The Memory Journal

When I close my eyes, her smile is tilted slightly towards the sky, as if receiving a silent message meant for her soul alone.  She had an outward beauty of course, but her inward beauty was unsurpassed.  Calm in times of insurmountable struggles, tremendous trials and personal loss, she had an inner peace that gave her strength.  She was one of my father’s sisters who was diagnosed with a rare chronic illness named, Friedreich’s Ataxia.  She was my special Aunt Joan.

Aunt Joan was a nurse by trade.  As a young woman, she took care of the sick and needy in a Michigan hospital.  She married a strict Lutheran Preacher with a dry sense of humor.  In turn, she became a minister’s wife who eventually bore and raised four children.  I often thought my mother was in a ‘race’ of sorts with her.  Together with my father’s other five sisters, they were forever having babies.  During family gatherings, some of my cousins and I peered under soft yellow blankets to catch the wrinkles of newborns cradled in their laps.  I was part of the older group.  It was our job to barricade running toddlers before they trashed our grandmother’s goods.  We were a lot like the “Kennedy’s” in that way, except our family was never rich or famous.

I don’t remember the order of such, whether Aunt Joan’s diagnosis came before or after her older sister, Helen.  They were fairly close in time, as I recall.  Either way, Aunt Joan was quite young.  I believe she learned of it soon after she bore her fourth and last child, a son.  She named her baby, Paul after my father who became his Godfather.   How difficult her life must have been, tending to four young children in addition to being the picture-perfect Pastor’s wife?  All this while living with such a devastating chronic condition?   If she ever questioned God, no one knew.  Instead, Aunt Joan was full of gentle smiles, taking her condition in stride while raising her brood of children proudly. Even after her body did not respond to her brain’s unmistakable commands, she persevered.  My aunt never complained.  Not ever.  Not after forty years or more.  Not even later in life when she lost her youngest son to a another chronic condition.  Life was not fair.

All of my aunts have given me exceptional gifts.  Life Lessons that can’t be learned by reading books or researching on a computer.  Growing up, I must have taken subliminal notes scribbled in invisible ink.  Lucky for me to have filed them away in a memory journal to be discovered during my own times of adversity.  Thank you, Aunt Joan.  For your life and the wisdom your shared with me.

Bless you together with your loved ones in heaven above.

English: My Heaven

Edited from one of my earliest posts 11/16/13 in dedication to my Aunt Joan

My Mother’s Yellow Roses

There they were.  Three yellow roses blooming high on top of a frosted bush.  The morning sunlight had just come over the horizon to take 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 me close to her.  We lived far from each other, able to visit only once or twice a year.  Yet, whenever I sat on my patio I felt close to her.  The scent of yellow roses, their edges dipped in painted pink, brought us together.

My glance at the rose petals always remind me of Mother.  Particularly this morning.  Perhaps it is the contrast of the glistening white frost that blankets the hill in the background.  How it sparkles in the sun like fairy dust, covering the grasses and all of the green around it.  The flowers I so prize in all colors and have withered.  They hang, crumpled over rainbow pots.  Their lives have ended for the year.   It’s a sign of cooling weather.  The changing seasons are upon us.  Winter will be here 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 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 which eventually triggered her lung cancer.  Both conditions took their  toll on her petite frame, making it hard for her to breathe.  Nearly impossible at times.  Indeed, in the end, it was.

The yellow roses keep me close to my mother.  Their blooms are hanging on as if to send a message to me this morning.  In spite of the frost that snuffed life from all around them, they are still here to say, “Hello.”  They have not withered or left their source of life.  Today, they send me love from my mother above, and me right back to her.  I predict the blooms of pale yellow may prevail for a few days longer.

Like life for all of us on earth, no one but God knows when our steps may stop or end.  Until the day of my own day shall come to pass, blue eyes of two peek out a window frame to view yellow roses.   Lips below my nose begin to quiver, whispering a silent message to her above so full of yellow love.

“I miss you, Mom.”

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

My Mother’s Yellow Roses Growing Within the Frost Surrounding Them

My Baby on Angel’s Wings

Children often have imaginary playmates. I suspect that half of them are really their guardian angels.”~ Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book, by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994
Cover of "Angels (Art)"

I didn’t know I was pregnant.  I lived with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  My body released an average of only 1 to 3 eggs per year, making the odds of having a baby on my own highly unlikely.  My first baby was conceived with the help of fertility drugs together with a very patient doctor who lived in Michigan.  I wasn’t taking any fertility drugs.

That night, me and my husband sang our made-up song to our little guy.   We did every night before tucking him into his crib.  “It’s time for our boy to go night-night…night-night, my boy.”  A silly song really, but it was a bedtime tradition that he loved.  The three of us sang as we scampered down the hall, hand in hand.  We kissed our son’s rosy cheeks before quietly shutting the door behind us.

Crawling into my own bed, cramps gripped the core of my womb that night.  Turning to look at my husband in the shadows of the desert moon, I remember telling him it felt like, “labor.” Pressure led me to the bathroom while I held the small of my aching belly, no bigger than ever before.  My husband was asleep by then.  Feeling the cool of  Spanish clay tile under my bare feet, I saw imprints upon the floor when I sat down on a seat of porcelain white.  In seconds, what would have been my baby slipped out.  A small part of me, the size of the palm of my hand fell into my own. (more…)