Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Birthday to my Mother!

Happy Birthday Mom!
I love you!

I lost my mother back in 2005.  I still love her more than I can describe.  I know, if she were still here, I'd be doing this for her.  So, what's to stop me now?  She may not be here physically, but she is still with me and around me in every thing I do, everything I see and even in my laugh.  I see her in my children, my brothers, my father and even in my husband.  She was a very special lady.  

I could write a huge piece about my mother and might do that someday, but today I am just going to celebrate her with a Happy Birthday, Mom and probably a cake that I will share with the whole family (as we've done every year since her death.)

Not sure those who are above us in Heaven take the time to read blogs, but I do believe they have an understanding of how they are missed.

My father wrote her a poem that I will share with you.  

Happy Birthday, Mom!
I love you!   

PREFACE

On March 17th of this year, 2005, our family got the devastating news that my wife Edy had lung cancer.  According to the doctors, the situation was of a terminal nature and she was given only nine months to live.  Their prognosis was fairly accurate and she passed away on the 20th of November.
I watched her get progressively worse day after day but the children and I tried to keep her hopes of survival up by avoiding the assumption of death.  One must maintain hope and a positive attitude along with treatment, if one is to survive.
There comes a time when it becomes obvious that the chance of a cure or long-term survival is essentially gone.  Although the family and I had reached that conclusion, she continued to have faith and fight.  That situation made it difficult to tell her goodbye and of our deep love for her.  It was at that point that I decided to try to tell her how I felt by writing her a story.
I told her of my intention and thought I might read it to her before the end came.  It didn’t work out that way.  She passed away before I could finish and she was in a semi-conscious state during that last week of her life so I missed the opportunity to say a final goodbye.
The story that follows is my way of answering a question that Edy put to me a couple of times in the thirty-eight years we were together.  When we were about to be married, she asked me if I minded being married by a Lutheran pastor.  I told her that it would be fine and she then asked me, “What do you believe?”
Several years later, we decided to make out a will to safe-guard our children in the case of our deaths.  During the discussion she asked me again what I believed as to religion and death.
I never answered her questions, mainly because I was not sure then nor am I all that sure now, and I thought it might be a good time to give her an answer in those final days of her life.
Having said all of the above, Edy’s story follows:

I BELIEVE

The full moon’s bright light cast sharp shadows in the sacred circle of stones.  This early in the spring of the year the nights were cool and the light breeze sucked away what little warmth the hooded cape provided.  He followed in the footsteps of the old priest, with each step getting harder to take, as he approached the lone individual standing in the center of the Druid circle.

The priest leads him through old Druid stones
As those about him some chant intones
Dread’s cold hand slowed his stride

For on this night in this cold dark place
For the first time he’d come face to face
With one to be his bride

She stood silhouetted by a full moon, her dark hair stirring in the light breeze.  The torchlight brought her face into view, strong features and straight lines softened by the warm colors of the fire.  The young man’s breath caught in his throat.  This was no great beauty that he faced, but rather a simple peasant girl.  Still, to him, all other women ceased to matter.  She spoke.  She smiled.  He loved.

Silhouette carved by a full moon bright
Strong features soft from the warm torchlight
The young man caught his breath

He stood before her his heart ungloved
His soul soared upward. She smiled. He loved
Forever his ‘til death

He held her hand as she lay dying and he thought back to that first time he saw her many years before.  He had known from that first night that she was to be his forever.  How short a time forever turned out to be.  As her breathing stilled and her face softened from the lack of pain and life, his world turned gray and a light went out in his eyes.

The old man sat there softly crying
He held her hand as she lay dying
Forever he would grieve

As breathing stilled and Death took her soul
The light of his life Death also stole
Something whispers Believe

—Death is but a River—

His nose hurt and he could taste the blood as it flowed across his lips.  The big boy sat astride his chest pinning his arms down with his knees.  Another blow was being aimed at his swollen nose when a small hand reached in and grabbed a handful of hair on the big boy’s head.

With a bloody nose and a swollen eye
But the big boy couldn’t make him cry
Such was his stubborn pride

A voice irate “Let him up, you lout”
A small hand waves a big stick about
She could not be denied

The boys all scattered leaving him lying there with a dirty face and a bloody nose.  He was looking up at a mop of curly red hair and freckles on a girl no bigger than a minute.

Red hair, freckles, and eyes a deep blue
A curious face that smiled at you
That face a pure delight

Her smile seemed to open up a door
That said they had met sometime before
On some long distant night

As he looked into her startling blue eyes, all the pain went away.  All of a sudden, everything was all right.  In his short twelve years he had never seen anyone prettier.  He felt like he had known her forever.
“You better learn how to fight,” she scolded

Her bright blue eyes took his pain away
Twas like going home to yesterday
Past visions dimly seen

“Learn to fight, whatever else you do”
He nodded.  “Someday I’ll fight for you”
A future unclear seen

For seven fine and full years the two were inseparable.  Finally, families had agreed and, with dowry offered and paid, the two were married.  The young man had grown to good size and was a respected and valued fighting man of Waterford’s town guard.

At nineteen years with a brand new wife
He answered the call of his Guard’s fife
Strong her words as he departs

“Fight for our people and fight for me”
Pinned to his Jerkin for all to see
Her favor guards his heart


In that year of 1169 a small force under Raymond le Gros landed at Baginbun, near Bannow, and immediately routed a strong army of Irishmen and Norsemen from Waterford, inspiring the couplet:

"At the creek of Baginbun,
Ireland was lost and won."

            He lay on the field of battle before Waterford.  “Fight for our people.  Fight for me”, she had said.  Now he would die for her.  As his vision dimmed, his only regret was that he would never see her again.  He whispers her name and the Irish monk beside him says, “Believe”. 

He lay cold before the town’s main gate
Quiet, a hooded monk sits and waits

As his life slips away


His vision dims and he calls her name
He breathes, “I’ll never see her again”

The monk begins to pray


The monk bends close to the young man’s ear
“Be at peace my friend. There is naught to fear
You have no need to grieve”

The monk whispers, “There is no never
Remember, death is just a river
You simply must Believe”

            As he slips into the lonely dark he seems to see a dark haired woman in a circle of stone and the smile of a redheaded lass.  A look of content and he was gone.

As the young man bleeds away life’s spark
And he slips into the lonely dark
One last thing caught his eye

He clearly sees with his final breath
Something that warms the cold sting of death
Then contented, he died

A vision seen as through darkened glass
The sweet smile of a redheaded lass
And someone stood behind


Flickering torchlight with hair wind-blown
A dark haired woman, circle of stone
Somehow the two entwined

And dimly seen, a far distant shore
Where a lady waits with open door
She beckons from afar

‘It’s time to come home’ she seems to say
‘If you believe, you will find your way
Led by a sailor’s star’

—On the River flows—

On the river of time the years and generations glide past.  There one can see a collage of scenes that are years apart and seemingly unrelated.

She sits and waits on her cliff facing the sea for her man to come home his ship long overdue from its trip to the Americas.  For many long years she waited; her love she’d not let go.
She sat alone on her bench each evening wrapped in her woolen shawl, as the sun dropped into the sea.  Waiting, forever waiting, searching for the star that would guide her man home.  The sound of the crashing surf and the breeze from the sea seems to whisper ‘Believe’
They found her there one morning, her twenty-three year vigil over, her waiting at an end.

I remember telling my mother, when I was but age ten, that I would not marry until I was thirty years old.  I can still recall my solid conviction that this was true.  I didn’t know then why I was so sure of that statement.  It was not until many years later that I began to think that I might know the answer as to the why of such a claim.
Through grade school, high school and several years after, I was not one to be comfortable around women.  It was not that I was shy but rather I couldn’t bring myself to participate in the social games the young played.  It all seemed so shallow.  It was as though I was looking for something or waiting for something to happen.

Twenty-seven years and still alone
Where his life was headed, still unknown
No goal for which to aim

With too much to drink, all night café
Occurred that which took his gloom away
Edy the lady’s name

She took his order her gaze direct
Made something inside his mind connect
Vision briefly perceived

Darkhaired woman, redheaded lass
And other women from time long past
A distant voice Believe

            So there is the story I said I would write for you.  I have to apologize for the fact that I cannot find an ending.  The story remains unfinished and I suspect that this is as it should be. You asked me once and twice before just what did I believe.  I tell you now, though you are not here to hear,

He buried her on a winter’s day
A part of his soul had gone away
Lowered into the ground

But he dreamed that night a dream most clear
One to soften grief and dry a tear
The lost seems always found

A dark haired woman stands proud behind
While up ahead and yet still to find
There awaits half his soul

—And On The River Flows—
 

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