Tag Archives: love

Why I Write

My grandfather passed away on Saturday. He turned eighty-eight at midnight and left this world thirty minutes later. He was ready to go, which always makes things easier.

Over the years, I’ve been honored with penning poems for funeral programs. I’ve also had the joy of nudging marriages along with a handful of words. Each time, I write with the individuals in mind. Each poem or piece a testament to a specific person. A specific purpose.

My grandfather was a quiet man. Midwestern stoic. A hard worker. A provider. A practical man. He was the kind to show his care for others through actions, not words. And  yet, deep within this practical exterior was a soul of whimsy.

A welder by trade, he pieced together bits and scraps in his free time. Nails. Pop bottle tops. Cast iron skillets. In his work-worn hands, these every day items came together as miniature works of art.

The refrigerator magnets of my childhood were pop top skillets with two painted eggs frying inside. A beautiful nail rocking chair adorned my mom’s bookshelf, while tiny windmills captured the attention of guests. Just yesterday, a skillet clock passed hands from my mom to my little sister. All these and more were gifts from a quiet, unassuming man.

He took his business motto seriously: “We weld everything but broken hearts and the crack of dawn.”

In life, he created. In honor of his life, I write.

 

WELDED BY LOVE

Love is not a parade of roses.

It’s a rocking chair,

thoughtfully presented

to relieve your weary load.

 

Love is not fancy dinners

celebrated on commercial holidays

rich with chocolate, wine and flawless diamonds.

It’s breakfast—two eggs, over easy—in a beat up frying pan.

 

Love is the breath of the wind,

spinning through windmill blades,

full of energy, passion and power.

 

It’s raw and untainted,

a hodgepodge of little things

not meant to woo,

but to comfort the soul

 

It’s a rough beard

and rougher hands

work-worn

and blackened.

 

Love is not fixing what is broken;

It’s never breaking it in the first place.

 

We weld everything

but broken hearts

and the crack of dawn.

 

Father,

Grandfather,

Grandpa,

Pops.

 

You welded more than you will ever know.

I write to give breath to that which may be forgotten. I write to teach, not preach. To soothe the soul with a balm of words made of hope and compassion. I write to give voice to those who cannot.

Why do you write?

Curious minds want to know.

Thoughts on America’s Melting Pot and Prejudice

Yesterday, I had the dubious pleasure of flying home from a visit to my sister.  She lives in Virginia, not too far from Washington DC.  It also happened to be the 10th Anniversary of 9-11.

I’ll fully admit to being slightly disconcerted by this fact.  My time waiting at the airport to board my plane made it clear others felt the same disquiet.  It didn’t help that terrorist plots had been uncovered and that every television was tuned into the memorial services at Ground Zero.

It also didn’t help that from my vantage point, at least a dozen individuals of Arabian descent also waited for their planes.

Observations over the next hour made me a bit ashamed of the melting pot we call home.

We clearly hadn’t melted.

Not that airports are the friendliest places to begin with, but the cold-shoulder literally sent goosebumps over my arms.  A ring of empty chairs surrounded each small group of dark-skinned, dark-haired, turbaned individuals in an otherwise crowded place.  People either averted their eyes or openly stared.  Nobody cracked a smile or passed along a kind word. 

Folks, I’m just gonna throw this out there.  We have all been the outcast at some point.  By America’s very nature–by human nature–our heritages come from the oppressed and disgraced.  We are all the product of some form of derision based on where we came from or what we believed.  Our blood–and our pasts–are not pure.  And yet, we strive to break free of the connotations that once defined–in the eyes of those feeling supreme–our genetic history.

We fail to consider that, while we are shaped by our heritages, we should not be stereotyped by the past.  Nor should we stereotype our present.

My German ancestors do not make me a Nazi.  Heck, by the time World War II broke out, they had already melted in America for generations and fought for their new homeland.  Likewise, I couldn’t shoot a bow and arrow to save my life despite the Native American blood that mingles with the rest of my genetic code. 

I’ll venture to say that the families in the airport were not responsible for the terrorist attacks a decade ago.   

My heart aches for the loss on September 11, 2001.  Families were torn apart and a hole was left in our collective conscience–physically via the Twin Towers and emotionally via our current state of cultural fear.

When our flight was called, two young men of obvious Arabian descent stood and gathered their things.  They had been sitting beside me, conversing quietly in their native tongue.  A total of eight people prepared to board and I commented to the men that our final destination didn’t seem very popular.

Immediately, the masks they wore fell away and they grinned back at me.  For one brief moment in the wake of pain and discomfort, they had become human.  Accepted and not judged by actions that were not their own.  That tiny act of kindness allowed them to melt into the greatness of America. 

Dear readers, I challenge you to examine your prejudices, stereotypes and fears as they pertain to the people you encounter each day.  Are these biases founded in the reality of your life, or are they part of a more collective mindset?  Can you break them and make the difference in someone else’s day?  Do you even want to?

You don’t have to publicly answer those questions, but I would like you to consider the legacy you are leaving behind.  Because, really, we alone are responsible for our actions and the impact we make in our homes, our communities and our world history.   

You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

A Note To Parents

Hug your babies each and every day.  No matter how old they get, no matter how much milk they spill or how many toys they forget to pick up, children are the single most precious gifts we have been given.

Never let your last words be angry or hurtful.

Never forget to praise their accomplishments.

Never let a day go by that you don’t show them just how much you care.

And never take them for granted, because one day, when you least expect it, they might be gone.

If you’re the kind to pray, please do so now for this unfortunate family.

My your day be filled with blessings.

Napkin Notes

Sometimes life trails a finger down our spines just to make sure we’re paying attention.

On Saturday morning, DD and I searched through boxes in the basement to find some baby pics, her baptismal candle and anything else that might dress up the cake table for her confirmation.  It goes without saying that we got wrapped up in time as we fingered a miniature pair of jelly shoes, pink and white hair bands and DD’s baby ring. 

In the bottom of a box, we also came across her birth cards.   One did not fit in with the commercialized cards.  It was not decorated with cutesy sayings, baby booties and rattles in pink and blue.  In fact, it was nothing more than a plain white napkin.  

This simple card read She’s beautiful.  See you soon.

I pointed it out to my daughter and her eyes welled up.  The impromptu card had been written by my dear hubby’s surrogate mom–the mother of his childhood best friend.  At the time of DD’s birth, Barb worked in the medical center and was our first non-family visitor.  She had sneaked a peek in the nursery while the rest of the world slumbered.  There, she penned her warm welcome to our newest family member on a hospital napkin, too excited to wait for a trip to the store.

We packed up and moved shortly after and I hadn’t seen the note since.  Yet, at the time DD and I picked through her infant memorabilia, we both knew that Barb was fighting for her life in hospice.  Ten minutes after we cleaned up our mess, my DH called and told us the news.  Barb had passed away.

She’s beautiful.  See you soon.

In my heart, I know that Barb looked down on my daughter during her confirmation on Sunday in the same way she had gazed in that nursery window almost fourteen years ago.  In the same way she had witnessed DD’s baptism at a ceremony in our shared church.

In my world, guardian angels do exist.  Sometimes they are subtle and we don’t know they are there.  Other times they announce their intentions, sending a blessing our way if only we open our eyes to the possibility.  And I can think of no better gift than the one my daughter received on the eve of publicly confirming her faith.

She’s beautiful.  See you soon. 

Simple words.  Heartfelt sentiments.  A promise for every tomorrow and a gift for a life time.

In life, it is usually the small things that become something grand.  The sweet scent of a daffodil as it promises srping.  The tiny buzz of a bee that signifies honey. 

Notes on a napkin that give hope in a cascade of shivers down the spine. 

My prayer for you, my dear readers, is that you keep your hearts open to the promises around you.  On this day and all those to come.  And never pass up the opportunity to leave a simple note on a napkin.

Because in the end, no matter what our faith or belief systems, love transcends all.  Even in death it lives on in the hearts of those who remember.

~ cat