Lois Hjelmstad

Lois Hjelmstad.com

Compassion and courage for the times you need it.

Today I simply want to share a poem I scribbled out last week as we scurried home from Phoenix, arriving just hours before Ray’s funeral:

For Ray
They planned a wonderful retirement–
Ray and his beloved wife, Esther–
bought a motor home
studied the maps
forewarned family and friends

Then Life took a cruel turn—
felling Esther with a stroke
ten days after she closed
the door to her office
for good

But Ray stepped right up to the plate
taking her to rehab
by her side at aphasia group
helping her into the motor home
for a few trips before it got too difficult
cooking and cleaning and caring for Esther
with courage, consistency and compassion

Meanwhile cancer took up residence in Ray
with its wrong-headed diagnosis of “terminal in two years”
He battled bravely, rarely complaining,
worried only that Esther might outlive him
saying, matter-of-factly,
“That’s the way it is.”

And he sold the motor home

That was Ray—
pragmatic almost to a fault
exceedingly kind under that gruff exterior
good husband, good father, good friend
never wore his heart or his religion on his sleeve
and NO ONE pulled the wool over Ray Houdeshell’s eyes

Yes, that was Ray–
He stepped up to the plate
and then he knocked one
right out of the park

Wherever he is now—
Let us wish for wind at his back
Let us hope that the road is smooth and stretching far
Let us pray that the skies are forever sunny

After all his care and devotion
this big old Universe
owes him one

©2012 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad

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