Category: Poems

Death of a Friend

Almost two weeks ago, I had a distinct nudging to visit a friend of ours. 

Les and I have belonged to a small support group through our church since 1969. Of the original nine couples and one single, seven of the men and three women had died. Floyd, the one remaining man beside Les, had been having a rough spring and we had wanted to visit him and his lovely Lynette in Loveland, Colorado.

Since Les' November brush with mortality, his subsequent pacemaker, and various ups and downs, our doctor had asked us to stay close to medical care in the Denver metropolitan area. Then in early April, with things somewhat stable, he gave us permission to drive to Loveland. We kept trying to make the trip. Denver had four snowstorms in April; Les had bad days. Things just weren’t working out.

Thursday, April 25, I woke with this strong urge. The weather was good; Les was okay. So we went. Floyd and Lynette seemed grateful that we had come. Floyd had entered hospice care the evening before, but he was up walking around, sitting in a chair, talkative, peaceful. The four of us and son Galen shared deeply. Les and I felt the visit was meant to be. Whether or not Floyd and Lynn needed us, we needed them.

On April 30 Floyd died. I want to share with you, my dear readers, the poem I read at his service:

 For Floyd

We can’t believe you’re gone –
hospice, yes, but only six days?
You were just here – alert, alive, aligned
ready to go, most surely, but still participating

You were such a good man –

Working hard and faithfully over the years   
an expert with your hands
building beautiful things
gracing this space with mailboxes,
coffee mug shelves, the reusable casket

Loyal to your church, your friends, your family
generous, giving, always game for another adventure
another trip, another house, another state

You were such a good man –

steadfast in faith
confident in convictions, vocal in opinions
You weren’t always right, but you were resolute

You battled through cancer and heart attacks
and surgeries with more grace and courage
than most of us could manage

You were such a good man –

We honor you in your unwavering love for Lynette –
with gratitude for how you cared for her, protected her,
and lent her your staunch warmth and unshakable strength

Happy trails, dear friend, our love and tears go with you –   
pile into the motor home of immortality
bluegrass blasting, the fishing streams of Paradise forever filled

May you discover heaven to be lovelier than the hills of Arkansas
and may you find the most amazing adventures ad infinitum

amen

Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad
May 4, 2013

 

 

 

Unwanted Anniversary – Conclusion

Friday is a good "conclusion" day, so here is the poem that concluded the chapter titled "Rivers of Entrophy," from This Path We Share. Hope it speaks to you in some way, in whatever space you occupy today.

Rebirth

Enter the Valley of Doubt and Despair
certainly vanished
strength fled
Love no longer there

Spend the duration regardless how long
searching soul
resting body
heart without song

Know, with sureness and trust, once again
you will return to  Life
vigor renewed
a fervent amen

Although you may return to the Valley
now and then

(Excepted from This Path We Share © 2010 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

 

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Declutter – A Faded Poem

And there, in the scrapbook, right next to the newspaper clipping that I typed into my previous post, was the carbon copy of a poem, barely legible with all the smudges, strike-overs, and years.

It doesn't say who wrote it, but judging from the words and the mentioned date, I'm pretty sure it was my Uncle Bill, searching for, hoping in some way to find peace.

Dad never had so much to say;
Jogged along in his quiet way
Driving his horses, Mike and Queen,
As he turned the soil to the golden sheen.
Used to say as he slapped the mare,
One thorny hand in his tangled hair,
"Rest in joy when your work's well done,
So pitch in, son."

Sometimes he and I'd not hitch;
Couldn't agree as to which was which.
Fought it out on the same old lines
As we grubbed and hoed 'mong the runnin' vines;
And his eyes would light with a gentle quiz,
And he'd say in that old soft way of his,
As he idly stroked his wrinkled chin,
"All right, son, you win."

Dad was never no hand to fuss;
Used to hurt him to hear us cuss;
Kind o' settled in his old ways,
Born an' raised in the good old days
When a tattered coat hid a kindly heart,
An' the farm was home, not a toilin' mart,
An' a man was judged by his inward self;
Not his worldly pelf.

Seems like 'twas yesterday we sat
On the old back proch for a farewell chat
Ere I changed the farm and the simple life
For the city's roar and bustle an' strife.
When I gaily talked of the city's charm
His eyes looked out o'er the fertile farm
An' he said as he rubbed where the hair was thin,
"All right, son, you win."

'Member the night I trudged back home
Sinkin' deep in the fresh turned loam;
Sick and sore for the dear old place,
Hungerin' most for a loved old face.
There stood dad in the kitchen door,
An' he says in a voice from deep within,
"Hello, son, come in."

On the sixth of May, after the latest snow,
He went the way that we all must go;
An' his spirit soared to the realms above
On the wings of a simple-hearted love.
An' I know that when I cross the bar
I'll find him there by the gates ajar,
An' he'll say, as he idly strokes his chin,
"HELLO, SON, COME IN."

Yes, looking for a peace that he never found.

Declutter – What I Find

As I continue decluttering, I found an old poem in a file. The file was not about poems, but there it was. 

When the writing of This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage sort of came to a standstill because I could not figure out what it was about, someone suggested that I write a poem. Good idea, because writing poetry has always helped me clarify my thoughts and feelings. The poem is not in the book, of course, but I thought perhaps you might enjoy reading it. 

What I Really Meant to Say

I thought to write a lovely book
about the paths our marriage took

I wanted all the world to know
that love can grow and grow and grow

that magic doesn't disappear
as long as we just persevere

I wrote of babies and of kids
of accidents and minor skids

with cancer added to the mix
of things we know that we can't fix

I've told of sadness and of joy
events that threatened to destroy

the fabric of our lives thus far
or snuff out our bright, blazing star

Misfortunes came, misfortunes went
I can't believe they're heaven-sent

so faith's been tested on the way
yet is not solved up to this day

I meant to write a lovely book
and simply try to overlook

the times our marriage fell from grace
when we could find no meeting place

but all I found to say to you–
somehow our love has brought us through

© March 20, 2007 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad

I wonder what else is hidden in the stacks and stacks of paper that surround me?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Lifeguard on Duty

I started the second morning of January with a talk for the Littleton United Methodist Church Optimist Club. It was my 595th speech.

As we left home at 8:30, I said to Les, "There won't be anyone there. It's too cold. The year is too new."

And he said, "Who is there is who is there."

When we entered the room, almost two dozen faces smiled at us and we were immediately pulled into the warmth of this lively group. 

As I began reading "No Lifeguard on Duty," one woman interrupted, "Oh, I know who you are. I have that poem on my desk! And to think I almost didn't come this morning!"   

Later she told me about the many sadnesses she has had in her life. Somewhere she had heard of that particular poem, but could only remember one line. A friend of hers Googled it and found the poem. My new friend printed it out and kept it on her desk. I felt humbled and honored when she told me that it had given her comfort and courage when she needed it. 

So, just in case you need a helping hand this morning, here it is once more:

No Lifeguard on Duty

It is difficult
when one is drowning
to wave to the people
on shore

One wants to be
friendly, of course,

but perhaps it is
more important
to keep

swimming

(Excerpted from Fine Black Lines, © 1993, 2003, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad) 

Happy New Year!

 

 

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