Oh Daughter of My Daughter

Oh daughter of my daughter

Oh granddaughter of mine

Beautiful of most beautiful that God can create

Your tiny soul peered up at me

Our age-old destiny set

As our eyes met

Your heart took mine

1524715_474781665967432_280297875_n

You smiled at me

Like old soul mates  do.

2012122395122408
1557428_474781519300780_1493477938_n

Image

Her Forgotten Days

My fingers glide effortlessly on this keyboard with a will of their own. I begin to type and  a love song banters and begs to be freed. Sweetly my words flow as sounds and memories mesh and  nostalgic joy begins to sing of her forgotten days.

I want to tell you about a woman. My words can never recreate the person she really was. Words will never show that special twinkle in her eye as she swept up an unsuspecting visitor with her inquisitive conversation.

She loved to engage people in  banter.She had a way to pull them in and warm their hearts.  She was always interested in where they were from and who they knew, places they had traveled.

I often wondered how she knew so much about so many things. She had always just been there at home with us twelve children and dad. How did she lead friends and visitors along and have the knowledge to take them with her across the ocean or up a mountain and down to the devil, back up to God.

As I would quietly climb onto her lap and lay my head on her shoulder, she would rock me back and forth; talking on and on for what seemed like hours.

Yes, my mother loved people, truly, genuinely loved to interact with them. Cared about what they had to say, enjoyed hearing of their adventures, hurt when they hurt, rejoiced in their happiness’s, triumphed in their successes.

She was my idol as I would sit on her lap at the kitchen table and she rubbed my back while discussing what flowers to plant and and how to put up garden vegetables with the neighbor lady. She was my idol even when I would take my little hand to turn her face to me, vying for her attention.

I loved her voice and her absent hands on me as she gave herself to her visitors. I loved her laughter and the way her words wove and bound those around her and held them close and made them feel important.

I love the legacies she has left my family. I love the movements she started in the seventies. I love the stories of all the strangers she brought into our home, giving  them food and drink and support, listening  to their sorrows and bolstering  them up. I love the person she was and the person she wanted to be. I love that she was my mother and I was her daughter. I love that she gave herself whenever she could.sara's family

I love the memories I hold in my heart of her.

God’s Angelic Author

She bore twelve children and we just called her mom. We never realized that she was a young woman once, with dreams all her own. We’ve glimpsed old photos of her with sassy pigtails and a tiny waist. But those old photos never whispered the ambitions and aspirations she relinquished to give us life. We only know that our father came home from the war as a young man to find his best friend’s little sister all grown up. Beautifully, she came walking down the steps. Stunned, he looked up and said, ” Why Mary Ellen! You’re all grown up!”  Her blush was to be the very beginning of a beautiful 52 years of life together.

41804_239559886130021_516170254_n

Such a simple lady, living amongst her children, serving her husband, toiling beside him there on that sweet land they loved. A dreamer was she, a lover of words. Many a play day echoed with the sound of her old typewriter clackity-clacking in our ears. Through her writings one could easily realize that when she looked her eyes saw that the dirt was gold, and the trees were majestic, the wind, that blew the leaves, the warm breath of God. Hers were mystical words that created an amazing world.

Her writings were actually little pieces of art. Words and sentences wove together to form one grand masterpiece. When we cut them apart to search for quotes to adorn photos at her funeral, we found that each small sentence was somehow a great piece of wisdom. So beautifully carved  and laid there before us, were they, that we didn’t even realize she was gone. It seemed to me that she was there, just above our shoulder, nudging us and whispering to us.

My niece and I poured over her old photos and simultaneously mused through her writings. Brittany would pull out a photo and magically the sentence I was reading would seem to match right up to that picture. We felt such a closeness to her as we toiled away on our little project. We wanted to stay there drowning in her words and memories. Let tomorrow and tomorrow come and go while we drank her words and relived her life. We felt happy and sad. We felt her presence.

206000_1969875734753_8236163_n

Maybe she had finally reached her highest ambition. The Alzheimer’s fog  would have cleared for her now and  I could imagine her making little memos of the rippling, swooshing wings she witnessed. I could hear her laughter as she scribbled precious words to her Lord. I imagined the twinkle in her eyes as she took note of his incredible creations, painting all of Heaven with her beautiful words.   Perhaps finally she was there at the throne, God’s angelic author.

Image

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.

My Brother’s Love

Andy with me standing beside him on the basement steps

Andy 14 and Sara 16 in Arizona on vacation with mom and dad

Last night, Randy and I watched the 2012 Women’s Gymnastic Olympics at my younger brother, Andy’s house. He now owns that great old house we both grew up in on Main St. It was an enjoyable evening spent with my old companion, his wife, Cheryl and daughter, Abbie. The U.S.A. Women’s team truly are the Fabulous Fierce Five. When it was over Andy teasingly offered to walk us out to our car. Laughing, I told him I thought we could make it okay on our own. I chattered away to Randy as we walked out the back door to our car. I guess that Andy’s back porch has one more step then I remember, I skipped it and promptly and heavily fell to the concrete landing below. I rammed my head into his garage but what I knew instantly, was that my knees and hands were burning. Sure enough, upon further examination, I had small scrapes on my hand and one knee. But the most damage was done to my left knee. A huge area had a layer of skin totally and deeply removed.

Later, at home, with Randy to doctor and wait on me, the pain and ugly open sore took me back to another time my whole body was covered in scrapes. This incident also involved my old companion and brother, Andy. You see, Andy has always been a special friend to me. The youngest two of a busy family of twelve, we often turned to each other for companionship. There were many times I realized his affection for me as we grew up together but the summer of my sixteenth year, Andy gave me my first real gift of brotherly love and loyalty.

We lived in a small Illinois town but my dad also owned a small farm about a twenty minute drive east of us. We spent many a day on the farm with my dad. Sometimes we were put to work, walking beans, tending the huge acre garden, helping to plant and harvest, and feeding the animals. Between the work we usually always had some time to create adventures. After the work was finished, we could be found climbing the old “monkey trees” in the northern wood,s pausing to quench our thirsts at a little spring nearby. Some days we would dive into the pond and have mud fights. There were  many hours spent swinging on a vine over the creek to drop just as you swung over the deepest part of the swim hole. When our hunger became too powerful as it often did with my dad working long hours and the lunch time sandwiches devoured hours earlier, we would make our way to the huge garden my mother tended. There we could eat all the fresh, raw potatoes, green beans and tomatoes our little tummies could hold. Life was good, we had everything we needed right there on that farm miles from civilization.

As I entered my teenage years, I found I no longer had time to climb trees and wade creeks. I had my driver’s license and a job. “Places to go and things to see” as my mother was fond of saying. Besides, my younger confidante, at fourteen, had discovered girls and was spending  a huge amount of his time on the phone. I felt as if we were growing apart and often yearned for the excitement of our earlier, care free summers. So when he came to me one day begging me to take him and a few of his friends to the farm to ride three wheelers, I readily agreed.

Besides the chance to spend a little time with my brother, I could work on improving my tan while they rode. I slipped a pair of shorts on over my swim suit and donned a beat up pair of sneakers. The boys rode for a while as I dozed in the sun. I could hear the birds chirping and the distant drone of the three wheelers lulled me as  I relaxed, enjoying the peacefulness of my father’s farm. After about an hour the drone became louder and I realized the boys were getting near. I sat up and watched as they pulled all around me. They were heading to the creek to take a dip and wanted to know if I would join them. At sixteen, I was taking pride in becoming a young lady, but the tom boy in me could not pass up the chance to have some fun. Besides, it would allow me time with Andy like the good old days. I agreed with the stipulation that I could drive one of the ATV’s.

We headed down the dusty road towards the bottom lands that held the creek. I picked up speed and the others followed suit. Soon we began racing and because I was the oldest, I was determined to stay ahead of them all. As we made the curve and headed down the steep decline that descended into the bottoms, I felt myself starting to lose control. The speed, the instability of the three wheeler, and my inexperience came together at this moment and I panicked. Instead of applying the brakes, I pushed the gas lever. Totally out of control by now, the three wheeler roared up the steep embankment and flipped over on top of me back to the road. That huge machine and I went into a slide for about twenty five feet.

Andy and the boys were close behind me and were quick to pull the heavy machine off of me. My swim suit had slipped down and my body was scraped from head to toe on my left side. As I stood up, the pressure on my left foot left me wincing and instant pain shot from my ankle. I reached out my bloody right hand to one of the boys for support and, in horror, watched as two of my fingers crumbled with a bone protruding from one of them. At this gruesome sight, the boy paled and turned away, holding his mid section. Andy had turned his vehicle around by now and was quick to come to my rescue and assist me onto his three wheeler.

We had no phone on the farm back then and no way to contact anyone. The nearest neighbor lived a couple miles away. As we sped back to the pickup truck, my eye sight began to dim. I yelled to Andy and he grabbed my arm around him and screamed “Just hold on tight!” He delivered me safely to the truck and helped me into it. By now, I could not see at all. I could hear my little brother’s shaky voice pleading with me to “just hold on a little longer”.  For some reason I lost my ability to speak, I could hear Andy’s panicked voice begging me and praying, but I could not reply to reassure him. I had lost my sight, my speech and my mobility. I couldn’t even raise a hand to pat him. I remember trying unsuccessfully to pull out of the darkness and comfort my frightened rescuer. I could only sit and listen. The sudden loss of so much blood had caused my body to go in to shock.

Later at the hospital, the doctor told me what I already knew. I was very fortunate to have a brother who “kept his head” and acted quickly when the other’s had panicked. I was so proud of my little brother and remembered the tender love and concern I had felt as he came to my rescue. It was at that moment that I realized we were not losing each other. We would go our own ways and take different paths but this day my baby brother had shown  me how deeply implanted love had already become in our young hearts. That special closeness that had been ours in childhood would continue to follow us as we grew.

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

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~

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: