Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 18: A series of anecdotes

Not likely…Instead, a few pictures with comments.

These photos are from my personal album. My parents took a lot photographs throughout their lifetimes. As we left home for college, we each received a large photo album with a copy of every photograph that included us. Mine is on the bookshelf just to my right as I sit in the front room. This first group is photos taken the first winter in our “new” house. They started out building a basement house, adding the upper story (which my mother designed and drew up the blueprints for) before I finished grade school. My mother’s father took endless correspondence courses, and she and her father took architecture courses together; she also worked at the hardware store until she left for college.

In the summertime, Mother would send Dad and me out of the house, so that she could take care of the younger children and get housework done. (I was an active, precocious child.) I enjoyed going fishing, learning how to remove the scales from the fish, learning how to mark a trail through the “woods” in the pastures along the river, and going out into the fields with my father and his brothers when they went hunting for pheasants. (When I reached the proper age for such, I was the only girl in the school-sponsored Hunter Education Program.) The table at which I am sitting in that last photograph above is a picnic table that my parents built to serve as a kitchen table in the basement. (Mother’s father had a lumber yard, back in Iowa, and she was really handy at planning and building shelves, bedsteads, daybeds and whatever else needed doing. Together, she and I built the furniture for my first apartment after college and refinished some pieces that we picked up at the Salvation Army Store.)

Three more photographs.  First is the “gathering of the Wicker clan” for Father’s 100th birthday party, the day after Mother’s memorial service in the home town. The second is a photo that Dad had taken to send to Mom while they were in the service (Army and Navy, respectively). The third is a portrait photo of Mother in uniform.

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 15: Take a c(l)ue

Rather than poll my readers (hi, Mara!), I turned to the alternatives listed for Day 15 on the Resource Page and selected three related suggestions:

  • Tell us about a book that opened your eyes when you were young.
  • Describe a life-changing experience with a book.

When I was in grade-school, I read “In Hiding”, a novella by Wilmar H. Shiras, and later, Children of the Atom, based on “In Hiding” and two other subsequent stories. (Our village librarian knew that I was into science fiction novels, and I got a steady supply from her and from the regional bookmobile from second grade on up.) The child who was the central character in the book had interests beyond his age and had developed self-protective practices that helped him maintain a fairly normal front to the rest of the world. The novel deals with his finding other children like him and gradually forming community with them and beginning the process of integrating with society.

Because I found it difficult to communicate with peers, with few interests in common, I started developing some of those techniques as a camouflage. That is, I pretty much quit talking to people in general, outside of my family, except for librarians, who could be counted on to provide me with reading material beyond my grade level. I also shadowed a couple of students in my class who seemed to have no other friends, and that gave the three of us a group to be part of: to sit together during school events and to walk with, going from one classroom to the next. I don’t think I formed any friendships as such until my last two years in college. Almost none of those “took”, but at least I knew and was known by a fair number of people. As I look back, I don’t think I was quite so invisible during my college years as I had thought at the time. I still wasn’t paying much attention to anything outside my head.

Another thing that Shiras’ stories and others taught me was to start making decisions about my own life, and not just follow the path of least controversy. In college, lacking only two courses to complete minors in chemistry and mathematics, I started an English major the summer leading into my junior year, and the summer leading into my senior year, I began a philosophy major. The philosophy department arranged for me to take one of the required courses by independent study, so that I would graduate on time. My parents had been set on my becoming a scientist (and making a lot of money with a major corporation). My changes in coursework did not go down well, but since I had previously arranged with my chemistry advisor to have him talk with my parents about my decision, should that become necessary, I prevailed. But had to borrow more money, my senior year, than I’d planned on to pull it off.

Anyway, Shiras provided a “role model” for me that made me comfortable moving through society without more than minimal interaction. After I ended my corporate career to work freelance, I began to meet more people with similar interests. That was really good, being able to have conversations with folks. Talk about almost anything. Sometimes, still, I don’t find the right words to communicate what I see in my mind, but that also doesn’t bother me so much anymore.

  • Where do you like to read?

When I was very young, I liked to climb from the top of the bookshelf into the casement of the window and hide behind the curtains to read. Ours was a basement house in the early years, and so I could look out the window at ground level. Later, I learned how to open the window from the inside and slide the screen out, so that I could disappear into the horse pasture just beyond our back fence. The village was not well lit at night, and on the other side of the pasture’s windbreak, to the west, I see the sky clearly, the moon (I drew maps) and the constellations (I drew maps). Lovely escape into another world!

 

An assignment in WordPress Blogging U’s course Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

July 26: A pair of poems

the squirrels in the back yard at winter

At Home

“i did not want to trouble her”

i would not trouble her
with present reality
the look behind her eyes, knowing
that she did not know,
worrying what she’d once again forgotten
that should always have been remembered

i’d said good-bye a month ago,
then left her undisturbed–
living cherished, not alone
in the simple “now”

i could not trouble her,
insert myself…

let her long-feared flaws and failures
drift by unnoticed
to the end of the beginning
of eternal life
together once again with her mother
and her beloved father
those she never, through it all, forgot

Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

 

if I do not remember

if I cannot remember you…
my love, let me go

let me not remember either
all the rest
or, fearful, fret
at what i’ve lost
that leaves me with such
emptiness

losing you
losing the clear, sweet memories of you
i’ve lost everything

let go the empty shell

“if I do not remember”. Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

These poems, although I posted the second one today on my poetry blog, belong together. Remembering is a way, I think, to let go of grief by understanding the loss. In this case, the loss of my parents, this last winter.

Getting It Right

blue wild flax flowers, shadows and light

“Getting it Right”

I write the story of my life
one day at a time, taking care
to leaf through previous pages,
editing events, adjusting
back stories, tidying errors
and casual mistakes
that I would not have made,
had I known then what I think
I know today…subject
to further alterations
as seem prudent at the time.

There is time. There is always
time to get it right. There is
an eternity to get it all right.
Written out finally with no mistakes.

Copyright © 2017-06-10, by E.W. Bennefeld.

I had at one time, encouraged by others, considered writing an autobiography. As I go through the process of adjusting to my parents’ deaths, I realize that that would be the wrong avenue for me to take in grieving. Better, bits and bites in poetry and limited explorations in prose.

I have other things to do with my time, and I most probably will not have time to get it right. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

NaPoWriMo, Day 30 – “Tulips at Springtime”, “The Future”

Prompt: Something that happens again and again.

“Tulips at Springtime”

One year soon after I was married,
my mother ordered tulip bulbs
to be planted in the fall,
sent all the way from Holland,
from the farm on which they grow.

She planted bulbs and gave us some.
We placed ours near to those
my husband’s mother planted
many years ago to complement
the lily tulips favored
by the folks who’d come before.

My mother’s gone, his mother, too,
but still the tulips grow.
I wonder if the children of
the folks who lived here
half a century ago remember,
too, the blooms that grew,
planted by their mom and dad
and maybe them.

first flowers
the last memories
tears…always

“Tulips at Springtime”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Prompt: The (blank), replace “blank” to make the poem’s title.

“The Future”

My father’s final worry,
which he took to his grave,
was his children’s children
and their children living
in a world in which
there would no longer be
clean air or water,
healthy food or crops–
a world in which the haves
would eat the have-nots
when the time had come
that nothing else was left.

“The Future”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Note: This poem is loosely based on a description of one of the last conversations he had with his oldest son, before our father died in February. My father had strong convictions about the expanding effects of climate change and what it would mean for the next generations. At age 100+, with no health problems to speak of, Father decided, one evening, to take a nap, and didn’t wake up, again.

 

NaPoWriMo17, Day 15 – Feather

NaHaiWriMo’s prompt (as offered on our small NaPoWriMo writing list) for April 15, was “feather”. I now have a photograph to go with my poem.

birds' nest beneath the roof

Occupied

feathers, twigs and grass
sparrows, each spring, build a nest
home’s where children are

Home, Sweet Home. Copyright © 2017-04-15, by Lizl Bennefeld.