My Solace

 

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No Hard Feelings by the Avett Brothers has been my solace for the past year, though at times I’ve had to skip it on my playlist because it almost always makes me cry. I lost my mother-in-law in August 2017, then my Mom in February 2018, and today my dog, Loretta. Yes, I understand there are huge differences in losing a pet vs. a person, but when one comes on the heels of the other it is just nearly too much.

The song begins

 
“When my body won’t hold me anymore
And it finally lets me free
Will I be ready?”

I wasn’t ready to let any of them go, but in Loretta’s case, I think SHE was ready. She had a good life and enriched ours in so many ways.

Then

 
“When my feet won’t walk another mile.”

 
My dog, Loretta, hit this point  so suddenly last night I can’t wrap my head around it. She was fine and peppy one minute, then lethargic and unresponsive the next. She perked up once for a few minutes, a sort of last hurrah I guess, then just could hardly move. My husband carried her to our room where we’d made her a soft blanket “pallet” to lie on. We finally fell asleep, but both awoke at 2AM to sit on the floor beside her as she drew her last breath. I can only guess it was her heart giving.

 
Listen to this song – more than once if you can. It is overflowing in meaning and may be a balm for YOUR spirit.

 

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Monday Music #21

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“… for music alone can abolish differences of language or culture between two people and evoke something indestructible within them.” –  from Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

 

 

I was introduced to the music of JJ Grey and Mofro, many years back by my daughter. I’ve only seen him in concert twice; once in concurrence with the Jacksonville Symphony (with my daughter)  and then again in Birmingham (with my husband). On my many trips from Jacksonville to Tampa I’ve driven through Lochloosa and I always think of Grey’s love for Florida.

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View from the Buckman Bridge – 2013

 

My father-in-law had a little trailer in Astor on the St. Johns River for many years.  The pictures below are from a trip I took up the river with my brother-in-law and niece back in 2012. We went out to Lake George and stopped at Silver Glen Springs. It was one of the most relaxing days I’ve ever spent.

 

 

This song, The River, grips me every time I hear it. Growing up minutes from the St. Johns in Jacksonville, I never appreciated it like I do now. As a kid, it was just the river we crossed to get to downtown. Now I understand a little more about the vastness and beauty it contains. I long to get back to this river someday.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Music #19

 

There are songs, special songs, that can transport us back in time to a certain point, a specific memory. Leaving On a Jet Plane is one of those songs for me. I think I mentioned it once before in a blog post.

The song, written by John Denver, was recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary in 1967. So, I imagine it was around  the summer of 1968 or 69 when my cousin Paula and I sang it at the top of our lungs in the back of her parents station wagon. We, all us Graham/Denmark cousins, had been to the next town over to swim. We were headed home down a south Georgia two-lane, the summer air blowing our hair around as it dried our swimsuits, and I don’t remember if the song came on the radio or if we just started singing it. I’m not sure why this moment in time has stuck with me all these years. I think it was the pure joy of the moment, the carefree happiness of a childhood that was always made better when cousins were around.

A few weeks ago I reunited with Paula for a weekend in Arkansas. It was the first time, probably since that summer, that we had been together for any length of time. In fact, we’d only seen each other 4-5 times in the intervening years. But, there is something about the bond of cousins – the years made no difference – it was like we picked up where we’d left off so many summers ago.  We have led such different lives, yet the bond of family and the bond of Christ has held us together. For that I am grateful.

 

me 7 P

 

 

Monday Music #18: Woody’s Legacy

 

“For the winds of the years have blown between us and the clouds of many storms have danced around us and it was said many times that we were parted, but distance matters not to friendship and there is no such thing as time.” (in a letter to his friend Cluster Baker)

This year I read Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein. I learned so much but not just about his life, one that was a combination of brilliance and mental illness, but also a lot of our country’s history. His son and his granddaughter followed in his musical footsteps. I hope you’ll take a listen to all three generations.

WOODY

 

ARLO

 

SARAH LEE

 

Can’t Separate

 

Can’t Separate

 

Can’t separate me from the past

my grandfather’s desertion

the tenacity of my grandmothers

the stories told and retold

by the aunts who remember  

 

Can’t separate me from my childhood

Dad’s bellowing and invented words

Mom’s steadfastness and silly jokes

brothers by my side, happy or not

supper in the kitchen every night

 

Can’t separate me from those cousins

who made paper dolls for me

we swam and skated and pretended

and whispered into the night

those first and forever friends

 

Can’t separate me from my husband

who made a new family with me

who grew and stumbled by my side

the one who really knows me

and loves me anyway

 

Can’t separate me from my offspring

flesh of my flesh who look like their dad

my babies grown up too soon

across state lines and time zones

in joy and sorrow, mine

 

Can’t separate me from this next generation

the little ones who let me love on them

these two with bits of me inside

this hope for the future

this family of mine

 

Written April, 2017

Monday Music #14/Just Breathe

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“I have always found that I did not get so tired, and my day seemed shorter, when I listened to the birds singing or noticed, from the window, the beauties of the trees or clouds.”           – Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Life and Death

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“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as  microscopic swarm, the lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”  -from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

I love this description of the beginning of life. Job knew all about life and death. Oh to be like Job; to learn how to accept when the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Here’s what he had to say: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21

I realize that I sometimes take the easy way out by quoting others, but sometimes someone else’s words are just a perfect fit for my needs.  Even when it’s a fictional character speaking, it was written by a person who more than likely had a similar experience.

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“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”

But we are always optimists when it comes to time: we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.

We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

 
For the past few years I watched as my Mom lost several lifelong friends, which is bound to happen when you hit 80. But, it still doesn’t make it easier. In fact, it probably makes you think about death a little too much. Even though I saw this happening, I didn’t see it coming with Mom. And now, like Ove, I thought there would be more time. There were so many stories I didn’t hear, so many questions I didn’t ask, so much I didn’t say.