Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

For the Weekly Photo Challenge: Family, I thought about families worldwide who struggle with hunger. In every corner of the world, one can find someone in need to eat a decent, nourishing meal.

To me, sharing our time, extra resources and love with those in our community who struggle to feed their loved ones, defines the true family.

Strangers helping strangers.


Family, weekly photo challenge, hunger, feeding, photograph, community service
Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.

– David Ogden Stiers

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tan renga, november, carpe diem


Tan Renga challenge – Day 2 with *Mark M. Redfearn as the featured haiku writer followed by my two, seven syllable line cap. (Thank you Mark!)

by the garden path
an upside down flowerpot
cottage for a toad*

a family stirs in their sleep
count all the stars as blessings

Gustav Klimt, Art Nouveau,symbolic painting, Tree of Life, Tan renga, haiku

Artist: Gustav Klimt


Inspiration from Chevrefeuille’s Carpe Diem Tan Renga November Challenge and if you missed day 1: November Tan Renga: Day 1 Loving Hands.

  • Brooding (magicalmysticalteacher.wordpress.com)

A Picture Is Worth Words and A Fairy Tale Vision

Once upon a time, a beautiful mother existed in my world. Our perfect family portrait had mother holding my baby sister, Molly, my father lovingly leaning gently to one side of his high school sweetheart, and me, on the other side of him. I was the five-year-old rambunctious, but always obedient son. We were the perfect family.

Aunt Polly, mother’s younger sister, and photographer for our family event, reminded us to smile and say, “Cheese” as she prepared to take our photo.

Unfortunately, the perfect family portrait setting went from loving and happy to chaotic and frightening. Mother’s long battle with mental illness, filled with medications, therapy sessions and occasional psychiatric hospital visits, were becoming more frequent and like a devouring cancer in mother’s brain, she finally succumbed to it not long after my fifth birthday.

I will always remember the day my once beautiful and loving mother left us. Father had us all ready for our perfect family portrait; Aunt Polly was ready with her camera. Perhaps the happy event flustered mother as she fussed about with our hair, her make-up and father‘s tie that would not sit right for her, to a point when suddenly, her world decided to shut down around us.

Why did she have to start crying and screaming obscenities at us?

Why was she so out-of-control that it took a team of psychiatric aides from Aurora Residential Treatment House to restrain her?

Why did father insist that Aunt Polly take our family portrait anyway, regardless that all of us, as our mother was losing her mind, we were also “losing” something as well: Father his loving wife, my sister and I, a beautiful and nurturing mother and Aunt Polly, an older sister who was always there for her?


I can understand someone leaving a family because they died, or leave because they want to start something new, such as a new family or new career or whatever. Nevertheless, checking out mentally is hard to understand.

How do you explain this family portrait taken moments before we were to escort my mother to her “treatment” room, with her mascara smeared across her face, her salon-styled hair re-done to the wild psychotic look?

Actually, I longed, many times, to cut this photograph into a million pieces, like the way mental illness tore my mother from my life.

I hated those hospital visits because my real mother did not mentally live there. Who was that woman, after the nurse’s treatment, staring blankly with glazed eyes at my sister and me? That was not my mother.

(Have you seen her? I miss mother so much.)

Father simply wanted a family moment–one that included his once lovely wife and mother of his two children–framed into the happy, normal family portrait. Instead, he got an incomplete, bewildered, and feeling enormously abandoned, family portrait.

WHY, God! Why put the evil demons that filled my mother’s head that left my sister, dad and I broken for so long?


The longer I scream, WHY, the louder the sound of silence in my head becomes. My therapist tells me over and over, as if to put a soft blanket on a sobbing young child, that in the United States, according to the Kim Foundation, 1 in 4 families are “affected by mental illness. “ She goes on to tell me the World Health Organization states, “over a third of people in most countries report (mental) problems at some time in their life.”

Am I supposed to feel better about this news? You tell me, how does one go on living sanely knowing the kids at school whisper, and sometimes not whisper, but blatantly say awful things about your mother? Things like, “His mother is crazy. She lives in a psych house.”

My mother’s disease deeply haunts me. Sometimes I feel there is nowhere to turn because any way I turn I see the photograph, the horrid faces we had, and my mother, no, the monster being dragged away by strangers.

I fear that my mother’s handicapped mind will slowly become the beast within my mind.

How I wanted to destroy that photograph many times over the years. The one photograph that reminds me of this fear of becoming a duplicate of my own mother’s life!

What stops my bony fingers from ripping that picture apart, I am not quite sure. Perhaps I fear losing the one person who meant so much to me…my mother. If I destroy it, I will not remember and I want to remember her. This distorted family photo is the very thing that prevents me from joining my own mother’s mental demons.

I look at the photo then quickly close my eyes to the fairy tale vision I long to have.

Once upon a time, long ago in a kingdom where light, goodness and sane thinking prevailed, my mother was the perfect queen who stood by her perfect king and both raised two truly perfect prince and princess.

In this kingdom, I no longer fear the loss of my mother or my mind.

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Do you think mental illness is as common as diabetes or heart disease?

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Find more creative contributors and information here at the Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words.

Sunday Worship: A Family Affair or Not?

How do you normally spend your Sunday mornings? For some, Sunday mornings revolves around attending a church service and hopefully, a nice brunch afterwards at a local café. For some, however, the thought of having young children among the congregation, for an hour-long church service, is just as bad, if not worse, as a poorly prepared sermon given by a monotone preacher!

toddler, church, worship, family worshipMost regular churchgoers know about the babbling toddlers who insist on babbling alongside the preacher’s sermon. It seems no matter where you plant yourself in the church, the babbling toddlers find you and in the next hour or so, you wonder what to do.

Should you try to decipher the preacher’s sermon lesson as your head is uncontrollably nodding itself to sleep or simply give in to the toddler’s distracting babble and try your hand at understanding and translating the toddler dialect instead?

Hmm, as you ponder this great mystery, you may begin to wonder as well; maybe young children belong in the age appropriate children’s church instead?

I say, no! Children should be encouraged to attend Sunday services with their family from an early age. Having children learn patience through “uninteresting” events–no offense to any pastors out there– is lessons that may help to squish the, BUT…BUT… “I thought the world revolved around me,” syndrome!

One may argue, but why not offer an age appropriate Sunday service for the children. I simply have to disagree because this demonstrates to the children that one; you do not ever need to learn to be patient especially if boredom sets in! Second, families really should worship together. I love seeing a whole family take up the entire pew.

I know, you say it is hard to discipline and train kids to sit relatively still and remain relatively quiet. Yikes! As adults, do we sometimes have to practice such atrocities?

Of course, we need these skills and so much more the reason to have children become part of the Sunday church congregation to learn these waiting skills. This may seem unattainable but I know a young couple from church who believes in rearing their children in the church. They have a six-year-old boy, two-year-old girl and less than a year old baby just starting to learn how to stand. Their children do not go over to the nursery or children’s church. Every Sunday they worship together. Both parents actively supervise their children, quietly reprimand the older two if need be and the mom uses the baby sling and breastfeeding method to keep their baby calm.

I am not sure how much of the sermon the parents actually hears to gain any wisdom from it, but it may be just a passing season for them. During this lean winter months, they may find little to nourish their own souls but instinctively feed their growing family first. As the children get older, I suspect the solid foundation built will allow the parents to relax and hear more of the sermon. Once the children grow up and branch out on their own, the parents can finally enjoy the warm and lovely season, summer. In peace.

What do you think?

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Do you feel children should attend Sunday worship with their family instead of an age appropriate children church services?


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Inspiration came from this,  Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap.

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things–Faded Photographs and Papa

Faded photographs are all I have to remember the man I once called Papa. After a long successful career as an overseas dredging captain, Papa, retired on a little island in the Pacific and shortly after, suffered a major heart attack.

The photographs, honestly, are a mixture of sweet and not so sweet memories of a man who lived a bit reckless but always with a generous heart that sometimes did not know the meaning of the word, limitations.

dredge, papa,captain, photograph,construction

Papa, what exactly did you do here?

As a child and even today, I hold a hazy image to exactly what my father’s work involved. All I have are some faded photographs of odd-looking boat-like structures, big steel looking equipment and the memory of a few of his men, coming over to our house to “have-a-few (drinks),” as part of the drinking tradition among the dredging construction workers.

Papa was generous with his hard-earned money. Not only would he not hesitate to buy you the moon, had you asked, he would often host many of these, after work, have-few-drinks-on-the-house, as a regular social activity.

Naturally, his wife, our mother, would not be so happy with this type of generosity, although all his drinking buddies simply adored him. Now, you are probably wondering, why would I cherish faded photographs that remind me of my papa’s lack of sense when it came to his social entertainment.

I wonder myself, I mean what is so charming about a father having one too many drinks, then having loud profane laced arguments with his wife? She  made the fatal mistake of pointing out that if his spending behavior did not improve, his family would soon end up on the streets. Okay, first, never argue with a drunk person because it never will make you a winner. Second, this back and forth confrontations went on for years but surprisingly, our family never ended up in the streets.

Papa always ended every argument with, “Don’t worry about anything; I was born with Lady Luck on my side.”

Well, this was good to know.

workers, pondering, challenge,photograph,construction

Let’s get the job done, boys…

In fact, despite my father’s reckless spending, he always provided everything and more for his family. My mother never had to work outside the home; we always had a nice place to live and food in abundant supply.

In conclusion, my favorite memory of my papa is, I believe he belonged to a dying breed of men that worked hard to provide for their family and generously gave to life what they expected to receive from others, in spite of their personal failings.

Of course, I always will remember Papa as a winner; he had Lady Luck to guide him and left me faded photographs for me to remember him by.

Thanks, Papa! xoxo


Have you found cherished and favorite moments in your collection of  faded photographs?


Join the fun with the Weekly Writing Challenge: This week’s theme is …A Few of My Favorite Things.

Stay, Stay at Home, my Heart

“His home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.” ~James Montgomery

Hey, here is something charming and warm. Today I saw a billboard advertising and some local doctors in our area are making house calls. I know, big deal, right?  Just think though, one day you wake up sick, you feel awful, feverish and so very weak; the thought of going over to the doctor’s office would simply be painful, if not impossible.

Not to worry, just dial the physician who makes the house calls and depending on the appointment schedule, relief for a better tomorrow can be just around the corner. Yay! There is no effort on your part except for the waiting, dozing off and a bit more waiting. Labored breathing may take some effort, but we trust the traveling doctor and in all the healing medicines soon to arrive to put everything back into proper balance and order.

Therefore, we patiently wait for the doctor to arrive.

home, delivery, homebody,fred millard, heart,love,life,domestication,happiness

–photo credit: Wikipedia

Then I got to thinking, why stop with doctors making house calls, why not activate a whole team of home delivery services for the ultimate home body, (or would it be a hermit’s) lifestyle?

The first thing a home body should have delivered, starting tomorrow morning, would be fresh milk. You know, like the ones you see in the movies where the milkman comes in a white uniform carrying the chilled bottles of fresh milk with the round cardboard cap carefully placed on the narrow bottle top.

For my neighbor next door, I would have her switch from plastic baby diapers to cloth diapers and have her activate the cloth diaper service that would bring fresh, clean diapers right to her front doorstep every few days. Why wash poo-poo diapers when you can have the diaper service people do it for you. Right?

Let us see, hmm, my neighbor would also need to give birth to her next baby at home, preferably with the doctor who does house calls, however, if the doctor on call is too busy to attend to the birth, my neighbor could use a midwife just the same.

Enough on the neighbors, we should have all our meals brought over with one of those fancy grocery/meal delivery services. We could order groceries and meals on-line, but only in between blogging, and have it delivered right to the door.

So, since our health care is just a call away to the house call doctor, our neighbors and food situation all set up and ready to go, we  just need to have the newspaper, and the mail delivered everyday. Oh, and of course, to finance this home delivered lifestyle we need a successful home business.

Gee, it is nice to know that the heart that finds rest in a peaceful home, rarely seeks to venture far from the source of happiness as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes:

“Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.”


Is there anything else we need to keep us trapped flourishing at home forever?