Thursday, May 14, 2009

Brave the Beast

by Carol Burnside

When my daddy died, I was nine and the youngest of three minor siblings still living at home. My mama didn’t work outside the home. She didn’t write checks or pay bills or handle any of the financial matters. Her name wasn’t even on the checking account. To complicate matters, Daddy owned vehicles, a business and several properties, but had no will.

Despite her immense and near debilitating sorrow over the loss of her husband and soul mate, Mama retained a lawyer, and tackled the laborious task of claiming his assets through the courts so we could survive. Outside her comfort zone? You bet. WAY out. But there are times when a mother must brave the beast for the good of her child or family whether the beast is a fight for her family’s survival, or suffering a little embarrassment, or giving up a dream.

I’ll never forget the year I braved crowded stores and made a spectacle of myself in store after store, diving headfirst into every bin and digging through every shelf of stuffed animals I could find. Boy, did I draw some stares, but I was on a mission. You see, I had to find the bunny rabbit my little girl was so confident Santa would leave under our Christmas tree. Yep, you read that right. A rabbit. They’re plentiful around Easter, not so much in December. Believe me, prayers were involved even though I felt foolish about even going there for such a small thing. For my daughter, it was huge.

After several days of searching, I was frantic and didn’t expect to find anything, but there at the very bottom of a huge wire bin full of Christmas bears in a JC Penney’s store was one leftover Easter rabbit with a cute pastel sweater proclaiming his name was J.C. Bunny! Santa’s magic was intact and though my little girl is now 25, she still has that bunny and his pastel sweater.

In one of my finished novels, which I’ve titled A Suitable Wife, Rosie is new to mothering, but believes she’s giving up her dream of finding love to help a friend secure custody in order to keep his daughter safe from an abusive mother. In the excerpt below, she takes the first step as a mother and puts the child’s comfort and needs above her own. I hope you enjoy it.
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Thankfully, Rosie didn’t trip on the sidewalk or rush to the gazebo in her eagerness to see Sam. He stood at the top of three stairs, looking like he’d stepped off the pages of GQ. Broad shoulders, trim waist, dark hair and a strong jaw line. He’d looked much the same at J.T.’s wedding, sophisticated and oh-so-tempting.

Jeezus Pete he was handsome and—for a while at least—hers.

While the pre-wedding preparations had moved at a snails pace, the actual ceremony sped by. The minister was blessing them in prayer when the unmistakable sounds of a fussy toddler rose over the proceedings.

Sam shot her a slightly panicked look once the amen had been said.

Instead of turning toward her groom as they’d practiced, Rosie stopped the minister from continuing with a raised palm. “Excuse me one second.”

She ignored the confused murmurings from their audience.

Sam whispered, “What are you doing?”

“I’m coming back,” she answered, negotiating the stairs and crossing to Sara, who struggled to keep a squirming Lorelei in her lap.

“Let’s go see Daddy.” Rosie extended her arms, hoping her brief bonding experience with the little girl had been memorable. Lorelei came readily, drawing a chorus of ‘ahh’s’ from the audience when she came into view dressed in a ruffled white dress and a miniature circlet which matched Rosie’s.

Chuckles and sniffs accompanied their return to the gazebo when Sam’s daughter hid her face in Rosie’s neck and refused to budge.

With Lorelei straddling her left hip, Rosie faced Sam and linked her right hand in his. “Continue,” she instructed the minister, who quickly pronounced them Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Moreland and family.

While her first kiss as a married woman wasn’t the one she’d envisioned in her plans at the ripe age of ten, it felt exactly right.
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If you’ve had a mother’s ‘Brave the Beast’ moment, please share it with us in the comments below.


Cinthia Hamer said...

Carol, I absolutely loved that scene! So sweet. :)

I've had two "braving the beast" moments as a mother that stand out vividly in my memory. I'm sure there were others but these were huge.

The first was with my oldest daughter. She was at a neighbor's house and the kids were all playing in the garage. Summer found one of those woodworking kits that have all sorts of sharp implements in it. You guessed it...she gouged her hand. Badly. At the ER, there was only one doctor available and no nurses. They were all busy with a heart attack. I had to act as "nurse" while the young resident stitched my daughter's hand together.(Insert shocked expression here!)

The next one happened just a few months later. My younger daughter took a tumble from a "razor scooter". I was pretty sure she'd broken her leg. With the help of our neighbor, I got her into the car. Then, while supporting the injured leg, I drove to the ER (the car was a manual transmission). After looking at the X rays, we found that she had a spiral fracture of the long bone in her thigh. The doctor was amazed that the movement from me driving hadn't cut her femoral artery and told me as much. I nearly fainted.

All's well that ends well, though. Both girls are now grown, happy and healthy. And mom has a lot of gray hair. :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

AAWW! That is so sweet. Great excerpt that draws us right in and makes us want to read more!

Tami Brothers said...

Ohhhh! That is so sweet. I love that scene!!!

I can definitely relate to finding that one toy. I laughed at the gabage patch craze when people were hitting each other over the heads to get their hands on that doll (my parents got my sister one somehow). Then I found myself doing some of the same things (not the hitting part) to get my hands on a tickle me Elmo.

My son still has it (I think)...

Thanks for a fun memory and a terrific blurb. I loved reading this this morning...


Marilyn Baron said...

I enjoyed your post and reading your excerpt.

Marilyn Baron

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Thanks for the excerpt, Carlo--I especially like the name Lorelei for some reason. : )

I haven't really had a mama bear moment yet, but my mother-in-law had one for me. My son fell on the playground when he was three and had obviously broken some part of his arm. With quick thinking, she took him across the street to his pediatrician for the X-ray rather than braving the er. (I'm so glad it was her because I don't think I would have thought of that.)

Now, here's the part where I wish I could have been a fly on the wall: the recpetionist told her that she didn't think she could fit my son in because he didn't have an appointment. My mother-in-law didn't say a word, but a few minutes later they took him back, got the X-ray done in short order, and sent him straight to the specialist who put the cast on.

I was teaching at the time, but I'm eternally grateful she had that mama bear moment on my behalf. Great food for thought--a mother's love will force us to do all sorts of things.

Carol Burnside said...

Aw, Cinthia, your stories gave me chills! Looking back, it's amazing that we got them through childhood, isn't it? Mine had their share of blood and stitches moments, then in their teens it's the driving woes! I hear ya on the gray hair. Thank goodness for hair color and highlights. LOL

Carol Burnside said...

I'm glad you ladies are enjoying the excerpt. It's always a bit of a nail-biter trying to decide which bits to share. :)

Tami, that's exactly what I was hoping for: that my memory would trigger similar 'brave the beast' moments for others.

Sally, thanks for sharing. Your MIL must have a look similar to one my mama used to keep us in line. We didn't need to ask what it meant!

Cyrano said...

Carol, like everone else, I truly, truly loved the excerpt. You managed to get so much sweetness and emotion into such a short space. Bravo.
Thanks for the wonderful post about mother's and their sacrifices. We should all remember our own mothers this month and every month to come.
Yesterday I blogged about quotes and here's a few about mothers from my board that I thought I should share.
A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after. ~Peter De Vries
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895
Hope you enjoyed them.
Have a wonderful day,

CiCi Barnes said...

Rosie is a charm. Hope to more of her. Great excerpt.

Raising boys, I've had several Mama Bear moments with bicycle wrecks, broken arms, hot grease, car wrecks, well, you get the picture. I'm tough until the crisis passes and then I fall apart after I know all is well. Hubby just stands back and lets me do my thing, ready to catch me when it's over.


Carol Burnside said...

Glad you enjoyed my little excerpt. Loved the quotes. :)

Rosie is a favorite of mine. She's very down to earth.

It sounds like you're cool under pressure, not a bad trait to have, regardless of what comes after. How great to know hubby is there for you when you need him to be strong.

Linsey Lanier said...

Hi Carol,

I'm so late with this comment, it isn't funny, but I wanted to let you know I read your post before running off to work this morning and again had to reach for the Kleenex.

Very touching. You're a good writer.


Carol Burnside said...

Not too late, though. I'm a night owl. ;)

That was my goal, to engage the reader's emotions. Thanks for letting me know, Linsey.

Darcy Crowder said...

Carol -

What a beautiful excerpt - thanks for sharing. I agree, you write beautifully.

Seems like the momma bear moments that come to me all deal with driving to the ER. My son knocked his front tooth out when he was 18 months old - such blood! Looking back I know now I would be much calmer, but at the time I panicked and locked us out of the house rushing him into the car without keys. Had to break a window to get back in. LOL.

Thanks for bringing back the memories!