Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lily Pad Dreams

Sometimes, life is just too funny. For the last few weeks I’ve been remembering Sister Agnes Ricardo’s “above the chalk board” bulletin-board. I met Sister Agnes in the 9th grade. Her bulletin board above the chalk board NEVER changed. It always bore a Browning quote that said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Then again, Sister Agnes Ricardo gave me an A+ on a paper I never turned in, so who was I to argue? She also prayed every Friday that none of her daughters would “sell themselves short.” Needless to say, I was a very naive and confused student. I knew I was the world’s worst sinner, but still had something to say… But how could I say or pray for anything? Sister Agnes Ricardo put a statue of Holy Mary holding Baby Jesus right under the Browning quote! So I was stuck. Who could pray against that kind of soul assault?
Since then, a few things have happened in my life. Among them, drunks I once took care of as patients have plowed into my car. I couldn’t testify against them in my own court cases, because I had taken care of them on a chemical dependency unit. (The laws may help them, but the laws screw the rest of us). So I muddled along. But dreams don't die hard. We just have to make the choice to grasp them.
Yesterday it dawned on me, one of the reasons I love The Writer’s Vineyard is that it’s not a hard sell blog. (I hate those…probably because I’m the world’s worst promoter). I genuinely like coming to a site where I can share a few thought about my life as a writer and NOT feel the need to promote.
So let’s talk about dreams! Lily pad and snail dreams.
They are important! We need them! They help us succeed!
When I was six, my father was a bomber pilot for the USAF (May he and all who served with him RIP). BUT, at the time, he was stationed in Europe. Mom was smart. She told Dad to go to work, brought a rail pass and traveled Europe with the four children (maybe Mom wasn’t so smart, but us kids tried to make it fun. I remember good times!).
Anyway, one Friday, Dad caught up with us in Switzerland. I remember this well because Mom made us wear our Sunday-best.  It wasn’t Sunday but we were going to a famous church. Unfortunately, we didn’t get into the church because Julie Andrews was getting screen-married at the same time in this very famous church. We got to watch her get fake-married to Christopher Plummer though. At the time I thought the whole episode boring. Then again, I was only 6.
We proudly stood before that hotel, knowing Dad would puff out his chest and tell everyone we were his. We looked that good. Then something happened. Dad had to run back inside to fix something…I still don’t know what. Mom followed to help. The rest of us stayed by the outdoor pond trying to reach in and pluck out lily pads. My brother was better than any of us girls at this.
Then it happened. We kids had been pulling lily pads out from the pond’s edge for several minutes when my sister Adele got the most sly countenance on her face I ever… change that. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have imagined it. But at that moment she looked at my brother and said the D-word!!!! Do you know what the D-word does to McCalls? Anyone who knows McCalls knows we are of sturdy Highland stock. Achieving the D is a matter of honor. All right, there’s a little Italian, German, and French thrown in. But, geez!!!!  Don’t mention the D-word unless you are truly prepared!!!! The Scots may give you a way out, but those Italians… I love them so better not say more on the matter now. Just remember, don't D-word Italians.
D-word said. That was it. No matter who yelled or screamed.  
Anyway (have you figured out I love the word anyway?), Adele looked at Bobby and said I DARE you to get the lily pad with the snail.” The lily pad with the snail was about 4 feet out. My brother was 7 years old. You do the math. LOL! He was doused but came up snail-toting lily pad in hand. Try explaining that to your USAF pilot dad as his face turns blue then red then blue again at the sight of his firstborn son sloshed and holding a green leaf with a snail.
And the point of all this is we all have dreams. For some and for many those dreams are related to writing. But make no mistake, sometimes, you have to fall splat in the pond, get drench, then stand up to show your snail. Get away from the pond edges, grasp a snail-laden lily pad and make your mark! But no matter what, don’t be afraid to get wet!
See you next times!


Big Mike said...

Great story, Mary. Ref "The laws may help them, but the laws screw the rest of us", its a sub theme in many of my political thrillers. Just makes ya want to growl.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Agree with that, Mike. Been watching the Zimmerman trial and am thankful for the very agile Mike O'Mara.

Anyway, Mary, your advice is applicable and the story pictuesque. You sold your book with other entertaining writing. The hard sell is for toothpaste!

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

Fun story, Mary!! I can just see him going into the pond.

I've been to that church! Tweeted.

Màiri Norris said...

Mary, I loved the blog. Bottoms up to lily pads and soaked, grinning little brothers.

widdershins said...

Great story! ... and bonus, Julie Andrews!

Mary McCall said...

Hi BM!
Chemo gripped me hard today but I'm finally back.
I had to chuckle reading your post. I could tell you tales about psych/CD patients that would make your blood boil. Like the guy with a warrant for vehicular homicide of a 4yo while drunk and spaced out on Meth who we couldn't turn in because he was protected by Federal privacy laws specifically r/t CD. I say now, forgot privacy r/t addiction. If someone gets high and drinks Black Jack, then turns around and kills a 4 yo, give 'em the chair...lethal injection is too humane. (Probably won't win senate seat with my attitude). But if you ever need background cases based on psych, forensic psych or CD, let me know.

Mary McCall said...

O'Mara has a tough job but seems to be meeting the challenge.
And thank you. I sometimes forget that good writing is the best marketing.

Mary McCall said...

Thanks for the tweet, Ella!
The alter in that church is magnificent, isn't it?

One memory I'll never forget was the pleasure on my brother's face when he grabbed up that lily pad and the look on Dad's face when he saw the condition of my brother's Sunday best.LOL.

Mary McCall said...

Mairi! So glad you stopped by. It is sometimes funny how years after an incident we can learn a lesson from it. At the time, I learned don't make Dad mad. But now...it's a metaphor for dreams.

Mary McCall said...

Wow, widdershins! You're here. Don't laugh, but for years after that, I had a thing for Christopher Plummer. LOL.

Big Mike said...

With ya in the Chemo Mary. Worse experience of my live. Between that and the burn scar inside my throat from radiation, last 6 weeks I was tossing cookies every 30 minutes, no joke. Lost 50 lbs, but I did survive. You go girl and the sunshine will return. You're on my prayer list.


Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)