Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Gratitude

A Fond Farewell to 2018

Dear Friends,

The last two months I’ve been barely alive on my blog. That’s partly because D and I have gallivanted with family members almost nonstop.

In November we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with our son, his wife and their three children. It was our last family meal in their big old house plus barn and meadow. We were surrounded by boxes waiting to be moved to their new house (minus barn and meadow). Not in the middle of nowhere, but in the middle of everything—with no big yard or outdoor animals to keep up.

Then we were off to Portland, Oregon for ten wonderful days with our daughter and her husband. It was our first visit to Oregon in over two years. I posted photos here. We did nothing but rest, talk, and eat good food plus some of the other stuff. Fabulous!

Then just before Christmas we spent Sunday in western Pennsylvania with David’s sister, her husband, two adult children, their spouses, a couple of grandchildren, and our son. Lots of good food, lively conversation and catching up with relatives we don’t often see.

Finally, back to our son and daughter-in-law’s new house on Christmas day with their three children, their second set of grandparents, two big dogs and two small cats. There were still boxes to be emptied, and everyone was feeling his/her way along. Nonetheless, they were excited about their new neighborhood and neighbors.

In addition, I talked on the phone with my two surviving sisters, and thought a lot about our sister Diane, and our Mother. I still tear up and grieve their lives and deaths. Both were in their last months during and after Christmas. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with them before they died. Mom in 1999; Diane in 2006.

Yet the bottom line isn’t morose. I’m more upbeat and less anxious now than I’ve been for the last few years. Hopeful about many things, but chiefly about my health and well-being, no matter what happens next.

For now, I’m grateful for the opportunity to write from my heart, and belong to the WordPress community. Thank you for all your visits, likes (or not), and comments.

Though things look bleak at the top (speaking of politics), it seems the best place to live is at the bottom. With love and acceptance, without malice, reflecting the light that entered our world at Christmas – one small flame at a time.

Happy New Year to you and yours!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 December 2018
Photo found at fpctyler.com

Year’s end approaches

This morning I woke
Floating again within
A calmer space
Less fraught with angst
Or anguish of life

Cars splash to and fro
Outside my office window
Hurrying somewhere
Or reluctantly ambivalent
All roads aren’t chosen

Year’s end approaches
Almost without notice
Holding layer upon layer
Of unsavored moments
And gaping disasters

Yet my heart is calm
The flow of life and death
Invites steadiness
In the space between now
And coming joys and sorrows

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 December 2018
Photo found at 123RF.com

My third try at the lottery

10:18am–
Congratulations!
You have now joined
the long line of callers
continuing to hold as
discordant jingle jangles
scream at me through
my miraculous speaker
phone enabling this poem
to birth itself as the
nonsense of this world
spins out of control
one minute after another

My mind wanders to
fairer days when real
people with real not fake
friendly voices answered
whether I wanted to do
business with them or not

At least they were there
on the job and paid enough
perhaps (I do not know)
to earn a living wage
instead of this inane broken
record that has cheerfully
announced the importance
of my call and assured me
that my call is important
to say nothing of reiterated
apologies that do nothing to
reassure me that anyone will
be on this line anytime during
the next hour or so and yet
hanging up means giving up
which I don’t have time to do

So now I’m feeling sorry for
everyone including myself
who is enduring this nonsense
on both ends of the line
wondering how we come to
find ourselves in this fine mess
given all our duly worshiped
electronic devices that are
supposed to be making sure
all is well and in order with
no one left behind or left out
as I now believe I am with
millions on other lines doing
exactly what I’m doing and No,
I do not have the competency
to do two things at once though
to be honest I never thought
I would get this far on a so-called
poem about a so-far nothing call….

10:30am–
Hello! This is Brenda! How may I help you?

Brenda was wonderful. I got my business sorted in the space of 3-4 minutes. Which partially atoned for my first two tries earlier that went on and on and on…..

Yes, it’s the end of the year and I’m back in town. Ready to go and grateful for the last several weeks in which I’ve enjoyed an orgy of family visits around meals and on the phone.

Cheers!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 December 2018
Photo of a 1950s/1960s call center found at syntheticzero.net

Packing the easy way

Dear Friends,

No, I haven’t disappeared from the universe. I’m just deep into packing for a trip to visit our daughter and her husband. Sherry took the photo above. The magnolia came from a tree in their yard.

Here’s my old normal way of getting ready for a trip:

  • Update my trip checklist so I don’t get all frazzled
  • Start panicking about getting everything done before we leave
  • Keep doing whatever I normally do
  • Reassure myself that the checklist is really half the work
  • Stay up most of the night before the trip — frazzled
  • Sleep several hours and then get up in panic mode
  • Stuff the last thing in at the last moment
  • Holler for D to sit on the suitcase and help get it closed
  • Leave the house frantic about what I might have forgotten to do or pack

No, I am not one of those frequent travelers who always has a small, compact carry-on and a plan for minimal packing. There are reasons, of course, for my lack of this gift, but I won’t bore you with the details.

So my new normal (assuming I have other opportunities for travel) kicked in the day after my birthday. So far, so good, even though it’s taking a lot of discipline to stay away from my computer and you!

The upside is that I’m not yet freaking out, and might even make it to the front door with time to spare.

I’m taking my laptop (of course!), and won’t make any promises about posting while we’re away. However, photos might be fun to put up. So we’ll see what happens.

Thanksgiving was bitter-sweet for us. We had dinner with our son, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and grandson. Plus their two big dogs and two small cats. They’re planning to move in the coming year. Not sure when, but it was our last Thanksgiving dinner in the old house they moved into shortly after the girls were born.

Thank you for your many good wishes and notes about my birthday. We had a quiet day at home. Neither of us is what you’d call a party animal. Instead, we love quiet days at home, which this time included playing the piano and going for a walk. Plus reading pertinent and impertinent birthday cards. Actually, more than one of them gave me happy tears.

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 November 2018
Photo taken by Sherry Fraser Seckington, June 2015

pennies from heaven

pennies from heaven
lie scattered on moss-crowned stone
beneath curved aspens
dancing in autumn splendor
yesterday’s green burns golden

This morning’s wallpaper. The kind that makes me all weepy in a happy/sad way. Life is short. Every passing season reminds me that our days are limited, and that life is beautiful as well as harsh. I pray for each of us a week filled with gratitude for little things, little people and small acts of kindness that grace our lives each day.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 November 2018
Photo of Aspens in the Rocky Mountain National Park found at wallpaperup.com 

My Mother’s Depression

My mother’s depression
Is not my depression

It doesn’t belong to me
Nor did I invite it in to stay
Yet it lives in me now and again
A link to this woman who bore me

Deftly intertwined it moves
As though it were mine
A weight I bear unbidden
My lot in this half-life

What would it be like
To let it go as an alien?
To visit without falling into the pit?
To understand it from her point of view?

I’ve been turning things like this over in my mind and heart for the last week. The insight isn’t mine. It’s a gift from a friend who has walked with me for several decades.

‘My’ depression isn’t mine. Yes, it’s real and present. Yet it was and still is my mother’s deep depression, fed by my father’s behavior toward her and toward me.  The sad price of being a gifted white woman in post-depression (ironic) and post-World War II life in the USA.

Held back, kept in check, insanely busy with housework and babies, submissive preacher’s wife, versatile church musician without a pay check, resourceful volunteer ever ready to help others in return for nothing, cheery and even-tempered, industrious and persistent, she held it all together in her bent and broken body.

Uncomplaining, weary, in pain 24/7 and depressed. Sometimes crying herself to sleep. Other times waking with horrifying cramps.

My heart goes out to her today in ways it couldn’t years ago.

Yet I can’t accept her depression as my depression. It isn’t mine. This one insight invites me to stay connected to her reality without making it my reality. I can only breathe my air, not hers.

These days it seems ever more acceptable to trash women of all colors and make them into problems they are not. In response, I want to do justice to the woman my mother was while showing mercy to her as the woman she could not be or become.

She was not the problem then, just as I am not the problem now.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 November 2018
Book cover photo found at bookdepository.com

More than enough

I’m out of gas
Stalled
Unable to move ahead
With certainty

The warm air
From my small space heater
Reassures me humming
Staring silently
With its one orange eye
You can do this

Last night
Which was early this morning
I sang myself back to sleep
A-B-C not do-re-mi
As first lines of old hymns
Popped into my head
Somewhere at F or G
My weary body slept

In my waking dream
I was listening to a choir
Sing a beautiful song
I didn’t remember writing
But they did
Perhaps this is enough
Even more than enough

This morning
Marie sits on my kitchen table
Smiling as I write morning pages
Without knowing
Where this is going
This stream of unconscious
Consciousness
Begging for a life on paper

And it is enough
More than enough for today
This gray steely freezing cold day
That promises nothing
But the first fringes of winter
Creeping into autumn uninvited
An early guest at a table
Still set for normal

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 November 2018
Photo found at tripadvisor.com

Moldy, moldy, moldy | Dear Friends

Dear Friends,

My body is moldy, my house is moldy, my mind is moldy and I’m not giving up!

I now have data from the first of three mold tests, with two tests to go. One of the two makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it. It’s a hair test for ‘heavy’ metals.

If you see me from time to time, you know how short my very fine (not heavy) hair is. Especially in the back. I like it that way.

So now this lab wants a measured (by weight) amount of hair from 5 to 6 places on my head, preferably from the back of my head. Each ‘strand’ should be 1 inch long! They’ll be lucky if I can find that much from the top of my head.

The worst moment will be after the deed is done and nothing can be glued back onto my head! As my trusted partner of more than 53 years, D will have the honor of clipping those precious hairs from my head. I don’t want to end up looking like a molting sheep.

The third test has to wait until I have the proper computer screen. It seems my old faithful isn’t young enough to calibrate within the limits of the vision test.

Then there was a visit with my cardiologist yesterday. Always stressful, no matter what’s going on with my heart. Especially with the added reality of almost constant work on Alzheimer-related testing. Though I don’t have it, my genes mean the risk factor rises with every year of my life. Mold is a big Alzheimer’s issue, best dealt with early and often.

I’m sleeping well most nights. Last night was an exception. I was surprised how weepy I was early this morning. I lay there thinking about my life and how difficult yet astonishingly wonderful it has been. And how many gifted, dedicated people I’ve had the privilege of working with. And how much I don’t want to leave this life just yet.

Despite all the health stuff, I turned a big corner last week. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone about myself or my worth. I already knew that in my mind. Last week my heart finally began getting and loving the message. I’ve already passed on bits and pieces here and there. It’s done, even as I keep growing like a persistent bit of mold–the good kind, of course!

Today I’m taking it easy. Practicing justice and mercy on behalf of my weary body and soul. Eager to keep moving ahead, yet no faster than my feet will take me on this damp, rainy day. The photo at the top is there just because I like it.

Happy Tuesday, and thanks for stopping by.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 November 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland, Oregon, October 2012

Dancing in the face of partisan politics

Pray tell me
How do I dance
In the face of partisan politics
Straining to separate me
From other human beings

And how do I dance with freedom
In the face of threats
To undo me
Or you
Or us

Age and health
Weigh heavily on me
As does diminished ability to move
Freely on my own

And this dance floor seems too small
To hold my aching heart
Longing for more
Than I can ever accomplish

Or perhaps
The ‘more’ is already here

Behind and around me
Invisible
Doing what You intend it to do
Making its way unseen in
Bits and pieces I gladly gave away
And passed along so that
They don’t belong to me
Anymore

As health issues come creeping or crashing into my life, I feel like fighting back. Making sure I’m still out there, doing my thing. I feel the tug of wanting to make a difference.

Perhaps it’s time to rest, dream and even drift through each day. Grateful for living this long. Grateful for opportunities to connect with neighbors near and far.

It seems slow dancing is what’s called for. Listening to internal and external music. Connecting with family, neighbors and strangers. Reading. Listening. Praying for the next generation. And writing my heart out. Preparing for whatever is around the next corner.

Elouise

Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 November 2018

Shame on you – a poem and confession

Shame on you
Is not shame on me

I renounce your efforts
To fill my heart with
Your lust and shame
Bequeathed to you
By your father-preacher
When you were a sobbing
Child terrified lest you wake
Up one day in that fiery hell
You too once preached to
Children who believed the lie
That they entered this world
Sinners from the beginning
Now terrified of missing
That mercy for which you
Wept loudly and often
In the confines of your own
Terrified heart and soul

Wave your arms in the air
Send out your calls for sinners
To sob their way forward
Down the aisle filled
With shame and self-hatred
Believing a story that never
Belonged to them no matter
How many times they
Rushed down the aisle
Of your own deep shame

Somewhere along the way I lost the shame I carried from childhood. Shame that bound me as an adult, not just as a child.

Here’s how I see it now. Yes, there is right and there is wrong. No, God doesn’t create junk. Nor did God make sure I came with a bit of built-in sin for which I’m supposed to feel deep shame.

The shame came later. From others who introduced me to their shame long before I knew what was happening.

As a child, preachers and evangelists routinely reminded me that my heart was filled with sin from the day I was born. I watched other children repeatedly rushing down the aisle terrified lest they be thrown into a lake of fire when they died. I managed to raise my hand once, which felt like more than enough. After all, I got it at home, too.

At some point I had to take ownership of the woman I’d become. Still, scaring me and punishing me into repeated agonies of confession never helped me take ownership of myself. It simply kept me in a constant state of fear, shame and hyper-vigilance.

Ironically, these are the very things my Creator invites me to let go. Not because I’m a goody two-shoes, but because I’m loved just the way I am.

For that, I’m deeply grateful on this day of Sabbath rest.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 October 2018

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