Archives for posts with tag: happiness

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Tender notes fill the room. My mind wonders to distant lands, New Orleans or a bay out west. Places romanticized by novels read, travelers from times long past and of course film. The melody of the record spinning on the turntable which is housed in stereo that speaks of another time, holds me to reality. We could own the finest Bose stereo and the records of our grandparents would still be played on this one that is more furniture than electronics equipment. Brooke insists that music is best when in its intended form, a true record. She of course has an iPod and downloads music of many styles and eras. However, Brookelyn’s favorites are on vinyl.

My eyes open slowly at the gentle touch of sister’s finger to my lips. Looking up from the sofa into Brooke’s pretty face, I offer a smile, to ensure that as always her unusual methods of gaining my attention are appreciated. She quickly signs that she would like my help this morning with the duties in the barn and caring for the horses. Knowing it has little to do with the work that she enjoys but instead is an opportunity she has chosen to spend with me I quickly agree.

Stepping into the cool shadows of the barn behind our home I’m saddened remembering that at Brooke’s age I fought with our parents about doing these tasks, which sister does without so much as a request. To escape self-ridicule I talk to Brooke about traveling, the wonders that foreign places must surely hold. Shovels scrape concrete floors clean with metallic sound, followed by the spray of water that completely clears the stall floors. The whole time I talk of piers, ships sailing far away and adventures neither sister have known. Brookelyn listens acknowledging my words with smiles and at times nods of head. She works slower than normal, allowing me to handle my share of the duties that have long fallen on her precious shoulders.

The bay which Brooke most rides tries to be near her, nosing her hair that hangs bellow the bowler covering her head. Like everyone who knows Brookelyn, Shane does his best to be as close to her as possible. She meets his gesture of love with a gentle blow of breath from between soft lips into his face, then pats the horse who persists on. Once Shane’s area is cleaned Brooke hops over the railing, he turns and exits to the open arena outside his stall. Failing to occupy his loves attention, he has retreated to his peers company, to recoup for another attempt in the future. Feed laid out, barn clean and tended we exit into the sunshine, my eyes taking a moment to adjust to the worlds brightness.

“Brooke, where do you most want to go?” I ask drifting back to dreams of ports, bridges and romantic locations.

Bright eyes meet mine as, “into the house to get a drink, then back out to saddle Shane and go for a ride. Want to come?” is signed in response.

Sitting in familiar saddle, I watch Shane give a slight snort in approval as Brooke mounts. My little sister in perfect riding posture leads the way out of the barn across sunny pasture, opening the bays gate into a slight gallop. Oceans, adventures and travels are forgotten, my heels gesture the horse beneath me to do his best to catch that which at the moment Shane has achieved, Brooke’s attention and favor.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Paintings and photographs hang from the walls, that enclose what becomes home when full of the love our family shares. There is the one of the ship in a turmoil tossed sea. The endless photographs of family, many of our parents clear favorite, Brooke and me. The painting of our grandparents farm house. It is a work done by an uncle or distant cousin, which I am no longer sure but once could have said. In the kitchen a scene depicts chickens in a dusty yard. My favorite, a portrait, painted by an artist of some renown hangs in the family room against the wall farthest from the fireplace.

Brooke spends hours recreating the paintings with her own hands. Then she moves on to creations of her own, some from mind, others from items in sight. As we grow up, slowly first works of art, then photographs are replaced by pieces in frames father has built in the barn with his wood working tools. The tools with different edges of metal and handles worn shiny and smooth from first grandfathers and now his hands. Mother selects which works of my sisters art replace which others in our home. Until finally the house resembles a museum of dedication to the youngest child. Walls in every room finally full, paintings are swapped when Brooke believes the newest creation is of finer quality. A few of my parents favorites are never touched or moved, others find there way into hands of guests and are taken to new homes. Some are taken from the wall by their creator and placed back on easel and reworked or completely covered with something new. The kitchen has works of windmills in Dutch fields that none of our eyes have seen in person. Or is it now the market of some Mediterranean dream, they change in a pace that makes it difficult to be completely sure.

Where once my favorite portrait hung, a reproduction has taken its place. The reproduction is far superior, or perhaps I am biased in my viewing. The scent of linseed, gum and poppy oil rise from its fresh surface. On the sofa the artist, my sister sits, hands full of magic finding familiar place on a fret board create music only overshadowed by the paintings surrounding us. Inside me I shout, ‘put down that guitar and paint sister, always and forever you must paint!’ Out of respect for all that makes Brooke complete I stay silent.

For the first time in our lives the studying of that which covers our walls is done by the older sister. I memorize each pattern, color, the ridges left by brushes, smoothness created in other places. The magnificant tones that combine to make shadows.

In the attic neatly wrapped is photographs and paintings that once had places on our families walls but no longer have use or bearing. They are missed by no one, least of all myself, only barely remembered. I can’t say when the last one was removed to make space for something of Brooke’s. All I’m sure of is the current wealth of our walls is beyond any I will ever know.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Brooke once asked me if it was “disheartening to need to ask forgiveness for the same thing over and over again”. Reading her words I was initially confused, I didn’t see my sister as needing forgiveness for anything. Brooke turned back to the work she was completing with oil pastels.

“What do you need forgiveness for?” I asked still completely clueless to her wrong doings.

Nose scrunched Brookelyn shakes her head, picking up yellow tablet and pen. As she writes, her eyes continually look up at me, either checking to make sure I’m waiting for her words, or more as if she wants to ensure I was serious about the question.

Looking down on ink with smudges from the pastels that passed from Brooke’s fingers to paper. For the first time it occurs to me, that being a perfectionist is not easy. All her talents that I’ve felt made her almost perfect, have been bought with hours of practice and more than a little angst. Truth be told, Brookelyn sees the world and life differently than I do. Those actions, thoughts and moments we all write off as being human, my baby sister holds to her heart. On a yellow sheet of paper, similar to the ones I’ve read her words on so many times before, I read, gaining insight to Brooke’s view of perfection.

“Forgiveness for things like, being sad about not having the ability to sing. About not thanking God for everything, even my silence. Also, for not giving more. I am not always sad about not being able to sing and I’m not always ungrateful. But when I am I have to ask forgiveness and it seems like too often.”

One thing for certain, Brooke is grateful for her gifts. She just holds herself to a higher standard than anyone else I know. What I learned was that it isn’t as easy as it appears, chasing perfection that is. She is a sweetie!

20130615-135146.jpgSpeaking of sweet! The wonderful author of Mummy Flying Solo awarded this blog “Super Sweet Blogging Award”.

The Award like many in the world of blogging comes with some rules. I’ll do my best to follow them, though Brooke is much better at the whole rules thing than myself. But here they are and my attempt to comply:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you. That’s Mummy Flying Solo

2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions. That’s below…

3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post. It’s the cupcake pic

4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers. This was difficult with so many great bloggers but I listed them below…

5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog. did this of course…

5 SUPER SWEET QUESTIONS

1. Cookies or Cake? Both? Cake for me, COOKIES for Brooke!

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate without a doubt for both Brooke and me.

3. Favorite Sweet Treat? Choclate for me and Key Lime Pie for Brooke.

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? After exercising! Brookie always loves and wants them.

5. Sweet Nick Name? we all often call Brookelyn, ‘Brookie Cookie’..

13 NOMINEES FOR THIS SUPER SWEET AWARD
In no particular order…

1. Megan at her wonderful blog of creativity! Creative Magic Her writing is brilliant on every subject she chooses.

2. Tony Williams is “Honest Puck” the author of, Tony’s Text. I have to say “Puck”, who’s name he adopted is one of my favorite characters of all time.

3. Jnana Hodson is the man from New England behind the wonderful Jnana’s Red Barn

4. Coach E. not to be confused with coachie pens words about his girls and life on his blog Coach Daddy Blog. As a daughter of a coach, I get it and love it. His girls seem precious by the way.

5. Dennis McHale shares his amazing poetry on his blog The Winter Bites My Bones. His poetry is absolutely amazing in every way.

6. Along with tips on parenting some laughs can be had at Taking My Monkeys Back To The Zoo.

7. Check out The Chatter Blog, for touching, witty posts on a ton of subjects. It’s part of my daily reading.

8. Doodlemum sketches her family and the events of their day. If you don’t follow this, you are missing out on one of WordPress’s treasures.

9. The Lovely T, writes about her life on Mess Of The Day Wreck Of The Year. Honest and open, strong writing can be found here.

10. Arlee, is raising six children and running a day care! How she finds times to write the amazingly insightful posts on Small Potatoes , I have no clue. I’m glad she does though.

11. Tyler McKenzie on his blog Cross Shaped Stuff shares his faith and tales about his love and so much more. It’s upbeat, and even if you don’t share his faith worth reading.

12. Growing up in a rural area and then moving to New York city would be culture shock to say the least. On her blog Girl of The Corn, the reader gets to go along for the ride. This blog inspires me to be a better me.

13. Beth teaches little ones and anyone willing to read her blog, I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. She writes about all sorts of adventures with kiddos at school. The rest of the blog is made up of other things she loves and cares about. It’s a great blog around written by a wonderful person.

Thanks again to Mummy Flying Solo
That’s my thirteen! I understand Brooke a little better now, selecting thirteen of the hundreds of blogs I follow and read leaves me feeling like I let people down.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Individual blades of grass sway in the breeze, turning the pasture behind our home into a sea. Brookelyn leads us away from the house, her pink kite trailing behind her. Since I can remember she has had an attraction to flight, or to things with a line. Of course, I too enjoy the brightly colored flying machines that Dad helped us build and Mom assisted us in decorating but Brooke loves them. She thinks they are magical, whereas I tend to take them for granted.

At the time I had no idea how special the home of my youth was. The small two story house much the same as all of our neighbors, with two bedrooms, a kitchen with attached dining space, a family room and not much more in structure. Where the rarity lies is in the hearts of the people who raised us girls in a way that time has left long ago. The more people I in counter in life, the clearer it is that things were unusual to say the least. From the origami toys we made, marbles we pitched, balls bounced in effort to capture jacks, strings pulled to send tops that were hand carved by father spinning across hard wood floors, and of course the homemade kites, our childhood toys were from generations passed.

Our parents could have purchased the newest toys, video games and items we played with when visiting friends if they had wished. Maybe it was influence from our Amish neighbors, or perhaps they wanted us to know an innocence many of our generation has not been granted. Regardless why, there we were making our way through grass kites floating behind us, waiting to be hoisted high into the sky by moving currents of air.

Brooke is the first to get her kite to take full flight and carry up into the heights of sky. Watching the bright pink creation rustle in the breeze, she keeps the line taunt to ensure flight. I watch a while, mostly my sisters smile and eyes before I begin lofting my own. Of course we encounter failures, tangled strings and at times even sorrows as our hours of hard work crash and crumble in the high grass, not on this day however.

We fly our kites without incident until interest fades, leaving us side by side on our backs staring up at moving clouds. Brooke listens as I tell the story the clouds paint, today it’s the typical princess in palace tale. As the story concludes with nights brave rescue, turning to younger sister I ask if she wished we had a video game consoul like our cousins do. Brooke turns to me, nose wrinkled and shakes her head no. Now smiling she signs, “I like building and flying kites and stories of princesses living in the clouds more.”

Now, after a year in a dorm room. Experiences that I never imagined, like traveling with teammates across the country, I understand what our parents gave us in our unusual, by today’s standards, home. In a way it was each other, time dreaming, imagining and playing together. Finishing this post I ask Brooke if she has a kite, and if we are too old to still fly them. Words are quickly scribbled on yellow pad, that is tossed my direction as she bounces up stairs.

“Yes., I made one not that long ago and that’s silly, you can’t get too old to fly kites! We are the perfect age!”

-Brooke’s Sister

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Slamming the door that keeps, the bedroom Brooke and I share, private from the rest of the world and mostly our parents, I shout at the people who love me the most. The words yelled are hateful, mean, the type intended to push others away. Of course my outburst is mostly a cover for the hurt I feel at the moment. That emotion I seldom let others see, and generally cover with a secondary one like anger or rage.

Through the white paint, wood and space my fathers voice comes. Telling me that he understands I am upset but expressing a need to discuss the issue of the hour in which I returned home. As his manner in all things with us girls, he is gentle and kind. Finally in tone that makes my now crying self move closer to the door that separates us, Dad suggests that I get some sleep and we converse over my disregard for curfew in the morning. Fathers hand gently pats the wood of the door jam, not unlike the way I’m certain he did Brooke’s head hours ago when she went off alone to bed. This is the moment I am completely aware, that of course Brookelyn is awake and sitting up, rubbing sleepy eyes, in the bed against the farthest wall. Turning towards her she smiles, ensuring me that a fight with dad has no impact on our relationship.

In the moments that follow I hit what for me is my all time worst behaviors as a human. Something about her sweet gentle smile, sleepy eyes and the knowledge that she does not rebel or create problems for mom and dad, infuriates me. My mind is racing, full of embarrassment for the ridiculous explosion, frustration over having the earliest curfew of all my friends, resentment that I disappoint Dad when Brooke doesn’t, and finally it’s too much, the anger wins out. I’ve often relived this incident but as I write it, fear fills my heart. I was ugly, imagine the spawn of Satan in all the movies containing such character, combine them into one ugly critter. With a heart of stone and rage, I attempt to share my misery. Yet, some are incapable of things like speech, hate, anger and ever being ugly.

“Brooke, don’t just stare at me!” I shout, as she complies laying down and turning toward the wall. She is doing the only thing that comes to mind, the natural response of following what she is told to do.

For reasons I can’t explain, my evil is not out, something inside me still begs to be released. Still in a shout I continue on. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t just always do what people tell you! It’s dumb and makes you a wimp and nobody likes a wimp! That’s why you don’t have hardly any friends because you are lame!” I’m shaking because I’m yelling so loud, I haven’t noticed that Dad has violated our rule of entering our room without knocking. The rare experience of shouting and worst yet the f word in our home, possibly the last time it’s used, warrants concern.

He is standing in the doorway observing only, just making sure I don’t do anything too bad. But I have already gone too far, I’ve already said things I’ll regret, hurt the most beautiful person I’ll ever know. Seeing our father does not calm me but makes it worse, I am certain he is about to get on to me and rescue the daughter he loves the most. Of course I am wrong, he doesn’t have a favorite, he won’t rescue her, no he is just insuring we don’t physically fight, though I am certain Brooke would not fight.

All my built up guilt, pain and “troubles”, explode in a final outburst of extreme rage. “That’s right just lay there, don’t say anything at all. Oh, that’s right, I forget we all should feel sorry for you cause you can’t say anything at all!”

As if knowing what will come next, like a palm reader, Dad sighs, turning to exit closing our bedroom door behind him. With the click of the brass sound of door shutting my tears began falling as I’m filled with guilt and shame. Laying silently, the tremble of crying is evident in my sisters shoulders. They shake as her hands go up to cover her eyes, while I turn off the light and crawl into my bed feeling miserable but deserving of the emotion. Hours pass as I’m consumed by the silence of Brooke crying, out of shame I can’t cry myself, instead I wish myself dead, or for strength to tell her the truth. Just a little courage to stand and say, “Brooke, you are perfect, don’t change or worry about friends or anything.”

The silence of misery is broken by a rustling of blankets, followed by bare feet quietly crossing the floor and then Brooke is beside me in my bed. Her cheek is wet from tears, but feels good against mine. Arms wrapped tightly around me, I finally begin to cry once more. Together holding each other we cry until sleep finally takes us. Of course she didn’t but I like to imagine that she said, “It is okay, I forgive you and love you even when you forget to love yourself.”

As always actions speak louder than words. The morning light does not wake me. Instead it is a gentle kiss from Brooke on my cheek as she gets out of my bed. I apologize, to which I receive a smile and wink, putting the event to rest forever. Well not for me, I still consider it my rock bottom, the event that marks my last real act of high school, teenage rebellion.

-Brooke’s Sister

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The first snow of winter always brings excitement to my heart. It was no different years ago when with eagerness I’d rise each morning, leaping from my bed to look out the window hoping to see a world covered in white. Of course on many occasions the first falling snow did not come while I slept but instead during the waking hours. This always created a feeling as if cheated, the way one feels when the shell they select is lifted revealing nothing where they are certain a pea should have been. The snow was not better when it fell while I slept, just the rush of finding change added to the possibilities of snowmen, wars raged with the white powder packed into balls and my favorite of all sledding, was beyond perfect.

Watching my breath fog the window from my sister and mines room, looking out at the white field infront of our home, my heart was racing. It had happened while I slept, enough snow had been released from the clouds that rolled in the prior afternoon to leave a glistening pearl view. Joyously shouting in triumph as if the feat was my own, as if Mother Nature had simply done as I’d ordered I crossed the room. Brookelyn sitting on the edge of her bed struggling into the pink snow pants, the ones I’d loved and worn when they were new. For a moment I try to recall, were they a birthday or Christmas gift from Uncle Lars? Leaving thought behind I continue on in an extatic voice, explaining how the snow is surely enough to delay the start of school, or possibly if luck holds cancel it all together.

Hearing my delight from down the hall, mother assures that my dreams are answered. She confirms that at least for the Bayer girls there will be no school on this wondrous Friday. Brooke, in snow pants now is pulling on wool socks, glances up at me with a big grin revealing the tooth she lost several days prior. The smile tells me she has heard and is excited about the news mom has delivered from the kitchen, while the aromas insist she is readying breakfast. Closing my eyes taking in the mixture of frying eggs and bacon, a vision of what she has promised fills my mind. It’s dad in the small barn behind the house, bundled in his hunter green coat, standing over his work bench. Upon the bench is of course the wooden sled, it’s runners turned up cold and hard awaiting the wax he is about to offer them.

Four socked feet race almost silently down the hall, at the stairs mine slow for safety and caution. Those belonging to my sister race past me, like most mornings, gracefully on her toes she barely touches each step until at the bottom, where she slides round a corner on the smooth hardwood floor. I enter the kitchen second as mom turns from the stove beginning to announce the ever so common statement often directed at children in regards to running in the house. The words are stopped before completely out, when her eyes meet her youngest daughters face. Brooke stands beside the chair at the small table in our kitchen that is her usual place, a slight smile on her face. However, it is not the smile that keeps mothers words on her tongue. It’s the one eyebrow raised, causing a slight squint of the other eye, a sign of acknowledgement that our family recognizes on Brookelyn’s face that leads to the silence. It is not that Brooke is allowed to violate rules of order that I am held to. It is something much more complex altogether. My sisters inability to speak, tends to make those who know her well find themselves in her silence. All in the kitchen are aware that there is to be no running in the house, and offending parties have apologized without words being said.

The silence is broken by fathers laughter and the slight creak of the side kitchen door. The announcement of this entrance to our house is not the type that suggest neglect, but rather the sort showing a dad, who does his own repairs, whom also values time with his girls over silent doors. With the three girls of his world all turning their attention toward him, he explains the cause of his chuckle. Brooke and I in our youth do not see humor in his explanation that if not a day promising snow and fun we’d still be upstairs grumbling about the hour. Of course he is correct, we would surely, (especially myself, Brooke is more of a morning person) still be getting ready and not nearly as excited. What we don’t understand however is why this is amusing to him and mother, who has now joined in the laughter. After all why would anyone show the same eagerness to get off to another day of school as a morning spent sledding with one of their heroes?

Bacon, eggs, toast and milk is devoured at a rate which would impress a drill sergeant, for the snow awaits. There is chatter about who will sled first, where the sled should be pulled and ‘what about a snowman?’ Brooke adds in a note slid to my father.

Looking back it now occurs to me, on a day when I would step away from scholastics and never think of writing so much as my name, she was still thinking of spelling and writing. Of course, she was already fluent in signing but preferred to write. Our father once explained that since Brooke was mute but heard perfectly, she never liked using sign language because people tended to sign back. I can’t say with certainty if that is the whole case, but it is possibly one reason why she prefers writing her thoughts.

Completing this post I watch Brooke with her best friend laughing in our living room. The friends laughter fills the room and Brooke in silence as always, joins her. The source of the humor I’m oblivious to, for like all teen girls who have one they are texting on their phones. I’ve heard adults speak negatively about kids and texting but picking up my own phone as I shout, “Brooke, what’s so funny?” I am filled with anticipation awaiting the buzz that will shortly announce the reception of my sister’s response.

Of course I still love the hand written notes, yet text is a wonderful way for Brooke to just be like any other teenager talking to her friends… As for me, if she is in ear shot, I still speak my part of our convos, just in case dad was right and she wants me to hear my voice.

-Brooke’s Sister