Riverside Writers is a group of mostly seniors, but everyone is welcome, who participate throughout the year in a facilitated creative writing experience led by Anne McGeehan-Woodard. Some of their work can be read here. If you would like to join the group call 989/837-1885.
There is no charge.
Stories by past/present Riverside Writers:
Niki’s Wedding Poem
Winter Travel in Search of Warmth
The Time Is Now
It overwhelms me,
And I think of all the shut-ins,
And the blind that cannot see.
The dumb that cannot speak their praise.
The deaf that cannot hear
The sound of running waters
Or birds singing in their ears.
For there are some around us
That will always criticize
The Government! Its people!
And little children’s cries.
But oh I hope and pray
The day will come to these that see
And waken to this wondrous land
Where freedom reigns
And flags fly free!
I was not born in this great land,
We call “America, the Free!”
But I am proud that I became
A citizen at thirty-three.
The England that I left so many years ago
Those childhood dreams and memories
Will be with me where’er I go
For it was in my childhood dreams
I planned one day to see
America the Beautiful! America the Free!
And now my time is running short
And memories may grow dim
But I’m proud to be an “American”
And have a peaceful heart within.
Are you thinking when you look at me –
A crabbed old woman, not very wise
Uncertain of habit with far away eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice – “I do wish you’d try.”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe,
Who resisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still.
As I move at your bidding, eat at your will,
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another;
A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon a love she’ll meet;
A bride of twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows I promised to keep;
At twenty-five now I have young of my own.
Who need me to build a secure, happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound together with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown up and gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn,
At fifty once more babies play round my knee –
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead.
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel
Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The Body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart.
There is a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now again my bittered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurse, open and see.
Not a crabbed old woman,
Look closer – see me!
Narrated by Mona Frame:
2nd runner up of the “Miss Senior American Pageant”
Winner of “Miss Congeniality” of 1995
Mary Lou, Mary Lou, How Do Your Gardens Grow?
Still Falling….with Gratitude
Home at Noon
We four girls, Heather, Mindy her younger sister, Alissa my younger sister and I had known each other from birth. Our moms had been in each others’ weddings and ended up living one house apart.
Than there were the men of the neighborhood: Randy, an only child, and Dean and his younger brother Dan.
There were no day camps or daycare for us, just our mothers monitoring us with much love and hawklike eyes, while they ran garage sales and made lunches and dinners.
There was a place to escape their watchful eyes, the field down the street where “The Tree” loomed with perfectly positioned ladderlike branches that led us to the clouds in the sky above. One branch I’d sit on was right next to the telephone wire. I’d listen, waiting to hear some juicy mom talk. All I ever heard though were the robins chirping and squirrels chattering at me to get down.
Randy made the most daring attempts to reach those clouds above. We’d stand below begging him not to go so high or we’d go tell.
Also, there was the Sandbox. One day a dump truck backed up to Randy’s sandbox and dumped the most amazing damp brilliant orange sand that towered above our heads. We stood in awe. Our afternoons were spent baking in the sun, developing roads, tunnels, bridges, and mansions for our new Matchbox car collections.
Bike rides around the block, splashing through fresh puddles, were signs of our growing independence. Wind would wipe through our sweaty hair as we felt like we were soaring with the birds above.
Dusk would come too soon. We’d mingle around the sewer ’til called home. Discussions of the next days’ adventures or fantasies of being magic or invisible were all hot topics.
It seemed to last forever. Seasons would change and we went from Dan running around in diapers and us girls free of clothing other than our panties on those hot sticky evenings, to older children with parents who had dreams of their own.
Alissa and I found ourselves moved out to the country, the nearest neighbor a mile away, bike rides on dirt roads with kids that lived three miles away. Open fields were filled with beets to hoe, and yard had gardens to pick from and wood piles to stack for winter heat. It was a new life.
Not till five years later did we seven find ourselves all together again. Things had changed. We were still kids, me at 18 the oldest. We gathered in Dean and Dan’s smoke- filled stuffy living room catching up with our lives’ experiences. Things your parents warned you not to do, some were doing. Growing, learning, what kids do. For a short time we drifted back in time, memories exploding, eager to be heard, share, and connect once again. Remembering when Dean spent all the club money on candy for himself, never sharing with us. How Alissa would sit up in front of the house gnawing on tree bark as she waited patiently for someone to come out and play a game. How Randy couldn’t be found one winter anywhere, til someone checked the snow fort and found him fast asleep. Heather the perpetual tattletale. Later we stepped back out into fresh cold air with promises of keeping in touch ringing through the air. We were young, alive, in charge of the world.
Shockingly, we sat together a month later sad, numb, laughing, crying, each moment a new emotion shared together for the first time. This time it was just six though. A phone call had come: Randy had a bacterial disease, and with no spleen to fight it he died. He was gone. We found ourselves at his memorial service; the seed planted in each of us death. We separated that day and have never been all together since. Life had brought us our own children, homes, spouses, careers, divorces. Those yesterdays of the 70’s live in us all though, where Randy climbed high, and soared like the birds above, where time felt like forever. It was as it should be, our childhood, full of carefree days.
So new husband and I found our golden retriever. Rock it was. Rock and husband bonded. Rock and I – well, as he grew he took his place in our little pack . . .husband, Rock, me. Not good. Alpha dog always thought I needed a reminder of my place. Especially at mail retrieval time. I’d head down the long drive; he’d see me, run and tackle me. Really! Then he developed the love of a good car chase. Nothing stopped him. All the training, discipline, love. Nothing! Rock or me? I’d say to my new husband, Rock or Me? Never make a man choose between you and his dog. Rock stayed, I stayed.
Time found us moved into the city with kid number two on the way. Rock took to chasing down people with dogs, pushing through the screen door. He’d tell those he terrorized he was the new dog in town . . . watch out! Owners holding their precious pup, staring me down as I apologized over and over while dragging Rock back home. Then a snap at a neighbor snapped me. Rock or me? I did not ask this time. Not so newly married, but yes, still married, new house, kids yes — two now. But wait; something is missing. After talking husband into another go at it, a chocolate lab was agreed upon. All the labs I knew were cool, beautiful, loyal, sweet, laid back. The kiddy pool swam with chocolate lab pups; there he was; the biggest, sweetest of them all. Zeke and husband bonded. Zeke and kids loved to play. Me? I was the trainer, I’d be in control. First training class, Zeke thought it was Driver Ed training as he attempted to take over the driver seat with me still in it. Move over, mom, I can do it. Safely we made it. Oh, boy. Out of the van, pee . . .o.k., o.k., to the door. Whoosh! In we went. Everyone stopped and stared. Breathlessly I asked, Training class, right?
So we graduated, kind of. All the money spent on training did not stop Zeke from sniffing every single tree we passed on walks. Neighbors called out, Zeke taking you for a walk again? Ha!
When alpha dog was home (husband), Zeke was beautiful, mild, well behaved. Let husband leave and the games of keep away began. Shoes, mittens, a scarf, paper, whatever I needed; he would jump with it from couch to chair to couch. Ha, lady, you can’t catch me. When my pjs were on, it seemed to him the best time to push through the gate or door and streak through the neighborhood, with me chasing, calling Zeke, come! Cooking dinner, phone rings, I’d turn around, Zeke would be erect at stove eating the taco meat as it cooked.
I started lying in bed each morning giving myself pep talks. Today is the day you will be alpha dog. Than I’d beg please let today be the day. Squirt bottles, taped lines for visuals so he’d know not to cross into stove area, on and on it went. My only reprieve was when I left for work.
It was not meant to be, me and a dog. It was too much, the neighborhood romps, the dinners destroyed, the kid’s friend being picked up from swim play dates and announcing to their mothers, “Mom, Zeke ate my underpants.” There was no place to hide underwear or socks. He found them; he ate them. He’d celebrate company by running through the house with toilet paper streaming wildly behind him as it unfolded madly from its holder.
My sanity was starting to be questioned, husband never witness to the madness I endured. Enough! A call was made; a home with a girl lab in a rural area would be the perfect fit for Zeke. Yes, there were tears . . . of joy, relief and of course sadness. I had failed again. My husband was mad. The kids disappointed, but they got it, they too lived in the madness with me.
Married . . . yes, still. Newly remodeled house, kids still two. Something is missing. I researched, I envisioned, I made a list, researched online. Mild, lovable, huggable, cuddly, not too little, definitely not too tall, had to have character and be submissive–
Yes, to me. My dog, not a puppy this time, a dog that I knew, could see, would be my friend. Take walks, not pulls around the block. Would love me as much as the rest of the family. Would not be an eater of socks and underwear or tissue. A basset hound. I knew was for me.
On a drive downtown, what did my daughter and I see walking down Main Street? A basset. Quickly I parked; hurry up out of the car. Nonchalantly we rushed up to the woman and her basset. I gushed, I petted. I questioned her on the dog’s temperament. Sleeps a lot, walks daily, sweet, lovable, huggable, cuddly. My dog. She had my dream dog. Breeder’s number I received via e-mail several days later. The number found its way to my wallet. Several weeks later I called on a whim, a hope, a need to find my dream dog. She had two males left from the same litter as the one we chased down on Main Street. They were 10 months old, not a puppy, puppy.
Potty trained yes! One was barky, had lots of energy, and a bit dominant. Next! The other was quiet, real submissive, he slept a lot, needed a house where he’d be the only dog. He currently lived with his brother, mother and father. He did not get a lot of love. The deal was made; we met on Hwy 96 near Ikea at the gas station. It was love at first sight. The cash and leash were exchanged. We hopped back in the van and bonded instantly. Archie, my dog, has become a part of me. He walks with me gently, a bit too slow at times, but I will never complain. He sleeps near me, is always by me or the girls if one of us takes sick on the couch. He loves to hug and cuddle. He makes me smile each day, and everyone else he meets smiles too. I, yes, I can have a dog. He will never leave me and I will never let him go. I earned him, let me tell you. The other dogs? I learned and grew from each of them, but with my Archie I am at peace and able to grow in other ways now.
Still married, same house, same two kids, nothing is missing.