Family Matters

“All children are my children. I teach them the songs and whatever else I can. That’s what Grandmothers are for – to teach songs and tell stories and show them the right berries to pick and roots to dig. And also to give them all the love they can stand. No better job in the world than being Grandmother.”
Leila Fisher (Hoh)

It started with a head injury:

my father’s great grandfather, a night watchman

patrolling in the darkness when a drunk

clocked him with a metal lantern.

Erratic ever after, prone to sudden

bursts of rage, his family discovered

the calming technique of placing

my two-year-old father on the old man’s

lap. That prompted lullabies and soothed

the beast. I’d always found

this story charming when my gregarious

father told it.  At least, until the day

my grandson rushed into the office, only

securing my father’s attention by

scampering behind the computer

desk amid the jumble of wires. The roar

drew my protective swoop, separating

the two, perplexed by this inordinate

yet familiar fury, intent on saving

the innocent. I underestimated

this child’s compassionate wisdom.

He waited a few weeks,

at first ignoring my father’s overtures,

the blues he sang obviously inauthentic.

As advances grew

progressively kinder, I watched them

move to the country of healing.

The old man’s heart finally open,

it’s time to rock ‘n’ roll today.

My grandson runs into the room.

“Don’t scare Grandpa,” I call

so my father is ready, manufacturing

surprise when he feels a poke.

Giggling, the two-year-old master teacher

withdraws a few feet, curling into a ball,

the sportsman’s invitation to play.

When my father pounces with a shout,

the child screams in delight and runs

runs, runs to the safety of my lap.

We huddle in a blanket. “Scary!”

He declares. His heart is pounding.

Eyes wide, we watch the monster

approach. “Stop,” he commands.

And when it appears his boundary won’t

be respected — my father advances —

I throw up my palms, as well.

“Stop!” I plead, and add, “This is base!

We’re safe!” Ah, yes, the rules of sports.

He retreats.

We cuddle until our heartbeats calm.

And then the experiment repeats.

My warning song, the scream,

the panicked flight. Over and over.

Now crawling fast

over an ottoman, creating an obstacle

course, his pursuer always a step behind.

My mother is crying, she is laughing

so hard. My inner two-year-old perks

her ears at this uncharted territory,

learning how to feel this huge emotion safely.

At last I see the true story of the monster

my father had to comfort

when the frightened females in his family

placed his innocence like an offering

into the lap of the madman. And how he had

to take it in, keep it simmering for

this very opportunity. How often

do we miss the quintessential teaching

embodied in a toddler, the strong brave

heart offering to heal the gaping wounds

long papered over by our tales, yet

so obvious to this tuned-in being?

The energy worker of few words: the emphatic

“No!” and the passionate “Yes!”

He felled the demons

of seven generations with one exuberant

swoop. The figures — that I’ve spent decades

painstakingly setting up on my altar

of healing intentions — topple like dominos.

You can bet the ancestors are feeling

these embraces. “Hugs,” he commands

before he leaves.

Word Of The Day Challenge: Gregarious

Daily Addictions Prompt: Plead

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Darkness

FOWC Prompt: Quintessential

Ragtag Prompt: Embrace

3TC: Country, Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll

Published by

Victoria Stuart

I'm a poet, philosopher and inner seeker. A giver, lover and a healer who studies the heart.

12 thoughts on “Family Matters”

  1. I didn’t think it was too long. I like how you revealed the way your father had to learn the same thing as your grandson, then how he had become a bit like his great-grandfather.

    I’m always looking for the child inside the elderly. I know my childhood self is simmering in ther somewhere.

    Like

    1. Thank you for this comment, Eilene. Yes, I am fascinated by the ancestral patterns that play out whether we realize it or not! Looking for the child inside the elderly, knowing your childhood self is simmering in there sounds like the next poem I’d love to read from you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Deeply touching Victoria. Oh the hidden recesses of trauma and their healing powers. Contraction. Expansion. Over and over across all dimensions time and space. Thank you for this sweet glimpse. ❤️🙏

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s