It spoke to me of making change. Big Ones. As in completing my debut novel and overhauling my website.
Wait a minute!
I cannot finish a 100,000-word manuscript, maintain an author website, AND blog as both a writer and a RoadBroad.
SuperWoman, I’m not.
Thus, I pen my final post on a site that’s taught me so much. Since May 23, 2018, I’ve blogged 116 times and taken 348 photos. At an average 500 words per post, that’s 58,000+ blog words written in two years and seven months.
In author-speak: that’s halfway to a novel!
It’s time for me to complete my life purpose: writing stories that help people heal.
First comes the novel, Christmas Card. Its tagline? The Group goes On the Road and meets Rain Man. Many other stories will follow.
As I enter Emeritus status with RoadBroads, Ellen will lead with new energy which is invigorating for any creative venture. She’s faithful to the blog and an entertaining writer. Excitement awaits!
Thank you, all, for your devoted reading of my writing here. Your support offered candles through days both dark and light. I am beyond grateful.
I hope you’ll maintain your support of RoadBroads, and join me later in January at www.melanieormand.com.
Thank the U.S. Census for repeating itself last week.
Such are my days:
I received a pair of 2020 census forms: one at our house, another at my sister’s house;
Two flashbacks followed: one to 1980, my year as a census enumerator, another to five months ago
I wish my parents had snapped a photo of me as a census girl. We didn’t take many photos 40 years ago. Each print! It costs money! If I had a picture from those days, you’d see a Melanie-circa-1980-Census photo:
I prized the homemade outfit I assembled. Over-coordinated in perfect reds, whites, and blues, I reminded myself, “I’m working for the U.S. government!”
I also proudly toted the government-issued shoulder bag, a cheap black vinyl thing that swamped my small frame. It arrived with a massive U.S. CENSUS! sticker slapped on the diagonal across the bag’s front.
If I had a photo — again — you’d see that bag:
But I grew to hate the bag’s wide black straps. They bit into my shoulder, the gouges deepening each day I criss-crossed the streets of my Pampa hometown.
Many of its roads I’d never driven, much less walked. At 23, I was frighteningly young, long sheltered from another side of life in a small Texas town.
When Derek opened his door, I recognized him as a high school classmate and former football star. He now lived alone with his mother in a unpainted shack south of the tracks.
He grimaced, remembering me. I smiled. It was my job.
A day later, I stood on Mrs. Wilson’s porch. Her youngest daughter had been my best friend in first grade. Mrs. Wilson complimented my outfit, validating my sense of style.
But her face remained blank. I didn’t know whether to feel hurt or gratitude.
Fast forward four decades:
My family received two census forms in, yes, two different mailboxes: my house, plus the same form at my recently deceased sister’s home.
I opened Mimi’s first. It read “To Resident at….”
I entered her census ID, expecting questions about her status.
Instead, a plethora of questions gushed forth like a wave, all focused on the structure at her address. I answered that no one was living in the house. The computer responded:
Swallowing the lump bulging in my throat, I asked the screen, “Empty doesn’t matter?”
On our census form, DH confirmed we still occupied the building as “residents of the address.” Up popped a question about our names. Answering led to gratitude from Uncle Sam: I know, I know. The census exists to count people for many reasons.
But we only matter if we’re living?
Yes, I’m still grieving my sister’s sudden death. Last week marked five months.
Time does ease the loss. It won’t go away when reminders keep coming.
And 40 years later, I remain sad about those porch moments with Derek and Mrs. Wilson.
Interesting, isn’t it, remembering what we’d like to forget.
The first of the Miller girls married one July afternoon in 1980. We used the occasion to pose for the first formal picture of Sisters United!
As of last October, we’re down to two.
The sudden death of our sister Mimi is a loss that reverberates too much.
Daily, we sort through her life and what she left behind. We face more weeks, if not months, of emotional intensity.
It means a life that mattered. Matters.
I struggle with the idea of joy this New Year. After these past nine weeks, life echoes with an odd familiarity: New Normal.
A few days ago, while on the road (again) at Mimi’s house, I found this:
“ENDURE means to put up with something trying or painful.”
Something was missing. Synchronicity delivered this Maya Angelou poem:
My wish for you Is that you continue
To be who and how you are To astonish a mean world With your acts of kindness
To allow humor to lighten the burden Of your tender heart
In a society dark with cruelty To let the people hear the grandeur Of God in the peals of your laughter
To let your eloquence Elevate the people to heights They had only imagined
To remind the people that Each is as good as the other And that no one is beneath Nor above you
To remember your own young years And look with favor upon the lost And the least and the lonely
To put the mantle of your protection Around the bodies of The young and defenseless
To take the hand of the despised And diseased and walk proudly with them In the high street Some might see you and Be encouraged to do likewise
To plant a public kiss of concern On the cheek of the sick And the aged and infirm And count that as a Natural action to be expected
To let gratitude be the pillow Upon which you kneel to Say your nightly prayer And let faith be the bridge You build to overcome evil And welcome good
To ignore no vision Which comes to enlarge your range And increase your spirit
To dare to love deeply And risk everything For the good thing
To float Happily in the sea of infinite substance Which set aside riches for you Before you had a name
And by doing so You and your work Will be able to continue Eternally
Back to the dictionary I went. Out leaped a deeper definition of endure:
to CONTINUE: to exist over a period of time or indefinitely.
Aha! I merged the two definitions into my own ENDURE: to continue to exist over a period of time while surviving something painful.
This isn’t the first time I’ve hurt (and it won’t be the last)—but there’s a unique pain in the death of a sibling. It’s more than your oldest secrets they take.
Treasure the gifts they bring to your life.
My command to you rings in my own ears.
For 2020, I seek new hope and special intentions. I travel forward, hoping and intending for continued endurance to clear two homes, complete a novel, and create an I‑develop-my-full-potential kind of life this year.
What are your special hopes and intentions this year?