cronechronicler

Observations of an Octogenarian

Intersections

You’re starting off on a brand-new decade
Charting your path along your own lines
Finding your way to the world that awaits you
Charged with energy, confidence and faith
Your family behind you as your new journey begins

I remember well the first time I met you
Wrapped in a red blanket I think still exists
My role as grandmother began in that moment
I had my learning to do just like you
As time went by we taught one another

When you took me to lunch a few weeks ago
You asked my advice on where we should eat
We agreed on a restaurant and were on our way
Only not in the direction that I remembered
I was quite lost but deferred to you

When we arrived it was the same restaurant
But a different location from the one I suggested
I had not realized that it was a chain
Though our minds worked together toward a common goal
I thought time might be upon us to change place as leaders

Written on the occasion of my grandson’s twentieth birthday

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Haiku: What If It’s An Ocean

What if the river
I have stepped into anew
Is a wide ocean

And what if behind
Lies another blue ocean
Origin of me

” You cannot step into the same river twice.”

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A Different River

A quarter century ago
My first trip to Mexico
Time-share my new husband owned
Beginning of enchantment

Modest lodgings served us well
The grounds a garden wonderland
We dined at restaurants out-of-doors
Marble floors and colonnades

Mornings poolside began our days
Songs sung in Spanish set the beat
Reached crescendo by high noon
Time for water exercises

For many years and memories
I returned on pilgrimage
To a week I lived outdoors
My lease assured me many more

This place is etched deep in my soul
Place where family came to play
Wedding vows renewed on beach
Anniversaries toasted glass held high

Cousins gathered as family
Grew to soak up loving bonds
Making memories unbeknownst
Richly blessed are we all

Slowly I became aware
Grandchildren are college bound
Sons and wives have different plans
Even I am changing

It is time to say “Adios”.
What I hold dear is in the past
I’m oddly free to venture forth
Stepping into a new river

Now I can close my eyes and see
Pacific Ocean feel the breeze
Cooling at the end of day
Calm and lovely

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Brand New Day: Back to Basics

I walk with a cane
Hiking staff put to new use
I like style and flair

Chic has its limits
No disguising poor balance
I sought therapy

Baby steps trained me
I’m a whiz on the gym floor
A wimp out-of-doors

Summoned my courage
Planned to navigate sidewalk
Leading home from church

Tucked cane under arm
Walked just like I remembered
Arrived unafraid

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Brand New Day: Untested Waters

My current Brand New Day dawned with the Recession of 2008. Within a matter of months  my oldest son’s  job was eliminated. He battled the turbulent tides of semi- or un-employment for almost ten years. He was managing to stay afloat financially with consulting jobs related to his expertise in his former occupation. After I moved to Cleveland six years ago he often dropped by to visit. The many conversations we shared brought new depths to us as mother and son. We developed a routine like a rudimentary Japanese Tea Ceremony.

My son called to see if it was a good time to visit. If I was home it always was. My son drinks iced tea and I prefer coffee so we settled on water. I kept bottled water in the refrigerator for him. When I knew he was on the way I got out a bottle of water and put it on the glass-top coffee table that was my grandmother’s. I set it on a glass coaster, one of a large set we used for water and iced tea when I visited her in the summer as a little girl. After a while we decided that water in a plastic bottle was not good for the environment so I offered him a glass of tap water. Before he left he always took his empty glass to the kitchen.

In the presence of my grandmother’s coffee table and a glass of water set on her coaster we have become friends – two adults talking about his problems and then ranging to past history between us and within our family. He feels safe telling me about his disappointments and serious financial problems which naturally make his wife anxious. I am there to listen and give support. Finally after a seemingly unending two-week-long interview process he was offered the job of his dreams last week. What they want is exactly the skills he possesses. After his first day of work he told me it was the fourth happiest day of his life, after his wedding and the birth of his two sons. He told me he would not be able to visit me as often. I knew that. I was so proud and happy to hear the joy in his voice that I couldn’t ask for anything more. This was the beginning of a Brand New Day.

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Redefinition

To make an end is to make a beginning
The end is where we start from

T.S. Eliot

Thanksgiving time three years ago
A sudden meltdown shock occurred
Within my gathered family
Exposing long forgotten faults
We could not comprehend
Or figure how to heal
Youngest son’s deep woundedness

Two years more time passed
Again we were together
As a family at the beach
Stroke affecting wife of eldest son
Diagnosed the week before
Yet still they joined in our midst
Received our help and warm embrace

Tomorrow’s Independence Day
We celebrate as family
Grateful that the youngest son
Will bring kids and his wife
Whose recent cancer surgery
Revealed chemo yet to come
Love will be given and received

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Passages

Summertime six years ago
I settled in this space
Unpacked and put my memories
On walls and table tops
In places I found evidence
Of occupant who came before
Tiny holes in closet door
Suggest a place to hang his ties
Apartment life is transitory
I put roots down none the less
Created my new home.

These past six years began a tale
Chapters of unexpected change
So many things I used to do
No longer are within my reach
My apartment is the same
It is I who have a different view
I will re-member cherished gifts
Grieve and lay them to the side
Look out the window at the tree
Watch pink clouds at early dawn
Embrace anew life’s mystery.

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Metamorphosis

I’m back after a good week in Mexico with my sister and brother-in-law, who are delightful traveling companions. The resort was all I thought, another home for me. And I realize it is time to say goodbye. Being there occasioned an existential experience which was a surprise. I’m truly one of the oldest generation. I’m OK with that. When my energy is restored I want to write about it. For now I am grateful to be home, period.

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Haiku: Fare Forward

Year draws to a close
Peer ahead into unknown
Dreams for the asking

Love, peace, forgiveness
Beyond our imagining
Free flowing justice

Harvest of riches
Strive for the impossible
Believe, be surprised

In Response to the Daily Prompt: Extravagant

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Deja Vu

Early in the month of May five years ago I had “the talk” with my husband that got the wheels rolling for me to be sitting here at my computer telling this part of my story. For a great while my heart had longed to move to Cleveland and live near my family. And so on that sunny May day I gathered my courage and asked my husband to help me figure out how to make my dream a possibility. Of all the ways I expected him to reply he surprised me by immediately saying he would help me. He was aware that I had not been happy for a while, and neither was he. I remember the tenderness of this moment when we both acknowledged we were ready to let go of our marriage. I think it was one of our finest moments.

The next months were a whirlwind of making the arrangements necessary to pack up and begin my life anew. It was three months and two days after that talk that I arrived in Cleveland to stay. My time here has borne rich fruit. I spend good times close to family members, especially my growing grandchildren. We share in celebrations and hardships as a family. It is a precious surprise to find I have a life and friends of my own here. I have even allowed myself to enjoy the gift of being my own person apart from family members. I consider myself settled in my new home in every way. The other day it was a real jolt to discover strong feelings I still have for my former home.

Recently a couple of my friends and I went to a Book Discussion Day. We learned that Virginia Woolf’s novels influenced the writing of the featured author. One friend decided to read Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and explore this idea. She invited me to read the book and discuss it with her. I remembered that Virginia Woolf was one of the Bloomsbury school of writers. I also thought I remembered that the small group of town houses I called home in Chicago was called Bloomsbury Townhomes. To check my memory I Googled the name Bloomsbury and my street address. Suddenly there appeared on my computer screen pictures of the sidewalk in front of my house and a low brick wall beside it. I could see the Jewish Day Nursery and its playground across the street from me. The sound of children always made me happy. Seeing these familiar scenes took my breath away. My chest tightened and I cried. I could not believe what I was feeling. I thought I had said good-bye to Chicago. I had packed up and moved the things that really mattered. My dream of living close to my family was a reality. So why was I overcome with emotion ?

I could leave my husband. I could let go of almost all my books, many household items – mine and some that were my mother’s, clothes and even furniture and never look back. What I could not erase was the sense of place that encompassed me and the home I inhabited for almost twenty years. I will never want to erase living through good times and growing pains that I experienced there. It has found its place inside me as part of my whole. I am grateful.

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