Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Weathering the storms

By Rebecca Hertz


Today is my father’s birthday. He turns 88 years old. As a child, the idea that someone could be 88 years old was something I simply could not fathom. But as an adult in my 60s, years take on a different perspective. 


Like me, Dad tends to be a worrier. We worry about things we have absolutely no control over. But unlike me he is calm. That is an enviable quality I wish I could possess. He has the ability to live in the moment – where as I am always looking ahead, planning for every impending disaster that I am sure will come. My brain is always creating contingency plans for every possible scenario. In doing so, the joy of the present passes me by. But his calmness helps me weather the storms.


Last August, with the scorching Texas heat, the promise of a coming winter seemed so inviting. In Texas we don’t hold out much hope for the changing colors of fall or new beginnings of spring to segue into the harsher seasons. Any inkling of fall or spring disappears in the blink of an eye. 


The weather here can change quickly. It’s not surprising to see 80-degrees drop to 50 or lower in a matter of hours. Winter can last for a few days or go on for months on end. Warm spring-like days punctuate the weeks. Like bookends, they frame episodes of snow flurries and ice storms - teasing glimpses of hope that spring has arrived only to be cut short when the frigid north wind pushes south, blowing the warmth away.


For a couple of months it looked like we would have a mild winter escaping the characteristic “blue northers” or ice storms that are commonplace between November and April. But alas, it was not to be, as Mother Nature blessed our parched prairie with some ice and snow just last week. 


I admit to enjoying a few “snow days” away from work. If the power stays on, there’s no reason not to just relax and enjoy it. Just don’t get out on the roads. People here don’t get the concept of slowing down when driving on ice. Every red neck in an oversized pickup truck or yuppie in a Hummer presents a “real and present” danger to everyone else on the road. 


Weather and its complete unpredictability make me crazy – OK crazier. Things that I can’t control or at least spend weeks preparing for – well, you see where I’m going here. It’s possible that I’m a little bit OCD. I am most comfortable when I can plan ahead, and then make dozens of contingency plans for what might happen if things don’t go the way I expect. 


As one might imagine, weather can be particularly challenging for me. 


This is where Dad comes in. He knows how I am about the weather. If there is anything at all going on meteorologically, I can count on him to give me a heads up or at the very least check on me. As confidant and self sufficient as I profess to be, I really need him to check on me. It makes me feel like I am not totally alone. 


I remember years ago when my oldest daughter was just a baby and there were tornadoes all around Dallas County. I was terrified and absolutely sure both myself and that tiny defenseless creature were going to perish. I wasn’t just afraid – I was certain this was going to happen. So, of course, I called Daddy. He was postmaster at the DeSoto station at the time and I’m sure he had more urgent things to deal with as the tornado sirens blared and people were taking cover, than to talk to talk to me. But he did. In a calm voice he told me where to take cover and reassured me. He made me feel like I could manage the situation. He made me feel safe.


Since that day, I always hear from him when things get dicey. He calls to make sure I’m not stupid enough to go out on icy roads – that nothing, not even work is worth taking a risk with my safety. And usually I’m right where I should be waiting out the storm or lingering conditions. But even so, just hearing his calm, comforting voice and that “I love you” before we hang up makes me feel like he’s right here watching over me – keeping me safe like when I was a terrified scrawny little kid snuggling up next to him during an early summer thunderstorm.


On that afternoon the skies were so black it seemed like nighttime had settled over our house. The hot winds shifted and the air was chilled. We walked through the house together opening windows before settling on the nubby beige sectional sofa in the living room. Then we watched an afternoon baseball game on our black and white Motorola. As I scrunched up next to him, as close as I could get without climbing up in his arms, he narrated the game, explaining the rules and offering details about the teams and which one we were rooting for. I’m not a sports fan by any definition of the term, but that day I hung on every word and focused intently on every swing and foul ball. 


Eventually the storm passed and the clouds parted. I’m sure I scampered off to roller skate or ride my bike leaving him to watch the rest of the game like nothing had ever happened. But the event stayed with me. And whenever the winds of change blow through, he is the one I turn to and he never disappoints me. 

Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Hertz


Faith

By Rebecca Hertz


This morning I ran head-on into one of my neighbors. I credit that to the time change. Normally I am outdoors when everyone else is fast asleep, wrapped in the warm cocoon of crumpled sheets and down comforters fitting our recent stint of frigid, snowy weather. 


Although it is considerably warmer this morning and rainy, there is still a tiny pyramid of snow in the courtyard – the remnant of a small snowman built by someone in the complex.


The woman I encountered is one of only two black people residing in the condos where I live. Both are single females, as am I. The complex is a throwback from the 1950s with a pool in the center surrounded by 30 or so one- and two-bedroom units. It is a charming place – quiet, once you learn to tune out the planes that fly over taking off and landing at Love Field only a few blocks away. 


She was dressed in her Sunday best – black dress, heels and matching hat. A handsome suit- and tie-clad gentleman was waiting patiently in the parking lot. They were obviously headed to church.


I see her often, early on weekday mornings as we both head off to work. I assume that she is a doctor, nurse or other medical professional from the scrubs she wears and our close proximity to the hospital district. 


She is friendly and always speaks in passing. She smiles. Not the fake smile you put on when speaking to people you don’t really know – but a genuine warm smile. I think she must be kind and compassionate – at least that is what I would like her to be.


She works rotating hours – sometimes days, sometimes nights. Her posture is confident. She seems to know who she is; and I am envious. She radiates optimism. 


Seeing her depart this morning to worship, I wonder if that optimism I sense is simply her faith. Because my own faith tends to wax and wane with daily circumstances, I have difficulty imagining or believing in the possibility of a complete and unquestioning devotion. 


But I find this woman inspiring. I want to be like her, exhibiting both strength and the softness of femininity. I want to capture that - to embark on the world each day into a total unknown, feeling secure in my abilities to face whatever challenges the day holds and at the end of the day releasing any transgressions or regrets to the universe to be forgiven so that tomorrow, a new day is truly a new beginning.


This woman and I may not share the same beliefs, but that doesn’t matter. Whatever power guides us and gives us the strength to persevere is equal. We don’t have to be the same. But I am fortunate to have encountered her. Perhaps this is the universe encouraging me to set the bar higher, strive to be better and kinder to those around me and to myself - or to just have a little faith. 

 Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Hertz



Daylight Savings Time

By Rebecca Hertz


It is Sunday morning. A gentle rain makes a tinny sound on the corrugated metal awning of the carport. I’m comfortably sipping my morning coffee and enjoying the early hours before my neighbors step out to start their day.


Last night marked the beginning of daylight savings time. We were instructed to “spring forward” obliterating an hour to stay in sync with the mandated change.


I despise daylight savings time. I hate that I am required to make this change. I pay my taxes. I obey traffic laws. I endure long lines at airport security checks. I drink fluoridated water. I understand that these things are often necessary for public welfare and safety and in some cases even logical (well fluoridation may be questionable), but do “they” really have to mess with time? 


I am excessively time oriented. In most cases I know approximately what time it is without looking at a clock. Because I am so obsessive about time and being on time, I have given up wearing a watch and I have to control my need to constantly look at my cell phone to check the time. I can actually look up at the sun and get a reasonable approximation of the hour. But daylight savings time really throws me off my game. 


Is daylight savings time really necessary?


DST is supposed to “save energy and make better use of daylight hours” and has been used at various times throughout history according to timeanddate.com. In my lifetime, because the states had the choice of whether or not to adopt the policy, creating much confusion for the transportation industry, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966 mandating that DST would begin the last Sunday in April and end the last Sunday in October. States still had the authority to refuse compliance.


In 1974-75 DST was extended to save energy because of the 1973 oil embargo, but there were still complaints largely pertaining to public safety.


Now more than 70 countries use DST. In the United States, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the schedule to begin the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November, approximately seven months. Within the 50 states, only Hawaii and parts of Arizona do not observe the time change.


And so it is. For the next few months, until my body and senses acclimate to the forced time change, instead of arriving at my destination an hour early, I will likely find myself flitting away two hours when I should be doing something more productive. The upside is an extra hour to take a deep breath or get lost in the prose of a good novel and maybe just stop worrying about what’s going to happen in the next minute or hour or day and just live in the moment.

Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Hertz



Panties

By Rebecca Hertz


This morning, pulling together my clothes for the workday, I selected a leopard print bra and striped panties of random color.


I almost switched to a white bra so that my bra and panties would match. Not because matching undergarments are something I particularly care about, but because looking at the clashing patterns, I flashed back to my mom telling me to be sure I put on clean underwear before leaving the house in the morning on the off-chance I was in an accident – as if good hygiene wasn’t a good enough reason.


The concern was that in the event of this dreaded accident, some stranger might learn that I had on yesterday’s panties and my reputation would be ruined for life. I can only imagine the penalty for mismatched patterns and colors.


I would be the girl and eventually the grown woman that people stared at and whispered about as she walked down the street of our small town - that rebellious child who didn’t heed her mother’s advice. My reputation tainted, I would be shunned from all good society - or at least weekly meetings of Campfire Girls and Brownies. There would be no cotillion for me. As a Protestant, I would have no avenue for confession of my transgression – no hope of a heavenly pardon.


Mothers would drag their small children across the street avoiding proximity to the house where I lived an isolated existence. Aging and alone with only my menagerie of cats or dogs or birds or possums – whatever shunned spinsters trapped inside their dwellings kept for companionship – a literal captive audience to the deranged rants that would inevitably come as the madness consumed my mind.  


Before sealing my fate and mental capacity, I can justify my choices. And rest assured that the garments in question were laundered only yesterday.


The animal print bra happens to be the most comfortable one I own and the striped skivvies are “high rise” and don’t show under my skirt. This is no doubt more than anyone wants or needs to know about my intimate apparel.


But even with this logic – for a fleeting moment I felt that twinge of uncertainty, a reminder of my mother’s directive and the example she set.  Maybe it was more than a twinge. Perhaps I just enjoy an opportunity to keep her watching over my shoulder if only for a few minutes.


Mom was a bit of a rebel and certainly a trend-setter in her own right, on occasion to the chagrin of her daughters. But I guarantee that under every “over-the-top” outfit she wore, her pristine undergarments were perfectly coordinated.

Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Hertz



A Rail Adventure

By Rebecca Hertz


It is seldom that my father reminisces with me about his childhood antics and adventures but recently the subject of trains came up and he started talking about riding the train from Fort Worth to Chico to spend the summer with his grandparents. He couldn’t give me an exact age, just that he was a young boy.

 

“I was a little kid,” he said “They would put me on the train and the conductor would look out for me.”

 

I have a picture in my mind of a lanky young boy with wavy auburn hair and freckles boarding the train looking back to his parents for reassurance before accepting the conductor’s outreached hand to embark on his adventure.

 

Chico is about 60 miles from Fort Worth, so the journey was likely a couple of hours. Knowing my grandmother, she probably packed him something to eat on the trip – maybe a sandwich or a slice of the wonderfully sweet and fragrant pound cake I remember so well. There was a hint of almond flavor, deep brown crusty edges that melted in your mouth and a firm moist texture that would have only been spoiled with a frosting.

 

He didn’t go into much detail about his solo rail experience, but I can imagine that once he was safely deposited in Chico he would spend his days on the farm basking in the ample doting of loving grandparents. There would be chores but also the freeing wide-open spaces to wander and explore – a departure from life in town. The air would smell fresher, the food more flavorful, and sleep more restful after a full day outdoors.

 

When I was growing up plane travel was increasing popularity and affordability and the shiny silver passenger cars filled with a blur of mysterious faces headed to unknown destinations that so piqued my curiosity were disappearing.

 

Until a couple of years ago, I had never traveled anywhere by train. My maiden trip was from Fort Worth to Temple.

 

It was a Sunday afternoon, a clear autumn day, and the route from Fort Worth to Austin brought sleepy college students still feeling the affects of their weekend partying. While they appeared to have the best of intentions to use the travel time studying, those efforts waned as they succumbed to sleep leaving textbooks and notepad strewn across the seats before the train ever left the station.

 

Other passengers adjusted, settled into books and magazines, but once the gentle rocking of the cars was underway, the novels and biographies were abandoned for the mesmerizing view of the Fort Worth factories and train yard.

 

Like traveling on a commercial airline, there was a tray table (locked in its upright position) and the seat pocket held a laminated card illustrating the safety features of the “luxury liner” but without instructions to use the seat cushion as a flotation device, oxygen mask information or drawings of emergency inflatable slides for escape. It was mostly common sense advice – don’t get off a moving train, don’t stand on the tracks or encourage a child to do so (as if someone would do that).

 

The engineer announced our departure, tickets were collected and the train crept from the station with a back and forth boat-like rocking motion. Amid the silence of sleeping students, only the whistle and the rumble of the wheels down the tracks and across the ties could be heard. Moving under the Mixmaster and past the massive complex of grain elevators it was easy to become lost in a time warp - to imagine an era when the yard was bustling with activity instead of littered with broken windows and idle train cars waiting for the call to service.

 

The train picked up speed as it crossed the first intersection at Morningside Drive and on past cluttered backyards of broken down old houses with rusty chain-link fences and oblivious children playing in the sunshine. Dorm-like project housing gave way to green parks trimmed in red-tipped shrubs. Colorful graffiti covered the concrete walls of the underpasses.

 

Through town, past the Sycamore Airfield, cemeteries, gas wells and cattle grazing on open land cars sat patiently at crossings waiting for the train to pass. A small herd of goats wandered through a field of 20-plus rusted tractors led by a shaggy Shetland pony and fall was visible as the light filtered through the yellow and orange leaves. As the speed increased, the landscape swept by – a blur of leaves and branches lining the tracks.

 

The first stop was Cleburne. In the train yard, an old BNSF building housed shards of broken glass jaggedly framing the view of anyone peering out – hundreds of panes and not a single one intact. After seven minutes the journey continued.

 

Beyond Cleburne the land was flat and open and the train slowed passing through some tiny town where the high school marching band practiced in an empty parking lot.

 

As we approached McGregor the whistle sounded. (Actually it is a horn, but the term whistle seems so much more appropriate in a nostalgic sort of way.) The station was a revamped old wooden depot building with a fresh coat of white paint and a new tin roof.

 

Rolling past Moody toward Temple a freight train passed within an arms length and was gone in a blur. Black wires running along the track seemed to float up and down rhythmically from post to post.

 

Nearing my final destination I realized how different life is on the train. You have no choice but to live in the moment – unable to look ahead or behind. No future to worry about and no past to regret.

Copyright © 2013 Rebecca Hertz



Making the Cut with Dad

By Rebecca Hertz


On a Saturday morning, sometime in the mid-1950s a little girl about 6 years old takes a seat in an ordinary grey metal chair in a place little girls seldom frequent. She sits quietly swinging her black and white saddle oxfords freely beneath the seat mesmerized by the activity around her.


The day started like any other Saturday – morning cartoons and a bowl of cereal. Dad peers around the door jam from the kitchen and tells her to get a move on; they are going to the barbershop.


“I loved to go to barber with Dad - just me and Dad,” Jimmie said. “It made me feel like ‘wow I get to go somewhere with Dad’.”


This was still a time when there were places for men and places for women. No man would go into a salon and women had no reason to be in the barbershop unless they were orchestrating a haircut for a young boy who likely didn’t even want a haircut. This was a man’s place.


They climbed into the cab of the black Ford pickup truck that he used for his window cleaning business and backed out onto Lively Street. Our small brown frame house wasn’t far from downtown so just a short drive across the railroad tracks and a couple of turns then past the five and dime, the bank, and Big State Drug Store led them to their destination.


Just riding in the truck with Daddy was an opportunity to step out of her little girl persona and see the world differently. Decked in a cotton button-down shirt, khakis and Ray Ban aviators, he would roll the windows down and let the breeze whip through the cab of the truck – “going sporty” he called it.


“Sometimes I would sit over next to him and sometimes sit next to the window so I could rest my arm on the open window like a big girl,” she said.


The truck was parked in front of the lighted twisty red and white barber pole and Jimmie slid across the bench seat, beneath the huge steering wheel and out the open door beside him before stepping onto the sidewalk. They walked past the bubble-top dispenser of multicolored gumballs for a penny and through the glass door. The “ding” of the brass bell tied to the hinge announced their arrival.


The shop was small – only two or three old-fashioned barbers-chairs faced a wall-length rectangular mirror that reflected the activity in the shop as well as walkers passing beyond the plate glass window. A row of chairs was occupied by waiting customers who chatted and thumbed through well-worn magazines and a little red-headed girl just taking it all in.


“I felt special – a little girl in a man’s barber shop. I was the only girl in there and they made me feel special that my daddy would bring me to a place where there were no other girls,” she said. “The barbers fussed over me – I had red hair they thought I was so cute and great.”


She and Dad shared the thick wavy auburn locks that always drew comments wherever they went. Jimmie’s was tied in a high ponytail that grazed her shoulders and she enjoyed being the center of attention and the friendly teasing about her hair.


The barber wore a traditional white short-sleeved cotton tunic that buttoned up the side. He worked quickly - secure in his craft - deftly maneuvering his shears and clippers. As he finished one customer and moved on to the next, the air filled with a mingling of unfamiliar scents.


“I remember the minty shaving cream smell and the smell of hair tonic,” she said.


When his turn came, Dad stepped up into the chair and the cotton cape floated down over him as lifted by a gentle breeze. After a few quick words, the scissors seemed to take on a life of their own flying around his head with the constant “snip-snip” of the metal tips and the buzz of the electric clippers. Wisps of hair fluttered through the air coming to rest on the worn linoleum floor.


“Once I was in there I was in another world – I felt like I got to go some place that most little girls don’t get to go to,” she said. “The men (in the shop) talking and laughing and I just watched them.”  


All of our childhood memories are special but these one-on-one outings with Dad are most cherished.


“It gave me secure feeling that he really loved me and wanted me to do things with him,” she said. “I was always so proud of him. When you see your dad interact with others you feel proud that everyone else likes your dad too.”

Copyright © 2013 Rebecca Hertz 

 

 

The Great One

By Rebecca Hertz


I was never a twinkle I my father’s eye. He did not pace the floor agonizing over my much-anticipated “burst” onto the scene so to speak.


This is not to say there was no fanfare or scramble of preparations – but basically one day I wasn’t there and the next day I was. My arrival may not have been the traditional journey into fatherhood, but that in no way diminished his role as father – a role he embraced with enthusiasm.


When I recall my childhood – it is my dad who is the center of my universe. 

With me, he may have gotten the short end of the stick. From all accounts, I was a troubled, needy kid – full of never ending questions – searching for answers and reassurance, always making up stories and full of imagination, but quite content to follow him around like a loyal puppy and I would imagine chattering constantly.

My older sister and I were quite opposite. She was more of a social creature – spending her time playing with neighborhood kids – making friends – participating. I was a loner and preferred it that way. I was happy to reside in my own imagination creating adventures, changing occupations on a whim – from pirate to scientist to king of the forest.


But if Dad had a favorite, he never showed it. We had no reason to question if we were loved. He seemed to be in tune with each of us independently. We weren’t coddled. We were given opportunities to make our own choices and had to live with the consequences of those decisions. 

Today is Father’s Day and I am reminded of the gifts we gave Dad that he accepted with such ardor and affectionate appreciation. Preparations began days ahead with the emptying of the piggy bank and a trek to the dime store for supplies. Glitter and glue were always involved whether attached to a plastic box that once held a razor to be transformed into a bejeweled holder of keepsakes and tie tacks or colored constructions paper to create a masterpiece or greeting card to include an original verse in carefully printed contrasting crayon. Whatever the creation – from plaster of Paris paperweights to the more traditional macaroni necklaces – each held a place of importance on a dresser cluttered with the objects d’art.  


Sometimes, when the house was empty and quiet, I would stand at the dresser and survey the collection taking pride in the display.

While I didn’t really buy into the whole “you are special because you were chosen” answer to my questions of how I came to be a part of the clan, that philosophy was continually proven through love, respect and nurturing. I was allowed to be a kid and protected from the storms that blew across the landscape of our existence. I had no doubt that it was safe to explore because if I faltered or lost my way, there would be a strong hand to grasp and a gentle nudging back on track.

So much time has passed. His thick reddish-brown hair has turned white, but I still see him covered in freckles wearing Bermuda shorts driving us across the country on a family vacation in a pink and white Pontiac, attempting to teach me to hit a softball (an effort predisposed to failure), or in the workshop building tiny furniture for our Barbie dolls. He is now a Dad, stepfather, grandfather and great-grandfather – or “the Great One” as he puts it. It is a fitting title because he is a great one indeed.


Copyright © 2012 Rebecca Hertz


 

Being Walter Cronkite
By Rebecca Hertz


At a time when I really need to be focused on the future, it is all too easy to get bogged down trying to make sense of the craziness that has been the past year. It as been filled with events I couldn't control and persistent efforts to navigate hostile terrain. I find myself longing for logic to prevail and a steadfast guide to lead me through the maze.


Walter Cronkite was the voice of reason and sanity in my life for as far back as I can remember. At least from the time I was able to sit still long enough to listen to anyone. His gentle solemn words were my earliest education. He resonated a sense of safety in a world I knew was in chaos but lacked the resources and maturity to really understand. When everything else was unpredictable, he was constant. He was punctual and always returned without fail.


Prior to Walter taking the CBS anchor seat in 1962, we watched Chet Huntley and David Brinkley on NBC. In fairness The Huntley-Brinkley Report is more likely responsible for piquing my interest in news and world affairs in the late 50s and early 60s, but thinking back it is Walter’s face I see and voice I hear recalling the early Sputnik launches, Castro taking over Cuba, JFK defeating Nixon for the presidency and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.


Walter walked me through those excruciating two weeks in October, when we all thought the world would surely end during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was Cronkite who tearfully broke the news that John Kennedy had been assassinated less than 12 miles from my 5th grade classroom. It was his words I believed when I hadn’t been able to believe my own eyes.


He narrated the chaotic political landscape from the seemingly endless Vietnam War to the violence at home as race riots intensified. And again removed his horn-rimmed glasses to gather his composure to tell me that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated only to face me two months later with the assassination of Robert Kennedy. We celebrated Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon in 1969, an event that defied articulation, even for Walter. And so it went until his retirement in 1981.


I grew up and moved on to explore a wide range of news sources, but my heart will always belong to him just for being Walter Cronkite. “And that’s the way it is.”

Copyright (c) 2011 Rebecca Hertz

 

 

Small Victories

By Rebecca Hertz


It was a good day, one of the better I’d had in the past five weeks. The pain refused to let me forget the accident, but I needed to escape the walls and clear my mind, so I decided to venture to 15 or so feet from my front door to a chair in the courtyard. The weather was warm and the sun felt wonderful as I looked upward watching the wispy clouds float across the sky. It was a small victory – making my way to the chair, but a victory nonetheless. I am learning to appreciate those little things, like stopping to smell the roses. I may not be able to smell, but the soft delicacy of a blossom conjures the long past memory of the scent and I experience it just the same.

 

A gentleman approached and asked to join me. I know this man in passing. We have exchanged greetings or commented on the weather without breaking stride. Last week he made the mistake of asking me if there was anything he could do to help me. It was a day that wasn’t going so well but I did need to get a check in the mail as soon as possible to avoid cancelation of my medical insurance while I am not able to work. I didn’t know his name at the time, but I was moved to tears, which seems to happen a lot these days, by his kindness. He mailed the check and said to let him know if there was anything I needed. I knew he really meant it.

 

As we sat at the table, I saw genuine sincerity in his clear eyes. A smile doesn’t come easily to this man whose posture borders on defeat. He too appreciates the small victories. As he runs his fingers through his ample gray hair, he shares his story of the events that changed his life, that robbed him of his ability to work and care for his family. He stops abruptly in mid-sentence as his mind betrays him – erasing his stream of thought, leaving only the blank stare. His eyes reveal frustration, embarrassment.

 

In relating his story, he isn’t soliciting sympathy. He is sharing these personal events to make a point. These uncontrollable events that rob us and change our lives do get better. We get better. That’s not to say the pain goes away or the damage to our bodies and minds ever disappears, but we can devise ways to adjust – to keep going.

 

To keep living even when the job has been taken away and care denied, when some doctor at an insurance company thousands of miles away determines that, although the condition today is the same as yesterday, a person should no longer have medication that allows them to function in the simplest of tasks, which may be just taking a shower and getting dressed – something that may have taken 20 minutes before and now takes an hour or more.

 

Like me he returned to school late in life. He obtained his master’s degree, which opened doors for him in his career. But that was short-lived due to his injury. He said his education it isn’t any good now because he can’t remember it.


I tell him I am angry about what happened. The comment brings the first smile I have seen. He acknowledges that the anger is just part of the process of coming to terms and accepting what you can’t change.


“You just have to give it to God,” he said. “You may never find out the reason things happen.”


This is a good man, a kind man.  He doesn’t want my sympathy - he is sharing his

strength. He is telling me it is not over – it’s beginning, just in a different way.


It’s those little victories we never notice in our busy lives – successfully navigating a few feet to enjoy the sunshine, figuring out a way to make coffee when you can’t lift the carafe, sharing a conversation with a kind stranger. I may not be able to smell the roses, but I can feel the velvety texture of the petals and I can appreciate this man taking time out of his day to make mine better. 

Copyright (c) 2011 Rebecca Hertz



Writer's Block

By Rebecca Hertz


Writer’s block – the two most dreaded words in a writer’s vocabulary. Even though you have a great idea and can visualize how it will come together when you sit down with a blank page in front of you, with the curser flashing, the only think that comes out is “dsfhidhsdjhiewodfh .” You get volumes of “dlkfhlkdjornfvdoze!!!dfhhw???.”

It’s like buying the perfect tree for your yard and knowing that you want to plant it in the center of the yard and for some crazy reason you find yourself digging a hole right next to the foundation of your house – where the tree can’t possibly thrive without cracking the foundation.

My current project requires nothing but accessing my own thoughts and crafting them into a compelling narrative – the research is done, there is no remaining reporting legwork – and yet all I have is a flashing curser on a blank page.

Carving out the time to work on those labors of love – the work that has purpose and the potential of bringing real satisfaction – takes a lot of finagling. Obviously there is no guarantee that your brain will work on demand and mine has apparently turned to mush.

Oh, I can turn out columns about people I meet everyday, my grandson and why I like cemeteries, but the purposeful work remains elusive. The more I try, the less I get done and the more stressful it becomes.

It’s a story I know. A story I have lived. Actually it’s a story that explains exactly why I am paralyzed with this momentary inadequacy. It’s a story that takes the vivid color of the world around me and turns everything yellow, drenched in an incapacitating fear that defies logic. I find myself back at the yellow dress, the yellow house and places that I never imagined I would be able to remember, much less revisit or share with the rest of the world. But I am telling too much and sharing out of context.

Suffice to say – I am stuck – for now. But it is a story that will be written and rewritten and probably rewritten again before being laid open for public consumption. In the meantime, I stay in the safety of the shadows, where I have always lived – waiting for the end of the world.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rebecca Hertz