Goodbye, Peter Pan

Suicide is never noble!

Let me repeat. Suicide. Is. Never. Noble. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever!

"Robin Williams 2011a (2)" by Eva Rinaldi → Flickr: Robin Williams - →This file has been extracted from another image: File:Robin Williams 2011a.jpg.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robin_Williams_2011a_(2).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Robin_Williams_2011a_(2).jpg
FROM: http://tiny.cc/xehikx

The individual may be a supposedly devout Muslim and ardent follower of the radical Al-Qaeda who is perversely motivated by the promise of 72 virgins for dying a so-called martyr’s death.

Or the individual may be a celebrated comic, actor and all-around good guy as Robin Williams appears to have been.

Whatever the person’s status, religious conviction or seemingly hopeless conditions might be, not one of these reasons (in my view) justifies self-murder. And I say it again for emphasis:  No death by suicide should be considered a noble act … ever!

Am I being harsh? I don’t think so. I’ve posted about suicide before (here, here, here, among others). My thoughts on the subject should be clear to anyone who reads those posts. Most people who know me would probably agree I’m compassionate and have a deep well of empathy. But I’m also acutely pragmatic. Continue reading “Goodbye, Peter Pan”

Guitar Man

Norman_with_guitarToday is my dad’s 92nd birthday. He has been gone from this world for twenty years, but as one might suspect, his influence continues. I’ve posted about him here (2010) and here (2014).

To the best of my knowledge, the picture at left was snapped while he was stationed in France with the Army during World War II. It’s an unusual picture to me, because I don’t remember having seen my dad play a guitar, ever. I do recall he once owned a mandolin (and memory suggests it may have been his mother’s) but I think if I witnessed him playing that instrument, it may have been a single occasion.

Dad loved music, but he mostly used his voice as his instrument. Later in life, he purchased an organ (mentioned in the second post linked above).

After coming home from work in the evenings and eating dinner with the family, my dad would retire to a comfortable chair in the living room where he’d read the evening newspaper for a bit, and eventually sit down at the organ to play … sometimes for an hour or more. He was a man who worked hard everyday (whether at his job or around the house) and he treasured this contemplative opportunity.

Oftentimes as a youngster, I’d fall asleep to the sounds of his organ music. (He learned to play well, though not fancifully.) In my experience, his nightly practice became a rhythm of life (a concept I referred to yesterday) that helped to sweep away (in a sense) the day’s chaos and to usher me into a peaceful night’s sleep.

This ongoing inculcation of music appreciation wasn’t the single influence that encouraged my love of music, but it was a powerful one. When I was in my teens, I recall following my dad’s example:  as the evening progressed into night, I’d retreat to the organ and enjoy my own contemplative recess.

Growing up in the transitional 50s and free-wheeling 60s, I think I probably gave my dad his share of gray hairs because he was a perpetual worrier. Today, I realize it wasn’t so much that he thought I’d crash and burn, but it was because in his teen years, he’d come close to doing so himself. (He and his brothers were something of a wild bunch apparently.) Three of the four brothers went to war … and came back men. The eldest stayed home, caring for their mom, and that responsibility matured him as well.

Dr. Howard G. Hendricks (one of my Beloved’s long-ago professors) frequently told his students:  One of the best things you can do for your children is to love their mother.

My daddy modeled that guideline throughout his life. I know he and my mother must have had numerous disagreements, but I only remember one instance where their conflict was so severe my dad walked out the door and took a drive. When he returned an hour or two later, they spoke privately and the quarrel was over. This was a terrific example for me to see how much my daddy loved and honored my mother.

My dad wrote the poem below in 1983. As a love poem to his bride of 37 years, he was striving for a simple poem to express his strong love; in other words, his ambition was focused on love, not timeless original literature. If the poem seems trite, that’s irrelevant because the poem was meaningful to the one person who mattered … my mother.

Poem by Norman A Stricker
Poem by Norman A Stricker

Off The Links

During the four weekends when there are major golf tournaments (Masters, US Open, The Open and PGA Championships), my Beloved keeps our family room television tuned into the events. Since we also have a DVR, he’s usually recording the entire coverage … in the event he misses something or notices a swing he’d like to study a bit closer. This is what it’s like to live with a man who’s carried a lifelong love of the Game.the-open-championship-e1342569020137

Before we were married, I’d never even played a round of golf. (My sports were softball and baseball.) In the early days of our marriage, we were too poor to golf regularly, but Sunday afternoons, we’d both be at home relaxing. Sooner or later, we’d gravitate to the cheap entertainment provided by our television where a broadcast of one golf tournament or another was playing. Even though I knew little about the game, I’d sit down to watch it with my Beloved. That’s how I came to understand golf, long before I’d ever played a round. Continue reading “Off The Links”

Losing Arts?

Two articles from The New York Times came to my attention over the weekend. The first, Poetry:  Who Needs It? arrived via email from my brother-in-law. He knows my love for poetry; he’s also a voracious reader … during those moments when he absolutely must take time out from golf! (I’m honored he includes wiseblooding.com as part of his reading.)KeepCalm

The author (William Logan) of Poetry: Who Needs it? expresses thoughts I advanced in an April post. Logan’s essay states the perceived problem well and seems to hope for a more poetry-friendly (my words) approach in education. His tongue-in-cheek suggestions for elementary-school curriculum (before the age of 12) resembles the movement that advocates for educating children in a free-range setting.

For my part, I remember a time when poetry readings were common … not just the coffee-house, drug-induced ramblings of hippies (though I do remember those). I’m talking about poetic readings as one aspect of a school program or as part of a social gathering. Even in school classes, we were required to memorize certain poems, and subsequently recite them in front of our class members. Children who didn’t have a father like mine (see yesterday’s post relating his recitations) could be certain to have minimal exposure to poetic and dramatic delivery on a semi-regular basis.

Logan’s “blue-sky proposal … making them read poetry” isn’t likely to resolve the public’s general attitude in favor of poetry. However, I’m inclined to believe print publications (where published poetry often appeared) declining over time to continue publishing poetry resulted from negative editorial attitudes toward poetry and the public gradually adopted an identical mindset. (Rhetorical question:  Was this the the first shoe to drop in coarsening our culture?)

Schools have followed suit; whenever education dollars have been reduced or education belts even lightly tightened, dollars devoted to the humanities are usually the first to feel it; oftentimes programs are discontinued entirely. (While this devaluation of humanities predates Common Core, a perusal of the CC standards doesn’t foster my optimism. I’ll address CC concerns in a future post.) Continue reading “Losing Arts?”

Daddy’s Girl

Those repeated squeals of “Daddy!” featured on video from yesterday’s post evoked some long-forgotten memories from my own childhood. My daddy died more than twenty years ago. As his eldest daughter (born when he was a youngster of 26), I’ve come to understand my good fortune to have known him for more years than his younger children.

NAS_RLO_1952[Based on his or her place in the family, I believe each child enjoys a one-of-a-kind intimacy from his or her parents. For elder children, they perceive youthful parents while later children are privy to the more adult-like and mature parents. I think this difference can be profound.]

Taken about 1952, the picture at left has seen better days. Somewhere along the line, Daddy’s right hand got lost; not his actual hand but just the picture. (Don’t ask why I cut the background from the photo … that was far too long ago … but I’m sure I must have had a reason!)

As a child, I grew up enjoying many of the same things my dad enjoyed. This gentle man, who had no formal education beyond the eighth grade, loved to learn. He set the stage for his children, modeling for us his hunger for knowledge and understanding. To earn a living, he drove a truck. At night, he attended Bible school classes and broadened his horizons by reading books on almost every subject.

I remember my daddy rising quite early in the morning and taking his Bible in hand to have a personal quiet time with God. His example of devotion wasn’t showy or pretentious; it was just his simple walk with the Savior that gave meaning to his life and this daily practice gave him spiritual food for his day.

Daddy and I shared our love for music. From my earliest memories, I recall singing together. Other members of the family entered in, but most often, Daddy and I engaged in music together. When I was twelve, he purchased a Hammond spinet model organ. (I still have it in my home today.) He began taking music lessons and I did as well. Our love for music was a strong bond between us.M-3

When I was a senior in high school, Daddy and I sang our first duet in church. (I’d been singing solo since the tender age of three or four, and Daddy often sang solos or lead the singing in our church.) I’ll never forget how he trembled as we stood beside each other in duet. This was a revelation for me:  I’d always considered him absolutely fearless, but his trembling told me he suffered stage fright just like everyone else!

In a long-ago post, I note my dear daddy was a diarist, writing letters and poetry, mostly as a retrospective examination of his life and a worshipful gift to his Savior. He collected his poetry but rarely shared it with others outside the family. Our  shared love of poetry also grew to be a strong bond between us. He memorized certain pieces and recited them for me. Needless to say, I fondly remember those recitations … and miss hearing them!

Last month, I included a poem entitled If by Rudyard Kipling. Kipling’s If was a favorite. However, in celebration of Father’s Day, I salute my daddy by posting his original composition, a shorter poem also entitled If.

If_byNAS

Logodaedaly

My husband has always loved puns and has honed his punster technique throughout our marriage. In case I’ve haven’t already made it clear, I’m also fascinated by words, their etymology, their meaning, the ways in which they complement each other, the whole mix, match and meld of words. As a couple, it’s apt to describe us as logodaedalists:  that is, we both play at words.

In the spirit of logodaedaly, I thought this to be a good day for lighthearted poetry. I freely admit these aren’t among my better poems. Both were written when I was much younger. Neither one is my favorite form, a sonnet; the first poem is free verse, the second was written in rhyming quatrains. Both pieces provide a window into what my days resembled then. (It was crazy, but oh, it was also good, a precious time in my life.)

Occupational-Hazards, occupations, occupational hazards, writing, mothering, poetic dreams, romantic themes, poetry, light verse, free verse
Poem: Occupational Hazards

Truthfully, the way things actually went, I was able to write some things … as evidenced by these two poems. But I remember wanting to do everything in my power to make sure my “first four books” (my kiddos) were loved and nurtured into mature masterpieces. My children took high precedence over any writing, poetry or prose.

Poetic-Lament, mothering, poetry, writing, dreams, reality, poetic lament, concentration, poems of substance, light verse, poem
Poem: Poetic Lament

Logodaedaly should never be confused with Greek mythology and the skilled craftsman Daedalus who fashioned wings for himself (and his son Icarus) so they could flee from imprisonment. (Icarus flew too close to the sun causing his wings made from feathers and wax to melt. He fell into the sea and died.)

Being the logodaedalist I am, I couldn’t help myself. Here’s a bonus poem, this time a limerick.

Dead-alus-Icarus, mythology, flying, limerick, light verse, poetry, poem
Poem: Dead-alus, Icarus