The Book of Life


The book of life never truly ends until your last breath has been taken.  Until that moment, keep writing, add new chapters to create paper pages never-ending while leaving your leather cover open to imagination.”

Kim Gosselin

Book Imagination Fannie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*photo courtesy of http://www.sodahead.com/fun/if-books-transported-you-to-their-world-which-book-would-you-open/question-4409215/

Heaven’s Angel


Once a tiny seed, a speck, a fleck

Barely fluttering heart so near

Inside my chest.

Love internal soon to grow

Every second

Hour and minute.

Weeks go by

Turning months

Nearly a year

Soon you’ll be here.

Yes, I feel you deep within

Loving you more

Fluttering like before.

Bigger now, the whole of my heart

Close my eyes to dream

Of butterflies beautiful

Imagined, not yet seen.

Soon to be born

Cradle until you fly.

A gush, a splash

Astounding love envelopes me

Baby born, now you’re here

Skin to skin upon my chest

Pink and perfect

Suckle and cry

Tip-toe peeking while you sleep

Mine to keep.

Bursting heart with love to share

Holding you till the end of time

Rolling over, sitting up, grasping toys and giggling too.

First tooth, big smile and curly locks

Cuddling, kissing, wooden chair while daddy rocks.

Dreams of a lifetime snatched forever

Without warning, halting, stopping.

Half a year is not enough

I cry and shake and ask God, “Why?”

Clutching you, tiny fingers too

Nighttime crib, flannel sleeper, little life

My heart is broken, shattered glass

Pieces and shards, strewn over the blanket of life.

Devastation

No greater loss

Crying…wailing…weeping.

What to do, where to go, can’t survive without my child.

My heart has spilled, its empty now

Feeling nothing dark and dead.

Help me God, to understand

Dry my tears, give me strength

Pass the courage today and every tomorrow.

My babe is an angel that I know

Fluttering now outside my chest

She has her wings

Of a golden hue

Butterfly beautiful indeed

The tiny seed

Once a speck

Invisible fleck held so dear.

Needed in Heaven or so I’m told.

Take my hand to pray with me

Rock my baby night and day

A gift to me forever you see

Kiss her gently, love her too

Till I can join her next to You.

Light of Heaven (3)

*For T in memory of her beautiful baby daughter, and to honor all parents who have lost  their loving babies to SIDS.  My heartfelt blessings and prayers to you.

 

 

 

Remembering……


Driving home the other evening, I was struck by peaceful lights of beauty appearing in a sky of dusk.  Nearing darkness, shades of pink and coral contrasted against the horizon of dusty blue.  Before I rounded the bend, I pulled off the winding road in order to capture such sights from the camera on my phone.

Ironic, how God works.  Just before the unexpected sight of “Heaven,” I was reminiscing about a family friend who had passed away ten years ago during holiday time.  I remember the late stages of his illness as being such a dichotomy.  Christmas trees at hospitals.  Smiles for the sake of children.  Death approaching while filling carts with Santa’s toys.

Has ten years passed me by?  It hardly seems possible…and yet, lifetimes have come and gone….  If I unearthed a time capsule from all those years ago, what would I find?  Deep down inside there would be snapshots of a jolly great man, tall and big with white, blonde hair together with a cheery grin.  This family friend of mine had a huge personality that was full and giving.  When I think of him now together with this time of year, I am reminded a bit of Santa Clause……

My friend had a terrific sense of humor, loved family more than anything and worked hard to support them as a manager for a car dealership.  Just before his cancer diagnosis he was about to be promoted.  Soon he would be the manager of a brand new dealership.  One that would be his very own!  He was fabulous with people and could talk to anyone on the street or in a jeep.  And, oh, how he loved life.  I never saw him waste a day.  Not a simple second nor a magic minute.

Today, my friend’s eldest son is a married father with two young children of his very own, a little girl and a baby boy.  Like my husband, my friend would now be a “Grandpa!” Together with my husband, he would be so very proud.  The two would forever be carting babies around on tops of shoulders to root for their favorite teams, shouting for the runner on third base to run into HOME.  For years, they coached baseball as a twosome, instilling life lessons into little boys while grooming them for high school teams.

A couple of months before this terrific man’s passing, my husband met me at the hospital for a visit one afternoon.  Sensing a mood of defeat, I remember taking his hand in mine. His grip was still strong and felt warm to the touch.  Moving in closer, I was sure to look directly into the dampness of his eyes.  “I’m a better person for knowing you,” I remember whispering to him.   At first his brows furrowed, not quite sure if I was telling him the truth or not.  Within seconds, however, the crystal blue of his eyes shined through with thankful acknowledgement.

This special gift of a friend passed away shortly after the 2004 holidays when he was 44 years old.  He left behind a loving wife together with five dear children.  Barely a day goes by that my husband and I don’t remember thoughts of him.

Especially during Christmastime.  When Santa Clause comes….

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Stuff


In thinking of the soon-to-be Thanksgiving holiday, I remember a quiet time spent with my mother a few days before she passed away.  Cuddled within one of her hand-knitted afghans, she sat to the side of her favorite burgundy velvet rocking chair.  We played a game of sorts, both of us tip-toeing around the elephant in the room.

Thanksgiving was only a few short days away, with Christmas coming soon afterward.  Only God knew for sure, but I suspected that my mother would not be sharing either holiday with the whole of our family.  Moving two steps back while taking one step forward, I pretended like everything was the same as the year before.  Except nothing was the same.  Not even close.  My mother was dying.

So what game was I playing a few days before Thanksgiving?  “Christmas Is Coming Early!”  Unwrapping a few decorations to delight my mother’s tiring eyes, I lit the fireplace mantle in sparkling miniature white lights.  Next I pulled a tiny tree from a new box, fluffing the faux branches of dark green up and down and to the right or to the left.  I wanted it to look perfect before placing it atop the red brick and stone hearth of the fireplace.  “Do you like it, Mom?”  I asked.  She nodded, “Yes.”

Next, I carried a box of decorations from my parent’s garage storage area.  There, I discovered some of Mother’s favorites, including various Christmas dolls made of porcelain dressed in ruffled red velvet or shades of green taffeta.  Atop their breakable heads were wigs made of mohair dyed in blonde, brunette or dark red, the color of wine. Looking at me, they smiled with eyes of glass blue.  Each had tiny hands with long, delicate fingers of polish that shined in the light.  Clasping their silk strings carefully, I held them to the rose-colored lamp in order for Mother to get a better view.   “Where should we display them?” I asked.

I waited for her then, but no response.  Instead, I saw slight hints of clear tears in the corner of her eyes.  My heart broke then.  I had tried to pretend…but the game was over.  I had drawn the wrong card, it seemed.  “Do Not Pass GO,” it read.

“I don’t want to see them,” my mother said, barely able to speak.  “Look around,” she motioned, waving her arms about the room.  “Everything you see is just stuff,” she whispered, with all her strength and all her might.

One of my greatest Life Lessons came during the end of my mother’s days.  Nothing is greater in all of this living world than FAMILY.  Remember this during Thanksgiving Day and each day afterward.  Everything else is just…..Stuff.

Angels-of-Heaven-who-bring-Good-Tidings-from-Heaven-jesus-23106858-640-480

Stairway to Heaven


*Edited From Original Post Dated 11/20/2013

It was a beautiful day.  The sun was bright in the sky of blue and breezes whispered softly through the covered patio.  Whenever I passed the screen door, wind-chimes that dangled from the outside roof twinkled with melodies so dear.  Family gathered by my mother’s side.  Not many.  My father together with my sisters and brothers.  Mother sat upright in her favorite rocking chair, determined not to die in the same bed she had spooned my father in for over 56 years.  It was her last unspoken gift to him.  To this day, I’m not sure he ever got the connection, that final bit of will in her…but, I knew.

Mother’s chair of soft burgundy velvet, a gift from my sister years before was small and shaped to fit her itty-bitty body perfectly.  For as long as I remember, it sat under a rose-colored lamp.  The same one that shined above her petite head of wavy, graying hair where she knitted ruffled christening gowns for grandchildren, read her Bible daily, and hand-stitched needlepoint quilts for all five of her children grown.

The day was long as my mother struggled between this world and the next.  Her breathing became more labored while rays of sun stung the milk-blue of her eyes.  I remember finding dark glasses to fit her tiny face.  Finally, her body seemed to rest in preparation for her journey to Heaven.  Between comforting her and dispensing medication, my sister and I wandered out to the back of the yard where we prayed for God to take her while tears fell to the bare of our toes.

That evening, our family sat around the family dining table of walnut colored wood.  My father’s seat was the ladder-back chair directly in front of my mother’s resting spot.  So close, he could feel the warmth of her body while smelling the scent of her breath.  Softly we spoke, reminiscing about the years gone by.  We laughed about little things while listening to Mother’s favorite music from dark speakers connected to an older CD player in the foyer, nearby.

It seemed to be the first time in a week that we had time to sit down together.  Minutes to share love and respite from the emotional toil of a soon-to-be, finality.  Fluted paper plates in a Thanksgiving theme held our dinner of take-out tacos made of  golden corn. Shredded green lettuce, yellow cheddar cheese and red salsa on the side.  Between bites, my father’s hand reached behind his chair to gently touch the nape of my mother’s neck.  A silent gift of love and loyalty from him to her. What message was in that simple touch? Their many years together would be ending soon.  How my heart ached for this humble father of mine who wanted nothing more than to love my mother forever and always!

Joining hands in prayer, we asked God to ease my mother’s suffering.  Peaceful lyrics continued to give us a sense of strength in the background while wind-chimes of brass and glass danced to music a few feet away.  So close were the sounds of our voices together with the melodies, that I wondered if my mother could hear all that was comforting and familiar to her?   If so, perhaps it would help her transition into God’s afterlife?

A few minutes later the phone rang.  Wiping his hands free of taco crumbs, my father answered it.  On the other end was my youngest brother, who lived about an hour away. He was of course, calling to check on Mom.  In that very second we learned that she was gone.  “Oh, my God,” my father said, in anguish.  Through tears, my ‘baby’ brother responded, then. “Dad, I had a feeling.  I just knew…..My other brother, who was with us let out a the most terrible wail.  Deep and guttural like the cry of an animal.  I shall never forget it.  His heart shattered into a million pieces, scattering them to the wooden floor below.

By then, my mother’s soul was surely being carried by Angels to the Stairway of Heaven.  Instinctively and without thinking, I removed the clear, stiff oxygen tube from her soft, delicate nose.  It was no longer needed and she hated it so.   At last, my mother could breathe freely on her own.

She Breathes Freely with God in Heaven Above.  I love you, Mom.

Led-Zeppelin-Stairway-To-Heaven

The Day Before Her Last


*Originally Posted on 11/19/2013

My mother’s yellow roses are wilted now.  Edges of curled brown buds barely cling to their coffee-colored vines.  They bend ever so slightly to the left or to the right from evening temperatures turning oh-so-cold.  Within a day or two, they’ll have to be cut down in final preparation for next spring.  Yes, gentle spring when life begins anew.

Early this morning, I opened my patio door to breathe in a gust of fresh fall air.  It slammed me hard and quick.  High in the sky was a still bright moon, spectacular in sight. Then, clouds moved in to shadow it with a thin veil of grey, giving it an almost ghostly appearance.

Three years ago today was the day before my mother’s last.  It was the most painful one for her living on this earth.  The worst for her loved ones to bear.  The hospice nurse told me to gather my siblings and so I had.  After they arrived, I anticipated scenes from a movie, I guess.  The ones where sisters and brothers take turns having private time with their dying mother.  It was not to be.  In the same manner that a new parent recognizes the cry of their newborn, caretakers know the difference in their patient’s signals and signs.

It was too difficult for my mother to speak near the end, and so she did not try.  We had our own way of communicating without saying a word.  She lay on her side, trying to lessen the pain, I suspect.  There, her slender hands were open to me.  A slight inward movement meant, “Come closer, I need something.”  Perhaps it was an extra bed sheet or slight sip of water?  An outward turn meant, “No more, I’ve had enough.”  Occasionally, she moved her hands back and forth.  “Please don’t touch me,” they silently said.  “My body hurts me so.”  A hand rising abruptly meant, “NO!  Do not let anyone come near me.”

My mother’s cooling touch guided me towards granting her last wishes.  As arduous as it was for loved ones to understand, she couldn’t bear to be seen in such a deplorable condition.  She wanted peace, to be left alone.  Without time for explanation, I became the designated gate-keeper, of sorts.  It was a role I did not choose.  Rather, it was chosen for me.

I don’t remember how I became my mother’s caretaker.  My father was of course her, “Number One,” leaving my middle sister with other roles to play.  I was simply there to keep charts, dispense medicine and give the proper answers to intuitive questions.  I had done it for many years while raising chronically ill children.  I was good in a crisis and could pocket away emotions if only for a minute…..much like a doctor or a nurse must do.

The time spent with my mother as a caretaker was a privilege, allowing me to discover a lifetime through wordless gestures.  It was the very last thing I was able to do for her.

The very last thing……

Clouds Across the Moon

My Mother’s Yellow Roses


*Please bear with me during the next couple of days as I dedicate a few older posts to the memory of my mother.  She passed away four years ago on November 20, 2010. Originally posted 11/8/2013

There they were.  Three yellow roses blooming high atop the bush of frosted leaves.  The morning sunlight had just come over the horizon to frame its own picture of them before I grabbed my camera phone to do the same.

They are “My Mother’s Yellow Roses,” of course.  All her life, the yellow rose was her favorite flower.  Five years ago when I moved into this house I planted the yellow rose-bush as a way to keep her close to me.  We lived far from each other, able to visit only once or twice a year.  Yet, whenever I sat on my patio, her spirit seemed to surround me. The scent of the yellow roses, their edges dipped in painted pink, brought us together.

My glance at the lemon colored rose petals always remind me of my mother.  Particularly this morning.  Perhaps it is the contrast of the glistening, white frost blanketing the hill in the background.  How it sparkles in the sun like fairy dust, covering the grasses and all of the blades of green around it.  The flowers I so prized in rainbow colors decorating my patio have withered.  They hang, crumpled over rainbow pots.  Their lives have ended for the year, a sign of cooling weather.  Changing seasons are upon us with winter coming soon.

My mother is on my mind this month.  She passed away three years ago in November of 2010.  I was packing to board a flight to see her in Arizona.   Packing  three years ago on this very day.  It was not her time yet, but I knew….she  would be lost to me, soon.  She lived with several chronic conditions.  The worst of which was, COPD.  Eventually, it led to lung cancer, choking the life from her.

The yellow roses I planted to keep me close to my mother are hanging on as if to send me a message this morning.  In spite of the frost that snuffed the life from the flowers around them, they are still here to say, “Hello.”  They have not withered or left their source of life.  They send me love from my mother above, and me right back to her.  I predict they may prevail for a few days more, or even longer.  Like life in general, no one but God knows for sure.  Until that day comes, I glance out the window at every opportunity to see my mother’s yellow roses.  There, I  whisper a silent message full of love to her above.

“I miss you, Mom.”

My Mother's Yellow Roses Growing Amongst The Frost Surrounding Them

 

Unsettling Intuition


How beautiful the world was in my little space and place of open land yesterday!  Over 60 degrees, yet it felt warmer as the sun shined brightly from a “Something Borrowed” bridle blue sky.  Not a sound in the forest beyond the edge of my leaf covered yard except for a slight hammering.  A red-headed wood pecker was seen high in a tall limbed tree.  Very close-by.

Last week, a dark pall began to fall over me.  Much like a shroud over my head, it was hard for me to view streaks of light through clouds of darkness.   I wondered, was it the time of year or perhaps the weather?  My writing took twists and turns, finally veering off to take a sudden fork in the road.  I had a sense of intuition about me that I couldn’t put my finger on.  So unsettling it was that I focused doubly hard on remaining positive with my words.

This past weekend, I learned of the death of one of my cousins who was very close in age to me.   Tragically, he was found by his older sister a week ago today.  As a child, I remember our families coming together for great big holidays.  We shared roasted turkey legs at Thanksgiving, rang twinkling silver bells for Santa Clause, and chased each other through my grandmother’s beloved scented rose garden.  In my early twenties, my cousin used to ride his prized motor cycle up from lower Michigan to visit my family in Bay City, always stopping by with a great big smile.  Sometimes, one or more of my sisters were ready to hop on the back of his bike for a quick ride around our small town before he drove off, freely into the sunset.

Last Monday, was the very day I began to feel an uneasiness about me.  The exact day my intuition became unsettling.  My family, although truly blessed has been struck by several different Chronic Conditions.  Many of my posts are filled with references to them since I began writing here on WordPress.  My cousin’s sweet mother was one of my father’s three older sisters who was diagnosed with a very rare neuromuscular disorder at the peak of her young motherhood.  A magical saint, I wrote of her in a post entitled, The Memory Journal http://wp.me/p41md8-pF.  Her son suffered from a different malady.  It hardly seems important now.  He struggled, he had demons and yet  he tried so very hard to conquer them.  He was on his way…

My heart truly breaks for the surviving matriarch of my cousin’s family.  His only sister who must once again shuffle through yellowed papers while picking up pieces from a grey file cabinet only recently shut tight in order to say, “Good-by.”  How she bears all things I do not know.  In the last  few years she has buried her mother and her youngest brother together with her father.  Now, she takes on the burden of losing another sibling.  I pray for God to give  her the strength she needs in the coming days and weeks together in the years ahead.

Bless you dear cousin.  No more struggles.  No more fighting.  No more inner pain or demons tearing you apart.  Your family holds you warm and close together with God in Heaven.  Rest in peace for all eternity.

IMG_6721gods-blessing

 

 

An Analogy of Wind Chimes


I woke with a start in the darkest of the night. Loud winds whirled and whipped around near the moonlight. Listening, I could hear the banging of chimes, their brass pipes sparring against air like a fight, like a war.

Usually, before winter comes my favorite wind chimes are lifted carefully from summer branch homes to be stored away till spring. One had been forgotten somehow. Lonely, it hung in the cold, in this snowy weather now.

While lying in bed, I knew which one sung its mad song to me. It was the last gift my mother sent on my birthday the year she died. It was the one with the red cardinal on top that reminded her of me, of St.  Louis, you see.

The wind swirled, the brass tubes wrestled, furniture tipped, and new snow swept. The war of the chimes against nature created an analogy of the fight my mother had on her last day of life. While laying there, that’s what I thought of, the fight between life force and what lies next.

On my mother’s last day the chimes played the way she would have wanted. A variety of them hung outside the screen door of her home. The winds were blustery. She loved them all, the different sounds and melodies they played, the twinkling of the brass tubes against one another when the breezes blew this way or that.

It was nearing the end, but only God knew exactly when. The winds were especially gusty, blowing and brisk. As though He had a hidden message that soon she would be in heaven to breathe freely. For on earth it was such a fight for her, like the war waging outside my house last night.

My family prayed by my mother’s side while listening to different songs of chimes blowing in the wind. Like messages from God sent from above, each one had a different tune. We listened to lyrical music, there for us to hear by ear. They were signs that Mother would be hearing them forever soon and be at peace.

My mother’s death was several years ago, yet it is still so fresh in my heart and mind.  Today I will take the gift of my cardinal wind chimes from the snowy branch down to be safe.  I will place them inside my home, warm and safe.  Soon spring will come.  The cardinal chimes will be pulled out again to be placed on a waiting branch for the sun to shine down from Heaven above.

My mother will see them there. My mother will know.

Exhart-WindyWings-Cardinal-Wind-Chime

Attitude Through Trials


Today my best friend has tears in her eyes.  Her body shakes with grief.  She cries.  I do my best to comfort her.  I hug her, I talk quietly, I speak from my heart.  I know her so well.  She listens to me.

On Monday I woke to words I didn’t recognize.  This “best friend” of mine, the one I cherish so much had just lost her brother to a chronic condition.  One I know as well or better than most.  She was still in shock of course.  For her and her family it was “sudden.”  For me, I knew it had been coming.

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