Non-Fiction: My Peacock Feathers, My Tattooed Treasures #amwriting #nonfiction


Another piece from my writing class.


Credit: Caleb Minear via Unsplash


The ‘peacocks’ in our lives are brilliant orbs of light attracting everyone; they’ve clarified my life. I had wanted a tattoo forever, and when I my skin was inked, my largest peacock feather symbolized Evelyn’s presence, the smaller Kyria’s. They both spring from a Gerbera-daisy, on my tattoo, my home and myself.

Evelyn grew up on a farm during the 1930’s. Her only child to survive is my, Godfather. She had a love for stream-lined vintage cars and rebuilt one she drove. She was a skilled mechanic during WWII. Also, a single-mom who supported her son working at the Woodward’s Department Store from the 1950’s onwards. Before she retired, she oversaw much of the store’s finances.

Once, when her eldest grandson visited he counted her shoes.”Grandma, you’ve forty pairs of shoes. Did you knows that?”They were her indulgence. She strived for them, for all the treasures in her house. She had a carved record player of solid wood; no veneer allowed. She bought a pipe organ and piano. Up until the day before she died, she was a pianoist at her retirement home; all the songs she memorized.

Evelyn gardened and did laundry until ninety-six. “Every morning I wake up with purpose. I do something. Everyone else has died, but I awake with determination. I’ve had such grief, but the Lord tells me, ‘Keep going.’”

Her life lived in the crevices of her face, in her smile. After two husbands, she refused to marry Sam. “I’ve decided, I’m not made for marriage” She was in her mid-eighties.

Evelyn had an innate stubbornness in a post-war world where men of the 1950’s and 1960’s put women in ‘their place.’ Whether her opinions were ‘correct’ or not ‘politically correct,’ I had tears streaming from my eyes; my ribs ached during our visits.

Visiting her house, I brought my brothers. There was too much food, and my waistline was dependant on them coming with me. One helping was not enough for Evelyn. We inhaled her chicken soup and lasagna. Her trifle with ripe strawberries and her uncooked pie’s with sweet blue-berries, both topped with ‘full-fat’ whipping cream. Evelyn had gumption, despite everything life threw at her. She was both splendid and horribly flawed.

Her tattooed feather on my skin reminds me not to forget my dreams. Because of her, I’ve a purpose each day. I learned her secret to survive the worst ones, even with poor health.

Moreover, the smaller peacock feather on my tattoo’s for Kyria.* She adores peacocks; they were her wedding theme. Kyria fought to have her cancer identified. She was twenty-nine with a baby, as her undiagnosed cancer fed on her excess hormones.

She’s seen many doctors. “There is no way a girl your age has cancer. It will go away.” Then, after several second opinions. “The lump on your breast is due to pregnancy because you’re breastfeeding.” Then, “Your swollen lymphnoids under your arm, are a condition that occurs with breastfeeding.” She couldn’t feed her son; her pain was so intense from tumors.

Kyria’s naturopath diagnosed her cancer. “Demand that your doctor give you more tests. You should’ve been diagnosed a year ago.” Her diagnosis of Stage IV breast cancer occurred in summer 2015.

She remains resilient. She is the prized-fighter who keeps rising after three-years of treatments. She faces her mortality each time she has scans on her organs, her bones, and her blood. Kyria attended a Clinic in Mexico, receiving a reduced ‘natural’ form of chemo, first. This treatment lengthened her life, her time with her husband, and her son. She’s survived two rounds of full-strength chemo. This April she must endure a third.

Each day she visits her naturopath for IV-treatments, along with various other doctors. She struggles but isn’t afraid to die. Her charisma draws all kinds of people as she shares her cancer journey. She’s a talented business-woman, writer, and her creative-thinking amazes me. Kyria’s gained empathy only ‘the permanently sick,’ know.

Like me, she has days of terrible fatigue, but Kyria’s also the mom of toddler. She has had more pills, vitamins, IV’s, hormones, and needles than I’ve imagined ‘healing’ consists of.

She was so proud last summer. “My hair’s growing back. I can have a pixie cut.” Kyria’s gorgeous in a way most women and cancer patients aren’t. She’s was beautiful before her disease, and beautiful despite it.

The peacocks in my life, are and have been magnificent. But peacock or Gerber-daisy, no person knows how long they have to live. So, when some days are difficult, or I’ve an impossible goal, my hand grazes my tattoo.

We don’t realize it, but to someone somewhere, we are a spark. We all have immeasurable potential. Don’t forget to use it, and keep struggling. Brilliant feather or hidden flower; endure no matter your brightness.


©️Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

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