Blessed Blue Aura

blue christmas

blue christmas (Photo credit: rojam)

I started this post before Christmas. I just got busy and never finished…thought I”d go ahead and put it out there even though it’s past due.

Such a busy month looming right ahead of me! Starting this weekend, the first weekend of December 2012, holiday cheer will be spread every weekend of the month. I should be cleaning and scrubbing and doing the wash. But I keep feeling a memory tugging at me. It began at work. The gym of the school, decorated like a huge Christmas fantasy by the custodian, contains a tree decked out in solid blue lights.

Oh my! The impact that solid blue lights have had on my life. It’s the most magical of all magics dreamed up in my childhood. My mother adorned our tree every year that I can remember in all blue lights. Sometimes as a wee girl,I really wished for multi-colored lights. But now as an adult, I so cherish the feeling of a solid blue tree. The bulbs of my childhood were huge and cast a beautiful hue that filled that darkened dining room where our tree stood each year. I remember staring at it and blurring out the world as all my hopes and dreams of Christmas night danced in my head. The excitement it created in my little heart blooms every time I see such a sight to this day. The feelings are so old and familiar but somehow I cannot recreate them until the blue lights catch my eye.

The blue lights create a holy aura and I reflect on Mother Mary and her newborn babe, Jesus. Such a peaceful calm overcomes me and a deep love of my life and my family surrounds me as I cast back.  I remember the Christmas Eve car rides with mom and dad to see all the pretty Christmas decorations of our townsfolk. I remember mom running back into the house for some forgotten thing after we were already packed into the station wagon. We never figured out that she was Santa,  working hastily to pull things out of her closet and place them just so before running back out to join us in the car.

We only knew that upon returning home we would find that Santa had paid a visit. I remember the wonderful brown paper bags scattered around the tree, each with a name for every one of us children.  Those blue lights bring the ecstasy of reaching into those brown bags and finding that special gift. We never realized that many times they were hand me down toys from some other child. A toy was a toy and we didn’t care if it had some dings or imperfections. It was prized in it’s newness to us.

We opened gifts from each other and the torn, discarded wrapping paper would pile so high that it was thrilling in itself.  Excitement revealed itself as board games and new dollies and walkie talkies and books appeared. Mom and Dad would share a glass of Egg Nog, spiked just a tad, and mom would kiss his cheek. We snacked on nuts and tangerines and hard candy as we shared our gifts with each other all evening until it was time for Midnight Mass.

Even now, as I see solid blue lights adorning some house,  my memory flashes to our old Christmas lights in that dining room. It seems to me we were illuminated in a blessed soft blue aura swirling around us,  pulling us closer and binding us to one another, forever.

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Sweetness

My daughter, Allison and son, Levi about 14 yrs ago

Little boy laughter
Come wrestle with me
Sparkle my eyes
With mischievous glee.

Little girl giggle
Come dance with me
Twinkle my life
With love so free.

Laugh and giggle
Dance and wrestle
Sparkle and twinkle
Gleeful life, mischievous love.

~Sara Jane~

Mama’s Bible

Mom w/Andy and Dad w/me on laps. Evening with one of our priests. Becky and Peggy in the background.

We had a small family gathering this weekend. My sister, Amy, brought our mother’s bible and we all got a chance to look through it. This well-loved book was like an old familiar friend as Amy pulled it out. It had apparently lost its cover some time ago. The pages were heavily noted with her handwritings scrawled in the columns and passages underlined and sometimes triple underlined.  I came across three or four dried four leaf clovers pressed into the pages and had visions of her children and grandchildren bringing her piece of nature. How thrilled she would be as she would ceremoniously help that child find a book to press them in.

My sister, Peggy, and I took turns with mom’s bible. As we skimmed through, reading a noted passage here and there, we tried to understand what she may have been dealing with at that particular time. We were grasping to eek any little bit of knowledge from the writings. We wanted desperately for her to reach out from that old bible and give us some wisdom.  Just some little something that would bring a little piece of her back to us.

I can still see my sweet mother reading to us from that bible. After supper we were not excused from the table until we were all finished and she read us a passage. I remember the boys fidgeting but giving her respect and staying seated. I remember the girls with their heads bowed, resigned to giving an extra ten minutes before starting with the dirty dishes. I would follow along as much I could and try to discern what lesson she wanted us to receive. Somehow, my young mind would manage to drift but I was always secure in the knowledge that mom definitely had our spiritual back.

I remember her sitting in the living room when I came home from being with my friends at night.  With only one lamp lighting the big old house, she would be there, reading it again as she awaited her teens to make curfew and be safely home. The nights that I would miss curfew, she still would be waiting up. I would be scolded. “I know what you’ve been up to!” she would say. I knew just to hang my head and take my tongue lashing as I sat on that cold fireplace hearth.  I never really knew what she was talking about, which sin to confess too. Because truth be known, I was probably guilty of whatever she thought I was up to, that and more.  So I would just sit there quietly until she would tell me to go to bed. I would slink upstairs and stay below the radar the next day, cleaning the house and doing what I could to get back into good graces with her and be forgiven.

Sometimes she didn’t need the bible to be open. She knew it’s passages by heart. Dad always took us on two week vacations in the summer. What a great time we would have. Dad wouldn’t shave for two weeks, he would relax and even joke and tease with us a little. This was something to us. Dad was a man of many responsibilities. With twelve children and two full time jobs he didn’t have much time to relax. Plus, he had to shave daily for his job as a State Trooper and we rarely saw him with whiskers. Vacations were a very exciting time for us.  But before we would venture out in our old station wagon, laden with luggage on top and packed with kids of all ages, pulling the Starcraft camper, mom would gather us in a circle. There in the living room she would quote from the bible as she prayed for our safety and probably her sanity on this adventure. I knew she would have her bible along and would sit beside dad in the front seat and pass the time with her two old friends.

That old book was the map to her whole life. She used it to help herself and her family along on our journey. She used it to keep her children safe as they played and grew all around her and again as they gained their wings and flew away. She used it when she was hurting, when she needed clarity and guidance. She turned to it in her happiness and successes. It was an everyday study for her. It brought her comfort and peace. Her old bible was her friend, her teacher, her confidante, her love, her peace of mind.

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?”

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

Angel Among Us

I like to think she was a mother to the very end.

Her essence went away to be with our father long ago.

But her shell held on until she knew we no longer needed it.

We never knew we had an angel living among us,

In our life,

Everyday.

We never knew until she flew away.

Her shoes, so soft and leathery,

Comfortable and perfect,

Not one of us ever will ever fill.

But we will take comfort many a time,

When we are weary, when we are sad,

When we are happy, when we are glad.

For we had lived with an angel,

In our lives every day.

We never really knew until she flew away.

Firm and sure, in our hearts,

The images and intuitions,

Planted there graciously by a woman, small in stature,

Enormous in wonderful wisdom and kindness.

And the angel that lived among us

Has kissed our lives, gently.

She’s earned her wings now.

She has flown away.

~Sara Jane~

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