The Wait Of Silence

AEO_Mexico1Looking for a post about silence? Allow me to explain about an unabated, extended silence … nearing its eighth year.

First, let me introduce to you a twenty-something young man (first guy on the right, in this 2005 picture at left), seemingly happy and carefree, attending (at that time) a nearby university. The photo shows him on Spring Break that year, spending the week in Mexico working on a building construction crew for a church there. Over a period from 2000 to 2005, he devoted five Spring Breaks with the Mission to Mexico trips sponsored through our church.

AEO_Mexico2The picture at right shows his sweet smile and gentle nature. We knew him as a big-hearted guy the photo reflects, someone well-loved by peers, tender to animals, and eager to help with tasks set before him.

We also knew him as an earnest family-oriented man. A single man, he exhibited the kind of relational devotion one would hope to observe with a soon-to-be father. At the news of a nephew’s birth, he cleared what remained on his school and work schedule that same day and promptly traveled two hours to personally welcome this baby boy into the world. Think I’m kidding? Look at the two of them below, a photo taken in the hospital.

Andrew&GriffThat was May 2005. Things hadn’t yet deteriorated. As the youngest of my four offspring, he probably enjoyed the most freedom … and sooner than his older siblings. (On that point, his siblings agree!)

Through his years as a student, he’d worked hard after classes to fund his education expenses without incurring debt. Living at home was another cost-cutting measure he’d chosen. The prospect of graduating college without debt appealed to him.

But summer of 2005, he moved into an apartment, and though continuing to work, decided to seek a student loan to cover his senior year school bills.


There was, as one might predict, a woman influencing his decisions … no, not the little gal in this picture with him to the right. (That’s his Texas-born niece, a picture also taken in 2005.)

Yet, he was advised by a woman, someone just five or six years younger than me (his mother!). Over the next several months, he maintained (in frequent conversations with his daddy and me) the relationship wasn’t serious and would have no long-term place in his future. What we observed (even then) failed to support his assertions.

I won’t drag this out with blow-by-blow details. Suffice it to say, this sad story of estrangement and silence has an end that remains unknown to us. I’ve made references to my ongoing grief in other posts (herehere, and most recently, here). Like most families, whenever we get together (the other three adult children and their families still seem to appreciate their parents’ company), we laugh and love and sometimes cry … just as we’ve always done … but in the midst of family times, there’s always a palpable void. We are un-whole.

There was no formal cutting of ties; one day, he just never returned. On his next-to-last visit, he told me:  I was never happy in my childhood. I was stunned of course. I made a personal pilgrimage through all the family photos to see if the facts upheld his statement. I found the exact opposite, a happy-go-lucky child, ebullient, zestful.

Oh, I was never the best mom on the block … never claimed to be. When I think back on my days mothering four, I think with wonder how delightful they were … but I’m most apt to recall my own personal failures. With my youngest (the subject of this post), I remember his shyness in childhood. Was I such a tower of overbearing bluster to have caused his reserve? I know I was a yeller − shame on me! I remember doing our home education, trying to teach him fifth or sixth grade math (not a subject I enjoy). Often, we both ended the lesson in exasperation.

One of the last times I saw him, he came home to return (unopened) a birthday card I’d mailed to his apartment. Before he opened the card (it was a short book and cd), he wanted me to warrant the envelope contents wouldn’t upset him. I couldn’t do that, so I responded by tossing the card/package in the trash. I promised him that day I would not contact him again; the next move would have to be his. (I’ve broken that promise once by texting him when his granddaddy died in 2008. He skipped the funeral anyway.)

A couple years ago, my Beloved phoned our son (around Christmas time) hoping to set a meeting for coffee. Our son asked one question: Have you changed your attitude about B, the woman with whom he presumably lives … or lived? The phone call ended with a quick rebuff after my husband replied, no, it hasn’t.

Two days from now, our family will mark this young man’s thirty-second birthday. As always, we will pray for him. We will long for his fellowship. We will wait in regretful silence as the years roll slowly along.

What do I know about silence? I know I would rather be beaten to a bloody pulp than endure one more day with a crucial part of my heart missing. But I will not wallow in self-pity. For as long as it takes, I will muddle through the silence because I must. Nor would I ask anyone else to pity me.

There are worse silences than the one I carry; I posted yesterday about an extreme torment I thankfully have not endured. It would be a grave affront for me to compare my burden of silence to what that family suffers. I wouldn’t dare.

I Am My Beloved’s . . .

… and my beloved is mine. (This scripture reference is found in Song of Solomon 6:3.)

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my husband and I have been married many years. We met in college. I was a transfer student (a sophomore) and he was a junior. I can still remember the first time he caught my eye ….mailbox

That moment … I was waiting in line at the campus post office and he stood in front of me with several people standing between us. When he retrieved mail from his box, I made a mental note that his box was two above mine. Over the next couple weeks, whenever I picked up my mail, I’d take a guarded glance through the small window and peek into his box. (This photo shows a bank, but our PO boxes were similar; I’m pretty sure the window was bigger because the mail inside was easy to see.)

From time to time, I observed within the box envelopes addressed in a distinctively feminine hand. Naturally, I assumed these envelopes were from a girlfriend who lived elsewhere. (To my relief, I later discovered the letters came from his mother!)

This Valentine’s Day sonnet was written when we’d been married thirty years. The sentiments are as true today … from my vantage point with an added fourteen years.

Love-Letter, valentine, love letter, poetry, sonnet, poem
Sonnet: Love Letter


Happy Valentine’s Day, my Beloved … and many more (God willing) ahead of us!

A Rose By No Other Name

rosesMore than two hundred years ago, Romantic poet Robert Burns wrote an enduring − though simple − love poem that I’ve reproduced below.

Known as the Bard of Scotland, Burns wrote (and spelled) in a manner some might say is peculiar. This reflects his lowland Scottish roots and the Scots language spoken there.

       A Red, Red Rose
O my Luve’s like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Another Bard, Shakespeare, provided us with an equally memorable reference (lines 47-48) associated with the rose: Romeo hears Juliet forswear her family name, saying “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

As one of the most ubiquitous symbols of Valentine’s Day, red roses are always a stunning gift. (On a recent store outing, I saw a flower display that featured tulips shaped to resemble roses. They were quite beautiful!)

Who among us doesn’t enjoy fresh flowers? (If anyone dares raise a hand in contradiction, I will ignore you!) Roses of course are especially fragrant and I love how their scent fills a room.

The sonnet I’ve posted below is in the Visser Sonnet form. This sonnet form is named for Audrae Visser (1919-2006) who served as Poet Laureate of South Dakota from 1974 to 2001. There’s an Amazon page on which her two books are listed, but I found no biographical information on her.

The Visser isn’t a common form for the sonnet and I had written this one so long ago, I had to think for a bit to recall its unique format. The Visser Sonnet sets itself apart by its internal rhyme structure. (It’s organized with an internal rhyme scheme of abbaabba cdecde.) That particular format isn’t readily apparent unless you take time to read the poem aloud. It’s a challenging format … which is probably why I’ve only completed one Visser Sonnet.

Like-A-Red-Red-Rose, valentine, roses, perfume, Visser sonnet, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Like A Red, Red Rose


Love In Any Language

Yesterday, I posted one Valentine’s Day sonnet. Today, I offer another. Were I to live a thousand years, I’m not sure I’d have enough time to exhaustively describe the ways in which music and poetry reach deep into my soul. Today’s sonnet has a familiar theme to yesterday’s but I hope you will enjoy it as well.

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Sonnet: Universal Language


Hymne À L’Amour

We’ve arrived at the week of Valentine’s Day. If you’re anything like me, your Inbox has overflowed with Special Offers and Promotional hype for flowers, candy, potted plants, teddy bears, and whatever else vendors hope to persuade you to purchase as the perfect Valentine for your honey (and whoever else you’d be inclined to send wishes of love).

Instead of waiting until Friday, I thought I’d get a head start. Here’s the truth for me in a nutshell:  sing to me in a foreign language, and it’s inevitable I will fall in love! When I was a youngster, I recall my daddy singing Mario Lanza to me. Perhaps that’s where my first love for music in foreign languages came from, and it hasn’t abated since.

Whether it’s Il Divo or Frederico Cardella or Josh Groban or Mario Frangoulis or The Ten Tenors (among my favorites and all highly recommended), when I listen I’m swept away!

The sonnet below reflects fantasy, my musings as I sit back with the music turned up loud and a cup of hot tea in my grasp. I’ll close my eyes and lose myself in the music. Ahhh ….!

Con-Amor, love, music, language of love, grand elixir, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Con Amor


Now, don’t get me wrong. The only man who truly has my heart is the man who has been my Valentine for more than forty years. He knows I’d probably laugh if he were to sing to me in a foreign language … just as I laugh (at his predictability) when we jump in the car and he immediately clicks the cd player over to track five on the Tim Rushlow album:  American Cars.

It’s a great song, but sung in English. What a shame.

(By the way, my post’s title is from a Josh Groban album, Closer, track 11. The lyrics can be found here.)

Not Shoes, But Galoshes!

Tackling the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge a bit earlier this week. The concept is to Leave Your Shoes At The Door, and I thought for this challenge, I’d write something about my grandson. Like most boys edging up to a fourth birthday, he has almost boundless energy and the kind of enthusiasm (about everything!) that just makes me smile.

I wrote this sonnet because it represents what this boy is all about. I often reflect on what the world looks like from his point of view. In this case, figuratively walking in his galoshes might prove enlightening!

Galoshes, grandson, puddles, rubber boots, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Good Gosh, Galoshes!


When the cares of the world start to close in a bit (not that my cares are terribly pressing), I always experience a change of perspective recognizing how fully this youngster embraces and enjoys life. It’s beautiful and I’m a privileged participant!

The Rhythm of (My) Life

Experimenting, the challenge of trying something new rarely deters me. Reading through my email, I thought, “Why not?” And here I am!

Getting a late start on this Weekly Writing Challenge:  Lunch Posts writing exercise. The initial writing challenge was posted January 20th and proposes taking the approach of Frank O’Hara whose conversational Lunch Poems captured poetic vignettes he composed during lunch breaks.24-hour

Here we go! It’s lunch time, at least for me. Generally, I’m sitting at one of my computers, working, designing, writing, doing bookkeeping for our business, or I’m on the phone chatting with one of my offspring or my mom or a business associate. It’s not glamorous, in fact, but it is my normal routine (unless one of my grandchildren is here, and then routine slips into oblivion).

Noon does not equate to Lunch in my routine. Noon is simply an arbitrary point on the clock. My midday meal usually occurs closer to 2 pm, sometimes later; that’s because my morning meal may not happen until 10 a.m. Weird schedule, I know. Weird me!

confessionalMy surroundings present a hodgepodge of distractions:  incomplete projects, magazines, read and unread books lining the shelves, an altogether too big copy machine, file cabinets and an oak period piece I’ve dubbed the “confessional.”

Work stations? There are three, though at the moment I’ve cobbled a fourth from an open file drawer on which a laptop is precariously perched. (It’s tax time and the business tax software was previously downloaded onto that laptop, so unless a grandkid ventures in, it will sit there temporarily until I plow through the annual agony of taxes!)

Outside, the sun is shining but it’s not yet golfing weather. (Good thing! I’ve got those taxes to finish!)

Across the lane, workers are busily preparing a 55 acre site for … what? We’re dying of curiosity, but a tree line (mostly scrubs) prevents a good view of their activity. Even through an upstairs window, I see only a few pickups scattered, three or four workmen moving from place to place, and a yellow bulldozer moving brush and debris into a heightening burn pile. (The barn disappeared before Christmas.)

The sound is what usually reminds me they’re over there. Periodically, the bulldozer echoes its characteristic “beep, beep, beep,” penetrating my quiet. There it goes again.

I check throughout the day to determine if their puzzle works to the point I can determine exactly what is going on. So far, no. I know I could take a walk down my driveway and across the lane to “supervise,” ask some pertinent questions, but to this point we’ve adopted a wait-and-see approach. Ranch? Estate homes? Time will tell.

Once I’ve consumed my lunch (green salad with ham bits, today), I pour my last cup of coffee and resume whatever necessary business must be accomplished before the day comes to an end.


Nope, no co-workers cavorting in a lunch room, not even a passerby with whom to chat. iTunes faithfully provides background music:  Tchaikovsky Masterpieces at the moment.

Sometimes, I get lost in the music … and the writing.

Quickly enough, though, my reverie is interrupted by reality. Lunch break over!