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~

 

…Authors, when yeez need a wee flame to re-ignite yer soul, try this music… #TBSU…


Beautiful music and video. Okay, I’m Scottish, but I’d share it with you no matter what! 🙂

Seumas Gallacher

…this ol’ Jurassic tries to live by a credo of having only two kinds of day… ‘good’ days and ‘better’ days… and on these intervals when they are merely ‘good’ days, a wee dip into my past life fifty years ago as an apprentice banker in the glorious Isle of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides never fails to render it into a ‘better’ day… only those who’ve lived amongst a community such as those in the Highlands of Scotland will get close to understanding the ties of the heart that bind yeez forever to a place… my early years were formulated in Docklands Govan in Glasgow, also populated with some of the salt of the earth, people who usually had little in the way of tangible things to give, but offered freely of their kindness to others… but a special kinship belongs to the smaller village-style communities such as…

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Junior Prom Dreams


Special electricity was in the air last night.  Here at the Kemp Auto Museum in Chesterfield, a “Junior Prom” was held for children from the ages of 5-17 living with Down Syndrome.  It was possible due to the efforts of our former St. Louis first baseman, Albert Pujols.   Together with his wife, he formed the, Albert Pujols Family Foundation, an organization dedicated to “promote awareness, provide hope, and help meet the needs of children living with Down Syndrome.”  From what I know they also make “dreams come true.”

Near twinkling lights, dancing music played early last evening while tasty food was served.  Balloons in festive colors decorated party tables covered in cotton cloths.  Scented carnation corsages worn on tiny wrists wafted among the guests, while boutonnieres pinned young men’s vested chests.

Handsome guys dressed in crisp dark suits, wore their hair combed back, tamed with jell… except for one, loosely sprung!  Innocent young girls donned sparkly dresses swishing with scratching slips of netting underneath.  None of them seemed to notice or mind a bit.  Resting behind their ears, glittering headbands gathered curls from fresh faces of pure joy and happiness.

Parents swayed on sidelines until they no longer resisted another beat.  They too, joined dancing children in the ring.  Some held hands or swung around.  Others sat on chairs or stood next to new friends, their smiling faces filling the room.

A “magic moment” happened in the ballroom last night.  Daughters became “princesses” out of fairy-tale books.  Smiling shyly, each one felt pretty like any other girl who wore a new dress to the floor.   Sons extended hands to dance like “princes” from pages of pop-up books.

When children tired and music waned, an odd thing happened outside the big exit door.  “Crystal coaches” didn’t crumble into pumpkins, nor did tiny grey mice scatter everywhere.   Instead, hugs said, “Good-by” where friendships began.  Parents drove children home proudly with sighs and smiles.  Hearts filled with contentment, while peace played music in sleepy minds.

Dreams did come true last night.  Not just for parents and children, but for everyone.

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

Saving Mr. Banks


I’ve never spoken about a movie here before.  Certainly, I’m not a “reviewer.”  It’s such and individualized topic, totally up to a person’s preference, even the genre they like.  Everyone is different.  If I think a movie is good you may not.  That’s what makes the world go round…So, I’m a bit hesitant.  Yet, this movie made me “feel” so GOOD that I need to share it here.

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Stairway to Heaven


It was a beautiful day.  The sun was bright in the sky of blue and breezes blew softly by the 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 a 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 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

 

A Second Piece Of The Puzzle


“A mother understands what a child does not say.”  Yiddish Proverb

Our baby son, Jayson, was healthy and happy for the first two years of his life.  Like rose petals, his pink chubby cheeks glistened in the sun and a finger curl waved “Hello” on the top of his head.  Two front teeth, the color of seed pearls, gave him a slight over-bite that endeared his smile to the world.  His first words were, “MaMa,” and “GaGa” touching our hearts forevermore.  The letter “D” was hard for him to pronounce, but his daddy knew exactly what he meant.

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