Awe & Wonder, courage, Guest Posts

Blue Interior. By Suzanne Rolph-McFalls

September 4, 2013

I posted a question on my Facebook page last week. I asked if there’d been anything in your life that was painful or sad that you now see as a gift? Below is something that got posted under that question on my Facebook. I had to reach out and ask if I could publish it here at The Manifest-Station. Wow.

Blue Interior. By Suzanne Rolph-McFalls

My father was murdered in his hotel room when I was 19. He had left his second wife and was staying in a nearby hotel, a known chain. His car broke down and he called me for help, a ride, a taxiing around for a few hours.

I went.

I had a new, blue car with new blue crushed velour interior, and my first car payment. As I drove my father to the places he needed to go to pick up car parts and liquor, it began to rain. A cold, March in the Midwest rain. He wore a light jacket that day, and I could see him shiver as he worked furiously under the hood of his car while I sat, cozy warm, inside my blue car with the blue crushed velour interior.

He got so cold he opened the passenger side door and asked if I minded if he got in for a minute.

No, Dad! Get in! I said.

But as he pulled the door shut the grease on his hands got on the blue crushed velour of my new blue car door.

And I yelled at him.

Dad! You got grease on my door! Look what you did!

He looked. Then, he looked at me and said he was sorry, and then he said, “I’ll just get out.” And he did.

The car repair was unsuccessful and he asked if I’d I’d drive him back to the hotel.

~Yes.

~Can we stop at White Castle, honey, I think I am hungry.

~Yes.

Back at the hotel I let him out in front and he hugged me, carefully, so no more grease got anywhere.  He gathers his bags of sliders and unused car parts and liquor, and he looks lonely and forlorn and cold and old, and he was a terribly flawed sometimes terribly abusive sometimes terribly alcoholic Dad who I loved, still love, with all my heart, and instead of taking him home with me, or staying for a White Castle, or even just a longer hug, I drove away.

In my new blue car with blue crushed velour interior.

I wouldn’t know until early the next morning, when my step mother called to tell us, that my father died a few hours after I left  him standing cold, wet, and alone in front of a popular hotel chain.

A few hours after I begrudged him warmth and shelter from the storm, out of a need to protect my new blue car with blue crushed velour interior.

I had always been a kind and generous person, but that day I let my anger over Dad’s new wife new baby new family old wounds old mistreatments, make me small. Petty. Value a thing over a person.

That day, that horrible rotten day, someone horribly rotten broke into my father’s room and beat him in the head and face until he died.  Then they ripped the ring us kids had given him as a gift, back when we were a family, off his finger in a bloody skinned tear;  and then they robbed his wallet of all those hundred dollar bills he loved to flash.

On that day I became a thing forged in grief and steel.

Never, ever, EVER, would I place greater importance on a thing, any THING,  than I did a living being.

I would never cease offering shelter from storms.

I would always share warmth.

I would always hug longer.

I have an adorable oyster white Lexus SUV with buff leather seats, now.

But, whether they know me well enough to know it or not, when people ride with me, anywhere we’re headed, we’re really in blue Oldsmobile with blue crushed velour interior.

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Contact Suzanne Rolph-McFalls:

Email: scltibis@aol.com or suzanne.rolphmcfalls@facebook.com

Find me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/suzanne.rolphmcfalls and

Twitter:  @Suss64

About Suzanne:

I am a writer.   I have a deep and abiding love affair with books, with reading, and with the written word, most recently those of my grandson, who tends to spell things so purely gorgeous I cry on regular basis.  A few days ago he wrote me a note and told me I was “byootful.”  I had never felt more beautiful in my entire life, because I knew he was seeing inside, to whatever good stuff is in there.   I wanted to wear that note as a sign, since 8 year olds are fantastic judges of character, and seers of bullshit.  I practice yoga and Buddhism, and try every single day to alleviate suffering in the world while creating and inspiring joy, and, hopefully, inspiring others to do the same.  I studied Fiction Writing at California State University, Dominguez Hills , MA, and before that, I studied English, Literature, and Language/Fiction Writing at Northern Kentucky University, BA.  I am married to Michael McFalls, President of S&M Custom Painting Services, Inc.  Our 20th  Anniversary is Halloween 2013.  🙂

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22 Comments

  • Reply Lynn Hasselberger September 4, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Wow.

  • Reply Kelly September 4, 2013 at 11:45 am

    This is such a well written and heartrending story. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Reply Lyn Girdler September 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    It’s such work to be real and feel our emotions, right in the moment and then – when the unexpected happens, we have to work so hard to fight feelings of regret or ‘we could have been kinder’ type impulses. But, I don’t believe we’re supposed to live for tragedies. There was history between you and your father – as you mentioned. I believe we react the way we’ve been trained too – and, others react to the way we’ve trained them. This is a powerful story – so well written. So touching and loving. I am sorry you lost your father. I truly I am. But, then the gift in your ability to write this and stop me in my tracks and make my heart beat a little faster and louder and kinder…well….that’s no mistake. There is no tragedy in that.
    I have nephew that writes the most touching little messages too – this, I believe, is life, god, the universe…whatever – sending us little love messages.

    • Reply Suzanne Rolph-McFalls September 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      And, coincidentally, serendipitously, my grandson is James and so was my father.

      Thank you for the kindness you proffered here. For the compassion and empathy and insight.

  • Reply angiestarzyoga September 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Wow – talk about perspective. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Anita September 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Wow. This is so sad and beautiful, gave me chills.

  • Reply Suzanne Rolph-McFalls September 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I appreciate that you read it, and that you are kind enough to post a comment. People are busy, and if you took the time to write something, well, I think that is some kind of gift!

  • Reply Suzanne Rolph Garvy September 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    You are an amazing person, writer, daughter, mother, friend… Touching… Thank you xoxo
    Your NT

    • Reply Suzanne Rolph-McFalls September 8, 2013 at 8:47 am

      Aw, NT, thanks for reading it, and for being so generous with the kind words and praise. I am having one of those lonesome moments when I needed to hear something like this. Huge hug. Your NT

  • Reply John A. Campbell September 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I thank you jennifer for sharing this. Suzanne, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you, and your family. Suzanne, you are an amazing person. God bless your heart, always. :'(

  • Reply Suzanne Rolph-McFalls September 8, 2013 at 8:50 am

    John, I appreciate Jennifer for so many things, this, all of the other positive and growth oriented things she makes happen, too! She is a gift.

    I am touched by your gracious sympathy, and your kind words. Most of all, I needed someone to say, “bless your heart,” today! Perfect timing, and I am grateful beyond words. Bless you, as well.

  • Reply Leigh September 9, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Beautifully written. Powerful POV. Thank you for sharing your heart and your pain. Much love to you, Suzanne.

    • Reply Suzanne Rolph-McFalls September 12, 2013 at 9:06 am

      Leigh, thank YOU, for your kind words, and for the love in them. Sometimes, we human beings fail to demonstrate unflinching emotional sharing at the exact moment a person’s soul cries out for just that. There was a peculiar amount of vulnerability in sharing this story, even with one person, yet it felt right to do it when Jen asked the question. I was scared, though. It is the mercy, I keep coming back to words like mercy and grace, but it is the mercy and the grace of every person who has commented on it that have provided me with more healing than I could have imagined. I am, I remain, humbled and grateful to you.
      Suzanne

  • Reply Sue Putnam October 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    This effected me so much, I wrote the following:

    Sue Lawrence Putnam

    “Never, ever, EVER, would I place greater importance on a thing, any THING, than I did a living being.

    I would never cease offering shelter from storms.

    I would always share warmth.

    I would always hug longer.”

    ~ from: Blue Interior. By Suzanne Rolph-McFalls

    Many years ago, I did the same thing:
    I placed “things” before my living three year old daughter Heidi,
    and accidently she drowned nearby, when I had sent her from the house,
    so I could make it perfectly clean, without any distraction, to impress my soon-to-be arriving mother-in-law.

    I, who had grown up in the generation when
    “THINGS go better with Coke”,
    had rebelled furiously against the material world.
    And I, who devotedly followed La Leche Leagues’ advice to forget & not notice the “dust bunnies”,
    so I could nurse my babies with a calm peace of mind and loving heart.
    I rebelled so outrageously against the 50’s moms, who could almost eat off their kitchen floors,
    because they were so spotlessly clean.

    Ironically, I too was the perfect straight A+ student aiming to please and be loved for my hard school work,
    even receiving the DeCordova Medal of Honor for the most accomplished student.

    But after that fateful day in 1976, when the irrigation pool on our organic farm had filled too high from the torrent of rain the night before, for my 3 year old to touch her little toes on the bottom ….. my life went from “before tragedy to after tragedy” – a shift only those who have been there can understand.
    In hindsight, even the morning before it all happened, everything felt strange, “off”, uneasy, as if to say “something’s up”.
    Being in the realm of “life before tragedy” it was a normal day & I didn’t take notice.
    But now being in the realm of “after tragedy”, I always am aware of the smallest detail, looking for warning signs, Red Flags, opening my heart to all that enters into my aura and psyche and consciousness.
    I remember that morning when little Heidi kept saying “Mama, mama, mama…..hug, hug, hug, uppie, uppie, uppie”,
    and I ignored her every need to feel loved…
    I remember her older sister hiding out in her secret hiding place when things weren’t going quite just so….
    I remember my unfaithful husband making a gourmet blintze breakfast for his “right hand female apprentice” in our kitchen,
    and not caring for me or my new baby nor my kids, and I was struggling to forage for enough raspberries in the patch to fill empty tummies and hearts.
    I remember so many visitors and apprentices pouring into our small humble, dirty house for the usual lunch I prepared every day,
    and watching the farm stand fill up with customers and rushing out with my wee baby on my back to cut them some lettuces for their fancy dinners in Blue Hill or thereabouts….

    But did I remember to stop and breathe and find my heart and remember to hug my dear little Heidi when she needed me the most after all the people had left and everyone went back to work, including me ?

    NO!
    …. and never again will I put pressure to “look good” on the outside and place things before human beings.
    Never will I play the part of the perfect person making everything “just so right” for everyone else but myself and my loved ones.
    And never again would I allow someone or something else decide how I was to be,
    and go against my deepest, heartfelt, earnest, gut feelings….. and not communicate how I was feeling.

    In the end, I learned to:
    “Listen to the Little Voices of Your Soul” ~Old Gypsy Saying

    • Reply Suzanne Rolph-Mcfalls October 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Oh, Sue!, I’m so glad you did this post! I’m proud of your courage, and know it tough. Accept my humble apology, I was in the hospital for almost a week after we corresponded, and am just now getting in some medicines and levels that make me ready to get back to the joy of work (i mean that), and the honor of responding to to you in a deeper, more meaningful way was high on my list of musts. Brava! Huge hug! 🙂

  • Reply barbarapotter March 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Wow this really goes deep and I felt it. After losing people I loved, I have known for a long time that things are just things and I tell my children that all the time. They are just things let it go and forget it.

    • Reply Suzanne April 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Barbara, that’s the best advice in the world, and nearly priceless. Loss is such rude and vulgar teacher, messy, ugly, … but like you said, after the loss of loved ones you know things; things you sometimes wish you didn’t, or hadn’t arrived at the knowledge by way of the route you were directed, but things. The things we know about hugging a few servings longer, and time spent in their company being more precious than anything, and being present – truly, kindly, mindfully present – for a hiccup, an extra two servings of silence after a sentence, or the sharing of a laugh that turns from a giggle to a snort to a cackle. It’s where the sidewalk of childhood ends.

      At least it was for me.

    • Reply Suzanne April 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Barbara, that’s the best advice in the world, and nearly priceless. Loss is such a rude and vulgar teacher, messy, ugly, … but like you said, after the loss of loved ones you know things; things you sometimes wish you didn’t, or hadn’t arrived at the knowledge by way of the route you were directed, but things. The things we know about hugging a few seconds longer, and time spent in their company being more precious than anything, and being present – truly, kindly, mindfully present – for a hiccup, an extra two seconds of silence after a sentence, or the sharing of a laugh that turns from a giggle to a snort to a cackle. It’s where the sidewalk of childhood ends.

      At least it was for me.

  • Reply The Gift Within The Pain. – The Manifest-Station November 7, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    […] Kripalu last February and inspired me to read your Facebook Page – where I saw the story by Suzanne Rolph-McFalls. Her story opened my heart to be brave & write the story I am sending you below. Thank you for […]

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