Just sitting here thinking . . .

Reflecting today – don’t know why exactly.
Just am.
Wondering . . .
who has known me my entire life?
Requires they be older than me.
Parents, brother, grandparents,
aunts, uncles, five cousins.
But all departed from this earth.
Have I known me all my life?
Earliest memories,
not gleaned from photographs?
Me at age five.
So no,
I haven’t known me all my life.
Turns out, no one on this earth has.
Odd.
Life is just odd.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. I’m hosting OLN today. That means folks can post any one poem of their choosing: no prompt, form or topic requirements. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come on over and imbibe some words!

Photos in collage: Left to right top row – me with mom and dad; my folks and my brother Chuckie (I called him that all his life) in summer; me and my brother before his high school graduation.
Left to right middle row: mom and dad; my gramma the year before she died; me as an infant.
Left to right bottom row: my brother and I not too many years before he died suddenly at age 51; my brother and I with our grandparents; me, mom, dad and Chuckie at my baptism. He was nine years older than me.

71 thoughts on “Just sitting here thinking . . .

  1. Jaye Semrod February 4, 2021 / 1:04 pm

    Love today’s poem….. cause for reflection

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:20 pm

      So nice to see you here, Jaye. Somehow, I just can’t comprehend that my brother has been gone for 30+ years. I stay in close touch with my sister-in-law. She is 82 now. George and I went to visit her in Denver the summer before Covid hit….I’m so glad. Early morning coffee with just she and I…we got to talking. After all these years, she said, I still miss him every day.

      Like

  2. Ingrid February 4, 2021 / 1:08 pm

    This was very moving Lillian, and I wonder how many people actually ask this question? Beautiful photos. You must miss your brother a lot 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:23 pm

      Thank you, Ingrid. It is so hard to believe he has been gone 30+ years. He used to call me and we’d talk…what I can hear his voice saying is “Not to worry” whenever I’d be talking about a problem. 🙂 My parents were devastated. Now, having grown adult children of my own, I can more clearly understand the abject pain they felt.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ingrid February 5, 2021 / 2:57 am

        I can only imagine. I am sorry for your loss. I lost my sister 5 years ago. We didn’t grow up together but we grew very close as adults, especially once we both had children.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen Dehner February 4, 2021 / 1:16 pm

    It is a strange sensation … I have a sister eighteen months younger, she qualifies as knowing me most of my life. I love how you framed this in poetry and the images are delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sanaarizvi February 4, 2021 / 3:08 pm

    This is such an incredibly deep and introspective poem, Lillian! 💝 I believe poets recognize each other and in time learn more about each other than anyone else 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:27 pm

      I think you are right. We tend to make ourselves vulnerable with our words…our thoughts. I am so glad to have met you on dVerse. Do you know that I’ve been to India 3 times? I traveled there by myself with my job as Dean of MBA Programs and in particular, the Global MBA. I met wonderful people there….I found the people of India to be beautiful….both the people I met at the corporate level, the students I recruited, and the shop keepers and stall workers…the colors of the saris I shall never forget. I was invited into the home of a government official who’d been elected 5 times and done so much for the people…he started a school of people to learn trades so they could support themselves. I was invited into his humble home and shared a meal with his family. So many memories.

      Like

  5. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) February 4, 2021 / 3:22 pm

    So right… I wonder how that may happen… I think it’s the same with me. I have some cousins and aunts who knew me when I was born… but the rest are gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:27 pm

      It’s interesting to realize, right?

      Like

  6. The Abject Muse February 4, 2021 / 3:22 pm

    I know what you mean. People who knew you when. I’ve got just a few of those left and they are all important to me. Helps keep me grounded. If/when they are gone, I think it will be an empty, lonely feeling. But then again, it happens all the time. Part of life apparently. A lot to think about. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:28 pm

      Part of life. The cycle….that continues spinning and moving…until all I have of those people who were so very dear to me are some mementos and photos. I treasure them.

      Like

  7. Ron. February 4, 2021 / 3:26 pm

    Wonderfully reflective work, Lillian. My life-long “I know that guy” crowd is rapidly shrinking, too. Sometimes, even that mirror guy looks at me like we’ve just met.
    Thanks for hosting the OLN and for contributing this insightful masterpiece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:29 pm

      My “mirror guy” is looking more and more like my mother! 🙂

      Like

  8. Ron Rowland February 4, 2021 / 3:27 pm

    Excellent question(s) to pose. I believe my earliest memory (not gleaned from photographs) was also about the age of 5 or 6 – outside, next to my house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:32 pm

      Probably about 15 years ago, must have been during lent, I went on a one day silent retreat to a monastary. We could not speak. I brought an empty notebook and decided I would spend the time going backwards in time, as far as I could, to memories that were not from photographs, and write the down. I actually drew out the “plans” of the first house I remember growing up in from kindergarten until third grade; and then the one I was in from 3rd until college. I wrote out memories of playing in that first house…of aunts and uncles….when you’re silent for an entire day and you really concentrate, you can come up with many memories. I still have the notebook and it’s amazing to look at. I’ve shown my grown daughter where it is….since it’s part of her herstory in a way as well.

      Like

  9. Glenn A. Buttkus February 4, 2021 / 3:44 pm

    My sister is only 16 months younger than me, so she qualifies as a person who has known me all my life. Like you, many of my earliest memories are colored by what I was told by my folks and grandparents, and yes, family photos. Congrats on your half century plus anniversary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:35 pm

      Thanks for the anniversary wishes. About 15 years ago, I went on a silent retreat for a day to a monastary. Not meant to be religious, we could do anything we wanted but we were each in a small room, could not talk…and only went into a common room for a silent lunch. It was meant to be a period of reflection during lent. ONe could bring a bible … or a notebook … but the idea was not to bring a mystery book etc. I brought an empty notebook and spent the day going back in my memory, to find memories NOT related to photos. I even drew out the floor plans of the house I lived in from age 5 to 3rd grade…and things I remembered doing/playing in that house. I still have the notebook. An amazing exercise to go through.

      Like

  10. kim881 February 4, 2021 / 3:45 pm

    Such a reflective poem, Lill, that echoes my own thought lately. My sister Carol has known me since I three and she was a baby, and my husband comes a close second, as we were in the same class when we were six. I am lucky to have two friends from high school, too. Sadly, I left a lot of people behind every time I moved, and we lost touch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:38 pm

      How amazing that you’ve known your husband since you were six. At 73, I’ve had all of my older cousins die – it’s hard to see that happen. My brother died at 51….my parents were devastated. And I lost both of them as well. I smile when I think that my brother who was 9 years older than me, probably used to have to wait for me to catch up if we were on a family vacation. Now he, my mom and dad are all buried beside each other…and I imagine him saying, Well Lillian, I’m waiting for you to catch up with us again!”.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. scotthastiepoet February 4, 2021 / 3:50 pm

    Al Lillian, you’re right here -life is indeed odd… And getting odder , which tends to happen to us all as we get older, I guess – even in more regular circumstances… But, all the same time, all the more wonderful too… And thereby hands a mystery!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:38 pm

      Life is indeed a mystery. Thankful for every day!

      Like

  12. Linda Lee Lyberg February 4, 2021 / 3:52 pm

    I had this revelation when my dad died a few years ago. I told my husband, “The two people who created me and have known me all my life are now gone.” It made me so sad to think of it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:42 pm

      Exactly! And good question! None of us knows us when we were infants….or toddlers. Usually earliest memories are from about 4 or 5. And especially, if we don’t count “memories” gleaned from photos or stories we’ve been told about ourselves…but REALLY try to remember. At a silent retreat about 15 years ago, I brought an empty notebook. I started by drawing the floor plans of the house I lived in until I was in third grade. I found I could draw out the plans of the house and once I did that some memories came flooding back that were not in photos…not in stories told me. Interesting right? Maybe the connection with the physical place came out in the drawing of the floor plans and then memories followed?

      Like

  13. msjadeli February 4, 2021 / 4:36 pm

    Lillian, was Chuckie jealous when you came along, I wonder? Nine years of being the baby and then… Where did your grandma live? It looks like a beautiful poinsettia plant she’s standing next to. I still have a few people who know me from a young age. My mom, one brother who is 18 mos younger, a cousin 4.5 yrs older. Of those 3, my brother probably knows me best, but I rarely see him anymore, even though he lives 15 minutes or so away 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:45 pm

      My grandma lived in Tampa with my dad’s twin sister, who never married. Her name was also Lillian. I don’t know if my brother was jealous. I was a result of my dad coming back from WWII and his saying to my mother, what gift can I give you? Any gift you want…I am so happy to be home with you. And she said, “I want a baby girl.” True story. Of course it was a 50-50 chance I’d be a girl. One memory I have, not from photos or stories, is of my brother sitting in a chair or couch watching something or doing something, eating popcorn and an apple, and me sneaking up behind him and pestering him. I’m sure I was a pest! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • msjadeli February 4, 2021 / 8:14 pm

        Neat! So that probably was a poinsettia! What a wonderful gift to give a loved one, a baby girl ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Georgina February 4, 2021 / 4:37 pm

    Oh Lilian, this is a very poignant poem and some very interesting and dear photos of your family. I guess I have thought the same thing as those older than me who knew me as a child, baby are now in their 70s and one with liver cancer. Life is fragile but I also wonder at our own memories and the questions we never asked of our older relatives. The circle with grandchildren is very interesting. My 3 year old granddaughter remembers me telling her about a dance my mother taught me. She has not yet asked where my mother is. She would be 103!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:47 pm

      Some years ago I bought two copies of a little book called My Mom: Her Stories and Words. On each page is a question about me….my childhood, favorite holidays, best birthday party, all kinds of stuff. And I’ve been filling them in slowly…one is for my son and one is for my daughter (now 44 and 46). I wish I’d had something like this from my mother…or taped her for an oral history.

      Like

  15. Carol J Forrester February 4, 2021 / 4:40 pm

    An incredibly poignant thought crafted brilliantly into a poem. I really love how you managed to keep the off-hand nature of the thought, while still striking a chord with the poem itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:53 pm

      Thank you, Carol. So glad you enjoyed. About 15 years ago at a silent retreat to a monastary that I went on, we were allowed to only bring an empty notebook and pens and a bible if we wished. We were in a separate small room for most of the day…alone. We did share a lunch in a common room, but this also was silent. It was meant to be a day of reflection. I used the time to go back in my mind to my earliest memories…not from photos or stories told by aunts and uncles…and write them down. I decided to start by drawing the floor plans of the house I grew up in until I was in third grade. I was amazed I could remember the placement of the living room, dining room and curved arch entry between, the kitchen, porch (door to porch), bedrooms…and then where a linen closet was that I actually climbed up into and scaird my mother. Once the floor plans were down, memories came back. I also drew the floor plan of my best friend Junie at the time, who lived down the street. Five years ago, she was in Boston with her husband to do a fall foliage tour, we’d not seen each other since high school graduation in 1965, she lived in CA. I showed her the notebook wtih the floor design of her house, she couldn’t believe it. It jogged her memory. An interesting thing/process to go through!

      Like

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:53 pm

      Funny where the mind goes in your seventh decade!

      Like

      • Carol Congalton February 5, 2021 / 1:48 am

        Oooh I hate to break this to you but if you are 73 then you are in your 8th decade with 7 already completed. I am very close to entering my 8th decade! Yikes!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. calmkate February 4, 2021 / 5:18 pm

    poignant pondering and lovely family album … really knowing ourselves is so difficult!

    Then how can we really know others? But after 51 years of close living, surviving all the trials and tribulations … your husband must be the closest to knowing you the best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:54 pm

      That is SO VERY TRUE! Even though we met in college, he knows me through and through. As do I him. Thankful for every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. ben Alexander February 4, 2021 / 5:32 pm

    Wow; that’s deep and poignant. Never thought about it that way, Lillian.

    -David

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 4, 2021 / 5:54 pm

      Well, when one is 73, the mind starts going places I guess! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. rogblog666 February 4, 2021 / 6:31 pm

    brings echos of my childhood to the forfront of my memory. all bar one of those i share those with are still here. but the older i get the more i know how precious those around me are

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 5, 2021 / 12:11 pm

      Exactly. Thankful for every day.

      Like

  19. rothpoetry February 4, 2021 / 11:15 pm

    I love your interesting and nostalgic musing! The older we get the less people who preceded us are living. Hope I won’t be the last one. Love the family photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 5, 2021 / 12:14 pm

      I do think, as we get older, there is less of a path to the journey in front of us. That much we can be sure of. We no longer feel invincible as we did in our youth….and we are not longer as “busy” as we were raising a family, going to the job every day….and therefore there is simply more open time to reflect. In these Covid days, I’ve gone through all the old photos and made them into one large acid-proof or whatever those last-forever-kind-of albums are….and written down names, etc. A good project…hence all these photos!

      Liked by 1 person

      • rothpoetry February 5, 2021 / 12:43 pm

        Less invincible for sure!! It is so interesting to go back through the old photos! They are each a trip back in time!

        Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 5, 2021 / 12:15 pm

      My Covid project has been going through old photos, old albums of my mother’s and mine….ridding myself of many “landscape” photos….how many pics of the Tetons does one need??? I’ve compressed them into three albums with that acid-free paper and way to mount them…and written names etc under them. I so enjoyed doing this. A “walk down memory lane”. Glad you enjoyed seeing the old photos.

      Like

      • lifelessons February 5, 2021 / 2:38 pm

        Do you have someone in the next generation who will want to inherit them? I keep wondering if anyone will want my photos.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Kenji February 5, 2021 / 3:35 am

    Wow, Lillian, you enlightened me. I only relied upon my old albums up to-date for the memories about my childhood, but now I wish to give a try on your idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 5, 2021 / 12:17 pm

      Hi Kenji! Good to see you here! Do you mean, sitting down with a notebook and going back in your memory and then writing down your earliest memories, not from photos and conversations passed down to you? I started with the drawing of floor plans to the house I spent my early years until third grade in. I was amazed I could draw out the layout perfectly….and then the memories started coming. do try….it is an amazing exercise and one your children will then have to add to their understanding of who their father is! 🙂

      Like

      • Kenji February 6, 2021 / 12:04 pm

        Yes, exactly. I’m already thrilled when I imagine how far I could go back into my memory and how it will turn out.

        Like

  21. M Jay Dixit February 5, 2021 / 8:33 am

    You said so little and yet you said so much, it got me thinking about my own life, very evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. merrildsmith February 5, 2021 / 8:49 am

    Such a moving poem, Lillian. And lovely photos, too.
    I’m sorry for the loss of your brother, even though it was many years ago.

    I know my mom was often sad that most of the people she had known were dead before her–even her younger brother. (She was 97 when she died last April.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 5, 2021 / 12:20 pm

      Ninety-seven is a good long time on this earth. No matter the age or the circumstances though, it is so very hard to lose a parent. My mother not only lost her son when he was just 51, he was buried on her birthday. And five years before that, her youngest sister, and only one left in her immediate family, died of a heart attack and she too was buried on my mother’s birthday. Only now, as I’m older and my children are grown can I begin to imagine the pain this must have caused her. Life is very very tough sometimes….and the cycle goes on and on and the earth is replenished.

      Liked by 1 person

      • merrildsmith February 5, 2021 / 12:47 pm

        Oh your poor, Mom! That is a lot to go through, and you’re right we don’t always realize these things when we’re younger.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. kaykuala h February 5, 2021 / 9:03 am

    How nice, Lillian! Great memories and what a wonderful family that triggered it off,

    Hank

    Like

    • lillian February 5, 2021 / 12:20 pm

      Thank you, Hank. Thankful for every day.

      Like

  24. Tricia Sankey February 5, 2021 / 1:32 pm

    I have a twin sister and I hope we’ll be together till pretty close to the end at least. It is interesting to look back at an older age and reflect and take inventory on who is still with you. Moving piece! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 6, 2021 / 9:59 am

      Thank you, Tricia. I’m glad you enjoyed. Oh my yes….more time for reflection now as I get older. In some ways, I think Covid has caused people to reflect more as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tricia Sankey February 6, 2021 / 10:53 am

        Yes, very true. Makes for some good poems! 🎉

        Like

  25. Xan February 5, 2021 / 6:31 pm

    Oh, this is spine chilling. Wonderful insight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 6, 2021 / 9:59 am

      Thank you. So glad you enjoyed.

      Like

  26. Ali Grimshaw February 5, 2021 / 10:45 pm

    There is much to ponder in your poem. It makes me realize that the people who have known me the longest aren’t the ones who know me the best. But I think you are reflecting on the generations that pass on before us leaving us someday as the eldest.

    Sending you wishes of wellness,
    Ali

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian February 6, 2021 / 10:01 am

      Exactly. My husband of almost 51 years (as of tomorrow!) knows me so much better than those who did know me my entire life. Proximity in time and distance affects the knowing….as does the making oneself vulnerable…how much we are willing to share. “knowing me” — can mean different things.

      Liked by 1 person

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