“Back Stories to In Memory Of…..”part 1

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Pacific Ocean on a Sunny Sunday

Here you will find short back stories that match the poems in my new book, “In Memory Of…”

Distant Friends: I knew when I moved away from Santa Cruz that my closest, male friend, and I would never be as close as we had been during our co-worker days together. I think of him often. He truly is “laced within my heart.” I miss the friendship that we shared. I could always count on him, as I hope he knew he could always count on me. Friendship is a wonderfully secure thing. 

Sunset: I never want to forget those people in my life that I have shared a sunset with. The beauty of some sunsets are filled with their spirits. There are certain sunsets that cause me to welcome a drenching of memories of those who have passed on before me and those I seldom see. It is their love and acceptance that surrounds me and walks with me daily. Sunsets are a wonderful time for reflection.

Your Time To Go: This friend was several years my senior. She had a very close relationship with her husband. I could never imagine them apart. Her diagnosis was Terminal Cancer. She fought a strong battle. She didn’t want to leave, but as the time grew near, she instructed her husband to go on without her. She wanted happiness and a fulfilled life for him. Her gift to him was her acceptance and contentment in knowing he would continue on.

Great Grandma Bates: I was in the first grade when my great-grandmother died. This was my first experience with death. It is still a vivid memory. I had such trouble trying to understand why there was no sadness in her passing. I watched as no one shed a tear. I thought that was how I was supposed to handle the situation. I was certainly quite sad. At a very young age, I began developing my own thoughts and ideas about my concept of heaven. I am not here to tell you how you should believe. The way I attempt to view each day is to make this very day the best that I can, because today is a day that we know we have. We should find joy in living each day.

Each Day: My husband and I shared a friend. We both liked him greatly and felt that he was a wonderful family man. He was in an auto accident on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz mountains. He left behind a wife and two small children. The suddenness of his death was nearly unthinkable. His family needed him. At the time, we felt that the saying, “the good die young,” applied to this unbelievable tragedy. We have come to realize that even if you are eighty, and are a good person, it still seems like you are too young to go.

Wagner Grove: When I was young, I was allowed to walk to the community pool at Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz. I would take a shortcut through an area in the park called Wagner Grove. It was shaded and cool and a lovely place to let my imagination run wild. I always walked slowly, coming or going, once I got to this grove of redwoods. I have returned to visit this area since I have become an adult and find it just as enchanting as I did in my youth. It is a peaceful place.

Meder Street Cemetery: As a young girl, I was able to spend time out in a rural area of Santa Cruz. I found this particular place to be one of the most tranquil places that I had ever looked upon. It wasn’t until I was older, and well after I had written this poem, that I looked into the background of this cemetery. My parents had told me that I needed to be Jewish to be buried there. I wasn’t Jewish and accepted that as truth. The name of the cemetery is Home of Peace Cemetery.  I did not know this as a child. I also did not know that the gentleman (Moses Meder) who gifted the property to the Jewish people (1877), negotiated a family plot for his Mormon family to be buried there; thus making them the only people who were not Jewish in this cemetery. I believe that he knew how well-kept this cemetery would be, and wanted the family placed in this tranquil place. 

Cycles: I have many nieces and nephews. I, unfortunately, have one nephew who did not have a live birth. This is a tragedy that we find hard to comprehend. This event made me reflect on all he would not be. I do not understand why these events happen in our lives. Perhaps they happen to help us respect life and, in turn, learn to live life to its fullest.

Peaceful Sea: There are places and times when I can sit and just take in everything around me. It is at these times that I find that I truly should spend more time quietly in reflection. The ocean is a  place where I find that I actively seek reflection. This particular morning was spent in Mendocino, CA. It was cool, lightly foggy, and there was a gentle breeze in the air. In writing my poems, I find that those feelings that I find certain places can be forever held in my mind.

You Called Today: This poem was written for a dear friend of mine. All of these poems have been shared with the person they were written for or with the person’s loved ones. This poem was finally shared twenty-seven years after I wrote it. I don’t really know what took me so long. I was very busy raising a family and making new friends in a place that wasn’t like my childhood home at all. The line about, “sharing like moments and movements each day,” was something that I would think about often in the course of those twenty-seven years. I still think about it today, as it can be applied to all of the relationships that I’ve been blessed to have with some amazing people.

In My Garden: This might not seem like a poem about a loss but it truly is. In 1990, my children were small and I had a special place out in the backyard where I would go to write. I could watch the children play and at the same time get some moments of quiet. There was an inlaid row of bricks that the children seldom crossed. The entire rest of the yard was theirs. They enjoyed it that way. In 1990, we decided to move to a larger house that was new and we were starting a garden from scratch, once again. I had to leave my spot behind and I didn’t want to forget how I felt in this place so I wrote the poem as a bit of a farewell. I still like to write outside but I have never had another spot that was as comfortable as that spot that we left behind. It is important to find a place that is filled with a special essence that relates to you. It is a place where you feel safe.

Spring’s Warmth: I wrote this poem with my father-in-law in mind. He became ill, shortly after a trip that we had all taken. It was a very long year while we watched him decline from cancer. I knew he wanted all of us to go on, happily. That was clear even during his long illness. I knew that it was Springtime that would bring with it vibrant colors that could draw my inner happiness out. I still miss him more than I can say, but ultimately it was indeed Spring that brought with it the hope and brightness of wonderful tomorrows.

I Think Of You: Some years back, my husband’s father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was the finest man that I had ever known. He believed in me, and in others. He was a mentor and a friend to me as well as many others. I hope that in your lifetime, you will know at least one person that is like that. These special people do not come into one’s life very often, but when they do, it is a magical experience. Before Dad died, I wanted him to know how I truly felt about him, and so this poem came into being. The one thing I did not realize was that it was not finished. The day after Dad died, I sat silently in the morning and proceeded to write the ending. That is why you will find a line in the midst of the poem. I stood and read this at the burial. It is probably the single most difficult thing that I had done to that point in my life. I kept my composure in the darkest of times in order to let others know what a fine man he was. The funny thing is, I am sure that they all already knew what a great man he was.

The Last Flower of Summer’s Season: I wrote this true story for my daughter. My father-in-law’s death was quite hard on all my children. They watched as he became weaker. They watched as he aged. They grew and gathered the flowers to take to his room. I did not want them to forget how much they cared for him nor did I want them to forget how much he cared for them. The days, the memories, reduced to words on a page. It hardly seems adequate, but I have always hoped my words would paint a lasting picture for them to recall.

Our Force: Nearly a year after my father-in-law died, I realized that I had not sat down and written anything in that time. I suppose the sadness that filled me, rather overtook my life. I stood and read scriptures and poems at two different times during the day we publicly said our good-byes. I kept myself very much together. Looking back on it now, I wish my composure was not as polished as I demanded it to be. A year after he passed away, I went to another friend’s funeral. We were not close, but I wept as if I had lost my dearest friend. I was a bit embarrassed by it. It was not until later that day, that I realized, that it was more about the tears I had held back at my father-in-law’s funeral than it was about the events of that particular day. The release of tears is an essential part of the healing process; loss is a profound thing. 

Daffodil Spring: This is not in memory of any one person. It is a bit of insight that I hope to pass on to my children. Life can seem so bleak sometimes. You must look for the joys and seek out the extraordinary colors in life. There are times when you need to go in search of the happier side of yourself. We all need to connect with all that is good in life and never put total focus on the sadness or the darkness that may come our way. There are days when you must reach for those things that bring you a smile. You can find your joyful heart by doing something as simple as taking a walk along an ocean front. 

Dear Mother of Mine: One of my closest friends had a mother that had given up on life. My friend, wanted her to care about sharing future productive years with her and her family. Her mother had come to terms with wanting to go on to a better place. She had lost her desire to remain here on Earth. Sometimes you just have to let your loved ones go. It is their wish, their desire. It is also their desire for you to go on without them. When I was young, we had a saying, “if you love it, set it free,” that was often used. I would have to say, as we grow older, we have cause to realize the need to be at peace with lovingly letting go.

There is more from the Table of Contents, second page, on the following blog.

 

 

 

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