Oh, What a Wonderful World


Earlier, I began to write on a topic totally different from what you are reading. As I was polishing my words, editing and spell checking, a random melody of What a Wonderful World, quietly began to play from an app recently pressed on my iPhone. A small speaker of silver encased in turquoise blue sat atop the crowded corner of my half-moon desk. Suddenly, my body halted in a burgundy swivel chair. Fingers of ten lifted up, freezing in position. I was utterly still while listening to lyrics strumming from a soothing Hawaiian ukulele. I hadn’t heard this song since last month when I chose it for Eileen’s, memorial service.  Eileen, my father’s wife of 142 days who passed away from cancer.

Things happen in life that we don’t often understand at the time. Later, something may trigger us to look back with fresh eyes, opening a window to a new meaning or purpose of such. This moment of clarity happened seconds ago which I will share with you now.

Last month while flying to Phoenix for Eileen’s service, a beautiful young woman with several long, dark braids and wearing a patterned paisley scarf tied around her head sat in the window seat next to me. During the three and a half hour-long flight, I closed my droopy eyes to catch a nap. Suddenly, something cold landed on my sleeveless arm. My eyes popped open. Near my wrist, a small plastic pellet, cold as ice rested comfortably. Taken aback, I flicked it off my arm with my index finger. The girl/woman had fallen asleep, her partially covered head rested against the airplane window with braids tossed this way and that. Her scarf was twisted, revealing a cap of white underneath.

Directly in the row ahead of us, a mother was busy juggling twins, a girl and a boy who jumped up and down when a smiling flight attendant appeared carrying a tray of sweets. One at a time, she served them soft, chocolate chip cookies. The commotion woke the young woman next to me who began to talk playfully with the children ahead of us.

“Mmmm, I bet those are really good cookies,” she exclaimed! “I have twins, too,” she added, smiling at the children’s mother. “Two little girls, six years old.” “How great! My kids just turned four,” the other mom, replied.

Naturally, I couldn’t help myself. “I have twin grand-babies” I added, leaning in to my seat-mate. “Two girls, like you. They’re just over a year old.” From that moment on we bonded, sharing family photographs while getting to know one another. Shortly before landing, she explained that her family lived in China, where her husband worked for a major New York investment firm. She added that she felt extremely guilty for leaving him there while she came to America (Phoenix) for cancer treatment. My heart stopped.

“No, this can’t be, I thought to myself. “She’s too young. I can’t bear to hear this. Not on this trip. Not now.”

“What do you think,” she asked. “Is there any better place for treatment?”

Gathering my composure, I took her hand and smiled with self-determination. “I think Phoenix has some of the best treatment options available,” I answered. “As good or better than anywhere in the world,” I added with enthusiasm.

“Do you really believe that?”

“Yes,” I answered, honestly, which I did. Looking directly into her eyes, I told her not to feel guilty, that she should concentrate on getting well. For the next few minutes, I gave her a pep talk of sorts, insisting that she put herself first and foremost. I asked her to concentrate on getting well for herself, as well as her family; to never stop thinking of those precious little girls who so needed their mama.

Just before landing, she asked, “What brings you to Phoenix?”

“Oh, just a brief visit with my father,” I answered, misty-eyed, smiling slightly.

*Below is a prayer I wrote that accompanied What a Wonderful World, at Eileen’s service. Today it has a new meaning for me, a new purpose. Surely, Eileen is an Angel….yes, the young mother’s Angel. Eileen sits beside her through each and every cancer treatment. Eileen dries her tears, eases her loneliness and eventually, will reunite her with family. And, yes, the young mother will be happy and healthy, living to raise her daughters into womanhood.

Oh, What a Wonderful World.

Angel Prayer-

Before the sun shall rise again, darkness descends upon the earth

And, though I do not see, nor hear, nor touch…

What lies beyond the ink of skies above

My faith surpasses any doubt of where I soon shall fly…

Be still all earthly pain, and hush my labored breaths

Blanket weary lids, and rest ‘till morning dawn…

View these beautiful Angel wings above favorite desert peaks

For He has grasped my hand in Heaven 

So full of joy it spills forth

With light and love…

Gaze with me as glory casts golden rays

For now and all eternity.

                   ~Amen~

 

“My Angel”


My father lost his beloved wife, Eileen on Monday evening after a four-month battle with cancer.

About two weeks ago, I was able to speak to her over the phone. “Your father has been my angel,” she said.

Last evening, again on the telephone, my father asked for my help in preparing Eileen’s memorial brochure for the funeral service. Even though I’ll be in Phoenix later today, he needed to get started on the information immediately. So, I sent him a photograph that I took last year at 5:30 in the morning while visiting the two of them.

As I forwarded the photo on to my father, I mentioned to him that it might be appropriate for someplace in Eileen’s memorial. I remember how she loved it so.  To me, it symbolizes Heaven, with the clouds above appearing to look like angel wings. My father agreed.

“I called her my Angel,” he cried through tears.

How ironic. Two Angels. One on earth and now one in Heaven above.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…

Philippians 1:3

A Perfect Portrait


The backdrop of last evening’s sky was crystal clear far and wide, the color of navy blue ink often seen dribbling from a broken plastic pen. Twinkling lights sparkled high above like fairy dust sprinkled within a vastness beyond my sleepy head. They glittered and shined below heaven perhaps. Reality became wonders within my imagination. Tiny wishes were made upon a few, hoping that a one or two might come true.

Either way, God painted a perfect portrait aloft tips of trees for all to see, like you and me.

*photo courtesy of Google

starstrees

 

An Aura of History


Just prior to Thanksgiving, my husband and I stopped at the famous and historic Omni Grove Park Inn, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.  A Historic hotel of the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Grove Park Inn was built in 1913 atop a spectacular site among the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Even before entering the lobby of the Grove Park Inn, I knew spectacular awaited me. Double doors were thick and heavy, made of natural wood surely harvested from trees of nearby woods.  The doors were tall, massive in height and opened by pressing down on original levered hardware made of bronzed brass.

Stepping onto slate tile floors of the grand lobby was like being whisked back into time. Soaring ceilings above were decorated in boughs of holly with impressive, wrought iron chandeliers swinging to and fro filled with mistletoe. To the right was an enormous fireplace at least 36 feet wide made completely of stone. A roaring fire sang a song in flames of blue and gold. And, directly in front of me, a wall of windows where postcard views greeted eyes of old and new. Outside, there were tiers of terraces to sit and chat, sip a bit and make new friends or relax to gaze at all anew.

Taking a brief walk to the out of doors, I sat on a stone ledge, closing my eyes at the beauty before me. Gently, two lids at a time, I stopped to breathe the air. Not subconsciously but knowingly. First through my nose then through my mouth. Parted, purposely sucking it in. Air from the sky and all that surrounded me. Fresh, deep into my lungs, right there I held my breath. This new air inside of me was held with tight lips for as long as I could. My lungs expanded as though underwater until finally I was forced to exhale all within.

Different scents were discovered along paths of each tiered terrace as we climbed the steps. Scratch and sniff. Dip your nose to smell them now. Lingering essences similar to holiday gifts of bottled bath candles. Pine, firewood, warm cocoa, cool air, and fresh greenery.  Feelings were hidden there too. When my eyes were closed, there was no doubt they were spiritual in nature. Land of green that hadn’t been touched in years and years reached to grab a gloved hand if only for a second or two.

Oh, how I would have loved to stay there for a while if even if only in my dreams. To get lost in God’s natural beauty, the glory of the mountains together with all of its surroundings. I imagined writing among the peacefulness while listening to sounds of trickling water from nearby streams together with the rustling of leftover leaves. The humming of birds perched among the barren bark of trees. “I must come back one day,” I silently thought to myself.

Back inside, there was a sixth sense about this hotel, a belonging I felt deep inside my bones. Although I knew nothing about it or had never been there before, an aura followed me wherever I went. Down through long abandoned halls, out more patio doors and into the fencing of dipped rose gardens now withered in drab colors.

Entering another wing of the hotel we came upon an unexpected display of history and artifacts. My husband and friends continued on but I was enthralled, mesmerized if you will by the scene before me.  F. Scott Fitzgerald had not only stayed at this hotel, but lived in rooms 441 and 443 for approximately two years, coming there to write after the enormous success of his novel, The Great Gatsby.

Fitzgerald’s interest was peaked by the divine beauty of the Inn’s location.  He was depressed at the time and wanted to find an uplifting place to write his next novel while taking care of his mentally ill wife, Zelda. The Inn seemed to call his name.  Zelda was transferred to an institution nearby where he could visit her often. However, soon Fitzgerald became even more depressed, drank heavily and eventually moved to Hollywood to become a screen writer where he died of a heart attack three years afterward. His poor wife Zelda, died in a fire at the Asheville hospital a year later.

Although the Grove Park Inn did not have a happy ending for F. Scott Fitzgerald, I prefer to think of how he must have felt as he entered those massive wooden doors for the very first time. Excited and full of hope at the possibility of a new beginning. He was inspired to write among beautiful scenery like no other in all of this world.

Things might be different for Fitzgerald had he lived today. The chronic conditions of depression and mental illness can be treated through a variety of ways and there is help for those who seek it. Seeing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s belongings and touching the nameplates on the doors of rooms 441 and 443, left me with a longing and a connection to him like never before.

I hope to go back to the Grove Park Inn one day. Perhaps I won’t write the great American novel there, but I will remember F. Scott Fitzgerald together with his greatness as well as his struggles. He was human after all. No different than any of us. Regardless, his greatness will never be forgotten.

I close my eyes of two to imagine the good times Fitzgerald spent at the Grove Park Inn, long ago. The beauty of the scenery together with his wonderful words. That in itself is a gift to me.

 

Hidden Delight


Crinkled leaves beneath my toes

Colors tumbling across the road

Rolling in breezy clusters

Pushed by God to the other side

Crinkled leaves beneath my toes

Wee children chasing to discover

Hidden delight out of sight

Trickling water, listen closely now

Cup your tender ear to hear

Crinkled leaves beneath my toes

Floating atop a stream of pebbled rocks

Hallmark hues glistening in the sun

Children peering to see what may be

Crinkled leaves once beneath my toes

Gently swirling, swaying, smiling up at me

fall road with stream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*photo courtesy of Google

 

Falling….


fall flowersThe golden flower of fall has withered

Partly crisp and yellow under the sun

Petals droop

Soon, they will begin to fall

Slipping one-by-one to the somber soil of a new season

Mellow, it’s begun

Warm and wonderful under the sun

Waiting for what is to come

The golden flower now falling….

 

 

 

 

Steamed Heat


Steamed Heat arrived in St. Louis recently, lasting day and night.  Never a break it seemed to me.  An odd season of weather this year.  June was a bath of rain from heaven above while July might have baked bread of rye.  I wondered why?  The heat stifled me a bit.  My body, mind and spirit seemed to shut down.  Although rested from cooling temperatures and the beauty of a trip north, the slap of 100+ heat index took a toll on me.

Silence in the back of my yard.  No forest friends to welcome me.  It was too hot for them to venture out from beneath their tent of trees.  Truth be told, I only peered from the inside of window panes above cool air blowing up from the basement below.  There, I hoped to see legs and tails.  Wings and beaks.  Fur and feathers together with animals playing hide and seek.  Not to be.  Sweltering you see.

When outside, my city felt like the inside of a sauna.   During the day, mist covered the glass of homes, dulling sunlight that desperately tried to part invisible curtains.  Itty-bitty bubbles, small and slight clung to sides of clear until they evaporated late in the day or perhaps not until the next.  Steamed heat moved into neighborhoods, hiding any sign of window screens while air conditioning ran 24/7.

Yet last night a break in the weather!  Cooler temperatures slid down into the 90’s with lower humidity and a breeze that floated under the skin of my nose.  Tiptoeing outside to water fried flowers, I stopped to sit without burning the bare of my feet.  As I often do, I gazed upward toward the top of the hill where crown vetch grows thick and tall this time of year.

There was movement to my left.  Slight, but I was right.  Except for eyes, I did not stir.  Darting this way and that, the two of blue searched for what my heart had been seeking. Suddenly, four pointed ears, copper in color, peeked above the tall of green.  Twin fawns, spotted in white munched on an endless dinner.  Surely their mother would not be far away   Seconds later, she stepped regally out of the woods in order to protect her young.

At the very same time, a blueish-grey turkey’s head meandered down the hill, gobbling all the way.  Still I didn’t move, afraid I’d spook the beautiful bird of feathered brown.  To my surprise, bobbing behind her were little rounds of balding blue.  1-2-3-4-5!  Five babies or poults as they are officially called.  I know this because I wrote a previous post that included them entitled What Nature Teaches You, http://wp.me/p41md8-1HQ.  Still, it’s the first time I’d ever seen a hen leading five poults down the steep of the hill.  Gobbling every few seconds, they moved their necks backward and forward, pecking a path towards their home among the darkened trees.

Just above my head hanging on a shady tree limb was a hummingbird feeder.  Call me lucky, but while all of this was going on two different birds, one dressed in lime green feathers and the other black and white trimmed in red stopped to feed.  They darted, flapping unseen wings while pointing long beaks into pink plastic flowers.  Inside, the sweet of red colored sugar-water waited patiently.

In those moments of minutes I realized that life is all about timing.  If Steamed Heat hadn’t lifted, I would have stayed in the house.  If I hadn’t ventured onto my patio to water flowers, kick off my shoes or take a seat in those very seconds all would have been different.  The animals I love may have still been foraging for food near fallen pine needles within the coolness of the forest.  I know I have God to thank for timing as well as Steamed Heat!

For a brief moment I was disappointed a camera was not at my side to capture the glory of last evening.  At the same time, I believe any slight movement of body or chair, a tilt of my head or a click of the camera would have startled all of God’s creatures.  Although unable to share them, I’m fortunate to have the wonder of their pictures forever painted on the canvas of my mind.

Steamed Heat Children

 

Nature’s Fireworks


Fourth of July and I feel all of June has been lost…Much to weather and other conditions in life.  Still, it’s beautiful this morning.  The sky is clear and a rising sun is shining down upon me, warming the back of my neck ever so slightly.

Sigh….My beloved potted flower gardens have taken a beating.  Rain pounded the red bricks of my patio and all on top of it for most of June.  Petals of petunias are wounded.  Leaves have turned yellow and roots have risen to the top of pots.  Variegated ivy trails over sides of primary colored clay.  No longer are plants vibrant and full of life.  Their voices are weak and barely speak.  I’m afraid their days may be numbered.

I don’t ever remember the month of June being so soggy and wet.  Day after day it seemed to rain.  Rivers rose, roads closed, flooding ensued and everyone was forced to stay inside.  Even my favorite forest friends never ventured beneath their canopy of trees.  

Normally, June signals celebration.  Summer begins, school ends and voices of children begin to drift through wire screens of open windows.  How my heart aches for sounds of summer solstice!

Thankfully, there is no rain in sight today, not on this holiday.  Families are busy packing picnic baskets with favorite foods.  Coolers are being filled with ice and drinks.  Concerts will be heard in parks tonight while skies explode in sparkling colors all aglow.

As Independence Day is celebrated, I take pause to thank God for all that I have in life.  My treasured flowers may dry out, allowing new ones to sprout.  Or, perhaps beautiful blooms are flourishing elsewhere around me?

The world is full of fireworks if only we open our eyes to see….