Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Health and Well-being

baptismal waters

I’m working on a book of poems selected from my blog. This morning I came to this description of my mother’s “baptism” not long before her death. The setting is a not-for-profit hospice near my parents’ home in Savannah, Georgia. Reading this account always makes me tear up with gratitude and sadness. 

baptismal waters
rise gently enfolding her
world-weary body

* * * * *

I’m standing in a windowless, high-ceiling concrete room
with a concrete floor, drainage holes and air vents.
A deep whirlpool tub stands in the middle
filled with warm steamy water.
The room faintly resembles a large sauna minus the wood.
Functional, not beautiful.

Mother is in hospice care after suffering a stroke weeks ago
and then developing pneumonia in the hospital.
Her ability to communicate with words is almost nonexistent.
Today she’s going to be given a bath.
I’m told she loves this, and that
Sister #4 and I are welcome to witness the event.

For the past hour caregivers have been preparing her–
removing her bedclothes, easing her onto huge soft towels,
rolling and shifting her inch by inch onto a padded bath trolley,
doing all they can to minimize pain and honor her body.
Finally, they slowly roll the trolley down the hall.

The hospice sauna room echoes with the sound of
feet, soft voices, and running water.
It takes a team to carry out this comforting
though strange and even unnerving ritual.
Mother is safely secured to the padded bath table and
then lowered slowly into the water.
Her eyes are wide open.

For a few moments she fixes her eyes on mine.
The table  descends bit by bit.
How does she feel?
What is she thinking?
At  first her eyes seem anxious.
Is she afraid?
The warm waters rise around her and the table stops descending.
Her face relaxes and she closes her eyes.

The team works gently, thoroughly, not in haste.
They focus on her, talk to her and handle her body with reverence.
My eyes brim with tears.
This woman who bathed me, my three sisters
and most of her grandbabies is being given a bath
by what appears to be a team of angels in celestial garments.

They finish their work and roll Mother back to her room.
Her bed has clean sheets.
Fresh bedclothes have been laid out.
Caregivers anoint her body with oil and lotion, turn her gently,
and comment on how clear and beautiful her skin is.
They finish clothing her, adjust the pillows to cradle her body,
pull up light covers and leave her to fall asleep.

* * *

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 June 2014, reposted 28 June 2022
Photo found at pixabay.com

baptismal waters

During her last years on this earth, Mother and I found each other in ways I never dreamed possible. The hospice near my parents’ home (income not a consideration) took exquisite care of her during her last three months. This piece honors her and the angels who cared for her pain-wracked body. 

baptismal waters
rise gently enfolding her
world-weary body

* * * * *

I’m standing in a windowless, high-ceiling concrete room
with a concrete floor, drainage holes and air vents.
A deep whirlpool tub stands in the middle
filled with warm steamy water.
The room faintly resembles a large sauna minus the wood.
Functional, not beautiful.

Mother is in hospice care after suffering a stroke weeks ago
and then developing pneumonia in the hospital.
Her ability to communicate with words is almost nonexistent.
Today she’s going to be given a bath.
I’m told she loves this, and that
Sister #4 and I are welcome to witness the event.

For the past hour caregivers have been preparing her–
removing her bedclothes, easing her onto huge soft towels,
rolling and shifting her inch by inch onto a padded bath trolley,
doing all they can to minimize pain and honor her body.
Finally, they slowly roll the trolley down the hall.

The hospice sauna room echoes with the sound of
feet, soft voices, and running water.
It takes a team to carry out this comforting
though strange and even unnerving ritual.
Mother is safely secured to the padded bath table and
then lowered slowly into the water.
Her eyes are wide open.

For a few moments she fixes her eyes on mine.
The table descends bit by bit.
How does she feel?
What is she thinking?
At first her eyes seem anxious.
Is she afraid?
The warm waters rise around her and the table stops descending.
Her face relaxes and she closes her eyes.

The team works gently, thoroughly, not in haste.
They focus on her, talk to her and handle her body with reverence.
My eyes brim with tears.
This woman who bathed me, my three sisters
and most of her grandbabies is being given a bath
by what appears to be a team of angels in celestial garments.

They finish their work and roll Mother back to her room.
Her bed has clean sheets.
Fresh bedclothes have been laid out.
Caregivers anoint her body with oil and lotion, turn her gently,
and comment on how clear and beautiful her skin is.
They finish clothing her, adjust the pillows to cradle her body,
pull up light covers and leave her to fall asleep.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 June 2014, lightly edited and reposted 26 November 2021
Photo found at etsy.com, John McManus Fine Art

Knackered Friday?

One of my all-time favorite posts! I know it isn’t Friday, but it’s coming!!!

Are you knackered? This great word comes from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia and beyond. Here are several visual definitions included for the benefit of all who are too knackered to read on.

First, a photo of Smudge (above), taken several days after he was rescued dripping wet, voracious and exhausted, by our granddaughters and their mother. Knackered. As in all tuckered out.

Here are four other helpful overviews, thanks to Google,
beginning with my personal favorite:

And three more, in case you need further insight:

Me either!

Here’s to an unknackered weekend!
With sincere apologies to my many friends
who know far more and better
than I do about knackered.

Dare I ask: Are you knackered? Feel free to share your experiences!
Or not.

***

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 April 2017, reposted 7 October 2021
Photo/Image credits:
Megan Naugle Fraser, Smudge, taken 11 August 2013
Knackered Mom: doodlemum.files.wordpress.com
Knackered Dog: memesuper.com
Knackered Cat: tumblr.com
Knackered Relaxing Oat Bath Milk: fieldandstyle.com

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Knackered

On My Mother’s Table | Memories

Photo taken in 1948, before Mother came down with polio in 1949
Ruth, Elouise, Dad, Mother, and Grandpa Gury

I’m reposting this in honor of my mother, Eileen Gury Renich, born 12 July 1921.
I often wonder what she would have been like without polio or the pain of her childhood.
It colored everything that happened in my life.

A graceful old table
With fold-down wings
On each side and
Beautiful scrolling
Along the edges
Sits there in the kitchen
Small and old with just enough
Room to turn around

A small pantry hides beneath
stairs to the second floor
A window looks out
Above the small porcelain sink
With ridged sideboard

A small walk-through kitchen
With four doors
Impossible to miss stands
Ready and quick to reach

There on the table they sit
In their permanent space
Neatly arranged on a medium-size
Round tray never messy always tidy
Kept just next to the short wall
Out of the way not in your face
Part of the scenery
Normal things needed daily in
My Mother’s kitchen

Salt and pepper
A sugar bowl and bottle of creamer
Instant coffee and paper napkins
Or were they paper towels
I’m not quite sure
Vitamins and minerals
Aspirin and toothpicks
Small round Rx bottles neatly arranged
At least a dozen sometimes more
Coming and going as needed
New and old as prescribed
One on top of the other
For the latest pain or muscle discomfort
Carefully labeled and marked with her name
Mother’s name only not anyone else’s
Her cafeteria of pain-killers and relaxants
Old friends from polio days plus
New friends added to her
Growing collection of pills or
Were they drugs from
Multiple doctors with multiple solutions

A potent mix of ingredients
For multiple ailments in multiple periods
Of her pain-ridden sleep-deprived life
Sit neatly on the table
Ready at a moment’s notice
Would you please bring me
My phenobarbital and a cup of coffee?
Caffeine and barby doll her friends for life
But at what cost?
Drugs free from a friend’s prescription shop
But at what cost?

* * *

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 July 2015, edited and reposted 12 July 2021,
the anniversary of my Mother’s birth (12 July 1921 – 17 Feb. 1999)

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 July 2021
Tourist photo taken in 1948

Ikebana and Bonsai at Longwood | Photos


Last Saturday D and I visited Longwood Gardens for a late summer/early fall walk. The flower beds had been put to bed for winter, and the meadow was a seedy expanse of dying yet still graceful grasses. We took a meadow walk, stopped by the children’s railroad display, ate lunch in the café, and then headed over to the conservatory to see the annual Chrysanthemum Festival.

This year the Conservatory went all out with an Ikebana display, a Bonsai display, and Longwood style Japanese Lanterns. Plus thousands of chrysanthemums.

Below are my favorites from the Ikebana display. First, a few things about Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging.

  • Ikebana goes back to Japanese Shinto worship of nature, and the Chinese Buddhist tradition of placing flowers on the altar to Buddha.
  • Today it’s more about flower arranging, following ancient rules and forms. Usually the arrangements are in the form of an asymmetrical triangle.

The exhibit hall is normally set up for musical concerts. This time it’s an Ikebana display of various kinds of Ikebana arrangements. All arrangements are by qualified members of the Ikebana Philadelphia Chapter, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Ikebana International has over 10,000 members in more than 50 countries.

Here’s a look just outside the exhibit hall, back toward the entrance to the Conservatory. You can see Chrysanthemum ‘mushrooms’ popping up, lots of water flowing, and behind all the foliage, lots of visitors!


Turning around from this view, we walked into a large area lined with Bonsai arrangements. Again, this wasn’t a competition, but a display by members of the local Brandywine Bonsai Society. Here are some favorites. I was especially intrigued by the combination displays of ‘large’ and miniature arrangements. The miniatures are shown enlarged; you can also see them beside their exhibit ‘partners.’


Well, friends, I’ve barely touched the Chrysanthemum Festival, and haven’t even begun to show you Japanese Lanterns Longwood style! Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath. It’s bad for your blood pressure.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 November 2017
All photos taken by DAFraser, 28 October 2017

Old before her grownup time


Old before her grownup time
A little girl in adult mode
Within her childhood body
Performs an adult’s duties

Reserves once bright diminished now
She wills her youthful girlhood back
To fuel her lagging body

Perhaps she’ll wake up one bright day
And find those long-lost years
Held in reserve for later use –
Life savings locked within a vault
Accumulating dividends

I woke up a few days ago with a thought flitting around in my head: What if all my unspent childhood energy—lost to adult responsibilities before my time—is sitting somewhere waiting for me to reclaim it? You know–to fill in energy gaps that crop up when least expected or welcome.

After nearly 74 years, surely I’m entitled to reap something from all that premature investment in adulthood. Not just in my spirit, but (especially) in my body.

Now wouldn’t that be something to shout about? I might even put one of those giant trampolines in my backyard to burn off the energy!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 October 2017
Photo found at livingonthecheap.com

Daily Prompt: Identity

An epidemic of unforgiveness?

A few months ago I posted a series on forgiving my Dad, The Shape of Forgiveness. Since then, this question has been on my mind: Are we, here in the USA, caught in an epidemic of unforgiveness for which we have no remedy?

In the last post of the series I wrote this:

God forgives each of us daily. This is an act of stunning creation, not just for us individually, but for the families and communities in which we live. I want to be part of this ongoing spirit of forgiveness because I want to be part of God’s creative act, not part of the destructive problem.

Yet sometimes I hear or think words that seem to shut the door on a creative tomorrow: I’ll never forgive him – her – them!

Are we locked into a pattern that undercuts creative endeavors to find common ground, much less forgiveness?

I’m not looking for acres and acres of common ground. Right now I’d settle for a tiny patch anywhere in which we could safely listen and speak about our anguish. Perhaps we would begin finding ways to heal, ways to know each other and ourselves differently and better.

More recently, I’ve begun thinking about my experience in 12-step programs. It wasn’t indoctrination. It was a carefully sequenced program that helped me discover how to deal with myself first. My life had become unmanageable.

Twelve-step programs taught me to let things be so I could discover a better way. I wasn’t in charge. My higher power was. I didn’t have to slam doors or flounce out of the room in self-righteous indignation. Or solve everyone else’s problems. Or prop up the self-defeating behavior of others. Or defend my behavior and condemn others.

Instead, I learned to find safe people, talk with them about things that troubled me, and explore ways to change self-defeating habits. Slowly, I began to join the human race. I stopped standing on the sidelines trapped in patterns of harsh judgment of others and of myself.

How about a Citizens Anonymous program for recovering citizens and friends of citizens? A program that would help us put down our addictive bottles of news headlines, gossip, outrage, harsh judgment, denial, diversions, taunting, and other ways we sooth ourselves when we’re feeling out of control. Maybe together we could find small patches of common ground and nurture something new.

Just a thought. Or maybe this is already happening somewhere? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for listening.
Elouise ♥ 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 August 2017
Image found at callofthevedas.com

Sabbath Rest Memories | Photos

It’s Summer 2016. In early April I got my pacemaker (Lucy); two weeks later I broke my jaw and had my teeth wired for 4-5 weeks. The idea of going on the cruise we’d already planned seemed crazy. But it wasn’t. My main activity during the cruise was resting, sleeping, and eating soft food! In other words, it was, for me, a huge Sabbath Rest. 

One year ago D and I, with our daughter and son-in-law enjoyed a huge once-in-a-lifetime cruise down the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Here are random favorites that depict the heart, if not the full reality of Sabbath rest. The ducks at the top are showing how it’s done. We spotted them at Kinderdijk. The photos below were taken on the way to Cologne and in one of the parks there.

For starters, here’s a photo of me sound asleep, doing Nothing.
Just looking at this makes me go all limp.
And what about those snazzy socks!

Here are some rather limp cattle we passed along the way.
They didn’t even look up or ask what we were doing!
Just kept napping, chewing their cud, and chilling out.

Not to be outdone by cattle,
this water fowl family is getting into the spirit of things, too.
Doing mostly nothing but enjoying an outing together.

And here’s a young couple also doing nothing
but resting and enjoying this beautiful view of the river.
I wonder who they are?

Here they are again!
We saw them quite often during the cruise.
They smiled a lot. Definitely a sign of Sabbath joy.

Well look at that!
This Sabbath rest thing seems to be popular with everyone.
Especially when it means enjoying nature.

Here’s our trusty photographer, aka D,
taking a picture of himself in front of a reflective screen.
He’s enjoying relaxed time in his very relaxed outfit!
You don’t have to dress up for Sabbath rest, you know.

Nearby was this calm bunny taking great joy in a favorite snack!

There’s that good-looking couple again!
They look like they’re enjoying each other and nature and
a complete break from their normal busy, creative lives.
Just as I’m trying to do right now.

You might say nature enjoys Sabbath every day.
But sometimes it outdoes itself with beauty. Natural beauty.
This looks like Sabbath-day best to me.

And this little bee is having the feast of a lifetime.
You might say its cup is running over with joy and delight.

Back on the cruise ship, D got this evening shot of
the Cologne Cathedral, spires pointing upwards.
A silent reminder of the source of our life, our rest and our joy.

Blessings of peace and rest to each of you.
Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 July 2017, reposted on 6 August 2022
Photos taken by DAFraser, Summer 2016 Viking Cruise

hanging on for dear life

P1040831

hanging on for dear life
gnarled roots exposed
soil sifts away with
each new flash flood
no rock bottom in sight
turbulence guaranteed
in more than the air
reeking with harbingers
of hard times ahead
soil ill-prepared
for these upheavals
brittle dry sinews of our
vulnerability on display
slow motion relentless
yesterday disappearing
before our eyes can adjust
in this foreboding present

Every day my eyes are pulled to headlines and news articles that sometimes offer more than they can deliver. Instead, they leave me without comfort or enlightenment. Sometimes they destroy any iota of clarity I thought I’d achieved. It isn’t laughable; it’s tragic. Not because of the news industry, but because of what passes these days as news.

So here’s the news I’m counting on these days–good for me, good for you and good for the animals and mother earth!

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
Your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
You give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
In your light we see light.

Psalm 36: 5-9 (New International Version)

Psalm 36 was written during politically troubled times filled with those who flattered themselves “too much to detect or hate their sin.” So-called leaders were failing to “act wisely or do good” and did not reject what was wrong.

The only antidote to evil and falsehood is truth. Speaking it, yes. Even more potent, living it. Daring to live each day in the light of our Maker—the only light in which we see light, whether we live and whether we die. The unseen source and goal of our dear lives.

Praying this day will bring moments of deep calm and clarity.

Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 July 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, October 2012, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland, Oregon
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Shallow

a grownup’s prayer

I want to be in tune with You –
Listening to my heart sing
Surrounded by music

Maybe You could arrange for me to live in nonstop song
At home in my skin, content, grateful and unafraid
Connected with those I love or haven’t yet learned to love

Would You kindly spare a few moments
to sing me back together?
I’d rather not have another operation.

***

A few evenings ago I was listening to choral music, singing along from time to time. A bit weepy though happy. Grateful for small gifts during the day.

It dawned on me that I’m most content, most at peace when I’m surrounded by music. Especially, but not only, grand hymns old and new.

So I dreamed a bit. What would it be like to live in nonstop song? And might my Creator be willing to oblige me? Without ungodly pain?

Coming from a grownup, the ungodly pain part seemed a fair request. After all, I don’t have as much time for fancy procedures as I used to have. Besides, who wouldn’t love to be sung back together?

Hoping your day/evening is filled with music that softens your heart and sings you back together.

Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 July 2017

%d bloggers like this: