Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Aging

Waiting patiently . . .

Waiting patiently
On my back
Clothed in the same
Blue gown they gave me
On my last visit
I pass the time of day
Searching for the
Least medicinal
Prop in this
Antiseptic space
Adorned with trifles
Like boxes of throw-away
Vinyl/non-vinyl gloves plus
Hazardous Trash receptacles
For dangerous substances

Suddenly I see it
Off to my right side
Hanging on the wall
A hazy pastel depiction
Of a perfect summer day

Somewhere in paradise
Blue air floats above
A small tree-covered
Island in the distance
A stream flows
Past a sweetly perfect
Cottage for one or two
Flowers in light pink and yellow
Blossom in a small garden
Lush green grass invites me to
Rest on my back
Taking in the imagined
Sounds and fragrance
Of a perfect summer day

I wrote this after returning from a long day at my heart doctor’s office. A good day, in the end. And long.

I’m always interested in art work hanging in doctor’s offices. Most often it’s a beautiful nature scene chosen to engender a peaceful, relaxed state of mind and body. No, the image above is not what I saw in my doctor’s office. Definitely a cut or two above it. Nonetheless….

I got home rather late, took a lovely walk in cold drizzly air, and then wrote the above. Not to be sentimental, but this time I took the medicinal art work as an invitation to practice deep breathing and relaxation. A handy skill, especially when I’m lying on my back, unable to jump up and leave, no matter who walks through the door!

Now it’s Tuesday, so I bid you Happy Tuesday, and hope it’s even better than your Monday turned out to be!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 November 2019
Pastel Painting of Cottage Garden by Kathleen Kalanowski found at pinterest.com

Things I wonder about

How much and how often should I tell my story?
Or is it time to be the strong woman I was and am
Say directly what I’m thinking
rather than dropping a thousand hints, suggestions
or thinly veiled leading questions
in the vain hope of miraculous intervention
that won’t require me to take risks
or pay prices I don’t want to pay

Since when was I afraid to take risks?
My female life has always been about risk-taking
With due deference to powers higher than I
Or so I thought back then

What is deference anyway?
Maybe it’s my masquerade for fear
My easy way out of what’s looking like
A fraught, uncomfortable collision
Of what?
And at what cost?

Does everyone have a yearning to go back
and begin again, without apology or kissing up
to the so-called powers that be?

When something is blatantly wrong,
why doesn’t someone else step forward who has
credibility and guts to take the first step?

Do I have guts?
If not, have I lost my credibility?

I’m a late learner, not without reason. Even so, what am I to do now? I could rehearse my life story. It was worth writing. Reading it today strengthens and softens me.

I’ve learned the hard way what it means to tell the truth. In person. Face to face. Today, as back then, I don’t deserve to be shamed, humiliated or silenced. By anyone.

So what’s happening now? Not just in Washington, DC, but in our backyards, churches and places of worship, private and public spaces. Do I have the guts to speak up now, and refuse to sit down? I’ll let you know when I find out.

As always, thanks for visiting and reading.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 November 2019
George Orwell quote found at maura4u.com

patches of sun

patches of sun
shifty clouds
stiff cold breezes and
autumn leaves dropping
mess with my brain

breaking waves
crash onshore
chilled warmth floats
here and there
on the beach
in the mountains
on a long walk
through my life
tears and memories
of what was
and will always be

how quickly
seasons come
and go

Yes, another morning walk. This time full of nostalgia—the good kind. Sometimes it feels like my past is flooding the present. Reminding me that I’ve lived and loved with all my heart. And still do.

Cheers to each of you today,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 November 2019
Photo of Tybee Island Beach near Savannah, GA, found at pinterest.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

What I remember

A young girl searching for perfect autumn leaves
A young boy not old enough for soccer, running laps
Leaves rustling on trees and beneath my feet

Shouts and shrieks from grade-school soccer players
The sight of proud, anxious parents looking on
A few parents sitting it all out in their warm cars

Friendly dogs of all sizes out for pause-and-pee walks
Parked cars lining the Episcopal church parking lot
Churchyard grave stones shining white in bright sun

Smiles on faces of passersby known and unknown
A left-over plastic Halloween spider pretending to be road kill
Squirrels racing around, frantically stashing nuts for winter

The feel of cold wind on my face, bright sun in my eyes
Halloween remnants lurking on front yards and porches
Smashed acorns and acorn meal at every turn

I took a long, glorious walk after church this morning. No huge surprises. Just the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, and a chorus of happy shrieks and parental encouragement filling the air.

Sometimes I want to bottle what I feel, see and smell—for rainy days. I’m slowly learning to enjoy each day, and let it go. Clearing the deck for whatever comes tomorrow.

So far today I’m grateful for everything I remember from my walk. I’m also grateful I was able to attend church this morning with D, hear a thoughtful sermon from one of my former students, listen to stunning music during the offering and during communion, collect smiles from several friends, and go for that brisk autumn walk before lunch.

Looking forward to the coming week!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 November 2019
Photo from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, almanac.com

hushed joy

blessings of this day
sing in silence of the night
closing in with grace
enticing me deeper still
into Your world of hushed joy

These lines came to me last night when I was writing in my journal. Tuesday was busy. For several days I spent time on the phone trying to track down a pharmacy that had the Shingrix vaccination (shingles) shot available. On my last call, I hit the jackpot! They had one dose left for this week. First come, first served.

D and I shot out of here and got there in time for me to claim the last dose! So I was pretty psyched, after days of getting nowhere.

Maybe it sounds crazy (to some of you) to get all happy about getting a vaccination shot. Well…when you’re my age, and you know you’re a candidate for shingles, it’s a blessing to receive a poke in the arm!

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 October 2019
Photo of sunset in Africa found at PxHere

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

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

Old survival habits die hard

Dear Friends,

Over two years ago I began working on issues I still had with my father who died in 2010. These weren’t just childhood issues, but things that affected me as an adult.

During the last few months I’ve been distressed about something I thought I shouldn’t or couldn’t do. Why not? That was the issue.

My reluctance began, but didn’t end with my father’s voice reigning me in. Even though he’s not around, I still hear a voice trying to hold me back. Many voices have tried to reign me in all my life. Sometimes they succeeded.

Yet the sad truth is this: They could not have succeeded had I not already internalized by father’s voice as my voice.

So why is this so difficult for me today as the woman I am right now?

Simply put, I have cared too much about what other people think of me, beginning but not ending with D. This is almost unbelievable to me, even though I know it’s true. I’ve lived my life (as a preacher’s daughter, seminarian, professor and dean) under a microscope of male and female scrutiny, not all of it pleasant. Plenty of people have wished me gone. Not necessarily dead; just gone. Far away.

So here I am today with a wish for myself. I can’t shake it off, and I can’t accomplish it in secret.

I miss seeing and worshipping with friends from my former church. The church is less than a mile from our house. I want to worship with them from time to time.

I also have wonderful friends at the church I attend with D. So what to do?

I’ll attend both churches, though not on the same Sunday. From time to time you’ll see me here or you’ll see me there. Or, if you live far away, especially across the great pond or down under, you probably won’t see me anywhere–for which I’m very sad indeed.

With thanks to all the strong women, men and children who’ve encouraged me to be the grownup I am.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 October 2019
Photo of Sisters #1 and 2 in Easter dresses, with Parents, taken in Seattle, WA, 1946/7

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

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