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Archive for August, 2018

Big John

 

My brother, John, would have turned 72 last week on August 21. But a month earlier, on July 17, 2018 he succumbed to a long illness and suffering in the hospital with a nurse attending him during routine morning care.  “I turned away for a second and when I turned back, he had just stopped breathing.” she told me on the telephone less than fifteen minutes after his death. She was so kind.  She said there was no struggle, no call out for help, just what seemed an easy passing on after many days of physical challenge and pain.

Tom and I had been with John within the last month and that was a good thing for all of us. He called me and asked me to come and I am grateful that we were able to make the trip.

John loved to fish, just like his parents did. So many trips they shared in the dinghy motor boat on the rivers and lakes. Baiting fish, stringing up trophies, and the yukkiest (I thought) of all shared duties of cleaning them before they hit the frying pan. Once we had moved to Michigan, dad’s favorite hide-away spot was Moose Horn Lodge in Chapleau, Ontario where we went many summers of the 60s. Crossing the Mackinac Straits on ferry before the Mighty Mac Bridge was built. Dave and John made one last, sad trip there in July 1977, when dad and mom had returned from the Virgin Islands for a Canadian week vacation at the cabin and on the lake. Dad died of a heart attack in the boat as they completed their first day of fishing. Dave and John traveled together to get to mom.

When Tom and I owned and worked the Walnut Woods Golf Course, outside Gobles, Michigan in the mid 1970s and early ’80s, John was famous for two things there. The first one was his mounted Northern, that was easily mistaken for a muskie, because it was so huge. He told me he wasn’t allowed to put it up in his home, and when he saw our rustic barn wood bar in the clubhouse, he claimed it was the perfect place for it, and he would bring it down “soon!”  He did.

Because of this golf course ownership, my patch-work quilt resume and professional career even included bartending. I was amazed that the golfers, who sat there, could describe in detail, every shot of the round they had played either today or any year preceding today….just as those who were fishermen could also describe all the details of their favorite catch, where they were, what bait they used, what time they were on the water. Many conversations drew on, because of that fish…and of course, they wanted to know the details of John’s conquest, as well.

John liked to cook and grill too. Another likeness to his father.  The second thing he was famous for in Gobles at the golf course was his…..BJ’s Disorderly Josephs, which he had taught me to make. Not a simple sloppy joe…a big, messy disorderly JOSEPH.  In the wintertime, we designed a cross-country ski trail system across the 18 hole course, and rented out skis on weekends and to school groups during the week. I had a lot of fun with that. We did spaghetti Saturday night lighted ski trail parties (from Tom’s homemade lighting system) and attracted business groups out for skiing under the stars.

The Gobles Snowmobile Club, who could not run on our ski trails, devised a trail from over the hills through the neighbor’s fields, down his fence line to get to the clubhouse and generally emptied the crockpot of BJ Disorderly Josephs before they left. The Disorderly Joseph is a mixture of ground beef, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and a can of Manwich.  Oh, so good.

As I met and listened to people at the funeral who knew John over the years, almost without exception, they mentioned his humor and “kept us laughing” kind of remembrance. That was his brand, from little brother, through our teen age years together, and occasionally as we met up where ever life took us.

I know the look in his eye, and the expression on his face when it is about to slip out of him in a remark, even in caustic circumstances. It is how he looks at me now and his circumstances are much better than they were a few months ago. I always love you, John.

 

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“They can be like a sun, words.
they can do for the heart
what light can
for a field.”
Saint John of the Cross

Words did that for me yesterday as the weather outside shifted between grey skies and breakouts of a gentle, blue sky with the sun shining down upon me.

Editing, revising, and reconstructing awkwardly worded sentences is the same kind of mixture of sun and cloudy murkiness. And that was what I was doing. But when the feeling of “just right” begins to appear, so does the light in the field that Saint John of the Cross speaks of in this quote.

Then later, in a welcome period of rest, came the kind, gentle and inspiring words of a friend, responding to me in email. She had read and appreciated the words I had sent her in a few chapters of the book I am working on. Enough energy and blessing in her own words to bring me to the next pages of creation.

This is a time where our news media seem fixated on the next annoying, obnoxious, and inflammatory TWEET issued by anyone who has an axe to grind, or just feels a streak of mean-ness coming on. Where is the sunshine here? How much better could the world be served by the worldwide net if it blanketed  the globe with words meant to heal; to build up; to enlighten; to build up hope in the existence of goodness.

These words do exist. I have found “my creative, educational, and spiritual tribes” who bring them forth in poetry, song, prose, and good will. With freedom of choice, I relish this sunshine and share some of the sunshine I found in the Alps five years ago with a friend.

 

 

 

 

 

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In the Alps. Photo by Susan Heffron Hajec

 

GUEST BLOG from This Place Where You Are Right Now by Hafiz

I could tell you a priceless secret about
Your real worth, clear pilgrim,

But any unkindness to yourself,
Any confusion about others,

Will keep one
from accepting the grace, the love,

The sublime freedom
Divine knowledge always offers to you.

 

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Joy cometh in the morning…May we be open to its fullness. May we trust in the goodness of humankind. May humankind refresh their memory of kindness. May we give this gift of joy to the one next to us and the stranger on the street. May joy fill our hearts in the midst of mystery and the sacredness of life. May we find our treasure in one another. May we know we are rich beyond all bounty and that prosperity is open to us always. May this knowledge sooth our troubled hearts. May our tears be turned into dancing!

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Ode to Amy’s Hiccups

Boo!

 

Ode to Amy’s Hiccups

by Grama
(A Poem for Amy)

How do you stop
a hiccup?
Do you stand
on one foot?
or do you close
one eye and look
at your toe?

Do you hold
your nose and
hop three jumps
to the left and four
to the right?

Do you scream
with all your might
and then whisper
in someone’s ear,
“Please, please don’t
your hear?”

How, just how do
you stop a hiccup.
and then, I knew,
I just knew it was gone.
Just how did that happen
I have not a clue!

 

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