Memories of My Father

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Papa opening Christmas presentsI’ve been thinking about my Father a lot this Holiday Season.  Missing him… wishing he were here with me and Dakota to watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time.

Papa was a rare bird.  He laughed a lot and taught me useful things… how to hang storm windows… how to recite poetry with passion… how to love every minute of being alive.

He had a way about him… a kind of gentle poetry of being.  Not a namby-pamby-Ashby-Wilkes gentlemanliness, but the sturdy, stalwart kind that men of “The Greatest Generation” seemed to have.  The “protect the family, save the world for democracy, go to church on Sunday, play pinochle with the men in the family, roll up your sleeves, fix the toaster or your skinned knee” kind of benevolence that makes a person feel safe and loved.  Continue reading “Memories of My Father” »

Posted on December 23rd 2011 in Family, The Philosopher’s Teacup

My New Year’s Resolution

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papa standing in the doorwayI can’t think of a better New Year’s Resolution than to try to live up to the gentle truths of my father’s philosophy, so I’d like to offer them to you in this little poem I wrote about him, both as a loving remembrance, and as a tribute to the kind of old fashioned values that could change the world for the better in a heartbeat, if we could only find the courage to believe it would make the difference.  Continue reading “My New Year’s Resolution” »

Posted on December 23rd 2011 in Family, The Philosopher’s Teacup

Christmas Past

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Christmas DecorationsThe ghosts of Christmas past 

Wandered by my tree just now

A cup of tea in hand, I stopped 

To admire the sweetness of the nearly trimmed tree

And there you were

My Mommy and Daddy

Young and shiny, hopeful as when

On Christmas morning I’d open the presents 

You’d saved to buy. Continue reading “Christmas Past” »

Posted on December 16th 2011 in Family, The Philosopher’s Teacup

Holiday Happiness Starts Now…

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I love the holidays with all my heart.  I wait all year, anticipatory as a child, to be able to play Christmas carols without apologies.  Truth is, from November through New Year’s, my life takes on an incandescence undreamed of in the rest of my work-a-day year.  Music, decorations, lights, tinsel, a lifetime’s worth of carefully wrapped treasures – all find their way out of attic or basement, and into a house made magical by the memory of Christmas Past. Continue reading “Holiday Happiness Starts Now…” »

Posted on November 25th 2011 in Family, The Philosopher’s Teacup

My Aunt’s Perfect Blueberry Pie

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I was blessed with a family of great and merry women, who were kind enough to live into their 90s (one to 105!) so I could enjoy their wisdom, laughter and strength for much of my life… and also learn how to make great pies!

I know we can’t recreate the best of our past very often, but a few very visceral treasures manage to stand the test of time. These days, when so much of what we eat tastes (and is!) synthetic or adulterated, and so much of it must be eaten on the run… what fun it is to revel in the luxury of time and pure natural  ingredients with which to create culinary delights that make store-boughten goodies seem absurd by comparison. So in tribute to the great cooks of my childhood, and to all the little children of the world who learn in their Mothers’ and Grandmothers’ and Aunties’ kitchens that food prepared with love and laughter is the most nourishing food of all, I offer two simple recipes that can hold an astonishing amount of both these most precious ingredients.

Continue reading “My Aunt’s Perfect Blueberry Pie” »

Posted on November 4th 2011 in Family

Legacy

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I had a conversation with my dear 93 year old Aunt Helen shortly before she died, about how good the old days really were.  Memories of my grandmother’s home-baked bread, of family gatherings, home and hearth and love and laughter, cuddling us both in remembered grace, were like a feather comforter for the spirit.  “Life isn’t better now,” she mused, “just faster and more complicated.” Continue reading “Legacy” »

Posted on November 4th 2011 in Family, The Philosopher’s Teacup

… and Having Writ, Moves on

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When your worst nightmare comes to pass a second time, a bizarre numbness sets in to keep you alive.  When my daughter Bronwyn died, six years after her sister’s death, I simply went underground and for two months did nothing but try to live through it.  I couldn’t write or even talk about my loss, couldn’t find sense in her journey, couldn’t do anything to make myself understand how both my daughters could be gone.  I knew by then that time doesn’t heal all wounds, that the sorrows of losing those you love are always just a thought away, and that much to your astonishment, “life goes on,” as Edna St. Vincent Millay said, “I forget just why.” And you must find a way to go on, too. Continue reading “… and Having Writ, Moves on” »

Posted on September 30th 2011 in Family, Sorrow

What Do You Love?

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“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when.  You can decide how you’re going to live now.”

—Joan Baez, Folksinger

When my daughter died at thirty-five, in the midst of my grief, I had an irrational recurrent guilt that I hadn’t bought her more hot fudge sundaes.  She loved them so, but in a lifetime of illness and heart problems, her weight was always her bane, and so hot fudge sundaes were few and far between for her. Continue reading “What Do You Love?” »

Posted on April 15th 2011 in Death, Family, Happiness, Loving Life

On the Death of a Child

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Losing a child is a special kind of grief, irrevocably out of sync with nature.  We’re not supposed to bury our children — the mind and heart rebel and struggle to find a place to contain the unbearable and unthinkable.

We give birth to infinite love when we give birth to our children.  Joy, hope, dreams, ambitions all crystallized in one tiny new life, unsullied by the world’s perfidies or sorrows.  We hold our small miracle in our arms in a state as close to ecstasy and God as humankind ever gets. Continue reading “On the Death of a Child” »

Posted on April 10th 2011 in Death, Family, Sorrow, Women

Irish Childhoods are Different

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My mother could foretell death.  She’d inherited the family banshee, the Irish harbinger who shrieks her fatal message to one member of each generation to let them know that someone is about to die.  “What a pity about John,” she might say, “he’ll be gone by June 15th,” and close family members knew enough not to make plans with John for the 4th of July. Continue reading “Irish Childhoods are Different” »

Posted on March 11th 2011 in Family, The Philosopher’s Teacup

Swimming in the Ancestral Gene Pool

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Because she didn’t understand that love was meant to be soft and warm, but she intended to be loving, nonetheless, my mother gave from her brain, instead of her heart.  I believe her heart had been battered shut in childhood by a tyrannical father and ineffectual mother, but her mind was limitless and her teaching skills formidable, so that would have to do.

When I was five, she insisted the local librarian permit me access to the adult library.  She disapproved of children’s books, except as occasional recreational airbisquits for the brain, and even at that, Anne of Green Gables was about as airbisquity as was acceptable.

Continue reading “Swimming in the Ancestral Gene Pool” »

Posted on February 17th 2011 in Family, Women

Traveling Companions

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I had a vision, shortly after my daughter died, in which I saw her standing on a great plain of Light, through which a Golden Road traveled towards Infinity.  She stood solemnly, awaiting a command to move on – with Dakota and me standing like sentinels, one on either side.  She said we mustn’t set foot on the road, or we’d have to cross over to the Other Side, but that we could travel with her for a while.  Continue reading “Traveling Companions” »

Posted on January 30th 2011 in Family, Sorrow, The Philosopher’s Teacup

Illness…Finding Your Way in The Dark

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I’ve studied and worked in many areas of alternative medicine over the past 25 years.  Between my daughters’ terrible illnesses and that of others I’ve striven to heal, I expect I’ve seen nearly as much sickness and suffering as most physicians.  In the process, I’ve come to know that illness wears a thousand masks and often provides us with a unique and rarefied opportunity for learning – one we’d choose to forego, of course, if given the chance – but, nonetheless, a catalyst for breathtaking expansion.

Continue reading “Illness…Finding Your Way in The Dark” »

Posted on December 4th 2010 in Alternative Healing, Complimentary medicine, Family, Medicine

Were You Lucky Enough to Have Parents Who Read to You?

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My parents read to me and to each other — poetry for the most part — and I never went to bed a night without memorizing a poem, or a group of verses.  If it were something lengthy like The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, I’d memorize a stanza a night, my hands-down favorite, this:

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on:  Nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line

Nor all thy Tears wash out a word of it.”

Continue reading “Were You Lucky Enough to Have Parents Who Read to You?” »

Posted on December 4th 2010 in Family, Poetry

What I Think About Life, So Far

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By the grace of God and a fast outfield, I find myself the mother of a 21 year old, born so many years after my first two daughters, it might as well be considered a separate lifetime

Dakota is perched on the precarious edge of womanhood now, and she’s a deep one, never precipitous in her approach to life, always observing and assessing.  Because of the difference in our ages I sometimes wonder when we speak of important question marks in life whether she’s tucking away what we say to each other on the great tape-recorder of soul, for some faraway day, when I’m just a memory, and she’s standing at the kitchen window, wishing she could share a cup of tea with me again… just as I often find myself wishing I could sit down with my own parents, now long gone, to share some thoughts on what the years have wrought.  I wonder if whatever I say now will seem quaint and old fashioned by then, or if whatever comes directly from the heart, never ages at all.

Continue reading “What I Think About Life, So Far” »

Posted on December 4th 2010 in Family, Happiness, Love, Loving Life, Women