You Can’t Have It All

Buried in my iTunes rotation is a 1986 song by the singing duo The Judds. It’s called “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days)” and the song became the sixth Number One hit The Judds enjoyed on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles charts. They earned a 1986 Grammy for the song, capturing Best Country Performance By A Duo or Group.The Judds

The song came up today in my music rotation, and although it’s not one of my favorites, I let it play. As I half-listened to the lyrics, I thought about the nostalgia we often entertain for that mythical period we refer to as the Good Ol’ Days. With this particular song from twenty-eight years ago, Grandpa hearkens back to values from an even earlier era. Continue reading “You Can’t Have It All”

A Journey Together

Serving as a communal storage locker, our barn has been the keeping place for items of all kinds for several members of our family. Since moving out of their home months ago, our son and DIL have stored quite a bit of their furniture and household belongings in this space. It’s large enough for about six full-size cars and has been packed to the gills with a variety of … STUFF … literally, stuffed with STUFFstorage-unit

Yesterday, in the midst of gathering boxes to pile into the back of his vehicle, my son came across a box that looked like it held miscellaneous, unimportant papers, things which (in the hurried pace of packing and moving) one might conclude could be safely tossed into the trash. Fortunately, my son took a moment for a more extensive examination. He dug into the papers and found this.2014-10-03 12.42.56

Except for the tassels and quality of the parchment paper, there are no clues to reveal what’s held inside. I’m so thankful my son has a curious mind!

Continue reading “A Journey Together”

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

Three’s a Crowd

A poetic form that closely resembles the sonnet is the terza rima. Italian poet Dante is said to have originated this form and he used it in his epic work, The Divine Comedy.Dante-The-Divine-Comedy-Inferno-Purgatory-Paradise-Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed-unabridged-Blackstone-Audio

The terza rima form was later used by Chaucer and eventually, English romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley found the form workable for their poetry. Probably one of the most familiar English poems to employ the form is Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind. This ode offers five stanzas of fourteen lines each, with each stanza comprised of four tercets (3 lines grouped together) and a concluding couplet.

Since the foundation for terza rima is its fourteen-line format, it may be easily mistaken for a sonnet. However, the rhyme scheme (a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, e-e) distinguishes it from the sonnet. (For a sonnet celebrating the sonnet form, see my post here.)  Continue reading “Three’s a Crowd”

Outdoor Fete

UPDATE:  WholeMama Amy Henry posted a wonderful piece today that encapsulates what I had hoped to say (in my post below) … but she says it so much better. I highly recommend her post!

A lovely young woman … a handsome young man … as we all know, this magical combination often leads to love and marriage. Young, starry-eyed couples with their entire lives mostly ahead of them decide they can’t live without each other and they tie the knot.bridal-shower-dessert-buffet-1

Weddings do take place in months other than June, the month usually associated with weddings. According to one source, July and August are also popular wedding months. We’ve had some friends celebrate the marriages of their offspring, so it’s natural for me to reflect on the young folks involved as well as on one specific wedding (over 44 years ago) with which I’m most familiar.

Serving the cake and ice cream for a wedding shower today, I admired the poise of this young couple about to begin their life together. They’ll be moving near his home town, some six hours or so away, a big step for a young woman so close to her mamma. (I know, because it was the same for me.) Continue reading “Outdoor Fete”

An Imperfect Couple

Were my father-in-law alive (he died in 2008), he and my mother-in-law would be celebrating their 72nd anniversary tomorrow.MaxChar1

Every Independence Day, their four adult sons (with families in tow) would descend upon their Texas home. During the days that followed, we’d all enjoy gathering around the pool and patio and dining table for good meals, lots of laughs and a general celebration of the world we shared because a young couple had married back in 1942. These gatherings allowed time for the grandkids to know their grandparents as well as their cousins.

There were times when I know the influx of family was a huge imposition on my in-laws because they made every effort to be the perfect hosts and meals (my mother-in-law’s specialty) were prepared with lots of loving care and creativity.

Since my father-in-law’s passing, the 4th of July torch has been passed to my Beloved and I, mainly because we live nearby the assisted living facility where my mother-in-law currently resides. It has been a privilege to carry that torch because we knew how important the tradition was for my Beloved’s aging mom.

I’ve posted previously on this blog about the sometimes tenuous relationship I’ve had through the years with my MIL. Later this year, she’ll mark her 92nd birthday. She isn’t likely to remember it though. Due in part to her failing memory, the annual gathering hasn’t taken the priority this year that it had in previous years. When her grandchildren or great-grandchildren come for a visit, she is more nervous about the chaos and commotion, and not as eager to entertain little ones.

HappyAnn

Before my father-in-law’s death, the couple had achieved sixty-five years (plus) of marriage. Like every other couple, I’m sure they shared good times and bad, but in my view, reaching that 65 year mark was a significant achievement that should be applauded.

While I’m not familiar with the writings of David Meurer, the author of this quote, I do appreciate this sentiment which is attributed to him:  “A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” 

I think my in-laws learned well how to enjoy their differences, and tomorrow, we will acknowledge the happy circumstances that brought them together … and how that coupling multiplied their offspring into successive generations.

Let Me Count The Notes

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a sonnet that begins:  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. It is one of my favorites and one I re-read frequently. Instead of counting the ways, today I count notes.

There was once a television show called Name That Tune which my Beloved and I enjoyed watching. Because my Beloved can come up with some of the most surprisingly bizarre song lyrics and I’ve memorized a good bit of music, whenever we watched the show, it was always a challenge to see which of us could outshine the television competitors.

name_that_tuneAccording to the rules of the show (as I remember them), contestants were given a maximum of seven notes (played instrumentally) before being asked to Name That Tune. It requires amazing ability to identify a tune based on seven or fewer notes but these contestants did it time after time.

Another aspect of the show:  when both contestants decided they were up for the challenge, they would out-bid each other by offering to identify a piece of music with fewer notes than his/her opponent. Test yourself; see how many of your favorite and familiar songs you can identify in seven notes or less. It’s rarely easy.

With tonight’s sonnet I adapted the concept of Name That Tune, played with it a bit and created a love poem.

Love-Language, name that tune, love, symphony of love, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Love Language

Like Broken Glass

In other posts, I’ve mentioned my tendency to get caught up in the life stories and heart-wrenching experiences of my friends. Today’s sonnet is one I wrote after a friend told me about the breakup of her marriage.

The-View, broken heart, recovery, sonnet, poetry, shattered life, poem
Sonnet: The View

 

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!

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

As a culture over the last hundred years or so, we’ve witnessed marriages dissolve with such regularity as to see the matter become commonplace. Some readers might consider it harsh for me to suggest divorce is, in fact, another manifestation of the Brave New World. Though I think it applies, I will refrain from using the title this time.the_divorce_by_t_u_l_p-d3btlfj

I’m thankful to be married to the same man who caught my eye (and shortly after that, my heart) more than forty-four years ago. Part of the marriage vows we repeated to each other (and all who attended our wedding) promised we would love and cherish one another “… so long as we both shall live.” We both meant what we promised that day.

Has it always been easy? Hardly. The way I’ve always viewed it though, when a person gives his or her word, that’s as good as gold; there’s no turning back.

I recall a time when my children were young. My daughter was in conversation with one of her playmates and they were talking about their dads. The young playmate suddenly exclaimed:  “You mean your dad lives here … with you?!” (Her tone and body language implicitly communicated, “How weird is that?”)

That conversation must have taken place some thirty years ago, perhaps more. I was struck by the unpleasant realization that children in our home town were growing up in households where Daddy was just a sometime visitor. As most everyone knows, this is the situation across much of our country today, a fact of modern life.

Yep, I’m old-fashioned. Children need their daddy and they need their mamma. As the website anonymousfathersday explains so clearly (and other resources concur), children have an innate need to connect. This need doesn’t recede just because they have “loving parents” (not always blood-related) to raise them. It doesn’t go away when they reach adulthood.

Divorce powerfully shatters a child’s world. I think it’s no exaggeration to say children of divorce know almost immediately their lives will never be the same again. Even if they’re too young to verbalize the extent of their loss, they understand it.

ASIDE:  Please don’t mistake my words. I’m not casting blame, but I grieve terribly for children who suffer in what I can only describe as a suffocating swamp. (There’s no way out, just an ongoing struggle not to be swallowed up any further.) Yes, children bounce back from the worst experiences, but many also carry lifelong scars.

Through the years, I’ve known many children scarred by divorce. Even acknowledging the deep wounds they’ve sustained, they’re not the only ones who get pounded.

I’ve known numerous adults who experienced divorce and some with multiple divorces. No matter how “amicable” the divorce was supposed to be, lingering regrets and distress are an ongoing plague. It’s the nature of broken relationships to turn us into broken and tormented people. It is, plain and simple, a death unlike any other.

Whenever a friend tells me about his or her divorce, I’m prone to cogitate on and internalize details they share; I can’t help it and often their stories turn into subjects for my poetry. The sonnet below pictures how one father addressed his pain. (I suspect he’s not alone in coping with his loss as described in the poem.)

The-Closet, Christmas, gifts, presents, despair, broken relationships, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: The Closet

 

Whether for a child or an adult, there’s purpose in the pain. As C. S. Lewis put it:  “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”