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Come with me as I travel through the real places of my life and into the steep, switch-back roads of the imagination. Join me. You'll be good company and your thoughts are welcome.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Clara is 30!

Birthdays keep coming. Too many so soon! A mother packs a basket of memories but rarely doles them out. Here are a few: 

As an infant, Clara was calm and seemed to move in slow-motion compared to her sister of 15 months who was already running and had to be watched every minute. This earned Clara the ironic nickname, "Speedboat." And because her cries were loud and high-pitched, her grandfather, Forney Renfro, predicted she would be a soprano. She was a cuddly baby and of course precious.

She was the funniest three-year-old ever. One day, as we passed a funeral home, a hearse pulled out right in front of us and I commented on it being too close. Clara asked, "What kind of a car is that?" I answered that it was the kind of car a dead person rides to a funeral in, to which she replied, "Well, he must be driving kinda crazy."

At Sea World in Orlando, we walked through the tunnel in the shark tank and then watched a video in which a shark swimming next to another of about the same size turns and viciously attacks and devours the other, blood gushing into the water. I was horrified that my children had seen this, but on the way out, Clara told me how she saw it: "Mama, sharks don't eat their babies, do they; they just eat their friends."

During the school years, Clara loved friends more than studies and she had many. They started small businesses on the block, played soccer, skated indoors, acted out plays in the back yard. She liked to play teacher and often made a circle of stuffed animals and dolls and conducted classes on subjects of her own choosing. She had a circle of friends in high-school joined at the core like a five-pointed star.

For a school project, we filmed her making her chosen food, macaroni and cheese like she was a budding Julia Child. It's no surprise that her favorite television is The Food Channel. When she's not working, she can watch people cook and talk about it for days without losing interest. But read? No, she doesn't have the attention span.

She is the only person I know who has been struck by lightening. This happened to 13 children age 13 at a summer camp: Green River Preserve in NC. In such a beautiful, peaceful setting at dusk as all were lying down to go to sleep, an electrical ground surge erupted beneath them. A counselor's dog was killed and several girls, including Clara, were burned. They were carried out to an area hospital and returned to camp where they wanted her to stay to process what had happened. We tried to leave her there, but she was miserable so we picked her up and headed home. This trauma caused a generalized insecurity complex, fear of the dark and years of desensitizing herself to storms in addition to physical scars.

While a high school senior, she went to Ecuador as an exchange student where she learned about third world countries, dire poverty, locked neighborhoods guarded by armed watchmen, and the Galapagos. She liked the good parts of the foreign cuisine such as mangos, plantains, ceviche and empanadas, but she came home with an eating disorder that possessed her like a demon for years-years which should have been some of her best-during college as she continued to study Spanish.

Today, after the trials of young love and young-adult mistakes, she is working in a position she loves at the new Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte where her gift of compassion is needed and called upon daily. She is healthy and supports the health of others. I couldn't be more proud.

Her nickname is now Clarita, using the Spanish diminutive. She lives with the love of her life, Stella, a rat-terrier, (should have been a circus dog.) and plays fetch on demand and tends her like a child.


Love and time are mysterious, but love through time gets richer; love beyond time fascinates me, and I believe my love for her will outlast me.
The three poems that follow were written about Clara. Thanks for reading, Diana 

Speedboat Lady
charged with light
swan of a woman,
girl of delight.
Mockingbird mind
changes by phrase,
chickadee laughter,
dove-eyed gaze.
Candlelight softness
to mellow a room,
brightening spirits
banishing gloom.
Lightning strike
at the edge of night,
urgent radiance,
cat-eye bright.  

© July 2002 Diana Renfro

Through the Night

Months after her litter of six
has been chosen and taken
one by one from her,
your adolescent cat
removes folded socks
from clean laundry stacks
gently, with her teeth,
and hastens them
to places of her choosing.
She shelters them
under the dining room table
and scolds them behind chairs.
Her mewling wakes me
and I think of you
folded into bed
on the eighth floor of a dormitory,
I want to cry out,
but the presence of your father
calms me. Cappuccino
does not know I have heard her,
but in the morning,
I find her sock-children
and close them away in drawers.
She, from her sun spot near the glass door
turns from watching and lifts her chin
to gaze at me with golden eyes.
How does she know
to guard her children
through the night?

©Diana Renfro, January 2002

Fluid in Flight

Once a hatchling in the nest
fed and guarded until strong
ready enough that guardian birds
stood back and watched
till you were hungry
desperate to leap for food
peering down
with no soft landing
and no map of the world
where you could fly
straight into the eye
of a hawk

you stretched your neck
and stepped off the rim
over the edge
but you caught yourself
on untested wings
you never knew you had
and they took you
to a bower where
only warning chatter
spoke of what lurked

With instinct
you learned to discern
in the swaying grasses' wake
the sleek and slithering snake;
tasted both the bitter gnat
and the luscious berry
winged over water, into trees
and when you were strong
and fluid in flight, you rose
a little higher to glide
into the updraft
where you can soar.

©Diana Renfro, June 2013


  1. What a nice tribute to Clara -- who can NOT be 30. She's just a little girl coming into the Scaleybark Library with Caroline to read the critique group their story. How can she get older while we stay young? ;-)

  2. Thanks, Fran. They grow up so fast. Love that grandbaby of yours!

  3. Oh my...I remember on my visit to POV several years ago, meeting Clara for the first time. I soon fell in love with her "being" (as I had with every other member of the "Renfro Clan"). The joy and enthusiam of her blind ambition and fearless dreams, at that time, were only out shown by her physical beauty. It was so obvious that the physical beauty (thank goodness) had come from her mother! Then, one evening, after dinner, you, Traylor, Clara and I, sat out on the porch, enjoying that great Carolina night air. Clara, quickly, but, quietly, had one glass of wine too many...before she realized it (yet, clearly apparent to us)...and, I immediately knew she was Traylor's daughter, also...LOL.
    Looks like this years reunion was a major success!

    All is well here in Florida....St. B (Travis)