  I greeted my aunt, shed my coat, and sat opposite him at the table. And I waited.

It wasn’t my turn to talk.

He apologized.  His words were much what I expected them to be.  I knew the story…the reasons for why he did what he did.  They had been the best of friends.

I can still see him, rubbing one of his hands with the other, worrying his skin raw.

But his eyes?  His eyes expressed his sorrow and remorse in a way that his words never could.

I’m not sure I have ever seen eyes as soft as his were in that moment as he sat there, stumbling over his words, looking to me for encouragement to continue speaking.

I let him speak until he was completely deflated…words expelled like air from a balloon overfilled to near bursting.

There was a familiarity about him.  Some part of my brain remembered him.

In that moment I was left to make a choice.  To forgive him or to hang onto my anger and hurt, polishing it until it gleamed with bitterness.

It was the moment to choose whether to set him free of his burden or take that opportunity to make him pay.  To crush his hopes for a release from even a small part of his guilt.

I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  I forgave him.

I made a choice that freed us both.

The easy, predicable choice would have been to hold my anger close, fueling it with thoughts of all that had been ripped from me.

The more difficult choice was to forgive him, to recognize that he was human and that relinquishing my anger would bring me peace unlike anything I had ever known.

His life was already broken.  He would never be the person he was before he killed my father.

But my forgiveness? He sat there and asked it of me.

And offering that it to him was truly the fork in my road.

The Road Not Taken — Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

*The decision to forgive this man who destroyed my family was my choice.  This was the right choice for me.  If I were my grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, or mother, I can’t say that my choice would have been the same.  That is impossible to know.  I can only truly know what is best for me.  I love my family beyond words and their strength astonishes me to this day.

Waiting for Headlights

My little brother gathered up his things, jeans, flannel shirts, sweatshirt at 4:30.  Hat, scarf, gloves, current favorite toy, Transformer or remote control car or video game or Walkman, all haphazardly shoved into his duffel bag. By 5:00, he was always completely ready to go.  His father was to pick him up at 6:00…it was his weekend.

He barely ate dinner on those nights, he was too excited.  He was so quiet, playing in his mind the weekend ahead.  He had been thinking about it all day.  He would have two nights and two days until his father would bring him back home.

I remember how he sat at the dining room table, his feet not quite reaching the floor.

His dirty sneakers, worn, the white rubber trim flapping as he swung his antsy legs. Purchased too big to last just a bit longer, but worn before he even grew into them.  Laces pulled tight, double knotted.

And he waited, focusing on his black digital watch as the minutes crept by.

He would alternately stare out the window, waiting to see his father’s headlights as he turned off the road and drove up the driveway, and put his head down on the table, intently listening for the sounds of his father’s tires as they crunched down the gravel driveway.

6:02.

6:07.

6:13.

At 6:15, my brother would call him. Of course there would be no answer. He would tell himself that his father must be on his way to pick him up.

At 6:30, he would call him again.  No answer. Perhaps he was just running late.

Again at 6:45, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00.

Finally he would reach his father, who would act genuinely surprised.

He had forgotten. His weekend?  Really?  Was my brother sure?

Well, it was so late. Perhaps they could just do it next weekend? No big deal, right? Okay, buddy?

As each weekend slipped away and my brother grew older, his response to his disappointment changed.  From tears and anger, to withdrawal and deep pain wearing the cloak of indifference.

And each time his father overlooked him, a piece of my brother’s innocence broke away.

His willingness to believe in others, diminished.

I watched my once-tender and silly brother erode until the day arrived when his father was no longer his hero, until no one really was.

He was left behind, abandoned by his father, who had begun a new life, with new responsibilities and new children to look after.

A disposable boy, my brother.

This post is part of my NaNoWriMo memoir and is in response to both Red Writing Hood prompts at The Red Dress Club.

Because It Was Grassy and Wanted Wear

I will never forget that sound.

The crunching of the packed snow beneath my feet, dissonant with the throbbing in my ears from my racing heart.

He sought me out.  He wanted my forgiveness.  Wanted to talk to me…to see in my eyes that forgiveness was even possible.

I sought out a safe place to meet him.  Though I knew with certainty that he wouldn’t physically harm me, I feared for my emotional safety.  My aunt provided that shelter.

Fourteen years prior, he shot my father twice and killed him.

I was two.  And in an instant, fatherless.

As I reached to open my aunt’s door, I was stuck between two places.  In that moment, with my hand clenching her doorknob, I could move forward or I could retreat. There simply was no in between.

I pushed the door open and the heat from my aunt’s house engulfed me.

He was there.  Sitting at the table.  I greeted my aunt, shed my coat, and sat opposite him at the table. And I waited.

It wasn’t my turn to talk.

He apologized.  His words were much what I expected them to be.  I knew the story…the reasons for why he did what he did.  They had been the best of friends.

I can still see him, rubbing one of his hands with the other, worrying his skin raw.

But his eyes?  His eyes expressed his sorrow and remorse in a way that his words never could.

I’m not sure I have ever seen eyes as soft as his were in that moment as he sat there, stumbling over his words, looking to me for encouragement to continue speaking.

I let him speak until he was completely deflated…words expelled like air from a balloon overfilled to near bursting.

There was a familiarity about him.  Some part of my brain remembered him.

In that moment I was left to make a choice.  To forgive him or to hang onto my anger and hurt, polishing it until it gleamed with bitterness.

It was the moment to choose whether to set him free of his burden or take that opportunity to make him pay.  To crush his hopes for a release from even a small part of his guilt.

I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  I forgave him.

I made a choice that freed us both.

The easy, predicable choice would have been to hold my anger close, fueling it with thoughts of all that had been ripped from me.

The more difficult choice was to forgive him, to recognize that he was human and that relinquishing my anger would bring me peace unlike anything I had ever known.

His life was already broken.  He would never be the person he was before he killed my father.

But my forgiveness? He sat there and asked it of me.

And offering that it to him was truly the fork in my road.

The Road Not Taken — Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

*The decision to forgive this man who destroyed my family was my choice.  This was the right choice for me.  If I were my grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, or mother, I can’t say that my choice would have been the same.  That is impossible to know.  I can only truly know what is best for me.  I love my family beyond words and their strength astonishes me to this day.

Mama's Losin' It

Does Google Make You Real?

I grew up in a time just prior to the Internet explosion.
If you needed to gather information, you relied upon the library, encyclopedias, and microfiche.  I was taught the Dewey Decimal System and how to use a card catalog.

Now we just Google our questions. It’s remarkable what you can find on the Internet. The most obscure information is at your fingertips. We can even Google ourselves.

There is nothing that you can’t find if you search for it.

Or so I thought.

The other night, in a moment of sadness, I Googled my father.

I typed his name in and hit enter.
Nothing.

I put his name in quotations and hit enter.
Nothing.

There was no mention of his murder.
There was no record of those he left behind.
There was no mention of  his parents’ tears, their baby boy taken from them.
There was no mention of his siblings, devastated by their loss.
There was no mention of his widow, left to raise her two-year old daughter alone.
There was mo mention of me, a fatherless child.

I spent a day when I was a young adult, reading everything I could dig up about him at the local library and newspaper.

He was real and he did exist. The articles told in great detail the story of his murder and the heartbreak of the family left behind in its wake.

I know the story.

Why does it bother me that I can’t Google him? Why do I want so badly to read it all again, whenever I need to remind myself?

Why would it make him seem more real if I could see his name returned by an Internet search?

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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