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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Please check out the Haiku Heights blog and read the inspiring Haiku penned by fellow bloggers. Thank you for another  great word prompt…Gem.

My GEM

precious hands and toes
perfection filled with wonder
my treasure, my child

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JUST BECAUSE!

Three years ago today
I watched you close your eyes for the last time.
Your love surrounds me still.
So many things about you I keep dear,
lovingly folded
within my memory recesses.

They are all part of your huge presence in my life…
your unconditional love,
spitfire personality,
extraordinary sense of humor,
superb cooking,
intuitive advice,
and your compassionate listening ear.
What wisdom that ear held!

Yes, how I miss you, Mom,
and your unselfish love.
You were never stingy with your affection.
You shared it with me,
and
with so many others, too.
Your love and warmth are still very much a part of me.
My heart continues to overflow.

Your wisdom went well beyond
what I see today.
So many pay to learn and think.
Those who are
educated…
college educated,
masters degree educated,
and PhD educated.

Your wisdom was simple and sincere.
Yet,
how many friends
and acquaintances
drew you out, confided in you?
It’s impossible to count.
There were far too many for even me to know.

Thank you for being you.
Thank you for encouraging me
to be my own person,
for encouraging me
as a young girl
to follow my dream of college,
even though
you didn’t know what a ‘classics book list’ was.
And, thank you,
for holding my hand through it all
even though
you had no clue what it felt like.

You were a classic in so many ways,
a true class act,
and,
I am who I am because of you.
You believed in me,
in the person I would become.

You helped me through many
of life’s hard times.
You never judged me, or those
who hurt me.
Thank you for that life lesson.

Most of all,
you were proud of me,
your daughter…
just because!
And,
I am proud to say
thank you, to you,
my mother, my friend…
just because!

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Thank you, Stephanie, of BeKindRewrite, for your Inspiration Monday prompts. It has been some time since I have written, but I just couldn’t resist the title No One Remembers But Me. It took me back to a time long ago, a walk down memory lane.

NO ONE REMEMBERS BUT ME 

When I close my eyes, I see the two of us, Mom and me, sitting together on the enclosed front porch of our small, white, two-story house. The supper dishes are washed and dried. Lunch is put up for Dad’s long day of logging in the woods tomorrow. I can faintly hear Dad talking to Mr. Brud Gilbert, also a logging contractor, as they sit at the kitchen table, the makeshift desk Dad always uses for his part-time bookkeeping work. My sister, Lu Ann, is off playing with her friend, Marlene, and my brother, Ernie, is swinging from the Tarzan rope in the huge tree behind our house.

On this warm and sultry evening there isn’t even a hint of a breeze coming from the porch screen door or the large, wavy, meticulously clean windows that give us a view to all the goings-on around this part of Main Street. The stifling air doesn’t bother us, though, as we sit together watching sporadic traffic pass by. We recognize each car, know who is in it, and know most of what is happening in their lives and the lives of their families. We even know their joys and sorrows on their personal roller coaster ride through life.

Through the screened porch windows we see Mr. and Mrs. Bouvier drive by at all of fifteen miles per hour, perhaps heading to tell someone who has not yet heard, about the invitation they received a few months back to attend John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s presidential inauguration  My paternal grandmother, Mae Lumbert, driving like the hot rod she is, whizzes by in her red VW bug, in a hurry to pick up someone in need of a ride to church services this evening. Mom comments on what a kind woman Grammie is. A couple of minutes later, Butchie Nadeau and Harold Coro fly by on Butchie’s old bike. They both have fishing rods in their hands and Harold is hitching a ride on the front handle bars. We wonder if they are going to crash before they get to the Moose River bridge. Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Smith float by in their large black car. Whenever I see Mr. Smith, it reminds me of the story Dad told me about working for him at Smith’s Hardware Store for a while when he was just out of high school. At the young age of eighteen he needed the work. He was already married to my mom and I was born just after he graduated from school.

Mom looks over at me with a twinkle in her eye, and starts to sing one of her old French songs. The words are coming from deep in her heart. I know them because I always listen intently, not only to her words, but to her voice, a voice untrained to some, but, beautiful to me, and full of love and fun. These are the very songs someone taught her when she was a child sitting with her family and friends on the front piazza at the boarding home her mother, my grandmother, owned and ran.

As she finishes her song, Mom glances my way and asks what the meaning of this song is. I translate the words from French to English for her. She smiles at me, an intimate mother to daughter smile and changes her question. What can we learn from the words of this song? I think for a minute about the song and what it teaches me, what the meaning behind the words are. This song is about a girl who ignores her parents warning not to go dancing on the old rotten wooden bridge. The consequences are disastrous. Sometimes I almost want to cry because some of these French songs are sad. They teach lessons about hard times in life, and hurts and disappointments that result from our choices. We talk a bit about how to make decisions that will benefit us in our own lives.

Mom winks and then starts to sing another French song. This time it is light and funny. I smile and start to sing along with her.  We laugh together because we both know that I can’t carry a tune for the life of me. I can’t even tell the difference between a good singing voice and a bad one. It doesn’t matter, though. Mom loves my voice just the way it is. She always tells me if a song comes from the heart that is what matters.

No one remembers but me…

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              Leo Veilleux, Charlene Lumbert Bisson, Rollande Veilleux –  August 2010

A GENUINE GOODBYE

Last weekend I drove just under four hours to my hometown, Jackman, a community nestled in the mountains of the northwestern part of Maine. It is a secluded wilderness where beauty surrounds you at every turn. A variety of life, flora and fauna, is abundant and always available to enjoy. No matter where your eyes look, you can see trees, lakes, and forest land. Dirt roads leading into the quiet of the woods can bring you the calm you sometimes crave and a treat you rarely get to see, a glimpse into the world of moose, deer, and bear, along with other members of the animal kingdom.

Jackman is the place my heart will always know as home, where my earliest memories were made, where I learned at a young age the meaning of love, the meaning of family, and the meaning of being genuine.

As I drove past the Attean look-out area a few miles before town, I knew I was getting close. To the left, at a distance, I could see acres of trees surrounded by a pristine blue-gray body of water, Attean Lake. Dozens of different shades of forest greens and browns set the scene. Most painters would consider it a dream to set their canvas up high on the look-out and paint the picturesque setting ahead. For me, it meant only one thing…home. My heart tugged and nostalgia set in. All I could think of was…home, I’m almost home. Memories began flashing through my mind like the old-fashioned View-Master I once owned as a child.

This particular trip was bittersweet. I was not the only one heading north. Many others were also on their way, driving from different parts of Maine, from other states as far away as New York and Connecticut, and even from across the border, in Canada. Our hearts were heavy as we journeyed north, but the heaviness often gave way to thankfulness as we reminded ourselves what a privilege it was to have known someone who so profoundly touched each of our lives

My uncle, Leo Veilleux, was a genuine man. There was not one fake or superficial thing about him.  What we saw was what we got! He was genuine in friendliness, generosity, unselfishness and helpfulness. He also had a deep love for people. This trip home was for him, for his memory, for his family, and for me, too. I wanted to say goodbye to him, to someone I had loved and who had loved me.

His wife of forty-four years, ma tante (my aunt) Rollande, the perfect complement and life partner for him, grew up in Lac Megantic, Canada. She was there, waiting to greet all of us. Standing beside her were their four children and six grandchildren. Visiting was from 8:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. with a celebration of his life service at 10:00 A.M., a trip to the cemetery, and then a buffet luncheon for all at a local restaurant.

We arrived at 9:00 A.M. There was a line of people almost out the door by the time we got there and it never stopped. I have never seen anything like it.  By the time 10:00 A.M. came, the front yard was still full of those wanting to express their condolences and inside packed beyond overflowing with over three hundred people sitting as close as possible, and standing in every conceivable corner that could be used.

This was a clear testament to the kind of man my uncle was. Everyone loved him. He made each of us feel comfortable and special.  When he talked with us, he didn’t focus on himself. He turned his attention to us. What a lesson we can all learn just from this one simple life skill.

A number of us then attended a brief ceremony at the cemetery. There was a soldier standing at attention by the grave. A lone bugler stood thirty to fifty yards from the grave playing Taps. They unfolded and then refolded the flag, and gave a final salute as the flag was passed to his wife, Rollande. It was poignant and heart wrenching. His family stood there, in the coolness of the autumn day, their hearts breaking, but together as a unit.

We then went to the Hillcrest restaurant, a beautiful spot on the crest of a hill just outside of town. By the time we arrived from the cemetery, it was packed solid. They had prepared for 260 people, and, again, there was standing room only. I did not mind having to stand. I was proud of the love he was being shown. It was evident by the amount of friends coming to bid him their goodbyes. This was the best kind of reciprocation for his years of genuineness.

Because he worked in the service field, Uncle Leo came into contact with the public on a regular basis. He met many of his out-of-town, life-long friends this way. One person he met while he was working at Pomerleau’s store happened to ask him for advice on how to take care of the deer he had just tagged. My uncle, who was a jack-of-all-trades at the store, had also learned how to butcher and prepare meat. He offered his assistance. That was the beginning of the Veilleux/Paquet friendship. This year marked a friendship twenty-nine years strong for the families. This particular friend’s adult son spoke at the service.

Another person from ‘out of town’ but with a family camp in the area (Ellen Carruthers Darsch, daughter of Lil and Ed Carruthers)  wrote this: “Even when you are not from Jackman, Leo Veilleux always made you feel like you were born there and one of his best friends. Jackman has lost a special person. My heart goes out to Rollande and his family.”

Was there a place you asked him to go with you? Was there a wedding you wanted him to attend? Was there a party waiting for his laugh? Was there someone needing help cutting up a deer or moose? Was there a family in need of food? Was there someone in the hospital who could use a visit?  Was there someone wanting to see a moose for the first time? Was there a new person in town?  Uncle Leo was there for all of them.

Children, too, especially loved Uncle Leo. Ma tante Rollande always cared for children in her home. These children came to love both of them and called them Mama and Papa just as they had heard the Veilleux children, and, then, recently, the Veilleux grandchildren call them. Now, the second generation, children of the parents ma tante had taken care of, were cared by her, too. ‘Papa’ would bring them to pre-school and drop them off. All the other children, when seeing him, would get ready for some serious high-five hand moves. If one of the ‘real’ parents happened to drop off his own child, the children would say, “But where is Papa?”, totally disappointed that their high-five partner wasn’t there today.

When one parent tried to explain to one of the children ma tante cared for how things would be different and explained that ‘Papa’ wasn’t here anymore, those big eyes looked up and said, “But, we have to go over there and hunt for his glasses. Papa needs his glasses to read the newspaper. We can put them near him.”  Yes, out of the mouth of babes real love is manifested.

The Jackman community will feel a huge loss, too. He was on many boards, involved with the ambulance system, the hospital, the Jackman Regional Center and many other things I don’t even know about. He was a huge presence and an asset to the town. Whenever someone called, for whatever reason, he was off and running to help out with whatever was needed.

What defined Uncle Leo best was his love for his wife, his four children and his grandchildren. He showed his love for them at every possible moment. He was a hands-on dad and a hands-on grandfather, too. He took them hunting, and fishing. He picked them up and dropped them off, he attended their games and cheered them on. He was always there and available. Most of all, they had fun being with him. He was a true family man in every way.

Often, at family gatherings, or sometimes when we were just visiting, he would look over at his wife, then turn to all of us and say, “C’est mà femme, la, mà femme!” “That’s my wife, over there, my wife!”  Proud as punch he was of her, of the long marriage they shared and the quiet support she gave him all those years. The two of them truly did become one.

I could easily fill several volumes with stories about Uncle Leo. I did not even come close to showing all the good and positive about him. I could talk much more about his many qualities, his faith, examples of the love others had for him, and the love he showed in return, but I won’t go on.

Instead, I will remember him by keeping him close, deep in my heart. I will remember how I felt as I left my hometown at the end of my weekend, after my time with family. My eyes filled as I thought of this honor in my life. I got to spend time with, and to love…a genuine man.

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Thank you to Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press for the inspiring prompts. I appreciate the hard work that goes into this and am glad when I have time to participate. Thank you for giving many of us the opportunity to take part in these writing pleasures! I have chosen the picture below to write my story.

Visual Prompt 2 — Untitled by Imke Rusk (http://imkerust.com/)

SURVIVAL STRETCH

Helmut positioned his seasoned body and crouched, yoga-like, into himself as he folded his knees into his upper trunk. One arm he tucked under his chest, the other he stretched and wrapped around the back of his head, cradling it while extending it beyond the space that was his body. The ridge of each vertebrae stretched to the point of relief. He felt the slight arch as he lay, frozen in time, remembering a different life, a time before he knew this survival stretch.

His old fingers felt young again as his mind touched the black and white, the ebony and ivory of his piano. His eyes closed and memory began to play his composition. Melody, chorus, melody, chorus, change up, chorus, melody. He felt the audience lean forward in unison, engulfed in his creation, drawn in by the emotion of his piece.  The burning inside, the intense fervor for his music carried him and embraced his being as his passion intensified, kindling his movements. Always, he felt honored at their standing ovations, at the sense of accomplishment he felt knowing they were at one with him in their appreciation of his work.

Slowly, Helmut disentangled his body from his survival stretch. He was still grateful, all these years later for the empowerment his stretch gave him, for the good memories it was able to bring up, for the ability to hold on to the richness of life he and his family had known at one time in his beloved Germany.  It had been a country of his people, Jews like him with a passion for the arts, an intensity for life itself.

He thought of his father, a talented doctor who often gave his time to those of his kind, his own, while maintaining a prosperous practice. And his mother, ahh, his mother…a beautiful and talented musician in her own right who had nurtured his love for composing and his ability as a pianist. How eternally grateful he was for them. Dachau may have taken their bodies but he would make sure their memories, their souls, lived on.

Helmut checked the calendar on his desk for the date of his next lecture. Chicago, next week, Tuesday. How many lectures had he given? How many schools had he visited? How many questions had he answered? Never enough. Never. Never must they forget.

He smiled as his talented pianist fingers, worn and wrinkled, picked up the picture of his family, taken years ago.  He, his wife and their three children. This wasn’t just a picture. It was a celebration of survival. He and his wife had, miraculously, made it beyond Auschwitz. Their three children were now carrying their family history as part of who they were. They would spread it forward to their children, too. Helmut’s mother’s vivid brown eyes were now being worn by both of his daughters and their musical ability was her gift passed to them. His son walked exactly like his father and his affinity for medicine was a testament of what one can be given.

The piano in the corner of his living room stood ready, beckoning him to sit and touch the lovely keys, no longer made of ivory and ebony, but of plastic. An elephant somewhere was lifting its trunk in approval of the change.

Helmut, too, lifted his trunk, straightened his head, and walked to his piano, in approval of the life he had lived and the choices he had made. Sitting down, he touched different parts of his piano, then closing his eyes, he let his fingers work magic until his ears tingled with pleasure.

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Thank you to Stephanie of BeKindRewrite for her prompts. Again, they were all so good. I chose Children’s Prayers with a slight adaptation. This story deals with something many children have had to face. It is true to life and needs to be told for all those young children who deal with things we adults sometimes forget.

A CHILD’S PRAYER

The sobs were coming from a bedroom down the hall, heart wrenching sobs, then gasps for air, sometimes deep, sometimes shallow.

Gina lifted her head from the pillow, and, listening intently, she turned slowly.  She pulled herself up and swung her feet around to the edge of the bed. This was something she never expected to hear.

Swallowing hard, she thought of the many reasons a mother can never get used to the sounds of heartbreak coming from the heart of her child, especially a five-year old, so innocent and loveable.  Her eyes glanced down and saw the brown teddy bear laying next to her feet. She bent, picked it up and hugged it to her chest.

As Gina entered Evan’s bedroom he looked over at her, tears brimming, spilling from his blue eyes and rolling down his cheeks. He pulled the covers over his head.

“Evan, sweetie, can I sit down on your bed next to you?”

“O.K.”

“Can you tell me why you are crying, why you feel so badly now.”

“No.”

Slowly, a blond head with tousled hair peeked up from under the blankets.

“Is it because Daddy isn’t living here any more?”

Her sweet boy’s head disappeared again and the howls of his heart breaking into a million pieces were almost more than she could stand. She lifted his blanket just a bit and put his teddy bear next to his arm and then lifted his arm over his stuffed friend to hug tight. She listened to more of his sobs and his gasping while he tried to catch his breath.

“You know, Evan, Daddy loves you very, very much. He has always told me how special you are to him.  What is the special name he calls you?”.

Evan lifted the blanket and pulled himself up still hugging his little friend.

”His buddy”.

“That’s right. And, I know for a fact,  he doesn’t call anyone else his buddy. That shows how important you are to him and you will always be his buddy, too”.

“But, Mommy, why did Daddy leave me?”

“Remember the other day when you and I went to the beach.  I told you that Daddy is always going to be a part of your life. You will always be able to visit with him and he will come here to visit you. Daddy will always love you.  He hasn’t stopped loving you. He never will.

“But he isn’t here anymore. He left me.”

“Sometimes grown-ups make decisions that are very hard for children to understand. Remember, sweetie, even though he isn’t here anymore you will still see him often. You can call him anytime and when you start kindergarten soon Daddy will be there, too. He can go to your school just like I can. He will never stop seeing you. Never ever stop.”

“Mommy, can I say a prayer for my Daddy?”

“Of course. Let me hold you and Teddy tight.”

“Dear God – Please help my Daddy to come back home. I like it when he tickles me awake and when he cooks I sit on the counter and watch him. I miss him, God. Please, please bring my Daddy back home to me. Amen

As Gina struggled to hold back her tears, she kissed his tear-stained cheek and give him a huge, tight hug.

“Let me tuck you in with Teddy Bear. You know when you feel very sad you can hold him close and kiss him. And when you cry for Daddy, it is ok. Everyone gets sad sometime. There is nothing wrong with that. The important thing to remember is both Daddy and I are your family and we will always love you THIS MUCH, both of us. I will turn off the light now and when you wake up tomorrow morning you can call Daddy to say hi, o.k?”

“I love you Mommy. I feel better. But I still want Daddy to come home again.”

Gina sat on the edge of Evan’s bed caressing his cheeks, those plump cheeks she loved to kiss, and waited until he fell asleep. She watched as his breathing became slow and regular. Then she made her way back to her bedroom, alone.

She shut the door quietly, threw herself on the bed and wept uncontrollably.

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Thank you to BeKindRewrite for this weeks prompts. I have chosen ” What they Wanted me to Be’ as my prompt. Again, thank you, Stephanie!

WHAT THEY WANTED ME TO BE

The cocktail glass reflected the deep claret color of wine Mother was drinking. Her perfectly French manicured fingernails enhanced the thin elegant stem while her dainty protruding pinkie gave proof of her status in life.

“I mention this, darling, because we want the very best for you. After all, your great-grandfather worked extremely hard to establish his legacy.  His trust is not one to be mocked. Your life would have been significantly different had he not been diligent.”

I glanced down at my t-shirt with the large chartreuse fluorescent letters and the blaring motto “Teabaggers gave America a Boehner”, then looked up at my mother and wondered if we were truly related.

“Don’t worry about it, Mom. I am not doing anything great-grandfather would have been upset with, okay?”

“Sweetie, the fact that you didn’t attend the fund-raiser I sent you a ticket for, well, darling, it sends a message that can’t be ignored.”

“Thanks for the visit, Mom. I am NOT getting into another political/philosophical discussion with you. The semester ends in just a few weeks, and, I will be back soon..”  A quick touch of a kiss on her own index finger and then a touch of her finger to Mom’s lips and she was gone, out the door, off to bigger and better things.

After a significant sigh, Dianah, climbed the massive granite staircase and entered her bedroom suite. Walking over to a dresser in the far corner, she pulled the large drawer open. Gently, she unfolded a t-shirt and looked at the message…”Haight-Ashbury…Summer of Love – 1967″. Her mind wandered back to what her life had been while she had attended the University of California, Berkeley.

Dianah’s lips smiled while her long fingernails helped her fold this t-shirt she had never been able to let go. She reflected on ‘what they wanted me to be’ back then, long ago in 1967,  to what she was now.

Her tongue wet her lips, those same lips her daughter recently kissed by proxy finger, and she thought “Ah, yes, what goes around, comes around!”

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