Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Gratitude

The looking-glass

This morning I looked into my bathroom mirror and got a fright. Who is this woman? Do I know her?

Well…of course I know her. Still, there’s something about mirrors that feels like betrayal. They’re so honest!

So I washed my hair and washed my face and, for at least a few minutes, felt quite lovely, thank you.

Here’s a poem I wrote in December 2016. I’ve had it on my mind for about a week, so now it’s your turn to have it on your mind–for at least the minute it takes to read it!

Her bespoke face
betrayed no provenance
no signature or style
save those life etched within each line
each scar and curve of chin and cheek

No sign of props placed here and there
to hold it all in space
no awkward look or heavy paint
to dazzle or illuminate
Just a canvas standing there
with pleasant eyes of burning depth
and mouth with upturned corners

Quite suddenly she smiled at me
and said hello-how-are-you?
One of a kind I see — said I —
with hat tipped to my Maker

Given today’s upheavals here and abroad, I pray each of us will find a bit of peace and hope to share with neighbors and strangers alike. Thank you for stopping by.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 February 2022
Image found at pingfind.com

The greatest gift

When I began blogging, I didn’t give much thought to writing poems. I loved to write. I loved using imagery. I loved playing things out in words. And I loved reading poetry.

But writing it myself? Not since my freshman year of college, when my writing professor told me I would never write poetry. I believed her. Until I began blogging.

This morning I read the poem below. I’ve read it many times, always accompanied by tears of gratitude along with recognition that my life is in its final chapter. I hope you enjoy it and are prompted to remember things that bring joy and music into your heart and mind.

music to my ears

I love the calm cadence of your voice
and the way you make rare 
the everyday

waves rolling in on the beach
wind whispering in the willows
my husband reading to me aloud
Mendelssohn’s E Major Song Without Words
J. S. Bach’s C Major Prelude #1
doves cooing in the morning
robins singing in dusky evening
the overwhelming calm of Psalm 23

I chose the Bach rendition above because of the player’s calm approach to Bach’s Prelude in C Major. Also because it’s being played by a so-called amateur who gets the nuances just right.

Wishing you a calming Tuesday no matter what’s going on around you,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2/22/2022
Video found on YouTube

noisy silence

noisy silence
invades the old woman’s ears
cars cruise past her sleeping house
on their way to nowhere

darkness falls heavy
over her weary body
aching for mercy
and lovely songs that linger
through long nights
of farewell

Yesterday was a spectacular day. A grand mix of icy cold, beautiful sun, and a hint that we might be on a warming trend. My various body parts cooperated quite well so that I felt almost normal. Until late evening.

Something about evening can bring out pain and tears. True to form, last night my body reminded me that it’s still there and it isn’t getting any younger. Even so, it was a beautiful day–the kind that felt almost normal.

When it was time to sleep and my body objected, I went into my office, opened a notebook, and wrote whatever came to mind, including the first version of the poem above. Then I went to bed and promptly fell asleep.

Today isn’t nearly as spectacular as yesterday. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for another day on this earth with family members, friends, D, Smudge, and each of you, of course. Thanks for stopping by!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 February 2022
Photo found at wallpaperaccess.com

In the deep mid-winter | 3 Haikus

buzzing ears open
for business this frigid day
listening to nothing

wind howls
through cracked walls
a baby cries

travelers
missing in action
full stop

Real Winter. We haven’t had it here in Eastern Pennsylvania for several years. Now it seems to be making up for lost time.

This morning I set things up to make a big pot of spiced red lentil soup. I also used my SAD ‘happy light’ to help with my mood. Best of all, I decided not to race out early this morning (with D driving) for a blood draw before 9am.

Not a bad beginning to what promises to be a gusty, sun-shiny day, with the temperature plummeting tonight. Not many birds were out for their early morning suet feast.

Beginning this week, I’ll see three of my doctors, one a week, to find out what my blood tests, MRI, and other tests to my feet and legs are adding up to.

In the meantime, I’m finding out when my feet don’t hurt. It’s all about music! Playing the piano instantly takes my mind off the pain. So does walking in the house or working in the kitchen with my new headphones, listening to direct-feed music, babbling brooks and birds, or anything else remotely musical. Thanks to our daughter and her husband for the birthday headphones.

Best of all, I have no pain when I’m sitting at my computer writing poetry or posts for you.

Until next time, I’m still
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 January 2022
Photo found at houstonchronicle.com

My Great MRI Adventure | New Year’s Eve 2021

In knee-high socks
And ortho shoes she trips
The light fantastic

Light as a feather
Music spins through soft earphones
To another world

Silencing all noise
Beauty fills every fiber
Of her weary soul

I’m lying on a long, narrow table. A long capsule slides almost silently over my body.

I’ve been up since early in the morning. D is sitting in the waiting room. I’ve been told more than once that the MRI will take 15-20 minutes. My name is called. I’m ushered into a small room with a closet. I answer a barrage of questions I already answered online and in the waiting room. The woman helping me is kind.

She tells me how to put on the two gowns lying on the bench, and where to lock my clothing and belongings. The only things I’m allowed to wear are my knee-high socks and one other piece of clothing I will not name.

I emerge draped in two huge gowns.

I’m directed to a barber-shop like chair obviously made for people larger than I. I can’t lean back or touch the floor with my feet. I sit up straight and hold still while the pacemaker team disengages Lucy Pacemaker and makes sure they can monitor my heartbeat/arrhythmia while I’m having the MRI. This takes at least 20 minutes. I’m happy to say that everyone who worked with me treated me as the Queen I am, for which I was most grateful!

Finally, I’m escort by a female nurse to the MRI room. The male technician who will be in the room with me the entire time has me change my anti-Covid mask for their mask (not as nice as mine). He also has me leave my changing room key on the table. The nurse and technician help me onto a very narrow table.

As fast as lightning, the technician inserts ear plugs, adjusts my head, puts a large cushion beneath my legs and knees, glues and tapes stuff onto my chest to monitor my heartbeat, puts a finger clip on my right thumb, and a rubber ball in my left hand. I’m to squeeze it if, at any point, I’m not comfortable. If I squeeze it for any reason, the MRI will be terminated and rescheduled.

Finally, sheets are pulled up; my feet are positioned just right and strapped down so they won’t fall off the narrow table. The technician assures me that he’ll be in the room the entire time, ready to help me. Then he disappears somewhere behind my head, and the capsule starts sliding over my body. I decided early on to keep my eyes closed and practice relaxation breathing. I was not prepared for either the noise or the heat.

Nor was I prepared for the cacophony of diverse sounds that bounced around me. Sometimes there were lengthy pauses; sometimes only a few sounds. Other times it was like being caught in crossfire that didn’t want to end. I wasn’t prepared for this strange mixture that had no rhyme or reason.

However, somewhere along the way I thought about drum beats I’d heard when D and I were on sabbatical in Kenya. Instead of angst, I had a bit of curiosity and interest, though I was still shocked by the diversity and clamor of this strange machine.

Suddenly it was done. The young man and my nurse helped me back to my barber-shop chair. The nurse handed me a bottle of water which I drained to the last drop. Lucy Pacemaker was returned to being in charge of my heart. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and have D drive me home.

Thanks for visiting today! For 2022, I pray you and I will grow as truthtellers, no matter how difficult or dangerous it becomes.

Happy New Year!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 December 2021
Image found at wfmt.com

choices I don’t want to make

If you had gently hinted
just one short year ago
that today would find me
lost and bereft
I might have laughed

On the other hand….

To say my situation is
better than so-and-so’s
misses the point altogether
while denying reality
screaming in my feet

How to live with this
malfunction on the outside
and agony on the inside
challenges my educational
upbringing and experience

Daily and nightly reminders
pile on unavoidable witness
to the slow decay of this body
still struggling each day with
choices I don’t want to make

I haven’t posted regularly for what feels like an eternity. Actually, it feels like hanging in midair, waiting to find out how this will play out. Peripheral Neuropathy. My new ‘friend’, though I still don’t know the full picture. The day after Thanksgiving I’ll have an MRI with the hope that my neurologist will learn something new or at least helpful.

My focus today is on what I enjoy doing. Unfortunately, my feet like to remind me of what I don’t enjoy. Nonetheless, my new curriculum is interesting. Bottom line: What would I like to do right now? What brings me joy, so that I don’t even notice what my feet feel? (For example: looking at David’s Longwood Garden Photos; playing the piano, riding my indoor bike.)

In addition to two books I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m also reading a book by Mims Cushing (who lives with this disease) and Norman Latov, MD, her neurologist. Title: You Can Cope with Peripheral Neuropathy: 365 Tips for living a full life. It’s a bit dated, but the self-help pointers are ageless.

Bottom line: I feel myself becoming a ‘different’ person–not so driven, more laid back, grateful for small gifts of each day and for you.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 November 2021
Photo taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, December 2015

absent without leave

absent without leave
my mind wanders aimlessly
searching for anchors

solid reality
is hard to come by these days
drifting on breezes

the doorbell rings
abruptly interfering
with today’s daydreams

A cheery young man delivers my mail-order packages. I’m happy to have them, though I would have loved being interrupted by something more spectacular.

Something like this would do:

Two weeks ago I was feeling my usual morning reluctance to get up from my breakfast seat by the window, and get on the rest of the day. Suddenly I heard a great commotion outside. A large flock of blackbirds had invaded our feeders and our backyard, gobbling up whatever they could find. Males fought for seats at the bird feeder, while females and younger blackbirds scoured the yard for whatever they could find.

This went on for several minutes. Suddenly a large male took over the feeder just outside the kitchen window, opened his great beak, and let loose a masterful ‘conkeree’ louder than loud! King of the Castle? Maybe. At any rate, without a moment’s hesitation the whole herd took off into the trees before disappearing into the wild blue yonder. I was mesmerized!

Thank you kindly for your visits in the last few weeks. I’m still learning to live within my physical means. So far, three things bring me great joy: playing the piano, reading, and writing. In addition, I’m learning to be content with what I’m able to do on any given day. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 November 2021
Video of male red-wing blackbird calls found at YouTube

The Meeting with My Parents

Diane and Elouise standing by the Savannah River
20 Nov 1993, the day after meeting with my parents

On 19 November 1993 I met with my parents in Savannah, Georgia. A gift to myself on the eve of my 50th birthday.

It took 1 ½ years to prepare for the meeting. It wasn’t a declaration of war. It was an attempt to see whether my parents and I could begin talking about my childhood. Put another way, could I hold my own viewpoint without trying to change my parents’ viewpoints?

The biggest unknown was how my father would respond. His habit was to talk over and down at me.

Now I’m in Savannah. My father is sitting directly across the table from me, with my mother next to him. I’ve asked a pastor we all know to be present. He convenes the meeting and turns it over to me. David is on my left hand; my sister Diane is on my right—both instructed not to talk or try to argue on my behalf.

I read from a single-spaced, 1 ¼ page statement. Here’s the heart of what I said about the way my father punished me as a child and teenager.

The spankings were abusive. I was very small; you were very big. I had no power; you seemed to have all the power. The spankings happened regularly for most of my growing-up years. They were terrifyingly predictable. I dreaded nothing as much as I dreaded being spanked. Worst of all, the spankings were administered in a way that shamed, humiliated, and silenced me. . . .I have been lost for most of my adult years. Lost in a sea of shame, humiliation, and fear–fear of opening my mouth and saying directly to you what I need to say: I did not deserve to be shamed, humiliated, and silenced.

Though my parents were in this together, my mother wasn’t in the room when I was being punished. My question for her was simple: What was it like for you when I was being punished? Where were you? What was it like to hear us crying and pleading? She didn’t remember hearing anything.

From my father, I wanted one thing: an apology for the way he shamed, humiliated, and silenced me. I asked for an apology, which was immediately denied. Thankfully, getting an apology wasn’t my goal.

There was one unexpected disruption during the meeting. My father abruptly walked out of the meeting, left the building, and sat in his car. We could see him through the window. No one said anything. It was my meeting. I waited several minutes. Then I signaled to David to come with me for moral support. We stood on the sidewalk beside the car while I talked with him for a long time. Eventually he agreed to come back and finish the conversation. I was astonished and relieved.

After this meeting, D and I visited my parents (in Savannah) on several occasions. I always had a list of questions to ask. I learned a lot from these informal conversations, though my father was clearly set in his ways and unwilling to change. Still, these conversations were a gift I hadn’t anticipated. Not surprisingly, many of my father’s rough ways reflected my grandfather’s unpredictable, harsh beatings of my father. A sad legacy.

Thanks for stopping by today.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 November 2021
Photo taken by DAFraser on 20 November 1993; Diane (on the left) and I are at the Savannah River waterfront.

My overflowing cup

My calling is to die
In daily increments
With mega doses of reality
Served up on weary plates
Of hyper-healthy veggies
And dreams never to be
Lived in this lifetime

Stumbling through each day
I resist the truth that my feet
Have already lived out
Their guaranteed lifespan
Of hiking and dancing
Or even strolling by the river
Come to carry me home

Looking into my shrinking world
I wonder what I’m missing
While my overflowing cup
Stubbornly splashes drops
of joy and beauty
I never hoped to experience
This side of heaven

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 November 2021
Photo taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, 10 September 2021

What females do not deserve

We don’t need fancy degrees
Or positions of so-called power
To agree on one thing:

In today’s downhill avalanche
And dismissive coverup of truth
About women and girls of any age
Soul-searching is quickly dismissed
In favor of shameful, angry blaming
Of women who dare speak
Their own minds or
Live their own lives
Despite the cost

Females of any age do not deserve to be shamed, humiliated, or silenced.

Nearly 28 years ago, on the eve of my 50th birthday, I said to my father: “I did not deserve to be shamed, humiliated, or silenced by you.” I wish I could say that making this statement fixed everything for me as a woman. It did not.

Instead, as an adult professional, I still had to live with sometimes brazen attempts to shame, humiliate or silence me. For example,

  • Disgruntled students who didn’t approve of my gender or my approach to teaching and learning sometimes filed written complaints with my dean or the president of the seminary.
  • In my work with and in the seminary dean’s office, my value was sometimes measured by my willingness to go along.
  • My questions weren’t always welcome, especially regarding university decisions that impacted the seminary.

Bottom line: Most of my paying jobs involved a significant degree of holding back, keeping my mouth shut and my emotions under wrap. Sadly, the same was sometimes true in churches I attended, especially regarding issues of concern to women and children.

My decision to meet with my parents in 1993 was costly for our entire family. Would I do it again? Yes. My life today would not be what it is without this tough family work. In some ways, it became my fulltime job, the underpinning of my professional and personal life. As I’m able, I’ll be posting about this from time to time, drawing on written notes I made years ago, and correspondence with some family members.

Thank you for the privilege of sharing some of my life with you. Next Friday I’ll have tests on my feet and legs. Hopefully I’ll learn more about what can and cannot be done to alleviate the pain. Peripheral neuropathy stinks!

Thanks for stopping by,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 October 2021
Quotation found at thewei.com

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