Stories Before Me (from the prompt The Mother Land)……………………………1
Connie Lee Shannon Peters (from the prompt Who Do You Think You Are?)…….2
Connie Marie (from the prompt A.K.A)………………………………………………..3
A Brave Stand (from the prompt Just Wait Until Your Father Gets Home)…….…4
Ginny (from the prompt Mamma Mia!)……………………………………………….5
Sisterly Love Lasts Forever (from the prompt Sibling Rivalry)…………………….6
Country Home (from the prompt Welcome Home)………………………………….7
Shannon Creek Park (from the prompt Hanging Out)………………………………..8
Another World (from the prompt Road Trip)………………………………………..….9
Kissing (from the prompt At First Sight)…………………………………………..…10
Jack Smith (from the prompt With A Little Help from My Friends)…………….….11
My Love Affair with Hiking (from the prompt My Love Affair With)…………….…12
Creative Writing Teacher (from the prompt Look What I Did!)…………………….13
Immunization and Cure (from the prompt Death Be Not Proud)……………….…14
The Party’s Started (from the prompt Famous Last Words)………………………15
Stories Before Me
At fourteen, getting to know God was new to me
and a great adventure. Imagine my surprise
when my genealogist sister discovered
we came from a long line of preachers,
including Samuel Maycock who was appointed
to be the pastor of the first church at Jamestown.
The Maycocks, when living on an acreage outside the fort,
hid their infant daughter Sarah
during the Jamestown massacre of 1622.
Samuel and his wife were murdered,
but Sarah went on to marry George Pace
whose father Richard had warned Jamestown
and saved those living within the fort.
Another ancestor, Captain Drury Pace
was a chaplain in the revolutionary war.
Some of my ancestors, Scotch Irish,
came over to the U.S.A in the 1600s
and settled the area in Pennsylvania
where I grew up. My sister has an original deed,
dated 1796. That land is now part of the
State Game Lands. My great grandfather
married and was widowed on their ninth child.
On a trip, he met and married another,
failing to tell her he already had nine kids.
It’s reported that he simply said, “Here’s your family,”
as he introduced them upon arriving home,
and all she could see were nine pair of eyes staring at her.
(So my grandfather Shannon was born in the area
but my grandmother was from Kentucky.
She shared a grandmother with Billy Ray Cyrus
about seven generations back. )
The Scotch Irish, a spirited bunch,
took the new land by storm,
with “the Bible, a gun and a bottle of whiskey.”
I dropped the gun and whiskey,
but cling to the Bible.
Connie Lee Shannon Peters
C reative? Ah, yes, thanks mostly to my husband’s encouragement.
O pen-minded? Does having a hole in your head count?
N ervous? When I speak in public or when my kids are in a foreign country.
N arcissistic? A tad. Don’t writers have to be?
I ntelligent? Yes, except STM’s about shot.
E motional? Yes. Makes for a good poet.
L oving? Yes, just don’t bore me.
E ncouraging? Yes, most of the time.
E nthusiastic? Depends. Writing, family and traveling? Yes Housework? No
S elfish? O, the bane of my existence! Selfishness is hard to define and deal with.
H elpful? Yes, but most of the time I’m working at home.
A mbitious? Yes, verging on stubborn
N urturing? Yes, that’s why my nest is slow in emptying.
Naughty or nice? Both on occasions.
O ptimistic? Yes, out of necessity.
N ature lover. Yes. I feel more alive when I’m outdoors.
P atient? As a caregiver I have to be, but I’m not always.
E nergetic? I’m working on it.
T alented? In some ways. Writing? Yes Technology? No
E mphatic? About God’s goodness.
R ealistic? Not always.
S imple? Definitely.
“My name’s NOT Connie Marie!”
I would stamp my foot and holler
when my Great Uncle Bob called me that
when I was four, and of course
I heard that name for a long time after,
because people liked to see me have a fit.
Great Uncle Bob bought me a stuffed hippo
which wore a red and white striped apron,
and I liked it better than I did him.
Mom called me Connie Lee,
in such a way that it made me glad
Connie Lee was my real name.
She also called me Brown Eyes
since she delighted in the fact
that at least one of her five girls
had brown eyes like her.
Dad called us all KathyJudyLindaConnieKaren
since he could never get it right on the first try
or Smokey, Sam or Sassafras
since they were easier than KathyJudyLindaConnieKaren.
My sisters now call me Con. We all
have shortened names for each other
since we regard each other as friends.
A Brave Stand
I learned to shoot when I was eight,
providing food to fill each plate.
I’d roam the forest covered hills.
To hunt and fish would give me thrills.
The early age of nineteen years,
I joined the war despite my fears.
A soldier who was my best friend,
just yards from me, met his life’s end.
And only some short days had passed;
it grieved my heart, but alas
my own dear brother died in France.
I knew I didn’t live by chance.
With firm resolve I fought and stood
for folks back home, the right and good,
enduring war and bitter strife
in hopes we’d win a better life.
I went back home with Purple Heart,
so glad to have a chance to start
a family of a wife and girls.
To me they meant the whole great world.
Worked the steel mill, till I retired,
and land and home that we acquired.
I raised my kids to understand
and tried to be a decent man.
For all my years, I worked hard for
what I defended in the war,
for those I love, my kids and wife,
the right and good, a better life.
H umble? Yes, mostly. But she did like to don swimsuit, negligee or dress to take pictures.
E nergetic? Yes, but never understood, “Get up and work!” didn’t inspire us.
L oving? Always. She cared for everyone she met, often writing to them for years.
E nthusiastc? Mostly about housework and family, especially her husband of fifty years.
N eurotic? In her later years she was preoccupied with sickness, always thinking the worst.
V ictorious? I think she stands before God and hears, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I maginative? Yes, she painted flowers on papers plates and wrote hundreds of poems.
R eligious? Both in the common and pure meaning of the word.
G orgeous? Yes, black hair, brown eyes, legs that once won an award in high school.
I nteresting? She was a city girl who loved a country husband, sort of like Lisa on Green Acres.
N urturing? Maybe overly so. She wouldn’t rest, even on vacations.
I nventive? Yes. She made instant hot chocolate before it came out, calling it quicky cocoa.
A dventurous? Somewhat. She’d be up for anything Dad wanted her to do, such as hunting.
H elpful? Always. Even when she was busy raising five daughters.
U nderstanding? Mostly, but she didn’t seem to get her children’s problems were real to us.
R eliable? Yes. Meals were at 7, 12 and 4 and she was always there when we came home.
S ister? She had two brothers and three sisters, all but one lived in our area.
T hankful? Yes and she’d often say so.
S acrificial? She always put her family first. One time she tore up good sheets for tomato ties.
H opeful? Maybe overly so. One sister called her “the Queen of Denial”.
A miable? Yes, she enjoyed visiting with friends and strangers alike.
N otorious photographer? She took pictures of everyone including solicitors and salesmen.
N imble? For the longest time she could do cartwheels in the yard.
O pinionated? Mostly she kept her opinions to herself, except for writing to the president.
N ice? Always.
Sisterly Love Lasts Forever
Sisterly love lasts forever
Kathy, the oldest of us five
My roommate and Girl Scout leader
No nonsense, fun, secretary
Judy, my friend, most of the time
Sisterly love lasts forever
Fun Wyoming summer with her
Clever, funny, generous, nurse
Linda, my “twin”, playmate, best friend
We lived in Nebraska a year
Sisterly love lasts forever
Kind, spunky, homeschool mom, artist
Karen, baby sister “puppy”
Celebrate birthdays together
Relatable, computer prof.
Sisterly love lasts forever
A little red house on the hill,
but sometimes pink, white or yellow
in a neighborhood huddled in a wooded valley
shared mostly with relatives,
except for friends to the north.
In late evenings, when we weren’t allowed
out of our yards, we’d play on the line.
We had three acres; half in garden,
a small wooded area, large yard with
lots of nut trees, pines and an oak named Charlie.
One sister said if she died and went to hell,
they’d hand her a lawn mower.
The funny thing is, in Dad’s heaven,
they’d hand him a lawn mower, too.
With all seven round the kitchen table,
no one could move except for Dad and me.
So I was the “gofer” when someone needed
something from the frig, cupboard or cellar.
In the corner was a wringer washer.
With all the jeans out on the line, mom said
people would think she had five boys, not girls.
The living room was crammed full
of furniture plus an upright piano. Watching TV,
I’d sit on the floor, under the keyboard.
The walls were decorated with Whitey
(a head of an albino doe),
Blacky and Reddy (mounted squirrels) and
a full gun cabinet. I thought everyone had one.
The hallway (which seemed long at the time)
ran out of the living room,
three bedrooms on the left, a coat closet
and a bathroom on the front part of the right.
There was a closet at the end of the hallway
which housed towels, the Lincoln Library and
the set of red books including #5: Best Loved Poems.
Each bedroom was mine at one time.
Mostly my oldest sister and I shared the back room.
In the winter, frost decorated the windows.
We cuddled to keep warm.
When she got her first job, she bought
an electric blanket and a record player
on which she played loud rock music.
My middle sisters were in the middle room.
The first room was my parents’
and for the first few years my younger sister
slept in a crib, then a single bed in the corner.
And in the plaster, Mum had shaped a teddy bear.
There was a big closet in the early years
and to get away I’d go in there and daydream.
Shannon Creek Park
Hidden in a wooded valley, Shannon Creek Park.
A hand-drawn swimsuit-clad woman welcomed you
and on occasions, a country band played.
Pappap owned the park, but my parents ran the place—
Pavilions (one red and one blue shingled on each side of the creek),
log coke stand, two outhouses, softball field, horseshoe pit,
swing set, swimming hole and fishing dam where my sis fell in.
“Dad got her out before she got wet,” they exaggerated a bit.
The coke stand housed a cooler for pop: cola, root beer,
orange, cherry, grape and a freezer for ice cream treats:
Captain Crunch, Nutty Buddies and five-cent Popsicle.
I’d play with ridged bottle caps as Mum waited on customers
and follow her along as she cleaned the outhouses.
The boys’ rest room was a rustic one-seater, and across the way
the girls’ was a solidly built two-seater with a dressing room.
In the creek, I splashed around with new playmates each day.
I was about six when the park closed, the swim hole drained,
leaving the little creek to run through freely.
A stranger bought the land with the dam and built a house.
We girls claimed the large outhouse, poured lime down the holes,
turned the two-seater into a couch and tore out the partition.
We did odd-jobs around the neighborhood to fund our band,
The Sunflowers. We put on plays, crocheted crafts,
and played pretend games on the abandoned land.
When we got older, it still served as a hang out.
We’d push each other in the creek and discovered who liked who.
We took long walks with our boyfriends
or found cozy corners in the pavilions or the coke stand.
During moody times, I’d go up to that quiet place,
sit on the bridge and watch the water rush past.
At the park, we worked, played, celebrated, discovered,
making many memories that would last.
Each summer, the seven of us packed into a station wagon
with our things under an upside-down row boat on top,
and snacks and bread bags full of sandwiches in a metal cooler
and we’d escape like refugees in the middle of the night.
The youngest squeezed between our parents in the front
while the older four stuffed into the back leaning our heads
on each other’s shoulders one way until one of us would say,
“Lean!” and we’d switch and lean the other way.
On the way to Delaware, from Pennsylvania,
we’d tell our parents to wake us up
when we crossed the Bay Bridge. They never did.
I always wondered why until I was a parent
and learned the rule: Never waken sleeping children.
And only a crazy person would wake up five of them.
We arrived in Laurel, Delaware as the day dawned.
Disheveled, we’d tumble out of the car and explore.
The small cabins lined up along a sandy area,
with picnic tables, grills and fish-cleaning tables,
by the lake with docks, boats and a swimming beach.
For a week we lived in a different world from trees and hills,
having the time of our lives: swimming, fishing,
playing hide and seek with locals and other vacationers.
We’d also go to the ocean and sun burn despite Mom’s best efforts.
Then we’d return home where it looked strange, grassy and beachless.
You were seventeen, I was fourteen. The first time we met,
I loved how your deep voice boomed in the night,
even though you were describing an x-rated movie scene.
One evening, you drove me home, driving like a maniac,
but flying down Pennsylvania roads exhilarated me.
For fourteen months, we were inseparable,
playing basketball, kissing, walking in the woods,
kissing, bowling, kissing, watching movies,
kissing, going to church, kissing, hanging out with friends,
kissing, tinkering with ham radio in your shop,
kissing, painting your MGB bright orange, kissing.
After dates, huddled in a kitchen corner,
we sipped mint tea, munched cinnamon toast,
talked and kissed with an eye toward my parents’ room.
We spent the next three years trying to break up
but always getting back together,
until we just got sick of each other. Fast forwarding
almost three years, you met my fiancé and you hit it off.
Somehow you ended up in our wedding party
and our wedding was on your birthday.
Every once in awhile you pop up in my dreams
and we’re usually kissing.
You were an old man—
in our eyes
(in your thirties).
you said if you turned sideways
and stuck your tongue out,
we’d think you were a zipper.
You played with words,
like calling cars you didn’t know
the make of “vehickies.”
You weren’t healthy
and had to take a staircase one step at a time.
The doctors said you wouldn’t last very long.
You said you had too much to do for the Lord.
Last I knew, you were still going strong
in your seventies.
You started a Bible study for teens.
You gave us our first Bibles
and we read them into the night, laughing
when the demon-possessed pigs fell in the water.
One evening you asked my best friend and I
if we knew Jesus as our Savior.
We said no.
“Do you want to?” you asked.
We said yes.
My Love Affair with Hiking
Hiking in the desert
With water jug or two
Hiking up a mountain
Exclaiming at the view
Hiking in the forest
Midst moss and feathery ferns
Hiking along the beach
Until my pale skin burns
Hiking up pebbled creek
Ducking under bridges
Hiking ‘round clean blue lakes
Admiring rough ridges
Hiking in a cavern
Getting cold and muddy
Hiking hills and cornfields
Chatting with a buddy
Hiking by river’s edge
Across the stepping stones
Hiking by the geysers
Adventure in my bones
Hiking in deep canyons
Scrambling up the rocks
Hiking along the bays
And smelling fishy docks
Listening to the great outdoors
Boldly tell its story
Of the wondrous Creator
His beauty and His glory
Creative Writing Teacher
When I see her bright red hair
in a crowd or in a store, I greet her
and I’m always surprised at her age,
because I often think of her as that
shy ten-year-old her mother drug
into my creative writing class.
For five years, I watched her get excited
about writing poems and stories,
until I said, “Wow, Sarah,
you’re writing better poetry than I write.”
And I know even if my own writing
never amounts to anything great,
someday I’ll see her name in print
and I might strain my muscles
from patting myself on the back.
Immunization and Cure
I suppose I became somewhat immune to death as a child.
Dad was a hunter
Dead animals everywhere
Their deaths helped us live
My grandmother on my mother’s side was the first to go. I was only five. Mom would take me down to her house and I would play in my world while Grandma was in the adult world. Pappap and Mom must have worked hard taking care of her, but it was all in my peripheral. When she died I just thought that’s what old people do. It was a part of life to me, like dead fish in the frig.
My red boots dangled
When Dad lifted me to see
Grandma’s still, white face
In my teen years my grandfather on my dad’s side and my mom’s sister passed away. It was odd that the first time I saw my Dad cry was when my aunt died. I wasn’t all that sure he even liked her since Dad criticized a lot. That’s when death first touched my feelings, not because of my loss, but because it made my Dad cry.
When my Aunt Marg died
Dad sat hunched over and sobbed
I stared in wonder
When I was a young adult, death’s painful emotions caught up with me for the first time, when my friend’s baby died. We had prayed for little Bethany when she was born with a defective heart. She only lived a few weeks. Her parents’ grief saturated the air making it difficult to breathe.
Baby doll in lace
Sorrow and grief sting and claw
We live on, with scars
They say the care-giving spouse goes first, which was the case with my mom and dad. Alzheimer’s rendered Dad unaware when Mom died. He died two months later. I gain comfort knowing that neither one of them had to grieve each other’s death. I often picture Dad spying Mom at heaven’s gates and exclaiming, “What are you doing here?” My four sisters and I painfully plowed through each first holiday without them.
Without Mom and Dad
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
Celebrate with tears
And now death has touched my generation. On a demolition job, tons of steel and concrete fell on my brother-in-law. Our last family reunion included a memorial.
Husband died, sis crushed
Said goodbyes through coffin lid
Full reunion waits
I am not immune to death. I feel it with all my senses. But I count on Christ, the one who rose from the dead, to be the cure. His death helps me live.
The Party’s Started
“The party’s started,” this I say
When the household begins to rise.
“Time to get up” the phrase implies.
“Like it or not, let’s start the day!”
A bit sarcastic is my way,
Knowing our life tends to surprise.
When the household begins to rise
“The party’s started,” this I say.
Let there be laughter, come what may,
Though sleep’s sand still rests in our eyes.
There will be music, if we’re wise,
Eating, dancing, singing and play.
“The party’s started,” this I say.