Archive for May, 2008

A Fond Farewell with Fresh Eyes
May 31, 2008

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,

And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,

Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,

“He was a man who used to notice such things”?

-Thomas Hardy (1917)


The years have flown by, and Shannon is now a college graduate! We’ve had to alter our basic response that she “goes to Bard”; now we have to say she “has graduated from Bard”. It’s caused quite a shift in our thinking in many respects, because now we are old enough to have an adult child. How did that happen?


The trip up to New York was bittersweet, in that it may be our last one for many years. I tried to savor each and every sight, smell and sound as we went about the usual trips to and fro from the horse farm to the campus to town to Shannon’s house. It was high spring, and New York was in glorious form!


This time, we had the two grandmothers with us (it was their first visit). After all the years of regaling them with our tales of Whistlewood, Rhinebeck, Bard, Olana, the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, it was time to show them how very special this part of the world is. And so it was with fresh eyes that I looked at my surroundings last weekend, pointing out all of my favorite spots to them.


My eager eyes savored the gorgeous flowers, green trees, different birds, running brooks and warm sunshine. What caught their eyes was interesting to me, and made me look anew at what I had looked at once before but then have overlooked as the years went by.


Graveyards, doorways, bridges, running streams, wild creatures and the quaint town centers were some of the things the grandmothers loved to look at. Of course they loved the spring flowers and mountain views, as well, and especially the cool, sunny weather. I was proud to show them everything, as if I had had something to do with it!


As the days passed, I began to really study every nook and cranny, because as I mentioned, I fear it may be the last time I’ll ever see this magical spot again. I know I CAN go back, but will I? As we visited our favorite restaurants, I hugged my favorite proprietors and spoke to my favorite waiters, thanking them for taking such good care of us through the years. It was such a happy weekend, but it was definitely tinged with some sadness.


When we crossed the majestic Hudson River, heading west and then north to Albany that last time, all I could think about was how beautiful the river and the Catskills were. Do those who live there and make that crossing daily ever notice?


It made me think about being more aware of my own every day surroundings, just to better appreciate the beauty in my own neighborhood. If I learned I had but one day to live here, I certainly would go outside and watch the trees swaying in the breeze and the cloud formations in the blue sky. I’d study the flowers and listen to the birds.


So why not do it every day with fresh eyes? Pretend it’s the last day you’ll ever be in your house, and really notice the details. You may be surprised at what you see, and you will definitely appreciate the gifts that lay right outside your door.


May 18, 2008

Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh!

         Navy Service Song


One definition of the word “graduation” is “to pass from one stage of experience, proficiency, or prestige to a usually higher one.” May is the season for graduations, and I’ve been to two this past week, with one more yet to come next weekend.


All are occasions for celebration and inspiration, with the promise of a fresh beginning in the next stage of life. I’ve got to be honest with you, the speaker at the Middle School graduation ceremony this week inspired me more than the speaker at the College ceremony last week! Let’s hope the one next weekend is the best of all, but knowing who he is and his politics, I’m not anticipating much. I may be proved wrong, but I’d better bring some duct tape to cover Joel’s mouth in case he can’t stand it!


However, lately, my mind hasn’t been on all the students whom I dearly love. Rather it’s been on my dear old Dad, who is in the final stages of his life’s journey. There have been times recently when we’ve been told he wasn’t going to make it, but then he’s always managed to pull through. I sometimes feel like I’m the proverbial boy who cried “Wolf!” when I’ve told friends he’s not long for this world. What a great constitution he has!  


It’s been both a roller coaster ride and a tight rope walk. And somehow it reminds me of the struggle that all who are on the verge of graduating must endure. After all, what is life but an experience that leads to a higher stage?


Dad was a Navy man, through and through. I looked up the lyrics to the “Navy Service Song” (or Anchors Aweigh!), and thought that some were appropriate for his “passing to the next stage of life”:


Farewell to foreign shores, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.


At this point, no one knows exactly when his “graduation day” will be, but whenever it is that God does finally call to him, my prayer is that he has a “happy voyage home”, with all his buddies and family members waiting on the other side ready to celebrate his homecoming!


Anchors Aweigh, Dad…


(note: pewperson will return June 1)


Mommy Dearest
May 9, 2008

As is the mother, so is her daughter.

-Ezekiel 16:44


Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and because I consider it a “Hallmark holiday”, a totally fabricated day that forces people to express their appreciation for their loved ones, I don’t like it. My mom doesn’t either, and never has, from what I can tell.


I remember her saying to my dad, “I’m not your mother,” when he would attempt to do something nice for her on this day. We kids would more often than not, make her something, which she would treasure way more than something store-bought. I never quite understood how that could be until I became a mother myself.


Mother’s Day of 1959 was such a “full day that when we finally got home, we were so tired… then we remembered that we didn’t take any photos. Anyway, we repeated our ensembles yesterday (a week later), and had a snapshot party, plus movies, so we’re well documented.”


She wrote to her parents that she had gotten “many ‘lovely’ handmade presents from my darlings- and Father had ordered a charm bracelet, which should be along soon. We all got dressed for Sunday School- and how pretty everyone looked!” She went on to say that after church, they went to their favorite restaurant (Sclafani’s in New Orleans), then home to change and go to my brother Ray’s piano recital, then to get ice cream, then to visit friends… no wonder they were so pooped! (I was getting over the mumps, apparently… yikes!)


How did she do it all? I have no idea. One child took enough of my time and focus; I can’t even imagine having to shepherd six. But I wouldn’t trade my experience for any other, because of the close relationship that I enjoy with my precious Shannon.


Looking back over the hand-made cards that she created for me through the years still makes me smile. “To the best Mom in the whole world… and the greatest cook of all time…I love you!” (illustrated with the planet earth, a plate of food that looks like meat, potatoes and peas, and a big heart). Then there was “Mom’s Coupon Book” which I never redeemed because all the coupons were so cute! There’s one to pick up the pine cones in the yard, one to pick up her room, “even under the bed”, one to clear all the plates at the table, and the cutest one says, “I will wash the dishes (would you help me please?).”


These are absolutely priceless keepsakes to me, and I will treasure them and the memories they hold forever. What a blessed mother I am! And what a blessed daughter I am! The two go hand in hand, and I am so grateful for my loving mother who made me the loving mother that I am, and who gave me a legacy of love to pass along to the next generation.


Mommy dearest, indeed! That she is. Thanks, Mom!