Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pockets Full of Happy

Relaxation and Peace

Our weekend down in North Carolina was short, but so relaxing and memorable.

This was to be the first time my daughter and her family met Robert, and he them, and it was a good fit all the way around.

It was a short visit, but I've come to the conclusion that sometimes, without ever meaning to, we actually get more from having less ... how can that be?

For one thing, my son-in-law was there the entire weekend, something I've missed on other visits to their home. He's had umpteen deployments, numerous floats, and the innumerable training missions.

I guess I've always tried to time my visits during those absences so my daughter would have me, at least for a little while, and not feel so alone when he was away. I've learned he's facing another deployment after the first of the year, so I know I'll be planning another visit during that time, too.

It had been over a year. I loved getting reacquainted with my three grandchildren and collecting and distributing the long-saved hugs and kisses.

I again enjoyed the comical, sometimes puzzling, language of "toddler-speak" with Halloran, having the recent visit from my two Connecticut toddler grandsons still fresh in my mind. (She is the spitting image of her mother at that age, both in looks and in actions).

I loved the amazing pre-teen conversations with Will Jr., and I adored playing a special indoor version of frisbee with Matty -- for those of you who don't know, indoor frisbee must be played with a plastic dinner plate from Halloran's little kitchen set ... necessity really is the mother of invention ...

Saturday, we watched football and talked non-stop and Sunday, we went to the beach on base at Camp LeJeune. It was perfect -- white sand, shells everywhere, and plenty of what I had hoped to find: sharks' teeth. They're there, if you know how to look for them. Then Sunday night, everyone pitched in to cook a meal designed for royalty.

I was amazed at the amount of love we packed into our two and a half days together, without actually being packed in -- it all just happened, just like it was meant to.

While I would love to have spent another few days gathering even more memories, I have to say, I left with my pockets full of happy ...

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write."~CJ Heck

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jacksonville, NC

Before I get too busy and forget, I wanted to tell you I'll be gone over the weekend, so I won't be posting on my blogs until after my return. Robert and I are heading south to Jacksonville, North Carolina, to visit my youngest daughter and her family. It's been fourteen long months and I'm so homesick for them I can't stand it.

I've written about this little gal on here before. Her husband is a Marine forced recon sniper, and he's now on the downhill side of having 20-years in. He's routinely away, three tours already in both Iraq and Afghanistan, training missions, floats, etc., and out of necessity, she's become quite adept at raising three children, paying the bills and running the household in his absence. Her two oldest, both boys, are autistic, which makes things even harder for her.

If ever there was such a thing as 'the perfect military wife', my daughter is one. She's a petite, outgoing, witty, take-charge (even pushy, if she has to be) sort of lady, who swears like a longshoreman, which at times makes me cringe, but hey, she spends her time shopping at Camp LeJeune, is married to a Marine, and she's continually battling with the military for whatever help she can get for her two autistic sons, so I cut her some slack in that department.

Funny thing is, she's always been that way, inwardly driven, even as a child. I remember one summer when we lived in Indiana and our yard butted up to the 8th hole of a golf course. We had made plans to take the three girls to Disneyland for a week during summer vacation. My ex, a banker, told them they had to work and save up to have spending money to take with them. The two older girls babysat and did various yard jobs around the neighborhood to earn money.

Not quite old enough to babysit yet, my youngest daughter decided to go the entrepreneur route and sell cans of soda from her red wagon right at the 8th hole on the golf course. Keep in mind, this was almost thirty years ago, during safer times. Anyway, she withdrew some money from her savings and we headed to the grocery store. She bought two cases of soda at a cost of twenty cents a can and then sold them for fifty cents each to grateful golfers as they arrived at the 8th hole. (Of course, I watched her like a hawk from my picture window). When she ran out of soda, we repeated our trip to the grocery. She made over $200 that summer, selling soda to the golfers.

I remember we had a great time at Disneyworld, and all three girls learned something valuable that summer. The value of hard work has followed them through their lives -- and my youngest still has a good head for business, except what the military pays doesn't really give her much chance to put those skills to good use ... I know I can't wait to get there. I'll be sure and give them all a big hug from you, too.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Going Forward

A very dear friend contacted me a few years ago to tell me about the untimely death of someone very close to her.  It had been years since we'd talked, but I listened as she told me all about him, that's what friends do, even when it felt uncomfortable.  Sadly, I would be unable to attend the funeral, several states away, due to a prior commitment, and I regretted that I couldn't be there to support my friend in her grief. 

She and I went back a lot of years as friends.  She was the outgoing, zany one of our little duo.  She could make any situation seem like the most hysterical adventure in the world.  She could also be philosophical, though, and I remember long walks, and even longer talks, about anything and everything.  I miss her.

The other day while I was browsing the internet, I came across this wonderful poem by David Harkins.  I immediately thought of my friend and that phone call about her friend, years ago.  How appropriate for anyone who has lost someone very dear to them.  I want to reprint this today for you, for my friend, for everyone ...  

"You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live in yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow, because of yesterday.
You can remember him only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he would want:
smile, open your eyes and your heart,
love, and go on.”
~David Harkins

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Children's Poem: "The Blue Bird"

Blue Bird
When I was a little girl, we had a huge old apple tree in the side yard. It's long branches came within inches of my bedroom window.

The tree was well past its prime and I can't remember it ever bearing more than one or two apples in a season -- and those weren't very good. That didn't matter, though, because it was a great climbing tree.

 My siblings and I would climb way up and then out onto the massive branches to look down on those who were playing on the ground.

I remember sitting up there for hours just listening to the sounds of summer, or getting lost between the pages of a favorite book.

In the mornings, the most amazing little blue bird would visit me. He sat on the closest branch to my bedroom window in the old apple tree. It always fascinated me, the way he just sat there staring at me while I stared at him. I pretended to have conversations with him, wondering what it would be like to be a bird.

Then one day, during the summer I turned eleven, we had a huge thunderstorm. I always loved storms, still do, but I remember the wind howled and the lightning and thunder put on an epic show. 

Suddenly, there was a loud C-R-A-C-K. A bolt of lightning had hit the old apple tree and split it right down the middle. Both halves lay across from each other in the yard.  To this day, I still don't know how either of the halves missed hitting our house.

Anyway, this poem for children came from those summers with the little blue bird and the old apple tree ...

The Blue Bird

by CJ Heck

If I could be an animal
I think I’d like to be
just like the little blue bird
that’s sitting in my tree.

I look at him and wonder
what it’s like when you can fly.
I’ll bet the world looks beautiful
from up there in the sky.

There would be no traffic jams
or stop signs in the air.
No bumpy roads with potholes
would ever be up there.

Each night I wish upon the stars
that I could be a bird
but it never ever happened,
so I don't think they heard.

But I’d miss my mom and dad
and who’d be there at night
to help me brush my teeth
and tuck me in real tight?

He looks at me each morning
from the same branch in my tree.
While I sit wishing I was him,
is he wishing he was me?

(from the book, "Barking Spiders 2", by CJ Heck

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"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letter to My Grandchildren ...

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids and, looking back, I'm afraid we actually made things worse for them.

For my grandchildren, I would like so much more. I would really like for them to know about hand-me-down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches ...

Playing in the Mud and Loving it

To my Precious Grandchildren:

[Edited by CJ Heck]

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated.

I hope you learn to make your own bed, rake the leaves, mow the lawn and wash the car. And I'm sorry, but I really hope no one gives you a brand new car when you turn sixteen.

It would be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you honestly believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother or sister. And it's all right, if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when they want to crawl under the covers with you because they are scared, I hope you will let them.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother or sister wants to tag along, I hope you'll allow them to come along.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't ask your driver to drop you two blocks away, so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as Mom or Dad.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and, after a hard rain, make mud pies and splash in the puddles.

I hope you can watch a thunderstorm from your front porch and lie in the grass at night counting stars and making hundreds of wishes.

I hope you'll climb a tree and build a tree house, and if you fall out, get back up and climb it all over again.

I hope you'll always find time to get lost in a book and if it's sad, that you'll cry out loud.

I want you to learn to use computers, but I hope you will also learn to add and subtract in your head ...

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush, and when you talk back to your mother, you'll learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain.

May you burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole just one time, so you'll learn to never do either again.

I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is NOT your friend.

I hope you make time to sit on a porch swing with Grandma, go fishing with Grandpa, and ice skating on a pond with your Uncle.

May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs and kisses you at Hannukah, or Christmas, when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you -- tough times, disappointment, hard work, but most of all, happiness. To me, it's the only way to truly learn about and appreciate life.

Written with a pen.
Sealed with a kiss.
I'm always here for you.
... and if I die before you do, I'll go to heaven and watch over you.

[Original Author Unknown]

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose -- and you know that you're in love when the hardest thing to do is say good-bye.

This is for all you lovers out there who have ever loved and lost ...

I Remember Then
by CJ Heck

I remember
many things
about those
days, and you.
I remember
staring into
brown eyes
as though
I couldn't get
enough of them,
then burning
the love
I saw there
into a memory
to keep
for all time.
I remember
how with you,
total silence
could be so
and how it
was the only
time in my life
I ever felt
that to be so.
I remember
how safe I
felt with you.
Even the way
you said my name
was different
from how others
said it
and I remember
thinking then
that even my name
was safe
in your mouth.
I remember
how sometimes
we made love
all night
and stayed
in bed all day,
then skinny
to cool down
the places
the lovemaking
heated up.
I remember
lying in your
arms in the
and thinking
how profound
it was,
the way
the brain
hitched a ride
when the body
did all the work.
You were
my miracle
in our own
short season.
And it makes
me remember
the last time
I saw you
I will never
forget the pain
of my loss.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

A Poet for a Lover

Okay, folks, I'm going out on a limb with this one.  Since I'm predominantly a children's author, I don't usually post things like this, but today I'm feeling bold and courageous ... and after all, I am a woman first. You'll have to let me know what you think ...

A Poet For a Lover
by CJ Heck

Oh Lord,
give me a poet
for a lover
whose words
stroke me
like velvet hands.
caresses more
reaching than
the caress of a
mere mortal man.
A poet's
light touch
is so gentle.
probe deep
every time,
arousing me,
haunting me,
wetting me,
seducing me,
body and mind.
Oh Lord,
give me a poet
for a lover!
Lust and fire
burn in
his heart.
A silver-tongued
devil whose
words make
me ache
to be on
my knees
in the dark.
making me
want him,
only mind-loved,
I want to be free
to feel
just one time
my poet inside,
where only
up to now
has loved me.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

At The Cemetery

When Love is Gone
by CJ Heck

I watched 
in guilty silence
feeling like
an uninvited
voyeur as an 
elderly woman 
slowly tucked 
a folded missive 
under the vase
on a flat 
As our eyes 
met, I felt 
her thoughts.
The wheels 
of time 
keep churning,
turning days 
and months 
to years
till the days 
become a lifetime
and still 
we miss 
the ones
who are gone.
Like a bucket 

with a hole
the sands 
of love sift 
through, yet 
the cold granite 
at our feet
belies the warmth 
yet in our hearts
and the words 
etched there below,
like dry ice, 
burn the soul.
After the old 
woman left,
I felt compelled 
to read 
her words:
"I’ll always 
love you.
I hope you like 
the roses"

and I cried.

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