Tag Archives: love

Remembering…

Carol A. Hand

Seven years ago, my mother passed away in the early morning. She was 89. During the last 13 years of her life, she gradually lost her memories and her abilities to care for herself and communicate. I was thinking of her yesterday at sunset and decided to repost the poem I wrote for her two years ago.

Sunset – October 9, 2017

Mother, I Remember

Dear Mother, I remember as a child
The trips to New York City and to the Jersey shore
Camping in Cape Cod, and the Adirondack Mountains
Trips on boats, splashing in the ocean
Picking berries in the woods and laughing
Only realizing later that we were spared by
the copperheads that called the woods home
I remember the many times you cried
because you couldn’t bear the loneliness and pain
from an abusive husband who knew the way to hurt you most deeply
was to hurt the daughter you loved
But we were both survivors, you and I

I remember watching you when I was a teen as you cared for elders
and dealt with cranky staff with such kindness and diplomacy
A gifted healer and peacemaker despite the abuse you couldn’t stop
I remember that I understood from a very early age
that you didn’t see your beauty or your worth

I didn’t know how to help you or myself for awhile

***

My Mother Sending me off to College after Spring Break – 1966

***

I remember there were many years when we didn’t meet often
You had your work to keep you busy and I had mine
Yet you always found time to send letters and cards
from Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wisconsin
when you returned to the place where you were born
to use your skills to get federal funding for a health center
on the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe reservation
I remember how frightened you were to testify before Congress
How proud you were of this accomplishment
and how disappointed when the center was named after the tribal leader
whose bitterness almost sabotaged the project

I remember when I was a little older
Driving this road to your northwoods home
so many times, from so many directions
in too many different cars to recall
Only this time, the drive is different
I’m crying so hard it’s hard to see the road ahead
I’m not coming with my family to celebrate a holiday,
or taking time away from work to answer your plea for help
because you’ve grown fearful and weary of Father’s abuse
I’m not coming to help you move to the elder apartment complex
or the assisted care facility because you can no longer remember
how to care for yourself, or even who I am
This time I’m coming to bid you farewell one last time

I will always remember the love and the laughter,
the tears and the pain as I hold your hand and
gently caress your cheek and smooth your silvered hair
as you lay in your hospital bed, struggling to breathe, dying.
I kiss your cheek and whisper.
I love you, Mother. I always have. I know I will miss you
But it’s okay to let go now Mother and go home.
You’ll finally be free from suffering.”

It’s been seven years since your death
But I still remember

***

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Reflections about Being a Parent and Grandparent

Carol A. Hand

When my daughter was born,
my view of the world forever changed.

“To have
a child
is to decide
to have
your heart
forever
walk around
outside
your body.”
(anonymous)

Life was no longer something I peered at
from a safe distance
I felt it deeply – glowing in my heart
Powerful, shifting emotions
forced me to realize how precious
and precarious life can be

Holding each of my grandchildren for the first time
intensified my sensitivity and commitment
to do all in my power to be a loving presence
Watching them as they grow
amplifies both joy and pain
celebrating their accomplishments
suffering when they encounter challenges

Self-portrait by my granddaughter – July 7, 2017

***

Sometimes all I can do is
to simply try to be a loving presence

***

My granddaughter’s portrait of her Ahma – July 8, 2017

 

In times such as these it’s not easy
to believe the future holds bright possibilities
Let our hearts awaken and glow
with celebratory joy

***

“Be Here Now”

Carol A. Hand

***

Let me be fully present here, in this moment

Focusing on opportunities to send out love and healing

Not frozen in yesterday’s hurts and disappointments

Not constrained by the bleakness of the surrounding landscape

Not controlled by the fear and chaos swirling about in other places

Not concerned about tomorrow’s uncertainty

I only have this moment,

now,

to radiate peace and joy

***

Morning – March 7, 2017

***

Acknowledgments:

For my beloved daughter who inspired these reflections…

Title drawn from the work of Baba Ram Dass (1971), Be Here Now.

***

Adieu

Carol A. Hand

The love of my youth is dying
On earth, this lifetime, we’ll not meet again
A long life is sometimes a blessing
but surviving dear friends brings such pain

Truly gentle men are so rare to find
The world doesn’t treat them well
They often ease disappointments silently
with distractions to escape an inner hell

À bientôt, my beloved friend
May you finally know peace deep and true
Please know you’ll always remain in my heart
Though, from afar, I must send my final earthly loving adieu

Snowflakes and Sunlight February 27, 2017
Snowflakes and Sunlight
February 27, 2017

 

for David

There are so many better ways to say “farewell” in French. It’s the language of the heart. I turn to it now to express the depth of my grief and sense of loss.

À bientôt means “see you soon

Adieu translates literally as “(I commend you) to god” 

Simple Gifts

Carol A. Hand

When my beloved dog Cookie died, my heart was broken. We had weathered many challenges during our eleven years together. She survived many moves from her prairie home – to the northwoods, Rocky Mountains, and different Great Lakes region cities. I knew as we shared our last walk together in October of 2013 that no one else would ever take her place. I had no intention of ever adopting another dog. I hoped my grief would pass with time, but instead of diminishing, it only deepened.

By the end of October, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter went with me to see if I could find a larger female dog. (I’m sure I wrote about this adventure, but I can’t find the story anywhere.) When we entered the animal shelter to look, the first dog we saw was Pinto, then tiny, a Papillon/Chihuahua mixed-breed.

Pinto Adoption Photo 1 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 1 – 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 2 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 2 – 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 3 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 3 – 2013

 

 

 

My granddaughter fell in love with him at first sight. Who wouldn’t? I promised her that we would walk him after we tried the two large female dogs that were waiting to be adopted.

I did walk the two larger dogs, Barbara and Ginger. They made me aware of my age and physical strength limitations. Both were powerful, spirited, and emotionally wounded. My daughter laughed heartily at the spectacle of me trying to control Ginger when she started jumping and tugging to avoid going back into the shelter. When I was eleven years younger, Cookie could pull me over and drag me. Ginger almost did the same in the animal shelter parking lot on her maiden walk.

“Maybe a smaller dog would be wiser,” I thought, so it was finally Pinto’s turn. And he was a joy. He didn’t jump and pull. He merely trotted proudly with his butterfly ears in constant, graceful motion and rolled over so my granddaughter could pet his belly. It wasn’t until I went to pick him up a couple of weeks later that the shelter listed his challenges. He had been abandoned so they knew very little about him except the health issues when he arrived and his behavioral challenges. Many of his teeth had to be removed because they were too badly infected to be salvaged. And he was too dangerous to be around children.

We’ve been together for a little over three years now. I’m glad to say it’s been months since we’ve had to deal with a feral incident. Because I’ve agreed to listen to his “no brushing my ears command,” his feral fits only happen occasionally over some forbidden outdoor “treat,” like rabbit or deer droppings or a twig that will be sure to make him choke. His timeout kennel is still in the living room just in case, although my special leather gloves for handling him have been repurposed for outdoor work.

He really is very gentle with my granddaughter.

Ava and Pinto - June 28, 2016
Ava and Pinto – June 28, 2016

I made a choice early on that accommodates my personality. I don’t like to fight or try to bend others to my will. With Pinto, I haven’t tried. I can only imagine why he’s so terrified when the grooming brush approaches in a gentle trusted hand. He snarls and fights for his life. I would rather be the safe person who gives him a place where he can sing even if he’s grown a little plumper and his lovely fur is a little dreadlocked. He really is a gifted singer.

***

***

The frozen image on the video clip above doesn’t do him justice.

Pinto - July 18, 2016
Pinto – July 18, 2016

I’m truly grateful for his mellowing presence in my life.

***

A Message from the Weeping Willow

Carol A. Hand

Once I was young, a mere sapling in this northern clime
nestled comfortably in the embrace of my soul mate
Our trunks touching, our roots and branches intertwined
We grew wide and tall gracefully trusting in our loving fate
Silent witnesses to so many changing times

***

Willow - February 15, 2012
Willow – February 15, 2012

***

We weathered frigid winters, autumn storms and summer drought
Blooming hopefully together each spring for almost a century
Now I stand alone, a silent sentinel filled with doubt
realizing in these changing times there is no certainty
pondering deeply what my life was really all about

***

Willow - May 6, 2016
Willow – May 6, 2016

***

I’ve watched children walking past me on their way to school
To many I was invisible though I gave them air to breathe and shade
Most were blessed with curiosity and light, but a few were dark and cruel
I sent them all loving energy because that’s just how I am made
I’ve seen the light dim in many over time because the darkest tend to rule

***

Willow - July 18, 2016
Willow – July 18, 2016

***

All I ask in the years that remain is for someone to hear my song
To gently touch my weeping branches and lovingly caress my aging frame
I’ll weather more storms but I know now it won’t be long
Please listen to the wind as it speaks through my leaves while I remain
Take time to stand silent beneath my protective shelter, strong,
at one with peaceful loving nature where we all belong

***

The Power of Music

Carol A. Hand

Do you ever awaken from a dream where you’re singing a song? That’s what happened to me this morning. It was a song that I see as a little silly in the context of what’s going on in the world today. But it’s a catchy tune that captures some of the troubles that produce such angst in our teens. Those years are long gone for me but not for my grandchildren who remind me what it’s like to be young.

Here Comes My Baby – Yusuf/Cat Stevens

Thankfully, finding the song on YouTube led to me to another song that echoes the yearning of my spirit in the unrelenting cold of this mini-repeat of the polar vortex we’ve been experiencing. It awakens hope by reminding me that even on a cold winter’s day, it’s a new morning filled with possibilities. Spring will come. There’s a different kind of beauty to the winter dawn.

Morning has broken – Yusuf/Cat Stevens

***

Wishing you all a blessed morning wherever you are.

***

Winter Dawn (Pixabay Public Domain Photo)
Winter Dawn
(Pixabay Public Domain Photo)

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