The Fragility of Life

      Every day life greets me with change. Some days I welcome the newness of the day…other times I cling to that which we have long known and understood…and loved. When someone who has been part of my life since birth and who has shared in the many family milestones along the way passes…well it immediately  tugs at my heart and soul in longing for the familiar ways of yesterday. The many gatherings of laughter shared, jokes told around the table, and basically the life journey shared not only by genetic code but by the sharing of tears, joy and family love.

     And so I whisper in the silence that I will miss the past and the people tangled up in my memories. While I believe that life is truly never-ending and this is just but one stop on the fantastic journey… I will always miss those who make their way before me. I will miss you Uncle…older brother to my mother. You have moved on to once again connect with those who have gone before you… I can only imagine the reunion to be full of wit and peppered with jokes and sweet sarcasm – and I smile.

    Dilworth_759As I get ready for another day, I remind myself of that which I continuously take for granted. I look around me in wonder of all that is and I feel a knowingness that words do not explain.    And then once again I remind myself…

The beauty of our present is captured in the fragility of life –  not knowing what tomorrow will be yet remembering what yesterday was…

 

Yellow Green And Black

IMG_3980     This time it was not a certain song possessing poetic words that tugged at my soul whisking me back to times once known.  It was not a  particular sentimental fragrance that pulled me into my yesterdays. It was but a simple floor tile of yellow, green and black. That fifties tile recently uncovered during a renovation after many years of being hushed and hidden beneath our feet. A flood of memories to be true, that rushed through my head and heart as I stood in wonder. Memories of paper dolls, coloring books, and my beloved chalkboard where I taught school to the empty chairs lined up proper before me. A rare cherry cigar or pipe smoked by my father as we watched Wild Kingdom and Walt Disney with popcorn and Pepsi  Cola. Adventurous winter days of cooking hot dogs in the fireplace or just watching the fire snap and crackle while wrapped up in a favorite blanket. Days with cousins, aunts and uncles as we filled the house with constant chatter and much laughter. Projector screen and slides shown at days end with the curtains drawn, ooing and ahhhing to life as remembered with simple reverence to days gone by. Music being played on the record player- careful not to jump and skip the vinyl while dancing to the Twist and Cha Cha Cha.  Oh the days brought back by the simple floor tile…Christmas trees, Thanksgiving tables and hidden Easter eggs. Grandchildren and their first steps as well as family together grieving the loss of my mother….all memories held in the space of this room supported by the tile floor underneath So strong, so sturdy, yet silent. Only asking for a buffing and wax in the early days. But as style dictated,  covered with various carpets throughout the years. The  old carpets are gone…torn out and rolled up and thrown away. But the tile…ever faithful to this day. Alas, we both know that soon once again to be covered and tucked away for  discovery sometime in the future. I only wonder if it will be me peering upon the yellow, green and black or someone new …someone who has no idea the richness of the memories quietly possessed within. 

My Dear, Dear Auntie

Even though she walks with the deliberate, slow steps acquired with age and arthritis, she continues to move forward. Her hands may search about grasping the back of the chair or the nearby wall to steady herself, but she carries herself forward.  My dear, dear Auntie is one determined lady.

I love to hear her speak of the past, her life continuously revealed to me in layers by stories I had never heard as well as those I will never forget. Her past personal trials, as well as her adventurous travels and Lucille Ball antics charm my heart.  Always able to recite a joke with precision, punch lines totally intact, she is a brightness that fills the room with laughter at a moments notice. A courageous woman who has suffered great losses in her life yet continues to shine.  Her wit is pure and her spirit a delight. My dear, dear Auntie is amazing.

Even the quiet moments with her are full of life and the silence whispers with reflection. And here and now I admit that secretly and with some selfishness…. I randomly seek and discover glimpses of my mother in this woman. Sisters are they, yet Mom departed and when I am around my dear Auntie, I am drawn to her like a moth to the flame.  A connection unspoken, yet even more present than any words could declare. Yes, she is my closest female reminder of Mom and sharing our thoughts, hopes and life is a joy and I believe Mom is smiling as well. My dear, dear Auntie…I love you so.

The Winds Of Change

 

Sedona, Az

Sedona, Az

The winds of change. I hear them in the distance…coming my way. I tell myself that I am ready. I am prepared for what life is blowing towards my back. Grounding my feet upon the earth, centering myself..I prepare. This is not one of those times when I am caught unaware and find myself in the middle of the storm-feeling lost and alone. I remind myself that we all feel the winds of change, walking forward and bracing ourselves as we journey into the cold battering the push and pull upon our hearts and soul. Heads down as not to feel the brash sting fully upon our face, we must gather determination and optimism that there is hope after the storm…time and time again.

Yet I admit I am never fully ready to have my life,past and present, tugged here and there by some unseen forces of nature. Change is hard, change is scary and change can be damn difficult. But this is not solely about me…this story is about my father and his courage to face the storm of change and ride the waves with patience and an attitude of acceptance that makes me humble. After fifty-eight years of living in his home, my father has moved into senior apartment living. Fifty-eight years of family, marriage and children and grandchildren. Alas this has been tremendously difficult at times with a taste of bittersweet moments and memories. But he has weathered the swirling tornado of confusion and displacement and walked forward determined to make his future full. And I am proud of him.

We cleared the years of books and mementos and simple material things that no longer have a purpose or function. Cardboard boxes and bubble wrap surround those things too dear to part with in hopes of finding a place for them in our tomorrows. I found many memories came back in a torrent of emotion that nearly subdued me as I recalled my life in this place called home. The waves of emotion knocked me off my feet as I reminded myself to keep my head above the waters and tread ahead. Home…much more than four walls and a roof. This space welcomed untold family gatherings as well as many gracious times of pure childhood happiness and laughter. Home…where even on the darkest of days- a light would shine.

Yes change is in the air. The winds of change have blown ashore. Whirling all around me and my father and my family. Rather quickly I am brought back to the present. Pulled from the sublime memories that I tend to cling to and into the world of today. I watch a man of many years as he boldly faces what life brings and marches ahead. I sigh…I am that little girl again running to catch up to hold his hand…wanting not to get lost.

My Anxiety Ritual

taken from ...Tao and Zen

taken from …Tao and Zen

It is the feeling of being alone when I am in a crowded room of friends. It takes control of my emotions and leads me away into a grey filled nether place. Seeing it approach me, I summon it to leave me alone. I am fine and do not welcome its attention. I do not want it to pretend to befriend me again. I know it is really not my ally as it fills my head with an uneasiness quite unlike any other. This annoying caller always visits me after the holidays, sometimes impatient enough to tiptoe into my world in the midst of the celebration…waiting for the moment to tap me on the shoulder and remind me that it is waiting…to carry on our ongoing discussion of life.

I have seen a lot of depressing things in my time. I have been “awakened” in a sense, to the world around me, finding it much more complicated than a Rubik’s Cube…but none the less a pattern presented to ponder upon. I think some people believe it is this awareness that causes my anxiety ritual but it is not. I suffered from it way before I saw the ugly in the world. This false cohort sought me out in childhood as well. No, I think it is a product of my soul-searching to bear witness to the grace and charm of life. I have always sought to be surrounded in family tradition as it glued my world together past and present. I hold many shared moments in reverence …vacations with my parents and children/ card games at the kitchen table with my grandmother/
my years of taxi mom to school functions/ my children stepping out on their own/ my wonderful husband and our conversations that only soul mates can carry. All of these fill my heart and head…beautiful experiences and I know that looking back I will always see them as such. However, as I revel in these times I also worry that they would someday end…and thus my anxiety takes over.

I also love the beauty of life…simple beauty of the sunrise and sunset, snow glistening on the hillside as well as the beauty of hope and compassion and love. I tend to try to drown myself with just my head above -not totally lost within…and as I do, I remind myself that all of life is fragile…the sunset will soon be gone, the sunrise as well and there will be days of hardly a hope and little compassion to be had out there. This is life I remind myself. No one said living would be easy…but the world reminds us that real living is full of the beauty and charm, love and laughter- as well as the deep emotions that make the heart heavy.

Oh my anxiety softly sings the song of never know what tomorrow will bring…and I have my quiet reflection on the hard truths of life that I have seen over the past years.. But I tell myself that pure love never leaves…it can’t be taken away as love is a forever bond. Even with the death of a loved one, the love remains within me. And the love of my family and friends..their love will remain forever within me too. Ah! I tell my little transient banshee as we stand face to face, I know this to be true as it quiets his ramblings in my head… and this knowledge keeps me one step ahead of my unwelcome visitor.

I take a deep breath…it is my saving grace in times like these. I remind myself that the beauty of life is still here…yet to be found another day in some new and provocative way. I pull my memories of family and friends to help me see what a treasure I have already collected. I again awaken to see the beauty of hope for tomorrow more clearly, new experiences to be had and memories to be made. The pattern begins to be seen and the joy of my journey with it.

Ahh…The Memories Of Christmas Past

     I have a soft spot for old-time Christmas songs. Those sung by Bing, Andy and Burl. When I hear them I drift right back to my childhood. A time when I marked my tomorrows between now and the next December 25th. Always so far away…took so long to reach- a whole year in fact. Where has that gone? How did the year become so short…as it seems now but a brief sigh between today and the next December 25th.

     I search my radio for a station playing this beloved music. I save it as a favorite in my car, if only for the next few weeks. And I listen as I drive… and I remember when…

     When the decoration boxes came up from the basement. I dug in as I found the garland of the years gone by, the felt elf, glitter covered reindeer, red bows and plastic ivy. I would drape, hang and tack away enveloping our indoors in red and green.

     When the Christmas tree was real. Bought locally and brought home to drag up the family room steps and into the house. Our tree sat in the same place for my whole childhood. Year after year, a welcome reminder to the steadiness of my life growing up. Yet at one point it became fashionable to buy an artificial tree and we do so…no longer pine needles dropping quietly to the floor.

     When plastic became a scent of my Christmas – so unlike spicy cinnamon sticks and fresh-cut pine..yet to me as much a Christmas smell. My new baby dolls had this smell and to this day if I come across the plastic smell of the 60’s it takes me back ad I want to hold it close. Such a simpler, innocent time for me and one I cherish.

     When family would gather at our home, filling it with laughter, jokes and light-hearted mirth. The kind that makes everything right with the world if for just a few days. Homemade cookies and candy abound in special little dishes and plates brought out of the cupboard. I loved that time. Family makes me feel rooted in the ground…a sense of continuity and steadfast in spirit. A sense of belonging and sharing.

     Soon the Christmas music will disappear from the radios…the trimmings will be boxed up for another year and my memories will be safely tucked away. Blessed memories of innocent times, family and the enchantment of Christmas. I will find myself at a bit of a loss for a week or so. I don’t do so well after all the hullabaloo is done. I have always been this way for as long as I remember. While many people sigh a relief that the holidays are over…I don’t. Instead I ponder, worry and become introspective about next year. Will someone be missing from the midst of those I love, in some way will life be so different from today. We never know the answer but for some reason I always ask the question once the quiet moments surround me. I know that life can change in a minute, I know that we should always be grateful for each moment we are here and I am. But the frailty of life is never far away…it whispers to me when the music is gone and the crowd has left for home. I tell myself that next year is just around the corner and just a sigh away…and life goes on…

May You All Have a Very Beautiful Christmas

Making new memories and  recalling many wonderful times from the past

My Mother’s Shadow Box

My cousins, my brother, Mom and I ...and the shadow box........

My cousins, my brother, Mom and I …and the shadow box……..

     It hung on the wall of the formal living room, centered over the mantle- given a certain dignity and place of purpose in the room. In many a holiday or special occasion photo, quietly present in the background. My mother’s shadowbox. I remember it well. Painted creamy white with bamboo looking wood trim, and mirrored shelf backs. Throughout my parents’ home, this one piece of furniture reminds me of my growing up more than any other. At some point in time, I was given the privilege of dusting it and rearranging the figurines. I stood on a dining chair happily completing the task. The little poodle family was my favorite as they descended in size. There was the blown glass, so careful that I did not break it I think I held my breath when I touched it. And the ladies dressed in fancy clothes…well they were beautiful to me.

     The shadow box…like life, changed over time.  Eventually it was replaced with a painting- when I was in college.  Stored in our basement for a while, I am not sure what ever happened to it. We tend to do that…lose track of little things we love.  We look back and wonder how that came to be.   But it happens.  We look back in longing yet march ahead knowing life never to be the same again.

The  shadow box is just one piece of my past that I cherish…not for the wood it was made of – nothing truly exotic there, but the memories connected with it.  As the shadow box hung for years I never thought of it as important in my life growing up, just amusing to a girl who liked to decorate.  I was wrong you see…now I realize the importance.  Now as I have lived past the age of 50 (with some wisdom) and have lost others that I miss dearly,  I softly whisper to my heart…”I know”….”I know”…the simple things are truly precious reminders of living our lives and we should be ever grateful for them.