joshwriting: (Default)
I don't do regret, as a general rule. It doesn't mean that there are not things that I wish I had done differently, 'merely' that I try to learn from them and move on, aiming to do better next time.

Sometimes, though, even that is not quite enough.

My mother wrote. She wrote children's books, novels, poetry, and various bits of non-fiction. The novels were not particularly good, I suppose. The children's books were pleasant enough, if not stuff that will live in the literature forever. The poetry was pretty good, but it is a tough field in which to be merely pretty good. Some of the non-fiction is still kicking about - if nothing else, as testimony she gave concerning parental leave.

She knew that I wrote, though what she saw of my writing was the non-fiction about gifted education, underachievement, and Dabrowski. I did not start writing fiction until she was in her last years, mostly past ability to appreciate it. She did not get to see Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter - a work she would have enjoyed quite a bit. With the exception of the beginning Tales of the Teddy Bear Forest, my fairy tale writing came after her passing.

And I wish, from time to time, that I could share them with her, both for her editing and her pleasure. I think it would have tickled her that I've become a writer, if not yet either persistent or prolific.

It tickles me.

That will have to do.


May. 6th, 2011 11:30 am
joshwriting: (Default)
For all that one may wish to live forever, truth be told, we can only expect to live on in the impact we have on other people.

There are those like Jesus or Buddha whose footprints on the future are huge. Shakespeare, Aristotle, etc.

But for lesser luminaries - especially those whose published works are limited (to non-existent), our person-to-person connections are the best we can normally expect.

To a limited extent, the Internet has changed this. Anybody can put up verbiage or images that live on past her or his lifetime. This is not to suggest that it is all that likely, but the hope is there. The chance exists.

My mother's published works are limited in scope. What Can We Do With Blocks, What if Tiny Little Dinosaurs Played House, and other such works, entertaining as they are, tend not to be the sorts of things that people go looking for - and, even when they find them in English or French, they tend not to be life changers.

So, it was with a great deal of pleasure that for the first time, it was one of my mother's pieces that I've put on line that prompted contact from a desperate parent seeking help. Normally, it is my work on underachievement that catches the attention, and Patterns for Charlie gets read as an afterthought if at all.

Her work matters. This is not news to me.

That it matters to others and will for years to come puts a smile on my face.
joshwriting: (Default)
Three years ago, long about now, my mother died abruptly, though she had been dying in quiet (and not so quiet) ways for a while, before and after we noticed.

She left behind 2 and a half novels, 5 children's books (4 of which had peel-and-sticks), and a broad variety of poetry, including her (almost) epic quasi-children's poem-story, Ermengard Bear.

As the yahrzeit candle burns down, I'm contemplating what to do with her works. I like her writing, for the most part, but that does not mean there is a market for it. I kind of like the idea of tampering with it - bringing the out-of-date pieces up to date or twisting them to make the out-of-date parts work in a modern or beyond-modern world.

Yet, I am somewhat daunted. I am not among those who has every done NaNoWriMo nor even written any complete fiction longer than perhaps 10 pages (unless you count my research papers and technical writing documents). To rewrite, to undo and redo what was carefully written by my mother, may be a bigger task than I can handle - or than I really want to handle.

Yet, if I wish to give her work a longer life than my own death, something more must be done than merely having them on an unlinked, unsought, unlooked at website.

There are parts of my mother that I miss, parts that I would share given my druthers. Some of these are reflected in her writing. Some are reflected in mine.

Perhaps I can make this 4th year after her death the year in which either Moonlight in Gstaad or Fandango make there way from my own personal slush pile into the light of day (or laptop screen).

After all, I have homework that needs procrastinating from! And if anything would be a fitting tribute to my relationship with my mother - beyond my having gotten my undergrad degree on her birthday - it would be putting off my class assignments to work on her novels!

Farewell to the Court

Like truthless dreams, so are my joys expir'd,
And past return are all my dandled days;
My love misled, and fancy quite retir'd
Of all which pass'd the sorrow only stays.

My lost delights, now clean from sight of land,
Have left me all alone in unknown ways;
My mind to woe, my life in fortune's hand
Of all which pass'd the sorrow only stays.

As in a country strange, without companion,
I only wail the wrong of death's delays,
Whose sweet spring spent, whose summer well-nigh done
Of all which pass'd only the sorrow stays.

Whom care forewarns, ere age and winter cold,
To haste me hence to find my fortune's fold.

Sir Walter Raleigh
joshwriting: (Default)
"Goodnight!" I've said a dozen times.
And yet she lingers near.
"I wonder, Mother, will it rain?
Why can't I wear that blouse again?

And is it true,
For I've heard it said,
That each man finds his mate?

And can you tell me
How it is
That x must equal 8?

She's getting older, that I know.
She used to ask for water,
And one more kiss, and one hug more,
Til Sleep crept up and caught her.

Water... kisses... now are past.
Her mind's a broader sweep.
And yet it's only camouflage.
"Do I have to go to sleep?"



Dec. 20th, 2009 12:18 am
joshwriting: (Default)
We're lovers still. His hand
Holds mine in warm, familiar clasp.
The rusting gate is slow to close.
I must repair the hasp.

We're sweethearts yet. His arm
Around my shoulders holds me near.
This room is chill. The months
Fall on to the bottom of the year.

We're grown so old. His eyes
Hold love as he turns round to me.
"Sit down, my dear, and rest awhile.
I'll brew a pot of tea."

joshwriting: (Default)
As most of you know, my mother died a bit more than a year and a half ago. Since then, slowly (if not surely), I've been weeding her paperwork and out-of-date reference books (college guides and phone books).

As I unearthed her (downstairs) desk and the stacks of paper on the floor beneath it, I was struck how much I am my mother's child - and not always in the best ways.

The sheets of mostly used mailing labels, with one strip of unprinted labels left at the bottom...

The multiple copies of different stages of drafts of writing, stacked but not recycled...

The records of clients who she helped into college, and who have gone through and out again long since - and left over mailing lists never used, equally out of date...

Blank forms for potential college financial aid applicants - for 1999/2000, 2000/2001, 2001/2002...

Three staplers.

On the desk.

In the back of my mind, I hear her explaining why they are all there... it's perfectly rational - but wrong.

I think I will print out a copy or two of this, just in case...


Mar. 5th, 2009 10:35 pm
joshwriting: (Default)
By the Jewish calendar, a year has passed since my mother's death, though a few days remain on the Christian calendar - a calendar to which, honestly, I am more responsive than that of my ancestors.

Still, the concept of yahrzeit and the burning of a yahrzeit candle make more than a certain sense to me. So, we lit the candle to mark the passage of time and the memory of Frances Shaine.

And oh! my love, for you.
High birds crying, and a
High sky flying, and a
High wind driving, and a
High heart striving, and a
High brave place for you!

-- Paul Linebarger


Sep. 23rd, 2008 09:27 pm
joshwriting: (Default)
I read the new Dick Francis book today.

It's the first time that I have read one of his in which I could not call up my mother to share with her the pleasure, let her know it was coming if I'd gotten it first, etc.

I've noted before that it was she who introduced me to science fiction and fantasy, but mystery, generally, was more her genre as an adult and there, too, she brought me along. Christie, Marsh, Tey, and a hot of others...

Dick Francis was very much a part of that - and a special part, as he was one of her special favorites. So, for example, the chance to get her an autographed Francis was a treat.

So, mom...

until I have written one, I suppose, this one's for you.



Jun. 3rd, 2008 12:32 am
joshwriting: (Default)
I was up at my parents' father's house earlier today. He's not there; he's got a new job (at 84) that took him to London.

The changes since my mother died, 2.5 months ago, are striking. So, too, are the things that are not yet changed.

He's gotten new checks printed, with just his name on them. He's cleaned off reams and cases of paperwork - only some of which has made it to my house... He's stacked books she was reading off into this corner or that. As I looked at things set aside, some of them told me stories or revised my memories of things that had happened.

Understand, I have no sense of time. So, I am not always going to be sure of the order of events. Caveat finished... At some point in the year before she died, I picked up The Thief Lord DVD for her to read. She'd introduced me to Cornelia Funke, after all, so it only seemed fair that I offer her that for her viewing pleasure.

She seemed confused at the time, and unsure of what I spoke when I mentioned the author and books to her. I wrote it off to vagueness at the time. It was, of course, a result of her mental deterioration. (And the more I reflect on that last year of her life, the more elements of it I can see. 20/30 hindsight, doncha know?)

I found and claimed a portrait of me that I had given her, by Frank Kelly Freas. I'll probably scan and post it at some point - it is from the early 80's, I believe. I reclaimed a framed print that I'd given her that had never found its way onto a wall. The glass is a little stained, but I can clean it. It's got a little girl with a toy Space Shuttle, a telescope in her room, and the moon shining brightly through her window. Not sure what year that went to her, but certainly not in the last decade.

My father had asked me to "remove that half-log" from his office, already. It took me a while to figure out what he meant, but I did and have done. It had two painted stone owls inserted into holes in the wood. One of the owls fell out a few years ago, I guess, but I figured out what room it had been in before the office, where it was sitting on the floor, and there was the second owl. Did I give her this? Probably, if only because I can't imagine its having come from one of the other kids.

A portrait of her when she was fairly young - 11 or maybe as old as 13 - is sitting on the floor in another room, leaning on a wall with the picture turned in so her face cannot be seen.

She fretted the last year or two that the first books of her Oz set and her Patty Fairfield series were missing. She suspected that one or another worker had made off with them, and she may well have been right. In February, one of my local used book stores had an Oz book that I knew she had neither read nor even seen. I put it on layaway to get her as a present. I suppose I need to complete that purchase at some point, one way or the other.

The house felt very odd with him gone and her presence absent.

The world feels very odd with her presence absent.
joshwriting: (Default)
The sun has set this flaming day.
(That verse was penned by E. Millay.)
The snow fall's soft; the pony's lost.
(That stanza's famous: Robert Frost.)

When I would plumb the Soul's dim core,
It's Henley's, glimpsed from foreign shore.
And when the seas my thoughts immersed,
I find that Masefield got there first.

England fair or murder foul?
I'm shrouded deep in Shakespeare's cowl.
And Love's warm whisper, sweet and clear?
Then Barrett-Brownings' voice I hear.

I know no single verse unversed,
No ode uncoded, curse uncursed.
There's just one realm whose bard I be:
The expert's I; the subject's me.

Frances Shaine
1929 - 2008


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