Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Death and Dying

The last day of November 2019

The last day of November 2019
Greets morning
With peach-colored clouds
Virtually bare deciduous trees
Stalwart conifers flexing their muscles
Almost freezing temperatures
And the weary sigh of voters
Treated nonstop to the latest scoop
Or not depending on their tastes

A waking thought jolts me
Back to this present moment
Ruled by a heart once broken
Now tenderly stitched together
A stunning patchwork of colors
Plus moody longings and
Memory-driven reveries that
Nourish my soul bringing honor
To a heart long overlooked
Now my valiant heroine who
Made it through undeclared wars
And interminable neglects
To say nothing of despisements
Not of my own making

December beckons with promise
Of peace on earth and good will toward all

I want to believe.
Do you?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 November 2019
Artwork by Tarryl Gabel found at artworkarchive.com

Graceful living | Photos

Graceful living meets death
With or without prying eyes
Spotlights or drum rolls

Transformed into works of art
Unseen before their time
Each twist and shadow
A hint of life to come

Visible only to travelers
Who pause to witness
The miracle of life renewed
In countless deaths

Breath tripping over wonder
The camera captures moments
Never to be repeated


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 November 2019

Photos taken by DAFraser, November 2016, while we were hiking in the hills above Glen Eyrie Conference Center in Colorado 

When is enough enough?

This isn’t my favorite topic these days. Particularly after my latest visit to my heart doctor, just two days before my 76th birthday.

I’m several years older than I was when I first found out about my heart condition. In addition, I now have chronic kidney disease—though not advanced CKD.

I also have other health issues that could go south. Though I might be able to manage some of them, I can’t predict how or when they’ll collide with one another to send me downhill fast. Some are already colliding.

This isn’t news. It’s happened for years to others. Nonetheless, though I don’t feel singled out, I do feel alone. Especially when it comes to important medical decisions.

Back to my heart (which also impacts my kidneys). As I see it, I have two choices:

  1. Do what my doctor has been talking about for more than the last three years. Start taking a blood thinner, or try a work-around that would have a similar benefit. Would this guarantee a stroke-free life? No. Would it lower my risk of stroke? Perhaps. It would not guarantee that I would not have a brain bleed.
  2. Alternatively, as the woman who will live with this choice, I can say No. Enough is enough. I’m willing to live with the consequences even though they may not be pretty.

This isn’t because I like to gamble, but because nothing anyone does is going to extend my life forever.

Growing older is no picnic in the park. In fact, I can’t remember when I last was able to picnic in the park! My waking hours are consumed by taking care of my body, soul and spirit. Doing what I can to enjoy the time I have left.

Breaking my jaw several years ago changed everything. So did finding out decades earlier that I had IBS. Whatever eating is about, I often find myself on the margins looking in.

Nonetheless, I’m grateful my current Vitamix diet is good for my heart, my kidneys, and IBS. It also helps me eat food I can’t easily chew. In addition, I’m grateful for an outstanding integrative doctor who sees the big picture, and helps me maintain key markers for health.

As I see it, the only guarantee is that one day I will die. Given my age, it will be sooner, not later. I don’t want to muddle my life with exploratory options.

That’s how I’m seeing it today. I’m also grateful to be here today, able to enjoy family, friends, neighbors and strangers. Life is still very good indeed.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 November 2019
Quotation found at twitter.com

When I Am Among the Trees | Mary Oliver

Here’s a Happy Monday poem for everybody. My comments follow.

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

© 2006 by Mary Oliver
Published by Beacon Press in Thirst, p. 4

Today it’s sunny, bright, very cool, and breezy. I’m just back from a morning walk beneath and near trees, many towering toward the sky.

If I were an older tree right now, I’d be cowering close to the ground. Hoping no one would notice how many leaves I’ve lost, or how bent and even broken my branches are. And did you see those ugly thick roots protruding farther from the ground when the green grass turns brown?

On the other hand, maybe passersby will see how beautiful my remaining leaves are. Or listen to the music of the wind dancing around my chilly bones. Or notice that more light flows through and from my gnarly branches when those pesky, preening leaves are long gone.

I love this poem. Though it seems to have spring, summer and autumn in mind, it works for winter as well. Especially when the wind whips through iced branches, bouncing off fragile twigs and sturdy green needles. To say nothing of new snow covering everything in a down comforter.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Happy Monday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 November 2019
Image of Beech Trees in Autumn found at thurmanovich.com

Dear Friends | Monday morning update

Life as a blogger is pressing on me these days. Not to stop writing, but to make the most of the time I still have.

I can’t begin to describe how much I love this unexpected gift—blogging. Nonetheless, it’s frustrating to experience my energy dwindling a bit with each passing day.

When I got up this morning I saw two comments left last night that got me all teary. Writing is rewarding. It’s also a bit lonely, even though it’s a way of reaching out. I never know how my words will touch people I know well and not so well. I took my tears and the two comments as a sign that I’m not finished yet.

Nonetheless, I have a few challenges coming up. My heart and my kidneys need to have a conversation. This really means I’ll have conversations with my kidney and heart doctors in the next month. And then make some decisions about what I might do next.

In the meantime, I’m living in the one day at a time mode. Yesterday, Mary Oliver’s poem got me through. I’m still learning to live what she describes. That would be how to expect, recognize, welcome and delight in the gift of each created day. Sunny or not.

Thanks for all your visits, and for reading this. Right now I’m off to the kitchen to make another super-healthy smoothie.

Happy Monday to each of you,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 October 2019
Photo of Lakeshore Grasses at Dawn, Canada, found at army.file

For Elijah Cummings, with Gratitude

How sad I never knew you –

Your full-throated voice thundered
Truth without apology or rancor
Within halls of justice and injustice
On streets and off streets
It really didn’t matter

You were a man with a mission
To heal what has been broken
Since the beginning of our time

Others with and without eloquence
Have spoken honorably of you —
The citizen I never knew
Yet counted on to be there
Someone we the people needed
In this hour of deafening bereavement
Now marked by your personal demise

What are we to do without you
Without your one-of-a-kind voice
Calling the shots loudly and boldly

WE the people must ultimately
Make the difference one day at a time
Give up our posturing
And begin again to make our way
Through this world in which
We too are no longer at home

Click here for more about Elijah Cummings.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 October 2019
Photo found at yahoo.com

fragile remnants

fragile remnants
whisper thin bits
pieces unkempt
and overlooked
burn out
in late autumn’s
unforgiving march

wisps of fluff
pressed for time
drift on currents
of unpredictable air
hoping to become
early spring’s
beauty queens

eager to be born anew
the next generation
dies unnumbered
silent deaths

Thanks for stopping by on this chill Monday in Pennsylvania. D took the photos above when we visited Longwood Gardens Meadow two weeks ago. The Meadow’s strange, familiar fall beauty draws me in, despite the general messiness of the Meadow and my life from time to time. Happy Monday!

Cheers,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 October 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019 in the Longwood Gardens Meadow

chill wind screams

chill wind screams wailing
through tree branches caught off-guard
in dawn’s early light
souls of the departed soar
beyond this realm of sorrow

I wrote this short poem early this morning. I didn’t have Representative Elijah Cummings in mind. Nonetheless, the shoe seems to fit.

Cummings died last night at the age of 68. He was a son of sharecroppers, a civil rights warrior, a member of Congress from Maryland, and a fearless leader in the House of Representatives’ inquiry into Donald Trump’s dealings as POTUS, here and abroad.

According to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Cummings recently said,

When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked:
In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?

Indeed. A tough question for each of us, no matter which political party we prefer.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 October 2019
Image found at rd.com
Thanks to Reuters for the quotation above.

Please save a seat for me

Please save a seat for me
Out there
Within the Great Beyond
Where water flows
And falls
And drips
Its mist upon my hair
And canopies
Of bamboo leaves
Sway gently to and fro

Simple chairs
Would be enough
No thrones
Or special seats
Just friends and strangers
Gathered there
As part of
Your parade
Within this low-hung vault
Of heavenly earth’s delights

A Carolina wren broke into song just outside my window as I was writing this. So beautiful! My favorite year-round songbird, no matter how cold it gets.

The last couple of months have been full of pseudo-icy weather. Slippery. Unsettled. Not sure how things would turn out. All set in motion by our great waterbed leak at the end of July.

Things are now back together. Sort of. And the clock still ticks down. All day, every day.

I think we’re invited–even urged–to see heaven on this earth. Today! Looking back through our Longwood photos from last week, I had a little reminder that it’s as simple as showing up and paying attention.

Hoping you have a few heavenly moments today!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 October 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019, Longwood Gardens Conservatory

Lost soulmates

Keeping up appearances
Grows costly and unrewarding
Except when you smile
With that boyish grin
The one that caught me
Unawares decades ago
Long before we knew
Anything about loving
Or keeping faith or how
Not to parent our children —
When we lost soulmates still
Needed parenting and loving
From the inside out of our
Lonely tentative hearts

The gardens smell winter coming
Chill air reaches out at night
Draining life-giving juice from
Once lush greens and pinks
And purples and magenta —
Crowding close to each other
They lean in for a farewell look
At us taking the flower walk
Sunrays streaming down in
Breezes and fading memories

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 October 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019 at Longwood Gardens Flower Walk

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