“I Wish You Never Left Me”

jujugrandpa

 

June 13th

As I look at this list of times I’m making tonight, I think back to almost 40 years ago and another list.

Tonight I am keeping track of what time I give medicines. Medicines to try to keep my husband out of pain in this wretched losing battle with pancreatic cancer. In two and three hour intervals I give him the tiny pills with sips of water to try to ease him into sleep and ease his pain.

Many years ago, on the back of an envelope, we wrote down times. These, too, were times of pain, but pain that led to great joy, the birth of our firstborn. I still have that envelope tucked away.

Across the years we have counted minutes, hours, days and years. We marked off days in anticipation of our trip to California. We looked back at years of marriage, and so often my husband would choose the perfect gift accordingly : pearls, agate, ruby.

 

June 15th

Two days after I wrote the above, my husband was gone. It’s been only two weeks and I have wanted to write but I just can’t find the words. My world has been turned upside down. Less than three months ago we were selling our house and planning for retirement. Now I am moving once more, just me and my dog, and starting a life without the one who has been by my side for over 41 years. 

I stayed up until 3:30 one night last week, reading all the texts on his phone. All the little conversations we had about what to eat for supper, reminders to feed the dog, ideas for the weekend, don’t forget eggs.  Then I found a 43 minute clip that was unknowingly recorded. I’m pretty certain he never knew it. It was us – going through a drive-thru near our house, eating fries until we got home, talking to the dog, laughing, burping, just being. Just being together. 

 

June 29th

And though I can’t find words, my seven year old granddaughter found some. Beautiful words. This is what she wrote:

 

Sunshine

You’re the sunshine in my heart

I wish you never left me…

I sometimes wish you are here

Why wouldn’t you stay?

Wait until dawn for you to arrive…

Sunset – you should be here!

I guess you don’t belong here

My heart is beating hard as a drum

Sunshine in my heart

You are part of my family

 

April in my Heart

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Helena, AL

 

April. The month of poetry. The month we used to celebrate our mothers’ birthdays. The month we moved to Birmingham six years ago.

I’ve been writing poems everyday this month. In the midst of corona-craziness, it’s one of the things that calms me. Not to give them equal value, but God’s Word, poetry, sunshine, and fresh air get me through these uncertain days. I’ve been using three different sites for prompts each day: Writer’s Digest PAD, Poetry Super Highway, and NaPoWriMo.

The following poem was inspired today by NaPoWriMo.

 

I Love Us

 

Sometimes it’s hard to say it

I try to convey it

I try to show it

Though I know you know it

 

I love us

The very thought of us

We are two peas in a pod

Though we are flawed

I am awed

At how we are still in this together

 

I love us

We are more than love like the movies

We are groovy

Stuck like glue

Each day new

Who knew?

All those years ago

We saw each other across the dance floor

And you asked for

My number

 

You weren’t so great at disco

We didn’t want to go to Frisco

But oh those Redwoods trees

The Pacific ocean breeze

We make each other laugh

In all those photographs

And memories

 

I love us

We made some precious babies

Grand-babies

No maybe

About it 

 

I love us

We’re an A-plus

Top grade 

Like a sweet dessert

A crisp dress shirt

A little bit introvert

A little bit extrovert

 

I love us

We’re a Pulitzer Prize

Flying blue skies

Over Montana’s mountains

And Savannah’s fountains

Our love

Fits like a glove

Just a couple of

lovebirds

 

I love us

Our records and roses

Touching noses

A glass of fine wine

Hearts intertwined

 

I love us

So romantic

Hearts gigantic

Peanut butter and jelly

Lots of belly

Laughs

 

I love us

I’ll always love us

For-e-ver

 

I wish I could sing, I wish I could play

I’ve been inspired by creative kids to come up with lyrics to fit these trying times.

The song in the video below came to me this morning and I wrote another verse for it. If I could play an instrument or carry a tune in a bucket I’d perform for you. But, here’s my verse for you to sing.

I know a guy who dreams of work

He’d love to be there

About to go berserk

He doesn’t have gloves

He doesn’t have masks

He doesn’t have toilet paper 

Although he asks

He uses Quarantine

Quarantine

Quarantine

 

Book Browsings #3: Voices

 

tiaIn Book Browsings #2 I referenced the writing club I sponsored. It was called the Young Author’s Club. I found a copy of the first, and I think only, issue we put together. The girls chose the name Voices for the title. It had four sections: Book Beginnings, Short Story, Poetry and Essay. As I look over the list of contributors I can see most of their faces. Tia was the one who came to me with the request to sponsor the club. I still keep up with her via Instagram and occasionally her blog.  She works in publishing among other things. I still have the scarf she brought me back from China when she visited there with her parents. Her mother, Yulin, was our parent sponsor and a huge help. I can semi-recall the faces of Kylie, Haley, Anna and Jakob who also contributed work to Voices.

One essay, by Anna Rea, came, as I recall, from a short in-class writing prompt. Hers was titled How to Be a Bad Neighbor.  Pretty hilarious! Here are a few excerpts:

Every person in their life comes across a bad neighbor. Why wait for a bad neighbor when you yourself could be a bad neighbor? In a few easy steps you could be the most hated person on the block…

One of the many things to do to be a bad neighbor is to have parties. Now, not just any party. It has to be a loud, all-nighter. …

Another thing that really gets your neighbor mad is having an obnoxious yappy dog…

Step three of how to be a bad neighbor is to leave your garbage cans out for long periods of time….

Finally, the most important part: HOLIDAYS! Around Christmas you have to buy those big, blow-up things… you must buy at least six of them. 

I loved teaching these kids. They were not just smart, but funny, fun-loving, caring, and full of energy. One student, Caroline, really stood out. I got to know her through her writings, but also while visiting her home when we were working on a charity project and meeting her mother and younger brothers. Her mom was just one of many parents who supported me and my students that year. Caroline graduated from Princeton and is now a fellow at  Washington University School of Medicine. She is following in the footsteps of her grandfather who was a prominent and well-loved physician in Jacksonville.

JP is a logistics officer in the Marines and living in Hawaii. Carson, now married, comes to mind whenever I see the scarf he brought me back from his trip to Vietnam where his grandfather was in in the war. Same with Harrison, who brought me playing cards from his trip to Africa.

I will always be grateful for the students who crossed my path and left a footprint. I am thrilled whenever I happen upon good news about one of them.

 

 

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Hello, Goodbye

Word Art 17

So, I was talking to 2019:

She said, “Goodbye”

I said, “High.”

She said, “Low.”

“But, these are my goals for 2020,”  I told her. “If not high, at least higher. In three categories: books read, miles hiked, blog posts written. So, 2019, let’s take a look and you’ll see what I mean.”

“With you, I read or listened to 43 books. That averages 3 1/2 a month. With you, I hiked 132 miles. That’s an average of only 2 1/2 a week. With you, I wrote 67 blog posts. That’s about 5 1/2 a month.”

She said, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t know” 

She said, “Stop”.

I said,  “Okay. I’m done with you. Finished. You are kaput!”

So, I talked to 2020 for a bit.

“Hey, 2020!” I said,  “Hello, hello, hello.”

I said, “Go, go, go.” At first she misunderstood me.  

“No, no, don’t go away. I mean go WITH me. We’ve got some goals to take care of to beat 2019. We need to read at least four books a month. And hike at least 3 miles a week.  And write at least six posts a month.” 

2020 said, “Yes.”

 

Avetts in October #14: Telling Stories

 

 

 

 

“…if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer.”-   From Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

According to Ray I must be a whole writer. I have love. I have fun. I have zest and gusto, though not every single time I sit down to face the page.

This zest, gusto, love, and fun are what come shining through when I hear The Avett Brothers. They inspire me. They have fun when they are sharing their gifts with others. Their lyrics illuminate the good and bad all around us. With love.

And they tell stories, as in  The Ballad of Love and Hate

It begins like this:

 

Love writes a letter and sends it to hate.

My vacation’s ending. I’m coming home late.

The weather was fine and the ocean was great

And I can’t wait to see you again.

 

Hate reads the letter and throws it away.

“No one here cares if you go or you stay.

I barely even noticed that you were away.

I’ll see you or I won’t, whatever.”

 

And tells such a story, ending with:

 

Love has been waiting, patient and kind.

Just wanting a phone call or some kind of sign,

That the one that she cares for, who’s out of his mind,

Will make it back safe to her arms.

 

Hate stumbles forward and leans in the door.

Weary head hung down, eyes to the floor.

He says “Love, I’m sorry”, and she says, “What for?”

“I’m yours and that’s it, whatever.

I should not have been gone for so long.

I’m yours and that’s it, forever.”

 

And here’s a cute video…

 

Mom

80a

April, 2016

 

Mom was born April 9, 1936. She would have been 83 today. It’s been 14 months since she died. So many little things happen throughout the days that knock me back, that remind me over and over that she isn’t here. I wrote the following poem in April, 2010. It was the first year I completed the PAD Challenge. I never really shared my poetry with her. Haven’t really shared it with anyone much in my family. Perhaps I should apply these words of Ray Bradbury…

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art.”

 

Mother

There at the end of the line
The hand of my dear mother
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Never a woman so fine
There is not another
There at the end of the line

Her spirit, gentle, kind
None else would I rather
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Growing round her like a vine
Myself, my brothers
There at the end of the line

So lovely, so divine
No, there is no other
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

For days of old I pine
Yes, one after another
There at the end of the line

On the Surface

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I’m really glad she felt like writing.

“I have a family, loving aunts, and a good home. No, on the surface I seem to have everything except my one true friend. All I think about when I’m with friends is having a good time. I can’t bring myself to talk about anything but ordinary everyday things. We don’t seem to be able to get any closer, and that’s the problem.” – Anne Frank

I stumbled on these words from Anne Frank and I was overwhelmed with an affinity for what she was feeling. When I’m with most people, this is me. We don’t seem to be able to get any closer. And that’s the problem.

And that’s all for today., except for this picture I found of Anne that I love.

anne

Pulses

 

ew (1)“Childhood’s learning is made of moments. It isn’t steady. It’s a pulse.”

~ Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

 

 

 

I can remember random moments from childhood and now wonder, were they learning moments?

I remember when I was five being frightened of the man next door, the father of an older girl I played with, who pushed his wife down as she was ironing. She already had a cast on her leg. He knelt down to try to comfort me, to tell me it was okay. I knew not to trust him.

When my older brother and I got in trouble and were banished to our separate bedrooms, we got our little brother to be a messenger, passing notes between us. These notes consisted of stick figures doing silly things. I learned my brothers would be my friends for life, though not without a few rough patches.

Fast forward to fourth grade and the learning didn’t feel like a pulse. Long division felt like a long, slow drip-drip-drip in a bucket. A bucket with a hole in it; for just when I thought I was finished with a problem, I’d discover my numbers weren’t lined up properly and I would have to start all over again. Recently I think some of my students have feeling this as they have become friends with the seam-ripper in their efforts to make pillowcases and aprons.

Many of my learning moments came through books. The horrors of the Holocaust came through the eyes and words of Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom; the horrors of child abuse from A Child Called It and Sybil. But before these books, there was Little Women, where I first got the idea that I’d like to write. I wanted to be Jo. That desire has waxed and waned over the years, as motherhood and making ends meet took precedence. I know many have been able to work, mother, and write concurrently, and I did to some extent, in pulses like my childhood learning.

But now the writing flame has been fanned and I need it more than ever. I don’t want it to go out.

Netflix/Amazon Summer

 

 

The summer is gone and along with it a lot of my free time for movie watching.  But, I did get some viewing in and here are some of my brief reviews.
A Girl Like Her ( PG-13)       

I’m not sure why I picked this one, but I think it is one that  could and should be shown in  middle schools. It is a much more realistic portrayal of bullying, girl style, than movies such as Mean Girls. You may actually end up with some sympathy for the bully, like I did.     

 

 

Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)    

 I just enjoyed this romance, as much for the the lovely clothing as the sweet story line. It also gives a beautiful view of Rome.     

 

The Great Gilly Hopkins (PG)    

In view of becoming  a foster parent, I wanted to watch this movie. (We are now offically approved foster parents.) I also have great respect for Katherine Paterson, who wrote the book and has a bit part in the movie. There were a few plot points that needed to be fleshed out, but overall it was good and it did move me to a few tears.  

 

 

That Sugar Film

This documentary will make you really rethink how you look at sugar, unless you already have given it up.

 

 

Paper Man

My husband stumbled on this and it was a hit with me! “A washed-up writer forms an unlikely friendship with a teenager from Long Island.” It stars Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone.

 

 

Almost Famous 

Another movie  dealing with a writer, but oh so much more. And I sit here wondering, how did a kid in 1973 gets offered $35 for his first article and here in Alabama in 2015, it was all I could do to wheedle $25 out of the editor of a local magazine for my articles, pictures included?

 

 

Mothers and Daughters

Watched this at an emotional time. I cried .

 

Now, between teaching, fostering, and hurricanes, I haven’t had as much time for movies. I did, however, see May It Last, the Avett Brothers’ documentary, at the local theatre. That’s deserves another post all on its own.