Literary Intentions 
 
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LeeAnn Ball 1955-2010
Some people amble into our lives and leave subtle traces of themselves behind. We faintly hold those recollections in our hearts and minds, but as the years add up, we lose the details to the new waves of experiences setting up shop in our ever-growing memories. Then, there are those people who march in and leave a loud, lasting impression—one so strong our mind reserves a special place just for them. That is my Aunt LeeAnn. She was a blend of sassiness and grace dressed in blue jeans.

I can still hear the unique cadence of her voice, a sort of drawl and a laugh that was as infectious as her baked beans. Although she was as tiny as they come, she was tougher than most. When I was a kid, I sat in awe of the way she could swear and make it sound as ordinary as the most common of words. I wanted to do that—I still want to do that. She could toss a “shit” or “damn” out without the pope batting an eye. Maybe it was her passion behind the words, or maybe because her spirit was so kind and giving how she said the words didn’t matter as much as her intentions behind them.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of times spent with my cousins, exploring the butte behind my aunt and uncle’s house. Such treasures to behold filled our eyes with wonder and amazement. When we strolled back into the house, my aunt was the first to ask of our adventure. She would look us in the eye and marvel at our small achievements as if we were Lewis and Clark reincarnated. She made us feel important and didn’t placate us with a childish tone. She talked to us like grown-ups and encouraged our desires however big or small.

She and my uncle were so great with all of my cousins; I often wondered why they didn’t have their own children. I guess I just believed that if they could have kids they would have done just that, but sometimes life doesn’t work out as simply as it should. Instead, animals became their passion and she and my uncle raised everything from a skunk named Pepe to the many horses that have come and gone from their lives. She was an avid rider and volunteered her time for her community.

Even as arthritis stole the strength of her hands and body, LeeAnn lived her artistic imaginings. She transformed the drab rocks around the property into colorful ladybugs and bumblebees. She painted the image of my uncle’s favorite horse on a door with an amazing eye. The horse died, but thanks to my aunt, my uncle will be able to see him every day. My favorite masterpiece has to be the photo of my aunt and their white horse after she grabbed a tube of black paint and a brush and turned the horse into a zebra. That was definitely an “lol” moment and one of those that will forever cling to my brain.

As I grew older, the times I spent with my Aunt LeeAnn and Uncle Emer, grew further apart. Years stood between us, not that I would ever know because as her tiny arms wrapped around mine and asked what adventures I’d been on, it was as if I’d just barreled down the mountainside ready to boast about my many discoveries. She was a fun and vibrant spirit, a loving aunt, and one helluva lady. I will miss her terribly and hope that as each day passes her loss won’t weigh as heavy in our hearts and that we can relish in the joys of her life and find gratitude that we were a part of it.

 
 
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I'm here to save the day!
We look to the skies for our hero to swoop down and save the day. We cheer him on when he whips out his wand and gives he who must not be named a good ol’ expecto patronum zap. We struggle with him as he fights for the injustices of the downtrodden or the prejudices of our day. The hero is the heart of each story we read or for the non-readers, watch. The hero makes us want to be better than who we are. And when they fall, we turn the page wishing for our hero to return wiser, stronger, and more apt to take on whatever is standing in his way.

There are many heroes in fiction—every story has one. Although the term may infer to a man in tights, even the simplest characters are heroes: Bridget Jones, Harry Potter, Atticus Finch, D’artagnan, Jean Valjean, Edmond Dantes, Pryor Phillip, Beowulf, Katniss Everdeen, Percy Jackson, Huck Finn, Frodo and Sam…. Each of us has our favorites—those characters that keep us up at night turning pages or dreaming about them when we sleep. But what makes a good hero? Perfection? A ripped six pack? Stunning good looks? A magic wand?

For me, a hero has to be flawed. A hero who doesn’t know his strengths and, at times, is burdened with life that—like so many of us—he doesn’t know which way is up. But eventually, our hero claws his way through one mess after another and finds his way and learns what it means to be brave and true. My heroes are everyday people who eventually become extraordinary in their own right. Who’s yours? And if we were reading your story would we be rooting for you, waiting for that moment when you stand before the villain and wave your magic wand?

 
 

My kids just ain’t gettin’ this naughty and nice thing. I can sing the song all I want, which is punishment in and of itself, but they really could give a reindeer’s arse if the red-suited stranger puts them on the famed naughty list. So what’s a mom to do?  Do I shout, “you snooze, you lose” and not give them the loot they scored last year?  Do I buy them gifts, thereby not reinforcing the “if you make bad choices you get jack” rule?  I’m losing this battle. 

Since Christmas is really about Jesus and not about a jolly, old elf named Santa Clause, I started asking myself WWJD (what would Jesus do)? But the problem is I’m not a religious person. I’m what they call a doubter, so I’m not really sure what Jesus would do.  Maybe baby Jesus was a whiner too, maybe he wouldn’t stop touching his brothers, maybe he pulled funny faces at the dinner table (or floor).  Did Mary have to count to ten? Is that where the saying, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” came from—Mary shouting at her kids? It couldn’t have been all peachy.

So if I, the doubter, were able to ask Jesus, he probably would remind me that as naughty as my children are, at times, they are the ultimate blessing. He would remind me that Christmas may be a time we offer gifts to those we love, but it isn’t about “he who has the most toys wins” or even the naughty and nice rule. He would remind me, ever so humbly, of his birth. He would remind that the true meaning of Christmas is love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

As many questions as I have about religion, who could doubt the beauty in that. So, if my kids do—or don’t—rake it in this Christmas, the one thing they will always have is love, whininess and all.

 

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    My name is Diana (a.k.a DS Tracy) I am a wife, mother,  and wannabe writer. One day, I hope to delete the wannabe part--no one likes a poser!  
     

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