One Green Eye and One Brown

Writing Prompt:  “I have one green eye and one brown eye.  The green one sees truth, but the brown eye sees much, much more.”

I was born with two green eyes, but the one brown eye developed over time.  The green eye sees what exists at this point in time.  The brown eye has learned over time to see intentions — both good and malicious.

My grandmother always wanted a brown-eyed child — but my mother had green eyes, and her brother blue.  My grandma wanted a brown-eyed grandchild, but I had green eyes, and my brother blue.  My uncle’s sons had blue eyes, too.  I married a brown-eyed Native American man, but still my sons both have light eyes — my older boy’s are blue-grey, and my younger son’s green like mine.  We all tried so hard to please my brown-eyed grandmother, but to no avail.

Had events occurred as Grandma had intended, we would all have brown eyes.  But blue- and green-eyed descendants are the existing fact.  Grandma’s brown eye saw many things over her years, though.

After my grandmother’s passing, I began to see the world more through her eyes.  Distrust, malice, greed, and other such ugliness became much more pronounced.  It was at every corner.  No wonder she had chosen to live such an isolated lifestyle.  Nearly a hermit.  My right eye turned a slight shade darker.

My mother always felt that she had been a disappointment in her mother’s eyes.  As my mother watched me grow professionally, she’d shake her head and smile, her green eyes watering, saying “You’re the daughter my mother always wanted.”  She meant it as a compliment, but it hurt.  I was the daughter her mother had always wanted, but not the daughter that my mother had always wanted?  She said this quite often.  One day, it was more than I could handle.  I confronted her on it.

She was shocked and horrified that I had taken it that way.  She burst into tears and yelled out, wounded.  Of course I was the daughter she wanted, but she saw in me accomplishments and drive that her mother had pushed her for, but she had been unable to deliver.  Seeing deeper into that meaning and intent changed things for the better.  That she might be in her sixties, but inside was very much a wounded child who felt she would never measure up.  My right eye changed another shade that day — closer to hazel.

I lost my mother to colon cancer not long after that.  I had become nearly alone in the world.  My dad had been taken by lung cancer and pneumonia.  My mom’s mother was lost to heart failure and diabetes.  Mom’s dad was taken by Parkinson’s and pneumonia.  Dad’s mom was taken by diabetes.  Dad’s dad was lost to heart failure.  My marriage was never strong, and didn’t survive all the loss.  It was down to just me and my two boys.

In my older son’s senior year of high school, he was very active in Show Choir.  With a long, lean build, each day I saw less and less of his father in him, and more of my dad.  Just before graduation, he performed in the school’s Dinner Show fundraiser.  The theme was “Wild West”.  He had been working on setup, and I hadn’t seen him before the show.  As he walked on stage, I saw what he was wearing — my mom’s dad’s black Western shirt with white pearl snap buttons, a red bandana, and a black cowboy hat.  No one else in the group was wearing all black but him.  Instead, he stood out against a sea of various plaids and checkers.  He was an amazing mixture of my mom’s and dad’s sides.

The first song they performed was “Rawhide” — one of my mom’s favourites.  The song had always had her smiling.  I lost it and started crying.  Each time my tears were nearly under control, another piece of the performance set me off again.

Another song they sang was “Earth Angel”.  As my son stepped to the front for his solo at the microphone, he removed the cowboy hat and held it over his heart as he sang.  So heartfelt and sincere.  What a wonderful young man!

After the performance, he came down into the audience and gave me a hug before he started helping with tear-down and clean-up.  I told him how very proud I was of him; that all his grandmas and grandpas would be so proud of him, too.  I told him that I forgave him then and there for anything he’d ever done wrong in the past 18 years, and that I apologised for every cross word I’d ever spoken to him.  He smiled and cried, trying to choke it back.  He hugged me again, even tighter, before he had to leave and get to work.

That next morning, I woke to find my right eye had turned the deepest, darkest brown.

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Love Lost in Maine

ImageStepping into the sacred space was like a portal back in time.  No one specific time.  More of a plane open and safe for all ages to comingle at once.

The mist in the air grew thicker as I stepped through this old graveyard.  The grass wet around my tenni-shoes.  Searching for old Colonial names linked to my own family.

As the search continued, my clothes became more soaked with moisture.  The weather progressed to a full drizzle of rain.  Nothing on my person was safe from the wet.  Even my camera clasped in my hand inside my jacket pocket had small droplets smeared away as much as possible.

I had met such a lovely man today.  One in the flesh.  Intelligent and sweet.  We learned a lot about each other in a very short period of time.  His girlfriend had died of cancer.  Young.

He was working.  Captain of a small foot ferry.  Between stops on the route, I was the only passenger on board.  He gave his deck hand a turn at the wheel while he took a chance at visiting with me.  I’m glad he did.

The rain is now dripping from my hair.  Dripping off the end of my nose.  I push on.

Putting myself in the shoes of both the deceased and their loved ones left behind.  The poetry inscribed upon stones.  Some of these are from an era so long gone that any mourning survivors have surely also passed on.  Was there a joyous reunion?  Or were there still matters to be settled?  Why is it so much easier for me to make connections and establish relationships with the Dead rather than the Living?

That dearheart of a man is only a couple of blocks away from here.  He’s on the dock in the harbour.  Waiting for his next scheduled run across the saltwater.  He thinks I’m long gone down the road to a more urban locale.  He has no idea that I’m just up the hill behind the thick swath of evergreens.

Does he know?  On some level?  That I am still so close by on this damp summer day on the mid-coast of rugged Maine?  Is there something tugging at him to come after me?

This narrow cemetery seems to stretch on and on in length.  Just when I think I’m nearing the edge, I see another section peeking out of the trees around the bend.  I can’t get any wetter.  I push on.

He said he has trouble finding a girl with his same interests.  He described a simple life.  Building boats out of milk cartons.  It sounded nice.  He expressed an interest in travel.  Says he wants to see the coast in Washington and Oregon.  Says he might be out this Fall.  So he has my number.

His eyes told me not to go.  I offered we could go to lunch right then if he had some free time.  He said “sure”, but shuffled his feet and never suggested a place.  I offered we could go warm up over some coffee.  His eyes danced and sparkled, but his mouth did not cooperate.  He still did not take the next step in the dance to move us across the dance floor.

So here I wander through the varying slabs of rock.  Doing a slow dance alone.  Finding company in the shadows of souls that once were.  Spinning thoughts and hopes in my mind.

He asked where I was headed next on my journey.  Westbrook.  Yes, near Portland.  He said it’s a nice area.  I’ve never been, but there are more pieces of myself scattered there.  I have to go see.

He says he wishes he could come with me.  I wish he would, too.  Yes, we just met.  Yes, he has to work another run this afternoon.  So instead I try for a smooth and sexy exit.  Hoping he calls.

My phone is charging in the car – and staying dry.  At the end of each section of the cemetery, I go back across the street to pull my car up further down the path.  Checking my phone for missed calls or texts from an unrecognised number.  Preferably with a Maine area code.

The call never comes.

I reach the end of the cemetery.  Giving up on hope, or so I tell myself, retracing my steps back across the narrow unlined road.  Effectively a one-lane road that is carefully used as a two-way street.  My car only fits halfway onto the hint of a shoulder.  Cars pass by me now.  Probably looking curiously at the drowned rat walking upright.

Turn on the truck.  Turn the heater and vents all the way up.  Hang my jacket backwards on the passenger seat to dry.  Driving away, there is a sign for Webb’s Cove.  Pull over and take another picture in the rain.  I have to keep going, though.  Will just have to come back this way another time.

This is only my first time through here; not my last.