Sunday, December 12, 2021

Every time I see them
it creates an image in the present
which in seconds or hours
or a day or years,
depending on recall,
is always in my past.

We gathered to honor the matriarch.
From Texas, Illinois, California, Wisconsin,
Minnesota, North and South Carolina,
Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Virginia too.

She was the rock, the foundation.
Granddaughter of Swedish immigrants,
upholding the traditions.
Her life, lived for so many.

A career in nursing, a ministry of sorts.
She offered healing to the afflicted.
From surgical assistance to the elderly’s pains,
to the scrapes of school-age youth.

She taught her children compassion.
Lessons passed on to grandchildren
and their children. To nieces,
extended family, friends and neighbors too.

She faced the depths of loss and pain,
courageous and resilient.
Sustained by faith in God and love of life,
she taught us even through her death.

Family gathered to pray, to sing,
to share a meal. Tears and smiles comingled.
Yesterday’s emotional today,
so filled with love and caring support.
That is the essence of this family,
what we share and treasure most.

Those moments of yesterday’s today,
far too quickly in our past.
But still they give us hope and strength,
to face all of our coming tomorrows.

Written in memory of Janice Stewart. The family gathered on Saturday, December 11th at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois to celebrate her life. She will be missed by so many.

PHOTOS:
Hjalmer Hallberg immigrated from Sweden. He and his wife, Anna, settled in Chicago, Illinois. The photo on the left shows their five grandchildren. From left to right: George Hallberg, Nancy Jahnke, Lynne Gehrke, Janice Stewart, Donald Hallberg. Neil Netherton, Nancy’s brother, passed away many years ago. He was Hjalmer and Anna’s sixth grandchild. The second photo was taken immediately following the celebration of Janice’s life at St. Paul’s Church on Saturday, December 11th.

That special time of year . . .

. . . packed away memories
slowly, carefully unwrapped.
Mother’s paper-thin pink glass bell.
Father’s airplane ornament
one clipped wing, hangs askew.

Brother’s cardboard Santa.
Crayoned red suit and black boots,
thinning cotton-puff beard and cuffs.
His first grade art project
crafted near eighty years ago.

You three sleep eternally
warmed in earth’s loving arms.
But each holiday season
you live with me again,
if only atop my Christmas tree.

Merril hosts Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for global poets. Her prompt for today: “write about any object – a family heirloom, a museum piece, a monument, or a palace. The choice is yours, but there must be some link to history and the past.” The bell and airplane are 90+ years old.

Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

The Gathering

Love and laughter abound
from youngest to oldest, three generations.
Memories shared, stories told, memories made.
The circle of love goes around and round . . .
. . . we are blessed to still be aboard.
Thankful for every day.

Traditional cousins’ bench shot. In the top one, youngest is 2 and on the bottom, she’s almost 10!
Fifty-one years…..thankful for every day.
Hail hail, the gang’s all here….
Our much loved children and grandchildren.

All photos from last weekend….and what a joyful time we had at a marvelous VRBO farmhouse in Virginia!

Sweet Apples

Three apple trees.
Due date approaching.
Branches loaded with fruit,
over-ripe ones on ground
sickly sweet with buzzing bees.
Fresh picked apples brought inside,
peeled carefully, cut in halves,
sliced after cores are tossed.
Seasoned with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg
they’re left to sit, making their own juice.
I move the rolling pin over the dough,
stretching it carefully into shape, leaning in
as close to counter as my swollen belly allows.
And then I feel it. Shirt lifted, I look…..
our soon-to-be little one is rolling too.
Crusts placed gingerly in aluminum pie pans
spicy scented apple mixture poured into tins.
Butter pads scattered on top, then top crust placed.
Crimping dough I smile, remembering.
Yesterday I folded sweet little undershirts,
cloth diapers, and placed them just so
on shelf in second-hand bassinette.
Pies made, into the freezer they go.
All the preparations done, we wait.
Iowa’s winter won’t seem so harsh this year.
We’ll have that heavenly apple aroma
as one of our pies bake,
and we’ll be holding a tiny baby boy or girl
ever so closely in our arms.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Kim asks us to consider fruit….pick a fruit…..what does it remind us of. What is it like? Describe it.
Immediately our apple trees came to mind from when we lived in rural Iowa. And then memories came flooding back. These were the days when we went to the dr. to find out if we were pregnant. And the only gender reveal was when the baby was born. Our daughter was born after I’d frozen our apple pies for the winter – she’s now 46!

Lesson in Timing

Diapers, bedtime stories,
Christmas stockings.
Driving them to lessons,
reading report cards.
Wound up like a top
I whizzed through the arcane.
Now in my golden years
I think back and realize.
I should have paid more mind.
The arcane was indeed
the miraculous.

Written for Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I’m hosting and ask people to include the word “wound” or a form of the word in a poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. Notice that “wound” is a homograph. There are two pronunciations and each has a different meaning: He suffered a wound in battle. VS She is wound up like a top. Folks are free to use either pronunciation/meaning or both! If using both, their poem must still consist of exactly 44 words, not including the title.

Photos are of our children who are now 45 and 46! And yes that’s me, about forty years ago!

Bridges

She crossed a bridge with the utmost faith
knowing her husband, gone so long,
and her Lord would be on the other side.
We who wait in this waystation
bid her farewell and rest
and we move on as we must.

Sometimes a bridge is like a catapult,
a sudden bolt from here to there.
Others seem miles long
as we cross treacherous waters,
painful steps, unsure of where they lead,
straining to make the span longer still.

I stand outside tonight,
staring at the stars above our universe.
I wonder and I hope.
Peace and unconditional love
must surely have met you
as you knew it would,
when you crossed over to the other side.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today, Merril talks about bridges and asks us to either write a poem in a particular form, or to somehow write about bridges. This poem is dedicated to my sister-in-law Starr. We lost her on April 10th. She and I were planning on my visiting in July….it was not to be. I shall miss her. I do miss her.

Between Here and There

What, cruel fate?
When body ages naturally,
stooped and frail but moving still,
enjoying time with family and friends,
you dare to strike unexpectedly?

You send blood careening to skull
where corpuscles wreak havoc,
inflict destruction without mercy.
Life gasps bereft of speech, bereft of steps.
Minimal movement left, only on left side.

Now dear Starr, comes time to leave,
the good life lived.
Sustained by faith,
your one love gone far too soon,
waits impatiently beyond.

Ascend into the universe,
soar upon angel’s wings.
Painful our goodbyes
though we understand your need,
your exhaustion, your readiness.

Your body upon its own journey,
earthly path to far past stars.
We hold your hand, not to tether you.
Rather to show our love, provide comfort,
an assuring touch in this transition time.

And when you are gone from here, 
body spent, spirit uplifted, 
you will be here with us
and simultaneously there.
Forever imprinted upon our heart.

This is dedicated to my sister-in-law Starr and her family. Starr, eighty-three, entered hospice this past weekend. She has five children, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She lost her husband, my wonderful brother, to a massive heart attack when he was only fifty-one. We shall all miss her terribly.

Written for dVerse where today Grace hosts with a prompt entitled “The Body and Poetry.”

Also included in NaPoWriMo Day 8 – National Poetry Writing Month – where the challenge is to write a poem every day in April.

Ode to the Aperture

Aperture, open-shut
time frozen in space,
minute details embraced.
Butter-colored flower filaments
crowned by mustard-yellow pollen.
Violas waving in purple-lemony shades.
Mother smiling back at me,
weeks before she died.
Father sits, infant twin
one-hundred years ago.
All long gone, but with me still.

Written for Quadrill Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Merril asks us to use the word “embrace” (or a form of the word) in our poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. Pub opens at 3:00 Boston time. Drop by! All are welcome.

Aperture refers to the opening of a camera lens’s diaphragm through which light passes. Around 1880 photographers realized that aperture size affected depth of field.

I have old black and white framed photographs on our living room shelf (some of them shown above). They are family treasures.

We take photography for granted these days….clicking away with our iPhone, deleting what we don’t want. Storing the rest in cyberspace. I remember when I had to take a roll of film to the drug store; wait a week or two to pick up my photos; and then be so disappointed in the quality of so many. What a world of convenience we live in! And thank goodness for the photographers of olden days!