Hello campbellsworld visitors and aging people grooved or spined.
What am I talking about?
Read the following offering by Jo Elizabeth Pinto.
This story gives, “Out of the mouths of babes.” A whole new meaning.
Once you’ve enjoyed this wonderful work stick around to see what other delights Jo has to offer.
Thanks for dropping into campbellsworld.
I got a late start as a mom. My little girl was born when I was in my mid-thirties. When I show up at her school for classroom parties and field day events, some of her friends think I’m her grandma. The fact that many of their mothers are almost young enough to be my daughter creates an interesting time warp for me.
The time warp is amplified by the fact that, as any mom will tell you, kids are living self-esteem busters. Especially little girls. They’re quick to let you know about your new gray hairs or any blemishes that appear on your face, the coffee you drip on your shirt, the dress that starts to fit you a bit too tightly. If they see a lady on a TV commercial whose smile has gotten three shades brighter because she just tried a new teeth-whitening product, they’ll recommend the product to you the first chance they get. My sweet angel, Sarah, is no exception. She means no harm by it; she comes by her blunt remarks as honestly as any other kid born without filters.
So while the truth of my advancing age is no surprise to me, it hit home for me in a new way the other night. My daughter got right in my face with reality–literally.
At bedtime, she read aloud to me from one of her “Scholastic News” handouts. They’re miniature newspapers passed out periodically in classrooms around the country, and the one she chose this time featured ways wild animals beat the summer heat. We read about hippos in Africa whose bodies make their own sticky sunscreen, kit foxes in Arizona whose furry paws enable them to run across the scorching sand, and silver ants in the Sahara Desert whose shiny backs reflect the heat of the midday sun.
The strangest animal we encountered was the thorny devil, a spiny lizard from the deserts of central Australia. Because it lives in such an arid environment, the thorny devil collects water by letting scarce rainfall and nighttime dew pool up in the grooves between its spines. Then the precious water trickles along the grooves on the lizard’s body, eventually ending up in its open mouth.
As Sarah read, she reached out and stroked my forehead and cheek. I sighed, enjoying the unexpected caress. For a moment, I was lulled into a false sense of contentment.
Then Sarah traced the lines on my forehead and around my eyes with the tip of her index finger. “Mom, you don’t have spines, but you have grooves.”
“Grooves?” I frowned. “I have grooves?”
Sarah’s index finger moved down to my cheek and began tracing around the curve of my nose toward the place where my lips parted. “If you sit outside when it rains, does the water collect in these grooves and trickle into your mouth?”
So much for any last hope I might have had of being a reasonably attractive woman of middle age. “What in the world are you talking about?”
“The lines on your forehead and around your eyes and lips.”
After I finished tucking Sarah into bed, I asked her dad about the state of my complexion, since as a blind person, the thought of wrinkles had never really crossed my mind. I knew elderly people got wrinkles, but my face still felt as smooth under my fingertips as it ever had, and I’d never really given the idea of lines around my eyes and mouth a passing thought.
“You look fine. Not young, not old,” he said in a maddeningly offhand way, hardly glancing up from his hockey game. “Nobody would believe you if you said you were thirty; nobody would believe you if you said you were fifty. Don’t worry about it.”
“Don’t worry about it? Really?” I muttered as I walked away. “Easy for you to say! You can see yourself in the mirror!”
And there I have it. My daughter tells me I look like a thorny devil, and her dad says not to worry about it. I think I’ll sit out on my front porch tomorrow. There’s rain in the forecast.
This piece first appeared on Holly Bonner’s Blind-Motherhood blog:
Was that not just the greatest?
Now, which do you have?
Spines or Grooves?
More about the author…
“The Bright Side of Darkness” Is an award-winning novel, Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.
About the author…
J. E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.
Pinto’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. J. E. Pinto lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.
The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.
Rick Myers, an orphan without much faith in the future, and Daisy Bettencourt, a blind girl who is running from an alcoholic father and a set of overprotective foster parents, cross paths at a high school baseball game and make their way together. Daisy becomes the bright spot in Rick’s universe as he and his four lifelong friends–Tim, Mark, and the twins–battle the forces of poverty and hopelessness. Mark’s grandma dies of heart failure, and Tim’s stepdad is arrested on felony child abuse charges, leaving them, like Rick and Daisy, with no authority figures in their lives.
Rick and Daisy are trailed by a fat man in a battered green jeep who makes Rick more and more uneasy as the weeks pass. Then, just when Rick discovers an interest in the culinary field and decides to complete his education, the bottom drops out of his world.
There’s nothing a damn bit bright about sunshine when you’re seventeen and you see it from the wrong side of a jail cell window.
It isn’t that I’m moping for my lost freedom or anything. I wouldn’t give a half a crap for my life anymore now that the crew is scattered to the four winds, and all I have left of Daisy is her parting note in the waistband of my jeans and a wilted dandelion dangling between my fingers. But it seems to me that the Man Upstairs could have marked my downfall with a terrific thunderstorm or at least a few nasty black clouds out of the west.
When there’s a war or a funeral or some other sad thing going on in the movies, the sky usually turns dark and ugly, and the rain pours down in buckets. The longer I stare at the square of sunlight streaming through the tiny window of my cell and stealing across the floor, the lonelier I feel. August 27, 1986, is slipping by the same as every other hot, heavy day, and I’m the only one in the world who knows that nothing will ever be all right again.
It hasn’t always been this way. I ought to have known better than to believe I could reach out and snag a piece of paradise, but for a little while I had it on my fingertips. Breaks are hard to come by for kids from the projects, though, and sure enough, all I ended up with at the last second was empty hands.
I’m doing my level best to hold off a flood of memories, but my mind keeps drifting back to the sweltering summer evening when the chain of events began that shattered my world into a zillion pieces. First thing tomorrow morning, some juvenile court judge will decide if my life is worth rebuilding. Maybe he’ll have better luck with my future than I did with my past.
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