Category Archives: Andrea Savee

July 11 – Good Morning

by Andrea Savee

Tomorrow, my brain will be both bombarded and caressed and sections that have been asleep for forty-three years will wake up. My perception of the world, and maybe myself in it, will change, without me taking a drug, staring at a wall for a week, or having a near death experience.

I feel giddy and special. Like it’s the night before the biggest birthday party of my life. A party with one whopping $5600 gift to myself of Danish technology: hearing aids.

My childhood ears were ravaged by chronic infections. Surgical and pharmaceutical interventions–a steady dose of prescription strength Sudafed and Actifed, tonsil and adenoidectomies, drainage tubes, and finally a tympanoplasty — couldn’t prevent severe damage to the ossicular chain, that trio of articulating bones we learned about in elementary school: the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. By age nine, I’d lost considerable hearing in my right ear and was nearly deaf in my left.

Somehow, I’ve spent four decades never even considering hearing aids or the surgery that I’ve learned could restore my hearing to normal. Seeming to naturally embody the phrase It is what it is, I adjusted. In school, I sat up front. In work and play, I reflexively positioned myself to the left of someone I wanted to hear. I watched the mouth of the person speaking more than I did their eyes.

Tomorrow, I’ll immerse myself in a surround sound scenario that will reportedly rock my world as the brain scrambles to sort it all out. Alicia, the audiologist, warns me that as the upper registers of my hearing range flood with information, I may be distressed by the simplest sounds of living. Dishes clanking. Keys jangling. Freddie Mercury.

But there will be soothing sounds, too, as the lower registers open up and round things out. The hooting desert owl. Eggs boiling in the covered pot. The cat purring from the far end of the couch. I can hardly wait for someone to whisper in my ear.

And being buttressed on both sides now by the sounds of the world will bring clarity. No more mistaking the dribbling hose for chirping birds. The whirring motor several lawns away for bees humming in the trees overhead.

After my initial workup, the otologist asked me with a softened voice how I’ve managed all my life. I was touched by her tenderness. She asked if I’d grown up in a small town without access to good medical care. I hadn’t. In fact, my dad was a doctor. What ifs swirled around the exam room and around the question of why I hadn’t been treated with antibiotics. My later Google search suggests that whether and when to treat children with antibiotics is still the judgment call my parents made back in the 60s.

The child who lost access to half her world when the left side dropped away doesn’t need what ifs. She just needs hearing aids. The ReSound Alera 961 to be precise. I like the sound of that.

Andrea lives in California with her Queen-loving husband, and their cat, Chico.

June 29 — My Mother’s Gift

by Andrea Savee

WHEN I DIE by Beulah Irene Hagedorn

When I die
close my eyes.
I will have
gone away.
Keep the news
quiet.
My departure will be
unnoticed,
except to you
who hear me
and watch.

Be quiet yourselves.
Hold no public services.
Sing a song
you like,
and deal with loss
your way.
I will watch.

Let no one look
at my empty body.
Give it back
to the earth,
quickly, quietly
and move on.
God watches.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

1921 by Beulah Irene Hagedorn

No one
came
to the
chamber
where
I waited
inviting
me
to be born.

I slid
down
the corridor
and entered
this side
of life
in a small
square room,
out
of a
nineteen
year old girl
to a
twenty year old
boy
who held
me and
whispered
“welcome”.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My mother wrote these poems in June of her seventy-ninth year. My mother, Beulah Irene Hagedorn, died June twenty third, two thousand four, six days before her eighty-third birthday. She left me all the words she’d ever written.

A flat rectangular dress-box bulges with hundreds of pieces of yellowing paper of various sizes. She began writing at age sixty following the end of her thirty year marriage. She wrote to save her life and her sanity, always in her usual elegant and steady script.

In the last decade of her life, she spent many months assembling a photo album in the large upstairs bonus room of her house. Pressed between the plastic sheets aren’t photos, but typed pages of poems, thoughts, remembrances filled with sorrow and grief, rantings and regrets. Eventually, reconciliations, revelations, and peace:

“I stayed and faced my demons where I had created them, where I found them–in the bedroom, at the dining table, in my children’s eyes, my ex-father-in-law’s groans, my ex-mother-in-law’s strained struggle to cope, and the dark accusing hours when my inner voices badgered me into hell and back. Finally, I walked through the night into the day repeating a litany of God’s promises of love and forgiveness, forgiving everyone in memory until I came to myself.”

I grew up hearing a fairy tale that turned out to be the story of my own beginning. She recorded this on one of her pages:

“My fourth child was conceived on August twenty seven, nineteen hundred and fifty nine because I knew from an unknown source deep within me that there was a child who would be a special gift to me.”

I grew up hearing my mother’s story from its beginning and living it with her to its end. In my hands now is her life in her own words de-constructed and re-constructed on the page. Words no one else has ever read. Until now.

Andrea Savee lives in Lakewood, California with her husband, Mike, and their cat, Chico. Retired from a career in business, Andrea enjoys traveling and writing. Her work has appeared in SCN journals and anthologies.

June 7 – Sprung

by Andrea Savee

Like many people, I spent much of my childhood playing outdoors and my adulthood working indoors. As a kid, I lived close to the ground–on sidewalks, dirt lots, and green lawns–skipping, cart-wheeling, and hop-scotching my way through the seasons toward summer.

Once there, I wanted to stay forever: climbing trees and hanging across their broad branches until the sun-heated sidewalk looked like the place to sprawl or the cool green lawn the spot to stretch out on our bellies in search of lady bugs and buttercups; bare foot on balmy nights; licking crèamsicles, playing softball, riding bikes; visiting Aunt Ramona Mae and Uncle Delbert’s Iowa hog farm.

The delicate and lively watercolor wash of spring didn’t stand a chance against the thick oily spread of summer in capturing and holding my attention. I took the full but subtle splendor of that sophisticated season for granted in the innocent way children can.

I continued to do so as an adult. In fact, for twenty some-odd years, I watched all the changing seasons through the windows of my coffee houses and celebrated them only commercially: Spring/ Easter; Summer/Independence Day; Fall/ Thanksgiving; Winter/Christmas. These were the years for production and acquisition; I didn’t mind what I was missing.

Career building behind us, my husband and I are now less doers than observers. No longer tethered to time schedules, we’re rediscovering the childhood freedom of unfettered days. We’re settling down and sinking into our patio chairs, regarding the world around us instead of being distracted from it. As such, this spring, my 51st, has been a months-long meditation on that heretofore under-appreciated season.

We’re in the robust years of retirement–we still have our original hips–and could be RV-ing. Instead, we’re journeying to our back patio for morning coffee and our front porch for evening cocktails. We spend much of a typical spring day in two green plastic chairs that we shimmy around the lawn in search of shade when we’re too warm and sun when we’re too cool. From these mobile virtual desks, we sort mail, chat on the phone, and visit with neighbors.

In between, I take Mary Oliver’s counsel and “keep my mind on what matters…which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished:” by the wind through the Golden Rain trees thick with shimmering leaves, kids laughing, and kitchen dishes clinking; the aroma of onions frying, burgers barbecuing, and freshly mown grass; Red Trumpet Vine and budding agapanthus standing ready to announce summer’s arrival; stately Chrysler Imperial roses and erupting Birds of Paradise; purple Sweet Peas, pink Mophead hydrangeas, and yellow irises; lavender and amaryllis; grasshoppers and mud wasps; and a second brood of Phoebes nesting in the eaves.

I cross the half century mark enriched by the company of my old new friend–spring–and reminded of the paraphrased wisdom of George Santayana: to be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with summer.

Andrea Savee lives in Lakewood, California with her husband, Mike, and their cat, Chico. Retired from a career in business, Andrea enjoys traveling and writing. Her work has appeared in SCN journals and anthologies.

January 11 – Memento Vitae

by Andrea Savee

2010 was the second year in a row, and only the second time in my life, that I sent out Christmas cards. I don’t remember whose idea it was originally, mine or my husband Mike’s, but it was immediately agreed upon as a good one. We also agreed to use an image from our thousands of digital photos.

2009’s choice was a branch from a tree at the end of our street. With a little post-processing, the image flowered into a festive combination of blue sky, red and amber leaves, and spiky balls dangling like ornaments. I enjoyed imagining loved ones receiving our card and smiling.

Last year’s card featured me lying on the driveway of our friends’ home in the high desert, a shot taken during one of our many extended stays. Mike Photo Shopped miniature mes in pastel shades—yellow, pink, green, the colors of a soft desert sky—flying in formation above the recumbent me. He then pasted his grinning face onto one of the flying wives. Thus, another holiday greeting was created, angels delivering love and good wishes, and hopefully eliciting a chuckle.

Could it be it that a little more than a year ago we were still walking six miles a day? Or was the branch photo taken during one of our shorter walks, abbreviated because of Mike’s Parkinson’s, to around the block? And how long ago was it that those walks became just to the end of the street with our cat Chico darting from car to tree to bush following after us?

We trained Kittums (only he knows his third name “and will never confess”) to go on these walks, enticing him slowly a few houses at a time, allowing him to find safe havens along the route. Under Sam’s truck. Along June’s hedges. Pressed against our legs, tail anchoring him to his pride.

While Mike and I may cover less ground on our feet, we’re still out and about in a big way. Our truck stays loaded with supplies— tents, sleeping bags, Tupperware crates of canned food. We can decide at nine a.m. to hit the road and by noon be setting up camp in Joshua Tree National Park or lunching with friends Stan and Laura at their new casa, in nearby Yucca Valley, which has become our home-away-from-home.

Now that the four of us are retired and in love with the desert, we play like kids again, piling into the four-wheeler to investigate the surrounding hills, taking mid-day naps and slow walks down dirt roads, spending an afternoon hour watching quail outside the backyard window, and sipping cocktails at l’heure bleue under the space heater on the patio, spying coyotes lurking among the Joshuas.

In addition to being wishes of good will, the cards, like Lakota Winter Counts, record a memorable event from the year. They are souvenirs not from foreign places, but from the familiar places of our lives. Memento vitae.

Andrea Savee lives in Lakewood, California with her husband, Mike, and their cat, Chico. Retired from a career in business, Andrea enjoys traveling and writing. Her work has appeared in SCN journals and anthologies.