Hey, Dad

My father passed away on August 14th, 2001. His passing was a great shock to our family. He was not sick and did not suffer and for this I am very grateful. We were just so very unprepared. He had an aneurysm below his heart, a condition the St. Louis doctor assured us was easily corrected with surgery. He told us my dad was very healthy for his age and would be just fine. I saw my dad the night before his surgery. I gave him my love and talked over plans for our mother’s care while he was recouping.

Later, my sister, Kate, who lives in kentucky, called me. She felt an urgent push to see our dad before his surgery. I agreed to ride with her early the next morning so she could say her, “I love you’s”.  I remember walking into the prep room where they had him waiting in a wheel chair, dressed in a hospital gown and socks. Without his dentures, he looked so vulnerable.  The silent, strong, permanent presence that was my father suddenly seemed so small and helpless. I felt my life tilt a little as I kissed his cheek and felt the moisture of Kate’s kiss lingering there. We said our goodbyes and turned to walk away.

As they wheeled him down the long white corridor, my life tilted more and I felt a panic attack looming. It hit me as I grabbed Kate’s hand and held on. Perhaps it was a premonition of the sorrow that was to hit us in mere hours. We  joined our brothers and sister and innocently waited. Patiently, we scanned magazines, made small talk and joked with each other. Our only care at that time was the post surgery care of our father and our mother who had Alzhiemer’s.

Our world fully tipped and went into an instant spin the moment the doctor gathered us in that little conference room. My father hadn’t made it.  The announcement throttled my close family with pain. Simply picked us up and threw us all. In our grief and shock we dealt with the aftermath in ways we have come to regret. Blindly and without our leader,  we became as walking zombies. We buried our dead and were forced to make decisions we weren’t prepared for. We muddled through it all as we played out the stages of grief. The years have flown by and we have learned more about ourselves then we ever thought possible. We have had  to soul search, to learn to forgive ourselves and each other. It has been a journey none of us could have predicted, a journey that has torn us apart.

My sweet family is still picking up pieces and mending after eleven years. We seem to gather more readily now and revel in each other’s nearness. When I look at my sisters, I feel my sweet mother looking down upon us. In the stance of my brothers, I see my father. I can hear whispers of their voices when the grandchildren giggle.  We talk and tease and laugh and reminisce and  through this tragedy a deeper, closer respect for our unity slowly begins to emerge.

Today, I came across a letter I wrote to my father on the first anniversary of his death.

Hey Dad,

I miss your crooked little smile. I miss the deep tanned creases in your face. I miss you at your place at the table.
I miss the strength that was you.
Today it has been one year but it seems like forever, feels like a nightmare.
I want to talk to you about Levi. I know you aren’t here but maybe you can look down and see what I write.
I feel so bad. Today I took the day off. To enjoy the beauty of nature as you used to, to run and play like when I was your littlest daughter. To be with my son as a parent just like all those summer vacation you alway provided for us.
But, Dad, I found myself angry at him constantly, telling him to stop being a baby, to stop doing that , to stop making that noise. All I really wanted to do is to tell him he’s okay and that I love him. That he’s going to be alright.
Dad, what would you do? How would you lead this little boy who struggles with his handicaps? I want so badly to walk into your front door, sit at your table and listen to your advice.
Hey Dad,
I miss you.

Sara Jane

From Our Front Porch

It seems to me it should have had it’s own actual name, such a part of our lives it was. But we simply called it the “front porch”. Parts of our childhood played out for the whole town right there on that big old 10’x30′ front porch of our house on Main Street.  That old gray, wooden floor and us children became very intimate through the years. We knew it’s cracks and painted chips by heart. It welcomed us home every day when we returned from school and again as we threw our bags in the corner after our paper routes. We sat on it’s brick ledges and on the concrete tiers of the steps while friends gathered to hash out our plans of the day.  Like a very close, old friend, my goodness, what memories that old front porch has witnessed!  Hot summer nights found us seeking relief from the heat; five dirty children sprawled upon layers of sleeping bags. The morning sun always seemed to rise too early, to tease our eyelids and dare us to waken. Oh what a sight we must have been for those early morning visitors. What thoughts they must have entertained as they knocked on our door, “Those crazy Rauch kids, always up to something?”

We were directors and actors as we practiced plays on that front porch. With tales of monsters that were meant to thrill, the old porch transformed wonderfully into our stage, complete with drop down curtains.We ventured into our neighborhood and sold tickets to fill the mismatched chairs we provided for our audience.  I still can feel the coolness of that old white bed sheet as it was wrapped around me, the mummy of the play.  I laugh at the memory of our mother arriving home during our great production, so mortified that we dared such a scene right there on  Main Street for the whole town to see. “Those crazy Rauch kids, what are they up to now?”.

Ah and the “hippies”. My parents simply saw someone else’s children needing shelter and a meal and of course we took them in. Those young hitchhikers sat on our front porch, played their guitars and sang their counterculture songs to us. The naysayers must have got their eyes full and shook their heads. But did they know the things these young people brought to us? Did they know how kind and respectful they were to my parents, how patient they were as they taught us kids to macramé belts and necklaces? No those who weren’t present will never understand how those long haired strangers enriched our lives. “Those crazy Rauch’s, always bringing strange people to our town!”

I remember Sheri, the little girl from St. Louis. She was one of the inner city children that came to stay with us in the summer to get a taste of rural life. As I sat on the front porch playing jacks, she skipped around me singing a little song. Sara sponda Sara Sponda Sara sponda Ret Set Set..Ah do re o Ado re boom di o..a do re boom de ret set set ..a do re boom de o….How that song echoes when I see little children playing on the streets. In the civil rights turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s I know that the people drove by thinking “Those crazy Rauchs, bringing “Blacks” to our little town!”

A memory comes to me now of our beloved porch swing upon that front porch. How can a couple of chains and some old wood slats cause such merriment?  The rides we took, the places we went, the stories that were created to the rhythm and creak of that old swing. Big brother, George,  sat in the middle, reached his hands to the chains and pulled hard to flip us backwards. With peals of laughter,  we would swing upside down. Games were invented and turns were taken, pushing and swinging as high as the old ledge would let us. “Those crazy Rauch kids, they’re gonna get hurt!”

And then the evenings would come. And mom and dad and sometimes a big sibling would come out to join us. Here and there a bike rider or walker would stop to chat for a while, crickets and cicadas serenading their banter. Quiet as ghosts, we would slink out to the yard,  catching the fireflies and setting them free again. The sun would sink, the breeze would blow soft and for a while everything  in our little world would feel just right.  “Those crazy Rauchs, aren’t they something?”

Words Of His Heart

As my love sits beside me
Playing his guitar
Singing and humming
My heart fills and I smile.

This gentle giant 
Stumbled upon me
And offered his shelter

As I was drowning one day.

Kissing my forehead
He took my hand
And oh so gently
Pulled me back to myself.

Words of his heart
Rained  from his mouth
Softly falling all around me
He anchored my life.

We road my storms out
He and me
He held me up
And I just held on.

My smiles are for him now
As my sun shines daily
And his lovely words
Have turned to song.

~Sara Jane~



 

Whisper Me the Words

Funny little children
Where have you been
Hiding in my mind
Running just out of reach
climbing through the memories
To dance on my keyboard now

Tap the keys with gleeful shrieks
Peer over my shoulder
Whisper me the words
Twirl and swirl
Stir the visions of my youth
Lay them here before me

Please, keep your sweet funny faces near
Remind me of your laughter and smiles
Nudge me with your tears and pain
Enthrall me with your innocence
I’ll capture your essence as best I can
Write it on paper permanantly

I’ll Always Remember

The mother we loved was full of quick conversation
History, genealogy and loads of memories.

The mother we loved respected God and all His creation
People, nature, critters, ah yes, all of these.

The mother we loved was an optimistic sensation
Lifting spirits, drying tears, everything to please.

The mother we love now has Alzhiemer’s
Meaningless jabber replaces her engaqing talk.

The mother we love is overcome with a diseases for “old timers”
She curses God, His critters and even the land they walk.

The mother we love is transformed for all times
Where there was hope, fear and doubt now stalk.

The mother we loved lives on in our hearts
We hide our tears and force the smile

The mother we loved would help us to start
Healing our wounds with memories on file.

The mother we loved will never part
“The journey to Him,” she’d say, “takes many a long mile.”

~Sara Jane~

Five Bits of Wisdom

I’ve been noticing a lot of lists made by bloggers. Maybe blogging is synonymous with listing. I’m not sure but I thought I’d attempt one of my own. Bear with me as I try it out.

 Five Bits of Wisdom My Mother Gave Me.

1.  Give them roots and give them wings. – She gave me this little nugget while I was struggling with whether or not I should allow my daughter to participate in something that a lot of other people were cautioning me about. She told me, you have given them some great roots, Sara, and Allison has a very good head on her shoulder. Sometimes you have to let them go. Let her have her wings. Give em roots and give em wings! I love that woman.

2.  Look your baby in the eyes and talk to him.  That’s how he will know you love him. Let him feel your love. – I was seventeen and a brand new mommy. I still lived at home and mom was showing me how to bathe my little guy. I still can feel the sun shining through the bathroom window as we held him in the sink and swished the warm water over his slippery little body. Two dark heads bowed and totally absorbed in the new little love of my life. It’s a special sunny memory I pull out from time to time. This bit of wisdom applies throughout their lives. Look them in the eyes and talk to your children. Let them feel your love.

3.  Pray for each of your children by name every night. – I truly believe this is what brought each of us twelve siblings into adulthood with no harm. I remember when mom told me that she and dad prayed for every one of us children by name every night. I also wonder if this helped them to sleep more peacefully. By giving their worries to God he gave them sweet peace and rest in return.

4.  Aquiring material worth does not make one rich. – I remember coming home from a friend’s house to tell mom of all the exotic things their family owned. She told me that owning material things didn’t mean someone was rich, in debt maybe but not rich. Richness, she told me, came from the people in your life and the things you do for others. I didn’t really know what she meant at the time but I have found myself realizing her words so many times as I have grown. I remember being a young single mama and struggling so often. When my babes would fret that we couldn’t buy this or that, I would tell them we were indeed very rich because we had each other and so much love in our hearts. The smile in their eyes always made me know they understood what I meant. I love those kids.

5.  Always wash your hands and face and comb your hair before coming to supper. And no hats at the supper table. – I don’t know why this impressed this little girl so. It instilled respect as I watched my brothers take off hats that seemed a permanent attachment and comb hair that probably hadn’t been combed since supper the night before. Standing around the sink with two or three of my siblings and washing our hands together gave us a family ritual that seemed to bind us together and give us a sense of unity. Such a little thing with a huge impact.

So my list is done. I stop typing to read and reread before publishing. Gratitude and deep love well up for those two gentle people that raised me. I’m sure they were just muddling through life, raising children, loving each other, getting by with no instructions like the rest of us parents. Somehow though with, I’m sure my mother would say, much help from God, they really seemed to have found their way.

Play Me a Song

I want to rock
I want to roll
I want to touch you
Down in your soul

 Play me a song
I’ll write you the words
We’ll give the people
Something they’ve never heard

 Sing about love
Wail about loss
Give them your mind, your body
Whatever the cost

 Tell them you love me
I’ll give you the words
Come on baby
Let’s rock this world

~Sara Jane~

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: