Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallow's Eve, Happy Halloween, Happy All Saint's Day?

The other night I had a dream. Philip, my late husband, was in it. I was delighted to see him. It was a joyful dream. So bizarrely vivid. Next day, yesterday, I was doing paperwork, listening to Pandora, the Eva Cassidy station. A song caught my attention, but I continued to work. As it continued, the lyrics stopped me cold in my tracks.

"My love is like a red, red rose," a song from her Somewhere album.

I had never heard that song before in my life. But I had heard the words often enough. The lyrics are words to a Robert Burns poem. Philip would often memorize poetry and quote it to me during our courtship, and for the duration or our marriage. Two poems in particular were often on his lips, one, Love's Philosophy, by Shelley, and the other, Red Red Rose by Burns. He would dramatically recite, a devilish grin on his Irish face, and he knew, and I knew, that he must have kissed the blarney stone at some point in his life, but he made me smile. And he won my heart.

I found the song on YouTube and listened to it a couple of times. I cried a little. But I felt happy, in a weird, sad, poignant way, as I sensed his hug from a far and distant land. I could hear him tell me he was proud of me. That he was proud of the kids. I could hear him tell me how grateful he was for Raymond, being a true love of my life, and the lives of our children. I truly sensed his wink and grin as Eva soulfully sang about returning again, "tho it were ten thousand miles." I could imagine his ironic laugh, telling me that where he is is a lot farther away than ten thousand miles, but it was worth it to say hi and remind me I am loved.

Oh my luve's like a red,red rose
that's newly sprung in June;
o my luve's like a melody
That's sweetly played in tune

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
so deep in luve am I
And I will luve thee still, my dear
till all 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 awhile
And I will come again mu luve
tho' it were ten thousand miles.

Robert Burns, 1794

How appropriate to have such a nice dream and memory right at Halloween, and right before All Sts Day, a time when we lovingly remember those who have gone on from this world to the next. I hope that in the middle of your fallish festivities, regardless of denomination, religion, or lack thereof, you would take some time to remember the special ones in your life who have died. It is a good thing to give space for those memories. Isn't it funny, the things that trigger memories? Have you ever been caught by surprise by a song or poem?

PS I sure hope my kids get some chocolate tonight somewhere and leaving it laying around...

PPS If you like, you might enjoy Eva Cassidy on YouTube. She is one of my favs. Be sure and listen to her sing Danny Boy for another wonderful treat.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


The leaves on the apricot tree have supernaturally been transformed into bright yellow butterflies, fluttering down to the earth, lighting on the yard.

The sky is gray and when I went to pick some peppers from the garden I noticed the leaves on the fig tree are beginning to turn rusty around the edges. Fall is subtle here in Southwest Texas, quite unlike the crazy wild display we would get on the farm come October.

Subtle or no, it is my favorite season.

The other day I ran away from home for a couple of days of rest and recuperation. Those of you who know me well know that my favorite place to run away from home has been Big Bend National Park for about the last 30 years or so. Due to many unusual circumstances, it had been almost four months since I made my way down South.

Kids had good friends to care for them so I gathered my things and hopped in the car with my dear one. We drove into the sunset and relished the wide open space. I putzed, napped, baked a cake and read while R. went back to work. The next day we decided to take a short canoe ride down the Rio Grande. I felt like a true princess watching someone else do the hauling and rowing, since I was being so good to follow doctor's orders!

The river was down from flood stage. The banks had been scoured clean by all the rainwater. The river carried us along and I felt peace. Perfect peace. No traffic. No bills. No calls. No planning or inventory or orders or laundry or meals. Canyons, instead. Calm flowing water, gurgling along, occasionally the ripple of a little rapid or the sound of a canyon wren or crow. The sun toasted my arms and I was glad for a hat.

The riverbanks were a beautiful terra cotta, smooth as could be. When we made our way around a bend, I saw a cluster of bright yellow flowers and wondered how in the world could they have survived the flood when all the other growth had been washed away? We neared the bank, and all of a sudden the cluster of flowers rose up like magic, fluttering around us! Thousands of bright yellow butterflies, taking a rest on the cool, moist riverbank.

I felt so lucky! So blessed! We were part of a magical yellow butterfly globe! Seeing the apricot leaves this afternoon makes me remember that sweet moment on the river and just thinking about it takes my blood pressure down several notches!

Friday, October 18, 2013

More Gardening

One Sunday afternoon in August, post diagnosis, but before heading to Dallas, I moped around, thinking I should just surrender and go to bed. But first a quick walk in the backyard. I saw yet another new garden bed, built for me by Raymond earlier that weekend. It was so lovely. Inviting. A blank slate next to the other vibrant beds, filled to overflowing with flowers and veggies.

I paused. Gazed at the lovely new spot. Marveled at how much I felt loved, knowing that R. had gone to all that trouble without my even asking. My sad, worried thoughts got crowded out by gratitude. I thought about how much effort he had put into that enlarged garden area and then thought about the seed packets that were stashed in a box a few feet away in the shed.

Something in me stirred and I decided that instead of going to bed miserable and depressed, at four in the afternoon, maybe, just maybe, I could put in a few minutes effort and throw some seeds in to the freshly raked soil. I mean, really. If he had gone to such effort, surely I could muster up a little gumption.

So, within a half hour or forty five minutes or so, I had a couple of short rows of snow peas tucked in the ground. A few yellow squash. A couple rows of golden turnips. Lots of radishes and lettuce and arugula and cilantro.

I wiped the dirt of my fingers, stood up and felt whole. Picked a mess of green beans and jalapenos. Said a little blessing over the seeds, watered them in and hoped.

Fast forward a couple of months! We are now eating meals of turnip greens, arugula salads, lovely yellow squash, and eating snacks of fresh peas, right out there in the garden. And after we got back from the hospital, the green beans had played out. So had most of the tomatoes and cucumbers, so Raymond planted all sorts of new things in the original garden beds, under my instruction, sitting like a princess on the side of the beds! Broccoli, brussel sprouts, beets, spinach, chard, purple topped turnips, bok choy, lettuce, carrots. Everything came up! And they are growing beautifully in the temperate high desert, nice cool fall temperatures! We made a delicious soup out of chicken bones, all the usual ingredients, plus mushrooms, ginger, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and our fresh bok choy!!!

What a gift.