Monday, May 25, 2009

They Gave Their All

Back many years ago, in a land far, far away, a young man, brother of a friend, was killed when his helicopter crashed into the jungles of Vietnam. His funeral was filled with other young people, some of us too young yet to serve, others waiting for their draft numbers to be called, and still others breathing with relief, knowing that their lives would not be disrupted by enemy fire or shrapnel or anti-aircraft missiles.

Dougie was tall and handsome. The kind of son any mother would be proud to call her own; the kind of young man any girl would be proud to bring home. His death put an end, not only to his dreams, but the dreams of his family and friends.

When the Vietnam Memorial was created, I found myself writing the poem below. I sent a copy to Dougie's sister, promising her that would bring a copy to put under Dougie's name at the memorial. It took me twenty years, but I finally got to Washington, D.C.

On a warm summer afternoon, surrounded by bird song, I walked the length of the wall until I found Dougie's name, one among too many. After tracing his name, I placed the poem at the bottom of the black slab, wishing I could have done more.

Today, as I stood with friends and family at the town commons, I remembered Dougie. I remembered other friends and classmates who returned home...the walking wounded. I remember how they sometimes hid the fact that they had served, hoping to avoid the disdain so prevalent back then.

Unlike the service people today who come home to welcomes by their communities and who are thanked by strangers with tears in their eyes, the men and women who served in Vietnam were seldom welcomed or thanked for their dedication. For the first time ever, I witnessed people, some strangers, hugging and shaking the hand of a veteran from the Vietnam War. His eyes were filled with tears, as community members too young to know the horrors of Vietnam thanked him for his service.

It was then that I decided to share the poem I wrote for Dougie. It is my way of saying, "Thank you," to all the service people who have given their lives.

God bless you all!


THE WALL

The letters of your name
Are but a small portion of an alphabet
of a million letters...
All etched neatly
On this polished rock.

There is no joy here...
But there is love.

It has permeated the ground
Wrapping around those standing here
As they view the endless list of names
Whose faces are their own.

Wall will crumble.
Flowers left behind will wilt.
Photos will fade into yesterday.
Only the love lasts forever.

LMNR © 03-92

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On the Turn of a Dime - Memorial Day Reflection


But for the grace of God...

Some sixty years ago, my Dad was aboard a destroyer in the South Pacific dodging incoming kamikazes. He was told by his CO to run down the deck for the fire hose. He went immediately, reaching the hose just as a plane crashed into the deck exactly at the place where his CO and he were standing minutes before. They never found the CO's body.


In those few minutes, the lives of my Dad, his children and his children's children - ad infinitum - could have been lost forever.

The first time I realized how tenuous this life was, was the Memorial Day when I was around 10. Mom told me this story for the first time. Dad didn't talk about the war, much. But, on this day, he added details that made my young mind grasp the enormity of the situation.

Had he hesitated to obey orders, if his CO had ordered one of the other men, if the pilot had moved the throttle a hair one way or the other, I would not be memorializing my Dad on my blog.

I would not be here.


As a pacifist/teacher/mother/grandmother, I work to promote peace in our world. However, as the daughter of a Navy Petty Officer, I know that peace is something we work at; it isn't free; and it doesn't just happen. We have peace because men and women like my Dad, around the world, put their lives on the line for us every day.


As we gather around the tables, barbecues, and ball fields this Memorial Day, let us pause for a second to ponder how, on the turn of a dime, in the blink of an eye, and with a breath half-taken, our lives would not be what they are, if not for the sacrifice of life given by those who have served their country.
May they rest in blessed, eternal peace.

With a heart filled with gratitude, I am a proud, sailor's daughter!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More Children's Books

As I said on Tuesday, some of the books I consider to be on the top of my book list I have mentioned before, but will mention again.


Through Endangered Eyes by Rachel Dillon is simply beautiful! Her artwork is
breath-taking and her poetry brings the reader to a clear understanding of the lives of these lovely creatures.





My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen and Nancy Carpenter introduces young readers to the poet, Emily Dickinson, through the eyes of Miss Emily's nephew, Gilbert. Sensitive and creative, Gilbert learns about life through his relationship with his "Uncle" Emily.






Recreating an old story can be challenging for an author. However,
when one is a master storyteller like Julius Lester, the retelling is bright, interesting and captivating. Sam and the Tigers (a new telling of Little Black Sambo) is all of that and more. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, it captures the imagination of the reader with its colorful portrayals of Sam and his family.



One of the newest books I have added to my library is Can you say Peace? by Karen Katz. This picture book written and illustrated by Katz gives the reader a glimpse into the lives of children around the world. Each child tells how they say "peace" in their native language. Multicultural, and multilingual it shares with readers the hopes and dreams of all children, every where to have lives filled with love, joy and peace.


Celebrate Children's Book Week all year long. Read to your children daily. If you don't have children, volunteer at the local school. It is a wonderful gift to give children...and yourself!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Children's Book Week

Yipee! It is Children's Book Week!



I love to read children's books. Once my girls grew up, it was a bit wierd to tell people I was buying a children's book for myself. However, now that I have granddaughters, I get to collect children's books with a purpose, other than entertaining, educating, or informing myself!

This year, I have found several wonderful books that I would like to recommend. A couple I have already written about in the blog, but they are definitely worth mentioning again. Others are new to this discussion. Also, these links will take you to book lists that are recommended by children, teachers and young adults.

To begin...


The Earth is Our Mother by Bev Doolittle and Elise Maclay takes the reader on a journey through Magic Canyon. It is filled with information on ecology, politics, anthropology, and art. The writing draws the reader in, captivating the imagination. The illustrations are breath-takingly beautiful. (The fact that Mother Earth is portrayed on the cover as having a face of lupine sold me!) It is a delightful read for all ages.






When I first saw this book, I bought three copies, one for each of my daughters with children and one for me. My Hippie Grandmother by Reeve Lindbergh and Abby Carter seemed to be written for and about me! It has become one of my all time favorites. Hopefully, as the they get a bit older, it will be a favorite of my granddaughters, also.






I read Old Turtle and the Broken Truth while in the middle of my graduate studies. It has become a learning tool that I have used so often that the book looks like it is as ancient as the Old Turtle! Written by Douglas Woods with illustrations by Jon J. Muth, it is a parable for all ages.



That's all for now...more to come...









Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!!


Since one of the best gifts my Momma gave me was poetry, I am sharing several poems I have written celebrating motherhood. I dedicate this post to all the mothers of the world. Those who can raise their children without fear, and those who struggle to give their children their best in spite of pain, disease, war, and famine. God bless you all!

Enjoy!


NURSING BABY

Your blue eyes look
Wide-eyed in trust
As you nourish
More than just your body.

Love encircles you
As you dreamily hum
Your baby purr…
Deep satisfaction.

A song, half sung
Lulls you to sleep.
Peaceful, warm…
You are loved!

LMRN © 5-83



LITTLE FINGERPRINTS

Our life is cluttered with little fingerprints.
They’re everywhere you look!
Gone are the days of clean TV screens,
Clean windows and un-smeared books.

Little fingerprints fill our days now,
And though I scrub most off, so smart,
The ones I wouldn’t dare to touch
Are the ones imprinted on my heart.

LMRN © 1984




KATHLEEN VICTORIA

Tiny hands reach down to scoop
A golden bouquet of leaves.

Tossing them high
She looks to heaven,
Eyes squinting hard in thought.

The elfin figure then begins
An impromptu fairies’ dance.

The trees are raining sunshine!
Autumn magic is everywhere!

LMRN ©1985




MAMA’S GIFT

Tiny bits of sky
Cloaked in meadow green hoods.
Lavender caps
Set casually on a fairy’s hat rack.
Cloud white bells
Hanging on a grassy cord.

Bits and pieces of creation,
Gathered in a child’s bouquet.

LMRN ©1989




GREEN EYES
(For Courtney)

You sit in the sun
Like an elf in a garden.
Your green eyes flash
And twinkle…
Showing so much of you
And yet, holding fast to
Some private secret.
Your little pixie face
Shows a hint of the woman
That is yet to be…
Kind, wise, loving,
With a beauty that shines
From deep within
Your flashing green eyes!

LMRN ©1992




THE LADY GWENDOLYN

An elfin figure,
Your sparkling green eyes
Flashed with mischief!

The wisdom of Merlin
Captured in a pixie smile.

Magically, time has flown.
Now, instead of capturing rainbows
Or searching flowerbeds for fairies,
You capture hearts
And search for answers to age-old questions.

The pixie child has cast off her cloak
As the Lady Gwendolyn gracefully
Takes Life by the hand!

LMRN © 1992




TO MY DAUGHTERS ON MY 50TH BIRTHDAY

Many among us
Celebrate milestones by
Adding up the number of things
Accomplished...
150 years in business,
7.5 million gold records,
25 Emmy nominations...
The experts count
Sales,
Opinions,
Votes,
Awards,
After 50 years of life,
My greatest accomplishment
Is also my most prized
Award...
The four radiant gems
Held fast in the crown
Of my heart...

LMRN © 2003




ON BEING LIZZY'S MOM

Sharing special moments
Sunshine mornings
Sunflowers and dandelion bouquets

Drying tears that come from pain
Dancing till we-all-fall-down
Daring to giggle gracefully

Watching my girl/child bloom into womanhood
Wishing her a life full of joy
Walking with pride cuz I'm Lizzy's Mom

For Elizabeth's 21st Birthday

2004 © LMRN




A GRANDMOTHER'S BIRTH

The day began as all others.
Responsibilities lay in wait as I rushed to meet them.
Daily tedium rained through the morning,
The gray skies of doubt and indecision placed
A pall over the Sunshine of Hope.

Just as I prepared for rest,
The call came to rush to our designated meeting.
Evening descended with fog and rain.
The sky shone white in the headlights
As I drove into the Light of Night.

Just as you pushed into Life,
I pushed wide the doors of your room.
Reaching your side, tears rained down,
Clouds of doubt and longing parted.
The Sun of Love glowed supreme.

The day began like no other,
The first day after my birth and yours.
Tears had given way to coos and smiles…
Mornings clouds mimicked the pink of your cheeks
As I held you close to my grandmother heart.

2005 © LMRN







Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Momma Thoughts

It was 1963. I was ten years old with a mind that questioned everything. Momma has spent a few dollars on corsages for herself and me. Mine was red; hers was white. Of course, I wanted to know why the difference. Momma explained that white indicated that her mother was in heaven and red meant that my mother was alive.

Being ten, this news did not have much impact on me. However, for the first time, I will be wearing a white carnation on Mother's Day. Suddenly, the signifigance of this simple tradition has great meaning to me. My mother is "in heaven" as Momma once said.

Where did we get this tradition? Would you believe the Greeks? Yes, the ancient Greeks were the first to celebrate a special day for mothers, actually, it was a specific mother, Rhea, whom they called mother of the gods. Later,
Christians began to observe a holy day for Mary, the Mother of God. The early churches crowned statues of Mary with flowers and held long processions carrying her statue through the villages.

Much later, in the 1800's two women, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe (of Battle Hymn of the Republic fame) began working towards the idea of an "official" day celebrating mothers.

While Julia Ward Howe was working towards organization of a Mother's Day of Peace, Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Marie, was the catalyst around the creation of a national observance of Mother's Day. Quite the go-getter, Anna created the International Mother's Day Shrine in Grafton, WV as well as the Mother's Day International Association which had its first meeting in 1912.

Finally, after an arduous writing campaign headed by Anna Jarvis, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day -- a national observation to recognize and honor motherhood.

Carnations became part of this celebration after Anna Jarvis distributed white carnations in her mother's memory at her church on the first Mother's Day in 1914. Florists came up with the idea of wearing red carnations to signify that the mother was alive. (Resource: http://ezinearticles.com/?Mothers-Day---A-Global-Tradition&id=2088635)

~~~~~




Daddy, Momma and Me ~ 1953


I miss Momma. She was an amazing person, full of humor, tenacious to a fault, and strong beyond belief. She drove me crazy, taught me to laugh at life and opened my eyes to the beauty that surrounds us. She was a woman ahead of her time, fighting prejudice, working towards equality for all, and resisting the seduction of the status quo.

It surprised me when, during my graduate studies in critical literacy and social justice, that I found that many of the premises being taught, I had learned and practiced for years, thanks to Momma. I often wonder what she would have been like if she had had the opportunities I have had to study for a degree. I can easily imagine that she would have been a force to be reckoned with since, with only a high school diploma, she was able to be hold her own with many more learned folk.

~~~~~

Finally, as you all gather this weekend to celebrate motherhood, may your eyes be open to the "woman" your mother is/was; may you understand that she is/was also a human with heartbreak and triumphs the same as you; and may you cherish your memories now and for years to come.

Blessings to all!