The bench

For those who have followed my story it has been a long time but here is a new addition.  If you have not read my story you can read other instalments found under, flashback love-true story.

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Riyadh, June 2003

I walked back into the store, carrying little Dee who was now fussy and tired. The last splash of water had been dripped into her mouth but now she insisted on full hydration. She was a small girl for her 2 plus years, tiny features, dark brown eyes and olive skin gave her the appearance of a doll like figure. A smile crossed her lips as my arms held her tight. The clerk glanced our way with a curious and questioning expression and the usual worries swirled through my mind. I scanned the aisles and picked up my pace searching for a chair or bench inside the comfort of the air conditioned store. We had exited and reentered the premises numerous times in the same fashion, searching for water or a place to take cover from temperatures that hovered at 105 degrees.

I finally returned to the bench just outside the swooshing doors hoping that it was still vacant. I could not bare the idea of being mistaken for a beggar, being escorted to the door and possibly to the street. The two hour mark approached and anger welled up inside me, sending the inevitable tears that came with standard humiliation. He had insisted that I accompany him to pick up his mail. He would drop me at a nearby store to browse and he was sure the exercise would do me good. It would take him fifteen or twenty minutes and a quick look through racks of clothing would be interesting, even fun. A steady drip drip of sweat had now pooled, leaving my face and scarf wet. The bench that had offered comfort, now seemed hard and heavy as if marks were being sewn into my legs and thighs. A twenty minute wait had stretched into hours, leaving me to wonder if I had misunderstood instructions.

I scanned the Main Street for his vehicle just as I had for the previous seconds, minutes and hours and finally it appeared. I wiped my eyes, straightened my scarf and prepared to stand. The weight of a tenth pregnancy-overdue by two weeks had pushed me to my physical limit.  I mustered a fading smile, reminiscent of years gone by and hoisted my daughter into the car.

 

Baking, cooking and sugar plum fairies

Saturday afternoon a shiny, new stove arrived at my front door! The other stove was only nine years old but had seen much wear and tear, burners refused to turn off and heated up randomly and recently a buzzing noise from inside started catching the attention of my children. Still, I was so very grateful to have a stove as many people do not.

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Stove from Osama and Jacki!

If you have followed my blog and life story then you already know that I cooked on a stove that was purchased from a flea market of sorts in downtown Riyadh. Two of the four burners functioned and both shocked me if I used any metal utensils. We lived with no beds, chairs, tables etc. for a couple of years and with the very bare necessities when we lived outside of compounds. My parents supplied any luxury items for our family (new towels, clothing, shoes, kitchen gadgets, toys)  and we fought to hang on to those. We have all learned to be grateful for the smallest of things and realize material items cannot bring happiness, but they can make life very difficult when you do not have even the basics.

I was raised in a beautiful home on six sprawling acres of pine trees and never imagined living without the basics and also the many extras that I had become accustomed to. I was unaware of the insidious cycle of abuse until it swallowed me whole and spit me back out.

But now things are different and my children are allowed to make their own choices and to be who they were meant to be.

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My nine children

Meanwhile, I sit in my comfy recliner and sip coffee while visions of jelly roll, sugar cookies and fried rice dance in my head. Thoughts drift to concoctions that will be whipped up on a brand new stove!

Happy Holidays and remember that things can get better, there is always hope!

First year home-2009

This is the story of our first year back in America, other installments can be found here:

https://lynzrealcooking.com/first-year-home-2/first-year-home/

https://lynzrealcooking.com/first-year-home-2/first-year-home-2009/

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/11/16/first-year-2009-our-story/

 

Idaho 2009

A sharp buzzing pressed in my ear waking me from a restless sleep. It was time to rouse one of the girls, spoon coffee into a filter and pour a pot of water into the reservoir.  Thoughts of school and the day before held a nagging place in my gutt. The sad little figure that lay sprawled in the grass amongst students and helpers remained fixed in my memory. I had overlooked the possibility that this was my youngest child and instead a mask of denial coated my brain leaving it in an unrealistic fog. But after his sister sat beside him taking her place in a stance of not so much concern but possibly comfort, it was clear that things would not be as easy as I had hoped. My focus turned to the thought that there were only two more weeks of the paper route and then a new routine would take shape; no more nights spent wrapping bundles, sorting orders and jumping out to deliver to each and every home. Cooking for the co-op, cleaning once a week at a building and the odd sub job assured me that we could keep afloat and each time mom and dad visited they unloaded boxes of bread, croissants, peanut butter, canned vegetables and chicken, candy, school snacks and staples. Provisions were hauled into the apartment, stacked on the kitchen floor and put into cupboards. I watched as hot coffee dripped into the carafe and pushed away the idea that I was truly at fault but still I couldn’t help but wonder if leaving Saudi was for the best. I heard his words ring through my ears triggering shooting pangs of guilt to my core. “You are torturing me and the children with your stubborn and unhappy ways, you have become one of those women that I hate”

 

First year back home 2009-our story

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I edged closer to the tiny parking spot that stood above Frat row. It was a cement slab just big enough to accomodate a large vehicle but still unnerved me each time I navigated onto the platform.  Plastic bags were grabbed in batches and hauled over the rugged path and into the door of the old brick building. It was grocery day and that meant unloading and preparing a “fast food” meal including plenty of variety for those with dietary restrictions. I stuffed bags inside of each other forming a large ball of sacks that would be used for trash bags at a later time. Several packs of ground beef were placed into a large skillet and stirred, smashing them into smaller bits. The familiar sound of sizzling and the smell of taco meat would soon bring girls into the kitchen. Soos, Heme and Deeja made themselves busy with coloring books and crayons, cards and stickers. They placed themselves at a wooden table just outside the kitchen where residents would soon sit after dishing up their last meal for the day. Sullen faces stared blankly at my workstation and I knew that our discussion regarding school had still left them confused and fearful.

That day we had walked through the rickety wooden gate and into the school yard that lead to a side door. I kissed each one goodbye and delivered them to their respective classrooms, leaving my youngest for last. We had been to see the teacher days before and although she was inexperienced, she was also bubbly, kind and understanding. I was sure that everything would go as planned and so I walked with an air of confidence and pride.  We reached a brightly colored door that said Welcome to first grade. Other students sat at standard desks and tables, hanging hoodies and jackets on a coat rack, backpacks were shoved into cubbies and parents waved their goodbyes. The teacher nodded her head as if to tell me that it would be fine and it was time to leave. I gave a quick wave and returned the same way I had entered, leaving the wooden gate and parking lot behind.

From the upstairs window I scanned the school playground hoping to catch a glimpse of at least one of my four children. The recess bell rang and with it a massive exit from the side door of the one story school. Children carried balls and toys and quickly started in with their mid day break from books and lessons. A tiny figure stood alone in the large grass area, a hood tightly wrapped around the shiny hair of what appeared to be a small child. A stark contrast became unsettling as he crouched near the brightly colored playground equipment looking from side to side and finally giving in to tears. Classmates ran, laughing and giving chase, engaging in childish games that only youngsters play. Their smiles and shrieks of glee only heightened as activities progressed into throwing, catching and eventually climbing onto a metal structure. I watched him cover his face, firmly placing it into the school yard grass until a familiar figure with dark brown hair placed herself next to him and gave him the company he longed for.

Second time around is bliss

Many of you already know that I am a mom to nine fantastic children. But maybe you don’t know that I have five sons and four daughters. Recently Foof got married and a month before the ceremony my eldest daughter Saleeha, got engaged! As I have written in many of my true life stories, it was hard to ever imagine this joy and the idea that my girls would be able to pick their own careers, daily habits and most importantly their love interest. But here we are, two of my girls have found amazing partners and now for the second time I am overjoyed to witness them blossom, find love and build a future.img_0917

Saleeha met her intended through a friend and they share many similarities including their love for literature and writing. It has been a long road for my girl, building that trust and learning to relax and accept love and a warm and endearing heart but she is there and I couldn’t be happier.

Edison is a soft spoken Phd in Chemistry, a poet and he loves to cook! The ring he picked has a vintage look and is just what Saleeha wanted.

They have not picked a wedding date and both of them are not really into having a big bash so they will find what suits them. I am all about being yourself and doing what works for you, so whatever they chose will make me happy for them.

Edison proposed at their special place, deception pass. I posted pictures last year after they shared a romantic day there.

Recently wedding dress shopping commenced and she found the perfect fit for her! It is gorgeous. I will only show a bit of the dress so that Edison isn’t disappointed!

There is hope after the storm, there is peace and you can make it, whatever your struggle might be it can be part of your life and can make you stronger, not break you. Never would I have imagined that we would be here, back home, together and thriving. Don’t ever give up and stay true to being the best you!

Lynn

 

Empathy

Riyadh 2007

Her eyes were tightly closed, a trickle of blood escaped from pursed lips and made a dripping pattern on the marble floor. I placed my hand on her back trying to ease the throbbing tension but in reality I knew it did little good.  Her tiny frame shook and there was nothing else to be done. There were no prescription tablets, ice packs or specialty foods, this was it. I held her hand and let her squeeze mine, but it was clear she was unable to absorb the unrelenting pounding.  In my desperation I crushed cubes of ice with a mallet and placed them in a cloth, softly holding them on her cheek and jaw. I watched the clock, waiting for seconds to tick away when another dose of tablets could be given. Her head rested against mine and she relaxed for a few moments and then drifted into a chaotic sleep.

The phone did not ring and no inquiries regarding the removal of her wisdom teeth were ever made. He was at the camp where he had worked for months, only returning on weekends. I told myself that he was busy and of course his mind was on our household and he would be calling soon. I was sure he would return a day early as he had numerous times for visits with friends and dinners.

The children played and laughed, free to move about without restriction. It was better this way and it was my job and duty to ease his stress. The phone rang and a wave of guilt washed over me for doubting his commitment to our family. He reminded me regularly that we were his top priority and he worked hard to provide and take care of us. I grabbed the receiver and eagerly answered with the customary greetings. There was a pause and then I heard my mother’s voice. “How is Saleeha”? She listened intently as I recounted our day; a ride provided by the man who owned the falafel shop, dropped off at the dentist for surgical removal of wisdom teeth, a few hours spent in the waiting area and a somewhat complicated procedure with local anesthesia that had been inadequate, followed by a return trip to the villa.  I asked her what else could be done for pain as no medication was provided. She gave some tips for reduction of swelling and let me know that she was there for support any time of day. My father’s unwavering voice added a level of comfort and he assured me that everything would turn out o.k.

Dinner, bedtime and clean up, the evening ended with pain, more bleeding and a desperation that had become normal. No call, no email and no hope that he might come home a day early to help with the situation. The kids were put to bed, more ice was crushed and I took my position on the single bed where I could keep watch overnight.

The next afternoon he walked through the door at the usual time. He smiled, greeting the little ones, laughing and swinging them in the air. I managed a grin knowing that happiness was always required. He watched Saleeha and laughed joyously stepping towards her. I knew it was finally time, he would embrace her, purchase ice cream and inquire about her surgery.  She stood looking gaunt and disheveled, pieces of her curly hair stuck in a sweaty matte on her forehead and tiny spots of blood about her mouth.

He told her she was fine and grabbed each cheek boldly pinching them between his thumb and finger in a back and forth motion. This was life and we should thank God and count our blessings.