I’ve been sorting through old keepsakes,
some photographs I’ve found are faded now,
these echo sounds of places where I didn’t go – faces that I do not know
I can’t decide how to store them all –
The sepia memories of what you saw,
The air your family stories hold
should last as long as when you told them.
And what you did is what you wanted
To do, and nothing worse hindered you.
Scenes of travel – and songs of yore
Some motets in your mind’s reservoir.
Carols sung in a cavernous forum
were more than just some Ipsem Lorem.
Choirs of men and women singing
Relationships brought into being
How, lovely – snaps you strived to make
No different than our own keepsakes.
But yours dwelled firmly in His grace –
and dwelling in your family’s place
Devotion and hymn live with us here
Led with your baton, and your voice as clear
as when you walked into a room.
My minds-eye sees you, feels you too.
How lovely, this reminiscence sounds –
Even if an echo now.
Listening to you in my head
puts my thoughts to this poem’s thread
of places where the music soars
and you’re step-singing an angel chorus.
The keepsakes of your melody in harmony with the little things,
And now they’re ours, for all to sing.
This past week I celebrated another birthday. It was a milestone, being number 55. This year events coincided that made the day just a day. My wife recently had back surgery and is recovering at home (doing well, but still has pain). My eldest son is busy with work projects and a new baby. My youngest son lives elsewhere and had to work (though he did call and we had a great conversation). Good friends had other family obligations or were traveling. I worked all day. In fact, this is one memory of my birthday that will go down as being one of the most unremarkable. For that alone, I will probably always remember it.
I will count the small kindnesses/gestures along the way: The balloons shared by coworkers who recently turned 55 this month and like to tease each other about who is older. We now have a special club – and I will always get used balloons because of it. The blueberry pie made for me by a family friend who was looking in on my wife as she recuperates. The phone call from my youngest son to wish me a happy birthday. The adorable phone call from my parents singing “happy birthday” in different keys. Note: My parents are career musicians and are never off-key. Greetings shared on social media (FB) from friends and family – far and wide- hoping that I had the greatest day – the best day. Yet, it was just a day, and I guess there is nothing wrong with that.
I reflected on past birthdays and wondered what made a day the best day – the greatest day. I’m not sure I have the answer, but I did dredge up some good memories of birthdays.
On my eleventh birthday, I received my first vinyl album as a gift from my parents. It was Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles. I had recently been introduced to their non-mop-top music by a school friend, and was immediately smitten with the lyrical genius of John Lennon on I am the Walrus. It would be the first of many vinyl albums I would receive on my birthdays/Christmases.
On my 13th birthday, I had a sleepover party with 8 friends. I think this was my first and only sleepover birthday party. We ate hotdogs and hamburgers, played badminton, wiffle-ball and touch football, then roamed around the neighborhood after dark – playing ghost in the graveyard.
On my 27th birthday, I received my PhD.
For my 40th birthday, my wife purchased third base line tickets to a AAA baseball game in our city. We went with some dear friends (one each of our children share a birthday) we had recently reconnected with.
On my 50th birthday, I was traveling in Germany with my eldest son and my father. We were in Nuremburg on that day and visited Coburg Castle. Facebook likes to remind me of that day every year and I smile.
There are memories of other birthdays, but all the things that make days special are there in that list: meaningful gifts and gestures, landmark events, good food and fellowship, and exciting adventures in new places.
They are still just days – though, and I hope you have a great one.
Knocking about the blue Mylanta bottles
we built forts and cities
in the shadow of a giant.
A bear of a man
– his friends called him Bully-
loud snores elevated
from his vinyl recliner
our war sounds a reminder.
Matchbox cars in play,
my brother and me,
with little green army men
their guns raised high above their heads.
We stormed the blue bottle castle as he slept.
The laughter of Korman and Conway
floating through the room.
He took us crawfishing once-
and to pick pecans.
He was Santa one early Christmas morning,
and I knew it.
But, I never knew what he liked to do,
or his favorite color, whether it was blue.
He built things,
but he tore them down too.
He helped Daddy build our carport,
but he was drunk most of the time,
so Dad sent him home.
He was just a big grandfather man
asleep in his vinyl chair again,
like a giant slumbering in his lair
in the mountains high above the cities fair
and fortresses of blue Mylanta.
I wrote this poem in 2006, and just recently found it again. I reworded a few lines to make it less prose-more-poem. Relationships are sometimes complicated. My grandfather passed away many years ago- just a few years after these memories. And I’ve found that I never really knew him. But I think of him often.
Knowing the value of such blooms,
she recorded the moment of their heyday.
Just when the cannas overflowed
and the pear trees erupted-
the flushed colors dotted her mind
so that she could memorize each cast and tone
and whisk them onto winter’s canvas
smears of rust and scarlet
wan and chill.
Autumn is passing its apex now. It always brings with it a sense of nostalgia, a sense of loss, an appreciation of beauty…These are some quick thoughts about the season brought on by viewing some recent photographs taken by a blogging friend. Thanks for visiting.
At my parent’s house, my mother has a glass topped table in her kitchen. The table base is the wrought-iron base of an old sewing machine…it has a pedal. It is only natural to want to push the pedal and make the wheel rotate. For years, members of the family have taken turns sitting in the seat with the pedal at our feet, cranking away while we drank coffee in the mornings, ate our breakfast, held late night discussions… sowing conversation and weaving stories. Our children, from the moment they could reach the pedal from the seat, wanted to sit there and work the pedal. It was a moment we could engage them in a conversation. But more than that, it was a time to share our memories with them.
…until the axle finally broke away from the wheel. We could rest our feet there, but the pedal would not move. It was as if time conspired. Everyone was older, people were moving faster, things break down.
During one of his recent visits, my nephew attached the axle to the wheel and wrapped it with rubber bands. He is ten years old. He understands the value of memories and wanted to fix it.
We noticed it this past Thanksgiving and pedaled again with joy.
Rubber bands don’t last forever either, and they will in time dry out and become frangible. Those attachments, unless welded or firmly adhered, will become loose and broken again.
Time can take its toll on things, but memories fashioned with craftsmanship and ingenuity will last.