It is rare for me to read a book that makes me cry. I’ve had books touch my heart in the same way a good song will. It was different with Looking for Mary Gabriel. I stumbled onto a part that you don’t see coming, and it’s shockingly heartbreaking.
Bonita Gaberiel wants a normal childhood with a normal sister but there’s nothing normal about her younger sister, Mary. Mary suffers from a mental illness that causes her to act on impulse, see and hear things no one else can, and to take off without warning. Bonita’s father appoints her Mary’s keeper. At times it seems he’s only trying to instill the importance of family. Then there are moments when he’s asking too much and his motives are questionable. Bonita and Mary’s mother had a sister who suffered with mental illness that led her to commit suicide. Their mother worries it’s her fault and she doesn’t want Bonita to ever feel responsible for Mary but rather than share this with Bonita, it is kept secret from her. At times it appears their mother is wanting to protect Bonita and other times it seems she just can’t deal with her sister’s death.
Bonita struggles with wanting to protect her sister and wanting a normal life away from Mary. A tragedy occurs which leads Bonita away from her family and then another tragedy happens that cuts Bonita’s ties with her family. She chooses a quite life hidden away from family and friends who love her more than she thought possible. With the passing of Bonita and Mary’s father, Bonita is forced to emerge from her hidden life to handle funeral arrangements and deal with Mary. What she thought was true is contradicted by what she learns is true.
Beautifully and poetically written, the story of a family that is flawed is wonderfully conveyed on every page. ‘Looking for Mary Gabriel’ is a story that shares the love of family and the harsh truths about family making it relatable. It’s a book that can be read a 2nd and 3rd time; each time bringing some new fascination to the reader. I give it 5 stars and recommend it to everyone who loves reading.
This was written for Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop – Prompt 3. Head over to Mama Kat’s and choose a prompt.
Everyone says “Happy Memorial Day.” I understand how commercialism has grabbed up this day too. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t part of it. All the local swimming areas opened this weekend. Store sales, cook-outs, this weekend has been gorgeous outside, and so in a way, it marks the beginning of summer. Then I think of my cousin who has served in the United States Navy since he was 18 years old and he is now stationed in Japan with his family and he’s going to be in his mid 30’s soon. I think about how my community I have resided in for 37 years has 16 grave markers for Confederate Soldiers, unknown names, but the flags are there this weekend. I think of a mother and family that moved to this small community because her grandparents had lived here their entire lives. She moved her children here, and her daughter, Madison, and my oldest, Madison, hit it off. She had moved her family here because her husband was shipped to Afghanistan 8 months ago. I’m almost sure this is my 225th post to this blog. I’m sorry I’ve neglected this blog, as well as my blog over at Blogger. I have missed some wonderful weekends of Ten Things of Thankful, hosted by Lizzi. I am one that can benefit greatly from remembering my blessings. Someone once told me, though I have forgotten who, to write in my journal everyday 3 things I’m thankful for, make me happy, is special about me, or special about loved ones that have a positive impact in my life. I’m not sure how I started slipping on that. I am proud of this blog. I love keeping my poems and poetry type prompts over on My Constant Thoughts. I also enjoy the freedom this blog allows. Flash fiction, why not. List of things in variety, of course. Book reviews, definitely. Interviews with other bloggers who have published their work, hell yes. I’m not so sure that Memorial Day should be a “Happy” time. It’s natural to follow some traditions of celebrating, but I hope everyone takes a moment of time and remembers our fallen soldiers that gave their lives so we can cook-out and celebrate. With this being said, I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day. If I had to choose 3 things at this moment; 1. My girls’ and how much love they bring into my heart. 2. Thankful for the freedoms I do have and advantages that come from being free. 3. Grateful to all the men and women serving in the USA’s military, a huge salute to the ones gone, and wishes for all the soldiers to remain safe. I’d like to thank all the soldiers who have fought for freedom.
1. Today is my sister’s birthday (yesterday actually). What’s one way you’re like your siblings? If you don’t have siblings, how are you like your lifelong best friend or cousin?
I have a half sister but unfortunately, we aren’t close. So, I can list one way I’m like my lifelong best friend who is more like a sister to me: We actually are joined together by family……….for example: my great aunt, Etta was married to her uncle, Lonnie. My cousin, Leonard, was married to her aunt Doris. Since my grandparents raised me and Etta was my grandmother’s sister, we spent so much time together from the time we were in diapers. I would say we are alike in many ways, just as we are very different. One way that we are alike is we both love to do most of the same things; lounge on the river, play our music loud in the car while dancing, taking the children to fun places, such as a pumpkin patch, and neither of us care much for Christmas. Here is a photo of us on my 3rd birthday.
2. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of yourself at age eighteen?
Wow. At 18, I had dealt with a few deaths, like my grandfather and my aunt four months later. During this time, at age 17, my boyfriend at the time proposed. I knew for sure this was not a lasting relationship. However, his proposal lightened my grandmother’s days. She had aged a lot in the past few years from taking care of her husband while he was sick in a hospital bed, losing him and 4 months later losing her oldest daughter. A wedding, especially of her grandchild she had raised, and marrying in her eyes, the perfect man, took years off her age. She was happy, smiling, almost giddy and threw herself into plans for the wedding. I tried speaking to her 4 months before the wedding and she said it was wedding jitters, but I could see the disheartened look and sadness in her eyes. So in July of 1995, I had a Cinderella wedding, everything was perfect, except that I deep down knew I was making a mistake. So at age 18, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and ended up divorcing him 3 years later much to her distress. Can’t turn back time though.
3. Sculptor-dancer-actor-painter…if you could excel in one of these arts, which would you choose and why?
I would have to say painter. I love photos and I love art of all kinds. I have been having a blast on an app I found for Google Chrome called Psychopainter. It let’s you use a sample, one of your photos, or start from scratch. Then pick your brushes, ect so that you can repaint over the photo and make it look really good. I’m still learning. So, I think to be a great painter would be awesome. Problem is I have no talent for it. lol
4. What’s a scent that takes you back in time, and where does it take you?
I don’t know how to explain the scent exactly. Almost lavender is the best description I can come up with. My granny used a certain kind of lotion and if I go through her things that haven’t been bothered for awhile, I can catch a whiff of that smell. Also, Downy fabric softner. My granny always used Downy and then hung the clothes outside on the clothe’s line. So, the smell of Downy takes me back to growing up and warm summer days.
5. November is for peanut butter lovers (National Peanut Butter Lovers Month). Are you a lover or a hater? What’s your favorite dish/recipe that calls for peanut butter?
I actually love peanut butter. A peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich are awesome. I think my favorite recipe that calls for peanut butter is a recipe I learned in high school during Child Care 1. It’s peanut butter playdough. I have lost the recipe and lost it before I had children. So, I can’t remember exactly but I know peanut butter was an ingredient. Basically it was for small children to be able to make and then spend time rolling it around and “playing” with it before eating it. I really need to search for the recipe because it was so simple.
6. What do people thank you personally for most often?
I would say I get thanked the most for being helpful and doing what I can to help others.
7. What event this year are you most thankful for?
I guess an event I’m most thankful for this past year would be my oldest daughter’s graduation from 5th grade and beginning middle school. I’m also proud of my youngest daughter’s wonderful work in this school year and enjoying learning in 2nd grade.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
Just a random thought about how Halloween night was not real cold. It was fun and nobody was freezing. I stay cold anyway, so I was glad. Today it is raining outside and just looks cold. If that makes sense. It’s one of those days to pile up with a good book and be warm and hopefully not have errands to run that lead outside. lol.
So this was written for Day 6 and Day 7 or NaBloPoMo and for Wednesdays Hodgepodge.
I am so unorganized and sometimes catching up on blogs proves to be a challenge for me. I love the people I meet in the blogging world though. I have read over some great list on 10 things others are looking forward to. I have gushed about the beautiful scenery here in the fall and loving fall activities, however, being a huge summer fan. I am going to do this week’s Monday Listicles like this:
10 Things I Look Forward To Every Week:
1. I adore my girls. Have I mentioned they are going through a stage where they cannot be in the same room without bickering back and forth. I mean, what does an 11 year old and a 7 year old have to bicker about? The answer is everything!! Everything examples: “Mom, Madison won’t play school right. She always wants to be the teacher.” “Mom, Olivia is being annoying.” “That’s my hair clip Olivia,… No, it’s mine because it was in my hair bow box…..Cause you put it there, it was mine.” “Mom, I want hot dogs for dinner and Olivia wants hamburgers. Which are you going to fix” Even to who will bath first at night. I have talked. I have laughed underneath my breath at times. I have settled the silliest arguments, such as I am in charge of what’s for dinner. I bought hair bows for all of us, myself included, and yet they can’t put theirs simply back in their containers of hair bows, and they end up with mine anyway. Sorry, venting a bit about my beautiful angels. 🙂 I look forward to the bus running at 7:00 a.m. They are dressed, look gorgeous, been told they are loved and in the middle of their hair bow breakdowns, I hear the bus coming and I smile. School is educational and they aren’t even in the same school this year.
2. Not to contradict # 1, but………..I look forward to the evenings. I clean, I organize, I job hunt, I play Candy Crush, I do odd things around the home……….. then, I do look forward to them coming home. Eating, doing their homework, and while it is still nice outside, us going for walks. I enjoy walking with my children, and it’s one of the rare moments they don’t find much of anything to argue about. I enjoy seeing what they have learned at school. Today was midterm day and my new 6th grader had 2 A’s and 2 B’s!! My 2nd grader had all G’s, which in elementary term for this area is an A.
3. Not to contradict # 2, but usually by 7 p.m. after they are fed, bathed, homework done, and winding down, they start getting tired. Which means any family fun we had on a walk is now a distant memory and # 1 comes back into play. I look forward to reading to my 7 year old, giving her butterfly kisses and tucking her in. I enjoy hearing my 11 year old ramble about things she could have talked about earlier, and then I get to say, “Okay, sweetheart, it’s bedtime.” 🙂
4. I don’t watch t.v. much at all. Growing up with 3 channels and grandparents that loved the news, by the time we got cable in this area, I was accustomed to occupying myself in other ways. I enjoy an occasional Lifetime movie, or special on Snapped. Usually, Forensic files puts me to sleep because of the same tone of voice the narrator uses. “It was a quiet night in the small community of Parrott, Va. The town had shut down for the night. Suddenly, a nearby neighbor heard shots ring out. It sounded more like a car backfiring. Ms. Nosyweather says she had lived beside Donetta Sifford since her grandparents brought her home from the hospital, 36 years ago. She never dreamed Donetta would harm a fly, much less fire a deadly shot into her unexpected boyfriend. The year was 2012…………..” I’m snoring. I do look forward to watching Supernatural and the Winchester brothers hunting monsters. I don’t even mind the re-runs while waiting on the new episodes. Usually, there are episodes I haven’t seen because I forget it comes on until it’s already aired. That’s my one t.v. indulgence, Supernatural.
5. I look forward to Wednesday evenings. Even though I no longer attend church because I was raised in our Church of God and my granny would make me go. In fact, she made me go until I was around 13 years old and then she decided it was time to let me make the correct decision. I decided not to attend with the exception of Easter just to spend the time with my grandmother and occasionally Christmas. My oldest was invited to go when she was 3 years old and I was pregnant with my 7 year old. She has been going since. So, her sister joined with her and they both enjoy going. I don’t voice my opinion one way or another. I go to watch their Christmas plays, attend Easter Sunday services with them, and always follow up on fundraisers or activities during Vacation Bible School. I have had the occasional questioning about going to church with them, but since most of the congregation have known me since birth, they don’t go through my children to coerce me into going. I’ve tried to explain to them in simple, non-judgmental ways a few reasons I don’t attend and for now that’s been enough. I look forward to walking them to church on nice Wednesday evenings. I enjoy the different lessons they learn, things they create in class, and see # 1.
6. I look forward to Fridays. I know that even though I have insomnia, I can have the luxury of sleeping in some on Saturdays. I’m not sure what happens to my children between summer and fall. During the summer, I don’t have a strict going to bed time. We also are on the move a lot during the summer days. Yet, daylight hits in the mornings and one of the two are up, usually waking the other. School comes, I do enforce a bedtime except for special occasions. We get activity mixed in, but they usually enjoy a great deal of activity at school. Come mornings, they both are grumpy, trying to sneak 5 more minutes in, and act as though they hadn’t slept all night.
7. I also look forward to Fridays because the girls enjoy spending time with their cousins who live next door. The advantage of living this close to my boyfriend’s family is if his brother and brother’s better half decide to go out, I’m here. If I decide to go out on occasion, I usually have no problem with the girls staying the night there. Neither of us make it a habit to keep all 4 girls a lot……….. see # 1 and apply it to her, but make one of her daughters 13 years old instead of 11. 🙂
8. Saturdays are fun days during the school year. The summer, everyday is getting out of the house normally. So, when school starts, every Saturday is more special. I look forward to the Saturdays when we have plans to do something or come up with something to do. Sometimes they are with friends and I have a sleep in day and me time.
9. I also look forward to Sundays. The girls usually don’t attend church on Sundays. Sometimes they’ll both or one of them will decide to go out of the blue. Sundays are my favorite days to cook, relax, get things ready for the week and I am a NASCAR fan from way back. It’s apparently football season, so I don’t enjoy hearing the game in the next room. Nor my boyfriend flipping back and forth between games, and he still thinks the refs can hear him through the t..v screen. These are the days I’ll enjoy an occasional movie, have eggs, bacon, gravy and biscuits for dinner. My boyfriend works most of the time Monday through Saturday, so Sundays bring time for visitors, going to friends, relaxing with me reading and him yelling at the players and coaches. Something about Sundays just seem peaceful and my darling girls don’t seem to argue much. I’m not sure why, but I’m not knocking it.
10. Pretty much my weeks aren’t planned to a T. I’ve tried the whole routine, organized plans, thing. I have Pinterst boards to prove how I’ll see an organizing blog, post on home decor, and DIY projects and adore them. The only routine I can usually stick to is Flylady and other than that, I guess the chaos is part of who I am. I’m OCD to a fault. I want certain things a certain way rather it’s an important thing or simple. For the most part, my chaotic life fits my chaotic mind. I did buy a planner at the beginning of the year to keep up with what’s due, what appointments I have, and anything else I need to keep track of. This basic calender in my purse has worked out really well for me. I carry it in my purse along with my journal. The journal is because no matter where I am, an idea for a poem or inspiration will come and I need to jot down a great line in my mind. I will forget if I don’t. Same with the calender/planner, it helps me remember things that I typically don’t remember. This concept should have grabbed me before the age of 36, but better late than never. I look forward to most days and though they sound routine, they are far from it. Things never get boring around here and so, I wake up, or in most cases due to insomnia, am already awake from the day before, and I look forward to see what each day may bring.
Here are the things I generally look forward to during the weeks of the school year. They aren’t written in stone, but it’s an ideal of life most times. Thank you all for bearing with me as I extended each item out and let out a bit of venting. I have a knack for babbling, or trying to keep up with the racing thoughts in my head. Head over to The Good Life and share 10 things you look forward to.
This is a day to give thanks to our lives or ultimately the ones that helped give us life. I am not highly religious but I believe there’s a Higher Power other than myself. I love family history and knowing more about where my ancestors came from.
Last year, we had a huge family reunion. My cousin done a great deal of research and discovered Chief Powhatan would be my 12th great great grandfather, or something like that. I found that extremely cool. Who doesn’t want to be related to Pocahontas? I picked around and had several cousins calling me ‘Nettahontas’ for a month.
I suppose for today, I could thank my Higher Power and be thankful my cousin could find all of the information with hard work. I am thankful for my great grandparents that I know of. I didn’t meet my real father until I was 30, but his dad was in my life from the time I was born. I look exactly like my real father’s, mother, Sadie. I never had a chance to meet her, but I am thankful for having her bone structure and features. My father passed away, actually 2 months after my mother in 2008.
My mother’s parents raised me, which made them more like a father and mother to me. They have also passed away. I am grateful for all the values they instilled in me. Thankful they took up their lives raising me when they didn’t have to. I’m thankful my mother knew she wasn’t ready to be a parent and ask her parents to raise me. I suppose when I was younger, I held resentment toward my mother and father but after meeting him, I let it go. Life is short. The year I did get to spend knowing him, I’m thankful for. I am ashamed to admit, I didn’t truly forgive my mother until after she passed away in 2008. I hope my Higher Power can let her know and she can forgive me also.
Today, my 3 things I’m grateful for are:
1. Both of my daughters enjoyed school today. Yesterday, my oldest began her journey into 6th grade. Today, my youngest started 2nd grade.
2. I’m thankful I have food to feed them each evening because this past month has been a bit of a struggle.
3. I’m thankful for finding a washer to buy from a friend, because right before school was starting, my washer gave out. Not having a license to drive to a laundry mat is stressful. So, I’m thankful to my friend.