Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Memories

Falling in love with today

How soft and easy
the pillow of yesterday
when heart, mind and body
were young and strong
filled with adventure

When did the lie creep in?
The lie that weak isn’t strong
or even beautiful in its
softening and yearning for
more time on this precious earth

Peering into the rear-view mirror
of life as I’ve known it has become
a daily gift to myself and to those
I loved and let go along the way
while holding them in my heart

I’m painfully aware that my energy for blogging has plummeted in the past several months. Not because I don’t want to show up, but because I’m still coming to terms with the ups and downs of nondiabetic peripheral neuropathy.

At the top of my daily list have been painful feet plus awkwardness when walking. A close second has been keeping pots of soup or stew ready to eat, along with cut-up veggies ready to eat raw or steamed. In addition, the weather is warming up nicely, the birds fight daily at our two birdfeeders, Smudge loves my lap, and I’m learning to walk outside with my handy-dandy hiking pole.

Bottom line: I’m learning to treat my feet as part of me—not as my enemies. They aren’t going away, and even if I live to be 100 years old, I can’t thank them enough for taking me places I never dreamed I would go. So yes, we’re on the same side now. No more glowering looks or worse. Instead, I’m learning to listen to them, thank them for letting me know enough is enough, and give them and myself the break we deserve.

I pray your day includes giving yourself the breaks you need and deserve.
Cheers from Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 May 2022
Photo from eventbrite.jpg

Farewell, Scotland! | Dear Readers 2

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Edinburgh Castle, high above the city

This week D and I have been looking at photos/slides taken in 2015 during our 50th wedding anniversary trip to Scotland.  It was fabulous! We flew out of Philadelphia on September 1 and spent nearly 2 ½ weeks in Scotland. Here’s one of my Scotland posts. A tiny peek into a stunning trip. Don’t miss the panorama below, taken from Edinburgh Castle. Click to enlarge (2 times if needed). 

For the record,

  • D drove us safely over 650 miles on the ‘wrong’ side of the road without any scrapes or bruises. Every now and then he had just a bit of what he called ‘terror on the road.’ Especially on the narrow, winding back roads we enjoyed for most the trip.
  • We have over 2000 photos to help us remember this fabulous trip.
  • We left our pedometers (Fitbits) at home, which is most unfortunate since we climbed up and down the equivalent of at least one mountain each, and walked over 100 miles each in cities, towns and forests.
  • We ate breakfast most days like royalty (thanks to our Bed & Breakfast master chefs!), learned to depend on TESCO and The Cooperative Stores found all over Scotland, and enjoyed more versions of yummy carrot-red lentil soup than I knew existed in this world. Usually served with an enormous, thick slice of heavenly bread.

We spent time in Edinburgh, North Berwick, Stirling, Glasgow, Oban (Isle of Mull and Iona), Grantown-on-Spey (Cairngorms National Park), Huntly (George MacDonald’s home), and Aberdeenshire (Castle Fraser).

Most amazing and somewhat strange was being together and doing only what we chose to do on any given day. The weather was mild, sometimes chilly damp and windy, but overall stunningly beautiful.

Here are several more photos from the first day of our trip. Enjoy!

First, a panorama looking down from the Edinburgh Castle to the City. Click on the photo to get a closer look. Can you see the ferris wheel?

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Here’s a flag of Scotland whipping around in the wind above the Castle. Note the wind-worn edge.

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Now we’re down on the street, walking away from the Castle.

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This colorful window garden caught my eye–one of several in a small, quiet courtyard just off the busy street.

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This magnificent organ was in the church where John Knox once preached. No, I didn’t get to hear it being played–one reason I have to go back some day!

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Finally, here’s a little street beauty from a residential area just below the Castle.

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I hope you all had at least one or two happy adventures during the last few weeks. If not, here’s hoping you survived whatever other adventures came your way.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 September 2015, lightly edited and reposted 11 May 2022
Photo credit: DAFraser, September 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland

Snooteville, Tennessee 1981

So make that Nashville, Tennessee, 1981. I’m not sure what inspired us to pose in this magnificent manner. That’s daughter Sherry on the left, son Scott in the middle, and I wish I didn’t know who that woman is on the right! By this time, I’d finished my course work at Vanderbilt, and was probably getting ready for comprehensive exams.

In any case, this photo cracks me up every time I see it!

The lovely framed temple rubbing on the wall was a gift from D’s mother. She brought it back from a tour of duty (as military librarian) during the VietNam War. The empty shell on the fireplace shelf was one of our great finds while visiting beaches on the East Coast.

I wonder what look D had on his face when he snapped this one! I don’t think it was planned. We were probably worn out from having to pose with smiles on our faces….or something like that! In any case, I love this photo.

Hoping this day brings moments of happiness in your life, no matter how they happen to find you!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 May 2022
Photo taken by DAFraser, Nashville, Tennessee, 1981 

Falling in love with yesterday

Peering into a deep well
I inch closer to the edge
One evening after another
In the moment, but not quite,
Old memories stir feelings
Captured in forgotten photos

Who am I now? What did I leave behind? Is there any logic to this madness of yesterday’s joy and today’s old-age awkwardness?

I want to hang onto today and yesterday. Not content with one or the other. I want to see, remember, smell, taste and breathe in the beauty and pain of this world, captured in fleeting moments of wonder, distress, and despair.

The last several weeks have been rough. Marked by several dark nights filled with raging winds, pounding rain, and unpredictable bolts of lightning.

They’ve also been filled with beauty: songbirds waking each day with their dawn songs, a red-breasted male grossbeak sitting on our porch rail, a large bushy red-tailed fox trotting nonchalantly through our back yard, and the full moon casting a nighttime spotlight on our neighbor’s front yard.

Thank you for your visit. Especially during these unpredictable days and nights of uncertainty, fear and unexpected losses.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 May 2022
Photo of our children taken by DAFraser, 1972 at the San Diego Zoo

sorrow and love

When I was very young
my heart learned early
the feeling of being trapped
with no safe alternatives

I believed a lifetime of
blessed freedom was
just around the corner—
the ‘real’ life I for which
I longed and dreamed
every day and night
of my restless childhood

My time would come and
I would emerge from my
imaginary butterfly chrysalis
fluttering away on clouds
of imaginary bliss and freedom
far from my father

The older I get, the more I understand the dynamics of our small family of four daughters. Especially the mammoth workload my mother carried.

When she was 5, my mother was abandoned by her own mother. When she was 28 and I was 5, polio took over her body, including her ability to swallow safely or speak clearly. Then there was my father, whose childhood and youth were littered with brutal beatings from his own father.

Back in the 1940s and 50s I didn’t appreciate how much our mother did to keep us alive. Not because she stood in for our father, but because she cared deeply for her daughters. Each of us. No matter how we rated on Daddy’s Rules for Good Girls, and though she had never experienced safe love from her own mother.

I used to think I would get beyond the grief of our family. But here’s the deal: no pain, no gain; and, surprisingly, no true sorrow without growing love.

This week has been long and sometimes difficult. Not just here, but around the world. The numbers of families being torn apart have skyrocketed. Am I ready for whatever comes next? Somehow all this has prompted me to revisit my relationship with my mother.

My mother, in spite of her disabilities and her own sad family background, helped keep my spirit alive. She died when she was almost 78 years old. Though her body was worn out, some of her spirit still lives in me. Especially now.

Thanks for stopping by.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 March 2022
Photo found at wikimedia.com

Life gone missing

1963 Aug Elouise Double Exposure flipped

Disoriented
and out of touch
the old woman
blinks hard peering
at old photos
in scrapbooks–
traces of life
now gone missing

Is that building
still standing and
did the hurricane
demolish the
lovely roller rink
firmly rooted in
yesterday’s pristine
sand washed clean
with every tide?

Questions.
Nothing more
rises to the surface
of my weary mind trying
to visualize the way
back home

Yes, this could be about getting old. It’s also about how quickly we, as a conglomeration of nations, seem to be sinking into quicksand. Are we ready for this? How are we to live in the face of death and destruction at every turn?

Though victory has sometimes been snatched from certain defeat, I’m not convinced that will happen anytime soon.

Which brings me to the big question: Am I ready to die?

This is about more than being spiritually ready to die. It’s about not knowing what will happen next, no matter how carefully I may have planned for today or tomorrow. It’s about being bold in the way I live each day, knowing it could end at any moment. Not just from health issues, but from worldwide chaos, festering anger, lust for power, or attempts to wipe out people based on gender, color, religion, or whatever those in power love to hate.

One more question: What does it mean to make chaos my home? In the poem I end up trying to remember the way back home. Perhaps the poem is challenging me to find my way home. Not to what’s old or familiar back there, but to what’s real and certain right now, 21st-century style.

Am I ready for this? If so, how does that mean for the way I live today?
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 March 2022
Double exposure taken (by accident) by DAFraser and a friend, August 1963 at Tybee Island Beach

I haven’t finished talking

Talking in my head
Talking in my sleep
Talking in my body language
Talking while he drones on

I try desperately not to
Break out in an avalanche
Of righteous indignation
Or galloping fear of retribution

One lesson after another
I learned to die and
How to accept living death
As my female normal

Yes, it began with my father. Sadly, it didn’t end there.

I used to think getting things straight in my head would be enough. If I could understand what happened to me, who did it and why, then I could get on with my life as an adult woman.

Tragically, that’s sheer nonsense. Every time women’s issues are raised, I’m struck by how naïve I’ve been. Talk doesn’t fix anything. It’s helpful, but by itself it isn’t a cure.

So here we are again in a nation that claims to celebrate international women and girls of all ages. It’s our one-day moment to feel accepted, needed, even courageous and bold. Then the day passes, and doors that were never fully opened slam shut yet again.

I’m not appeased by fancy talk or lovely tributes to courageous female angels out there. I want to see action that means business. Action fueled by changed hearts and minds. Plus legal action that gives teeth and dignity to women’s lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I’m fed up with warmed-over pablum and niceties that do nothing to change harsh realities on the ground.

Ironically, this month an agreement to a cease fire in Ukraine was ignored, and a maternity hospital for women and children was bombed by Russians. Why now? And how does this tragedy alert us to women’s daily realities in our own countries? What do you think?

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 March 2022
Image found at etsy.com

blue eyes

blue eyes pierce spring sky
join me on the river boat–
making our way home

* * * * *

Early Easter Morning 1949, Diane was born–Sister #3 with brilliant, piercing blue eyes.  On February 13, 2006, she died after living with ALS for ten years. The haiku above was inspired by a dream I had in November 2009.

Here’s the dream, followed by a few comments:

I’m at a gathering of people.  My husband is also there.  Suddenly I catch sight of Diane!  She’s looking alive, moving on her own (though a bit slowly), and is—as far as I can tell—acting independently of any nurses or family caretakers.

At first I see her as though I’ve just discovered one of my sisters who happens to be at this gathering, too.  I’m thrilled, and want to go talk to her and take in some recreational activities with her.

A bit later I realize she ‘shouldn’t’ be here!  She’s gone.  She died of ALS.  So why did I see her?

Crowds are milling around, pressing in very tightly, making it difficult to get to the spot where I can see and talk with her.  I don’t know whether she’s seen me yet.  There’s an optional boat ride later to tour the river.  It seems to be the river we grew up on in Savannah.

I decide to get Diane and ride with her in the boat.  We can talk and catch up and see old familiar places from a different perspective.  Her presence is a gift—and will be gone when this event comes to an end.

I’m excited, happy, and eager to hear what she might say to me.  I haven’t heard her voice or been able to relate to her as a fully functioning sister for years.  I also don’t know how long her present embodiment will last.  I wake up longing to be with her on the riverboat.

Lent and Easter always bring Diane to mind. One of my tasks during therapy was to connect with each of my three sisters. We hadn’t been in close touch with each other for years. “I’m doing personal work with a therapist.  Would you be willing to talk privately with me, one on one, about this work?”

Diane agreed to talk with me. We had multiple long-distance conversations. She listened, confirmed, added her memories and made astute, sometimes sad observations. In 1993, she flew from Texas to Georgia to witness the meeting with my parents. Diane sat on one side of me; my husband sat on the other. Silent witnesses while I broke my decades-long silence about my father’s harsh punishment.

Three years later Diane was formally diagnosed with ALS. For the next ten years she showed us how to live and how to die with grace and dignity, without once pretending everything was fine, just fine.

Thanks for stopping by today. I pray we’ll find peace, comfort and courage to face each day with its sadness and joy.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 March 2022
Photo of Diane and Elouise by the Savannah River,
taken by DAFraser on 20 November 1993

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

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